Monthly Archives: September 2014

The idyllic and aptly named, blue lagoon. Photo via Aril Horne

Staying at the Blue Lagoon in Jamaica

Enticingly tucked away on the eastern edge of Jamaica’s northern shore, near the harbour city of Port Antonio, lies the Blue Lagoon. This popular tourist spot has the best of what Jamaica and the Caribbean has to offer and almost all of the elements that comprise a luxurious tropical getaway.

Just picture the lush hillsides rich in greenery rolling into the crystalline turquoise waters of the lagoon. Only a short drive away from the Port, it’s remote enough to allow you to feel you’re off the beaten path without completely isolating you from civilisation.

The Blue Lagoon in Jamaica

The lagoon itself is actually rather famous. It was used as the location for the Brooke Shields movie The Blue Lagoon. Once upon a time the lagoon had been known as “The Blue Hole”, but thanks to the popularity of that movie, it was permanently renamed the Blue Lagoon.

The water really is this blue. Photo via Mike Fischer

The water really is this blue. Photo via Mike Fischer

Because the Caribbean is such a tropical environment, it’s generally warm enough to visit all year round if you’re looking for a seaside vacation. However, it’s worth keeping in mind that the summer months – June to August- will be quite busy as this is a popular destination. Late spring or early autumn might just be your best bet for making the best of the tropical environment without being crowded by other tourists. Hurricanes can occasionally be a factor too, so take into account

The Blue Lagoon Villas are incredible

Blue Lagoon overwater villas. Photo via hdwallpapers

Blue Lagoon overwater villas. Photo via hdwallpapers

The absolute best way to experience the lagoon is by staying in one of the villas that dot the shore. The more luxurious options will give you immediate and exclusive access to the lagoon. The decks of these villas come out right over the water, so much so that you can dip your toes or dive straight in.

The Tropical Lagoon Resort offers villas from upwards of 170 US dollars a night and has discounted summer rates from April to December.

Alternatively, there is accommodation for those on more of a budget in nearby Boston Bay. Great Huts offers both high-end, but also budgeted accommodation for those travellers looking for a much more rustic experience. From as little as 75 US dollars a night, you can stay in a range of authentic accommodation including bamboo huts, tents and stone towers to really soak up the tropical atmosphere.

What to do when staying in paradise

Take a lazy ride on a raft. Photo via Maria Massoni

Take a lazy ride on a raft. Photo via Maria Massoni

There are a range of activities for travellers to indulge themselves in while staying at the Blue Lagoon. While it may not be the ideal activity for adrenaline junkies, the best thing you could do is spend your time lounging around and exploring the lagoon itself. Swimming the bright turquoise waters is both refreshing and fascinating.

The reason the waters of the Blue Lagoon is such a vivid colour is because of its depth; locals used to believe that the lagoon was bottomless, but since then it has been revealed that the depths of the lagoon can range up to 200 feet, so you might have a hard time touching the bottom without snorkelling gear.

Another thing you might notice while you’re swimming through the water is the varying temperatures. This is because the water of the lagoon is comprised of a mix of fresh and salt water. The lagoon is open to the sea, so the warm Caribbean waters flow in, but it is also fed by underwater springs which contain very chilly fresh water, which makes for quite a swimming experience.

Go underwater to see some marine friends. Photo via www.visitgozo.com

Go underwater to see some marine friends. Photo via www.visitgozo.com

Alternatively, you can get out onto the water by boat. There are a range of guided boat tours available, and your tour guide will take you through the waters informing you of the history of the lagoon, as well as local lore and will even detail appearances of the lagoon in movies. Take for instance the local legend that the lagoon is a deep as it is because a sea dragon resides at the bottom.

Boat tours are usually available all year round and are well worth the cost at an average of 30 US dollars or 3000 JMD.

If lounging around in a tropical environment isn’t enough for you, you can venture into Port Antonio to try out some of the local activities. Activities like walking tours that explore local waterfalls are relaxing ways to take in the scenery. You can also visit Firefly House, the historic home of playwright Noel Coward. None of these are particularly heart-stopping adventures, but then, Blue Lagoon is more of a laid-back destination.

How to get to the Blue Lagoon

A relaxed approach is advocated by locals. Photo via www.visitgozo.com

A relaxed approach is advocated by locals. Photo via www.visitgozo.com

Blue Lagoon is only a short 5km drive away from Port Antonio which is accessible from most parts of Jamaica. From Kingston, it’s just under two hours travel to Blue Lagoon, while from Montego Bay it will take you about three and a half hours. If you’re planning on visiting Blue Lagoon, it’s suggested that you pack light so you can get the full experience of your tropical surroundings.

Contact

Great Huts Resort
+ 1 (876) 993-8888 / +1 (876) 353 3388
info@greathuts.com

Tropical Lagoon Villas Resort
JM +1 (876) 993-8232 / 838-5036
USA 954-278-7170

Patong Beach the largest and most popular of Phukets beaches. photo via travelchannel

15 of the Best Beaches in Thailand

Thailand is home to some of the best beaches in the world. Beautiful white sands and softly breaking waves, there is little better than the blue waters of the Thai beaches. So grab a beach towel and get your board shorts on because we are going to explore 15 of the best beaches in Thailand.

Patong Beach

Patong Beach the largest and most popular of Phukets beaches. photo via travelchannel

Patong Beach the largest and most popular of Phukets beaches. photo via travelchannel

Patong Beach is the largest and most popular of Phuket’s beaches. This is undoubtedly due to the beautiful soft, white sand, warm water and plethora of restaurants, hotels and bars that line the nearby areas. If you are staying in the heart of Phuket then you’ll need to take a relatively short bus ride to the beach, or catch a cab. The fare for either shouldn’t exceed 10USD. If you are staying in one of the many hotels that line the nearby area then it should be just a short walk to the beach and surrounding restaurants for a quick drink.

Maya Bay

Maya Bay in the small island of Ko Phi Phi. Photo via ytravelblog

Maya Bay in the small island of Ko Phi Phi. Photo via ytravelblog

Surrounded by tall limestone cliffs, this beach is a part of the small island of Ko Phi Phi. The beach is held within a small bay and may have some of the most spectacular scenery of any Thai beach, the cliffs are covered in beautiful green vegetation, and the water is a beautiful blue. The easiest way to get to this deserted beauty is by boat from Phuket; however expect a relatively long journey as the distance is around 20km.

Hua Hin Beach

Hua Hin Beach located on Krabi. Photo via flickr

Hua Hin Beach located on Krabi. Photo via flickr

This beach located within the Gulf of Siam is an extremely popular spot for locals and international visitors. The beach is extremely accessible, being close to Bangkok, however if you are looking for a great swimming experience it might leave something to be desired, due to the slope from beach into the gulf. To get to the beach from Bangkok it’s advised that you catch a Tuk Tuk or Taxi, remember to get your driver to activate his meter or be prepared to pay extra.

Railay Beach

Railay Beach offers beautiful serenity. Photo via sheknows

Railay Beach offers beautiful serenity. Photo via sheknows

This quiet beach is located on Krabi, an area on the mainland to the East of Phuket. The beach is only accessible by boat from Ao Nang, making it a bit difficult to get too especially given that Krabi is not a popular tourist destination. However if you do get there, be prepared for an extremely quiet and serene time. There are no cars near the beach, so you can sit back and enjoy the sandy beaches whilst listening to the water.

