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
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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.

 

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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!

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.

 

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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?

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!

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

fraser island day trip fraser explorer rainbow beach hervey bay east coast australia

 

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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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?

 

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!

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.

 

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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!

 

 

 

 

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.

 

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.

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.

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.

 

People head to Thailand for a number of reasons – its cheap to get to, it’s easy to travel around and there’s a lot of culture to be had if you travel to the right places.

With its boom in backpacking unfortunately the land of a thousand of smiles has been slightly tarnished (I won’t go off on a rant about this – I’ll leave this to other bloggers who seem to get in a slight rage about things they can’t change and would rather sit in the past when “things were better”!).

The gorgeous white sand beaches can still be enjoyed though, you just have to look a little bit further afield for the slice of paradise you seek so much. That’s one of the joys of travel – if you want to find that idyllic place you have to discover somewhere new.

A well worn path will never look as good as it did the first trip around. 

Whatever your reasons for venturing in the hub of Asia there’s a variety of events year round, you simply have to pick your poison.

So here’s two of my favourite, sitting at very opposite sides of the travel scale…

 

Full Moon

full moon thailand
Full Moon – Bucket Fuelled Chaos!

If you’re coming to Thailand to let off steam, get messed up and make some bad decisions then the now iconic Full Moon Party is surely on your to do list.

Situated on the island of Koh Phangan (the east coast of Thailand) on the once tranquil beach of Haad Rin it has now become the poster event for how bac

kpacking can completely transform a place for all the wrong reasons.

Each full moon around 30,000 backpackers swarm to the beaches which are now littered with fire dancers, bucket sellers, illicit substances and more genres of music than you can shake your UV glow sticks at.

It’s the epitome of beach party madness!

…and no matter what your view on these type of events it’s something that has to be ticked off the travel bucket list.

It’s glorious, unadulterated chaos!

Make sure you pre book your accommodation (it sells out heaps fast, especially the summer months and the Haad Rin based hostels), prepare yourself (I put together this handy guide to surviving full moon), be safe and enjoy!

Lets face it – every backpacker needs to let off some steam every now and then!

 

Loi Kratong

On the very far and opposite side of the scale of Thai events is the traditional calendar filler of Loi Kratong.

It’s pretty much as far away from the backpacker created mayhem of Full Moon as you could wish to be and is perfect for the culture vulture traveller.

The event lies in mid November and celebrates the Thai goddess of water – locals and traveller alike fill the water ways of the country with floating lanterns.

Flickering flames, reflections in water, starry skies, people from all over the world coming together?! What could sum up the true spirit of travel more than something as picture perfect and romanticized as that?!

Personally I’d head up north to Chang Mai for the event – where thousands of people send flying lanterns into the air simultaneously, which is said to rid you of your troubles.

And seeing those flames float into distant skies certainly does have that affect.

…just make sure you take the time out to photograph the whole thing too as it’s a spectacle you’ll want to capture for your desktop wallpaper for sure!

 

Full moon and Loi Kratong – very same same but different. The perfect examples of good travel vs bad travel, the old and the new, the educated and the inebriated. 

..but both heaps good fun to slot into your Thailand travel itinerary!

 

What’s your favourite Thai event of the year? Any unusual things you’ve stumbled upon or recommend to backpackers heading that way?

Georgina Young tells us about an adventure exploring Monkey Beach in Penang National Park, Malaysia.

It is completely out of character, I don’t know what was going through my mind as I was packing my backpack at 7:30am. Six litres of water? Check. Snacks for the day? Check. Change of clothes? Check. Copious amounts of suntan lotion? Check.

I’ve got everything ready to go, and I pull on my hike bag, the same one that just the night before was housing all my worldly belongings, and walk out of my hostel into the bright morning light. I immediately put on my sunglasses and make my way to the bus stop, water bottles weighing me down.

The bus winds pleasantly for more than an hour through northern Penang, stopping off at the all places a tourist could ever want to see. Lush mountains blend into white sandy beaches, wildlife parks litter the highway. There is nothing quite like the nature and beauty of this island UNESCO heritage site.

Both a young Spanish girl and I disembark at the last stop, the national park. After ignoring all the scouts trying to sell me things on the path up to the park, registering my intentions with the park staff, I begin my trek into the reserve.

