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Posts tagged ‘beaches’

Why You Know Nothing About the Hawaiian Islands Until You Visit Them All

Why You Know Nothing About the Hawaiian Islands Until You Visit Them All.

Little Known Ways to Spend Family Holidays

Active families need active holidays

The sunny summer weather presents tons of opportunities for creative getaways that combine exotic locations and calorie-burning excursions. If you and your family are an active bunch, then lounging in a beach chair just won’t do. Instead, pack your trainers or hiking boots and jet off to more exciting destinations. Coming up short on ideas?

Check out some of these top active family holiday options:

Alpine Adventure Holiday

Cool crisp mountain air, villages straight out of a J.R.R. Tolkien novel, and gorgeous landscapes are just a sliver of what is waiting for you in the Alps. Though most associate this great European mountain range with winter holidays, it is just as appealing in the summer months. The French Alps in particular are home to several mountain biking and adventure sport havens.

The alp chalet during the summer time

Winter chalets are transformed into lovely summertime residences where families can relax in between cycling, hiking and horse riding excursions. France alone has hundreds upon hundreds of kilometres of pristine mountain roads that offer incredible views. You can choose to go it alone or take a tour on a bicycle, on foot or on a horse. Tours feature everything from beautiful Alpine landscapes to idyllic villages seemingly untouched by time. To enjoy the best of the Alps in the summertime, we recommend that you head to popular destinations like Morzine, Les Gets or Alpe d’Huez, where you’ll be spoilt for choice for luxury chalets, delicious food and lots of sunshine.

Underwater Adventures in the Red Sea

Looking for all the luxury of an all-inclusive holiday with a touch of excitement and adrenaline? Look no further than Egypt’s Red Sea resort areas. The shoreline is lined with all-inclusive 4* and 5* star resorts offering all the amenities you could imagine and then some. This is especially convenient for families with younger children, as these resorts tend to have babysitting and play facilities catered especially to kids. The best part about a Red Sea holiday is, naturally, the sea! Octopus in Red SeaWarm, crystal clear and full of amazing coral reef habitats, the Red Sea offers some of the best snorkelling and diving sites in the world. Many spots are just a few hundred metres from the shore and are full of colourful fish and corals. On land, you’ll also find yourself within striking distance from amazing cultural destinations like Petra in Jordan, Jerusalem and Luxor. Your best bets for an activity-filled Red Sea holiday are in resort towns like Sharm El Sheikh, Taba and Hurghada.

African Safari


A trip to Africa combines adventure, activity and amazing wildlife all into one. South Africa’s Eastern Cape and Kruger National Park are best suited for family holidays. If you’re travelling with younger children (under 12), the Eastern Cape in particular is ideal. Consisting of lush green rolling hills and beautiful plains, the Eastern Cape is home to ‘The Big 5’ (elephants, lions, buffalos, leopards and rhinos). Giving your family the opportunity to see these amazing creatures in their natural environment makes for an incredibly rewarding and eye-opening holiday. There are plenty of great safari-themed hotel and accommodation options available in both the Eastern Cape and Kruger National Park. Each day brings another opportunity to set out onto the beautiful African plains to view animals up close. There will also be plenty of time for you and your family to learn about the area’s history and native culture.

Families who enjoy activities and adventures are spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing a summer holiday. Whether it’s wildlife, culture or a pure adrenaline rush you’re after, there’s something out there for you. The important thing to keep in mind when booking a holiday for yourself and your whole family is to make sure you address the needs of everyone. As a general rule, it’s best to pick a versatile holiday destination that includes multiple activities that all family members can enjoy. In the end, remember that a summer family holiday is all about having fun and spending quality time with your loved ones. Whatever you end up choosing, you’ll be sure to end up forging lifelong memories together.

Featured images:

Mikey D is a freelance writer, who enjoys acctivity holidays from mountain biking to kayaking.

Things To Do and Where To Stay on the Big Island of Hawaii

Summertime and hot days go hand in hand. Rest and relaxation beg to be added to the mix and after a long year, it is well-deserved. What better place to find much needed rest and relaxation than the beach, where one can play volleyball, then run to catch some waves. Many people want to get rest, away from the hustle and bustle, on a private property on a secluded part of a tropical island. But, then, they may eventually become restless and want to be active.
One of the most relaxing and charming places to go this summer is none other than Hawaii. So what is there to do in Hawaii besides sipping tropical drinks and relaxing on the shore?

Take for example, the charming town of Captain Cook on Hawaii’s Kona Coast. Here are some fun activities that we love in Captain Cook:

  • Captain Cook is one of the most ideal locations to grow coffee, which is probably why Koa Coffee was named the best coffee by Forbes in 2001. If you’re in the area, tours of the plantation are available.
  • Surfing and kayaking at Kealekakua Bay

Surfing at Captain Cook

  • See some Dolphins at Hookena Beach

Dolphins at Hookena Beach

  • Hike through Volcano National Park to discover hidden lava flows, cloud forests and see stunning views of the ocean.

Also, of course there is always just Sunbathing at the beach. All of these great activities are very accessible to the locals of the area, so why not pretend your one by renting out one of their homes? Give yourself a few more days of tropical Summer fun by taking advantage of this great deal at Kona Leilani

SUPER SEPTEMBER: Stay 4 nights for $400! (Valid for Sept, 2012 for groups of four guests. Additional guests are $15 per person per night, $100 cleaning fee not included.)

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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