Mai Khao

Mai Khao is easily accessed and close to Phulet airport. Photo via jetsetter

Mai Khao is easily accessed and close to Phulet airport. Photo via jetsetter

Mai Khao in Phuket is a beautiful beach close to the airport. This is one of the best stops after a long flight, really helping you wind down and relax. Unlike other beaches on Phuket, Mai Khao is a great alternative for those wanting to get away from the busier parts of Phuket. But if you want to socialise a bit, the nearby hotel Centara has a great range of restaurants, bars and even a waterpark for your entertainment needs.

Karon Beach

Karon Beach has an awesome nightlife. Photo via ytravelblog

Karon Beach has an awesome nightlife. Photo via ytravelblog

This beach in Phuket is all about the restaurants and nightlife. Whilst it’s not as wild as Patong beach, this beach is perfect for those who still want to get out and have a good time, but not be crushed by the hordes of party goers in Patong. This beach stretches over a great area, with beautiful light blue waters and lots of beach chairs for you to relax on in the sun. Karon Beach is located on the Southern end of Phuket Island and is easily accessed by Tuk Tuk.

Kata Beach

Kata Beach has got some of the best natural scenery of Thailand. Photo via myfatpocket

Kata Beach has got some of the best natural scenery of Thailand. Photo via myfatpocket

Phuket once again shows off its natural beauty with Kata Beach. This beach has got soft, white sands and lots of vegetation lining nearby islands. Whilst some of the surf of the beaches in Phuket can get a bit choppy, Kata Beach is protected by the stretch of land blocking some of the wind from the sea. Like Karon Beach, Kata is located to the South of Phuket and is easily accessed by public transport or a taxi service.

Kantiang Beach

Kantiang Beach located on Ko Lanta Island. Photo via amazinglanta

Kantiang Beach located on Ko Lanta Island. Photo via amazinglanta

This beach is located on Ko Lanta Island, which is to the South East of Phuket. Being close to Krabi this area while not a haven for tourists, offers a great choice of hotels and restaurants. This beach doesn’t attract the big crowds, but has got beautiful scenic views over the water and lush mountainous vegetation on the surrounding countryside. To get to this island you have to take the Krabi Lanta Island Ferry.

Phi Phi Don

Phi Phi Don Beach has got idyllic scenery. Photo via travelinthailand

Phi Phi Don Beach has got idyllic scenery. Photo via travelinthailand

This location has got quite a tourist following because of the idyllic scenery and closed off bay area that stops any massive wave action. Located directly south of Krabi and only accessed by boat, this island might seem a bit difficult to get too, however be assured that when you arrive you will be blessed by a beautiful series of views, however be sure to book rooms early as there are only a few places to stay on the island and they get booked out very quickly.

Chaweng

Chaweng Beach has got great nightlife and beautiful sands. Photo via samui-hotels

Chaweng Beach has got great nightlife and beautiful sands. Photo via samui-hotels

Chaweng town has a great nightlife and recently has set up a new shopping area, which is great for finding lots of cheap clothes. The beach stretches on for an impressive distance and has got miles of beautiful sands and trees to impress any tourist. Located within the island of Koh Samui this beach is pretty easy to get to, given that most of the resorts on the island are located within a kilometre of Chaweng town. To get to Koh Samui you can book a flight from Bangkok, making it very accessible, and indeed the number of tourists reflects this. The beach is packed all the time and can sometimes be a bit dirty; however the views over the water are well worth it.

Bophut

Bophut Beach has got fantastic locations that let you explore Koh Samui. Photo via thai-real

Bophut Beach has got fantastic locations that let you explore Koh Samui. Photo via thai-real

Being near the amazing Big Buddha temple, Bophut Beach has got a fantastic location which allows you to see all of the great attractions on the Northern Coast of Koh Samui. The number of restaurants near the beach is extensive and range from Italian to traditional Thai. We recommend the oddly named Dr Frogs for a beautiful lunch at a very reasonable price. Considering that Koh Samui is one of the most expensive areas in Thailand Dr Frogs is a bargain. If you are on Samui Island and not close to the beach itself then get your resort to arrange a taxi.

Choeng Mon

Choeng Mon is one of the most child friendly beaches on Thailand. Photo via Tatjana

Choeng Mon is one of the most child friendly beaches on Thailand. Photo via Tatjana

This is one of the most child friendly beaches, with low lying clean water and offering great views out over the sea to the distant horizon. Once again Choeng Mon is within Koh Samui and can be accessed by Taxi. There are a few great restaurants that are not very far away, and Chaweng town is a short walk away requiring little effort. The Hotel Tangsai Bay has got an unbelievable view out over the water for those that have the cash to spare.

Bottle Beach

Bottle Beach has some of the most beautiful mountain views. Photo via gettingcloseto

Bottle Beach has some of the most beautiful mountain views. Photo via gettingcloseto

This beach located on Koh Pha Ngan is all about the scenic mountains which surround the beach. Covered in trees and vegetation there is a lot to see on Bottle Beach, and If you are seeking a relaxed, long term stay then Koh Pha Ngan is a great island to visit. To reach the island you have to take a ferry from one of the eastern sides of mainland Thailand, a fairly short trip that shouldn’t be any more than US$20.

Koh Samet

Koh Samet is close to Bangkok and is easily accessible. Photo via bangkok.simon

Koh Samet is close to Bangkok and is easily accessible. Photo via bangkok.simon

This beach, close to Bangkok is another easily accessible area; to get to the area you can either take a 90 minute bus ride or a short ferry from the mainland. This area is best to travel to if going to Thailand during the wet season, as it has the countries driest weather. This makes a great day trip if you want to have a swim, as the water is quite clean and protected by the coast.

Long Beach

Long Beach has incredible jaggy outcrops. Photo via asiawebdirect

Long Beach has incredible jaggy outcrops. Photo via asiawebdirect

Our final beach, Long Beach can be found on Ko Phi Phi Le Island. This Island is difficult to get to, only being accessible via the water and containing no hotels or roads. Having said that though, you could quite easily walk around the entire island in less than an hour. To get to this island you have to catch a private ferry from Phuket or Krabi, which can be quite a chore. However the natural beauty of Ko Phi Phi Le is not to be missed, with jagged rocky outcrops all around the island which protect the beach from waves.

Lake Rotorua from the town of Rotorua

The Lakes and Hot Springs of Rotorua

New Zealand is an area world renowned for its natural beauty. Indeed most tourists go to witness the majesty of the snow topped mountain ranges. But sometimes the most beautiful things to see are the ones which many people don’t really think about, which is why this article will be focused on The Lakes and Hot Springs of Rotorua.

Having said that, those mountain ranges are unbelievable. Photo by hdlandscape

Having said that, those mountain ranges are unbelievable. Photo by hdlandscape

Lakes and Hot Springs of Rotorua: It’s not very difficult to get to Rotorua

Rotorua is home to some of the most scenic lakes in New Zealand. The name Rotorua originates from the native Maori language, translated it means ‘Second Lake’ or ‘Crater Lake,’ appropriate as the main lake was formed from the crater of an ancient volcano. The waters are often a beautiful vibrant blue and are encapsulated within massive mountain ranges. Mount Tarawera is particularly imposing as it looms over the country side.