I’m immediately struck by the wide, smooth, paved pathway. Maybe this trek is going to be a lot easier than imagined, was it oversold? But after around half a kilometre things get decidedly more rocky and by the kilometre mark the pathway has all but disappeared. The further and further into the forest I go, the more treacherous the route becomes until I am hoping from post to post over a sheer drop and literally crawling in, out, under and over sprawling tree roots.

The trees own this forest I am just a guest here.

I stop frequently and gulp down huge amounts of water. The tiny black and white map I’ve been given says that it will take 1 ½ hours to make it to my destination, to Monkey Beach, but I know it will take me much longer as thoroughly unaccustomed to hiking as I am, particularly in these conditions.

In my short shorts and tank top, carving my way through vines and tree branches, I feel like the real life Lara Croft only of course much more pink and sweaty. I pass several small quaint beaches on the way and consider just stopping here away from the tourist traps.

But then I see it over the horizon. The pure sand cuts around the forest and the mountain side for what seems like miles. The little boat moored up to shore gives the stereotypical impression of any island paradise. But this view is all mine.

Monkey Beach
AgfaPhoto
AgfaPhoto

As I descend onto the beach from my mountain pass I see the critter for which the beach is named. Monkey’s fighting for position on several of the trees that surround this idyllic beach setting. I scramble up onto a rock in order to change into my clothes and take a dip in the clear, turquoise bay, but just as I get out my clothes for changing, a monkey has seized them.

“Hit it with a stick!” I hear a woman’s voice echoing from a nearby rock.

I try in vain to look for a stick, but failing to see anything scary enough to fend off this fearsome beast I make myself large and hiss. More so to do with the fact that the stolen bag contains only clothes and not food, rather than my less than scary attempt to fend him off, the monkey drops my bag and scarpers. I retrieve my bathers and finish changing, thanking the American on the rocks for her advice.

Placing my hike bag as close to the sea as possible without it getting wet I dive into the sea and feel the refreshingly cool liquid flow over me, relieving me from the scorching heat. Up on the beach I see a French couple, abandon their bags near the trees and hasten towards the sea. But shouting I warn them.

“Careful Monkeys!” and they too tie their bags somewhere near the coast. After around 20 minutes in the sea I hear the French girl scream as she scares two carefully approaching monkeys from my luggage. You give a little you get a little. I spend the whole day, talking with tourists who have made the tiring trek themselves, locals who make their living selling jet ski rides and lying in the sun.

A tanned, fit Malaysian beach bum enquires whether I would like a jet ski back to shore and I honestly tell him that I only have 4 Ringits on me and that’s for the bus home. He then suggests that next time I come I should bring my boyfriend.

“Yea I should” I say aimlessly back.  I of course need to find myself a boyfriend first.

Believing me to be poor and unavailable he gives up on his quest to talk to me and I spend the day reading in the beating sun.

AgfaPhoto

AgfaPhoto

AgfaPhoto

By 4pm as the sun is no longer at it’s highest and feeling well rested I begin my return journey, this time starting at the hardest point making my way back to the easiest. The pathway is just as deserted as before and I passing people is rare. On one of my frequent stops I am passed by a group of Malaysians hiking the trail barefoot thinking that the only reason I could be sitting there in the mud was because I had fallen and was injured. They rush to my aid.

“Oh no I’m fine. Just taking a rest”

The concept is alien to them, and they take off on their hardened, hobbit heels.

As I reach the entrance again, having ripped my leggings in half and exhausted, I refused to take the advice I have read to change into dry clothes believing that the refreshing breeze of the bus air con will be more than welcome after the heat blast I feel like I have just walked through. And it is for around 30 minutes, before I realise how wrong I was, shivering on the bus, my clothes completely soaked through with what I have to remind myself is not in fact sea water as my brain reasons it must be, but sweat.

While thinking to myself “this is why I don’t go hiking” I have to console myself with the memory of the beach paradise I discovered, and how few people are able to see it as I have.

About the Author: George is a 20-something hitchhiker, solo female traveller and cunning linguist, currently teaching in Kyushu, Japan. She circumnavigates the globe and teaches languages to all those in her wake. She has travelled Europe and Oz extensively, and has taught languages in 7 different countries and counting. Her blog is a mix of language learning, TEFL tips and general travel tales. Follow her journey at George on the Go or on Facebook or Twitter.

