Monthly Archives: April 2014

Isolate yourself in a good way at TreeHouse Point. Photo by mymodernmet.com

What to expect when staying at TreeHouse Point

 

A cabin nestled amongst the Seattle Forest. Photo by Crowley Photography.

A cabin nestled amongst the Seattle Forest. Photo by Crowley Photography.

The word treehouse may evoke the feeling of nostalgia and memories of simpler times, with a treehouse being the perfect place to play and retreat from the world. Staying at TreeHouse point in Seattle proves treehouses aren’t only for children, and provides top-notch bed and breakfast accommodation high within the tree-tops.

Located in an enchanting forest beside a river 30 minutes from Seattle in the United States, TreeHouse Point is a very unique bed and breakfast experience; one of peace and tranquillity in the forest, and allows customers to tick staying in a treehouse off their bucket list.

Owner Pete Nelson had the idea to create treehouses in 2005, nearly 20 years after he had built his very first treehouse with his dad at the tender age of five. Pete Nelson is on the reality show Treehouse Masters on Animal Planet where he and his team of expert craftsmen travel around the country to create some truly remarkable treehouses.

What to expect when staying at TreeHouse Point

A cabin nestled amongst the Seattle Forest. Photo by Crowley Photography.

A cabin nestled amongst the Seattle Forest. Photo by Crowley Photography.

TreeHouse Point offers overnight lodging, accommodations for meetings, weddings and elopement packages, and a special concert series. Turn off the technology, escape from everyday stress, and enjoy the rejuvenating powers of the Pacific Northwest.

This is a chance to stay somewhere truly different. Walk along the swing bridge to your private treehouse or take the spiral staircase up the trunk of the tree. For people who want to clear their head or escape for a while, what better place to do it than nestled within an enchanting forest in a little hut high in the trees.

A cabin nestled amongst the Seattle Forest. Photo by Crowley Photography.

A cabin nestled amongst the Seattle Forest. Photo by Crowley Photography.

Each of Tree House Point’s lodging options offers an opportunity for a luxurious night’s sleep in a hand-hewn bed with forest views. Open the window to the evening air, hear the flowing river and watch the local birds in their environment while escaping from the everyday stresses of society.

 

From $200 USD per night, people who wish to stay in a treehouse will need to book well in advance due to high demand. Alternatively, travellers can take a tour of the treehouses instead, but will need to organize this well in advance. TreeHouse Point is a quiet and tranquil location and the wish to keep it that way through offering organized tours. To book a tour, click here.

MORE: 5 awesome beaches in the US you should visit

How to get there

A cabin nestled amongst the Seattle Forest. Photo by Crowley Photography.

A cabin nestled amongst the Seattle Forest. Photo by Crowley Photography.

 

Treehouse Point is located at 6922 Preston-Fall City Rd SE, Issaquah, WA 98027, United States, a 30 minute drive from Seattle. Seattle is a coastal seaport city and the seat of King County, in the U.S. state of Washington. Visits to TreeHouse Point must be scheduled in advance and tours of TreeHouse Point are available by appointment only. Visit TreeHouse Point for more information.

Hindu Kush, Noshaq peak, Photo by wikimedia.org

The best mountains to climb in Central Asia

For anyone who likes travel, experience adventure, especially mountain climbing, then you should make your next trip to Central Asia. Central Asia consists of a group of countries which include, Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, that offer adventurous climbing throughout the region. Throughout this article, we will guide you through the best mountains to climb for your next visit to Central Asia!

Pamir-Alay Mountains, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan

Pamir-Alai climb. Photo by Nenad Rava, pinterest

 Pamir-Alai climb. Photo by Nenad Rava, Pinterest

To start off, Pamir-Alay Mountains is a wonderful place to consider visiting. It is located within Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, and has different regions of mountains to climb. These mountains have become a popular western tourist climb. But what makes Pamir-Alay one of the best mountains to climb in Central Asia? They offer a mixture of crystal-clear air, untouched glaciers, snow, bright colours and sharp tall peaks around the foothills and valleys within the mountains, that is said to be breathtaking. There is something for everyone!

Mt. Peak Lenin, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan

Slopes of Lenin Peak. Photo by Climb Big Mountains

Slopes of Peak Lenin. Photo by Climb Big Mountains

Next on the list is the Mt. Peak Lenin Mountain which is located on the border of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. This mountain is the second highest point in the region, a very high mountain sitting at 7134 metres. But what makes this a hot destination spot for tourists would be that it is one of the easiest mountains to climb plus the exposure to the culture. What makes it even more of a destination spot is because unlike Nepal, Peak Lenin is easy to access with a base camp which could be reached in an amount of hours rather than days! Score on that one! Obviously, like any other high mountain hike, be sure to have knowledge and training since the winds can get harsh up at Peak Lenin and the 40 degree ice slop is said to be the most challenging part of the climb.

MORE: 4 amazing hiking trails found throughout Europe

 The Altai Mountains, Russia, China, Mongolia and Kazakhstan

Altai Mountains in autumn, Photo by kudrin.co.uk

Altai Mountains in Autumn. Photo by kudrin.co.uk

This place takes the next spot on the list with its rich, unspoiled natural beauty and rare species which are not disturbed by the modern world. This mountain sits about 4506 meters and though it may not be as high as Peak Lenin, it should be taken note that it is a physically demanding climb. It is located in one of the most secluded places in the world and holds such beauty and immaculate features such as stunning snow-covered peaks of high mountain landscapes and big open spaces. Here, you can explore the beautiful culture Altai Mountains have to offer through warm welcomes and great hospitality. It may not be one of the most popular tourist spots as due to its remote location but it’s definitely one worth visiting!

K2, Pakistan

K2 mountain climb, Photo by Tommy Heinrich

K2 mountain climb. Photo by Tommy Heinrich

If you have or ever wanted to climb Mount Everest, then you should definitely consider going to climb the K2 Mountain which comes second in terms of height after Mount Everest, therefore the second highest mountain in the world. K2 comes at 8,611 metres high and is part of the Karakoram Range in central Asia, making it the highest peak in that range and also one of the hardest mountains to climb. But keep in mind, the difficulty of climbing this mountain is no easy task! And the small number of people to reach the top just proves this. There are many routes to reach K2’s peak but it is to be pointed out that there is very high altitude meaning a lack in oxygen (thus recommended to use bottled oxygen) and the mountain can experience extreme weather such as storms of several days duration. Therefore to climb this mountain is set at Difficult!

Noshaq peak, Afghanistan and Pakistan

Hindu Kush, Noshaq peak, Photo by wikimedia.org

Hindu Kush, Noshaq peak. Photo by wikimedia.org

The last mountain to mention is the Noshaq peak. This mountain is located Afghanistan reaching a high of 7492 metres and is part of the Hindukush mountain range. It’s a beautiful mountain when covered in snow during the winter with beautiful breathtaking views. You can access this mountain through Pakistan or Afghanistan, though it is more convenient and cheaper when entering through Pakistan. The best times to visit the Hindukush mountain range, Noshaq is June, July, August when the winter weather including snow is present. Lastly, many expeditions take place to climb the mountain and many, camps and hotels available around the Hindukush Mountains for those on a budget.

Adventure zip line into the sea at Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

10 of the scariest zip-line adventures for thrill seekers

For travellers who want to fly but don’t have the guts for hang gliding or bungy jumping, zip lining is a fun and safe alternative. Here are 10 of the best zip-line adventures from around the world which offer an incredible variety of opportunities to try out zip lining. Fly at speeds up to 100 mph over rivers and mountains, past volcanoes, and choose a zip line from this list of the very best.

The best zip-line adventures: Gravity Canyon, New Zealand

The best zip-line adventures: Flying head first down Gravity Canyon. Photo by Travel Drift

Flying head first down Gravity Canyon. Photo by Travel Drift

For travellers who want to feel like superman, head to Taihape, New Zealand, where they will find Mokai Gravity Canyon’s Flying Fox. Starting at $155 USD, this zip line turns the activity on its head by turning riders over onto their stomachs, flying parallel to the ground far below. The Flying Fox runs just over 1.1km but it makes up for it in speed as riders hit 100 mph.

Flying like the Man of Steel makes it easy to appreciate flying through the Rangitikei Canyon, over the riverbed nearly 600 feet below. The zip line then runs under a bridge and up towards a cliff face. The Flying Fox isn’t a one way system as riders roll back and forth a few times to take in the view until they stop in the middle. The crew pulls them back in, so they can get back in line to do it again.

How to get there

Taihape is located in the North Island of New Zealand on 332 Mokai Rd, Taihape. Get there by driving from Wellington airport (about a four hour drive), and is located approximately one hour before Taupo.

The Zip Rider, Icy Straight Point, Alaska

The best zip-line adventures: Icy Strait Points Zip-Rider, Hoonah, Alaska

Icy Strait Points Zip-Rider, Hoonah, Alaska

Icy Straight Point in Hoonah, Alaska is a common stop for cruise shops touring the region. It is claimed that the zip line, the ZipRider, is the largest in the world, and it’s definitely a formidable ride, running more than a mile, with a 1,300 foot vertical drop over a 90-second ride.

Six riders take off simultaneously on parallel lines and race to the bottom. Like all great zip lines, it features a fantastic view. Riders fly over Hoonah’s tree-covered mountains and the ocean below. Since its opening the ZipRider has sent 40,000 riders down its lines, and can handle nearly 400 riders in a day.

The adventure begins when travellers board the bus for the ride up to the top of the mountain. The driver talks while passing through the village of Hoonah and up the mountainside. Once on top of the mountain travellers will take a short walk to the launching area, where the real fun begins.

The cost to do the Scenic Mountain Ascent & World’s Largest ZipRider is $139 per person. Booking can be done through the cruise ship until travellers arrive at Icy Strait Point, at which time they may purchase a ticket at the Fish House Excursion Lounge a cruise card.

How to get there

Icy Straight Point is located on Chicagof Island in the town of Hoonah, Alaska. The town can be reached by a short plane ride from Juneau or by cruise ships.

