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Posts tagged ‘Australia’

Top 10 Thrill-Seeking Adventures In Australia

Heart-pumping, heavy breathing and sweating profusely. If this sounds like your idea of fun, then there’s a good chance that you’re a thrill-seeking adrenaline junky. Skydivers jumped off the planePerhaps this isn’t normally your thing, but you’re looking to crawl out of your comfort zone to experience something crazy and daring. Whichever boat you are in, Australia is the place to sail to. This country offers every hair-raising sport and activity that you can imagine. Take a look at this extreme list of thrill-seeking activities that Australia offers.

Make a Splash

Take a deep breath and plunge to the depths of the magical underwater world.

1. Scuba diving

This water activity is sure to make your eyes widen. With colourful fish, vibrant coral, and a multitude of amazing wildlife just beneath your flippers, scuba diving in Australia is a must do. Whether you’re a novice or a pro-diver, Australia has a diving site for you. At Cod Hole dive site, you can see large rockcod, moray eels, giant clams, and even whitetip reef sharks.

Located in an area where the tropics and sub-tropics meet due to a crossing of five oceans currents is Lord Howe. Due to this crossroads of currents, there are over 500 species of fish and 100 species of coral to gaze upon including kingfish, dolphins, wahoo, and even Ballina angelfish which are rare at these depths.

Scuba Diving in Australia

2. Cave diving

Let’s take diving to a whole new level. Cave diving offers a completely different perspective on diving and opens a new world to those who love diving. Nullarbor Plain was named one of the top ten diving spots in the world. These crystal clear waters under a network of limestone and rock make for a thrilling and unique diving experience. Running underneath Mount Gambier, is Engelbrecht Cave. This challenging maze of rock is another fascinating diving spot for anyone willing and wanting to experience the terrain in these underwater caves.

3. Swimming with sharks

Need I say more? One of the ultimate daring underwater activities is swimming with sharks. Yes, you can see them while scuba diving, but chances are you won’t want to get to too close. If you are wanting an up close and personal meeting with the sharp-toothed predators, just hop into a diving cage, plunge into the water and get ready to be jostled around a bit. Sharks can be found in many areas of Australia, however Port Lincoln is a popular spot to meet these ferocious creatures.

Fly High

Head for the hills or the tallest building, and get ready to fly high in Australia.

4. BASE Jumping

This extreme sport may or may not be for you. It’s said to be one of the most dangerous sports in the world. Should you brush fear off your shoulders as if it’s a fly, then BASE jumping could be for you! The best place to BASE jump in Australia is in Queensland. It’s important that you contact the appropriate authorities to ensure your jump is sanctioned.

5. Skydiving

Why would anyone ever jump out of a perfectly working airplane? Well, you wouldn’t unless you were a daredevil wanting to experience a thrilling plummet through the sky. The Gold Coast of Australia is the most popular spot and possibly the most beautiful as well to take your dip into midair. If you like the sound of air whizzing past your ears and muffling the sounds of your screams, it sounds like skydiving is your kind of sport.

Skydiving in Australia

6. Bungee Jumping

Perhaps a good place to start before you move on to skydiving, is bungee jumping. Ride over to Cairns for an epic jump. You get to choose from 16 different adrenaline inducing jumps. As you sit on top of the 160ft tower, take a look at the Great Barrier Reef and the beautiful beaches one last time before you have to get back to Earth with the rest of us.

7. Paragliding

Have you always wanted to know what it would feel like to be a bird? Of course you have, everyone has. Paragliding is the closest way to get this experience. Queensland prides a stunning stage of coastal vistas for you to enjoy with a birds-eye view, and feeling for that matter. Fly over Australia and see whats it’s like to soar as high as the birds.

8. Abseiling

The Blue Mountains are an absolutely perfect setting for your abseiling adventures. Large canyons, impressive waterfalls, and of course huge sandstone cliffs make up these beautiful mountains. An exhilarating and unforgettable experience is sure to be had while you lower yourself down these expansive rocks and enjoy the natural beauty all around you.

9. Zip lining

Anyone can trek through the mountains and walk through the jungle, but this is not for the average folk. You are someone who wants to race through at extraordinary speeds and fly over treetops right? Zip lining is sure to be your thing then. The Otway rainforest in Victoria is an excellent place to glide over the jungles.