The view of the area around Mt. Tarawera. Photo via Z

The view of the area around Mt. Tarawera. Photo via Z

The city is located on the North Island, around a three hour drive south east of Auckland. The area has a plethora of hotels and restaurants, so you’ll never be left wanting. Prices range from low to high and all that is in between. We suggest that you get a hire car so that you can easily travel around the city and the surrounding country side; it is well worth the extra cost.

The Lakes of Rotorua

The biggest lake of Rotorua is the aptly named Rotorua Lake. The lake is located directly opposite the city, and in fact you can see it from most areas of Rotorua. Surrounding the lake are the main highways and roads which take you all over the New Zealand country side. It’s suggested that you avoid the winter months as much as possible in New Zealand, as it can get extremely cold, especially when staying near the Lakes. Travel around December to February for the best chance at staying warm.

Lake Rotorua from the town of Rotorua

Lake Rotorua from the town of Rotorua

The lake can be toured by boat or you can take the highways to see the full perimeter. If you travel to the Northern end of the lake Mt. Tarawera provides a spectacular backdrop. We suggest that you stay close to Lake Rotorua and use it as your hub for travelling to the other lakes. The Regent of Rotorua is a great hotel to stay in, offering the most comfortable stay in Rotorua, with great access to the rest of the city.

Lake Rotorua is amazing to see from all angles and heights

Lake Rotorua is amazing to see from all angles and heights

There is more than just Lake Rotorua though, the smaller lakes of Rotorua; Lake Rotokakahi or the Green Lake, are especially beautiful due to their natural coloured waters. The Green Lake is especially stunning; with green waters caused by a large amount of vegetation and low to the ground water level.

Lake Rotokakahi or the Green Lake is naturally stunning.

Lake Rotokakahi or the Green Lake is naturally stunning.

Lake Tarawera, another small lake is unsurprisingly located close to Mt Tarawera. This lake is particularly popular with fisherman for the rainbow trout that inhabit the area. However all year round the lake teams with tourists wanting to relax in the nearby hot water beaches caused by the volcanic activity of the mountain.

Lake Tarawera offers magnificent views of the mountain and more.

Lake Tarawera offers magnificent views of the mountain and more.

Relax in the Hot Water Springs

Most of the hot water springs in Rotorua are run by local businesses, which provide day treatments for customers to sit back and relax. The springs are powered by the local geothermal activity, which also leads to the numerous geysers around the countryside.

One of the many hot water springs of Rotorua

One of the many hot water springs of Rotorua

We recommend The Polynesian Spa for your relaxation needs. The spa has both a mineral pool and spa therapies, which suit everyone from couples to families. All you need to do is sit back and let the hot water melt away all of the tension in your limbs.

The Geysers of Rotorua are well worth a visit, the Pohutu Geyser being the most famous. This Geyser shoots water up to 30 metres into the air, up to 20 times a day. The geothermal energy required for geysers to form is exceptionally rare, making this visit all the more important.

The geysers of Rotorua must be seen

The geysers of Rotorua must be seen

From Rotorua, the trip to the Pohutu Geyser takes about 5-10 minutes by car, and the same by bus of which there is a constant service. The Geyser operates all year round with no time of the year being better than another. There are even hotels and holiday inns situated close to the geysers for those who want to experience their continuous majesty.

Bellagio, the beautiful town on the Lake. Photo via Panoramio

Why you need to visit Como, Italy

Como is a city located in the north of Italy, just below its border with Switzerland. It is famous for the magnificent lake that has been the source of numerous film and photograph shoots.

But most importantly Como is an area of serenity. The massive lake is still, and when you stand at the shore you can hear little but the lapping of water and the wind. It is a beautiful area and everybody should get the opportunity to visit there.

The perfect Lake Como. Photo by discover0

The perfect Lake Como. Photo by discover0

So relax, and find out why you need to visit Como, Italy.

The Villas and Palaces

Como has innumerably beautiful houses, however no residential building can compare with the historic villas and palaces. Most of the villas were constructed in the late 1700’s. The incredible Villa del Balbianello was constructed in 1787 for the Cardinal Angelo Maria Durini, presently however it is a tourist haven. The villa houses beautiful gardens and the walls of the villa are covered in a stunning variety of vines. The villa is so magnificent that it has been used for numerous film shoots, most famously Casino Royale and Star Wars II Attack of the Clones.

Villa del Balbianello, incredible to see even from air. Photo via vanityfair

Villa del Balbianello, incredible to see even from air. Photo via vanityfair

The Cathedral of Como is also a must see. The intricacies of the carved marble statues and the beautiful intricate frescos of the Duomo are a sight that must be seen in your lifetime. There are few buildings in the world than compare with the Italian churches.

The Duomo of Como, such incredible architecture. Photo via whiteivory

The Duomo of Como, such incredible architecture. Photo via whiteivory

Lake Como

Lake Como is one of the main reasons why tourists everywhere flock to Como. It is a source great natural beauty, feeding numerous species of flora and fauna. However the lake also acts as a fantastic way to get around. You can hire a private boat to explore all of the gardens and villas that line the shore or you can go for a hike and explore the old fashioned way. Rest assured no matter how you go exploring there will always be something to see.

The beautiful buildings that line the side of Lake Como. Photo via thetimes

The beautiful buildings that line the side of Lake Como. Photo via thetimes

The best way to get around Como is by ferry. There is a regular service which leaves from the dock and travels up and down the lake, which is one of the cheaper ways to see all of the amazing sights. You won’t miss anything, as pretty much all of the sites are visible from the water and easily accessed from wharves.

The ferry service on Lake Como. Photo via genius-loci

The ferry service on Lake Como. Photo via genius-loci

If you do decide on catching a ferry we recommend a day trip to the town of Bellagio. A beautiful town situated at one of the most northern parts of Italy, Bellagio is known as the ‘Pearl of Lake Como.’ The reasoning behind this? The perfect climate of the area means that there is a plentiful supply of trees and flowers that grow all over the countryside. The greenery really helps add to the scenic blues of Lake Como, making your relaxation experience even better.

Bellagio, the beautiful town on the Lake. Photo via Panoramio

Bellagio, the beautiful town on the Lake. Photo via Panoramio

The Pigra Cable Car

Some people (myself included) are not the biggest fans of heights, but even I can admit when there is a view so magnificent that it must be seen this fear must be overcome. The Pigra Cable Car is an example of this, it’s scary, but oh so worth it. Going up the cableway you get a panoramic view of Como City, with the mountains forming a border around the blue waters of Lake Como. On a good day the clouds form around the top of the mountains creating a stunning display that makes for the best photos.

The Pigra Cableway view. Photo via chefquak

The Pigra Cableway view. Photo via chefquak

The town of Pigra at the top of the cableway is a beautiful hamlet, but other than the views there isn’t a lot to do, however if you have the time take the walk from Pigra to Colonno. The track takes you through the countryside with more great views of Lake Como and Como City, as well as showing off some of the more scenic towns and villas that line the water and mountainside. From Colonno you can catch a bus back to wherever you came from, or if the day is still young you can stop off at Sala Comacina for a swim and a coffee.

Make sure to finish your walk with a coffee in Sala Comacina. Photo via panoramio

Make sure to finish your walk with a coffee in Sala Comacina. Photo via panoramio

After all there is nothing better than putting back on those calories that you burn off by the walk.

Aurora Borealis seen from Ireland. Image via Distractify.