Sint Maarten zip line Saint Martin, Loterie Farm

The best zip-line adventures: Sint Maarten zip line. Photo by isleblue.co

Sint Maarten zip line. Photo by isleblue.co

In addition to hiking, Loterie in France has three treetop adventure obstacle courses with zip lines as well as many other obstacles: Ti’Tarzan for the young, the FlyZone for adults and the FlyZone Extreme for the eco-adventure thrill seekers.

FlyZone and Flyzone Extreme are 35 feet off the ground and the lines vary in length. Similar layout to an obstacle course, the flyzones offer a challenging but fun zip lining adventure.

Starting at $75 USD per person, the adventure begins with a scenic bus ride with a beautiful view of a protected tropical forest with a canopy of very tall trees that travellers will soon be soaring over. This ride will take travellers to the observation deck close to the top of Pic Paradis. Then it’s time for the reward, clip in and zip out on the zip liner over the trees.

How to get there

The nature reserve at Loterie Farm is 135 acres located at the bottom of Pic Paradis (the highest peak on Saint Martin) and stretches from sea level elevation all the way to the top of the mountain providing unique hiking trails taking and zip liners. Located in Route Pic Paradis 103, Rambaud, St. Martin, 97150 Guadeloupe, France.

The Zip 2000, Sun City, South Africa

The best zip-line adventures: The Zip 2000, Sun City, South Africa. Photo by theactivetimes.com

The Zip 2000, Sun City, South Africa. Photo by theactivetimes.com

Like the ride at Icy Straight Point in Alaska, the Zip 2000 in Sun City, South Africa claims to be the longest zip line in the world. With a 6,500-foot ride, compared to 5,330 feet in Alaska, it looks like the Zip 2000 comes out on top. For the world’s fastest title, it will have to take a back seat to New Zealand’s Gravity Canyon, with 93 mph compared with Gravity Canyons 100 mph.

The Zip 2000 looks like it may be the world’s overall best zip line. Riders hang two-by-two, “Superman style” from the cable with a fin between their legs for extra speed. As the South African grasslands unfold nearly 1,000 feet below, this is the very best of zip lining because of its impressive high speed, long ride, and its great view.

How to get there

Starting at $30 USD, get to the Zip 2000 in Sun City, South Africa by driving or using public transport.

Arenal Volcano Park, Costa Rica

The best zip-line adventures: Zip line tour at Arenal Volcano adventure park, Costa Rica. Photo by viator.com

Zip line tour at Arenal Volcano adventure park, Costa Rica. Photo by viator.com

One of the most amazing places to visit while traveling in Costa Rica is the Arenal Volcano. It’s one of the most active volcanoes in the world and has a constantly changing lava flow. The zip lining tour at Arenal Volcano Park in Costa Rica includes 8 cables with distances up to 2460 feet and a maximum height of 660 feet, starting at $75 USD per person.

The Sky Trek is part of a larger program that also includes a Sky Walk along bridges in the jungle canopy, and a ride in an open-air gondola that takes travellers into the treetops so they can zip back down. The nearly two-mile ride over a series of zip lines takes zippers through the jungle, over Arenal Lake and right past Arenal Volcano.

How to get there

Sky Adventures park its located at El Castillo, near to Arenal National Park, and can be reached by car.

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

The best zip-line adventures: Zip lining at Cabo San Lucas. Photo by baja.com

Zip lining at Cabo San Lucas. Photo by baja.com

Enjoy Mexico’s longest, highest, and fastest zip line, as well as many other exciting zip lines and fun activities, on the Outdoor Zip Line Adventure at Cabo Adventures in Cabo San Lucas. Set in an oasis, travellers have the chance to fly like Superman over the desert canopy on Mexico’s longest and fastest zip line. With speeds of, up to, 60 mph (100 kph) and a length of over 1,200 meters (more than 4,000 feet) this is an experience that is not to be missed.

How to get there

Cabo Adventures is located on the Gulf of California, which is a body of water that separates the Baja California Peninsula from the Mexican mainland. It is bordered by the states of Baja California, Baja California Sur, Sonora, and Sinaloa. Enjoy this zip lining adventure from $99 USD per person.

SuperZip, Hocking Hills, Ohio

The best zip-line adventures: SuperZip, Hocking Hills, Ohio. Photo by ohiotourism.com

SuperZip, Hocking Hills, Ohio. Photo by ohiotourism.com

Rockbridge, Ohio is home to Hocking Hills Canopy Tours, where travellers will find the SuperZip. Running a quarter mile and offering speeds up to 50 mph, this line sends two riders flying “Superman style” from a canopy tower down into the forest, over a cliff and over the Hocking River.

In addition to the SuperZip, travellers can take the three-hour canopy tour, a series of ten shorter, calmer zip lines, and learn about the flora and fauna, as well as local history. If travellers get tired of the view in the daytime, Hocking Hills also offers night zipping on weekends. With minimal lighting, travellers can ride six zip lines and cross four skybridges in the darkness.

How to get there

Hocking Hills Canopy Tours is located in Rockbridge OH, just off U.S. Route 33, approximately 40 miles South-East of Columbus, Ohio. Zip lining prices start at $30 USD.

Ziprider, Grindelwald Switzerland

The best zip-line adventures: Ziprider, Grindelwald Switzerland. Photo by tumblr.com

Ziprider, Grindelwald Switzerland. Photo by tumblr.com

The Ziprider in Switzerland is 2480 feet long with a vertical drop of 675 feet, where travellers can reach a speed of up to 55 miles per hour. The Grindelwald ZipRider, locally known as the “First Fleiger”, opened to the public in January 2009. Ever since, the First Fleiger has been the anchor summer attraction for Firstbahn Grindelwald, and a very popular attraction during the winter season as well. The First Fleiger typically runs over 300 customers through in a busy day.

Starting at $30 USD, travellers begin their ZipRider journey by riding up the scenic, 3-stage Grindelwald First Gondola. During the summer months the mountains are covered by what looks like a perfectly manicured green carpet with mountain cows grazing over the landscape. The rugged Alps and glaciers are in view from any direction and the Eiger is visible to the right from the top of the ZipRider.

How to get there

Grindelwald, Switzerland, is located two hours from the city of Zurich, and 30 minutes up the mountain from the infamous town of Interlaken.

Flight of the Gibbon, Thailand

The best zip-line adventures: Thailand flight of the gibbon. Photo by truevoyage.com

Thailand flight of the gibbon. Photo by truevoyage.com

The zip line is just one part of the adventure tours offered by Flight of the Gibbon in Thailand. Rather than one long, exhilarating ride, the tour involves zip lining between treetop platforms, and rappelling descents. But that’s not all – there’s also river rafting, mountain biking and rock climbing.

Starting at $110 USD per person, the zip line tour consists of 5km of zip lines woven into the Thai rainforest. It contains an 800 m zip line, and 33 different platform stations, which offer travellers the chance to see wild gibbons up close while enjoying a zip lining adventure.

How to get there

Flight of the Gibbon is located in Khao Kheow Open Zoo, 235 Moo.7, Tbang Phra, A.Sriracha, 20110, Thailand.

Ziplining over the Great Wall of China in Simatai

The best zip-line adventures: Ziplining over the Great Wall of China in Simatai. Photo by greatwallforum.com

Ziplining over the Great Wall of China in Simatai. Photo by greatwallforum.com

While most zip lines offer gorgeous views of nature, few involve one of the seven wonders of the modern world. The zip line in Gubeikou Twon of Miyun County does just that, and the way to get to its starting point is to hike up the Great Wall of China. After a climb (or chairlift ride), travellers can explore the Simatai section of the wall, with its 35 watch towers and architecture from the 6th century.

After that, there’s no reason to walk back down when travellers can zip line over Mandarin Duck Lake, offering a unique view not only of the Great Wall, but of the mountains over which it climbs. This zip line is over 800 m long.

From $70 USD per person, travellers can get hooked up to the zip line then fly over the lake formed by the dam and reach the ground in about 20 seconds. Afterwards, a boat collects the zip liners and takes them to a landing area across the dam where travellers then walk a short distance back to the car park.

How to get there

Simatai is a section of the Great Wall of China located in the north of Miyun County, 120 km northeast ofBeijing. It holds the access to Gubeikou, a strategic pass in the eastern part of the Great Wall.

Cala Macarelleta beach, Menorca, Spain, Google Images

10 places with the clearest waters on earth

Every beach comber dreams of where to find the clearest water on earth. What better way to enjoy a summer vacation than lying on the beautiful white sands of a beach on an island far from home. Of course, the beach itself holds no appeal unless its water is crystal clear and welcoming. So for those after a dip in some of the clearest waters in the world, check out the list below to find the perfect spot.

Where to find the clearest water on earth: The Maldives Islands

Where to find the clearest water on earth: The Maldives Islands, Photo by Vincent Jary

The Maldives Islands, Photo by Vincent Jary

If you intend to visit the lowest lying country on earth, we suggest you do it soon. The Maldives are situated just 1.5 metres above sea level and may soon find themselves under water. However, swimming in the beautiful waters of these islands is an experienced not to be missed. The pristine beaches combined with the exotic marine life makes the Maldives look like the beach screensaver from an Apple computer. The great thing for visitors to the islands is that the waters are crystal clear all year round, making it perfect for diving or snorkelling. To avoid the rainy season, plan your visit between December and April and also avoid the humidity.

Linapacan Island, Philippines

Where to find the clearest water on earth: Linapacan Island Beach, Photo by, From Pintrest

Linapacan Island Beach. Photo by Allen Ducha, Pintrest

The Philippines has long attracted tourists to its many beaches, islands, and diving spots. Linapacan Island however, has surpassed all these and become one of the most sought after spots to swim in due to its immaculate water. Glancing at photos of the island, it would appear people and boats are floating in thin air, with their shadows being cast on the sand. As the Philippines has a tropical climate, June to August should be avoided as this is the rainy season.