10. Theme Parks

If you’re a thrill-seeker, but perhaps don’t want something that’s too extreme or daring then Australia has something that’s just right for you. Their theme parks offer hair-raising rides that will make you throw your arms up and scream at the top of your lungs! The Gold Coast has a high concentration of roller coasters, spinning rides, water slides, and more action-packed activities and rides for you to enjoy.

Australia is a country full of excitement and natural beauty and has something for everyone to enjoy. When I say everyone, I really do mean everyone. Yes, even you my bold and fearless friend. You will have daring sports available at your finger-tips that will entertain you until you are begging for sleep. I bet you can’t wait to try any of the gripping, riveting, and electrifyingly-exciting activities and sports that Australia offers! What’s first on your list? Whether it’s a leisure trip or corportate travel, Contact JC Travel Professionals today to book your trip to Australia!

Featured images:

James Chatman writes for JC Travel Professionals, a travel agency offering corporate travel management and leisure travel services.

Which Type Of Traveler Are You?

You probably don’t know it, but the type of tourist you are has a huge influence on the type of travel you indulge yourself in. Don’t worry, however, for there is some science behind it. You won’t merely be lumped into a category where you’re a ‘lazy tourist’ or the equivalent of a ‘Little Englander,’ dependent on where it is you are from.

Landmarks from around the world. Choose yours!

What can the type of tourist you are have an impact on?

  • Where you choose to go on holiday
  • The type of accommodation you choose to stay in
  • What you do when you go on holiday
  • The people you travel with
  • How you eat and behave when you’re in a destination

Influencing Your Tourism Habits

At the same time, a range of factors can influence the type of tourist you want to or are able to be. These might include

  • Your incomeNothing can stop you from being who you're on vacation
  • Your personal circumstances in terms of relationship and family status
  • Where you live
  • Your personal hobbies and interests
  • Your holiday budget

While these can all be an influence, nothing can prevent you from being the tourist you want to be.

Does it Matter?

While what a person does concerning their holiday might seem to be irrelevant, the modern, connected world in which we live means that it is of more importance than ever before. It only takes one tweet or Google+ update to show the world what you’re doing, and tour operators are using this activity like never before, as well as encouraging travellers to do the same.

It sounds extreme, but the type of tourist you are can have an impact on economies, future travel trends, and the way in which people living in a popular resort view those from a particular country or geographic area. Thinking back to earlier, the term ‘Little Englander’ did not originate from an accident one day!

We also have to consider the ways in which resorts set up and market themselves. Places don’t just throw open their doors and wait for people to arrive. Everything they do is designed to attract a specific type of traveller, and they know exactly what to do in order to fulfil the travel needs and requirements of holidaymakers in every group.

Finding Yourself

Which type of tourist are you? We explored 15 different descriptions that were identified in a 1992 study, what they mean, and where the best places on Earth are to indulge in this manner of travel.

Be warned: You might not like the group you fit into, although it might motivate you to rethink your own holiday attitudes and behaviours, or give you an idea for a great holiday in the near future.

hat type of tourist are you

Sun Worshipper

A couple on a beachWe expect that most people will be able to relate to this type of tourism. After all, despite sweeping changes in the industry and the attitudes of travellers, large numbers of people still decide to take a holiday in a particular destination because the sun will be shining most of the time.

The sun worshipper follows a very particular pattern of behaviour during a holiday; they are the people that you see relaxing around the pool from dawn until dusk, and on the days they do move it is only down to the beach where they follow a similar pattern of inactivity.

Places to Visit: The beauty of being this type of tourist is that you can almost look at a world map and point to any country that has the climate you’re looking for. Depending on where you are in the world, it might not be necessary to spend a lot of money if all you’re seeking from a trip is the sun.

Consider Mexico, the northern coast of Brazil, and places around the Mediterranean, including politically stable nations in North Africa.

Action Seeker

Action seekers on the beach dancingThis probably isn’t going to be the description you expect to find under this banner. No, an action seeker is not someone who loves an adventure holiday or heads off looking for extreme sports, although we will get to that later.

An action seeker is the tourist who heads to a resort and becomes an all-out reveller, looking for the parties that are taking place around a locality, the best nightclubs, and organized events such as bar crawls and booze cruises. Throw in a very liberal attitude towards sex and drugs and you won’t be far away from the perfect fit when it comes to this description.

