Fraser Island is one of the top destinations in Australia and is bound to be one of the highlights of your East Coast Australia trip!

The largest sand island in the world, situated just off the Queensland coast it’s one of the most stunning places you’ll get to visit.

But what makes Fraser Island so special and why should you add it to your Australia itinerary?

Well here’s 8 reasons Fraser Island should be on your bucket list…

 

8 Reasons Fraser Island Should Be On Your Bucket List

1. Lake Mackenzie

This is easily our favourite reason to visit Fraser Island – this rainfall fed, freshwater lake is surrounded by lush rainforest and even the drive to get here is stunning!

It’s the perfect place to cool off in the Aussie heat and the sand here is silicon rich – making it great for exfoliating your skin or even polishing up your jewellery!

 

2. Eli Creek

Kick back, relax and enjoy a slower pace of life floating down Eli Creek. This shallow, fresh water stream winds its way through the vegetation and spills out onto the beach. Grab an inflatable, maybe a cold beer and enjoy.

 

3. Beach Driving

If there’s one stand out reason that you should visit Fraser Island it’s to cruise along the beach highways! If you’re jumping on a Fraser Island 4×4 tag along tour you’ll get the chance to drive on the beach and through the rainforest – with your guide taking care of things like tidal times so you can just enjoy the ride.

 

4. Maheno Shipwreck

The iconic Maheno Shipwreck ran aground on Fraser Island in 1935 and the remains of it are still embedded in the sand today. It’s a great spot to explore, grab some pics and learn more about the history of this famous wreck.

 

5. Dingos

Fraser Island is home to the most pure population of Dingos in the world and they can be found all over the island, so keep an eye out for them. If you’re camping make sure you keep all your food locked up and in your t4ruck to avoid unwanted attention and if you do encounter them on foot stay calm!

 

 

6. Starscapes

With little in the way of light pollution on the island make sure you head outside at night and look up – you’ll be rewarded with some of the bets stars capes you’ll see anywhere in Australia, just remember to make a wish if you see a shooting star!

 

7. Champagne Pools

Another amazing place to cool off and escape the Queensland heat the famous Champagne Pools get their name from the bubbles created as waves crash over the rocks at high tide. Great for some GoPro selfies and the perfect spot to up your tan.

 

8. Indian Head Lookout

Take in the epic views across the coast of Fraser Island from Indian Head lookout. It’s only a short, easy stroll to the top so make sure you take the time to check it out. When the sea is calm keep an eye out for turtles, manta rays and sharks cruising below the cliffs.

 

Are you going to visit Fraser Island?

Figure out the best Fraser Island tour for you here!

Thinking of heading to a surf camp in Australia? Good choice! Crystal clear water, epic waves, and the chance to share them with dolphins, are just a few reasons why we love surfing here.

But with so many spots around the country, where should you base yourself?

Here, we recommend three of the best surf camp locations, plus a couple of extra options if you don’t have the time, or budget, for a full camp.

 

Surf Camp Australia – Where to Hit the Waves Down Under!

The surf camp advantage

It’s no secret that Australia is up there as one of the best places on earth to surf. But that’s the problem; it’s no secret. The masses of surfers upon surfers fighting for waves at the country’s most popular spots, take the word crowded to a whole new level.

You should definitely get in amongst it at least once on your trip (gotta tick surfing Bondi or Snapper Rocks off the bucket list, right?). But whether you’re heading to Australia to learn to surf, or to catch the best waves of your life, having a bit of local knowledge goes a lonnnng way.

That’s where surf camps come into their own; they eliminate the stress of wondering where to surf, or wasted time heading to the wrong places. You get the benefit of local knowledge from experienced surf coaches who will search out the best spots on the day based on crowds and surf conditions. Plus the added bonus that everything else is taken care of for you; just relax and throw yourself into surf life. Sweet!

Most camps will provide all meals and accommodation, as well as transport to and from the waves. Equipment can also be provided so you don’t have to worry about travelling with a board.

It doesn’t matter what level you’re at either. Whether you’re a total beginner or you’ve been shredding your whole life, a camp will make sure you get something to suit you, and give you the coaching that will push your surfing to the next level.

 

3 of the best surf camp locations in Australia

There are thousands of surf spots around the country, so where should you hit the waves? To help you narrow it down, here are three of our favourite surf camp locations, and the reasons why we love them:

Byron Bay

It’s been hailed as one of the best places on earth to live and surf. Famed for its stunning beaches, warm water, consistent waves, and buzzing nightlife, what really makes Bryon special for us, is its laid back vibe and epic choice of surf breaks.

Main Beach and Clarkes Beach are perfect for beginners, while more advanced surfers will love The Pass, one of the best surf spots in Australia, and nearby Lennox Point; the world famous point break.

Check out Mojosurf who offer a range of options starting from 2 days all inclusive, right through to multi-location camps where you can hit up several areas on the same trip.

 

Spot X

Set off the beaten track between Sydney and Byron Bay in one of the country’s most beautiful national marine parks, Spot X is dedicated to the surfer lifestyle. Its secluded location means that days in the sun and nights by the camp fire are the ultimate way to immerse yourself in the surf lifestyle.

What really sets it apart from other surf camp locations, is that the accommodation is right on the beachfront. Wake up to the sound of the ocean, roll out of bed, and hit the waves. Life doesn’t get much better.

Awesome waves and variety of breaks means that Spot X is perfect for both beginners and intermediate to advanced surfers.

Mojosurf include Spot X in their Sydney to Byron surf adventures. Options start from 5 days and are all inclusive.

 

Yamba

About an hour and a half south of Byron, you’ll find Yamba; another stunning, super-chilled Aussie beach town with heaps of awesome surf breaks.

What we love about surfing here is that it’s probably one of the least crowded spots on the East Coast. It’s also one of the areas where you’ll have the best chance of scoring a session with dolphins swimming through the lineup.

Surf Camp Down Under offer a 3 night surf and stay package which includes the essentials of accommodation and surf tuition.

 

Alternatives to a surf camp

Depending on your travel plans, and how your budget is looking, a surf camp may not be the right choice for you. Here are a couple of other options to get you enjoying some perfect Aussie waves, without having to figure it out alone.

Day trips

Take a full or half day trip with one of the local surf schools and hit the road to find the spot with the best conditions on the day. You’ll benefit from a coached session with an experienced, qualified instructor, plus all the equipment you need. Some even take a photographer along to capture the fun.

Check out Mojosurf and Stoked Surf School who both offer half day trips from Byron Bay including surf instruction and equipment.

Surf tours

If you are planning to travel up or down the East coast of Australia, a surf tour is a cost effective way of covering the ground, while enjoying the fun of a surf camp en-route.

Mojosurf run 5, 7 and 10 day camps that take you between Sydney and Byron in either direction, stopping at the famous Spot X along the way.

Byron Bay is one of the most popular stops on the East Coast trail, and when you get there, you’ll see why. Stunning beaches, laid back people, and the barefoot hippie vibes are just a few of the things about Byron that will make you want to stick around.

There’s also a whole heap of awesome ways to spend your time. So whether you’re staying for a few days or a few months, check out our favourite things to do in Byron Bay, and make the most of your time in this epic little town.

 

Top 10 Things to Do in Byron Bay

1. Learn to surf

Byron Bay is well known as one of the oldest and best surf towns in the world. Whether you’ve never surfed before, or shred with the best of them, paddling out here is a must-do.

Crystal clear water and perfect waves all year round make the surf spots in Byron a playground for everyone from complete beginners, to pro surfers. If you want to learn to surf in Byron Bay there’s a great choice of surf schools in town where an experienced surf instructor can help you get you up and riding in a day, plus loads more surf shops for board and wetsuit hire if you already know what you’re doing.

learn to surf in byron bay australia soul surf school backpacker east coast surfing

 

2. Take a day trip to Nimbin

You can’t miss that Byron has a cool, hippie vibe going on, but Nimbin takes it to a whole new level. About an hour and 45 minutes outside of Byron, Nimbin is a village full of quirky, colourful shops, funky cafes, and some other plant based activities! Lots of it! It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but if you’re into the alternative scene, it’s worth a visit. It’s also a good opportunity to explore the beautiful Byron Bay Hinterland on the drive out and a day trip to Nimbin will include some amazing scenic stop offs.

nimbin day trip happy coach byron bay australia

 

3. Kayak with dolphins

Cape Byron Marine Park is made up of a selection of reefs, Julian Rocks, and the coastline that runs the eastern side of Byron Bay. Protected from the rough waters of the open ocean, Byron plays host to a rich and diverse selection of marine life, including its own resident pod of dolphins. Getting out on the water in a sea kayak is one of the best ways to get a close up view of these incredible animals. Depending on the time of year, you might also be lucky enough to have close encounters with humpback whales, turtles, and manta rays.

sea kayak byron bay cape byron kayaks dolphin australia backpacker

 

4. Check out the local markets

The perfect way to start a lazy Sunday, grab a coffee and wander around Byron’s Community Market. Take your time to explore the huge collection of artworks, handcrafted goods, and locally-grown produce, while listening to live music and enjoying some of the best food and drink from the Byronshire area. The market is held at Butler Street reserve on the 1st Sunday of every month from 8am.

As well as the monthly market, you can also munch your way around the weekly farmers market in the same location, every Thursday morning from 8am. You’ll find organic and locally grown fruits and vegetables, alongside local specialities like honey, olives, artisan bread, macadamia nuts, and freshly squeezed cane juice. Our advice: go with a full wallet and an empty stomach!

 

5. Scuba dive (or snorkel) at Julian Rocks

Byron Bay is located where the warm waters of the north, meet the cooler waters of the south, making it home to a vast array of both tropical and cold water marine life. Julian Rocks, five minutes off the coast of Byron, is renowned as one of the top dive sites in Australia and a scuba dive at Julian Rocks is well worth doing.

At different times of year, you’ll find leopard sharks, manta rays, turtles, and the endangered grey nurse shark, as well as an abundance of colourful tropical fish. If you’re not into diving, the site is also incredible for a snorkelling adventure.

scuba dive in byron bay julian rocks australia padi ssi east coast

 

6. Hit the town!

For a relatively small town, Byron isn’t short of places to have a drink! Whether you prefer a beer overlooking the ocean, sipping on fancy cocktails, or a night of live music, you’ll find something that hits the spot.

The Railway Hotel (or ‘the Rails’ as it’s affectionately known) is located in Byron’s now defunct train station and has live music most nights of the week.

The Great Northern Hotel (‘the Northern’) is the home of Stone & Wood, Byron’s local brew, and is another great place for live music. They often host some big name bands too so keep an eye on what’s coming up.

The Beach Hotel (‘the Beachie’) has a prime spot right on the seafront and is a great place to grab a sunset beer, plus they also have live music on a Sunday.

If you want to party into the early hours, check out Woody’s Surf Shack for a vintage surf vibe, and Cheeky Monkeys, the home of Byron’s backpacker party scene.

7. Watch the sunrise (or set) from Byron Bay lighthouse

Whether you’re a morning person or not, make sure you get up to Cape Byron Lighthouse to see the sunrise at least once during your trip. Cape Byron is the most easterly point in Australia and sunrise from here is pretty spectacular.

Watch the sun come straight up out of the ocean, as the surrounding landscape gradually catches the light. Between May and November you might even have some humpback whales for company.  

best things to do in byron bay day trips tours backpacker australia

 

8. Get into beach life

It’s hard not to become a beach bum when you’re surrounded by so many beautiful beaches in and around Byron. Main Beach is, unsurprisingly, the main beach in town and is a great place to watch the sunset. In the next bay south is Wategos; smaller but sheltered and a popular hangout for dolphins. Then to the south again is Tallows; a huge, wild expanse of sand and ocean. You definitely aren’t short of spots to lay your beach towel!

byron bay best trips tours package east coast australia kayak nimbin surf lessons

 

9. Skydive

For the very best views of Byron, try jumping out of a plane at 15,000 feet. Ok, this one might not be for everyone! But for those who dare, you’ll be rewarded with the spectacular image of lush, green jungle sprawling out to meet Byron’s famous beaches, and the vast turquoise ocean beyond.

So why not Skydive in Byron Bay and tick it off your bucket list!

skydive byron bay australia bucket list

 

10. Go whale watching

You might have gathered by now that Byron Bay is a pretty good location to spot whales. Between the months of May and November, humpback whales can be spotted off the coast of Byron as they make their way north from Antarctica, to their breeding grounds in the subtropics, and then again as they return with their young – making whale watching in Byron Bay one of the best spots in the country.

You can often catch a glimpse of these amazing creatures from the shore, but for a closer encounter, take a whale watching tour. Some boats even have a hydrophone on board so you can listen to the whale song.

whale watching tour byron bay australia east coast

 

What are your favourite Byron Bay activities?

So that’s our top 10, but of course there are heaps more things to do in Byron Bay. Share the love and let us know what your favourites are in the comments below! For more inspiration, check out our Byron Bay Tours and Day Trips and start planning your adventure now.

View All Byron Bay Tours

 

Top Byron Bay Tours

Byron Bay Surf Camp With Mojo Surf

Want to learn to surf in Byron Bay? Join the crew of Mojo Surf School at their Byron Bay Surf
2-7 Days
Byron Bay
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Nimbin Day Trip With Happy Coach

Visit the alternative and hippie mecca on this Nimbin day trip with the Happy Coach from Byron Bay. Just be
1 Day
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Learn To Surf In Byron Bay With Soul Surf School

Hit the waves and learn to surf in Byron Bay, Australia on this half day surf lesson with Soul Surf
1 Day
Byron Bay

Sea Kayaking In Byron Bay With Cape Byron Kayaks

Explore the stunning coastline around Byron Bay and spot dolphins, whales and turtles on this 3 hour sea kayaking tour
1 Day
Byron Bay

 

We’re stoked to introduce you to Australias newest hop on, hop off bus network – Stray Australia!

If you’ve been doing your research on the best way to travel around Australia we’re sure you’ve heard of Loka Travel by now – their range of flexible, semi guided bus passes covering Sydney to Cairns have been a huge hit and their unique stops make it the perfect option for those looking to explore off the beaten track.

And they’re now getting even bigger and better – merging with Stray Travel (who have a range of epic travel passes in New Zealand and South East Asia) to become Stray Australia!

So here’s the lowdown on what’s going on…

 

Stray Australia – New Name, Same Epic Australia Travel Passes

For the moment the only major change is the name and as of 1st October 2018 Loka Travel will officially become Stray Australia.

That means all the amazing passes will stay the same – including all their amazing unique stops like Barrington Tops and Great Keppel Island.

Basically they will still have all the amazing things we love about Loka, just with a shiny new logo!

So whether you want to travel form Sydney to Cairns, Cairns to Sydney or even just Sydney to Byron Bay they’ve got you covered.

And of course we’re sure they have even more incredible adventures in the pipeline too, so watch this space!

 

 

All Our Stray Australia Bus Passes

Stray Australia Sydney To Byron Bay Nat Pass

Make your way North from Sydney to Byron Bay with Loka Travel - the flexible, hop on, hop off bus network
6 Days
Sydney > Byron Bay

Stray Australia Byron Bay To Cairns Kat Pass

Make your way North from Bryon Bay to Cairns with Loka Travel - the flexible, hop on, hop off bus network
8 Days (Min)
Byron Bay > Cairns

Stray Australia Cairns To Sydney Trev Pass

Travel south from Cairns to Sydney with Loka Travel - the flexible hop on, hop off travel network
10 Days (Min)
Cairns > Sydney

Stray Australia Sydney To Cairns Mick Pass

Make your way between Sydney and Cairns on with the Stray Australia Mick Pass hop on, hop off style -
13 Days (Min)
Sydney Cairns

Stray Australia Cairns To Sydney Trev Freestyle Tour

Make your way between Cairns and Sydney on with the Stray Australia Trev Freestyle Tour - including accommodation and top
12 Days (Min)
Cairns > Sydney

Stray Australia Byron Bay To Cairns Kat Freestyle Tour

Make your way between Byron Bay and Cairns on with the Stray Australia Kat Freestyle Tour - including accommodation and
12 Days (Min)
Byron Bay > Cairns

Stray Australia Sydney To Cairns Mick Freestyle Tour

Make your way between Sydney and Cairns on with the Stray Australia Mick Freestyle Tour - including accommodation and top
20 Days
Sydney Cairns

 

It seems everyone has been super stoked with the Greyhound WHIMit passes (they’re certainly our customers bus pass of choice in Australia now!) so we’re excited to announce that Greyhound have now launched two WHIMit package deals!

These package together the flexible hop on, hop off bus passes (with unlimited travel across the Greyhound network) with up to 28 nights of accommodation at YHA Australia, Base or Nomads hostels – making them incredible value for money!

 

Introducing the new Greyhound WHIMit and Accomodation package deals!

WHIMit + YHA Australia

greyhound whimit yha australia packageWith over 70 hostels all across Australia from amazing views over Sydney Opera House or the epic vibes of YHA Yamba to the rugged red dirt of Alice Springs in the out back  or Darwin in the Northern Territory – YHA Australia is the perfect option for those who want something a bit more chilled, clean and comfortable.

All the YHA hostels are geared up with kitchens, wifi, common room and some even come with pools to chill out in.

We’d recommend these to anyone who wants something a little more flashpacker and chilled.

Check out the full range of WHIMit YHA Packages here.

 

WHIMit + Base/Nomads

greyhound whimit base nomads australia packageIf you’re looking for a more social and party orientated hostel experience in Australia then the Base and Nomads hostel packages `re the way to go!

With epic central locations across all the top destinations on the East Coast trail you’ll meet plenty of backpacker buddies from across the globe at these hostels – including the famous Arts Factory in Byron Bay, as seen on the Inbetweens 2 Movie!

The added bonus of the Base and Nomads packages is an uncapped amount of nights at each hostel – so you can use your discounted bed hopper pass to its full potential.

Check out the full range of WHIMit Base/Nomads Packages here.

 

Travel Australia For Less!

So if you’re looking for the best way to travel Australia for less these Greyhound WHIMit and accommodation packages are the perfect choice for those wanting total flexibility.

And of course you can bundle them together with any other open dates trips and tours (like Fraser Island or the Whitsundays) in a custom discounted package deal to get even more for your money.

Chat to our travel experts and we’ll put together your perfect Australia adventure!

Melbourne is any traveller’s best choice for a good time and Melbourne is one of the best places to start your working holiday visa too. Otherwise known as Australia’s cultural centre and most liveable city, Melbourne welcomes travellers and backpackers from across the globe to partake in the celebration of culture.

With its abundance of cafes, galleries, boutiques, street art and performances, and public green spaces, it’s almost like Melbourne is tempting you to throw away your itinerary and simply explore.

 

A Traveller’s Guide to Melbourne

First things first, how do I get there?

If you’re coming from another country, you’re very likely to find a direct flight to Melbourne.

If you’re coming from Sydney, most would recommend opting for a flight as it’s the fastest route between the too. However you can jump on the Greyhound bus from Sydney to Melbourne or also include Melbourne as one of your stops on the Greyhound WHIMit Pass too.

 

When is the best time to visit Melbourne?

The southern parts of Australia have a temperate climate, so Melbourne weather remains fairly pleasant throughout the year. The hottest it can get is around 70°F (or 21°C) in January, while temperatures drop to 50°F (10°C) in the winter (July).  

You might, however, want to avoid the peak seasons, such as Christmas break, as accommodation prices go up and availability goes down. Sporting fans also fill up hotels during the Australian Open Grand Slam every January and the famous Formula 1 Australia Grand Prix in March.

 

Where’s the best place to stay in Melbourne?

If you’re looking to stay in a hotel, a double room for 2 begins at 120 AUD per night and many offer free breakfast during your stay. In the centre of the city, you’ll find doubles starting at around 200 AUD per night.

With Airbnb, you could find a shared room in a home for around 30 AUD. Whole apartments may cost around 100 AUD, but you’ll get the comfort of space and privacy.

There are also plenty of hostels to choose from in Melbourne. Dorms housing 8-10 people may cost around 25 AUD, which is great if you’re on a budget trip. Here are some of the best hostels in Melbourne:

  • Base St. Kilda in Melbourne
  • United Backpackers
  • Urban Central
  • The Nunnery

If you can’t afford it, you can ask to work for your bed. Many hostels allow travellers to pay for their bed by spending a few hours a day cleaning. Keep this in mind should you find yourself in a tight spot.