Bora Bora, French Polynesia

Where to find the clearest water on earth: Ocean huts on Bora Bora, Photo by Bonica.co, Google Images

Ocean huts on Bora Bora. Photo by Bonica.co

When people think of Bora Bora, they think of wonderful, clear water and quaint huts with direct access to this amazing water. This couldn’t be closer to the truth, as Bora Bora is truly the ultimate island getaway. It is surrounded by a lagoon and a barrier reef, with waters that range from vibrant shades of dark to light blue. This makes it the ideal destination for divers after an unforgettable underwater experience. The summer and winter months in Bora Bora have very similar temperatures, so it is best to go between April and October when the humidity and rainfall are low.

Cala Macarelleta, Menorca, Spain

Where to find the clearest water on earth: Cala Macarelleta beach, Menorca, Spain, Google Images

Cala Macarelleta beach, Menorca, Spain

This stunning secluded beach can only be reached by a 30 minute walk or by sea. The clear, turquoise waters and sandy beach are surrounded by lush green trees and rugged rock faces. Due to its location, this beach has the advantage of not being overcrowded, especially in the autumn and spring. The best time to visit the island of Menorca is in summer; however the temperature remains warm even during the winter months.

Panari Island, Okinawa, Japan

Where to find the clearest water on earth:  Hidden paradise on Panari Island, Okinawa, Japan. Photo by Ippei & Janine Naoi, flickr

Hidden paradise on Panari Island, Okinawa, Japan. Photo by Ippei & Janine Naoi, flickr

Panari is part of the Yaeyama Islands and is well known for being one of the best diving locations in the world. Its coral and marine life have been said to be on par with the Great Barrier Reef, with over 400 types of coral, 5 types of sea turtles, manta rays, whale sharks, and plenty of tropical fish. Combined with the crystal clear water, Panari is an amazing spot to spend your summer. The small island is isolated however, and only accessible by private tour companies, so be sure to plan your trip in advance.

Sabah, Malaysia

Where to find the clearest water on earth: Locals out fishing near Mabul Island. Photo by Jacek Pronie

Locals out fishing near Mabul Island. Photo by Jacek Pronie

Occupying the northern portion of the island of Borneo is Sabah. Its beaches are known for their white sands and clear waters. Many of the beaches are also very shallow, meaning tourists can stroll effortlessly in the ankle or knee deep water. Mabul Island is a very popular place for diving and is recognised as one of the top places in the world for visibility. However, there are also many deeper spots for diving and snorkelling, many of which are part of marine life conservation efforts. The best time to visit this magical island is between March and September, which is considered the dry season.

Bodrum, Turkey

Where to find the clearest water on earth: Orak Island Beach, Bodrum, Turkey. Photo by Yildirim Enes, flickr

Orak Island Beach, Bodrum, Turkey. Photo by Yildirim Enes, flickr

Visitors to this region have sought after the clear waters of Bodrum for centuries. Home to one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, the area is rich with history. It is also a popular destination for wealthy Europeans, as the water is so clear that boats seem to be hovering rather than floating. As Bodrum has a vibrant night life, the best time to go can depend more on how much you want to party, rather than the weather, as it is fairly temperate all year round.

ToSua Ocean Trench, Samoa

Where to find the clearest water on earth: ToSua Ocean Trench, Samoa. Photo by terratour.org, pinterest

ToSua Ocean Trench, Samoa. Photo by terratour.org, pinterest

By far the most unique area on this list, ToSua is a natural swimming hole accessible via a ladder. Surrounded by gorgeous gardens, ToSua is like nothing you’ve ever experienced. Its clear water invites you in and creates a wonderful atmosphere to relax and enjoy the surrounding nature. Visit this amazing area from May to November, as it is the dry season and many festivals take place in the area.

Bonito, Brazil

Where to find the clearest water on earth: Blue lake cave in Bonito, Brazil.  Photo by TLMELO, flickr

Blue lake cave in Bonito, Brazil. Photo by TLMELO, flickr

Another incredible place to swim, snorkel or dive is Bonito in Brazil due to the clarity of its water. Huge amounts of limestone in its surrounding area form a natural filtration system, causing impurities to be deposited in the river bed. What we are left with is one of the best freshwater swimming spots in the world. Although Bonito can be visited all year round, the summer months are exceptionally beautiful.

Primosten, Croatia

Where to find the clearest water on earth: Primosten, Croatia. Photo by Andrej Trnkoczy, Flickr

Primosten, Croatia. Photo by Andrej Trnkoczy, flickr

When people think of beautiful European beaches, Croatia is often trumped by the Greek Islands. However, there are many amazing resort towns along the Adriatic coast of Croatia, including Primosten. Many cruises through the Mediterranean This stunning beach boasts very inviting waters and a beautiful backdrop of the countryside and vineyards. Although this area does not experience freezing temperatures, it is best to visit during the summer months when you can enjoy the beach to its fullest.

Cruiseships travel through the Adriatic Sea. Photo by Ljubljana Travel

How to make the most of a 14-day cruise through the Mediterranean

Cruise in the Mediterranean and explore ancient villages, beautiful seaside towns and famous landmarks. Leave behind your busy lifestyle and explore some of the most beautiful cities in the world with an endless amount of history and culture to discover. The Grand Mediterranean cruise allows you to do just that. Beginning in Barcelona and spanning 12 nights, you’ll never experience a moment of boredom as you are taken from city to city, experiencing the Mediterranean like you never thought possible.

Onboard the Princess Cruise in the Mediterranean

The onboard experience itself is amazing, with a huge range of activities to partake in when you’re not out sightseeing. For those who want to enrich their holiday with education, a number of workshops and classes are available, as well as a library and book club. For the more athletically inclined, the cruise offers golf, basketball and volleyball courts, and a running track. Guests can also enjoy the pool, spa, gym, casino, and various boutiques.

Although there are plenty of daytime activities, the onboard experience doesn’t take anything away from sightseeing at the various ports. This is why the night comes alive on board the cruise with movies under the stars, various productions, dancing, karaoke, comedy, parties, and bars and lounges.

The Grand Mediterranean cruise is a bucket-list experience, with stops in some of the most beautiful and exotic cities in Europe, including Monte Carlo, Florence, Rome, Athens, and many others. The cruise stays overnight in the magical city of Venice, giving guests the chance to spend the night in the floating city and glide through the canals in a gondola.

Whether you’re a culture vulture or simply love to relax, the Grand Mediterranean is the perfect experience for you, with 12 incredible nights and 10 amazing destinations.

Day 1: Barcelona, Spain

Cruise in the Mediterranean: The beautiful city of Barcelona is where you will stop off first. Photo by Marc, flickr

The beautiful city of Barcelona is where you will stop off first. Photo by Marc, flickr

Indulge in the culture and beauty of Barcelona, the capital of Spain’s autonomous region of Catalonia. Marvel at the incredible architecture of La Sagrada Familia or visit the many world-class parks, fountains, and museums. Stroll Barcelona’s most famed promenade, Las Ramblas, or visit Parc Guell, designed by Antoni Gaudi.

Day 2: Monte Carlo, Monaco

Cruise in the Mediterranean: Dramatic skies hang over Monte Carlo, Monaco. Photo by Alex Lud, flickr

Dramatic skies hang over Monte Carlo, Monaco. Photo by Alex Lud, flickr

Explore this magnificent playground of the rich and famous, with its sleek yachts, cafes, cabarets, and elegant casino. Visit the sites of the second smallest country in the world, such as Saint Nicholas Cathedral and the Royal Palace.

Day 3: Florence/Pisa, Italy

Cruise in the Mediterranean: Reflection on the river Arno, Pisa. Photo by Nadia + Casey, flickr

Reflection on the river Arno, Pisa. Photo by Nadia + Casey, flickr

Home to giants such as Da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Galileo, Florence boasts an incredible history with a cultural legacy nearly equal to classical Athens. The city of Pisa has long been a leader in art and architecture, second only to Florence.

Day 4: Rome, Italy

Cruise in the Mediterranean: Killing fields inside the Coloseum. Photo by Minmin Ou, flickr

Killing fields inside the Coloseum. Photo by Minmin Ou, flickr

This ancient capital of the western world is enough to fulfill even the biggest history buffs. The Eternal City boasts the Colosseum, the Vatican and Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Square and Basilica, the Pantheon, Spanish Steps, the Roman Forum, and many other amazing sites.

Day 5: Naples, Italy

Cruise in the Mediterranean: The Pantheon. Photo by Stavros Markopolous, flickr

The Pantheon. Photo by Stavros Markopolous, flickr

The busy city of Naples is your gateway to the Isle of Capri and the fabled Amalfi Coast. It is also famous for the well-preserved ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum, two cities buried by ash from the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 A.D.

Day 6: Mediterranean Sea

Cruise in the Mediterranean: Cruising past Santorini in the Mediterainian

Cruising past Santorini in the Mediterainian

Spend the day soaking up the sun with the cool breeze of the Med at your back. Take some time to explore the cruiseship if you have not done so already. There’s loads of entertainment, bars and massages. You can even take cooking lessons and have a game of 10 pin bowling.

Day 7: Mykonos, Greece

Cruise in the Mediterranean:  Narrow Alley in Mykonos, Greece. Photo by TORORO.RORO, flickr

Narrow Alley in Mykonos, Greece. Photo by TORORO.RORO, flickr

Famous for its amazing beaches and nightlife, Mykonos boasts a number of things to see and do. The Delos archaeological site was said to be the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis, and includes a number of temples and sanctuaries.

Day 8: Istanbul, Turkey

Cruise in the Mediterranean: Paraportiani Church, Mykonos. Photo by marcelgermain, flickr

Paraportiani Church, Mykonos. Photo by marcelgermain, flickr

The only city in the world to cross two continents, Istanbul combines Christian and Muslim culture with Byzantine architecture. Visit the world’s largest bazaar, ancient mosques and churches, and the underground cistern.

Day 9: Kusadasi, Turkey

Cruise in the Mediterranean: Bridge in Istanbul, Turkey. Photo by Örgüt Çaylı , flickr

Bridge in Istanbul, Turkey. Photo by Örgüt Çaylı , flickr

Visit the ruins of ancient Ephesus, a major site of archaeological excavation, and experience the ruins of this ancient Roman provincial capital. Its main sites include the Odeum, the Celsus Library, the Temple of Hadrian, the Fountain of Trajan, and the Great Theatre.