Places to Visit: We’re not about to feel like we’re naming and shaming any resort or country, and the last thing we would want is to upset a national embassy or tourist board and have ourselves blacklisted for life.

If you fit into this category yourself, you know the type of places we’re talking about. If, for some reason, you’re planning to be an action seeker, then a quick Google search will likely show you the best places to go.

Anthropologist

Admittedly, this sounds like we’re starting to get a little deep, thus moving perhaps from one extreme to the other. However, being an anthropologist doesn’t mean you have to have an impressive degree or any other qualification.

Rather, a tourist anthropologist is a person who takes themselves off to various locations around the world and immerses themselves in their destination. This tourist is probably the most likely to reject anything that is on offer from their homeland, and try out local cuisine, pastimes, and spend time within the community getting to know the people, and maybe even getting involved with farm work, fishing, or other traditional roles. An anthropologist is also likely to stay in a guest house or bed and breakfast facility, rather than an ‘all mod cons’ hotel or apartment complex.

J'irais dormir chez vous / I am going to stay at your place

Photo credit: Antoine de Maximy jiraidormirchezvous.com

Places to Visit: Three locations around the world really stand out for us in this respect. The Greek Islands is the first. Clearly, you need to avoid the islands that are known for sun and action seekers – no, we’re not naming them – and head to the smaller locations that are perhaps not even well known for tourism.

East Africa would be our second option, with community programs often operating in countries such as Tanzania and Kenya, where you can actually go and live in a village undergoing development and have some input yourself. Finally, consider the Patagonia region of South America. This area is very remote, but home to some great communities as well as simply stunning landscape.

Archaeologist

Archaeologist landmarks to visitDo we mean there is a type of tourist casually travelling the world, seeking fields and other open spaces so that they can try to dig up dinosaur fossils and discover hidden villages? Unfortunately, it doesn’t get that exciting, but you wouldn’t be a million miles away from the correct answer.

This is one of the simplest definitions to understand. It relates to people who love to visit museums and historic sites, and will choose a destination specifically with that in mind.

Places to Visit: Many places across the world have a rich history, so it really depends on your own interests and on what you are looking for. If historic ruins are what motivate you to get on an aeroplane, then Rome and Athens are two great cities to target.

For lovers of monuments and temples, the South East of Asia and countries such as Cambodia and Vietnam are excellent locations, while for those seeking outdoor history and heritage, the Aboriginal areas of Australia are must visit.

Mass Tourist

Mass-tourism-on-a-beachIf you feel that your holidays are stuck in a rut, then the chances are that you find yourself firmly in the ‘mass tourist’ category. This person perhaps closely relates to the sun worshipper or action seeker, but is more likely to be someone who travels with their families and younger children.

The mass tourist books their holidays at the travel agency, picking out the best picture from the collection of ‘Summer Sun’ brochures on the shelf, and indulging themselves in tour operator excursions and the buying of souvenirs – some might say tacky ones – during their trip.

Places to Visit: We were tempted to label this one places to avoid, but if you’re a person who enjoys a traditional ‘tourist holiday,’ there are many great locations around the world to head, depending on your current location and budget.

Thrill Seeker

Thrill seeker surfing Costa RicaWe promised you we would get onto looking at extreme sports, and now we have the real definition of what many would term an action seeker. This type of holiday goes far beyond mere action, and can range from a 100 miles an hour adrenaline rush down a mountain to discovering some of the most unique and exciting wildlife anywhere in the world.

Thrill seekers are more likely to book an adventure holiday, following adrenaline-fuelled pursuits such as skydiving and abseiling, but you can also group those who look for a diverse mixture of travel activities into this category. These travellers choose holidays specifically because of the adventure element; this is not your tourist who arrives in a country, sees something exciting, and decides “I’d love to try that.”

Places to Visit: This depends completely on what your interests are and what you’re looking to do on holiday. However, countries such as Australia and New Zealand offer a diverse range of options, and the varying terrain found across these nations means that you can do almost anything, from wakeboarding and swimming with sharks in the water to skiing and snowboarding down towering peaks.

That said, those countries can be expensive to get to, so if you’re on a tighter budget, you will have options elsewhere; almost every country has something to offer a thrill-seeker.

Explorer

Explorer backpacker on vacationMore than just enjoying discovering new locations, an Explorer embraces the challenge that can often come with travelling to such locations. Someone who loves backpacking holidays, for example, would be the perfect candidate for this category.