20 Places with Amazing Nature

Over the centuries humans have managed to manipulate nature for both functional and aesthetic purposes. And nature is perfectly capable of both adapting to human invention, and creating awe-inspiring sights on its own. We take a look at some of the most incredible places in nature that you may not have heard of.

Places with Amazing Nature: Dead Valley, Nambia

Once part of a thriving forest, encroaching desert has taken over. Image via Distractify

Once part of a thriving forest, encroaching desert has taken over. Image via Distractify

While this might look like a piece of abstract art, it is actually a photograph of the trees of ‘Dead Valley’ in Nambia against the sand dunes – the highest in the world. The trees were once a part of a thriving forest, but the desert has expanded, and left us with this incredible sight.

Tunnel of Love, Ukraine

Lost and forgotten, nature has grown around passing trains. Image via Distractify

Lost and forgotten, nature has grown around passing trains. Image via Distractify

This beautiful sight might look more at home in Japan (home of the famous Wisteria Tunnel), but is actually found in the Ukraine. When the rail line was in use, the trees grew around the trains, creating this gorgeous tunnel. Now that the rail line is defunct, it is a beautiful and well-known walking path.

Yuanyang County, China

A landscape that looks more like a drawing. Image via Distractify.

A landscape that looks more like a drawing. Image via Distractify.

It might look like someone has carefully drawn these hills, but in truth, these are the farmlands of Yuanyang County, China. The distinctive farming method, including ‘terraced’ levels to make the uneven landscape usable, have created this incredible view.

Lake Hillier, Australia

The lakes distinctive colour is caused by balance of algae. Image via Distractify

The lakes distinctive colour is caused by balance of algae. Image via Distractify

Incredible shades of blue and green are common in the oceans and lakes of the world, but few countries can boast a body of water that is candy-pink. Lake Hillier in Australia is one of the few that can, thanks to the algae and bacteria that have dyed the water its distinctive colour. Luckily, the bacteria have no negative effect on the surrounding environment.

Hidden Beach, Mexico

Hidden Beach is only accessible through a short tunnel.  Image via Distractify.

Hidden Beach is only accessible through a short tunnel. Image via Distractify.

A hidden beach sounds perfect, doesn’t it? This particular marvel is found in Mexico, and its formal name is Playa de Amor (the Beach of Love). The result was a combination of bomb-testings in the early 1900s and volcanic activity, creating an in incredible sanctuary, where you can relax and watch local sealife in their natural habitat.

Sea of Stars, Maldives

The light in the Sea of Stars is bioluminscent plankton. Image via Distractify.

The light in the Sea of Stars is bioluminscent plankton. Image via Distractify.

This magical sight is from the Vaadhoo Island in the Maldives and ‘the Sea of Stars’ has become quite famous in the last few years and with good reason. This scene that would look at home in a Disney film, is known as ‘marine bioluminescence’, and caused by phytoplankton in the water.

Plitvice Lakes, Croatia

This lake is naturally created as water flowed around limestone. Image via Distractify.

This lake is naturally created as water flowed around limestone. Image via Distractify.

Another location that looks like it belongs in a fantasy movie, the Plitvice National Park in Croatia boasts this elegant and naturally-formed site. Time is the main cause of these caves and waterfalls, with the flow of the water creating natural dams, caves, lakes and waterfalls.

Highlands, Iceland

Aurora Borealis seen from Ireland. Image via Distractify.

Aurora Borealis seen from Ireland. Image via Distractify.

Iceland boasts some of the most beautiful natural sights on earth, and the highlands of Iceland take that one step further. During the day, you can glimpse the glaciers and geysers that Iceland is known for. But at night, you have a front row seat to one of the most beautiful and mysterious displays in existence – the Aurora Borealis.

Lake Natron, Tanzania

The salt-content is deadly to wildlife. Image by Distractify.

The salt-content is deadly to wildlife. Image by Distractify.

Another brightly coloured lake, this time found in Tanzania. The colour of Lake Natron is caused by microorganisms drawn to the exceptionally high salt content. As eye-catching as Lake Natron is, sadly the high salt-content is deadly to local wildlife.

Antelope Canyon, Arizona, United States

Less light reaches the caves and crevices of Antelope Canyon. Image via Distractify,

Less light reaches the caves and crevices of Antelope Canyon. Image via Distractify,

One of the most well-known sites on our list, Antelope Canyon was formed over a massive period of time, by flowing water, creating narrow and intriguing caves and crevices that mimic the shape and movement of water. The bright colours are simply determined by the amount of light that reaches the crevices.

Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

Thin layer of water forms on Salar de Uyuni during winter. Image via Distractify.

Thin layer of water forms on Salar de Uyuni during winter. Image via Distractify.

Salar de Uyumi, the famous salt flats, have to one of our favourites. Formed from a series of prehistoric lakes, this natural marvel becomes a giant mirror during the rainy season, reflecting the sky perfectly. These Bolivian salt flats are so reflective (and flat!), they’ve been used to calibrate satellites.

Reed Flute Caves, China

China's Reed Flute Caves were created by water erosion. Image via Distractify.

China’s Reed Flute Caves were created by water erosion. Image via Distractify.

Found in Guilin, China, the Reed Flute Caves are another marvel formed by the ebb and flow of water. The stalagtites and stalagmites were formed through erosion, and have been a popular tourist attraction for over a millenia.

Glowworm Caves, New Zealand

The Glowworn Grotto is an incredible place. Image via Distractify.

The Glowworn Grotto is an incredible place. Image via Distractify.

Found in Waitomo, New Zealand, the ceiling dotted with glowworms isn’t the most amazing part of this site. The Waitomo Caves are divided onto three levels, where visitors can see some of the amazing limestone formations, the largest of which is known as ‘the Pipe Organ’. It is the final stage of the tour that visitors are shown the Glowworm Grotto, apart of the underground Waitomo River.

Pamukkale Hot Springs, Turkey

Limestone is what gives the hot springs their white colour. Image via Distractify.

Limestone is what gives the hot springs their white colour. Image via Distractify.

This particular sight might inspire images of Greenland or Russia, but don’t let the almost ice-like appearance fool you: these are the Pamukkale Hot Springs, found in Turkey. The terraced hot springs formed slowly over millions of years. Despite looking rather icy, the white colouring is caused by limestone, not ice. The hot springs are in use all year around.

Fingal’s Cave, Scotland

Looks like someone carefully chiseled out the rock formations. Photo by whenonearth.net

Looks like someone carefully chiseled out the rock formations. Photo by whenonearth.net

It’s quite obvious how much inspiration humans take from the natural world when you see sights like Fingal’s Cave, in Scotland. It might look like it would be at home in a sci-fi film, the geometric formations the cave is known for are the result of lava heating and cooling over millions of years.

Bigar Waterfall, Romania

Bigar Waterfall is has an enchanting effect. Image via Distractify.

Bigar Waterfall is has an enchanting effect. Image via Distractify.

Sometimes two things come together to create something incredible. In this case, Romania’s Bigar Waterfall is the seemingly simply combination of a moss-covered cliff and an underground water spring. The result? One of the most beautiful waterfalls in the world.

Grand Prismatic Hot Spring, Wyoming

These hot springs credits its vivid colours to microbes. Image via Distractify.

These hot springs credits its vivid colours to microbes. Image via Distractify.

We can credit most brightly coloured bodies of water to algae and microorganisms, and Wyoming’s Grand Prismatic Hot Spring is no different. Pigmented microbes grow around the edges of the enormous spring, which has resulted in a vibrant take on the spring’s natural colours.