Day 10: Athens, Greece

Cruise in the Mediterranean: Blue Mosque in Istanbul. Photo by Yonica Evren , flickr

Blue Mosque in Istanbul. Photo by Yonica Evren , flickr

Step into the ‘Cradle of Western Civilisation’ as you visit some of the most famous sites in the world, including the Acropolis, Parthenon, and Temple of Olympian Zeus. Visitors can also experience the Theatre of Dionysus, where the tragedies of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides were performed.

Day 11: Adriatic Sea

Cruise in the Mediterranean: Cruiseships travel through the Adriatic Sea. Photo by Ljubljana Travel

Cruiseships travel through the Adriatic Sea. Photo by Ljubljana Travel

By this stage you might be exhausted from exploring all the stops in Europe’s most famous places. There isn’t much to see while traveling out to sea so  you may want to take the time to kickback by the pool and read a book. For keeners looking for information on the next stop, the info centre on the boat can give you all the help you need.

Day 12-13: Venice, Italy

Cruise in the Mediterranean: Boats parked on the main canal in Venice. Photo by PhotoArt Images (Away), flickr

Boats parked on the main canal in Venice. Photo by PhotoArt Images (Away), flickr

Glide through the canals in a gondola and explore the floating city of Venice over two days. Regarded as one of the world’s most beautiful cities, visitors can experience St Mark’s Square and Basilica, the Grand Canal, San Giorgio Church, as well as the quaint cobblestone streets and endless amount of mask stores.

The silloutte of the person reveals how emense the Son Doong Cave is. Photo by National Geographic

Exploring the Son Doong Cave in Vietnam

A beam of light shines through onto a tiny person inside the cave. Photo by Ryan Deboodt via Oxalis.com.vn

A beam of light shines through onto a tiny person inside the cave. Photo by Ryan Deboodt via Oxalis.com.vn

Exploring the Son Doong Cave in Vietnam you will discover a 9km long interior. This cave is so massive it has its own jungle and river. The cave is twice as large as Deer Cave in Malaysia, previously the largest cave in the world. At 200 metres wide and 150 metres high, Son Doong could easily fit a 40-storey skyscraper inside.

This is why it’s only for the adventurous, as visitors need to use ropes and harnesses to descend 80 metres just to reach the cave floor.

How to Get There

The skylight shows how great Son Doong Cave is inside the jungle. Photo by Simon Dunne

The skylight shows how great Son Doong Cave is inside the jungle. Photo by Simon Dunne

The nearest town to the cave is Dong Hoi, which can be reached by bus, train, or taxi. To reach the mouth of the cave from this small town, visitors must drive 55km and then trek a further 10km through a long forest path from Truong Son Highway. Like most places throughout South East Asia, if you’re taking a bus be prepared for blasting aircon so pack something warm.

Tours to Son Doong Cave

Camping in Son Doon cave, Vietnam. Photo by Ryan Deboodt via Oxalis.com.vn

Camping in Son Doon cave, Vietnam. Photo by Ryan Deboodt via Oxalis.com.vn

Only one tour operator, Oxalis, has permission to run tours to the recently discovered cave, and only 220 permits will be issued to tourists in 2014. The price of the tour is approximately $3,000 per person, not including travel to and from the cave. In small teams of up to 8 guests, visitors will trek deep into the remote jungle of Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park, cross stunning river valleys, and witness the incredible cave formations. A team of 16 porters, safety experts, and guides will accompany guests on the six day adventure.

The tour to Son Doong Cave begins 35km within the national park, where guests will trek the 6km to arrive at the camp inside Hang En. Early the next morning, travel through this enormous cave to reach its amazing exit and then follow the river to the entrance of Hang Son Doong. Not far from this is the gigantic main tunnel, followed by the Hand of Dog, a giant stalagmite said to resemble a dog paw, and the first campsite. After a night here, visitors will explore the depths of the cave, including 200m cliffs, flying foxes, monkeys, and other wildlife. After this, travel deeper into the cave and then complete the final section by boat.

The man responsible for discovering the cave in 1991, Ho Khanh, will also soon offer exclusive tours and camping trips inside the cave.

What You’ll Need

Abseiling through the Son Doong Cave into the dense jungle below. Photo by Liam Nendis, flickr

Abseiling through the Son Doong Cave into the dense jungle below. Photo by Liam Nendis, flickr

For those wishing to partake in exploring the cave, it is essential to pack caving gear such as boots, backpack, torch, and anything else you might need for trekking. Waterproof gear would also be an advantage as visitors are expected to encounter some water inside the cave. Another necessity is insect repellent, as leeches are common throughout the forest.

Oxalis will provide all safety and camping equipment, as well as helmets, gloves, first aid kits, walkie talkies, satellite phones, and any other necessities you may require.

When is it available to the public?

Paradise Cave, Phony Nha-Ke Ban in Vietnam. Photo by Jerome Taylor, flickr

Paradise Cave, Phony Nha-Ke Ban in Vietnam. Photo by Jerome Taylor, flickr

Not only does Son Doong Cave boast beauty and size, many parts of the cave still remain a mystery to us, making the cave so much more intriguing. The source of the huge river inside the cave is not known. A team from the British Cave Research Association is trying to shed more light on this.

Although Son Doong is set to open to the public soon, it is still one of the most exclusive adventures you can partake in, with just 10 people having visited so far, and a mere 220 tourists allowed to visit this year. This is due to the government’s desire to ensure a sustainable future for the cave. While the Son Doong is well and truly booked, there is the Tu Lan Cave System which is still available with regular 1,2 and 3 day treks.

Tunnel in Phong Nha Ke Bang Cave. Photo by jeffshaw, flickr

Tunnel in Phong Nha Ke Bang Cave. Photo by jeffshaw, flickr

With the recent discovery of this impressive cave has also come several new species of plant discovered by scientists in the cave’s lush interior. Visitors will also witness cave pearls, a natural phenomenon which occurs over hundreds of years when dripping water creates layers of calcite that build up around grains of sand.

Not only the biggest cave in the world, but as the most beautiful, Son Doong cave is a dream come true for cave-divers and adventurers.

North Woollongong beach, Photo by australiantraveller.com

7 of best places to skydive around the world

If you ask any perceivably insane skydiving enthusiast they will tell you nothing compares to the adrenaline pumping experience of jumping out of a plane at 1500 feet into the unknown.

No room for stray thoughts or worries here. The intense focus and the pump of adrenaline leaves you feeling wired and ready for anything. Here are some of the best places to skydive around the world.

7 of best places to skydive around the world: Wollongong, Australia

7 of best places to skydive around the world: North Woollongong beach, Photo by australiantraveller.com

North Woollongong beach, Photo by Australian Traveller

The Wollongong Beach Skydive is one of Sydney’s only beach dives offering out of this world view of Sydney city and the Wollongong coastline. You may even be lucky enough to see whales and dolphins frolicking in the deep blue waters! With the choice of either tandem or solo jumps, the dive crew let you land on North Wollongong Beach itself, so you could have a quick dip to cool off straight after you’ve landed! If you’re a backpacker, student, or veteran, you qualify for a $30 discount.

Average cost per skydive: Prices Start from $255 AUD + discounts
Best time to go: All year round but particularly the Summer months are perfect.

Hawaii, USA

7 of best places to skydive around the world: Pacific skydiving Hawaii, Photo by Steven Zybert, deviantart.net

Pacific skydiving Hawaii, Photo by Steven Zybert, deviantart.net

As if Hawaii didn’t have enough to do already, so for those who want more than flying through the air at 120 mph is the you can experience one of the most picturesque views in the world when skydiving in Hawaii. You are able to see almost the entire island from Pearl Harbour to Kaena Point. Keep an eye out for promotions which can discount the dive by as much as $30. If you decided to tandem be sure to grab the DVD of your 15,000 foot drop so your friends can laugh at your petrified self falling out of the sky.

Average cost per skydive: Prices begin at $125 USD at group/student/military rates and $150 USD for single online bookings
Best time to go: Great all year round

Queenstown, New Zealand

7 of best places to skydive around the world: Upside down freefall, Queenstown. Photo by NZONE Skydive, flickr

Upside down freefall, Queenstown. Photo by NZONE Skydive, flickr

As one of the adventure capitals of the world, Queenstown has hundreds of different activities for extreme thrill seeker enthusiasts. Discover your own natural high while jumping from a plane 15,000ft above New Zealand’s most stunning alpine scenery. Freefall at 200kph over Mt Aspiring and Fiordland National Parks, part of the Te Wahipounamu World Heritage Area – the place of greenstone.

Average cost per skydive: Starts at $255 USD
Best time to go: Summer months (December – February)

Dubai, UAE

7 of best places to skydive around the world: Skydiving over the Palm Jumeirah, Photo by lefatima, flickr

Skydiving over the Palm Jumeirah, Photo by lefatima, flickr

Relative newcomer to the list of best drop zones in the world mainly through hosting one of the biggest annual international skydive championships, a competition sponsored by The Emirates Aerosport Federation (EAF) and Skydive Dubai. Unlike most other skydive locations, Dubai is a city jump. You will fly over the Palm Jumeirah, the artificial collection of islands made of reclaimed land jutting out from the city’s urban marina, where you’ll get a mind-blowing view of the Persian Gulf and the whole of Dubai.

Average cost per skydive: Begins at $544 USD but the larger the group, the bigger the discount
Best time to go: Beautiful 365 days a year!

Interlaken, Switzerland

7 of best places to skydive around the world: Interlaken skydiving, Photo by 25.media.tumblr.com

Interlaken skydiving, Photo by 25.media.tumblr.com

No hefty down payment needed and under $400 when booked online, this is one of the most popular spots for backpacker skydiving novices. They’ll pamper you for no extra fee and while you won’t find a flute of champagne upon landing.  Stay at Balmer’s Herberge at the base of the Alps and they’ll party your nerves back to normal.