Explorers follow a range of holiday plans; they might have a pre-determined route or an itinerary, or they could ensure that they have enough money and an idea of hostels and places to stay, and then improvise as they go along.

Places to Visit: South East Asia is the modern day explorer and backpackers’ paradise. As well as having a hot climate and some stunning places to see and visit, getting around the region is extremely cheap, making it a potential holiday opportunity for everyone.

A little to the south, Australia is also a great place for exploring, and with emerging tourist trends there such as relocation campervans available to hire, getting around doesn’t have to cost a fortune there, either.

Jetsetter

Paris Jetsetter's padIf there is a type of tourist that is more aspirational than the others, then you would have to argue that it is this one. However, it can have the most barriers in terms of inclusion, as you often need a considerable level of finance behind you to be a jet set traveller.

Many people would consider a jet set traveller to be someone who bounces from place to place quickly, and while there is perhaps an element of truth to that, our definition focusses more on those who love to travel to and stay in the most luxurious resorts around the world, dining in high class restaurants, and partying in exclusive bars. They may also actively seek out the company of celebrities or others who have a similar budget or lifestyle.

Places to Visit: Think about the most exclusive places in the world, such as St. Tropez and Monte Carlo, and you’re onto the right line of thinking for a jet set traveller. However, there are notable locations around the world with a high concentration of luxury places to eat, drink, and stay. Our choices would be Sydney, Singapore, Tokyo, Paris, and New York City.

Seeker

Travel choicesWhat are you looking for from your holiday? If you’re a seeker, then your purpose goes way beyond your holiday, and extends to life in general. Yes, we’re starting to get deep again, but many people take a holiday in order to ‘find themselves’ or challenge what they already know about the world.

You might not have been a seeker when you first made a trip, but experiences as an anthropologist or an explorer could have turned you into one. To truly find yourself and qualify the way you feel about life in general, it is usually best to travel to diverse destinations where you can find contrasts of rich and poor, and where these different levels of culture clash.

Places to Visit: With that last sentence in mind, the three obvious locations someone who knows they’re a seeker should consider are Brazil, South Africa, and India. Peaceful places where you will find time to relax and reflect, such as Nepal or Tibet, are also be worth considering.

All of these will offer you great variety in terms of the things you see and the people you meet. Cities such as Rio de Janeiro, Johannesburg, and Mumbai, are all well-known – or notorious – for being places where you can experience wild riches in one location, and encounter extreme poverty just a matter of metres away.

Independent Tourist

We really don’t understand the stigma attached to doing things independently. Some people believe that ‘going solo’ is weird; we just think it is a great way to do your own thing and meet new people without having to worry about what anyone else wants to do. Independent tourism is ‘me time’ at its best.

This person does their own thing, and they will usually spend some time travelling popular resorts and destinations.

Places to Visit: Anywhere you want to go is really the answer here, although we would recommend you check travel advice and guidance for people travelling alone in certain areas, such as the Middle East and India, for example.

High End Tourist

Eagles nest sacred space villa new zealandWe won’t dwell on this point too much, as there are several similarities with the jetsetter. The big difference is that the high-end tourist is less ‘in your face’ about where they go, and enjoy the time spent in the destination for what it is.

This tourist is also more likely to be with their family, and looking for an altogether more rounded experience.

Places to Visit: The same as the jetsetter, but visiting hotels and restaurants that are classy and high-end without having an exclusive or elite label.

Drifter

Bella Vista Lodge Costa RicaIs this a type of tourism or is it a way of life? The reality is that it can easily describe both, however it is how one becomes a drifter that is perhaps most intriguing, because we can almost guarantee you won’t set out to be one.

How do you become a drifter? Generally, a drifter is an explorer or seeker, who finds themselves immersed in life wherever they have travelled to, and tends to stay there for an extended period, while occasionally moving from place to place. Drifters can make their money from short-term jobs such as bar work or helping out on a farm.

Places to Visit: As we said, it is unlikely you will set out to become a drifter, but you are most likely to do so in the popular explorer and backpacker locations we mentioned earlier, specifically South East Asia, owing to the relaxed way of life and considering how cheap it can be to get by.