You could also try Couchsurf, which connects you to more than 57,000 trusted hosts willing to house you for your stay. This would also be a great chance to interact with locals and have them show you around.

 

How do I get around Melbourne?

From the get-go, you’ll need around 36 AUD to get to and from the airport via Skybus.

If you plan on exploring around the inner-city area or the Central Business District, you can take the free city circle tram, which runs from 10AM to 4PM.

For trains, you’ll need to get a Myki card that costs 6 AUD to get around. A Myki trip costs around 2.70 to 4 AUD and gives you unlimited travel within a particular zone for 2 hours.

And of course, there’s Uber, which is much cheaper than taking a cab.

 

What’s there to do in Melbourne?

 

  • Explore the hidden gems of Melbourne

 

Melbourne has a multitude of hidden alleyways with antique coffee shops, galleries, arcades and boutiques, all waiting to be explored.

Hosier Lane is a well-loved alleyway famous for its vibrant and colourful graffiti art. If you’re a fan of the 19th century, then head to Degraves Street where you’ll find elegant cafes and arcades.

Along the General Post Office by Elizabeth Street, you’ll also find plenty of talented musicians busking and performing for free.

 

  • Grab a coffee

 

Melbourne is well-known for its obsession with coffee, so be sure to try as many cups of joe as you can while you’re there. They say Degraves Street is where you can find the best coffee in the city.

 

  • Get a taste of Melbourne by joining a free walking tour

 

In just a few hours, you could get years’ worth of knowledge about the essential must-sees of Melbourne for free. How? Join I’m Free Walking Tours’ daily tours around the city.

Their walking tour will take you through Federation Square, State Library of Victoria, the Carlton Gardens, Chinatown and so much more. And should a certain place strike your fancy, you could always return to explore more afterwards.

 

  • Indulge the artist in you

 

You could honestly spend a whole week in Melbourne just visiting their museums and galleries.

  • Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) – For fans of film and the visual arts
  • National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) – Australia’s most visited art museum
  • Ian Potter Centre – Australian history and Aboriginal art

 

  • Explore the public markets

 

Visit the Queen Victoria Market and have fun trying local and international delicacies. You could also visit Chelsea Market which offers everything from fresh produce to handmade products.

 

  • Take a nature break at the Royal Botanical Gardens

 

Escape the urban jungle and find refuge at the Royal Botanical Gardens. This haven within the city is the perfect place to take a stroll and watch the world go by.

 

  • Watch the sunset at the beach

 

Just 20 minutes from the city, St. Kilda is the perfect spot to watch the sunset. You can also take a refreshing dip in the water. And if you’re looking for Melbourne’s nightlife, St. Kilda is definitely where it’s at.

  • Start your working holiday visa

With so much to see and do it’s now wonder why starting your working holiday visa in Melbourne is so popular! With a range of jobs, plenty of suburbs to live in and flight connection all over Australia and the world it’s a great base to kickstart your Aussie trip. And if you want to get off to the best possible start check out our Melbourne working holiday visa packages!

 

Click here to check out all our Melbourne tours

 

How much does food usually cost?

Eating out in Australia is actually quite expensive, but lucky for you, Melbourne is the best city to find good and cheap food in the country. You can find good take-out food for 8 AUD, while sit-down restaurants will cost you less than 14 AUD.

If you prefer eating at home, a week’s worth of groceries may range from 65 AUD to 100 AUD.

Broadsheet and Timeout have listed down the best cheap eats you can find in the city.

 

Any must-know information before visiting Australia?

  • Currency: Australian Dollar (AUD)
  • Exchange Rate: 1 AUD = 0.74 USD
  • Electric socket: Type 1 (3 prongs, V-shaped)
  • Know some Australian slang.
  • Wear sunblock as Australia’s sun is particularly harsh.
  • Be careful where you light your cigarette as smoking is banned in most indoor and public spaces.
  • Internet isn’t available everywhere, so get your own hotspot.
  • Cars drive on the left side of the road.
  • Rentals are listed as $ per week not month.
  • It isn’t customary to tip service workers.

Melbourne isn’t called the ‘world’s most liveable city’ for nothing. With a thriving art scene, wide variety of cuisines, vibrant nightlife, never-ending list of things to do, and of course, its welcoming residents, Melbourne is the kind of city you’ll never want to leave.

About The Author: Cal Bailey runs www.mountainleon.com – a travel blog he started after two years on backpacking around the world. If you want to learn more about life on the road or his blogging, make sure you read hist latest post on choosing a sleeping bag.

Greyhound Bus Passes are the most popular option for travelling around Australia – especially the East Coast of Australia.

From the hop on, hop off bus passes covering Sydney to Cairns and other popular routes to the flexible KM passes their comfortable buses (which also include USB charging ports for your phone and wifi) and multiple daily departures the Greyhound bus is the most convenient way to explore Australia.

So we’re super stoked to introduce the latest Greyhound bus pass option – the WHIMit bus pass!

 

WHIMit Bus Pass – Unlimited Travel In Australia

The Greyhound WHIMit bus passes are designed for travellers who want the ultimate in flexibility for their Australia travel plans – which is why they all included unlimited travel in Australia!

greyhound travel passes hop on hop off km austraia oz epic gap year-2Yup, you heard that right – the WHIMit bus passes included UNLIMITED travel across the whole Greyhound Bus network – which includes the East Coast and even the Red Centre!

And yes that also includes backtracking too!

So if you loved your stay in Byron Bay and have headed north and realised you dont like Brisbane so much you can bounce back to Byron on the same pass no worries.

It also means you can fly between destinations and pickup continue your travel overland on the same pass too

The only restriction is your time frame – and the passes range from 7 days to a whole year so there’s plenty of options for people hitting tup Australia for a quick trip or a full working holiday visa.

 

WHIMit Bus Passses – The Cost And Options

So what are the new options with the Greyhound WHIMit Passes?

greyhound whimit bus pass australia east coast unlimited travel

 

As you can see there’s a good variety of options to choose from and the 45 Day option is actually now the most cost effective add on to most of our East Coast Package Deals – just $5 more than the standard hop on, hop off pass but with the added advantage of being able to backtrack, ideal for those on tour only packages.

**UPDATE**

Greyhound have now also launched the WHIMit and YHA Australia Package and WHIMit and Base Hostel Package – bundling up to 28 nights of accommodation with you pass for even more value!

 

Click here to book your Greyhound WHIMit Pass

Click here to check out our full range of Australia Travel Passes

 

If you’re spending any time in Australia, learning to surf should definitely be high on your bucket list! Over 30,000 miles of coastline means thousands of surf spots, world class waves, and plenty of beach breaks perfect for beginners to get their first taste of pure stoke.

In this guide, we take a quick look at the different ways to learn, share our favourite Aussie surf spots that are perfect for catching your first waves, and round up our team’s pick of the best learn to surf packages available.

 

Should you go it alone, book a lesson or stay with a surf camp?

Ah the killer question!

There’s actually more to it than just time and money, so let’s take a quick look at the pros and cons of each:

 

Board hire only

If you’ve surfed before, know what you’re doing, and feel confident in the ocean, renting a board and hitting the waves solo may work well for you. It’s also the cheapest option, happy days!

 

Book a lesson

If you’ve never surfed before, don’t be tempted to just rent a board and go; surfing is deceptively hard! Spend a few more dollars and get a proper lesson. You’ll have way more fun, be safer, and you’re also much more likely to nail that Instagram shot of you riding your first waves like a pro!

A good surf school will pick out the best spot for the conditions on the day, show you everything you need to know to get you up and riding, plus teach you a little about ocean safety.

A lesson is also perfect if you don’t have long, or want the flexibility of choosing as many or as few days as you need. It’s more expensive than board hire alone, but usually all equipment is included in the price which eases the blow a bit.

 

Stay at a surf camp

It’s a simple truth that the more you surf, the better you get. If you want to improve beyond getting up on your first white water waves, soak up the surf lifestyle, and make new friends, you can’t beat the experience of a surf camp.

It might be the most expensive option, but you get all the benefits of multiple lessons, plus everything, including meals and accommodation, is taken care of for you. All you need to think about is surfing and chilling!

 

The best surf spots in Australia for beginners

As a beginner, the best place to learn is at a beach break where you can catch broken waves in waist deep water, with no strong currents. Australia has a mind blowing amount of surf spots and loads that are perfect for beginners. Here are five of our favourites:

 

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Byron Bay, New South Wales

With its laid back hippie vibe and a variety of breaks for all levels, Byron Bay is arguably one of the best places in the world to learn to surf. Check out Clarkes Beach at the Eastern end of Main Beach. It’s usually slightly less crowded, is sandy bottomed, and offers a gentle right-hander that is ideal for beginners.

 

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Yamba, New South Wales

Situated in Northern New South Wales, picturesque Yamba is another classic Aussie beach town. Beginners have a couple of options here with Turners Beach and Main Beach both offering gentle waves, as well as breaks for more advanced surfers.

 

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Spot X Surf Camp, New South Wales

Situated off the beaten track in Solitary Marine Park between Sydney and Byron Bay, Spot X Surf Camp is a dream location. You’ll find amazing waves with breaks suitable for absolute beginners right through to intermediate and advanced surfers.

What really sets Spot X apart from other locations though, is that it’s one of the few places where you can stay right on the beach. The perfect place to immerse yourself in Aussie surf life.

 

Noosa, Queensland

Noosa is famous as one of the best long boarding spots in the world and also offers a variety of breaks. Noosa Main Beach is one of the few north facing beaches on the East Coast so is well protected and ideal for beginners. Also check out Little Cove, another sheltered spot that is absolutely stunning.

 

Perth, Western Australia

If you’re hitting up Perth on the West Coast, you’ll still find plenty of opportunities to get some waves. The beginner breaks close to the city such as Cottesloe Beach, can get super crowded so you may find a little road trip pays off.

Lancelin Back Beach, just over an hour away, is beautiful and is usually uncrowded. For the best waves, try straight in front of the car park.

 

The best learn to surf packages in Australia

It’s not easy choosing between all the different options out there, so to help, we asked the experts (most of our team are die hard surfers!) for their top picks.

Here’s what they recommended…

 

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Sydney to Bryon Surf Adventure with Mojosurf (7, 10 & 14 day options)

A surf camp with a twist, the beauty of this package is that you can use it to travel from Sydney to Byron (or vice-versa), as well as soaking up the surf life in the epic locations of Spot X and Byron Bay.

Spot X’s secluded location means you’ll eat, sleep, and breathe surf. With accommodation right on the beach, you can enjoy long days in the sun and nights around the camp fire with good company. You’ll also have the opportunity to add other activities, like surf rafting, river kayaking or kangaroo golf.

After Spot X, it’s on to the surfing mecca of Byron Bay for more lessons and after-surf fun with your new buddies.

Each package includes your surf lessons and equipment, transport, accommodation, plus all meals while you’re at the camp.

Click here to check out our Mojo Surf Adventures

 

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Mojo Surf Academy and Surf Instructor Course

If a few days stop over in Spot X en route to Byron Bay isn’t enough to get your stoke going then why not take it a step further with the Mojo Surf Academy and spend 4 to 8 weeks enjoying the eat, sleep, surf repeat lifestyle?

You’ll have heaps of time to practice your skills and take your surfing to the next level before heading further up the coast!

Or for those who want to turn the beach into their office the zero to hero Mojo Surf Instructor Course is the way to go. This epic 3 month programme takes you from all the basics of popping and paddling right through to gaining your surf instructor certification – it’s the ideal way to turn your passion into a career even if you don’t have heaps of surf experience!

Click here for more info on the Mojo Surf Academy or the Mojo Surf Instructor Course.

 

learn to surf byron bay lesson stoked surf school australia

Learn to Surf in Byron Bay with Stoked Surf School

If you’re short on time or funds, a half day adventure with Stoked Surf School could be the answer.

Stoked will take you on a fun road trip to find the least crowded spot with the best conditions on the day. They’ll then run you through some theory on the beach, before (hopefully!) getting you up and riding the waves.

Group sizes are deliberately kept small to make sure you receive enough attention from one of their qualified, experienced instructors, and a photographer comes along on every lesson to capture your best (and worst) moments.

Click here to book a surf lesson with Stoked Surf School

 

 

Which surf adventure will you choose?

However you choose to do it, make sure you do it! There’s no place on earth better to get caught up the surf lifestyle than Oz. But don’t say we didn’t warn you, it’s super addictive!

Check out our full selection of Learn to Surf packages in Australia and let us hook you up with an epic Aussie surf experience!

Xmas is fast approaching and if you’re loved one is destined for a life on the road soon they can be a nightmare to shop for.

Space is at a premium so deciding what they’ll love and what they’ll leave at home is a tough call!

Luckily for you though we’ve compiled our teams favourite travel gifts – so whatever your traveller loves you’ll be able to get them the perfect present.

 

10 Epic Gift Ideas For Travellers This Xmas

GoPro

Ok admittedly this isn’t the cheapest item on the list – but if you really want to go all out for xmas a GoPro is one of the best gifts for travellers!

Waterproof, rugged and able to capture some incredible images on the road – it’s something they’ll be able to capture their entire adventure with!

If you want the best of the best the new GoPro Hero 6 is the top end, but the GoPro Hero 5 is almost as good and will save you a chunk of change too!

If you don’t have heaps of cash to splash or they simply don’t need all the functionality of the high end GoPro range the Gopro Hero 5 Session is still a greta option and nearly half the price!

If they already have a GoPro then there are heaps of accessories too – with the GoPro Supersuit Housing and red dive filter being our top pick for anyone into scuba diving!

 

Travel Insurance

Ugghhhhh yeah we know…this one sounds pretty boring hey? But travel insurance is essential these days and is the perfect way to show you care!

We personally recommend the guys at World Nomads who all of our team insure themselves with and they cover a huge range of activities. Best of all you can insure them AFTER they’ve left for their trip too.

So if you’re panicking that they’re currently bungy jumping through New Zealand without insurance you can get them covered!

Check out our travel insurance page for more info and to get a quick quote.

 

The Gift Of Travel!

Ok so we’re hugely bias towards this one!

But seriously what better gift to give some who loves to travel than travel itself? All of the trips on RTW Backpackers can be booked as a gift for someone else and best of all we can do that open dated for you too – meaning they can lock in their travel dates when it suits them.

Perfect!

Whether it’s a half day surf lesson or kayaking with dolphins through to a full open water dive course in Thailand or a bus pass in New Zealand we’ve got something for everyone…and more importantly for every budget too!

And if you aren’t quite sure what they want to do, or want to help them out with purchasing that epic East Coast Package then we also have gift cards starting at just $25.

 

Scratch Map

Help your travel buddy keep track of all their amazing adventures with a scratch map – an awesome visual way to see where they’ve been and how many adventures they still have to go!

From full size wall ones to mini travel editions it’s a great stocking filler and always well received!

 

Something For Their Passion

If you know this traveller well then something that reflect their passion is always a great way to go at xmas!

From a few block of sex wax for the avid surfer to a Girls That Scuba mask strap or even a shark themed phone case from the scuba diver in your life there’s plenty of budget friendly options packed full of love!

 

Travel Essentials

Looking for some stocking fillers for your traveller? Well you can’t go wrong with the travel essentials!

They might not be the most exciting, but they’re certainly the most useful – with items like Mozzie spray, first aid kits, padlocks, micro fibre towels, suncream and all those little things you ALWAYS forget to pack…there’s so much to choose from!

 

A Good Set Of Headphones

When it comes to long haul flights, overnight buses and island hopping ferries a good set of headphones definitely help make life on the road a bit easier!

And if you have a bit more cash to splash on your favourite traveller the Sennheiser PXC 550s  are pretty incredible – with up to 30 hours of battery life and noise cancellation features they really do upgrade your adventures to first class! Check out a full hands on review of the PXC 550s here if you don’t believe us!

 

A Drone!

Ok ok, so this is a pretty high end gift – but if you really want to help them capture the adventure a drone is the latest must have travel accessory!

For those really into their filming and photography The DJI Mavic Pro is still the top pick for travel drones, with its’ compact size and boasting some seriously high specs without taking up heaps of space.

Or for those getting their first drone the DJI Spark is super easy to fly and most importantly crazy small! It’s also one of the best value drones on the market right now – half the price of the Mavic!

 

Powerpack

With all this travel technology you’re going to want to make sure they can keep everything charged on the road – and a solid portable charger is an amazing gift for anyone who is bouncing around the globe.

The Anker Powercore 10,000 is super small and can still juice up your smartphone 3 times off a single charge – perfect for life on the road.

 

A Backpack

If they’re heading off on their first adventure soon then a backpack is one of the most essential items they’ll be needing.

Personally we always recommend the Osprey Farpoint which is the perfect size, super comfortable and most importantly super hard wearing – check out a hands on review of the Osprey Farpoint here.

If it’s just hand luggage they need or the perfect carry on only adventure pack then then Slicks hand luggage backpack is a no brainer. It’s not the cheapest but it’s certainly one of the best and most reliable.

 

And there you have it – 10 amazing gift ideas for every traveller this xmas! So no matter what they love, where they’re heading or how much you have to spend you can make sure the traveller in your life is smiling this xmas!

 

 

 

The East Coast of Australia is one of the most popular backpacker routes in the world and for good reason – there’s just so much to see and do!

But figuring out how to travel the East Coast of Australia can be a tough one as there’s the factors of time frame, budget and flexibility to consider.

So to help you plan your trip to Australia we’ve decided to compare two of the most popular options for travelling the East Coast – Premier Bus Passes and Greyhound Bus Passes – so you can decide which is the best fit for you…

 

Premier Bus Pass Australia or Greyhound Bus Pass Australia – Which Is Better?

Both Premier and Greyhound offer the popular hop on, hop off bus passes which are the most affordable and flexible ways to travel along the East Coast of Australia – allowing you to plan your trip online, change bus dates if needed and have all your bus travel sorted in one easy pass.

The only thing you need to keep in mind through is these passes is that you can only travel in a single direction (so no backtracking) however Greyhound also offer a KM Pass which is slightly pricier but does allow you to backtrack if needed.

 

premier bus pass sydney cairns australia east coast

Premier Bus Pass Australia

Main Pass Options;

Sydney > Cairns – $350

Byron Bay > Cairns – $270

Brisbane > Cairns – $250

Valid For; 6 months

 

Greyhound Bus Pass Australia

Main Pass Options;

Melbourne > Cairns – $549

Sydney > Cairns – $445

Brisbane > Cairns (includes free return to Byron Bay) – $350

KM Passes (from 1000kms) – from $199

Valid For; 3 months (Hop On, Hop Off Passes) but extendable to 6 months or 12 months for KM Passes

 

So What’s The Difference Between Premier Bus and Greyhound Bus?

Apart form the price the main difference between Premier and Greyhound is the departures. Premier only offer a single departure per day whereas on most routes the Greyhound Bus Pass will have multiple options to choose from.

For those travelling in low season this wont be a huge deal but in peak season (especially xmas and new year) the multiple options on Greyhound can be a huge lifesaver, especially for those less organised and booking last minute!

Generally speaking the Greyhound Buses are much newer and even boast phone charging points and free wifi (although it’s limited to signal strength and is pretty slow!) – so if you’re looking for comfort then Greyhound often wins out.

The other key things to keep in mind is that Premier only run Sydney to Cairns (or the other way around) whereas Greyhound also runs from/to Melbourne as well. Sure you can also bolt a single Greyhound bus from Sydney to Melbourne onto a Premier Pass, but for convenience it’s something to keep in mind

 

Which Is Better – Premier Bus Pass or Greyhound Bus Pass?

For Budget – If budget is your main concern then the Premier Bus Pass is the cheapest way to cover the East Coast

For Ease Of Use – both options are easily managed online and you can change your travel dates through this system.

For Flexibility – Greyhound is more flexible, with multiple departure per day and the Greyhound KM Passes also allow you to backtrack and is also well worth checking out if you’re grabbing internal flights too.

 

Did you go with Premier or Greyhound?

How do you rate them?