Average cost per skydive: Start at around $390 USD
Best time to go: Anytime

Rio De Janiero, Brazil

7 of best places to skydive around the world: Rio De Janiero skydiving, Photo by ayshfi.file.wordpress.com

Rio De Janiero skydiving, Photo by ayshfi.file.wordpress.com

When sky diving in Rio you will have the rare opportunity of seeing everything. From Christ the Redeemer to the beautiful beaches during the ascending scenic flight you will hurtle back towards it at 120 mph. We suggest booking your jump at sunset so you can have a truly memorable experience that will definitely top any story at a party.

Average cost per skydive: $ 200 USD for a 12,000 ft dive
Best time to go: Summer months.

Swakopmund, Nambia

7 of best places to skydive around the world: Swakopmund from the planes edge, Photo by Carola Bieniek, flickr

Swakopmund from the planes edge, Photo by Carola Bieniek, flickr

The nothingness of the barren desert increases the dream-like state for divers hurdling towards earth at startling speeds, whilst the rippled dunes create the illusion of a pillow like landing. A truly safe and enjoyable experience at a good price making it a must do when visiting Namibia. It is definitely worth paying extra to get external video/photos but make sure to look up at the camera and smile!

Average cost per skydive: Tandem skydives start from $180 USD
Best time to go: Afternoon. All year around except during heavy fog.

The Seine River runs through Paris, providing optimal views of many famous landmarks. Photo by Anthony Gelot, flickr.jpg

How to make the most of Paris in 24 hours

The city of monuments, museums, architecture and culture, Paris is a European gem. It has had its feature in one-too-many romantic movies and novels, and has been internationally recognised as one of the most beautiful and momentous cities in the world for centuries. There’s just so much to do and see in Paris – not to mention to eat, drink and shop as well. Here’s our guide on how to spend the perfect 24 hours in Paris, the city of love:

Paris in 24 hours: 8:00 AM

24 hours in Paris: The Seine River runs through Paris, providing optimal views of many famous landmarks. Photo by Anthony Gelot, flickr.jpg

The Seine River runs through Paris, providing optimal views of many famous landmarks. Photo by Anthony Gelot, flickr.jpg

There’s no wasting the day here, and the early bird gets the worm. Be up and ready earlier in the morning for a visit to the southern bank of the Seine River. The La Rive Gauche is known at the “Left Bank” part of the river, and refers to an earlier era of Paris. This place is once where famous writers and philosophers would spend their time; including Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Stop for breakfast first; there are many cafes and restaurants along the waterfront that offer French cuisine. From the Seine you have spectacular 360 degree views of the Place de la Concorde – the town square piazza with views of the Arc de Triomphe and The Assemblée Nationale . The square was also originally the area in which people were beheaded – the first was Louis XVI, who was then followed by 1343 more people – including Marie Antoinette. Use this opportunity on the upper Seine to take great photographs of the landmarks from afar – most are too big to fit in a photo up close.

9:00 AM

24 hours in Paris: A fountain at the Place de la Concorde. Photo by Anthony Gelot, flickr.jpg

A fountain at the Place de la Concorde. Photo by Anthony Gelot, flickr.jpg

Stroll down the Seine and cross over into City centre to view to Cathedral Notre-Dame, a famous Gothic landmark captured nicely in the brisk morning sun. The cathedral is one of the most well-known landmarks in the world, with stunning sculptures, stained glass windows and large Romanesque architecture – its construction completion dating back to 1345. Make sure to walk the full circle around the cathedral to really view all of what it has to offer – and look up! On the roof edges there are wonderful statues of gargoyles. Keep in mind that there often is a line, and may be a wait to enter the cathedral – but inside there are massive organs that add to the colossal structure of the place. Now you can begin to understand the true beauty held within such an ancient place.

10.30 AM

24 hours in Paris: Front view of the stunning Notre Dame Cathedral. Photo by A.G Photography,  flickr

Front view of the stunning Notre Dame Cathedral. Photo by A.G Photography, flickr

On the other side of the city centre is the Sainte Chapelle – a Gothic chapel constructed in 1239. It was originally built to be the home to a collection of religious relics owned by King Louis IX – including the Crown of Thorns, one of the most important religious relics in Christianity. Inside, the chapel is stunning, with high roofs of vivid colour and the most spectacular array of stained glass windows, that were somewhat damaged during the French Revolution. The Sainte Chapelle was designed to sit alongside the Palace, and was considered an addition to the royal grounds within the Palais de la Cite, now known as the Conciergerie where it remains as one of the last surviving buildings.

11.00 AM

24 hours in Paris: The sun shines through the famous stain glass windows in Saint Chapelle. Photo by Franco Beccari, flickr

The sun shines through the famous stain glass windows in Saint Chapelle. Photo by Franco Beccari, flickr

One of the most famous monuments in Paris is the Louvre – and you must be sure not to miss it on your endeavours throughout this wonderful city. Stroll from the Sainte Chapelle to join the queue, where you will enter the New Louvre – or Louvre Pyramid – join a guided tour or go alone to view some of the most famous works in the world, including the Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and The Raft of the Medusa by Theodore Gerucault. Guided tours are a great way to grasp some of the history of each of the paintings and sculptures, as well as some of the diamonds on exhibition. On the outside, you can view the Louvre Palace – and in queue for the museum, you will be witness to some remarkable people on the street who busk.

Keep in mind that there are over #5000 pieces on exhibition in the Louvre museum alone, and so you will not see the entire thing in one day. Guided tours are great because they showcase the most important pieces. However, if you are primarily interested in seeing this entire wonderful museum has to offer, it is best to dedicate an entire day to doing so.

1:00 PM

24 hours in Paris: The new Lourve pyramid stands in front of the stunning Lourve Palace. Photo by Graham MacKay, flickr

The new Lourve pyramid stands in front of the stunning Lourve Palace. Photo by Graham MacKay, flickr

Visit the Musee de l’Orangerie for art exhibitions in the late morning. It is here that you can view Monet’s Waterlilies, as well as paintings by Picasso, Soutine, Cezanne and Renoir. Built originally in 1852, the Museum itself holds quite the history and is located beside the Tuileries Garden – once where the Tuileries Palace resided in 1564. Eventually, the park was opened to the public and is now one of the loveliest places in the city to enjoy a stroll in the sun or lunch in a café or packed picnic. Stop here to enjoy the history as well as views of the Arc de Triomphe from an ideal distance whilst sipping French coffee in a park-café.

2:30 PM

24 hours in Paris: The Arc de Triomphe stands 50m tall and is covered in the inscriptions of soldiers. Photo via Allard Schager, flickr

The Arc de Triomphe stands 50m tall and is covered in the inscriptions of soldiers. Photo via Allard Schager, flickr

Walk or catch a metro bus from the Tuileries Gardens to the Arc de Triomphe to see it in its full glory, standing 50 metres tall. The arch was built in honour to those who had fought and died for France in the Napoleonic wars and French Revolution, and has the name of all French victories and generals on the inner and outer surfaces. Beneath the arch is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I – with an eternal flame burning for all those soldiers who fought and were never identified.

3:00 PM

24 hours in Paris: The famous Eiffel Tower stands tall and proud in Paris. Photo by A.G Photographe, flickr

The famous Eiffel Tower stands tall and proud in Paris. Photo by A.G Photographe, flickr

Walk down Av Kleber for a direct link to the Garden Trocadero (Jardins du Trocadero) for distance photos and views of the Eiffel Tower. The gardens are quite beautiful and offer a spectacular front view of the Eiffel Tower. Whilst at the gardens you can also stop in at the Musee National de la Marine or the Aquarium. Cross the river to join the queue that heads to the top of the Eiffel Tower – Paris’ greatest monument and world famous landmark. If you are feeling particularly fit, you can take the stairs; there are 3 levels, connected by 9 elevators and over 700 stairs. For those who are not comfortable in lifts – please remember that they are monitored by computers and surveillance to prevent them from overcrowding and stopping; and do expect lines for elevators during busy times.

4:30 PM

24 hours in Paris: Balcony's at Rue de Passy. Photo by Claudia1967, flickr

Balcony’s at Rue de Passy. Photo by Claudia1967, flickr

Stop in nearby Rue de Passy, a one way street that’s great for boutique and bargain shopping. You can find just about everything here; shoes, clothes, toys and food and nestled amongst it all are cafes, restaurants and a cinema. The area is known as “classical chic” with stylish high buildings and a great mix of boutiques and commercial department stores. This is an especially great place to rest, get a coffee and just enjoy a relaxing point in the late afternoon before heading out into the night.

6:00 PM – 10: 00 PM

24 hours in Paris: Stroll the bustling city streets thoughout Montmarte and Pigelle. Photo by Stuck in Customs, flickr

Stroll the bustling city streets thoughout Montmarte and Pigelle. Photo by Stuck in Customs, flickr

Catch a train or bus into the area of Montmartre – explore the area, which is quite unlike the city centre; it’s a place full of romance, cinema, theatre, bars and restaurants and of course, the Moulin Rouge. Shows for the Moulin Rouge normally start around 9pm – but for those who want to enjoy dinner and a show, be there around 6.30 as dinner is served at 7.00pm. Adult’s menus start from 180 EUROS including the show entry and ½ a bottle of champagne. There are also vegan and vegetarian options available. The Moulin Rouge show starts at 9pm, and roughly goes for two to three hours and should be an addition to anybody’s “must-see” list for Paris.

If you wish to eat before the show, there are a number of great restaurants throughout the Montmartre area. Try Le Bouclard for middle price-range French cuisine or La Trattoria Pulcinella for cheap Italian cuisine.

11:00 PM – 7:00 AM

24 hours in Paris: Performers on stage at the trendy Le Bus Palladium

Performers on stage at the trendy Le Bus Palladium

The night is still young! Why not stroll through the busy streets of Montmartre and the surrounding areas in search for a bar. In the slightly grungier part of town, on Rue Muller is Le Blue Club, a hipster cocktail bar and club that serves drinks into the early hours of the morning. Despite its location, this club has a great reputation and is reasonably cheap – plus they have a secret cocktail that’s worth trying and if you want a drink custom made, they’ll make it for you here.