Escapist

Mountain retreat. Escape from it all!You can perhaps be an escapist while fitting into many of the tourist categories we have already explored. We often say that a holiday is out opportunity to ‘escape from it all.’ An escapist embraces this fully, heading to remote destinations where they can relax in a peaceful surround, be it a quiet village, a beach hut, or somewhere in the countryside.

Places to Visit: This one comes down to your own personal choice. If we started listing places now, everyone would head there and it would defeat the purpose of wanting to escape!

Sports Tourist

Sport traveler on a golf courseIf you are someone who heads off on holiday to go cycling, meet other groups from around the world to play football, or head off with friends to play golf, then you are an all-out sports tourist.

Places to Visit: Anywhere with a reputation for great golf courses is worth visiting. The Caribbean is filled with beautiful resorts, as is Portugal and the south of Australia – Adelaide and Melbourne, in particular, are golf hot spots Down Under.

Educational Tourist

The academics amongst us will often take an educational holiday. This type of tourism often follows a person who has previously been an anthropologist or archaeologist, and can be used to describe a person either looking to learn a language, understand a culture, or discover why a particular place is the way it is.

Places to Visit: Anywhere you have an interest in and want to learn about!

Your Next Steps

Now that you know the type of tourist you are, or the type you would like to become, it is the perfect time to think about where you want to go on your next holiday.

Use our suggestions of places to visit, or perhaps think of your own based on the category you want to fall into, and explore the possibilities available. If you’re a different type of tourist from the one you thought you’d be, and feel you’re missing out on certain opportunities, then fear not, for you have time to put that right.

This article was contributed by Rob who is a keen traveler having a lot of fun and still trying to work out which type of tourist he is. This year, he plans to become an explorer, traveling across Australia and New Zealand with hired relocation campervans to take in the beauty and majesty of those two countries.

PART II: Coming to America

As I told you in my previous post, my partner in crime, Jesse, and I had a serious case of ‘itchy feet’ and spent the last 6 months contemplating a move overseas.

We’d looked at the short jump across the Tasman to Australia, and the very different jump across the world to Qatar or Abu Dhabi. Jesse’s lifelong dream had been to live in New York. As he was busy pursuing a career in the post-production area of the film and television industry, he was desperate to give life a try in America. To be honest, I was as well. While I had traveled all over the world in the past, we had sat in New Zealand and watched American TV shows and movies showing a similar but completely different way of life. The high school experience, the college experience, living in New York or LA or Alabama (a state which for some reason I am somewhat obsessed with and would like to go and visit….) – all of it was so foreign and so far away. Experiences many New Zealanders couldn’t begin to understand. “Is that what American high school is really like?” “Do cheerleaders actually walk around in their uniforms all day?” “Are there actually jocks?” “Are burgers and pizza slices actually that big in America?” “Do they actually have liquid cheese and eggs in cartons?”



Keep in mind, although the two countries are reasonably similar, there are a huge number of differences. We don’t really have cheerleaders, certainly not in schools but we do have one or two clubs around the country. We don’t play baseball as a main sport (we play Rugby and Cricket … therefore I am desperately looking forward to going to a baseball game). Our food is dramatically different. We don’t have the super size portions that America does. Our ‘large’ coke and fries is often the same size as America’s ‘small’. We don’t have liquid cheese or orange cheese for that matter! Our cheese is ridiculously fresh as we have a strong dairy industry. It’s a pale yellow color and is soft and delicious. We don’t have as much processed food either – we do have some, of course, but nothing like there is here. And most people cook their dinner at home each night, partly because there aren’t as many options to eat out every night, but also because it’s cheaper and healthier. In general, New Zealand is reasonably healthy. We eat healthy, have a large range of organic and free range foods – in fact it’s almost predominantly organic and free range, and we generally have an active lifestyle. I only realize this now, and I totally understand how so many people manage to put on weight when they arrive in the USA. I did… and needed to join a gym ASAP!





America has everything you could possibly want and imagine, it’s easy to go a little crazy when you first arrive!

New Zealanders typically go and live in the UK when they’re ready to move overseas. While some will visit America on their travels, there haven’t been many who have moved to the USA. This wasn’t because they didn’t want to, it’s because getting a visa to legally live and work in the USA is incredibly difficult.