RTW Backpackers are stoked to announce that we’re now part of 1% For The Planet – a global collective of businesses giving back to some amazing charities and non profits all over the world fighting for a variety of causes and goals.

By joining them we’ve pledged to give 1% of our total sales and in RTWs case this is going to the guys at Sea Shepherd – an organisation we always love to support.

We’ve had a few questions about what this all means, so we thought we’d help explain what joining 1% For The Planet means…

 

What Does It Mean For Me – The Customer?

First off we’re happy to tell you that this doesn’t add anything to the price of any of our awesome travel adventures!

So don’t worry about that!

But it does mean every time you book anything on the site you can have a nice warm feeling inside knowing that as well as having an amazing adventure, you’ll also be helping make the planet a better place

…consider it a good bit of karma!

 

Who Are Sea Shepherd?

If you haven’t already heard of Sea Shepherd you should certainly check them out!

Set up by the co founder of Greenpeace, Captain Paul Watson wanted to create an organisation that upheld international law on the worlds oceans where governments has failed – even if that meant implementing more direct action into their campaigns.

From the dolphin slaughter in Japan to the whaling vessels in the Antarctic to shark finning in the Galapagos – Sea Shepherd have a huge variety of campaigns to save to the worlds oceans and raise awareness.

All the RTW crew have been long term supporters of Sea Shepherd and the amazing work they do across the globe, so when we joined 1% For The Planet we didn’t hesitate to nominate them for our contribution!

If you want to learn more about 1% For The Planet or even sign up your business to join them check out their site at https://www.onepercentfortheplanet.org

If you’re looking for the best Sydney to Cairns tour packages then we have you covered. Our travel team have been hard at work putting together a huge range of East Coast Package deals to help you make the most of your time in Australia.

All based on personal experience and our own recommendations we’ve pulled out the best suppliers, the most fun hostels and the most budget friendly options so that you can enjoy everything that Australia has to offer at a discounted price.

Because lets face it – you’re a backpacker and backpackers love to save money, it’s half the fun of the lifestyle!

So here are our best Sydney to Cairns Tour Packages – so you have a bit more cash in your pocket but still a camera packed full of incredible memories…

 

Our Guide To The Best Sydney To Cairns Tour Packages For All Budgets And Styles

And of course all the below can also be booked in reverse from Cairns to Sydney or extended to include Melbourne too!

 

The Ultimate Sydney To Cairns Tour Packages

For those who want to make the most of the East Coast on a month long trip and want to include pretty much everything you’d want to do our Ultimate East Coast Package combines all the best hostels, day trips and tours;

Of course there’s still room to customise it slightly and bundle in even more incredible activities – but that’s the perfect place to start to any East Coast adventure!

Click here for more info on our Ultimate Sydney To Cairns Tour Package

 

Budget Sydney To Cairns Tour Package

Want to complete the East Coast of Australia but also want a budget Sydney to Cairns tour package? Well no worries, we can help out with that!

Our East Coast Australia Budget Essentials Package ticks off all the main must do activities on the East Coast of Australia – whilst still keeping it budget friendly and includes the following;

By including a day trip to the Whitsundays and Fraser Island instead of overnight tours the overall price is brought right down – giving you more budget towards other activities, food, or of course partying!

And of course you can book it all open dated or add in accommodation as well.

We then recommend opting for the Premier Bus Pass add on if you’re looking for the most budget friendly transport option to pair with it.

Check out our Budget Essentials Sydney to Cairns Tour Package here.

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The Most Flexible Sydney To Cairns Tour Package

If you want to keep your Australia travel plans as flexible as possible then it’s still possible to get al the benefits of a discounted package deal, but without having to lock in your dates.

Booking your main trips and tours open dated and in one package allows you to save heaps, but still allows you to stay fluid with your travel plans.

Whether you choose to just combine the main bucket list items like Fraser Island, The Whitsundays and The Great Barrier Reef of bundle in other extra trips like surf lessons, Cape Tribulation or dolphin kayaking kayaking is up to you – but the more you combine the better the savings will be.

Our East Coast Australia Essentials Package includes the following;

The main thing to keep in mind with open dates tours though is everything is subject to availability – so you’ll want to lock in your dates at least 7-14 days in advance, especially during high season. Fraser Island and the Whitsundays are the most important ones to lock in ASAP.

If you don’t want to go fully open dated and have a rough idea of your plans you could also just pick a few key tours to lock in the dates for. Excluding accommodation then allows you to make changes to your plans, but still use your main dates as a way of structuring out your East Coast travels.

Our East Coast Australia Essentials Package contains all the major trips and tours on the East Coast – so click here for more info.

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Custom Sydney To Cairns Tour Packages

Of course there is no one size fits all when it comes to travelling and the above options might not quite fit what you wanted to do – whether that’s the activities, time frames or budget.

So we’ve also created our own East Coast Custom Package Builder so you can get a fully tailored Sydney to Cairns Tour Package!

Simply select your travel dates, destinations and the main activities and tours you’d like to include and we’ll do all the hard work piecing it together. And of course if there are any specific hostels, Whitsundays Boats or day trips you’d like to include let us know and we’ll make it happen!

Click here to build your own custom East Coast Package deal

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The Backpacker Banter East Coast Tour Package

We love our travel blogger buddies – and who better to put together an epic East Coast Package than award winning blogger Chris from Backpacker Banter?

He’s travelled all over Australia, lived in Byron Bay for a few years and knows the East Coast like the back of his hand – so we asked him how he’d spend a perfect month in Oz and this is what he put together;

  • 3 nights at Wake Up Sydney
  • 2 nights at Yamba YHA
  • Shanes Famous Yamba Tour
  • 3 nights at Aquarius Backpackers in Byron Bay
  • Half day surf lesson in Byron Bay with Mojo Surf
  • Dolphin kayaking in Byron Bay
  • 2 nights at Nomads Central in Brisbane
  • 2 nights at Nomads in Noosa
  • 2 nights at Pippies in Rainbow Beach
  • 3 Day/2 Night Fraser Island tag along tour with Pippies on Fraser (All Inclusive)
  • 3 nights at Beaches in Airlie Beach
  • 2 Day/2 Night  Whitsundays Sailing Adventure on Tongarra
  • 2 Night Magnetic Island Escape with Base Magnetic Island (inc return ferry transfers)
  • 2 nights at Absolute Backpackers in Mission Beach
  • 14,foot skydive in Mission Beach with Skydive Australia
  • 3 nights at Gilligans in Cairns
  • Cape Tribulation day trip with Uncle Brians
  • Great Barrier Reef Day Trip with Deep Sea Divers Den (Inc an Intro Scuba Dive)

Not a bad way to spend a month in Australia hey?

Click here for more info and to book your trip

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Price Beat Guarantee!

Found an awesome Sydney to Cairns tour package elsewhere? Seen a special offer which works out cheaper?

Well forward the details and itinerary through to hello@rtwbackpackers.com and our team will happily beat the price for you!

We want to make sure you have the best time possible on the East Coast of Australia and know how valuable every dollar saved can be (it all goes into the goon fund after all!) so we’ll go out of our way to get the perfect package for you at the bets possible price.

And of course if you guys have any questions about any of our packages, general travel advice or tips get in touch and our travel experts will be happy to help.

 

Have you travelled the East Coast of Australia?

What would be your recommendations for a Sydney to Cairns tour package?

The Great Barrier Reef is one of the most famous natural wonders of the world and this huge natural structure running down the East Coast of Australia can even be seen from space!

So if you’re looking to experience the best of what The Great Barrier Reef has to offer then here are our favourite ways to enjoy it from Cairns, in Northern Queensland and our round up of the best Great Barrier Reef Tours

 

What’s The Best Way To Experience The Great Barrier Reef?

Best Great Barrier Reef Day Trips

By far the most popular way to experience the reef is a Great Barrier Reef day trip – which run out of Cairns daily (weather permitting!) and these are the best choice for those on a limited time frame but also those looking for a budget friendly way to check out the barrier reef too.

Our personal favourite for is a Great Barrier Reef day trip with the Deep Sea Divers Den – with their snorkel package coming in at $120AUD, which is great value for money. You’ll kick back on their beautiful and spacious boat, enjoy unlimited snorkelling at a variety of dive sites and feast on their lunchtime buffet.

If you’re looking for something even more memorable and have a bit of extra budget to play with then the “Get High & Dive Package” is the way to go. This epic day trip includes unlimited snorkelling, an introductory scuba dive and even a scenic helicopter flight back to Cairns – it doesn’t get much more action packed than that!

down under cruise and dive barrier reef scenic flight day trip cairns australia

 

Best Great Barrier Reef Scuba Dive Trips

For anyone interested in scuba diving the Great Barrier Reef holds heaps of appeal. For experienced divers it’s a huge bucket list tick and it’s also the ideal place to try scuba diving for the first time with an introductory scuba dive.

Again our pick of the bunch is with Deep Sea Divers Den who have a great range of dive moorings to choose from, a friendly crew and even an underwater photographer who’ll help snap your next Facebook profile picture next to Nemo!

Their dive trips include all gear, however we strongly recommend paying the extra for a dive guide – you’ll get even more out of your time underwater.

For those looking for an introductory scuba dive their crew of experienced and certified instructors will teach you all the basics needed to be safe under the ocean and guide you around. With a max depth of 12m it’s the perfect way to test out if scuba diving is for you and discover some of the amazing marine life that calls this part of Australia home.

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Learn To Scuba Dive On The Great Barrier Reef & Cairns

And of course if scuba diving is something you’re really keen on why not learn to scuba dive on the Great Barrier Reef and do your open water dive course in Cairns?

For those on a tighter budget you can complete your course based out of Cairns which takes 4 days and includes 2 day trips out the reef.

But if you want to go all out why not combine it with a 1 or 2 night Barrier Reef live aboard and spend a couple of nights on the reef?

Either way you’ll work your way through the theory lessons, written exam and pool skills before putting your knowledge into practice with the open water modules – on successful completion you’ll be a fully certified open water scuba diver with a world recognised certification!

Yewwwwww!

great barrier reef open water advanced dive course live aboard australia cairns

 

Liveaboard On The Great Barrier Reef

For those already certified scuba divers and wanting to make the most of their time in Cairns a Great Barrier Reef Dive Liveaboard is the ultimate option – allowing you to squeeze in even more dives and even some night diving too.

Trust us, jumping into the water with a torch and surrounded by reef sharks is something you’ll never forget for all the right reasons!

If you’re really serious about diving and have the budget then a longer trip out to the Cod Hole and Ribbon Reefs is well worth the splash (pun intended!) where you’ll discover pristine dive sites, less crowds and a whole array of incredible marine life – including the famous Giant Potato Cod.

open water dive course live aboard great barrier reef cairns australia

 

Scenic Flight Over The Great Barrier Reef

Don’t fancy getting wet or want to check out the Great Barrier Reef from a different perspective? Well a scenic flight over the Great Barrier Reef will pack your camera full of incredible photos and give you a whole new appreciation of the vast size of this natural wonder.

From a quick scenic helicopter flight to a a longer scenic aeroplane flight there are a number of options for all time frames and budgets.

Keep your eyes peeled for manta rays cruising along the currents, turtles chilling on the reefs and of course the annual whale migration too.

 

Skydive Over The Great Barrier Reef

If you like your day trips with a bit more adrenaline then why not take in views across the reef from a skydive at Mission Beach?

Available as a day trip from Cairns or of course from Mission Beach itself, it’s the most popular jump zone in Australia for a reason!

With a guaranteed beach landing and stunning views across the coastline, ocean and reef this is certainly one of our favourite bucket list items that the East Coast has to offer!

tandem skydive mission beach australia cairns

 

How are you planning to experience the Great Barrier Reef?

Which option would you recommend?

Looking for some awesome Australia travel deals? How about saving a HUGE 10% off the famous Oz Experience bus passes and travel packages?

Well luckily for you if you book ANY Oz Experience Pass or Package before Oct 2nd you’ll nab some amazing savings and even the opportunity to get a FREE Great Barrier Reef trip bundled in too!

 

10% Off ALL Oz Experience Sale!

Yup that’s right, ALL Oz Experience Passes are now 10% off until Oct 2nd – so you can travel the East Coast of Australia for less!

So whether you want to travel Sydney to Cairns, Brisbane to Cairns, Melbourne to Cairns or the other way around you can now lock in heaps of savings…money you can spend enjoying even more of what Australia has to offer!

Check out the Cruiser Plus for the most popular Oz Experience Package deal – which includes heaps of awesome activities as well as your transport from Sydney to Cairns.

Just use the promo code OZSEP17 at checkout!

CLICK HERE TO BOOK

 

FREE Great Barrier Reef Snorkel Trip!

As an added bonus if you book any Oz Experience Strewth, Bruce Cobber or Skippy package we’ll also bundle in a FREE Great Barrier Reef snorkel trip – once of Australias top bucket list items!

Jumping on board the amazing Evolution Boat you’ll swim in clear, warm waters, check out the stunning coral gardens and even have the opportunity to go and find Nemo – it’s one of the top activities in Australia for a reason!

To score this added upgrade you need to make sure you book before 31st August and use the code OZSEP17.

CLICK HERE TO BOOK

 

And of course if the Oz Experience isn’t for you check out our range of East Coast Package deals and our East Coast Custom Package Creator to make the most of everything Australia has to offer!

The East Coast of Australia is packed full of incredible destinations and activities so planning your trip to Australia can be pretty tough!

However to help make sure you don’t miss out on the best bits here are 15 East Coast Australia Must Do Activities that you should definitely fit into your travel plans!

 

15 East Coast Australia Must Do Activities

Learn To Surf

Australia and surfing go hand in hand – so whilst you’re travelling Australia there’s no excuse not to give it a try! Whether you just opt for a half day surf lesson in Byron Bay or go all out with a Mojo Surf Trip up the coast from Sydney or a full blown surf camp in Yamba make sure you get amongst the waves, throw some shakkas and feel the stoke!

yamba surf camp down under 7 day 30 day byron bay learn to surf
Surfing In Yamba

 

Sail The Whitsunday Islands

One of the most popular East Coast Australia must do activities – sailing on the Whitsundays is something you’ll never forget! Snorkel the beautiful reefs and soak up the stunning views from the Hill Inlet Lookout over Whitehaven Beach – whether you just head out on a Whitsundays day trip or jump on board an overnight Whitsundays sailing adventure this slice of Oz will pack your camera full of amazing pictures!

 

Cruise Around Fraser Island

Along with the Whitsundays, Fraser Island is the other East Coast Australia must do!

Cruise around the worlds largest sand island exploring spots like the world famous Lake Mackenzie, Indian Head Lookout and the Maheno Shipwreck.

For the most adventure a 3 day Fraser Island Camping Safari is the way to go but there are days trips and Fraser Island hostel option too.

nomads fraser island tour 2 days rainbow beach noosa australia east coast
Cruising Around Fraser Island

 

Explore Magnetic Island

One of the most under rated stops on the East Coast, Magnetic Island is somewhere that should easily make your East Coast Australia must do list. Situated just off the coast of Townsville this amazing little island is best explored by “Barbie Car or Mote” and it’s only around 30 mins from one side of the island to the other!

Snorkel amazing beaches, take in sunset from epic lookout points, spot wild koalas or even party at the monthly Full Moon Party.

Grab one of our Magnetic Island Package deals for the easiest way to explore the island, which include return ferry transfers, accommodation, snorkel hire, welcome drink and even a koala cuddle at the Bungalow Bay YHA!

 

The Great Barrier Reef

No trip to Australia is complete without a visit the magnificent Great Barrier Reef and this epic natural wonder should be one of your top stops on the East Coast.

Cairns is the main base for a lot of Great Barrier Reef day trips but if you’re looking for less travel time and less busy snorkel spots then check out the Great Barrier Reef Trips from Mission Beach too.

For those on a budget the snorkel trips are the best value for ticking the Barrier Reef off your bucket list – but it’s also the perfect place for an Introductory Scuba dive or you can even complete your full open water dive course in Cairns too!

mission beach dive great barrier reef snorkel intro dive tour australia backpacker
Check Out The Barrier Reef

 

Scuba Dive

And talking of scuba diving, the warm tropical waters of Australia are the ideal place to give it a go for the first time – with plenty of options for introductory scuba dives or full scuba dive courses too.

And of course there are a huge array of dive sites and locations for those more experienced scuba divers as well.

Our two favourite spots for scuba diving have to be Byron Bay and The Great Barrier Reef though – with both locations offers heaps of marine life for all levels of diver.

 

Kayak with Dolphins

Everyone loves dolphins right?! Well why not hit the water and kayak alongside them in Byron Bay? This is one of the top spots in Australia for dolphin spotting and combined with a picturesque paddle around the stunning beaches of the area and an ocean view of the famous lighthouse this is certainly an East Coast Australia must do – and best of all it wont break your budget either!

 

Whale Watching (June – October)

If you’re travelling the East Coast of Australia during June to October you’ll be lucky enough to have the chance to witness the annual Humpback whale migration – with these gentle giants giving amazing displays all along the coastline.

Hervey Bay and Byron Bay are the best bets for a memorable day whale watching though – but if you’re lucky you’ll also catch them on the Barrier Reef, Whitsundays and Fraser Island too.

whale watching tour byron bay australia east coast
Whale Watching

 

The Great Ocean Road

If you love a good road trip then the Great Ocean Road is certainly and East Coast Australia must do – the stretch of road from Melbourne to Adelaide is one of the best coastal drives in the world!

For the best experience hire a campervan and take at least 3 days to explore it, but if you’re pushed for time or on a budget check out some of the amazing Great Ocean Road day trips from Melbourne.

 

Grab A Selfie At The Sydney Opera House

No trip to Australia would be complete without a visit to the world famous Sydney Opera House and this global icon is selfie heaven!

Wander around Circular Quay for some alternative views or grab the ferry across to Manly Beach and grab some snaps from the water.

Of course if you want to splash out and treat yourself you can also check it out from the Sydney Harbour Bridget Climb too!

 

Sunsrise Or Sunset At Byron Lighthouse

Byron Bay is the most Easterly Point of Australia and the lighthouse walk is one of the best free actives that the East Coast has to offer.

Wander long the coastal path past famous surf spots like The Pass and Wategos Beach keeping an eye out for dolphins surfing in the waves along the way.

But for the best experience make sure you make it to the Byron Bay lighthouse for sunrise or sunset – it’s well worth the effort!

 

Skydive

If you want to really get your adrenaline going there’s not much that can beat jumping out of a perfectly good plane and ticking skydiving off your bucket list!

Australia has some epic skydive locations too – with Mission Beach, Airlie Beach and Byron Bay being the top pics, although skydiving Mission Beach is the most popular with amazing views along the coast and a beach landing.

tandem skydive mission beach australia cairns
Skydive Mission Beach

 

Chill In The Forest At Cape Tribulation 

The only place in the world where two world heritage sites meet – Cape Tribulation is home to the incredible Daintree Rainforest AND the Great Barrier Reef!

Wander through the forests, spot wild crocodiles and laze around on stunning beaches – whether you choose a Cape Tribulation day trip form Cairns or opt to spend a few nights up there exploring a bit more and indulging in activities like kayaking or jungle surfing it’s worth heading that bit further north for.

 

Swim In A Waterfall

Nothing quite says tropical holiday like a picture swimming in a waterfall does it?!

Well luckily Australia has heaps to choose from and you’ll be spoilt for choice all along the East Coast.

If you want to go all out though a Cairns Waterfall tour through the Atherton Tablelands visits some of the best – including the famous Milla Milla Waterfall which featured in the herbal essences hair flick advert and was even the backdrop for Peter Andres “Mysterious Girl” music video!

 

Meet The Locals

If you travel Australia and don’t take the time to chill with some of the local wildlife you’re doing something wrong – who doesn’t want to kick back with a kangaroo, come eye to eye with a crocodile, kayak with dolphins or cuddle a koala?

Tick them all off the list with a trip to the famous Australia Zoo, or visit less crowded options like Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary or Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary for an up close and personal experience with some of Australia fluffy or scaly residents!

 

Need help planning your Australia trip?

Chat to our travel experts and we’d be happy to help or simply fill out our East Coast Custom Package form and create your perfect trip!