Head out afterwards to some of the trendy clubs in Pigalle. Try Le Bus Palladium, Chez Moune, Le Rouge or Chez Carmen. If you prefer the Gay clubbing scene, head back into the city centre to the Marais where there are a few gay bars and clubs – great for an extended night of fun. If you prefer a quieter night, you can opt for one of the bars in the Marais area, which are normally open until the earlier hours of the morning and often go overlooked by the younger crowd.

Belize Blue hole from the air. Photo by Andrew Hounslea, flickr

19 incredible places to dive around the world

Diving can be magical no matter where you are, but it’s all the more amazing at these incredible places to dive around the world.

19 incredible places to dive around the world: Blue Hole, Belize

Incredible places to dive around the world: Belize Blue hole from the air. Photo by Andrew Hounslea, flickr

Belize Blue hole from the air. Photo by Andrew Hounslea, flickr

Cushioned within the Lighthouse Reef Atoll of Belize is the Great Blue Hole, a large submarine vertical cave that measures 300 metres in diameter and 125 metres deep. With its beautiful, clear water and the variety of wild marine life such as nurse sharks, sea turtles and parrot fish residing in its depths, this tremendous hole is a popular scuba diving destination.

Conditions in Belize are decent all year round. The rainy seasons are from June to November but rarely are there day long deluges. After a heavy rain the visibility on offshore sites, like the blue hole, aren’t really affected by rain. Strong winds may cause the cancellation of diving trips. March is generally the windiest month, with occassional storms in October and November. The cost of tours and diving is based on the price of fuel so don’t expect large seasonal discounts.

Average cost per dive: $40 USD + small gear hire fee.
Best time to go: Summer months January – May.

Malapascua, Philippines

Thresher sharks are in abundance on Malapascua. Photo by Project Aware

Thresher sharks are in abundance on Malapascua. Photo by Project Aware

Malapascua is located in the centre of the Coral Triangle, making each dive a pure delight filled with opportunities to explore. The Thresher Sharks are the reason people come here, they are completely harmless and in abundance all year around. There is a high chance of seeing them on every dive. The marine life in Malapascua includes hammerhead sharks, whitetip sharks, mandarin fish, countless nudibranchs, pygmy seahorses, beautiful unspoiled coral gardens and much more.

There are over 30 different dive sites in Malapascua ranging from 10 metres to 40 metres in depth, attracting an eclectic mix of marine life. Spring is the best time to visit as the sea is at its calmest but of course this is one of the busiest times of year, so be sure to book well in advance.

Average cost per dive: $25 USD.
Best time to go: Spring time (June, July, September).

Taveuni, Fiji

Incredible places to dive around the world: Reef system in the Somosomo Strait, Taveuni. Photo by Kristen Elsby, flickr

Reef system in the Somosomo Strait, Taveuni. Photo by Kristen Elsby, flickr

The legendary Rainbow Reef dive is known for its beautiful coloured fish and its extremely rich eco-system that rivals the bio-diversity found on Taveuni’s surface. The Somosomo Strait has strong tidal currents which provide a constant flow of nutrients, idyllic for soft coral growth, healthy and diverse eco systems and plentiful fish life; in fact Fiji can count over 1198 fish species and more than 230 hard and soft corals.

There are over 25 dive sites to explore around Taveuni and most have top-notch visibility. You can take an overnight ferry to Taveuni, which is highly recommended if you have the time. Otherwise there are scheduled flights that depart out of Suva and Nadi.

Average cost per dive: Dive costs vary from $35 USD to $71 USD.
Best time to go: Between the months of April & October.

Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Incredible places to dive around the world: The Great Barrier Reef, Queensland. Photo by Druzi, flickr

The Great Barrier Reef, Queensland. Photo by Druzi, flickr

Australia’s world famous Great Barrier Reef offers a diverse range of diving experiences from beginner to expert diver. Diving expeditions depart daily from all the major cities and towns along the coast and from most island resorts. No matter where you stay on the reef, you are always within a 20 – 60 minute boat ride of an excellent diving spot.

The Great Barrier Reef is a shallow dive destination with sites having an averaging a depth of between 10 – 25 metres and is brilliant all year round for diving. Some of the best diving has been experienced during the ‘wet’ season (thanks to warm waters), while the ‘dry’ season offers visitors more comfortable day time temperatures and conditions, and once in a lifetime opportunities to swim and dive with Dwarf Minke Whales

Average cost per dive: A single dive including all equipment starts at around $60 USD.
Best time to go: All year round.

Similan and Surin Islands, Thailand

Incredible places to dive around the world: Liveaboard boats anchored in the Similan National Park. Photo by Alexander Ponick

Liveaboard boats anchored in the Similan National Park. Photo by Alexander Ponick

Widely recognised as the best scuba diving area in Thailand, the Similan and Surin islands are home to almost everything – coral walls big rocks, huge sea fans and barrel sponges, caves and swim-throughs. With 25 dive sites there is certainly no lack of choice when it comes to seeing some of the most beautiful marine life in the region. Giant mantas are frequently sighted around the islands. Seahorses can also be seen at the bottom Richelieu Rock.

Most people who dive these islands do so via liveaboard, which provides full board and 14-17 dives depending on how many days you book. Seven day trips are most common and 10 day trips usually run once a month. Keep in mind that some 10 day trips also visit sites in Burma. For those with less time, there are two day trips to the Similan islands.  The best period to visit is March when the winds are calm and the water is clear. The national park is closed from May 16 to November 15 due to monsoons.

Average cost: A 7-day trip starts at around $520 USD + $6 daily use fee and entry fee.
Best time to go: March is the best month to visit.

Sting ray city, Grand Cayman Island

Incredible places to dive around the world: Sting ray city, Grand Caymans. Photo by divindk, flickr

Sting ray city, Grand Caymans. Photo by divindk, flickr

Perhaps the most famous shallow dive known to man, at only 3.6 metres deep you can experience an astounding assortment of marine life from sting rays to vibrant soft coral at this easily accessible site, perfect for diving all year round.

You can feed and play with the sting rays and other marine life like moray eels and green sea turtles with little to no experience in scuba diving or snorkelling.

Average cost per dive: $88 USD
Best time to go: All year round

Koh Tao, Thailand

Incredible places to dive around the world: Yellowstripe scad, Koh Tao. Photo by _takau99,flickr

Yellowstripe scad, Koh Tao. Photo by _takau99, flickr

During the months of April and March visibility at Koh Tao is at its peak maximising the opportunity to see the famed whale shark. All months of the year are good for diving in Koh Tao, except for the month of November due to heavy rain and choppy seas. Visibility averages out to around 20 metres on good days. Chumphon Pinnacle and Southwest Pinnacle require a longer boat trip, but are 2 of the best dive sites. Local sites not to be missed are Japanese Gardens and Shark Bay

Fierce competition on Tao has seen extremely competitive prices among dive shops and it’s apparently one of the cheapest places to learn to dive. Koh Tao produces more PADI Open Water licences than anywhere else in the world.

Average cost per dive: $21-$30 USD depending on how many dives you will do and if you have your own equipment.
Best time to go: All months except for November

Redang Island, Malaysia

Incredible places to dive around the world: Clownfish among some green sea Anemone, Redang Island. Photo by Malisimo, flickr

Clownfish among some green sea Anemone, Redang Island. Photo by Malisimo, flickr

There are more than 20 dive sites near Redang Island to suit all skill levels, including beach dives and challenging deep dives, with a good mix of coral garden, wall dives as well as sandy bottom which have a maximum depth of about 40 metres. There is a strong conservation initiative on Redang which seeks to preserve coral gardens, as a result it’s blooming.

The best time to visit Redang is during March and April especially for diving where visibility can hit 40 metres. This clarity is great for seeing Redang’s reef life including bumphead, parrotfish, jacks, nudibranchs and the occasional shark.

Average cost per dive: Single dives from $28 USD and an extra $13 USD for gear hire.
Best time to go: March and April

Cow and Calf Rocks, U.S. Virgin Islands

Incredible places to dive around the world: A dive-through at Cow and Calf Rocks, U.S. Virgin Islands, Photo by Mike Beresford, flickr

A dive-through at Cow and Calf Rocks, U.S. Virgin Islands, Photo by Mike Beresford, flickr

As the best dive spot on St. Thomas island you should expect to see a network of coral tunnels filled with caves, reefs, and ancient boulders encrusted with coral. This shallow 12 metre dive has optimal vision during the summer months which allows you to see the Juvenile Cape knifejaw and spotted flatworm on the ocean floor.

Average cost per dive: One tank dive cost $65 USD + extra for equipment
Best time to go: Summer months

Cozumel, Mexico

Incredible places to dive around the world: Cavern diving Cozumel, Mexico. Photo by Jeremaiah Davis, flickr

Cavern diving Cozumel, Mexico. Photo by Jeremaiah Davis, flickr

Cozumel’s protected marine park harbours impressive coral walls, huge canyons and pinnacles, thrilling swim-thrus and an amazing variety of sea life including. There is year round 30 metre dives with visibly, calm turquoise-blue waters and gentle currents make it a truly memorable experience.

Diving here will give you the opportunity to see spiny lobsters, hawksbill turtles, nurse sharks, crabs, squid, and snail like creatures called flamingos tongues.

Average cost per dive: $80 USD for a single 2 tank dive + equipment hire
Best time to go: May and June as it is reduced humidity and the water is still warm

Andaman Islands, India

Incredible places to dive around the world: Scuba Diving in the Andaman islands. Photo by Sailing-pucket.com

Scuba Diving in the Andaman islands. Photo by Sailing-pucket.com

Situated 1000km off the east coast of the Bay of Bengal, the Andaman Islands are a kaleidoscope of colours and coral, pristine reefs and you can feast your eyes on the mind boggling array of fish like Barracudas, manta rays, angelfish, Blue fin trevally and Lionfish.