I sat for hours trying to figure out a way to get us to the USA. There didn’t seem a way around it. We had only graduated from graduate school (post-grad studies in New Zealand) within the last twelve months. This meant we certainly weren’t the best in our fields and able to show why the USA ‘needed’ us. We had no American relatives or ways of obtaining a green card. During my endless search I remembered a friend of mine had recently made the move to New York. After a brief conversation with her, and another friend who had studied in Boston for a few years I discovered a secret. It was a well-kept secret, that’s for sure, and I’m about to blow it into the open!






In the last few years, Australia and New Zealand have been participating in a trial program with the United States which gives university graduates the opportunity to work and experience life in America. You have to meet a certain criteria in terms of the type of study you had pursued and the type of university you had studied at and you had to either be a current student or graduated within the last twelve months.

While I had graduated from my honors program in August of 2011, Jesse had graduated from his post graduate diploma in December 2010. This meant we had to enter the States by December 2011. To say this caused a mild panic would be an understatement. I didn’t know if it could be done. It was the middle of September 2011 and we weren’t prepared in the slightest! We knew this opportunity would not come around again and if we were going to do this we had to just hold our breath and leap.


So we did! We sold everything we owned, worked as hard as we could and became social recluses in order to save every dollar! Everyone who heard of our plans to move to America was shocked – people don’t just pack up and move to New York – well actually, we do. A lot of my friends have since told me how proud they are of us being brave enough to go on this adventure. I guess if we had time to stop and think about what we were getting into it would have been a different story.

Before we knew it, we were on the plane, waving goodbye to our friends, families and lives and literally flying into the unknown


Enjoying the in-flight entertainment on one leg of our 18 hour flight
Admiring the Californian Coastline
After 27 hours of traveling, New York City was a welcome sight!


I’ll talk about settling in the massive concrete jungle called New York City in my next post. In the meantime, have you guys ever moved across the world? Or maybe plan do so in the near future. Where would you like to go?

A week in paradise – The Island of Rarotonga

I don’t know about you, but during the winter all I can think about is sunshine, beaches and warm weather. It’s been especially bad this winter. Hailing from a sub-tropical climate I can honestly say I have never been as cold in my life as I have been this winter. Therefore, my thoughts have been firmly placed on tropical islands. Rarotonga to be exact. This little island defines paradise.
The Cook Islands is a collection of 15 small islands located in the South Pacific Ocean. Rarotonga has the largest population of the 15 islands and houses both the international airport and the Cook Islands’ Parliament buildings. Typical temperatures in Rarotonga range from a balmy 64°F (18°C) – 86°F (30°C) making it a very popular tourist destination, particularly with New Zealander’s and Australian’s
Our decision to go to Rarotonga happened very quickly. The idea was formed and 48 hours later our flights and accommodation were booked. My family and I decided to opt for a two bedroom vacation rental for our stay rather than booking a hotel or resort. I found vacation rental at Muri Beach – known as the best beach in Rarotonga, right on the lagoon, with a pool right outside the door. We couldn’t have asked for anything better! We had a full kitchen, immediate access to the beach and walking distance to a number of great restaurants.