 

Have you explored Australia?

Any other things you’d add to our East Coast Australia Must Do list?

 

Figuring out the best way to travel around New Zealand is tough call – the land of the long white cloud is an incredible place to explore and you want to make sure that you find the best option for you.

By far the most popular ways to travel around New Zealand are the Kiwi Experience and Stray NZ buses – both of which offer a variety of hop on, hop off bus passes covering the North Island, South Island or whole country.

Whether you want a short loop around the highlights of Waitomo, Taupo and Rotorua in the North, fancy exploring the famous Queenstown or Milford Sound in the South or want to spend a few months packing in as much NZ goodness as possible there’s something for everyone.

But despite their similarities the Kiwi Experience and Stray NZ boast much different personalities – so which is the best way to travel around New Zealand for you?

Kiwi Experience Or Stray NZ – What’s The Best Way To Travel Around New Zealand?

Kiwi Experience Bus Passes

The Kiwi Experience is arguably the most famous of the two backpacker hop on, hop off bus options in New Zealand and their iconic green buses have helped hundreds of thousands of travellers explore NZ.

With heaps of passes to choose from – including north island only, south island only and whole country passes it’s easy to find one that suits your time frame, start location and budget.

Hitting up all the major destinations including the likes of Queenstown, Rotorua, Taupo and Franz Josef you’ll get to discover the best of what NZ has to offer.

Best of all is the fact you have 12 months to begin your pass from the date of purchase and then 12 month to complete your route from the first day of travel – so whether you’re heading there for a few weeks or a working holiday visa it’s ideal.

Their full country passes also offer unlimited loops – so you can go again!

Kiwi don’t offer any accommodation inclusive passes (which Stray do) but you’ll benefit from heaps of accommodation deals and a guaranteed bed in each spot.

The Kiwi Experience offers some awesome party vibes throughout – so it’s the perfect option if you want to meet heaps of fellow travellers and enjoy the epic New Zealand night life in each destination…so if you’re looking for a more chilled vibe or are slightly older (25+) then maybe Stray is the better option!

Onboard tour discounts? Yes

Party centric? Yes

Guaranteed bed in overnight stops? Yes

Most inclusive passWhole Kit and Caboodle

Best For: 18-25 who like a good party

 

Stray NZ Bus Passes

In terms of setup Stray NZ is very similar to Kiwi Experience – it’s a hop on, hop off format, the passes are valid for 12 months and there are a variety of passes to choose from.

For those who want a more tour like experience Stray NZ also offer a range of Stray Journey Passes which are set travel times and also include accommodation and tours.

For us though the best thing about Stray NZ is they offer some passes covering some more off the beaten track destinations like Whakahora and Te Kaha – allowing you to discover even more of New Zealand.

They also hit up the amazing surf town of Raglan – which is one of our teams favourite places for some chilled vibes and waves.

And of course you won’t miss out on favourites like Kaikoura, Queenstown, Franz Josef and Wanaka either!

Compared to Kiwi Experience Stray NZ offers a more relaxed vibe (don’t worry there’s a good dose of party thrown in!) but it’s certainly more about exploring and experiencing New Zealand that doing shots.

Onboard tour discounts? Yes

Party centric? No (but you’ll still have heaps of fun!)

Guaranteed bed in overnight stops? Yes

Most inclusive pass – Stray Everywhere

Best For: early 20’s + who want a more relaxed experience or those looking to discover more alternative destinations.

 

Whichever option you choose – both Kiwi Experience and Stray New Zealand have some epic sales from time to time, so keep an eye out on our travel deals section for the latest offers and save even more on your New Zealand adventure!

 

Have you travelled New Zealand with Kiwi Experience or Stray NZ?

How did you find it?

Travelling around Australia can be a huge task to organise – Australia is HUGE!

In fact you can fit the whole of Europe inside of it!

And one things we’ve noticed with helping people plan their East Coast Australia trip is that a lot of people underestimate how big Australia actually is and how long it can take to get from place to place.

And with so many awesome places to visit it can become pretty confusing where they all are and how to get between them!

But don’t worry – we’ve put together a handy map which shows all the top destinations in Australia and we’ve even added in the bus travel times to/from the next/previous stop – making it super simple for you to get your bearings and put together your perfect East Coast adventure!

 

Travelling Australia – Distances Between Top Destinations

Here’s our East Coast Australia map covering all the most popular stops between Melbourne and Cairns – including the likes of Byron Bay, Sydney, Rainbow Beach (for Fraser Island) and Airlie Beach (for the Whitsundays).

Just click on the pin to bring up the travel info for the next location up and down the coast – easy as!

 

East Coast Australia Package Deals

If you’re busy planning your backpacking trip to Australia and not sure whee to start check out our East Coast Australia Package Deals for some inspiration and our top travel itineraries!

If you already know where you want to go and what you want to do put all the details in our East Coast Custom Package Creator and our travel experts will put everything together for you and hook you up with some epic discounts!

Finding the best Whitsunday Island tours can be a pretty tough task – there are just so many boats and trips to choose from and plenty of Whitsundays tours to narrow down!

And since sailing on the Whitsundays is such a big Australia bucket list item you’re going to want to make sure you pick the right boat for you – there’s nothing worse than picking the wrong tour and regretting it!

But fear not – our team of awesome travel experts have put together this mini guide of the best Whitsunday Island Tours to help you find your perfect match!

The Best Whitsunday Island Tours

Whitsunday Island Day Trips

If you’re short on time then a day trip to the Whitsunday Islands from Airlie Beach is the way to go. Sure you won’t get the full experience of an overnight sailing experience, but it’s certainly the way to go if time or money are an issue and you’ll still tick off all the must visit spots like Hill Inlet Lookout and Whitehaven Beach.

Our pick of the day trips is the Ocean Rafting option – as you can choose the Northern Exposure for more snorkel time or Southern Lights for more beach time. It’s an amazing day trip.

Whitsunday Island Overnight Trips – Party Boats

If you’re looking to party hard on the Whitsundays then there are some goon filled options that will suit you perfectly!

The most famous (or should we say infamous?!) is the Atlantic Clipper. This huge boat can accommodate up to 70 travellers and comes with waterslides, diving board and lots of chaos!

If that’s too much chaos for you then the New Horizon or Apollo offer some seriously fun party times but without huge crowds!

Whitsunday Island Overnight Trips – Sailing Boats

If you want to sail the Whitsundays and actually get involved with the sailing side of things  (although many boats will let you get a little involved!) then Derwent Hunter, Solway Lass and New Horizon offer a full tall ship sailing experience where you can get stuck into the pirate life!

Whitsunday Island Overnight Trips – Chilled Boats

If you want goo vibes on your Whitsundays Sailing Adventure but not crazy amounts of partying then Tongarra is our top pick.

With a medium group size and great itinerary this catamaran style boat is a firm favourite for many travellers – ourselves included!

If that’s not your style or is fully booked (it sells out quickly so secure your place in advance!) then Wings and Waltzing Matilda are also good options.

Whitsunday Island Overnight Trips – Luxury Boats

If you want to go all out an really treat yourself on the Whitsundays then there are a few boats which stand out from the crowd in terms of luxury. – Powerplay, On Ice and Whitsunday Getaway.

For us though Powerplay wins out – with it’s small group dynamic, amazing boat (including a hot tub on the back!) and the fact it won’t smash your budget heaps! Just check out their amazing promo video…

Whitsunday Island Overnight Trips – Island Stays

If you really want to treat yourself then you can always stay on one of the Whitsunday Islands, but be warned this can be a huge budget killer!

If you don’t fancy staying on a boat, but still want a few days exploring some more of the island the Ride To Paradise option is perfect – you’ll two nights on an island resort without smashing your travel budget!

With dorm options or private rooms it’s perfect for those who want a bit more comfort or who don’t like the ideas of sleeping on the ocean!

The Best Whitsunday Island Tours – Our Pick

So which trip do our team like the most? Well after a lot of discussion it’s a toss up between Tongarra and Powerplay!

Tongarra is the more backpacker friendly option, with great vibes and a good size group, where as Powerplay is the pick for those who want a more “flashpacker” style experience and small group dynamic – so it really depends on what your priorities are!

**Plus get $50 off Powerplay or Tongarra with promo code WHIT50**

Hopefully this mini guide will help your find the best Whitsunday Island tours for your style and budget and check out our full range of Whitsundays Tours here!

Have you visited the Whitsunday Islands?

Which company did you use and how did you get on?

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Finding the best Fraser Island tour can be a tough decision – there are so many to choose from with a whole heap of options to suit every style and of course budget!

So to make things a bit easier for you we’ve put together a quick breakdown of the best Fraser Island tours – so you can find the one that’s perfect for you!

What’s The Best Fraser Island Tour?

Fraser Island Camping Tours

One of the most popular ways to see Fraser Island is an overnight camping tour. These tag along 4×4 tours allow you to get behind the wheel and drive around this awesome island, which makes them the best Fraser Island tour for adventure!

After a fun day of exploring everything that Fraser Island has to offer you’ll head to the permanent campsites on the island, kick back around the BBQ, sip a cold beer (or most likely some glasses of goon!) and enjoy the incredible night sky.

Available in 3 day/2 night options you have a few companies to choose from – including Pippies, Dingos and Nomads Fraser Island.

If you want the all out Fraser Island camping tour our top pick would be Pippies, with its awesome vibes and great location – however it departs Mon, Tues, Wed, Fri and Sat so you’ll need to make sure that fits into your time schedule.

Dingos on the other hand offers a very similar style tour, but does add the extra flexibility of daily (except December 23rd/25th/30th and 1st Jan). Group sizes are slightly bigger, which is great for availability too.

Both Pippies and Dingos start in Rainbow Beach and you can easily tag on some pre and post trip accommodation at their associated hostels their too.

Nomads Fraser Island offer a bit more flashpacker camping luxury at their legendary tipi campsite within Eurong Beach Resort. More comfortable than the other camping options it also means you have access to all the facilities of the Beach Resort – including the on site bar.

The Nomads trip departs from Noosa, which makes it the perfect option for anyone looking for a short Fraser Island Package (you can fly into Brisbane, get a bus to Noosa and then head back to Brisbane).

Fraser Island Hostel Tours

If camping isn’t your thing and you want a more comfortable Fraser Island experience then there are a couple of options to choose from too.

Departing from Rainbow Beach or Hervey Bay the overnight Fraser Explorer hostel options are a  2 day/1 night option, however unlike the camping tours these aren’t tag along 4×4 format – instead you’re driven around in an epic all terrain tour bus.

Great if you want to kick back and just enjoy the ride but it does lack the adventure the other options offer.

If you want the full 4×4 tag along tour experience combined with hostel accommodation then the best choice is Nomads Fraser Island.

As with their camping options this departs from Noosa and you’ll be kicking back in Eurong Beach Resort – making it the best Fraser Island tour for adventure with an added level of comfort.

It runs year round as a 3 day/2 night option on Tues, Thurs and Sat or as a 2 day/1 night option between Dec and April departing on Wed and Sat.

nomads fraser island tour 2 days rainbow beach noosa australia east coast

Fraser Island Day Trips

If you’re pushed for time or simply don’t fancy staying overnight on Fraser Island then a day trip is a great way to quickly pack in the highlights.

The two most popular options for day trips to Fraser Island are Cool Dingos and Fraser Explorer – with our personal favourite being Fraser Explorer.

However with all the day trips you’ll be in a 4×4 tour bus rather than tag along tour format, so you lack some of the adventure.

These day trips are a great back up option if availability is full on the overnight options (especially for peak season or last minute bookings!) departing from Rainbow Beach and Hervey Bay everyday.

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Best Value Fraser Island Tour

So out of all the options which is the best Fraser Island tour when it comes to value for money?

Obviously if budget is the key thing the day trips are the cheapest at around $170, however if you’re wanting the full adventure experience our pick would be the overnight options, especially if you add in the discounted pre and post tour accommodation packages.

Pippies is the best value and comes in at just $417, or $469 with 1 night pre and post tour accommodation – which includes food, tent, 4×4, guide and pretty much everything you need. However if you aren’t travelling with a sleeping bag it an extra $10 to hire one for the trip.

Hopefully our mini guide will help you choose the best Fraser Island tour for your style and budget – have an awesome time!

And check out our full range of Fraser Island Tours here.

Have you visited Fraser Island?

Which company did you use and how did you find it?

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Having the reputation of New Zealand’s favorite visitor destination, Queenstown offers its stunning scenery and wide range of activities. It is a natural playground for all your adrenaline-fueled adventures!

Queenstown is also one of the major stops on the Stray New Zealand and Kiwi Experience bus passes which will make your trip more entertaining.
It is a home to a huge choice of blood-pumping activities like skiing which is particularly visited by tourists during snowboard season from June to October.
Journey through the Queenstown’s amazing landscapes and cool waters. Push yourself to the limits whether you like it mild or wild!

Here’s the top 10 things can you do in Queenstown that will sure give you an epic adventure.

 

AJ Hackett Bungy Jumping

Queenstown is the home of bungy jumping which started the worldwide phenomenon since 1988. The AJ Hackett bungy jump – a New Zealand original – is on the top of adrenaline junkies’ travel goals.
This extreme Queenstown experience lets you perform numerous styles of bungy jumps in stunning NZ sceneries from a platform situated as high as 400m above the city itself. Those bungy jump styles include standard jumps, spins and flips. The locals will even present you a “Jump Menu” so you can freely choose your own twists and turns.

There is currently three bungy jumping sites offering different outlook, including the famous and all-original site at the bridge above Kawarau River, although the Nevis Bungy is easily the most popular and extreme!

 

Tandem Skydiving

A Tandem skydive in Queenstown provides an inherent rush as you freefall from a plane soaring as high as 15,000 feet. During the drop, you will reach speed of up to 200 kilometer per hour as the stunning panorama of Queenstown unfolds right in front of your eyes.
The skydiving operator NZONE definitely knows their stuff so you will surely get your feet back on to solid ground. They also help the first-timer skydivers to feel safe for this thrilling adventure. Prove that you actually jumped with a photo or video package professionally taken to serve as a reminder of your once-or-twice in a lifetime Queenstown experience.

 

White Water Rafting

This water adventure is another Queenstown original ever since 1974. It is an activity no one should not miss, no matter what your age!
Queenstown offers a number of rafting spots with different kinds of rapids that anyone will surely enjoy. Top of the list is the most popular Shotover River boasting with a peaceful waters toward exhilarating rapids. A journey to Skippers Canyon is already an adventure in itself. Kawarau River, on the other hand, is ideal for first-time rafters providing stunning scenery and the longest commercially rafted rapid, the 400m Dog Leg. In fact, Kawarau starred as the River Anduin in the film Lord of the Rings.
The best thing about Queenstown white water rafting is that there’s no experience needed! But fret not, New Zealand’s largest rafting operator is internationally recognized for the high level of safety and standards it provides. So first time rafters can still enjoy this thrilling adventure – in fact, 80% of backpackers heading this way have never rafted before.

 

Skiing

With Queenstown being New Zealand’s premier ski and winter holiday destination, there is no better place to enjoy it than in this town. There are wide range of off-slope activities which gets more awesome with pristine alpine lake and mountainous environment.
Its leading ski fields – the Treble Cone Ski Area which is the largest, Coronet Peak Ski Area which allows night skiing, Remarkables Ski Area with dedicated area for beginners, and Cardrona Alpine Resort which offers something for everyone – also houses world class infrastructures.
Queenstown’s vibe and nightlife can replenish your energy even before you plan your next backcountry ski.

 

Shotover Jet Boat

A trip to New Zealand is not totally complete without a jet boating experience. It is the world’s ultimate jet boat experience delighting millions of visitors since 1965.

The most popular jet boat is the Shotover Jet that will take you deep into the rugged Shotover River Canyons at a speed of 10cm deepwater. Your expert driver will help your adrenaline rush as you ride into this breathtaking drive.
You’ll feel the rush as the jet boat whips the rocky ridges and glide around crags and rocks before performing its famous 360 degree spins, sending spray everywhere!

 

Hiking at Bob’s Peak

Right at the center of Queenstown is Bob’s Peak which has a variety of activities to do while taking in the stunning views. To get up Bob’s Peak, you can either hike through the Tiki Trail (which will take about 45-60 minutes) or the Skyline Gondola (which looks like a cable car).
After reaching Bob’s Peak, you will find your typical souvenir shop, a café and restaurant. There is also an observatory deck with binoculars for everyone to get the view of the sunset.

However, you have to make sure that you are early to get a nice viewing spot as the deck gets jam-packed!
Aside from epic adventures, the other reason why people go to Queenstown is for its spectacular sceneries. Its breathtaking view will surely leave you awe-inspired.

 

Skyline Gondola

Queenstown has the Skyline Gondola for you for a quick and comfortable way of getting the best views at the best vantage points. You wouldn’t want to miss the spectacular 220 degree panorama along the way which includes views of Coronet Peak, The Remarkables mountain range, Lake Wakatipu and Cecil and Walter Peaks.
The Luge is also a great way to spend an afternoon (especially if you’re travelling with kids) which starts in an area with a chairlift which can take you back from the hill after you’ve reached the bottom.

Heaps of fun for all ages!

 

Helicopter Flights

Soak up the full beauty of Queenstown with a scenic helicopter flight (they even offer heli-tours!) and hang gliding while others who want to take it to the next level can either sky dive, parapent or do an aerobatic flight!
Whatever aerial activities you wish to do, do it definitely from the sky above Queenstown and you’ll enjoy incredible aerial view of its lakes, mountains and towns.

 

Milford Sound Return Transfers and Cruise

Being one of the World Heritage Fiordland National Park, Milford Sound is undoubtedly known for its pristine beauty and peaceful ambiance (extending from 15 km inland Tasman Sea). It is the only NZ fiord or narrow inlet between cliffs which is accessible thru cars. Penguins, seals and dolphins also come to greet tourists paying a visit.
This fiord sports two waterfalls: the Lady Bowen and Stirling Falls. However, after heavy rains, hundreds of temporary waterfalls can be seen.

Although a solid drive from Queenstown this is one of the most popular day trips to do from here.

 

Get a Fergburger

Fergburger is the only thing in our list that is not even about adventures or destinations but food. It is now New Zealand’s tourist attraction itself (and a part of the city’s tradition) with its hand-made burger with daily fresh produce!

Locally known as Ferg’s, the burger joint is full of customers queing up every opening hour and eagerly wait for around an hour at peak hours for a feed – they are even open 21 hours a day!
Recommended Ferg is the Chief Wiggum (pork belly) burger or the vegetarian Bun Laden. Other variant includes Southern Swine (beef, bacon, avocado), Codfather (cod), Holier than Thou (tofu), Little Lamby (Prime New Zealand lamb, mint jelly, lettuce, tomato, red onion, alioli, tomato relish), and Sweet Bambi (Wild Fiordland deer with a Thai plum chutney, lettuce, tomato, red onion, alioli).

With prices ranging from NZ$11-NZ$18 every Fergburger is also definitely Instagram-worthy!

 

Renowned for its adventure sports and majestic sceneries, Queenstown is one of the tourist destinations all over the world. It may seem like a small town but there is so much vibe and energy in this city.

Queenstown will no doubt be a highlight of your time in New Zealand so pencil in a good few days to make the most of what it has to offer

New Zealand is the adventure capital of the World. It is a country known for its abundant landscapes, friendly locals, and tender lamb! Each NZ destination is a spectacular place to see.

And choosing how to travel around this beautiful country is as important as choosing where to go – so, check out the 6 best ways to see and experience the land of the long white cloud — New Zealand.

 

Intercity

A two-in-one passenger transport and tourism company, Intercity operates New Zealand’s largest bus network and has been going for more than 30 years – connecting more than 600 destinations nationwide with 130 services daily.

Intercity is one of the country’s lowest cost transport network, with bus fares starting from only $1 (plus booking fee) and you can easily book trips online and the earlier you book, the cheaper it is. Buses are all equipped with wi-fi (free of charge), which is an added bonus!

They also offer flexible saver packs including InterCity FlexiPass and InterCity TravelPass for your total freedom to explore the national network at discounted rates.