By far the best time to visit is between January and April as it’s the calmest period meaning both the shallow 6 metre dives and the 30 metre dives will be at its most visible.

Average cost per dive: A day trip including 2 different dive locations starts at $82 USD including all gear and fees.
Best time to go: Between January and April

Apo Reef, Philippines

Incredible places to dive around the world: Apo reef is one of the best places to dive in the Philippines. Photo by Marvin PC

Apo reef is one of the best places to dive in the Philippines. Photo by Marvin PC

Apo reef is not an individual dive site rather a 34 km marine sanctuary, perfect for diving from July to December. Visibility in the reef is not affected by weather conditions so it’s perfect to visit all year round. The reef has an extensive wealth of marine life such as schools of large pelagic fish including many species of shark barracuda and manta rays. There are also some 400-500 different types of coral.

There are more than 10 different dive spots and 10 different operators on the reef which measures up to 50 metres deep, you are certainly spoilt for choice. As an added flow on effect of this competition the price of and average dive is around $25 per person.

Average cost per dive: $25 USD
Best time to go: July to December

Mabul Island, Malaysia

Incredible places to dive around the world: Mabul Island is paradise on earth for divers. Photo by Diving in Sipidan

Mabul Island is paradise on earth for divers. Photo by Diving in Sipidan

Mabul, on the surface, appears to be mainly a sandy bottom dive with broken rubble. Although upon closer inspection, the curious diver will find an amount and variety of life rarely seen before. Mabul is the macro diver’s paradise – one of the richest single destinations for small marine life in the world. It is host to Flamboyant cuttlefish, blue-ringed octopus, mimic octopus and bobtailed squids.

The dry season is great to visit this 10 site reef, that being from March all the way through to October. Prices start from around $40 for the basic individual single dive package.

Average cost per: $40 USD for 2x dives + $5-10 equipment rental
Best time to go: March through to October

Red Sea, Egypt

Incredible places to dive around the world: School of Scalefin Anthias in the Red Sea. Photo by Eric, flickr

School of Scalefin Anthias in the Red Sea. Photo by Eric, flickr

The Red Sea dive sites are characterised by beautiful, rich coral gardens teaming with tropical fish like the and has fantastic visibility up to 200 metres, easily considered one of the best in the world due to the fact it is surrounded by deserts with no rivers running into it keeping microalgae low.

The diving conditions are excellent throughout the year, cooler from October to May and with summer temperature reaching 30 degrees. This intermediate dive can reach depths of up to 40 metres and can cost around 35 euro for one dive.

Average cost per dive: $48 USD per dive
Best time to go: All year round

Silfra, Þingvellir, Iceland

Incredible places to dive around the world: Exploring the tectonic plates in Silfra, Þingvellir. Photo by Explore More

Exploring the tectonic plates in Silfra, Þingvellir. Photo by Explore More

Silfra tectonic fissure is a unique phenomenon on this planet. There are several other freshwater rifts similar to Silfra in Iceland, but Silfra itself is one of the most beautiful, interesting and easily accessible to divers.
This chill dive has a depth of over 60 metres and visibility exceeding 100 metres making it, like the Red sea, some of the clearest waters in the world.

Although it does not contain much marine life, there are rainbow trout and arctic char which occasionally make their way in from local lakes.

Average cost per dive: A day trip starts from around $350 USD per person.
Best time to go: June – September

Kailua Kona, Hawaii, United States

Incredible places to dive around the world: Divers performing a safety stop in the harbor of Kailua-Kona. Photo by Arno Gourdol

Divers performing a safety stop in the harbor of Kailua-Kona. Photo by Arno Gourdol

You should expect to see a whole host of critters when diving in Kailua Kona such as humongous manta rays, frog fish, rare eels and resting sharks. The depth of the dive is around 15 metres and the visibility in the turquoise blue waters are just as you have imagined in your dreams.

Perfect all year round, prices are also reasonable considering the knowledge and experience of the master divers in the area.

Average cost per dive: $65 USD for a day tour
Best time to go: Great all year round

Bali, Indonesia

Incredible places to dive around the world: Harlequin Shrimp found during a night dive in Seraya Bali. Photo by Doug Anderson, flickr

Harlequin Shrimp found during a night dive in Seraya Bali. Photo by Doug Anderson, flickr

There are tens of places to dive in Bali, each better than the last. The marine life is vibrant with sun fish, seas cucumbers, clown fish, star fish and sea urchins which can be seen with surprisingly great visibility.
The best time to dive in the 40 metre depth of Bali’s waters is all year round, but if you really want to see the sun fish in all their glory, July to September is ideal.

Average cost per dive: $75 USD for a 2 dive tour
Best time to go: July to September

Umkomaas, South Africa

Incredible places to dive around the world: The sardine run. Oceanic blacktip sharks at Aliwal Shoal, South Africa. Phot by Alexander Safonov

The sardine run. Oceanic blacktip sharks at Aliwal Shoal, South Africa. Photo by Alexander Safonov

The Aliwal shoal is a 1.5 km wide reef on the inner edge of the Mozambique current and in addition the warm waters often provide for excellent visibility. Its best known wildlife is the ragged tooth shark which congregates in the shoal to mate. It is not uncommon to see up to 150 in a single dive session.

Like most other dives it is around 35 metres deep and its peek time is during the summer when the waters are flat and transparent.

Average cost per dive: $40 USD including gear
Best time to go: Summer period

Darwin’s Arch, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Incredible places to dive around the world: Submerged below a school of Hammerheads at Galapagos Islands. Photo by Alexader Safonov

Submerged below a school of Hammerheads at Galapagos Islands. Photo by Alexader Safonov

Probably the best dive in the Galapagos Islands. Located on the southeast corner of Darwin Island, its depth ranges from 9 – 40+ metres and visibility is usually 12-24 metres. The Arch is a great place to watch whale sharks and other pelagics like the hammerhead, which come in hundreds to be hoovered clean by tiny fish.

Average cost per dive: $40 USD + daily park entry fee
Best time to go: All year round

mani greece. photo by telegraph UK

10 lesser known villages to explore in Greece

Old watch tower looks out over the Mediterranean in Monemvasia. Photo by Petros Galanakis , flickr

Old watch tower looks out over the Mediterranean in Monemvasia. Photo by Petros Galanakis , flickr

Greece is an absolutely stunning place to visit, steeped in history and culture. Everyone knows the tourist hot spots like Athens, but here is a list of 10 lesser known villages to explore in Greece.

10 lesser known villages to explore in Greece:

Mani

Mani is rich with seafood and impressive harbour views

Mani is rich with seafood and impressive harbour views

Located in Greece’s south, in the middle peninsula of the Peloponnese, Mani is rich with local history. From Byzantine relics to Franc castles, this pristine area is a history buff’s dream. Castello Antico in Gytheio offers exceptional service and accommodation and to entertain yourself why not try the food at Takis Fish Tavern? Or perhaps take a tour of the area through the Greece and Mediterranean Travel Centre.

Myrtos

The incredible beaches of Myrtos. Photo by Nikos K, flickr

The incredible beaches of Myrtos. Photo by Nikos K, flickr

For more of a beachside getaway is the small village of Myrtos on the south-eastern side of Crete. Its tranquil white-walled houses and long sandy beach are ideal for someone looking for a quiet getaway. Accommodation is available near the beach from the Big Blue and Mirtos Hotel while Platanos Restaurant and Bar provides suitably fine cuisine.

Apollon

Peaceful village of Apollon. Photo by Nikos Golfis, flickr

Peaceful village of Apollon. Photo by Nikos Golfis, flickr

Hidden away on the northern shore of Naxos, Apollon is the furthest thing from a tourist trap. Rather than nightclubs and crowded beaches you’ll instead receive an authentic slice of Greek culture and real people. The Adonis Hotel is the go to choice for accommodation here and you can soak up the atmosphere at the nearby Akrogiali Café and Bar.

Syrrako

Mercifully, no cars are allowed in Syrrako village. Photo by Dimitris Illiopoulos, flickr

Mercifully, no cars are allowed in Syrrako village. Photo by Dimitris Illiopoulos, flickr

Nestled in the Ionian mountain ranges in the west of the country, Syrrako is a challenging place to visit, but rewarding for a traveller with the right mindset. Cars are not allowed in the village, but there are plenty of old villas transformed into hotels to reward you for your trek such as the Syrrako Hotel. There is a memorable hiking route that crosses Chrousia’s ravine.

Vatera

Another beautiful day ends near Agios Fokas at Vatera, Lesvos. Photo by Manny Z, flickr

Another beautiful day ends near Agios Fokas at Vatera, Lesvos. Photo by Manny Z, flickr

The island of Lesvos near Turkey is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the Mediterranean, chief of which is the 7km stretch of sand that is Vatera. There is accommodation available at the Aphrodite Hotel and you can spend your time on the beach, exploring the local villages or the hot springs near Poliknitos.

Monemvasia

Magnificent architecture inside Monemvasia. Photo by Dimitris Karkanis, flickr

Magnificent architecture inside Monemvasia. Photo by Dimitris Karkanis, flickr

Monemvasia is a small island connected to Southern Greece’s mainland by a narrow bridge. This medieval village is built inside a castle and is quite a popular destination for honeymooners. The Likinia Hotel offers quality accommodation and you can pick up something to eat nearby at Mateo’s Cafe and Snack Bar.

Olympos

Fog creeping in over Olympos. Photo by Aggeliki Kal, flickr

Fog creeping in over Olympos. Photo by Aggeliki Kal, flickr

Not to be confused with the famous Mt Olympus, Olympos is yet another island location, this time on the island of Karpathos. However, instead of beaches what you’ll get at Olympos is rugged terrain and stunning natural beauty. A House for Rent is available at Irene’s House, a quaint little house renovated to welcome guests. Take a day trip to explore the rest of the island and stop by Blue Restaurant Café in neighbouring village Diafani.