This option proved to be much more cost effective than renting a room in one of the many Rarotongan resorts saving over $150 per night! During our planning phase we stayed in close contact with the home owner who provided us with all the help and advice we could possibly need. Through the homeowner we were able to organize an airport transfer through Tiare Transport. Our driver from Tiare Transport was there to meet us at the airport and drive us around the island. Half way through the drive he pulled over and walked into the bushes, coming back with a handful of passionfruit he had just picked fresh off the tree for us! There is truly nothing like fresh passionfruit! At the end of our stay the driver returned to our vacation rental to collect us and drop us at the airport in time for our flight. It couldn’t have been any easier!
Rarotonga has a ‘small town community’ feel about it. Most people who arrive in Rarotonga want to get around by car or scooter. There is a bus that goes around the circumference which is only 20 miles (32km) and takes approximately an hour to circle the island. In order to rent a vehicle in Rarotonga, you will need a Cook Island driver’s license. This can be purchased from the police station in the main township, Avarua, for $20. You must have a driver’s license from another country to do this. To drive a scooter, the process is much the same if you already have a motorbike license. If you don’t then you must take a short test ($5) to demonstrate your ability to control a bike. 
My parents already had motorbike licenses (from some past life I know nothing of), so they were able to easily get their Rarotongan license and hire a scooter. My sister and I needed to sit the test.  Jessica decided she didn’t want to manage the heavy scooters, but I obtained my license easily. With our new mode of transport we were able to explore the island more freely. We split our time walking along the beach, swimming in the lagoon and exploring the area.
Muri Beach itself is a great location for families as the water is shallow, warm and smooth in the lagoon and the sand is soft and golden. The lagoon here is the broadest on the island and has three smaller islands within swimming and canoeing distance. There are plenty of water activities you can par-take in. Situated right on Muri Beach at Sails (a delicious restaurant well worth a try) is Nautica. Nautica hires catamarans, kayaks and windsurfers. If you’re travelling with children, it’s easy to hire a double kayak for $10 an hour and paddle around the coral reef where you can see all kinds of fish and sea life!
Other popular island activities include snorkeling around the reefs, scuba diving, horseback riding, deep-sea fishing, hiking, flights over the island and boat tours. There are many boat tours on the island but I would recommend Captain Tama’s Lagoon Cruise where you visit a marine reserve for a snorkel, visit the small island of Motu and enjoy a fresh fish open fire BBQ lunch. If you don’t suffer from sea sickness, check out the Raro Reef Sub – you may even get to see a turtle on this trip!
If you find yourself around Muri Beach make sure you check out Te Vara Nui Village where you can learn all about the history of this Polynesian community and watch an amazing night show over a traditional Cook Island dinner. As part of the night show you will be treated to traditional hip-shaking Rarotongan dancing. Many resorts and restaurants around the island also perform traditional dance shows and feasts for their guests so make sure you head along to one of these performances for a fun, carefree night out.


Along with the beautiful beaches, Rarotonga has some amazing lush greenery, mountain treks and waterfalls to be explored. Most of these can only be reached on foot, but it’s worth it! The freedom of having transportation allowed us to explore many areas of the island, and discover many gems! One such gem was the Maire Nui Cafe & Gardens. This beautiful Polynesian style café is set amongst the tropical gardens of Rarotonga.



We stumbled upon this place by accident. We were taking a ‘scooter rest’ break in the parking lot of this café. Once we decided to carry on our way, I jumped back on my scooter – I had become reasonably confident on the beast by now – and turned the motor on. Unfortunately I forgot the handle bars also doubled as the accelerator and the scooter was off and running before I had time to realize what was going on. It was almost something of a cartoon; me hanging off the handle bars with the motorbike driving around with a life of its own. The bike skidded on the gravel, I fell off, the bike landed on me and together we were dragged across the stones.

Needless to say I was in quite a lot of pain, covered in dirt and displaying some pretty impressive gashes and bruises all down my side.  I was later told they’re called “Scooter Scars” and are quite common in Rarotonga. Before I knew it I was bundled off in the Rarotongan ambulance and taken to the hospital. While I don’t recommend going to the hospital in Rarotonga, the view from that place was pretty spectacular! 
Once I had been cleaned up by the hospital, I hobbled off on my way assisted by the friendly island police. A few weeks later I was put on crutches with ligament damage and promised myself not to try motorized two-wheelers anytime soon, but for the rest of the trip I was content with the hobbling.
We returned to Maire Nui Cafe & Gardens a few days later (I traveled via bus…) as I needed to thank the staff who had helped me. (In fact they had carried me to a staff property across the road and started cleaning me up before the ambulance arrived). It was only then that we realized the beauty of this place. Acres of beautiful plants, trees and flowers! Right in the middle stood a gorgeous little café. I ordered a banana split. Before this day I wasn’t a huge banana split fan. That all changed. The ice cream was made locally and the banana I assume had been picked from a nearby tree. The grated coconut on the top had been freshly grated. I never had and have never since tasted coconut that good. It was exquisite. Another recommended eatery is the beautiful Tamarind House in between Tupapa and Avarua. The restaurant is situated right on the water’s edge with an incredible view over the sea; this is also a perfect place to watch the sunset. The food at the Tamarind House is divine and they go out of their way to accommodate all their guests, including those with food allergies.