Best for: Medium budget / alternative routes / bolt on travel

 

Kiwi Experience

Dubbed as New Zealand’s backpacker network and running for 25 years, the Kiwi Experience bus passes offer flexible, guided travel in a hop on hop off style. You’ll get to travel alongside your fellow backpackers and meet some new travel buddies – especially in the 18-25 age range.

Kiwi Experience has 6 main pass types to choose from with something for every style, time frame and of course budget:

  • Start anywhere/finish anywhere
  • Start Auckland, finish Christchurch
  • Start Christchurch, finish Auckland
  • North Island only
  • South Island only
  • Whole country passes.

The bus drivers are friendly, too! They’ll be chatting about what you can get up to, booking your succeeding trips, and even helping you with your accommodation – with your first night in each stop guranateeed.

Though not the cheapest option, Kiwi Experience bus comes with a lot of discounts and route options. Who knows maybe you can catch a bigger pass on a cheap price when it comes out on sale – so keep an eye on our Kiwi Experience deal page!

Best for: Flexible and longer stays / solo and young-gap backpackers / people wanting to meet new people and discovering new routes / partygoers looking for an enjoyable nightlife

 

Stray New Zealand

“Take off the beaten path.”

That’s just how Stray New Zealand ethos works, immersing you into few different destinations alongside the major ones.

They have a range of authentic activities to do in NZ like a farm stay experience, a wild stop-over on Stewart Island, and a night in the country’s highest mountain – all of which are exclusive to Stray New Zealand.

Much like the Kiwi Experience their drivers also serves as your local “guidebook” providing their own insights on New Zealand’s history and culture.

Stray’s hop on hop off passes are valid for 12 months and during these months, you can re-travel and revisit your favorite spots in its operated routes – perfect for those who aren’t sure where they want to go but have a good chunk of time to play with.

It also comes in smaller group size of 24 for more intimate setting for you to meet fellow travelers and eventually, life-long friends. 

Age wise Stray New Zealand attracts a slightly older age range than Kiwi (think 25 rather than 18!) but it’ll still be packed full of heaps of fun and good vibes!

Best for: Flexible and longer stays / solo, mature backpackers / people wanting to meet new people and discovering new routes

 

Naked Bus

This bus company is the middle ground between backpackers’ network and Intercity. It promises the art of ‘stripping the cost of travel’. They are labeled as the Greyhound of New Zealand.

Naked Bus passes through 320 towns, once or twice daily throughout New Zealand. The only day they don’t operate is during Christmas Day – so no matter when you’re travelling there will be a bus to grab!

Their fares are starting at $1 per journey but they have the “first in, gets the cheapest deal” policy. Cheap seats are sold first so you have to be quite fast to get the best fare available.

The company also offers a travel pass called Nakedpassport which is on a per 5 trip basis and is valid for 12 months – it doesn’t include activities and tours so you have to purchase it as an add-ons. However, they will give you a discount depending on the activity or tour you are going to do.

Naked Bus also introduced Nakedbus Sleeper, the country’s first lie flat bed on a bus. You can get the offer thru Nakedsleep.com which offers beds from $15 per person per night (plus booking fee).

Best for: solo, mature backpackers / people looking for variety of routes / flexible and longer stay / bolt-on travel

 

Campervan

There’s no freer and more satisfying feeling than taking off the long road and having all the facilities you need when travelling.

Stopping off where you want and when you want through a campervan gives you a more authentic and fulfilling travel experience. It won’t limit you from the box of planning too much prior to a trip (well, planning your driving itinerary is a different story!) and you’re not tied to the schedule of buses nor tours.

But this freedom comes at a price and is actually can be one of the more expensive options to go with, especially for a longer trip.

Also, take note of the temperatures in New Zealand during winter time. In addition to campervan’s common facilities, you also have to hire heaters from the companies.

And above all, don’t forget to pass on “camperaderie” to others campervanning!

Best for: Medium to high budget / small groups or families / people looking for alternative routes / people looking for a bit more adventure

 

Car Hire

Renting a car in New Zealand still gives you the flexibility of a campervan but without the added cost. It would give you the freedom of spontaneously stopping off at an interesting place and be able to go to another anytime you want.

However, hiring a car in NZ requires that you are 21 years old and a holder of a valid international driver’s license. You should also understand New Zealand’s road rules – so read up and make sure you stick to the correct side of the road!

Car hire is perfect for going to New Zealand on a budget. It is not expensive and is more common during the months of March to April when most travelers come and go.

Best for: medium to high budget / small groups / people looking for alternative routes and shorter trips

 

No matter what option you choose for travel in New Zealand there are heaps of activities to pack your itinerary with – caving, zorbing, dolphin tour, bungy jumping, skydiving, surfing, white water rafting, black water rafting, heli hike, and hobbiton movie set tour – take your pick!

 

The East Coast of Australia is one of the most popular travel routes on the planet – with heaps of backpackers and travellers travelling between Sydney and Cairns…or from Melbourne too!

But what are the must see destinations that you should stop off at along the East Coast route?

Well we’ve put together our East Coast Mini Guide which runs through some of the top spots and why you should pencil them into your travel plans!

 

Melbourne

This cafe culture city is a hub for big international events – including the Melbourne Cup, Australian Tennis Open and F1 Championship. But when you’re not busy watching on the big screen in Fed Square take the time to explore the amazing street art, tram lines and St Kilda Beach. For those looking for even more to keen themselves busy a day trip to Philip Islands Penguin Parade or a road trip along the Great Ocean Road is a must!

 

Sydney

Often confused as the capital of Australia (that’s Canberra incase you didn’t know!) Sydney has some of the most icon destinations in Oz. Wander around Circular Quay and get your snaps of the stunning views over the Opera House and Harbour Bridge, hit the beach at Bondi or escape the city to the Blue Mountains.

 

Yamba

Yamba is one of the bets kept travel secrets in Australia and this sleepy little surf town is a great additional stop of you have some more time to play with! Wit pumping surf, amazing beaches and some incredible beach walks it’s the ideal place for some downtime. Make sure you head to Yamba YHA and say hi to Shane to owner…he’s a total legend!

 

Byron Bay

Byron is all about the laid back beach lifestyle, so get ready to kick off your shoes and enjoy everything ocean based! Whale watching, dolphin kayaking, surf lessons and scuba diving are all great ways to spend your days in the Bay or for those who want a bit more adrenaline skydiving over Australias most Easterly Point is incredible!

And of course you can slow the pace down even more with a  day trip to Nimbin 😉

 

The Gold Coast

Often referred to as the Miami of Australia spots like Surfers Paradise on the Goldie are full of all the glitz and glam of city life with skyscraper lining the beach front.If shopping isn’t your thing then the range of theme parks here has something for everyone!

 

Brisbane

Brissie is a popular spot for those looking to stop off and find some work midway up the East Coast and the capital of Queensland proximity to spots like the Gold Coast, Byron and Noosa make it a great base. If you’re spending some time here make sure you head out and see the ship wrecks on Moreton Island, one of the best snorkelling sites in Australia!

 

Noosa

Incredible beaches, more laid back surfer vibes – Noosa is another stop which takes full advantage of the Aussie beach life! Get in amongst nature and explore the Noosa Everglades on a canoe tour and witness some spectacular sunsets over the estuary.

 

Rainbow Beach

One of the main gateway to Fraser Island Rainbow Beach also has heaps to see and do! Whether you’re kitesurfing, whale watching or skydiving if you have some extra time to play with check it out!

 

Fraser Island

One of the must do bucket list items in Australia, Fraser Island is the worlds largest sand island – so what better way to explore it than cruising around in a 4×4 through the rainforest and beach? Spots like Lake Mackenzie, Champagne Pools, and the Maheno Wreck will pack your camera full of awesome pics!

 

Airlie Beach

As the departure point for the Whitsunday Island Airlie Beach boasts and incredible nightlife! If you’re relaxing pre or post sailing adventure a scenic flight over the Great Barrier Reef or day kayaking around the bay is the way to go, or just chill out by the free lagoon swimming pool with your travel buddies!

 

The Whitsunday Islands

Another one of the big bucket list items in Australia, The Whitsunday Islands are all about finding a tropical paradise! With heaps of sailing adventures to choose from – from party boats to scuba diving – you’ll check out spots like Whitehaven Beach, Hill Inlet Lookout and snorkel some incredible spots on the Southern Great Barrier Reef.

 

Magnetic Island

Just off the coast of Townsville is Magnetic Island and with its abundance of wild koalas and friendly rock wallabies it’s a great spot to relax and meet some of the unique wildlife that calls Australia home!

 

Mission Beach

If you’re looking to skydive in Australia then Mission Beach is the perfect place to do it! With views across the Great Barrier Reef and Australis only beach landing it’s not hard to see why! If you’re staying longer take a trip to Dunk Island for some epic snorkelling or hit the Tully River for some White Water Rafting!

 

Cairns

As the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef Cairns is one of the biggest dive spots in Australia! So if you’re looking to complete your Open Water Dive Course or and Introductory Dive this is the spot! For those who want some non diving fun get your adrenaline on the go with a bungy jump or head north to explore Cape Tribulation for the day. Or if you’ve had a big night out at the Woolshed or Gilligans maybe just relax by the waterfront lagoon pool and have a BBQ!

 

The Great Barrier Reef

No trip to Oz is complete without checking out the Great Barrier Reef – one of the natural wonders of the world! Join a snorkel day trip, give scuba diving a go with an intro dive or go all out with an overnight dive boat in search of Nemo! Get into the big blue and find explore some more of he underwater world.

 

Cape Tribulation

Just north of Cairns lies Cape Tribulation – unique in the fact it’s where two world heritage sites meet, The Daintree Rainforest and The Great Barrier Reef. Enjoy the waterfalls, join a crocodile river cruise or go for a scenic walk through the rainforest – it’s a stunning part of Australia!

 

Have you travelled East Coast Australia?

Any stops you’d add in?

 

Lets face it one of the suckiest things about travelling is the packing. Trying to condense your life possessions into a neat bundle and cram it all into a rucksack is nothing short of stressful!

And within seconds of checking into a hostel you bag has magically exploded across the room and you’ll no doubt find yourself hungover and rushing to shove everything back in before the 10am checkout time or your overnight bus.

So how can you make packing easier? And more importantly what should you be packing?

Well lucky for you we’ve got years of experience on the road…so here’s some handy tips to help make it that little bit less chaotic

 

Half The Stuff, Twice The Money

It’s a massively over used tip but it’s still the best one in the book! Lay all your stuff out on the bed and half it…simple as! Then find a way to take twice the money!hahaha!

Seriously though on the road you’ll quickly find you barely use a lot of your kit and you’re lugging it around ‘just in case’ – so if it’s a maybe make it into a no!

 

Packing Cubes

These things are awesome for keeping stuff organised and not having to rummage through and throw all your clothing onto the floor to find a pair of socks! Take a spare one too to chuck all your dirty clothes into too which will make laundry day heaps easier!

 

Suitcase Style Bag

Swopping from a top loading rucksack to one that opens flat like a suitcase is a simple yet epic move – suddenly all the contents are easily accessible (even more so if it’s in packing cubes!) and you can see exactly where everything is. No more elbow deep, blind rummaging for your toothbrush!

 

Go On Bag Size Bigger (or pack less!)

A lot of people make the mistake of packing their bag to the brim…totally forgetting that along the way you’ll probably want to buy some stuff to take home – clothes, trinkets, random stuff….

Grab the next size up and give yourself some extra room to make packing easier and some space to accumulate some stuff along the way!

 

Roll Don’t Fold!

It might sound stupid but this tip has helped us heaps! Rolling your clothes is waaaaaaaay easier and quicker! Not only that but your stuff will end up less creased too….not that that really matters though, you’re backpacking after all!

 

Dry Bag

Probably the best investment we’ve made on the road! A simple 10 litre dry bag is amazing for day trips to the beach, boats and anything else that involves water, not only that though but you can use it to hold wet stuff too – there’s nothing worse than having  wet towel or boardies/bikini to pack just before a flight or journey…whacking them in your dry bag means you can go for that last minute dip no worries!

 

Side Pockets

Sometime people just don’t think when they pack, we’re all guilty of it! Ever wondered where that plug adaptor was and have to spend 20minutes rummaging through everything?! Yeah us too!

So make use of the side pockets on your bag – stuff you need quick access to like your toothbrush, chargers, reservation vouchers – keep them there so they’re quickly to hand when you need them!

 

Have you got any awesome travel packing tips you’ve discovered?

Pass them on!

Learning to scuba dive is an amazing bucket list item to tick off on your travels – the world is over 70% water after all!

So if you’re trying to decide where in the world to complete your open water course or next dive certification we’ve put together this quick guide to help you figure out which location is best for you…

 

Best For Budget – Koh Tao

Without a doubt Koh Tao in Thailand is the cheapest place to complete your PADI or SSI Open Water Dive Course.

Packages are range from £180-200 depending and often include accommodation too – even more of a bargain!

This famous Thai island is a popular spot with backpackers due to this – with a variety of dive centres to choose from offering a full range of courses up to divemaster and instructor.

When you’re not busy diving there’s a wide range of activities to do – whether you fancy kayaking, island hopping or just kicking back at a beach bar with a cold beer!

If you’re looking to learn to dive on Koh Tao check out our dive courses here.

 

Best For Experience – Great Barrier Reef Liveaboard

If you’re looking for our personal recommendation on where and how to complete your open water dive course you can’t get much better than completing it on a Great Barrier Reef Liveaboard!

Based out of Cairns you’ll complete your theory and pool modules on the mainland before heading out to the Great Barrier Reef for a min of 2 days and 1 night to complete your open water dives. So not only will you complete your dive course and become certified but you’ll also get the opportunity to sleep overnight on the Great Barrier Reef – an amazing experience in itself!

It comes with a bit of a higher price tag than just completing it as day trips (around $705AUD all in) but it’s well worth the extra cash and then that also covers your meal and accommodation on the boat too.

For more information check out our Great Barrier Reef Liveaboards here.

 

Best In Australia

We’re tied between two locations for completing your open water dive course in Australia. Firstly is Cairns as you get to dive on the Great Barrier Reef – which is amazing as…well…it’s the Great Barrier Reef!

A budget dive course here where you complete your open water modules on two day trips to the reef is around $625AUD.

For those who want to learn to scuba dive as they head up the East Coast our other favourite is Byron Bay. This amazing beachside town is full of barefoot living and good vibes – and the scuba diving here is incredible too!

You’ll complete your course out at Julian Rocks Marine Reserve and depending on the season you’ll have the opportunity to swim alongside Grey Nurse Sharks, Manta Rays and Leopard sharks along with the array of other awesome marine life that calls this spot home.

The Bryon Bay Dive Courses also allow you to complete your theory work online before arriving, so the whole thing only takes 3 days instead of 4 – ideal for those who want more time to explore Byron (an amazing spot for learning to surf) or who don’t have heaps of time to travel around Australia.

For more information on Great Barrier Reef dive courses click here and for Byron Bay dive courses click here.

 

If you need any help figuring out where to complete your open water dive course drop us an email or chat to our travel experts on our live chat and we’d be happy to help!

Bondi Beach, Australia

So you’ve decided to start your adventure in Australia:  amazing!  Australia has an abundance of opportunities when it comes to travel, adventure, finding friends, finding yourself and earning some money!

With summer fast approaching, it’s finally time to book the holiday you’ve been dreaming of all winter. Whether it’s an exotic beach or a city break that gets you in the mood, it’s all about leaving your cares behind and spending a few precious days indulging your every whim. With that in mind, it’s worth exploring the different ways you can maximise the spoils and ensure you get the most out of your holiday.

Points mean prizes

You’re probably going to book your holiday via credit card, so this is the ideal time to take advantage of a rewards points system. Most companies operate these, allowing customers to build up points with purchases that can later be converted into benefits. Saving up for air miles and complimentary hotel stays is a good way to make paying for the most expensive parts of your holiday less painful, but even when you’re away you could be working towards your next break. By using your credit card instead of cash at the theatre or when dining out, you could earn extra treats, so it’s worth researching which places are affiliated with your chosen credit card company. Most credit cards also offer cashback on purchases, which comes in handy when gift shopping for the folks back home.

Join the club

Instead of spending the weeks before your holiday flicking through gorgeous pictures of your destination and daydreaming, start researching what’s going on there to see if you can take advantage any deals. There might be a nightclub offering complimentary champagne for group entry, a new restaurant having an opening night party, or even a resort spa with exclusive early-bird packages. In an industry as competitive as tourism, everyone will want to pamper you – so let them!

Knowledge is power

When you’re visiting a destination for the first time, it can be difficult to find your bearings. Insider information is invaluable when travelling, whether it’s pointing out which restaurants to avoid, letting you in on a hidden gem off the beaten path or even recommending a particular cocktail. The world’s largest travel review website, TripAdvisor, operates an online community where travellers can share information on shops, restaurants and hotels that offer exclusive treats and benefits to specified cardholders. You’ll also get insight into each reviewer’s individual experience, giving you the knowledge you need to plan a perfect holiday.

TripAdvisor has teamed up with credit cards from American Express to offer cardmembers exclusive access to special offers, local hotspots and bespoke reviews of some of the world’s finest destinations. From rooftop bars to underground excursions, you can get expert information on every part of your trip.

 

Bahamas is an archipelago based on 700 islands known for the magnificent coral reefs and for their sunny beaches. But the real deal in the archipelago is the vivid nightlife, when all the islands are illuminated like stars and people party long into the daylight.

Las Vegas style entertainment

Cable Beach, located on the New Providence Island, offers two venues which provide fun and safety. Wyndham Nassau Resort  has luxurious casinos and a 800 seats theater which offers high quality entertainment, spectacular shows and complete gambling experience which can rival with Las Vegas hotels.

The Island way of gambling

Crystal Palace Casino is another spot on the beach where real fun begins after dark. Being the largest venue on Cable Beach, it offers a baccarat table, 7 craps tables, 51 blackjack tables and 750 slot machines. The bars and the restaurants on the beach offer a sweet break from gambling. Live music and delicious cocktails are the complementary treatments for those who want to stay away from the games and enjoy a dance session.

Grand_Bahamas_Island

Natural features of the Bahamas islands

Nightlife in the islands offers fun and many entertainment opportunities, but the real beauty of the islands should not be missed either. The natural coral reefs and the crystal clear waters are perfect for divers, while the sunny beaches may offer a silent escape after a noisy gambling experience. The wild side of the archipelago also has an untouched green version, perfect for a long night walk.

Online gambling

The tourists who don’t want to spend the entire night inside a casino because they are keen on exploring the natural island beauty, can always try their luck online while relaxing on the beach. Learning the rules at fult tilt poker is ideal for people trying gambling for the first time. The beginners can watch helpful tutorials teaching them how to make deposits and how to play. The house offers to double the value of the deposit for free so you can play using these money and win real cash.

Non-gamers have the same fun

Even if Bahamas is a true paradise for gamblers, as there are casinos in every possible corner of the little islands, tourists who don’t gamble are also treated like VIPs. Atlantis Paradise Island Resort and Casino is one of the favorite spots for gamers, but all guests can have nightlife fun at the comedy club or at the extravagantly decorated bar.

Fire eaters and fries

On the Grand Bahama Island tourists can enjoy street shows after dark, enjoying the nightlife in the middle if the Lucaya Marketplace. Artists gather in the night to put on interesting shows of fire-eating, while the Junkanoo street parade catches all the eyes. Drummers and Djs enhance the fun and mesmerize tourists, who can quickly find themselves dancing in the street in a general party. After all this fun, one must enjoy the street cuisine and taste the real island spirit which comes with the famous  fish fries.

 

Scotland’s vast natural heritage is a great reason to visit Britain. The country’s gardens offer a delightful opportunity to indulge your senses and explore the very best of Britain’s natural scenery. Take a look at some of the finest Scottish gardens.

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Discover more Scottish and English Gardens from VisitBritain

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Drummond Castle Gardens

These gardens combine to perfection stunning Renaissance architecture with superb scenery. This Perthshire venue dates from the mid-18th century, and the garden’s layout and gorgeous details will surely transport visitors to the stately glamour of a bygone area.