Caño Cristales River, Colombia

Travelling along the river the colours change. Images via Distractify.

Travelling along the river the colours change. Images via Distractify.

We think it’s safe to say that with the combination of time and water, Mother Natural can achieve anything. Colombia’s Cano Cristales River is definitely evidence of that. With the rock that surrounds the river dating back 1.2 billion years, it is the flora and fauna that call the river home that gives the river its rainbow of colours.

Underwater River, Cenote Angelita, Mexico

Hydrogen sulphate content has create a second river below. Image via Distractify.

Hydrogen sulphate content has create a second river below. Image via Distractify.

This setting might look spooky, and the result of special effects, but the truth is much stranger – and cooler. Underneath the waters of Cenote Angelita is a second river. This river is full of hydrogen sulphate; this makes it much heavier than the salt water of Cenote Angelita, and has resulted in an independent, secondary river below the surface.

Tianzi Mountains, China

The Tianzi Mountains are an awe-inspiring natural wonders. Image via Distractify.

The Tianzi Mountains are an awe-inspiring natural wonders. Image via Distractify.

China has proven that it has some of the most incredible natural sights in the world, and this final entry on our list is no exception. The Tianzi Mountains were originally formed underwater almost 400 million years ago as water eroded the sandstone, and reach over 4000 feet about sea level. So otherworldly, they were featured in James Cameron’s Avatar.

6. Bench

18 Benches with the Most Incredible Views

A great way to spend a few hours on a weekend is too sit back and relax, watching the sun set in some picturesque park. But really, some landscapes are better than others and these 18 Benches exhibit the most unbelievable views that we can find.

Sit back and relax, and check out the 18 Benches with the most incredible

Benches with the Most Incredible Views: The Beautiful Autumn Benches

It is unknown where in the world these benches are, but it is undoubtedly an incredible area. The autumn leaves fall all over the walkways, and the trees range from an incredible orange to ochre browns.

Bench with incredible views Bench with incredible views Bench with incredible views Bench with incredible views

The Benches Around Lakes and Ponds

These images makes up everything you want in an incredible park bench. It’s got serene waters, amazing coloured trees and undoubtedly that fantastic level of quiet that only comes with sitting amongst nature. These benches in Portugal show off the amazing mirror-like waters of the previous image. This kind of ‘natural boasting’ is what makes this image one of the best.

5. Bench 6. Bench 10. Bench 12. Bench 11. Bench

The Sea-Side Benches

The sea-side shows off some really fantastic views of sunsets and sunrises. The rolling waves let you drift off to sleep whilst watching the sunsets and the stretching water, going beyond the horizon.

14. Bench 9. Bench 7. Bench

 

The Cityscape Benches

These benches compliment the beautiful city lights that snake their way through side streets and burst through large open areas. From these benches you can sit down, relax and watch the comings and goings of the busy city life.

17. Bench 16. Bench

 

The Mountain Range Benches

Mountain Ranges are one of the most incredible natural formations that Earth holds. Whether they are covered in snow or massive green trees, mountains capture water and trap clouds to form the most unbelievable views to sit back and admire.

15. Bench 13. Bench Bench with incredible views

Fingals Cave was formed by cooling lava. Photo by xcitefun.net

Discovering Fingal’s Cave in Scotland

Discovering Fingal’s Cave in Scotland, an ominous sea cave on the uninhabited island of Staffa in Scotland formed entirely from basalt and lava. The cave is seventy two feet tall and two-hundred-seven feet deep. The hexagonal columns of basalt that make up the interior walls are visually astounding. The natural cathedral-like cave is a must-see while exploring Scotland.

Fingals Cave in Scotland. Photo by lifefoc.com

Fingals Cave in Scotland. Photo by lifefoc.com

The cave was formed by the flow of lava upon basalt. As the lava cooled it resulted in a blocky tetragonal pattern forming the long hexagonal columns that make up the cave. The size of the cave and its naturally arched roof give it the atmosphere of a natural cathedral, and the echoes of the waves throughout the cave create eerie sounds.

The rushing water inside Fingals Cave create eerie sounds. Photo by whenonearth.net

The rushing water inside Fingals Cave create eerie sounds. Photo by whenonearth.net

The cave’s Gaelic name, An Uaimh Bhinn, means “the melodious cave.” It became known as Fingal’s Cave after the hero of an epic poem, by 18th-century Scots poet-historian James Macpherson. In Irish mythology, the hero Fingal is known as Fionn mac Cumhaill, and it is suggested that Macpherson rendered the name as Fingal, meaning “white stranger”.

Inside Fingals Cave in Scotland. Photo by prafulla.net

Inside Fingals Cave in Scotland. Photo by prafulla.net

The Island of Staffa

Staffa is a small uninhabited island on the West Coast of Scotland, near Mull and Iona. The island is famous for its natural beauty, especially Fingal’s Cave. This spectacular cave has inspired many famous visitors throughout the centuries including the composer Felix Mendelssohn, the author Walter Scott, and the poet William Wordsworth.

See the hexagonal columns of Fingals Cave up close. Photo by paperblog.com

See the hexagonal columns of Fingals Cave up close. Photo by paperblog.com

Today it is a popular visitor attraction, and an excellent place to visit for wildlife lovers. The island is home to puffins, and lucky tourists could spot seals, dolphins, basking sharks, or whales in the surrounding sea.

Take a boat ride past Fingals Cave in Scotland. Photo by squarespace.com

Take a boat ride past Fingals Cave in Scotland. Photo by squarespace.com

Explore Fingal’s Cave

One can visit the cave through boarding one of the many cruises which tour the island, or travel to the small island of Staffa and hike into the cave by stepping from column to column. Many tours to the Isle of Staffa are combined with visits to the Isle of Iona, and to the Treshnish Isles, which is a group of seven small uninhabited islands.

Fingals Cave was formed by cooling lava. Photo by xcitefun.net

Fingals Cave was formed by cooling lava. Photo by xcitefun.net

There are a number of companies who run organised tours to Staffa. Tours operate from Oban, Fionnphort on Mull, the Isle of Iona, and Tobermory on Mull. Prices start from $45 USD for an adult. Unfortunately unless you have your own boat, there isn’t another way to visit Staffa, so be sure to include tour charges in your travel budget.

Take a walking tour on Staffa Island to visit Fingals Cave up close. Photo by businessinsider.com

Take a walking tour on Staffa Island to visit Fingals Cave up close. Photo by businessinsider.com

Visit Staffa, Fingal’s Cave and Iona on a one day tour through Staffa Trips, which start from $45 USD per person. Take a 45 minute sea journey to Staffa and Fingal’s Cave, where puffins can be seen ashore in season and often guillemots, fulmars, great skuas, eider ducks, gannets, kittewakes, black-backed gulls, great northern divers and razorbills on the water. The trip lasts three hours and disembarks at Fionnphort or Iona. Visit www.staffatrips.co.uk for more information.

Fingals Cave is a must-see while visiting Scotland. Photo by mfiles.co.uk

Fingals Cave is a must-see while visiting Scotland. Photo by mfiles.co.uk

Thong Noi Pan Bay is beautifully seculuded and hidden far from the crowds. Photo via Travel bloggers

Exploring the other side: The quiet places on Koh Phangan

Alone under a palm tree at sunset, cracking open a coconut with waves breaking softly only a few metres away, I found it difficult to believe I was on Koh Phangan, the island famous for full-moon parties, sunburnt Brits and raucous nightlife.