Dimitsana

Storm approaching Dimitsana. Photo by Stratos, flickr

Storm approaching Dimitsana. Photo by Stratos, flickr

Dimitsana is a popular winter destination for Greeks, but it’s not well known outside of the country. There are museums where you can learn of Dimitsana’s role in the Greek revolution and plenty of restaurants where you can try some spiced Greek alcohol. Amanites B&B offers high quality accommodation and is near authentic taverns such as To Lathos.

Zagorohoria

Sunset over the rolling hills of Zagorohoria. Photo by Dimitrios Lamprou, flickr

Sunset over the rolling hills of Zagorohoria. Photo by Dimitrios Lamprou, flickr

Zagorohoria is actually made up of a number of smaller villages in the Pindus mountain range. A hiker’s dream, this region offers some amazing scenery for those with the constitution to handle it, such as the Vikos Gorge. The Artemis Apartments offer an alternative to hotels and are only 40 minutes away from the Vikos Gorge and close to taverns and restaurants like the To Dendo Restaurant.

Gavdos

Natural stone cliff arches in Gavdos. Photo by Norbert Stoop, flickr

Natural stone cliff arches in Gavdos. Photo by Norbert Stoop, flickr

Gavdos is the southernmost island in the Mediterranean and its geographic location supports the kind of activities available there. There’s not much to do on Gavdos except soak up the sun and the sea, and maybe pitch a tent. If camping is not to your liking, there is family friendly accommodation at the Kianai Beach Resort.

Sunset in Beaune, Côte d’Or. Photo by Cailtin Ross, flickr

Exploring wine routes in Burgundy

Visit wineries and vinyards in Burgundy, France. Photo by discoverfrance.com

Visit wineries and vinyards in Burgundy, France. Photo by discoverfrance.com

It is undeniable that wine is a large part of French culture, and visiting France without tasting a few different vinos would be like going to Paris without seeing the Eiffel Tower. For travellers keen to take their taste buds on a wine-tasting adventure, Burgundy France is a great place to start. The region consists of peaceful canals, well-tended vineyards, and boasts rural beauty and charm. Here’s all you need to know about exploring wine routes in Burgundy.

Exploring wine routes in Burgundy:

See the Pinot noir vines in Santenay. Photo by wikimedia.org

See the Pinot noir vines in Santenay. Photo by wikimedia.org

Located in east-central France, the French Wine region of Burgundy may be small in size but its influence is in the world of vino is tremendous. It is home to some of the most expensive wines in the known universe, but there are tasty affordable wines too. The most famous wines produced in Burgundy, commonly referred to as “Burgundies”, are dry red wines made from Pinot Noir grapes and white wines made from Chardonnay grapes.

Burgundy has a continental climate characterized by cold winters and toasty warm summers. The weather can be unpredictable with rain, hail, and frost all possible around harvest time. Because of this, vintages from Burgundy vary considerably, meaning wine connoisseurs are in for a treat with each new vintage.

The Burgundy Discovery Wine Tour

Burgundy wine tours. Photo by passepartout-homes.com

Burgundy wine tours. Photo by passepartout-homes.com

Established in 2003, the Burgundy Discovery Wine Tour is a specialist Burgundy wine tour business based from Beaune, Côte d’Or, in the heart of the Burgundy vineyards. The tour is owned and operated by husband and wife, Robert and Joy Pygott, who provide small group wine tasting tours in English.

During the Burgundy Discovery Wine Tour, tasters are taken to carefully selected wine cellars and vineyards in Burgundy which are not always accessible to the public. There are options to add hands–on cooking classes into the tour, or swap the vehicle transportation for bicycles.

Daily tours through the vineyards

Visit wine cellars bursting with history. Photo by burgundydiscovery.com

Visit wine cellars bursting with history. Photo by burgundydiscovery.com

Tours start at $308 USD per person for a full-day escorted tour group of up to eight people. The price includes the tour, tasting, and lunch. Day tours are run any day of the week, with Sundays and French Public Holidays being an exception. All tours include pick up and return to accommodation in or near Beaune, or from Beaune railway station.

A typical day begins at 9am and ends around 4.30pm. Tasters are driven in a Land Rover Discovery into the vineyards through the vast Burgundy countryside and old villages. Tour-goers learn the basics of Burgundy – its wine growing areas, grape varieties, and the appellation system, as well as get to taste some of the best wines Burgundy has to offer.

Taste the wine with Burgundy Discovery Wine Tour. Photo by burgundydiscovery.com

Taste the wine with Burgundy Discovery Wine Tour. Photo by burgundydiscovery.com

Tours include taking a closer look at the vines to appreciate ‘terroir’ of the region. The guides answer any burning questions tasters have about Burgundy and its wines. During the tour tasters have the opportunity to visit ancient cellars and working wineries to see and learn about the winemaking process and what is happening in the vineyards at the time of visiting.

A typical day consists of visiting different vineyards and three top quality wineries, tasting between 15 to 20 wines. Wine variations on the menu range from Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Aligoté from the bottle or the barrel across a range of vintages where possible.

Experience Burgundy wine with Burgundy Discovery wine tours. Photo by burgundydiscovery.com

Experience Burgundy wine with Burgundy Discovery wine tours. Photo by burgundydiscovery.com

To the winemakers, Burgundy is not only the original home of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes, but it is also home to the ‘terroir’ (tare-wah) that best expresses their character – elegant, aromatic, complex, and highly enjoyable. Terroir is the symbiosis of grape, soil, climate, vineyard placement, and the human touch, all rolled into one.

Tasters will learn about the Appellation d’Origine Controlée structure, the grape varieties, and the wine making traditions of the region. In collaboration with carefully selected local restaurants renowned for their typical Burgundian cuisine, tasters will also get to indulge in a three course lunch with matched wine.

Where the tour goes

Walk through the vines and learn about different wine varieties. Photo by burgundydiscovery.com

Walk through the vines and learn about different wine varieties. Photo by burgundydiscovery.com

Tours focus upon the vineyards of Burgundy’s Côte de Beaune, Côte de Nuits & Côte Chalonnaise. These places contain world-famous villages such as Meursault, Santenay, Puligny-Montrachet, Chassagne-Montrachet, Savigny-Les-Beaune, Nuits St Georges, Vosne Romanée, Gevrey Chambertin, Chambolle-Musigny, Mercurey, Givry and Rully.

Burgundy Discovery can tailor their wine tours to suit the needs and wants of the travellers. Larger group tour events for up to 50 people are also available. Visit www.burgundydiscovery.com to find out more. Email: info@burgundydiscovery.com. Tel: +33 (0) 6 38 53 15 27. Address: Rue des Forges, 21350 St Thibault, France. 

7 - Cocoa Island, Maldives, Photo by emai, flickr

Staying at the Cocoa Island Resort in the Maldives

 Lights line the dock at Cocoa Island Resort. Photos by mostamazingpicturesever.com

Lights line the dock at Cocoa Island Resort. Photos by mostamazingpicturesever.com

While Maldives has its share of luxurious beach front resorts, none compare to the beauty and serenity you enjoy while staying at the Cocoa Island Resort in the Maldives. Part of Christina Ong’s luxury hotel brand, COMO, Cocoa Island has an emphasis on relaxation, and many of its guests include honeymooners looking to escape the noise of the city. Consistently rated as one of the best resorts in Maldives, Cocoa Island is perfect for those who want to escape reality completely and indulge in the carefree lifestyle that this resort provides.

Staying at the Cocoa Island Resort in the Maldives

Beautiful day after day Photo by Andrea Zaros, flickr

Beautiful day after day Photo by Andrea Zaros, flickr

Built on the shallow waters of the Indian Ocean, the rooms are inspired by local dhoni boats, adjoined by simple wooden walkways. Guests can wander along the island to find their own stretch of beach, or relax in privacy on their suite’s hidden terrace. Each of these suites has their own staircase leading into the warm waters that are shallow enough to sit down and relax in. Guests can also venture out by the spa to find some deeper water or visit the spectacular pool, and first-class spa with signature treatments that people travel far and wide to experience.
A number of rooms are available at the resort, including one bedroom villas, loft villas, dhoni suites, and dhoni loft suites. All the rooms include breakfast for guests, private terrace with direct access to the lagoon, and a separate balcony. Children are also catered for at the resort, with babysitting and kids’ menus available.

What to do in the Maldives

Crystal clear waters at Cocoa Island Resort. Photo by mostamazingpicturesever

Crystal clear waters at Cocoa Island Resort. Photo by mostamazingpicturesever

If the relaxation lifestyle doesn’t sound appealing, the resort may still have something for you. With a number of water sports available such as scuba diving, boating, fishing, jet skiing, and sailing, you’re sure to find plenty to do. The scuba diving in particular has been rated among the best in the world due to its quiet, undisturbed waters, ensuring amazing colour close to hand. Night diving can also be experienced, where guests can encounter octopus, the bizarre frog fish, batfish, and many other sea creatures. An on-site dive centre caters to every level of experience, and gives you more than 20 dive sites to choose from. Guests can also enjoy a champagne sunset cruise while watching dolphins swim by, or head to the waterfront Como Shambhala Retreat Spa.

Where to eat

 Inside one of the lofty overwater bungalows. Photo by omkararetreats.com

Inside one of the lofty overwater bungalows. Photo by omkararetreats.com

Guests will love the fine dining on the island at Ufaa, which includes a menu that changes daily and a range of fresh seafood and international cuisines. Dine with your feet in the sand at the main restaurant, or head to the bar for a number of fine wines, exotic cocktails, and refreshing juices. Guests can also enjoy room service and dining on their own private balcony. If all this isn’t enough, visitors can venture to the neighbouring island resort of Anantara and enjoy the Thai cuisine of Baan Huraa restaurant.

When to go and how to get there

Magical sunset over the Cocoa Islands. Photo by emai, flickr

Magical sunset over the Cocoa Islands. Photo by emai, flickr

The climate of Maldives is tropical, meaning hot, humid, and dry. However, it also has monsoon seasons. If you want to enjoy the sun as much as possible, head over between December and April, which are dry seasons. Flights are available from many major cities to Malé International Airport. The resort itself is located 40 minutes from the Malé airport by speedboat over beautiful, clear waters.