Monteviot Gardens

Located in Jedburgh, a historic market town south of Edinburgh, the Monteviot Gardens are the ideal place to disconnect from the busy pace of daily life. Here you can stroll around wonderful rose, herb, river, and water gardens, which are connected to each other through lovely ponds and bridges. Don’t miss the Monteviot’s arboretum and the gardens’ top terrace.

Rocheid Garden

Rocheid is a hidden and relaxing gem in the heart of cosmopolitan Edinburgh. This garden features gorgeous exotic plants and flowers that gather gracefully around a crystal-clear natural pond. The result is a beautiful collage of bright colours that never fail to make an impression on visitors.

Brockhole Gardens

Although the Lake District is not part of Scotland, a trip to this wonderful part of Cumbria is well worth the detour if only to visit the splendid Brockhole Gardens. Located right next to Windermere Lake, these gardens feature 30 acres of terraced land that has been beautifully landscaped to bring out the best of this stunning area. For the best views of these gardens, go on the exciting tree-top trek at Brockhole.

 

This post has been brought to you by VisitBritain

 

Ask anyone where to find the best affordable summer beach holidays and it’s likely their answer will be Turkey. The sun kissed country has it all! The sea is crystal clear and ideal for swimming while the winds on the Aegean coast create perfect conditions for surfing and windsurfing. What’s more, Turkey enjoys more than 300 days of sunshine a year, with temperatures often exceeding 30 degrees Celsius in the high season (July-September).

 

To help you make the most of your Turkish summer holiday, we’ve compiled a list of the best beaches in the country, with a good mixture of tourist hotspots and hidden gems for you to explore:

 

Iztuzu, Dalyan

There’s nothing quite as magical as watching turtles coming to the shore to lay their eggs – if you’re lucky enough to catch them that is! This 4.5km stretch of beach is abundant with beautiful wildlife and is perfect for a family day out. The seabed shelf means that the waters are serenely calm and great for families with younger children. There are plenty of low cost options for those looking affordable holidays. Take a look at this great range of holidays for 2015 from Cosmos. A flight and three nights accommodation for one adult in a luxury Dalyan resort will set you back around £220 pounds, which is incredibly cheap for the quality of beachside resorts found on the Turkish Coast.

 

Pantara, Xanthos Valley

Pantara is without a doubt one of the best Turkish beaches, featuring the longest continuous stretch of sand in the Mediterranean. Its sheer size and beauty makes it a very popular destination but should you seek a more secluded spot, head over to the northwest part of the beach. During the summer, the waves can be pretty intense so it’s not an ideal place for families with small children.

 

Cirali, Turquoise Coast

Cirali makes the list not only for its beautiful secluded beach but also for its breath-taking surrounding scenery. A short trek from the beach will take you to the ancient ruins of Olympos, an intensely magical experience that shouldn’t be passed up! The entire area is a protected UNESCO site and features fascinating wildlife not to be missed.

 

Phaselis, Turqoise Coast

We’ve already included one beach from the Turquoise Coast, but this one couldn’t be left out! The collection of small peaceful bays makes for a wonderfully relaxing day at the beach. Phaselis boasts some of the best swimming in Turkey, with stunning surroundings and calm, crystal clear water.

 

Ayd?nc?k, Gökçeada

This 1500m stretch of white sand is a sight to behold. Extremely popular with tourists, it can get pretty busy as far as beaches go. Ayd?nc?k is located in an area popular with migrating flamingos, making it a perfect spot for birdwatchers and holidaymakers alike. Health buffs will also love the black mud found on the shoreline which is renowned for its healing properties.

It’s always worth subscribing to travel website newsletters as they often advertise great last minute deals that could save you even more money!

 

It is very difficult to choose five beautiful beaches in a country that has more beautiful beaches than I will one day have vintage china tea cups (I have three so far, but I’m working on it). So how do you go about choosing between these tropical paradises? The answer is: with great difficulty. But of all the spectacular beaches in Thailand, the following five certainly leave a lasting impression:

1. Maya bay

Located in Koh Phi Phi Ley, this stunning bay became famous for being the destination chosen to make the film ‘The Beach’. Since then, it has attracted huge numbers of visitors. This has the obvious drawback of tourists often packing together like sardines on the beach to look at the landscape but, it has to be said, this landscape is breath-taking.

The beach opens out onto an expanse of clear, turquoise water; the bay is encircled by 100-metre limestone cliffs; and the coral filled waters hold plenty of marine life, making this a perfect location for divers.

Maya Bay

2. Sunrise Beach

Sunrise Beach compromises the perimeter of the east of the island Koh Lipe and, as you may surmise from the name, this beach offers one spectacular view of the sunrise!  While Koh Lipe has a number of great beaches to choose from, Sunrise Beach has the advantage of being tranquil as well as gorgeous. At it’s back are tall, luxurious trees that offer shelter; and this beach is made distinctive by a stretch of sand that curves a ring around part of the ocean (a unique and often photographed part of the landscape).

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3. Freedom Beach

This is one of the least accessible beaches in Phuket, but arguably the best. Tranquil and set against a backdrop of thick jungle, this beach creates the illusion that you have stumbled into paradise. The crystal clear water holds colourful coral reefs, making it one of the best places for snorkelling in Phuket. The beach is cared for by locals and the ban on motor boats and jet skis (which are seriously annoying when you aren’t riding them)   makes this beach a very quiet, relaxing place.

Freedom beach

4. Railey Beach

This beach is one of the most popular in Thailand and can be found near the town of Krabi, along a narrow peninsula, in the south-west of Thailand (where it is much less touristy and much more relaxed). This beach looks incredible: the water is crystal clear; the sand is white and fine as powder; and it is surrounded by tall, jagged cliffs, which attracts rock climbers from all over the world.

railey beach

5. Phang Nga Bay (James Bond Beach)

For better or worse, this location will always be associated, for me, with that scene from ‘The Man with the Golden Gun’ where Christopher Lee and Roger Moore have a pistol duel (who am I kidding, that scene is great).

Although Phang Nga Bay does not share the powdery white sand and flawless turquoise waters of my other choices, the rugged landscape and fascinating rock formation (in particular the tall islet ‘Ko Tapu’) makes it just as breath-taking to behold.

Thailand beach

Although there are downsides to all of these gorgeous beaches- whether it be an entrance fee, too many tourists, long boat rides or paranoia that Scaramanga is going to jump out at you holding a golden gun- they are all unique, all breath-taking and all examples of what makes Thailand so wonderful.

The Silk Road is historically fascinating- a network of routes dating back over two thousand years that were central to trade between the West and East. The scenery itself resembles silk; stretches of land that reaches out for miles and miles over mountains and deserts, interspersed with cities that appear to rise as though from dust.

My chance to travel there came in the form of the Vodkatrain. It is not, as you might suppose, a sleek glass train where you are served shots of vodka (which would be amazing, by the way) but a series of trains that take you through Russia, down to Mongolia and through to Beijing throughout the course of 21 days.

The Beginning

My friend and I began our journey in St Petersburg, where we met our group and our first Honcho (a guide assigned to you by Vodkatrain at each destination to answer pretty much any question you can think of). After the meeting we set out together to explore St Petersburg. It was a fabulous start to the journey: a gorgeous city, brimming with some of the most stunning examples of baroque and neo-classical architecture, not to mention St Issac’s Cathedral, which you should look at last because that thing will blind you.

From the opulent beauty of St Petersburg we left for the huge, modern Moscow and took in as much of the city as possible before catching our next train. I have to say that, with more money, I could have spent several days in St Petersburg and Moscow, and, with even more money, would have attended several performances at the legendary Mariinsky and Bolshoi Opera Houses (I managed to convince my group to go with me to both buildings before they pulled me away to the nearest bar).

But our train was waiting and, by the time we boarded, armed with visas and vodka, we were buzzing with excitement and, as it turned out, there were many good times ahead.

 

Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/paulafunnell/
Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/paulafunnell/

The Train

I love this method of travel. There is something magical about watching the landscape changing from your window; it really gives you a perspective on the vastness of the land you cover. The trains were comfortable and combined group members with local travellers: we got chatting to really interesting people.

I found the cheapest way to eat on the train was to buy food from people at the various train platforms you will stop at (you can budget around £2.50- £7 per meal).

The Accommodation

All the accommodation was arranged by Vodkatrain. My favourite places were: Tatania’s guesthouse, a Siberian wooden chalet at Lake Baikal, where the host cooked us delicious Russian food; and the Ger camp in Mongolio, which was brilliant- definitely the best accommodation we stayed in.

 

Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/kirksiang/
Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/kirksiang/

The Highlights

Of course St Petersburg- one of the places that I definitely want to return to- left a lasting impression. The train itself was a lot of fun and the day we all went swimming in Lake Baikal (which was freezing). Each of our destinations were very interesting, made more so by some really great Honchos. By the time we got to Beijing I was sad that it was all coming to an end, but Beijing is a fantastic city and was a hugely enjoyable finish to the tour. We ate some of best food I’ve ever tasted; we found lots of places to shop; and we met some wonderful local people. The city is also home to some magnificent landmarks, including the tranquil Temple of Heaven, the vast Forbidden City, and, of course, the Great Wall of China (which we ended up walking for far too long because no-one wanted to be the person who suggested turning back).

Although we were exhausted by the end of the 21 days, and we were very hungover at points during the 21 days, there is no doubt that this experience- hilarious and beautiful in equal measures- is not one that any of us will forget in a hurry.

You can find out more about Vodkatrain here.

There are six ‘small group adventures’ to choose from depending on your interests, time scale and budget (prices range greatly from £2,380 for ‘The Cossack’ and £945 for the ‘Budgeting Bolshevik’). The website will give you a good idea of how much you should be budgeting for food and entrance fees in each city.

 

James Keogh gives us his top tips for using the London Underground and how to survive it like a local.

It is just past noon on an unusually sunny Saturday in Brixton, most pleasant given this otherwise bitterly cold month. As a Brixton local I must say there is no place quite like the melting-pot of Lambeth and I can’t help but smile to myself as I walk to the tube.

The tube is a different world to yesterday, the buzz and stuffiness of the working week has given way to more leisurely colonies of tourists and families with young children all eager to take in popular and “hidden” parts of the city and indeed today I shall join them.

This more leisurely commute may be more chilled out but why do all the tourists seem unaware of the Tube etiquette?

We have many nuances of ‘Great British etiquette’ and the Tube specifically has quite a collection of quirks. Although most of these things can be found signposted around, some are still unwritten rules and either way it is easy to see how tourists or first-timers could get caught out and face the British cold shoulder. So, with this in mind, I have decided to collect all the do’s and dont’s into one place for those who are yet to travel London’s Underground:

 

STAND ON THE RIGHT, WALK ON THE LEFT

As discussed you may or may not feel the wrath of your fellow travellers, mostly dependent on  whether it’s rush hour, but ending up the wrong side of the tracks will always attract some frosty  attention. In general watch out when travelling with large pieces of luggage at peak times for fear of  tripping up junior city boys as they dart to-and-fro late for a meeting!

rules of the underground

“PLEASE LET ALL PASSENGERS OFF THE TRAIN BEFORE BOARDING …”

…. the announcement rings. This is usually played over the loudspeakers on most platforms but  once at South Kensington I saw a Scandanavian man physically held back for trying to go against  the system! I have heard that many other European countries do not follow the same custom but be damned sure … we Brits take it quite seriously.

GIVING UP YOUR SEAT FOR THOSE IN NEED

This is surely followed globally as just an obvious piece of goodwill and respect but on many  occasions in London I have seen other passengers picking on the closest youth to reprimand them for their sloppy manners. However, this particular etiquette can prove quite tricky as some passengers may take offence at being labelled “in need”. For example, I once offered my seat to quite a glamorous and well-spoken elderly lady one evening but she declined and added rather dryly, “My dear, If I was not fit for the underground I would have taken a cab.” Quite funny really and a fair point, nevertheless it took the air out of my good deed and left me feeling a bit deflated.

THE QUEUE

No observation on British etiquette would be complete without highlighting the importance of  queueing. Whether it be for the oyster machines, getting on the carriages or just to get through the  barriers you will notice the crowd start aligning as if shuffled up by invisible channels. At this point  beware the red light! Whether you haven’t got enough money on your Oyster or have double  touched you will experience what it is to interrupt ’the Great Flow’. Check first and get comfortable  with The Way of ‘The Queue’.

KEEP ON MOVING …

Especially true during rush hour. It is a common thought shared amongst commuters that those who stop their motion, perhaps to consult the Underground map or read signs either immediately after leaving trains or on route to the  platform will inevitably end up with someone treading on their heels proceeded by a flustered and speedy getaway from the perpetrator. The Londoner’s hit-and-run method of most encounters on the tube is perhaps epitomised by this act. The answer is to keep moving, even if it means proceeding slowly one must be in motion at all times.

“COULD YOU MOVE DOWN PLEEEEEEASE?!”

In continuing with the theme of movement it must be made clear that at peak times a failure to  move down the platform or especially the carriages will certainly provoke vocal backlash. Remember – all people want to do at 8am or 5pm is get to work or get home and you WILL NOT delay this process for them, even though trains tend to run every minute or so!

(“SHHHHHHH!!!!!”)

Although the point will almost never be raised by fellow passengers it is of agitation to most when other travellers are listening to loud music or having loud conversation. I think this is perhaps to do with the fact that such noises exist in such close confinement and with the inability to escape this the  lack of control quickly gathers a repressed tension throughout the carriage. People may look at each other as if to say, “Are you hearing that too?!!” but nobody makes a sound – You can feel the tension  being lifted as sed ‘loud’ passenger leaves the carriage. This leads onto another point – there is no spontaneous socialisation on the tube. Or eye contact. Never.

The only time I have ever struck up a conversation on the tube was when I was coming home from giving a ukelele lesson and for the sheer novelty of my instrument I fell into conversation with a lovely American lady and her daughter, it was  such a great experience and whats more it was hilarious seeing the look on other people’s faces, it was almost like we were plotting to blow up parliament or something!

Note: interestingly this is not the same when using the trains. I have met many awesome people on journeys overground. Perhaps there is something about travelling underground that makes people particularly anti-social?

BUSKERS

Now, I am a musician myself and – although I have never obtained one of the legitimate ‘busking licences’ – I have tried my luck once or twice setting up on the branded pitches and have always managed to hold my spot for an hour or so before someone notices. From this experience it is my whole-hearted conclusion that only tourists and foreigners throw money into the hat. The Londoner when offered a chance to escape giving will always oblige. At this point I would like to thank visitors to London for keeping buskers afloat, please don’t act like a Londoner on this occasion, you will never provoke negative attention and hopefully will encourage others to do the same.

So there you have it, a few pointers for successfully navigating your trip on the underground without causing too much offence. I would like to conclude with a little piece of advice for those of you, like me, who see their journey on the tube as a time to get a bit of reading done. Go for poetry or magazines rather than books or newspapers. Poetry is usually short and you can sink your teeth into a piece even between neighbouring stations and magazines have short articles like newspapers but they don’t open out as far as the Standard, Metro or worse still a Broadsheet. God forbid that you might infringe further on someone’s personal space anymore than your mere existence!

They always say, “Life is about the journey, not the destination,” and I am a believer that adventures on the London Underground breed memorable journeys in one way or another.

 

I first visited Rome in my final year at university, a birthday present from my wonderful sister. We set off with our friend and all agreed that Rome was going to be an entirely stress-free experience. We were not going to budget; we were going to enjoy every moment.

This cavalier attitude, while wonderful during the three days I stayed in the aptly named ‘eternal city’, seemed somewhat reckless when I spent the remainder of the semester living on cereal and tinned soup. It is at this point you realize that throwing money about as if it were going out of fashion is, in fact, a very ill advised thing to do and that, as much as you would like it to be the case, you are not Princess Ann from Roman Holiday.

On a brighter note, I have returned to Rome since and managed to do so without devastating my bank balance.  So here is my advice on how to save money in one of Europe’s most stunning and expensive cities:

Travel

It is easy to find a cheap flight to Rome (you can get a return from Stansted, London from only £53); it is also easy to not spend much on travel once you are there. On my first trip we took a taxi from the airport at a fixed price of €30.

For a much cheaper alternative take a bus from Ciampino Airport to the underground station ‘Anagnini’ (€1,20). Then get the metro for €1 to whichever station is closest to where you’re staying.

Once you arrive, you’ll find that Rome really isn’t that big a place, so it’s easy to plan your route each morning and travel around on foot.

Accommodation

On my first trip we stayed in a lovely apartment but this is because my sister is, as previously mentioned, an awesome person.

On my second trip I stayed at Hotel Beautiful Hostel, about a minute away from the Termini station. You can get a room here from €30 to €60 depending on the time of year.

For a cheaper options, it is well worth looking at Airbnb  where you can find a room in Rome for as little as €10 a night if you don’t mind sharing!

Food

This was, by far, the biggest expense of my first trip to Rome. We ate out every night and often during the day. We bought coffee and gelato and ordered way too much wine. On the second trip, we went to a grocery shop near Termini station on the first day and ended up saving a lot of money (this obviously didn’t include gelato, which remained as much a feature of my second trip).

If you do want to eat out be sure to check the menu first and never just walk into a café and order over the counter. Prices tend to be astronomical just outside of landmarks, as we discovered when my sister unwittingly ordered a ten euro glass of orange juice outside of the Coliseum.

If you want to eat out, it’s advantageous to ask the locals. We were recommended two great places to eat:  Sfizio Pizza near Termini station (around €8 per head); and Picculo Buco, a family run restaurant near the Trevi Fountain (this cost about €10 per head).

Photo Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/avlxyz/
Photo Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/avlxyz/

Tour Guides

Whenever you approach an important landmark you will be bombarded with tour guides. We went on two tours on my first trip to Rome: one of the Vatican City, which was brilliant; one of the Coliseum and the Ancient City, which was not. The latter literally consisted of us paying someone to take us inside and say ‘this is where gladiators used to fight… feel free to go take some photos of yourself posing as gladiators and meet me by the pillar in half an hour’.  To top it all off we went to the wrong pillar and lost our guide, who was carrying our tickets to the Ancient City (this was, admittedly, our own fault).

For those on a budget, there is a great organization that offers free walking tours in Rome. These are licensed and expert tour guides who will take you around the city for free (they do rely on tips but this is still a cheaper alternative).

Budget for Rome

So to summarize, here is a rough budget for a trip to Rome:

Flights: £53 plus €6 to and from the airport

Accommodation: €10 to €30 a night

Groceries: They came to roughly €10, which included packed lunches.

Restaurants: If you want to eat out, you can do so for €5- €15 per head. Save money by making a packed lunch during the day and remember there are water fountains to drink from all around the city.

Entry fees: There are plenty of things to see in Rome that don’t cost a cent, but, on both trips, we agreed to allow about €10 per day.

Nights out: Agree on a budget beforehand and stick to it. Avoid tourist bars, which are always very expensive- drink with the locals!

Gelato: No budget.

 Do you have any tips for travelling on a budget in Rome? If you do, let us know in the comments below!

 

 

 

 

The current trend in the travel world is to book your holiday DIY.

By that, I mean you book your flight, transfer, and accommodation separately, to create your own bespoke package holiday. This is an easy process, and can be a real money-saver, however if you’ve never done it before, it might be a worrisome thing to embark on.

Worry not! I’ll tell you how. 

Finding a cheap flight can sometimes work out better if you cast your net further afield in terms of where you fly from. You’ll usually find London flights coming up cheaper than anywhere else in the country, and if you can get there, it’s worth trying, as you’ll sometimes find it all works out cheaper including travel, compared to a regional flight.

If you’re doing this, remember to book airport parking, such as my regular service of Gatwick Long Stay Parking  and you’ll find it often works out cheaper, easier, and more convenient than public transport. Head to ParkBCP to peruse what’s available, and you’ll see that most large UK airports offer a service.

Once you’ve opened your search up further, you’ll find a world of flexibility. Head to Skyscanner and put in ‘UK’, and your destination, your dates, or the month as a whole to give you the choice, and then watch and wait.

When it gets as low as you think it’s going to go, then book it and don’t look at it again! If you see it lower, because it is a risk, then you’ll feel very sick indeed, however there is the equal risk that it will go up.

Flight booked, turn your attention to accommodation, and this is where the fun bit starts!