I was glad to be here, away from the noise and party scene that I had heard so much about.

The quiet places on Koh Phangan

Palm tree that juts out over the beach along Thong Noi Pan

Palm tree that juts out over the beach along Thong Noi Pan. Photo by Dan Baciu.

Koh Phangan, an island in the Gulf of Thailand is a 30 minute flight from Bangkok, a 30 minute boat ride from Koh Samui or a 2 hour boat ride from Surat Thani – has seen its fair share of wild behaviour. But I was on a different part of the Island where there were only a handful of people. This section of paradise is called Thong Nai Pan and I couldn’t believe how quiet it was. I read so much about this infamous island and was quite sceptical about visiting.

You can only arrive by boat… for now

Busy Thong Sala Pier. This is the main port where passengers arrive. Photo via Global Travel Mate

As I expected, when I arrived by boat at the little town port of Thong Sala, it was teeming with young flashpackers eager to hire scooters and race off to Haad Rin where the full-moon party is held each month. Observing this, my wife and I went in the other direction.
We first stayed at a resort near Haad Yao, on the north-west side of the island and found it virtually empty. The resort had slashed its prices to a profit busting figure, but it felt strange having a 4-star resort all to ourselves.

Don’t get me wrong the hot showers and comfy beds were a blessing from what we had experienced in other parts of South-East Asia. So we left and decided to check out the north-western part of the island in search of some more people. Preferably the non-fluorescent, bucket wielding type that wouldn’t keep us up at night.

We jumped onto our $5 a day hired scooters and cut straight through dense jungle. Dodging the occasional pothole and passing through local villages, the air became thinner and was slightly colder as we climbed up along the windy road through Than Sadet National Park.

Than Sadet waterfall flows all year round, but gushes during the wet season. Photo via Katya Stavitskaya

Than Sadet waterfall flows all year round, but gushes during the wet season. Photo via Katya Stavitskaya

Stopping briefly to check out the waterfalls and swimming holes that run through the heart of the jungle, we arrived at Thong Nai Pan Noi and quickly found the Long Tail Resort tucked away in the southern corner of the beach.

Seculuded garden bungalows make the Long Tail Resort a special place to stay. Photo via Beach Front Club

Greeted by an English woman named Sophie she explained that island was quiet right now for a number of reasons.

“The coup in Bangkok has scared all the tourists and combined with the low season, the island is virtually dead. It’s quite nice actually,” Sophie explained. “Fortunately we are busy and you’re in luck we have a couple bungalows available.”

We snapped up a cheap deal and booked in for a few nights at 17 USD per night. The room was simple: fan, hammock on the porch, private bathroom and a 2 minute walk to the beach. It was perfect.

The large open restaurant served delicious varieties of Thai and western food. The best dish that had me coming back for more was a crispy chicken fillet covered in a coconut curry sauce. Washing it down with a coconut and lemongrass smoothie we both agreed that we were here to stay.

Open air restaurant at Longtail Resort is amazing. Try the coconut shakes with lemongrass Photo via Trip Adviser

Open air restaurant at Longtail Resort is amazing. Try the coconut shakes with lemongrass Photo via Trip Adviser

“Sophie! Two more nights please,” I yelled across the bar. This was acknowledged with a polite Sai and a quick scribble in her book.

Meeting other like minded travellers adds to the experience

The Long Tail Resort was occupied by European families and some solo backpackers lazing around, occasionally emerging from their hammocks to stroll peacefully along the beach. This place was relaxed and we were grateful.

Over dinner we met two travellers Matt and Sharon who were on holiday from different parts of the world. We chatted about the island, all of us in awe of its mystical beauty and how it has lured expats from all over to stay here permanently.

We exchanged stories, where to eat, neat shops to visit stuff like that. Solid travel – talk with minimal babble about our lives back home. I like that about travellers who prefer living in the moment, I can talk to them for hours about places to see and things to do. The regular chit chat about lives that exist on continents far away has no place when you’re sitting on a tropical island and vacation time is precious. The exchange of travel stories is what makes travelling so special. It adds to the sense of adventure and you gain a deeper insight into things you can’t find in a standard travel guide

Why has Koh Phangan become so popular?

Thong Noi Pan Bay is beautifully seculuded and hidden far from the crowds. Photo via Travel bloggers

Thong Noi Pan Bay is beautifully seculuded and hidden far from the crowds. Photo via Travel bloggers

The place is magical and tropical paradise that is incredibly cheap. But Koh Phangan has a reputation of being wild. Perhaps this is amplified by Alex Garland’s novel The Beach where young backpackers receive a map about a beach paradise on a secret island.

Traditionally, a fishing island, but made popular in the ‘80s when word got out that travellers could live on palm tree laden beach for less than $5 a day. Dance in the glow of a full moon and watch the sky explode with purple and red hues on the east coast of the island.

But times have changed now and the word is certainly out. The island is a major attraction for different reasons. From the psychedelic raver musician with a buffet of substances, to the meditating yogi and the gap-year schoolie.

These are just a few of the differing groups on the Island. There’s also plenty of dodgy expats who are hiding or have escaped from some sort of problem back home. In addition to that, there are some expats who smugly look down on youngsters who “don’t know the ropes”, criticising them for being inexperienced and letting themselves be ripped off by local Thais. For some reason this has given older expats a sense of entitlement in a place that is equally foreign to you and I.

The Sanctuary is popular among Yogis and spiritualists. Photo via TripAdvisor

The Sanctuary is popular among Yogis and spiritualists. Photo via TripAdvisor

This is a place where rules are regarded more as guidelines, sometimes serving fatal lessons to those who abuse their newly gained freedom. Motorcycle accidents here are common and Thailand is infamous for having one of the highest fatality rates in the world for motorcycle accidents. Use of helmets is not enforced but then laws for that matter are rarely enforced here. The island has also come under scrutiny for it’s out of control corruption and underworld vice.

Keep your wits about you and stay safe

The Mellow Mountain Bar is notorious for loud music and plenty of substances. Photo via Thai Party.

The Mellow Mountain Bar is notorious for loud music and plenty of substances. Photo via Thai Party.

Despite the severe punishments for being caught with drugs in Thailand, marijuana and magic mushrooms are easily obtainable at designated bars. Words of caution though, do not leave those places with anything on you. Undercover cops working with local drug dealers have been reported and failing to bribe a police officer can see you locked up in a Thai prison for many years. As a result of this, a lot of Thais are fed up with the ‘wild anything goes’ image. Saving face has always been a major part of Thai culture. I suppose all of this is why political coups are so frequent in Thailand.

That being said it is certainly worth a trip. If you can get past the obvious fact that this place is designed for tourists and what remains of traditional Thai culture is long gone and most likely swept into the sea along with countless plastic bags of garbage and waste.

Find your own scene and explore as much as you can, if you’re brave or skilled enough to ride a motorcycle then I highly recommend renting one. They all require a passport for deposit so we brought expired passports and handed them over as deposit. Most Thai’s can’t read English and as deceptive as using an expired passport may be, if you’re faced with a con-artist rental shop and need to make a quick escape, you’ll be grateful you brought one.