On our last day in Rarotonga, just around the corner from our vacation rental, we discovered a black pearl shop. While you do have to be careful with authenticity when buying pearls, this shop was excellent, and they’re a true souvenir of the Cook Islands. My sister, my mother and I left the shop carrying new black pearl pendants, all slightly different, yet symbolic of our amazing holiday. To this day all three of us still treasure these pendants.
We stayed in Rarotonga for just over a week, and had a magical time. Before I’d even left the island I was planning my return to the Cook Islands. The people, the atmosphere, the sunshine and the golden sand all equal perfection. As I said, Rarotonga defines paradise


Have you ever been to Rarotonga or are planning to go?
Ra Manea! (Have a nice day – Cook Island Maori)

Where the sun always shines – Australia’s Sunshine Coast

I don’t know why we ignored it for so long. My family and I were told repeatedly how amazing the Sunshine Coast was, how beautiful and relaxing the area is and how it has “something for everyone”. Finally we decided we’d give it a go, and it quickly became one of our favorite places on earth.

The Sunshine Coast is situated south of Brisbane on the East coast of Australia. This location was perfect for everyone in my family. It has warmth and sunshine, beautiful beaches, amazing surrounds and attractions, cool restaurants, cafes, bars and shops and is perfect for children. My family and I chose Caloundra, which is only an hour’s drive from Brisbane airport, to spend our holiday.

We hired two cars to get out to Caloundra and easily navigated our way from the airport. We stayed on the beautiful Kings Beach which is the main beach of Caloundra. The beach is patrolled year round by the Surf Life Saving Club and is a great spot to catch some waves. We purchased some cheap body boards from a local shop and spent many afternoons catching the waves into the beach with the kids.

We were also lucky enough to find accommodation right on the beach with a beautiful pool which was great for the kids. There are a number of restaurants along the waterfront in Caloundra and most evenings we’d walk along the boardwalk that runs beside the beach throughout Caloundra and find a new restaurant to try each night. There is also a small township with many eateries, numerous shops and a market every Sunday.

After our first few days in Caloundra we decided to explore some of the other areas on the Sunshine Coast. One day when the sun was high we packed a picnic, our swimsuits and some sunblock and headed to Currimundi Lakes. This is a hidden gem on the Sunshine Coast and was only a ten minute drive from Kings Beach. Currimundi Lakes is a great place for kids as the lake is very calm and shallow, particularly when the tide goes out. We were joined at the lake by our extended family so we had five children ranging in age from eleven months to eight years old. The older children had a blast running and swimming between the sandbanks, and the younger children enjoyed splashing in the shallow water. There were a few cafes in the area as well as a fish and chip and ice cream place right beside the playground.

Although the Sunshine Coast’s beaches are incredible, that’s not all there is to do in this magical part of Australia. One of the most popular attractions is of course the Australian Zoo made famous by Steve Irwin aka The Crocodile Hunter who was killed by a stingray in 2006. Australian Zoo offers guests the chance to cuddle with koalas, hand feed the elephants, meet the tigers and watch a crocodile show. Underwater World in Mooloolaba is also a great day out. You can watch sharks being fed, touch stingrays and starfish, check out tropical Australian reef fish, enjoy the seal show and even receive a kiss from one of the seals! Mooloolaba is also a great town to check out. It has some incredible restaurants and some very trendy shops. It’s the epitome of a beach town and even has some chic bars which my sister and I checked out.

One event to put in your vacation calendar is the Eumundi Market which is held every Wednesday and Saturday. This market is one of my favorite parts of any trip to the Sunshine Coast. The market is Australia’s biggest art, craft and produces market and sells everything from clothing, toys, jewelry, artwork, fresh fruit and vegetables, hot food and Australian souvenirs. Once I even got to ride a camel at this market…. Just saying!

Also worth checking out when you’re exploring the Sunshine Coast is The Ginger Factory, particularly for the ginger shop and their cordial mixes! They also have a great bee show and honey tasting tour and their ice cream (which is made in their on-site creamery) is divine! Sunshine Plaza in Maroochydore is great for a spot of shopping and the canals that run through the middle give it an extra special touch. Aussie World isn’t too bad as far as theme parks go and the Ettamogah Pub is well worth a visit if you’re in the area. If you are a nature lover, have a wander through the Noosa National Park or the popular Glasshouse Mountains. Make sure you take your camera to capture some breathtakingly beautiful images.

I have a lot of love for the Sunshine Coast. I’ve been there twice now, and both times have been drawn back to Kings Beach in Caloundra. It’s a truly beautiful area of Australia and there is so much to do for the young and the old. It is definitely one part of the world I would recommend to anyone for a dream vacation.

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