Travel Republic, Sunshine, Alpha Rooms etc, amongst many others, are where you’ll find sales and deals on top quality accommodation, with every price range, and you can check out maps, photos and reviews to help you make your decision. You can also book your transfer here too, bringing the whole package together.

All that’s left from that point is to print out all your confirmations, put them in your hand luggage bag, and you’re done!

Booking a DIY holiday isn’t difficult, and it needn’t be a worrying experience. Package holidays can be found at great prices, but the flexibility isn’t there like when you book in this manner.

Creating your own adventure means it can be tailored to your needs and likes, which will overall make your holiday more fulfilling as a result.

Don’t know what to expect from a Lapland holiday?

You imagine Lapland as sleepy snow covered place where you will have to stay indoors and have no chance of having fun?

Holidaying here will open your eyes to the unexpected aspect of Lapland, the fun factor which will spice up your holiday experience. Lapland offers much more than a cozy cabin, hearty talk and storytelling around the crackling fire. It offers a perfect combination of picturesque beauty of the place along with the thrilling activities which make Lapland holiday a once in a lifetime experience and sites like The White Circle offer some incredible experience to be had.

Your will thoroughly enjoy the wild adventures in the Lapland wilderness and here’s some of our top to dos…

 

Cross country and downhill skiing: You will be enthralled to see the wonderful ski facilities available in Lapland. There are well maintained trails which pass through picturesque terrains for those who want to do cross country skiing. Looking at the well manicured slopes, you will realize why Lapland is one of the most attractive downhill skiing destinations. Beginners needn’t get disheartened because there are trainers at the resorts, who will help you, learn the basics to deal, with ice and snow.

 

Snowboarding and snowmobile rides: As Lapland is snow covered throughout the year. You can have fun as a family, as you enjoy snowboarding together. A must-do while in Lapland, feel the thrill of snowmobile ride as you feel the icy wind and cold snowflakes flying around while   speeding through the snowy terrain.

 

Husky dog safari and reindeer sleigh ride: Explore the beautiful and serene countryside while your sled is being pulled by a team of dogs. Opt for the reindeer sleigh rides to feel like Santa Claus. As you enjoy these rides, you will have a sense of adventure when you realize that the only thing disturbing the quiet and stillness of the surrounding is the sound of the sled or sleigh, being pushed and you can go looking for Santa Claus at his secret hideaway in the forests!

 

Snowshoeing: Venture deep into the snow covered forests and explore the Lapland wilderness as you go trekking with snowshoes strapped on. There are various trails here which you will enjoy. Cabin in the wilderness: For the ultimate adventure in Lapland, rent a cabin in the heart of nature and begin and end your everyday adventures from here. As you stay in this beautiful untouched setting surrounded by silence, your spirits are sure to go soaring high.

 

Go in search of the Northern Lights: You can either go on a trek in the evening or go snowmobiling, in search of the beautiful Northern Lights. Venture deeper into the forest for that wild adventure and also to better your chance of seeing that enchanting phenomenon, Aurora Borealis.

 

Go ice fishing: You can go ice fishing in the frozen lake of Lapland. Start this unique fishing experience by breaking the sheet of ice on top of the lake. You can add more fun to the activity by having a campfire to cook your catch and then relax and enjoy this outdoor meal amidst the beautiful though still white surrounding.

 

Have you headed to Lapland? Anything you’d add to the list?

 

Since I’ve taken up diving my scuba diving bucket list is fast growing – and if there’s one place that seems to be the top of every divers list it’s the red sea. It comes with a massive recommendation from everyone who has dived there – be it scuba or free diving (which I recently got addicted to!) and stories are always met with envy by those who haven’t!

So where should you hit up when there? And where from?

 

backpacker scuba diving
Clear, Warm Waters…

Sharm El Sheikh is an Egyptian city located on the coastline of the Red Sea and situated on the Sinai Peninsula, at its Southern tip.

Over the years, Sharm El Sheikh has earned the reputation of being one of the most extraordinary diving destinations, in the world.

The city was always well known for its amazing touch with nature however, these days, it has also become a tourist friendly city. A couple of decades ago, divers had to trek a long way through the dessert, before they could get to the spot from where they could go for a dive, today though the scene is more luxurious with many popular hotels setting up camp there.

The sight of the crystal clear waters, with beautiful corals and under water flora, is a treat to the eyes and in contrast to the beautiful waters is the white, sandy beach and the infinitely large dessert

 

So which dive spot should you add to your list? Well here’s a few to jump into…

  1. Ras Mohammed: This dive area is located in the extreme southern region of Sharm El Sheikh, at the point of confluence of the Gulf of Suez and the Gulf of Aqaba. With an ocean depth of over 1000 meters and coupled with strong underwater currents year around, this dive spot remains a tough challenge even for the most experienced divers. Ironically, the unique reefs formed in this region and the variety and density of various species observed here are credited to these strong water currents.
  2. The Straits of Tiran: The Straits of Tiran is another unique dive area, near the Island of Tiran, located on the Gulf of Aqaba. This 2000 meters deep dive area is characterized by four coral reefs named after the British cartographers Woodhouse, Jackson, Gordon and Thomas. The strong currents caused during high tides, when the water flows through the narrow path in the region, are responsible for the large variety of fish swarms and corals in the area.
  3. The Locals: Stretching from Ras Nasrani in the north to Ras Cathy in the south, along the coastal region of Sharm el Sheikh are twenty-eight diving sites that can be reached on by taking a boat ride for around 10 to 60 minutes. These diving sites are collectively called ‘local dives’. The site is an ideal location for beginners to test their diving skills, while the experienced ones would also have a great time.
  4. The Wrecks: This dive site derives its name from its past history, where many ships entering from the Suez Canal got wrecked in this region, due to a shallow reef just below the surface. Since these wrecked ships lie within safe diving limits, special wreck-safaris are sometimes conducted in this dive area.
  5. Naama Bay: The Naama bay is a year around dive spot and surprisingly happens to be one of the least known sites in Sharm El Sheikh. The diving area starts just 50 meters after a walk through the water, where you can witness the amazing and unique sea life. There are also night dives conducted in this region, for those interested in interacting with the nocturnal creatures in the ocean.

 

Sharm El Sheikh is a Holiday Gem and diving remains the major attraction, but those interested in other activities like water sports and excursions can also visit the region – and Egypt itself is a great backpacking destination given the variety of terrain in the region – and of course the Pyramids which should be on everyones bucket list!

 

Anyone been diving here? What did you make of it?

best budget adventures in floridaWhen most people think of Florida, they think of the large resorts that welcome millions of tourists every year. But outside of Disney World and Universal Studios there’s a whole wealth of great attractions to discover, and on a great budget too.

Florida holidays are becoming more accessible to people nowadays, with the likes of Florida 4 Less offering cheap flights to the state regularly. And with so much to see and do, it could be a vacation you never forget.

Dry Tortugas National Park

Located 70 miles off the coast of Key West, Dry Tortugas National Park is a small archipelago of coral islands, that includes the preservation of Fort Jefferson, a 19th century coastal fortress built as a naval station to help prevent piracy in the Caribbean. Popular amongst nature lovers, the islands are awash with tropical birds, colourful coral reefs and eclectic sea life.

Priced just $5 for a week’s entry to the park, with the option to camp for an extra $3 per day, the national park is accessible by ferry and seaplane and is perfect for anyone who wants to be one with nature. Able to snorkel, bird-watch and explore the incredible fort, it’s a far cry from the busy tourist spots of Key West.

Cycle in the Everglades

The Everglades are one of the true, natural beauties in the Sunshine State and is awash with magnificent wildlife just waiting to be discovered. Home to numerous endangered species including the manatee, American crocodile and the Florida panther, the state opened the National Park in 1947 to protect the natural landscape, and is now enjoyed by over a million visitors every year.

Priced at just $5 entry for cyclists, you’re free to roam the park for seven days along the 43 mile network of trails through the lush pinelands.

Experience Daytona

Not only does Daytona have one of the most beautiful beaches in Florida, but it’s also home to one of the world’s most famous motor races. The Daytona 500 attracts over 200,000 visitors every February to the city as well as large amounts of NASCAR fanatics throughout the year. Tickets can be grabbed from as little as $40, whilst the city during a race-day has an unrivalled atmosphere.

If motorsport isn’t your thing however, then a walk along the boardwalk can be just as thrilling. With stalls, games and attractions you can enjoy hours of fun before slipping down to the beach for a relaxing afternoon watching the waves.

 

St Augustine

St Augustine is the oldest city in the United States. Established in 1575, St Augustine is located just 40 miles south of Jacksonville and is perhaps the most charming city in the state. Steeped in a rich history, the Spanish colonial-era architecture draws a number of tourists to the city, whilst it’s civil rights moment that was prominent in the mid 1960’s can be read about in the Civil Rights Library.

The Basilica Cathedral is a reminder of its Spanish history, meanwhile the rolling coastline and St Augustine Alligator Farm is a reminder of the glorious Florida setting it owns.

Kennedy Space Center

Taking one step beyond is compulsory at the Kennedy Space Center. Just a stone’s throw from Orlando, the center has been home to every NASA human space flight since 1968 and is one of the most enthralling museums in Florida.

For $50 you can experience the awe-inspiring scale of the largest rocket ever made, hear the tales of a veteran NASA astronaut, and get your hands on some actual moon rock. It’s a full day out at the Space Center and a unique experience that can’t be found anywhere else.

 

A vacation in Lapland is more than the usual holiday experience. It is a magical experience for all, kids, parents and grandparents. The variety that Lapland offers is such that everyone goes back, content and happy.

Whether it is the beauty of the place, the fascinating phenomenon of Mother Nature, the festive feel of the spirit of Christmas and Santa Claus, or the adventurous and thrilling snow sports, there is something for each member of the family. It is this variety that makes Lapland, the perfect family holiday destination.

 

The pristine natural beauty

Lapland still remains unspoilt by tourism and offers a breathtaking view of immaculate snow covered pine forests, snow capped mountains and the frozen lakes. The flora and fauna and specially the large reindeer population add to the beauty of the place and is sure to be liked by everyone in the family.

 

The captivating wonders of Mother Nature

For those who want to enjoy a leisurely laid back kind of vacation, you can enjoy the beautiful landscape of Lapland and witness the many wonders of Mother Nature. You are going to love Mother Nature’s spectacular and colorful fireworks in the sky, the Northern Lights against the backdrop of the quiet white wilderness of Lapland. Everyone in the family is bound to be excited about seeing the midnight sun from the top of the mountains. These are unique experiences you take back to share with friends back home.

 

The enchanting and festive Christmas experience

Lapland is a magical experience for kids and parents. With this trip to Lapland, the land of Santa Clause, you can help your children enjoy the festive spirit of Christmas while reliving your childhood memories. What can be a bigger treat for the kids than a chance to meet Santa Claus and his elves? You can become a Santa to your child, by making the dream of your child to meet Santa Claus, come true. See in Lapland, the Christmas of your imagination, snow covered landscape, a Santa Claus with a sleigh run by reindeers, elves baking ginger bread and making toys, it’s all there for you to enjoy.

 

The thrilling outdoor adventures

Lapland has a lot in store for those who are adventurous and energetic. There are adventures which you can enjoy during winters, as well as fun filled activities to be enjoyed, during summers. Engage in a wide range of activities such as sleigh riding, husky safaris, cross country and downhill skiing, snowshoeing, walking, cycling, white water rafting or canoeing. You can also try the fly-drives or opt for ice or sea fishing. Whether it is the impromptu snowball fights or these adventure activities, they will turn out to be more fun as you enjoy together as a family, laughing, shouting and screaming together.

 

More family fun with snow and ice

Visit the Snow Village, home to various massive construction made of ice and snow like ice castles, hotels ,ice sculptures etc.You are sure to pick up creative ideas for your own backyard snowman when you see such artistically made structures. Everyone will also love to see igloos.

 

Have any of you been to Lapland? Looking to head that way? Check out some more activities here

 

When you think of Liverpool’s music scene, it’s fair to consider The Beatles as the city’s crowning glory. These four lads from Liverpool took the world by storm in the 60s, transforming into international superstars almost overnight. While their career as a band is long gone, their influence over others still continues and their legacy remains. Liverpool is very proud of what The Beatles achieved and, to commemorate their 50th anniversary, has plenty in store for visitors to the city over the coming months. Book some very cheap Liverpool accommodation from Travelodge and you could sample the Beatles-inspired events and attractions during your stay – there’s plenty on offer, so make your visit last at least a couple of days.

Ever since Ringo Starr joined the group as their permanent drummer in 1962, The Beatles went from strength to strength. With 12 studio albums under their belts and so many hit singles that you’d be forgiven if you had lost count (22, if you’re wondering), their remarkable career between 1962 and 1970 has inspired thousands. Having sold an estimated one billion records worldwide, The Beatles continue to draw in younger generation fans, meaning that their legacy will continue for years to come.

As the birthplace of the group, Liverpool has always taken the subject of The Beatles very seriously and has plenty of attractions scattered across the city to celebrate their success. The fifty year anniversary celebrations continue throughout 2013 and into early 2014, giving you plenty of opportunity to see these special events as well as attractions whose doors are always open. From The Beatles Story to a Magical Mystery Tour, if you want a rock and roll weekend, you know where to go. Start at the very beginning by seeing the homes of young John Lennon and Paul McCartney before stopping off at the Cavern Club for a piece of nostalgia.

The real fun begins when you look at the myriad of events in store over coming months, starting with August which has oodles in store for The Beatles fan.

3rd August – Beatles’ Final Cavern Club Performance – remembering the final performance by The Beatles at the illustrious club before they went their separate ways.

21st – 27th August – International Beatleweek – Bands and artists from over 20 countries worldwide join forces to perform various gigs across several venues in the city, while exhibitions, sales, tours and a convention are also in store.

23rd August – The Cavern Club Beatles Show – Presented by the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, the quartet performs various tracks from throughout the band’s career.

23rd August – 14th September – Lennon – The Royal Court takes a look at the life of John Lennon, from his humble beginnings to his untimely end in New York.

24th – 25th August – Liverpool International Music Festival – August Bank Holiday weekend promises to provide two days of awesome entertainment, including plenty to celebrate the rock and roll heroes.

Plenty to look forward to throughout August and beyond – keep an eye on the event programme page online to see what’s in store over the coming months.

Managing your money on the road is one of the least glamorous parts of travel. It’s mundane, seemingly complicated and something many people unfortunately leave until the last moment. However it’s very much a necessary evil as no matter what you may think, money will very much be the driving force behind what you can and can’t achieve on your travels.

 

Cashcard

I’ve of the easiest ways to manage your money on the road is through a prepaid cashcard. It’s simply a case of load and go, without the risk of racking up any debt (one of the biggest reasons I refuse to recommend credit cards to travellers) and can be setup quickly.

Some companies issue single currency cashcards, with the most common being the US dollar,a Euro and Aussie dollar.

However for those hitting multiple countries options like the STA travel Cashcard are ideal, converting your money to local currency and being accepted via chip and pin anywhere mastered a is accepted.

 

travel money
It’s All About The Dollar!

Bank account

Even if you opt for a cashcard you need to back it up with a bank account. Personally I use my standard UK account for my savings and transfer it to my cashcard as and when it’s needed.

There are two other solid options which may suit your needs too – the international bank account and the local bank account.

So what is an international account? Simply out it’s baked by a large banking company and allows your to transfer, spend and otherwise deal with your cash from multiple countries, however it usually comes with a monthly charge for the privilege.

For those heading out on working holiday visas having a local account in your country of choice can save you heaps on bank fees and also allow easier payment of wages, just do you homework on which bank to use!

 

Cash 

Even with all this plastic having some cold hard cash is something I recommend to anyone. Getting some local notes in small denominations before you travel is always handy – getting cabs from the airport and something to eat and drink without having to struggle to locate and ATM in a strange new place will be much appreciated after a long haul flight!

I also strongly suggest carrying around $50US in small notes too, it’s a solid currency for visas, bribes and easily changing into local currency.

 

Preparation

Even though money is boring it’s important and it will really pay off (no pun intended!) to be prepared well before you leave.

Do your homework, find the option that’s best for you and make sure you have a back up – there’s nothing worse than being stranded abroad with no access to your cash!

 

Whatever you choose to use also make sure you track your spending and get in the habit of budgeting, you’ll thank yourself in the long run! 

The French Riviera is, without any argument, the most popular French holiday destination in the world. Situated on the southern end of France, the French Riviera or the Cote d’Azur extends from the Italian border to the other end of the country – a playground of the rich and famous, the place is filled with azure blue beaches and the most exotic resorts in the world, from 5* boutique hotels to some amazing offerings from QualityVillas.com.

Though August is considered the tourist season, the Riviera has been blessed with a beautiful climate that does not change much for most of the year. If you are not the kind of person who likes being in a crowd, go during the spring season, which is considered as off season here. During this time, the streets are less crowded and the prices are somewhat lower.

Some of the most famous holiday cities in the world are located here too, since it will be impossible to list out all of them, we will talk about the most popular among them.

 

Cannes 

Cannes, the city made world famous by the Cannes International Film Festival, has got more to it than the glitz and glamour associated with it. Once a small fishing village, the city is now bustling with night clubs and casinos.

If you are someone who likes it nice and quiet, the nearby streets of La Suquet is the place for you. With its cobbled streets and small roadside bistros, it is perfect for a nice evening of relaxation.

Reaching Cannes is easy by any mode of transport. The closest airport is the Nice International Airport. While getting around Cannes, the best method is by walking. This will also give you a chance to see the sights that you might otherwise miss.

 

Grasse 

The city of Grasse is synonymous with perfume. The home of the perfume industry, the city is in the inland region of the French Riviera. Filled with tiny, quiet villages, Grasse is one of the regions of the Riviera that has not been ruined by the throngs of tourists.

If you want adventure, you could hike in the sweeping hills or go horse riding or mountain biking. One thing to not miss would be a visit to the legendary perfumeries of Grasse.

If you don’t find anything to do, you can kick back and relax from the hills above watching the coastline. You can reach Grasse by train from Nice or Cannes. You could also reach by road from Vence.

 

Nice 

Nice, one of the most populated cities in France is also one of the most popular cities there due to the fact that it has something to offer every person who comes there.

With the beautiful waterfront, the Promenade des Anglais, Nice is also known for its pebble filled beaches. For the shopaholics, there is the iconic flower and food market in the old quarters of the city. Of late, almost all the popular international brands have opened shops here. Nice is accessible by any mode of transport. The closest is the Nice International Airport.

Now that we have seen the most important places to visit, we will look at some of the fun things to do in the French Riviera. Since most people know about the night clubs and casino, we will discuss some of the unusual things you could do here.

 

Take a long walk

As we said earlier, the best way to see the Riviera is to take a walk. Don’t worry about getting lost; everything you need is quite close. A walk along the cobbled streets of the old regions of the Riviera is an unforgettable experience.

 

Smell the perfumes

Another economical way to spend your vacation is to visit the perfumeries in Grasse. Though some tours might be expensive, there are legendary perfumeries, like the one started by Fragonard in the 18th century, that gives free guided tours.

 

Eat!

Instead of eating the high priced, small portions of food from the high class restaurants and hotels, walk around the small streets and eat from the tiny roadside restaurants to get an authentic taste of France.

Run by the locals, these little restaurants are a great way to enjoy the Riviera and also to make some friends.

Though these are some of the places to visit and some of the things to do in the French Riviera, to get the real feel of the place, there is no other way than to visit it.

travel planning
Latin America – Bucket List Heaven!

Latin America has the potential to re-charge your batteries and sweep you away on a carpet of natural sites and eye-popping scenes unlike any other in the world, I’ve spent some amazing times in places like Ecuador and Peru and it draws me back time and time again…it’s certainly a heaps more exciting place to explore than the more famous backpacking trail in Asia.

Travelling inspires an appreciation for diversity and life, as Latin America beats its own drum and betrays a singular, sensuous rhythm; for want of a better description, it can only be categorised as the collective heart-beat of this very dynamic and colourful part of the world.