Long tail waits for passengers on Thong Noi Pan. Photo by Stephen Walford

Long tail waits for passengers on Thong Noi Pan. Photo by Stephen Walford

The dirt roads with hand painted signs and boutique artisan shops make this island truly special. The small local restaurants and interesting beachside bars with quirky personalities is what makes Koh Phangan so special. A mixture of Thai and European influence melting together to form its own special community.

Aside from its reputation for being a party island, Koh Phangan is much more than just a cheap thrill. There’s a niche for everyone. It has all the benefits that mass tourism brings, frequent boats loads of tourists with pockets bursting with baht and an eager Thai local waiting at the end of the pier to ease them of that burden. There’s even rumours of an airport being built in the north bringing with it fear it will over commercialise the island and turn it into something similar of neighbouring island Koh Samui. Only time will tell.

This must be what happens when slow tourism and mass tourism collide.

Germany's forests provide a gorgeous autumn scene that rivals anything in the USA. Image via Mountain Photography.

9 Incredible Places to see Autumn Colours This Year

As Autumn marks the transition from summer into winter – usually in September in northern hemisphere regions -  the arrival of night becomes noticeably earlier and the temperatures begin to drop.

With autumn definitely on its way in the northern hemisphere, we look at the incredible places to see autumn colours this year.

Japan

Japan is known for its gorgeous seasonal displays. Image via Love These Pics

Japan is known for its gorgeous seasonal displays. Image via Love These Pics

Japan has long been known for its famous cherry blossom festivals in the spring but from the end of September the leaves turn into many vivid autumn colours. Whilst Kyoto with its historical and commercial appeal is a popular spot for viewing, we recommend the ancient city of Nara, where the bright seasonal colours offer a luminous background to the historical shrines.

England

The Forest of Dean reveals an elegant and understated autumnal display. Image via Lonely Planet.

The Forest of Dean reveals an elegant and understated autumnal display. Image via Lonely Planet.

England might be more famous for its continuously raining weather, but it still puts on a brilliant display in autumn. Historically the Forest of Dean was a royal hunting ground and a wood source for warships, these days it is more famous for its role in the Harry Potter novels. It is an ideal location for viewing seasonal foliage, with its collection of oak, beech and chestnut trees, and is easily accessed by foot.

France

Gorgeous autumn colours are found around the Loire Valley in France. Image via Adventure Women.

Gorgeous autumn colours are found around the Loire Valley in France. Image via Adventure Women.

As if you needed another excuse to put France on your bucket list, this renown country manages to present a gorgeous autumn season. With autumn also being harvest season, we recommend heading out to the Loire Valley, where you can take in the brilliant colours of the grape wines, witness the age-old tradition of the harvest, and then enjoy a tour and maybe a glass of local wine to finish the day.

Italy

Italy boasts gorgeous colours in both the city and country region. Image via Travel Trop.

Italy boasts gorgeous colours in both the city and country region. Image via Travel Trop.

Another place that was already on our bucket list, Italy adds autumn colours to its list of things it does beautifully. Gold is the colour of the season, with Lombardy being known for its namesake poplar trees this time of year. For those of you in more tourist-centric areas, Milan’s gardens are also known for their beautiful seasonal display.
the Alfred Nicholas Memorial Gardens for a breath-taking viewing spot.

China

Dandenong Ranges puts on an incredible autumn display. Image via Dandenong Ranges Photography.

Dandenong Ranges puts on an incredible autumn display. Image via Dandenong Ranges Photography.

China has some of the most incredible natural icons in the world, and autumn proves to be another, with autumnal viewing being a popular activity. In the Huangshan Mountain area, you get to watch the mountains turn scarlet as the tree covered peaks change colour. October is the best time for a viewing, with sunrise offering an incredible glow to the scenery.

USA

New Hampshires trees are famous for their vivid autumn hues. Image via Landscape Photography.

New Hampshire’s trees are famous for their vivid autumn hues. Image via Landscape Photography.

There is no way that the USA could be left off this list, it is well-known by enthusiasts of autumn foliage. In mid September dozens of US states burst into a riot of red and gold, so you have a long list of places to visit. We recommend New Hampshire and Vermont, for the varieties of maple, ash and aspen trees that burst into colour at this time of year.

Canada

Canada's Alberta and Laurentians regions are the best places to view gorgeous autumn colours. Image via Get in Travel

Canada’s Alberta and Laurentians regions are the best places to view gorgeous autumn colours. Image via Get in Travel

Canada too, is well-known for its seasonal display, with the majority of the country’s foliage turning red and gold. There are two ideal destinations for anyone wanting to soak up the sights, with Alberta’s prime viewing time being between September and October, and Laurentians, through to October. Alberta is known for the aspen, birch and willow that provide the vivid colours, while Laurentians boasts the 230km trails of P’tit Train du Nord, where you can enjoy the foliage on a bike.

Germany

Germany's forests provide a gorgeous autumn scene that rivals anything in the USA. Image via Mountain Photography.

Germany’s forests provide a gorgeous autumn scene that rivals anything in the USA. Image via Mountain Photography.

We will finish off with two final destinations, in Europe. Foliage and colour isn’t anyone’s first thought when they consider Germany in autumn, but the bright colours sported throughout the nation’s forests and parks is enough to rival many US locations. They provide a glorious backdrop to the seasonal celebrations of Oktoberfest in Munich, Berlin’s Festival of Lights and Stuttgart’s Cannstatter Volksfest.

Austria

Luxembourg and Vienna both boast enviable displays of seasonal colour amongst the public gardens and parks. Image via Mr Ronnie Blog.

Luxembourg and Vienna both boast enviable displays of seasonal colour amongst the public gardens and parks. Image via Mr Ronnie Blog.

We were surprised find out that Austria was known for autumn colour. While Vienna and Luxembourg boast public gardens that burst into colour, we were also surprised to find out that in the Alps, in a region called Ahornboden, there is a veritable field of maple trees that provide its own seasonal display. Some of these trees are more than 600 years old; at 4000 feet above sea-level, this makes it just a little bit more magical.

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Giant Manta Caught in Fishing Net Saved by Divers

Divers in waters near Costa Rica have had an incredible encounter with a giant manta caught in a fishing line. The dive group was part way through their dive when a giant manta approached the group. They noticed the creature was entangled in a rope that was cutting into its flesh.

Then the most amazing thing happened. Instead of panicking, the manta swam towards the dive team in what appeared to be a plea for help. Divemaster Brian Thompson began to unwrap the line from its body by circling the Ray.

One of the divers remarked. “It was the first time I saw a manta ray. There was a very profound interaction between her and the diver,” Thomaz Monteiro, who was present for the surreal scene, told news outlet G1 Globo.

After the dive team quickly removed the rope from the manta, and reassured by the obvious lack of threat, the ray lingered around for 30 minutes before disappearing into the depths. This display of generosity demonstrates a remarkable symbolic notion of man befriending nature.

“I felt so strong a love for her and happiness to know that she was free and could enjoy her life again,” said Thompson.

Giant Manta Caught in Fishing Net Saved by Divers

View the video here.

This story was picked up by IFL Science and was originally reported by thedodo.com. You can read the original article here.

Mass migration of rays in Mexico

Photographs show a mass migration of rays in the Gulf of Mexico.