While a salsa siesta and street festival may tickle your fancy (and why not? The experience is absolutely not to be missed) and there’s also a heap of unique attractions – like Bolivias San Pedros Prison Tours –  spare a thought and a couple of days for the glories of the natural world or the mesmerising juxtaposition of civilisation – ancient or modern – and geographical location. Need an idea of where to start? Don’t worry, we have you covered.

 

Lago de Atitlán

The deepest lake in Latin America, Atitlan flooded a vast and cavernous caldera, formed over 80,000 years ago by an earth-shaking eruption; framed by three towering volcanoes, it’s beauty and imposition steal your words and breath away. The area is a thriving centre of villages and Mayan traditionalism, but the real action is beneath the surface, as divers and local fisherman have discovered many pre-classical buildings and historic infrastructure, some clearly defined and easily dated after pottery shards were retrieved.

 

Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua

An assuming and stately island shaped like an hour-glass, Ometepe is a curious anonmly rising from the depths of Lake Nicaragua. Though at first glance, Ometepe may look like two mountains getting warm and snuggly with each other, these peaks are anything but fuzzy. Two volcanoes connected by a stretched isthmus, Ometepe is a lush, fertile island but one with a price if any pyroclastic surge should arise. The Northwest volcano is named Conceopcion and she is certainly very active; after a long sleep, she started to wake up in 2005, fracturing roads and forcing the local government to advise an evacuation. Nothing happened until 2010, when things became decidedly heated. Maderas is dormant (some say extinct), providing rich soils for rainforest vegetation and plot cultivation. Ometepe is an important site in the Central American narrative.

 

The Pantanal

You may have heard of the Amazon and dreamed about its eccentric and eclectic mix of animals, serpents, amphibians, crawlies and beautiful plants, but we’ll let you in on a little secret. Cruising the Amazon won’t always be what you wish it to be – the animals hide and avoid the sound of boats and people, and the canals sweat muggy claustrophobia. If you’re chasing an Animalia experience, the sloped basin of Pantanal houses 1000 bird speces, 400 types of fish, 480 scaly reptiles and 300 mammals, plus the innumerable invertebrates, including the intelligent and playful giant river otter and the awesome giant ant eater. Looking for a little big cat action? The Pantanal supports one of the largest and sustainable populations of Jaguar globally.

Only one question remains…

What are you waiting for?

The beauty and hospitality of Latin America awaits. Go check out some sites like www.myadventurestore.com.au or stir up your favourite search engine – You won’t regret it. 

 

Paris is one of the most beautiful and exciting cities in the world, and a great way to capture your experience in Paris is through the written word. Travel writing is highly enjoyable, whether it be for others or for your own pleasure. You can also harness your writing skills and tell others all about Paris and its wonderful tourist attractions. You can also use your writing skills to help readers understand the city and the best attractions to see and activities to do. Paris is a wonderful city and great way to get the most of the city is by purchasing a Paris Visite Pass, this way you can write about all the attractions in the city and save money at the same time.

You may find it tricky to get started and be unsure how to create a well-written piece. However, Silver Travel Advisor has recently provided some excellent travel writing tips from established travel writers that will help you get started.

View on Paris form Notre Dame cathedral_113654788

Avoiding cliches

One tip the site gave is to avoid using too many clichés, or to use them sparingly if they seem appropriate.
Many of the attractions in Paris are so unique that you may yourself inspired to describe them in a more original way, rather than using clichés.
For example, rather than simply calling the Arc De Triomphe ‘visually stunning’, why not write about its history and architecture in a little more detail, or use a simile to describe the building’s shape and size?

Use words to create an image in the mind of the reader

Silver Travel Advisor suggests that most people have a visual awareness and we are more compelled by words that create an image in our minds.
The site recommends that you close your eyes and think back to the attraction you want to write about, and then describe the pictures that come into your head. The site also suggests that you use descriptive words, such as certain shapes and colours.
The site also suggests that you should read other travel articles and suggests picking out several phases in the text that make you feel like you are there and look at the way they have been written. Also, when you visit Paris why not take some travel books regarding France and Paris along with you, and think about the way the author conveyed his or her experience?

Adventurous use of adjectives

Silver Travel Advisor recommends that you try and use unusual adjectives in your travel writing in a natural way. For example, when describing the Louvre’s pyramid, use words like striking, gleaming or grand. You can even use very unusual adjectives, such as pulchritudinous or incandescent. However, you should yourself if these would fit naturally within the text.

Be funny

Silver Travel Advisor also recommends that you be humorous in your text, but limit this to avoid making your entire article a comedy. They also suggest that you attempt to convey your personality in your travel writing. Write about funny personal experiences, and try to be a little self-deprecating. For example, if you made a silly mistake during your time in Paris, such as going in the wrong entrance at an attraction – put it in your writing to tell a funny story that everyone can relate to.

Florence is a beautiful Italian city home to Renaissance architecture, monuments and statues, galleries displaying priceless pieces of art, and informative museums documenting Italian history. There are countless places to eat and drink and sample a vino or two and you can always find a place to stay no matter what your budget is. The centre of the city is a concentration of all these attractions, of which there are enough to send your head spinning! We’ve narrowed it down for you, and have compiled a list of the five best things to do in Firenze.

The Duomo

This emerald cathedral dominates the centre of Florence and draws crowds like a magnet into Piazza Del Duomo. The cathedral, officially named ‘Basilica di Santa Maria Del Fiore’, took 140 years to build and was finally completed in 1436. The grandeur of the cathedral is more impressive from the outside as it gleams shades of pink, green and white across a marble façade. The cathedral comprises of varying features that include the baptistery and Giotto’s Campanile (bell tower). The most exciting aspect of a visit to cathedral is scaling the Duomo’s cupola. The dome is a significant feat of 15th-century engineering, and can be accessed via a climb of 463 steps. The ascent allows you to get up close to various frescoes painted inside the dome, including The Last Judgement, as well as inviting you to absorb the mesmerising stained-glass roundels. The reward for your staggering, limb-aching climb is magnificent views of Florence that spread across the orange-tiled roofs towards green Tuscan hills.

Florence

Piazza Della Signoria

This is Florence’s most famous square and has played the role of the heart and centre of the city’s political life since the 14th century. The square lies in front of the city hall, known as the Palazzo Vecchio. The square itself is L-shaped and is surrounded by impressive 14th-century architecture, including the arch-filled Loggia della Signoria and the Uffizi Gallery. The main attraction however is the Palazzo Vecchio which boasts a copy of Michelangelo’s David on its doorstep. The square has provided a meeting place for Florentines and tourists for many years and is home to numerous cafes, bars and restaurants.

View of Florence, Italy

 

Ponte Vecchio

Italian cities seem to be overwhelmed with famous bridges. However, surely none out-class Florence’s most iconic bridge, the Ponte Vecchio. The medieval bridge spans the narrowest point of the Arno River. The bridge is famous for the shops built into it. These were originally occupied by butchers, however today the bridge is mainly clad with jewellery stores, art dealers and tacky souvenir sellers. During World War II the Germans destroyed every bridge in Florence apart from the Ponte Vecchio which was left unscathed. This was apparently due to a direct order from Hitler who was thought to admire the bridge so much he refused its destruction.

 

Uffizi Gallery

The Uffizi Gallery is one of the oldest and most famous art museums in the Western world. It is home to artistic works from the likes of Leonardo da Vinci, Sandro Botticelli and Raphael. Construction of the gallery began in 1560 and ended in 1581. The internal courtyard within the gallery is often recognised as the first regularised streetscape of Europe. The gallery is one of the most popular attractions in Florence, and tourists often find themselves queuing for up to five hours to gain access during the high season. It is advisable to buy tickets in advance.

 

Boboli Gardens

The Boboli Gardens is a fine park located across the Arno River and is home to various 16th-18th century sculptures. The gardens can be found behind the Pitti Palace which was once the main seat of the House of Medici, from who the Renaissance was born. The elaborate and formal design provides a fantastic insight into how the rich Florentines would spend their afternoons, strolling amongst fine sculptures and bubbling fountains. Boboli Gardens is a fantastic place to relax and take a break from the sun whilst enjoying great views back over the centre of the city.

If you’re looking for low-cost cruise escapes, whether it’s cruise deals 2013 or an early bird discount for next year’s getaway, there are a number of ways to help cut the cost of cruise holidays. Here are just a few of them:

 

Compare the Cruise Market

Firstly, the best place to start is with a tour operator like Thomas Cook cruises. Thomas Cook don’t own or operate any cruise ships; instead they sell cruise holidays from other operators which means customers can search a huge choice of cruise holidays all in one place. It saves you having to check multiple websites and also means you can compare the prices and offering of each. Use the Thomas Cook website to enter your search criteria and to filter the results based on your key priorities, like price, sailing date and preferred destination, until you find a shortlist of favourites.

 

Book Late

An ever-popular way of booking a low-cost cruise is to book late. Just like package holidays, this is a great way to snap up a bargain and means you could save a significant amount on the cost of your holiday. It doesn’t work for all holidays and some might be more discounted than others, but if you’ve got cruise deals 2013 in mind, this is a handy way to find a bargain.

 

Early Bird Deals

For those who like to plan their trip well in advance, it usually pays to book early. This way, you can often benefit from early bird booking deals which might include financial discounts or other incentives such as onboard spending or a cabin upgrade. What’s more, when you book well in advance, you can enjoy extra time to save some holiday spending money and pay off the cost of your trip, which means by the time your cruise holiday comes around, you can jet off without a care in the world.

Paris – it’s the epitome of the romantic city escape which conjures up images of fine dining, sprawling night time cityscapes, good wine and picnics under the Eiffel Tower.

For those with jobs it’s a perfect place to splash some cash and treat a loved one.

But Paris can also cater for backpackers keen to sample the European hotspots, culture and history this part of the world has by the bucket load – and with a range of accommodation in Paris you can opt for hostels, guesthouses, couch surfing or hotels depending on your budget, city life doesn’t have to cripple your budget!

So what can Paris serve up for those with limited funds or a taste for something different?

Well here’s 5 budget savers for Frances capital…

 

Cathedrale de Notre Dame de Paris

If you love a bit of old school, grand architecture the gothis stone building of Cathedreal de Notre Dame de Paris will bit right up your alley! According to Lonely Planet it’s also the most popular unticketed site in Paris – 14 million people a year can’t be wrong hey?!

The pure detail and expanse of the building will captivate you for a good few hours…

 

 

Le Champ de Mars

Want to avoid the cost for getting up the Eiffel Tower? Well soaking up the sun here allows you some epic views, postcard perfect pictures and will leave you with an extra bit of cash in your pocket…the icon of France without the cost! Bonus points if you spot someone proposing!

 

Outdoor Food Markets

For the photographer in you food markets always provide some great pictures and a great way to pass a day exploring exotic treat and lets face it food is a huge part of travel. If you’re really on the backpacker scrounge you can chow down on free samples for lunch – consider it a backpacker tapas crawl!

 

Climb The Arc de Triomphe 

If you’re looking for some awesome views of Paris but don’t fancy the Eiffel Tower the Arc de Triomphe has some great panoramas, so instead of snapping it from the outside take the time to cimb up the small winding staircase and soak up the chaos around you.

 

The Louvre

Ok it cost to get in here – but if you can shell out 6 Euros maybe Paris isn’t the best place to be traveling to!

It’s one of the worlds biggest museums so you’ll easily get your monies worth on a visit here – with both the artworks it contains and the building itself being a huge draw for millions of visitors each year.

 

Personally I need to explore more of Europe – and Paris seems like a great bouncing point to start – I can’t wait to return here and see more of what France has to offer…Paris and beyond.

 

Has anyone else visited or lived in Paris? Any hints and tips to add to the list?

shutterstock_92655643London is one of the most interesting and exciting cities. It has something for everyone of all ages and the city’s attractions are legendary. Like most capital cities there are must-see attractions that visitors will not want to miss. London also has excellent nightlife, with superb restaurants, cultural events, theatre performances, live music, legendary clubs and much more and one of the best ways to get a great sample of what it has to offer is a hop on hop off London bus…

London Zoo

One of the most popular London attractions is London Zoo, which is a fantastic day out for all the family. This famous zoo is the first scientific zoo in the world, and has played a major part in the study and conversation of animals since it opened in 1847. Today the zoo houses over 755 animal species, making it the largest zoo in the UK. A visit to the zoo at Regents Park is one of the most memorable days out for visitors to London.

Tower of London

Another must-see for visitors to London is the Tower of London. This beautiful fortress is situated on the north bank of the Thames. It was commissioned by William the Conqueror in 1078, shortly after the Norman conquest of England. The Tower of London is remarkably well preserved and contains many fascinating artefacts, including the Crown Jewels. During the 17th and 18th centuries it was used as a prison, and the monarchs of the time would send undesirables “to the Tower” where they would be tortured and punished. Despite its rather macabre history the building is very beautiful with the original interior and makes for a fascinating day out. Do not forget to chat to the friendly Beefeaters that guard the gates!

Changing of the Guard

No trip to London is complete without seeing the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace. Buckingham Palace is home to Queen Elizabeth II and is a beautiful building. The changing of the guard is a spectacular sight and a great way to observe Britain’s pomp and glory. The changing of the guard occurs every other day at the palace.

Museums and Galleries

London also has some of the world’s best museums and art galleries. The Victoria and Albert Museum and the British Museum have breathtaking artefacts. The V&A is dedicated to the history of art and design, and the British Museum is dedicated to human history. Both museums contain artefacts from ancient times, and the British Museum has vast halls with reconstructed ancient buildings and casts from ancient archaeological sites. Other famous London museums include the Natural History Museum and Science Museum, and a visit to the Tate Modern is essential for a contemporary art fix!

The Globe

Other major attractions include the Shakespeare Globe Theatre on the south bank, St Paul’s Cathedral, Windsor Castle, the Churchill War Rooms and much more. You can ensure that you get to see all the best attractions in London by joining a sightseeing tour. This will include a guide so you will understand more about the attractions you visit. If you prefer to go it alone then you can easily pick up a London Map that is specifically designed for tourists, which will help you to navigate the city with ease.

Europe is much overlooked by a lot of backpackers – especially those from the UK. It’s true what they say – you always neglect what’s on your doorstep.

But the compact size of the continent, it’s transport network and sheer diversity of language, cultures and terrain make it an amazing place to explore – whether you’re new to the backpacking circuit or a travel veteran

 

The Land Of Pasta and Pizza!

If you’re looking for a holiday with a difference, you can’t go far wrong with a trip to Italy.

This glorious country is home to enormous diversity, ranging from sandy beaches and dramatic rocky coves to glorious rolling countryside and stunning snow-capped mountains.

It really does have something to suit every vice and budget. Whether you want to carve up the power on a skiing trip, kick back and soak up the sun on the beach or a  immerse yourself in the latte culture with a chic city escape, this beautiful, effervescent place is happy to oblige.

Take to the slopes in the Italian Alps and enjoy the chance to whizz down snow-packed pistes, or carve up fresh powder on a snowboard as the icy spray that follows in your wake glistens in the sun. Or, visit in summer to enjoy long rambling trails, pine-clad hillsides and beautiful wildflower meadows.

Whilst not as famous as it’s Swiss and French cousins the snow of Italy can produce some amazing powder days.

 

Town And Country

For a different scene altogether, live the postcard dream and hire a villa in Tuscany to experience wide-open spaces and rural country living in this stunning Italian region, which is also home to the fabulous cities of Florence, Siena and Pisa.

Following days spent exploring meadnering back lanes and cooking up a storm on the barbeque, you can head to lovely Florence and marvel at its stunning architecture and statues, or head to Pisa to snap that cliche but bucket list photo holding up the leaning tower!

Many travellers choose to go their own way on a holiday to Italy. Thanks to its efficient rail network and numerous airports, it’s easy to get here and to get around – especially if you hire a car.

Although package holidays aren’t the usual attire of many young travellers it can prove a pretty cost affective way to get a great overview of the country and is perfect for a quick last minute trip away – and with everything included it’s means you can simply kick back and enjoy your time away without the stress!

There are some great options in the the beautiful Neapolitan Riviera, but you can also book skiing holidays to the Italian Alps, or use your hotel as a base and hire a car to get out and explore the region. If that’s up your street head over to the Thomas Cook website and get started…

 

So, when will you discover Italy?

You may be tempted into believing that a stay in one of the tourist spots in the Dalaman region of Turkey is enough to keep you occupied for your week or fortnight in the area and for most people, you’d be absolutely right. It all depends on what you want to achieve from your visit to Turkey and while Direct Holidays can guarantee an unforgettable stay at one of the excellent quality accommodation options, there’s something rather special about taking time out to explore the rest of Dalaman and, in particular, the impressive and majestic city of Fethiye.

The Dalaman region is home to some incredible sights, notably the mesmerising coastlines and picturesque vistas, but that’s not all that it has to offer its visitors. If you’re staying in one of the tourist hotspots and you want to explore a little further afield, there’s a wealth of options available to you in and around Fethiye.

dalyan2

 

Shop till you Drop 

Head to Fethiye on a Tuesday during your stay and enjoy the huge open market that can be found there. From crafts and leather to spices and produce, the stalls cover a broad range of wares and are well worth a perusal – be prepared to haggle if you want to grab a bargain!

The streets of Fethiye are home to some absolutely incredible shops if the market doesn’t have anything to tempt you – jewellery is a particular speciality with the price of gold being much more favourable than the UK.

fethiye

 

Explore the History 

Fethiye and its surroundings are home to a huge range of historical sites that would make perfect additions to your itinerary, including the ghost town of Kayakoy and the Tomb of Amyntas – perfect day trip options.

 

Seek some Adventure 

From paragliding in the hills of Olu Deniz to white water rafting along the Dalaman Stream, if you’re hoping for a thrill injection, you’ve come to the right place!

Add a little variety to your Dalaman stay and incorporate a day trip to Fethiye or a book yourself onto an excursion – the beaches may be inviting but you could add to your Turkish experience with ease.

Teide
Tenerife is the largest of the Canary Islands and is much-visited for its beautiful beaches and lively nightlife. But by putting the beach lifestyle aside, you can discover an island offering incredible national parks, such as Teide National Park which boasts the highest mountain in Spain.

So swap your swimming gear for hiking boots and discover some of Tenerife’s lush forest, exotic fauna and spectacular landscape. Here’s the low down on some of Tenerife’s best national parks.

 

Teide National Park

The national park encircles 3718 metre Mount Teide, which is the largest mountain in Spain. From its base, Mount Teide is the third largest volcano in the world. The national park in itself is the largest in Spain and was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007. The nutrient rich soil in the park supports a diverse number of plant species with dozens endemic to Tenerife.

The park is all about hiking and enjoying its breathtaking views. You can reach the highest point of the volcano by cable car where you can walk around and admire the scenery. If you gain special permission from the park’s office you can even reach the volcano’s mouth, or alternatively you can take a guided tour up the volcano.

There is an expansive network of trails that stretch across the park, allowing you to experience the national park’s diversity on foot. There is even a challenging path to the peak of Teide that begins at the base of Montana Blanca and climbs from 2100 metres to 3270 metres to the Altavista Refuge. Make sure you’ve had your morning Weetabix before attempting this one!

 

Garajonay National   Park

Located on the island of La Gomera, Garajonay National Park is a key example of humid subtropical forest. The most humid and protected valleys of the park are located in the North and have the richest and most complex forests. Valley Laurisilva is a true subtropical rainforest where large laurel trees can be found. The park is also famous for the massive rocks found along the island which are former volcanoes.

The park is crossed by a large network of footpaths that makes trekking one of the islands main tourist activities. You can also visit the park by taking a day trip from Tenerife’s Los Cristianos area.

 

Caldera de Taburiente
http://bit.ly/1ecJmXq

 

Caldera de Taburiente National Park

Caldera de Taburiente National park is situated on the island of La Palma and is home to the enormous expanse of the Caldera de Taburiente. The caldera was once thought to be a giant crater but it has since been established that it is in fact the remains of a mountain that collapsed in on itself.

The caldera is about 10km across and in certain places the caldera walls reach as high as 2000 metres above the caldera floor.

Most visitors come for the extraordinary scenery formed by the crater and to absorb the quiet and peaceful environment in the park. There are a number of hiking trails of varying difficulty and length, with walking boots an absolute must. For more extreme and serious mountain hikes it is recommended that you hire a guide.