An oldie, but a goodie. In 2008 photographer Sandra Critelli captured incredible photos of cow-nose rays that migrate twice yearly. North in late spring (as pictured below) and south in late autumn. Equipped with a poisonous stinger they measure up to 6ft 6in across. Travelling in fevers of around 10,000, they cover the surface of the ocean and glide their way towards feeding grounds.

Mass migration of rays in the Gulf of Mexico

Mass migration of rays in Mexico

Photo via Reddit

Imagine looking over the edge of the boat and this is all you could see to the horizon. It’s an incredible event that makes the water look like golden diamonds.

The surface of the water is covered with cow-rays

Mass migration of rays in Mexico

Photo via Reddit

 

Silently gliding towards feeding grounds

Mass migration of rays in Mexico

Photo via Reddit

Brave snorkeler dives to down to get a closer look of the rays

Mass migration of rays in Mexico

Photo via Reddit

Glendalough in Wicklow. Photo by activeme.ie

Travelling in Ireland’s Backcountry: From Limerick to Dublin

Sun-touched hills and rolling valleys, quiet back roads and snow-capped mountains. Ireland is a timeless, age-caressed landscape just waiting to be explored. Stick to the backcountry and you’re sure to find more than they could ever show you on a tour or in a magazine, the warmth and natural beauty of which you can find in no other country on earth.

Travelling around Ireland is an ideal journey for a curious backpacker, or any tourist for that matter. By immersing yourself in the scenery and absorbing the culture that the Emerald Isle offers you, you will experience an authentic Irish holiday.

Travelling in Ireland’s Backcountry: What to expect when staying in Limerick

The Emerald Isle. Photo by Gareth Wray Photography

The Emerald Isle. Photo by Gareth Wray Photography

Staying in Limerick offers you a packed calendar of events, from adventure and discovery to music and sports. The county has much to offer so take a walk amongst Limerick’s Garden Trail and warm up in a welcoming restaurant or cosy pub. As Ireland’s City of Culture, Limerick plays host too many contemporary art exhibitions including theatre, literature and many places of interest worth exploring on your visit.

Your First Stop should be the Incredible Cliffs of Moher

The Cliffs of Moher offer an incredible view. Photo by hdxwallpapers

The Cliffs of Moher offer an incredible view. Photo by hdxwallpapers

The Cliffs of Moher are located at the South Western edge of the Burren region in County Clare. The sheer magnificence of this rugged area is truly amazing and a must see. The Moher cliffs rise 120 metres above the Atlantic Ocean and trail along the coast for nearly eight kilometres before reaching a height of 214 metres the further north you travel. Taking a ferry allows you to view the cliffs from sea level, and from the bottom puts the drop into perspective.

The site has been developed by Clare County Council and Shannon Heritage to allow visitors experience the full beauty of the Moher Cliffs without the distraction of man-made amenities or features to give the most natural experience possible.

Cruise the coast into Connemara National Park

In the west provinces on the fringes of Ireland you can find Connemara, one of the most beautiful, unspoilt places to visit in Europe; this is an eco-enthusiasts dream vacation. It offers visitors a wonderland of sights, adventure and activities and the hospitality you can find here embodies the essence of Ireland.

The Connemara National Park covers roughly 2900 hectares of scenery from majestic mountains to beautiful grass and woodlands. The visitor centre, your main access area for the park is located near the village of Letterfrack and entry is free of charge. For the children the park has a built playground to entertain featuring a variety of equipment. For the adults there are guided trails, picnic areas, an audio visual show and exhibitions on the Connemara landscape.

The Connemara National Park offers 2900 hactares of majesty. Photo by LordSaddler

The Connemara National Park offers 2900 hactares of majesty. Photo by LordSaddler

The park is abundant in beautiful native flora and fauna, from shrews and foxes to rabbits and bats, there is plenty here to be seen, photographed, smelt, touched and experienced.

Head north into the fishing town of Sligo

On the coastal plain facing the ocean you can find the small town of Sligo, a town known for the abundance of shellfish found in the river Garavogue, originally called the Sligeach, which is listed as one of the seven “royal rivers” of Ireland. Visiting the Garavogue in the winter months reveals a frost-tipped beauty as icicles crystalize on the rivers surface and boats try to plough through the sleek sheets of ice that bar their pathway.

Co. Sligo Ireland. Photo by Marius Kasteckas

Co. Sligo Ireland. Photo by Marius Kasteckas

Sligo, once a major commercial port on Irelands west coast, has since become an important tourist destination due to the natural beauty of the countryside. Its rugged landscapes rival those of other popular destinations such as Wicklow and Killarney, and provide you with just as much beauty but with less of a tourist crowd. The local government and business operators have been driving expansion over the last decade and development of previously neglected areas (such as along the river) whilst preserving the tradition and beauty that have for so long defined Sligo.

Crossing through the mainland into Wicklow

On the road to Wicklow you might want to stop off at Longford or Mullingar or even Bray and grab a pint and mingle with the locals, a four hour trip gives you plenty of time to take a break and meet some new faces. Stop in at the Crown at Bray, grab a drink, experience the historic atmosphere and continue onto Wicklow. Ireland is famous for its pub culture and what better than a long-distance pub crawl?

Glendalough in Wicklow. Photo by activeme.ie

Glendalough in Wicklow. Photo by activeme.ie

The county of Wicklow, just over an hour south of Dublin, famous for its weaving, offers a more traditional and quiet scenic backdrop to a holiday. Explore the history and culture of a traditional Irish town or go off the beaten track and explore the countryside and experience nature in its undisturbed bountiful beauty.

Finish your trip in Dublin and grab a Guinness

Dublin, the bustling heart of Ireland offers the most for you to experience for both the luxurious travellers and earthy backpackers. It is reputedly known as one of Europe’s most youthful cities and has a vibrant nightlife. With activities that cater to everyone, Dublin embodies the heart of Irish culture and offers many accommodation choices based on how much you are willing to spend.

No trip to Ireland would be complete without a trip to a brewery. It is the equivalent of going to Disneyland and not visiting the Splash Mountain ride.

For tourists they have the Guinness Storehouse to explore, covering seven floors surrounding a glass atrium shaped in the form of a pint of Guinness. It was stylized after the Chicago School of Architecture and was used as the fermentation plant for the Brewery until 1988. Walking down the hallways and gazing at the traditional relics of an age past, the authentic stains held by barrels and vats that have seen and held more beer than most humans will in their entire lifetimes is fascinating.

The Guiness Storehouse glass atrium. Photo by Matt Grubb

The Guiness Storehouse glass atrium. Photo by Matt Grubb

The Guinness Archive at the Storehouse contains photographs, video, posters, maps, film, artefacts and bottles documenting the extensive history of the company. The Infographic wall alone is a beer connoisseur’s dream highlight of an Irish holiday, featuring interactive data and information about the company, its brand and its product in Ireland. Even if you aren’t a beer fanatic, the Guinness Storehouse is one unique experience you should definitely check out.

Have one last night out at the Temple Bar

Busker performs outside the Temple Bar in Dublin. Photo by Diego Alves

Busker performs outside the Temple Bar in Dublin. Photo by Diego Alves

On the south bank of the River Liffey you’ll find a little area known as Temple Bar, which has preserved a medieval street pattern and cobble streets that throwback to the old days. It has since become a central hub for Irish cultural institutions and by night becomes a major centre for the nightlife with restaurants, nightclubs and bars. Your last night in Ireland should be spent here soaking up the culture, the atmosphere and conversing with the warm welcoming people of Ireland.