Chiang Mai is a fabulous city, crammed with trips, sites and experiences.

elephant trainer chang mai thailand
Feeding ‘Nu’

You can stay for over two weeks and still manage to be busy every day. My favourite adventure during my time in Chiang Mai had to be the day where I learnt to be a Mahout.

Chang does mean Elephant after all, so it had to be done!

To be honest, I’m not a huge animal lover.
I literally feel sick when people kiss their dogs and think it’s utterly ridiculous when they dress pets up in silly outfits. Most animals smell bad and make me sneeze!
But, I do love Elephants.
They are such friendly giants, and so clever. I never knew how smart these creatures were until I spent the day with them. It breaks my heart when you see them being poorly treated (which is the case in most parts of Thailand) and it upsets me that some tourists can be so naive to it all, supporting it by visiting these types of places. (Elephant rides with baskets and attractions like Tiger Kingdom, but that’s another story!)
elephant trainer chang mai thailand
Just a Quick Shower!
We wanted to visit an Eco friendly Elephant home. After a tonne of research and recommendations we decided to go to the ‘Thai Elephant Home’. It claimed to rescue Elephants from cruel backgrounds, so I was certainly up for backing that.
The training day starts by learning the basic Mahout commands. You need to be able to get on and steer your Ellie! Then the fun begins, you get to choose you’re very own Elephant for the day.
I obviously ran to the smallest and most adorable. (Just like me, right?!)
Her name was ‘Nu’ and she was 5.
You ride your Ellie bare back, the feeling is pretty daunting at first, you feel so unstable, like you’re going to fall right off. Once you get used to balancing your body weight you are all set.
Now it’s your time to shine, trekking through the lush green jungle on your Elephant, steering her by talking your commands. You’re pretty much a pro now, listening to the relaxing sound of nature while you’re Ellie is taking you uphill to witness the beautiful views the jungle has to offer.
elephant trainer chang mai thailand
Here We Go…!

In between you’re walks you spend time with your Elephant, feeding her, getting messy in the mud bath and splashing around in the river. This is when her character really shows.

Getting to know you’re Elephant is great fun, you feel like you’re really bonding with them. ‘Nu’ was just like any other child, she loved to wonder off, eat everything in site and make a mess. She enjoyed getting us all soaked and completely submerging herself in the river! (She was not as worried as me about getting pink eye, that’s for sure!)
You can tell that the Elephants at this home are happy and treated well. They have a little sparkle in their eyes. If you have ever wanted to spend time with these majestic creatures then I would recommend this trip.
I don’t think a visit to Thailand would be complete without meeting the Ellie’s.
Plus, after this experience you’re pretty much Tarzan. Who knows what else you’re capable of!

Once considered a medium-sized Spanish City, Valencia has undergone a massive transformation in the last 10 years. The creation of the ‘City of Arts and Science’ is one statement that underlines the nature of the place, especially as it comes from that of renowned architect Santiago Calatrava. It is fair to say, that Valencia has now become iconic for its beautiful architecture and cultural importance, this is highlighted from its reputation lying with its inner city buildings rather than its beautiful beach sitting right next to it.

 

Thinking of going this summer? Well it’s heaps easy to find places to stay in Valencia – but be sure to take your sun cream – at this point of the year Valencia begins to knock up temperatures of 30-40 degrees, and with the vastly built up area, there is not much of a breeze to settle the heat. Bare this in mind when going out, think about trying to get things done in the morning – the weather can play with you at times.

 

In terms of travel, you’re best off just using public transport because there is so much of it in and around the city. Valencia offers both the Bonobus and Bonometro, an option that is best for value for money. Wherever you need to get to, there will be a bus for it, so you won’t be short in wasting time trying to get to places. In the hustle and bustle of the city, it can get very humid on buses with the crowds, so be sure to take plenty of rests at cafes around the city. Preferably, just walking can cover much of the city, but it can become tiring in the heat.

 

The City of Arts and Sciences is somewhere you cannot ignore, the centre has 5 buildings, offering something for everyone from opera to the IMAX. Check out the Science museum, a completely 21st century experience that offers interactivity with almost all of its contributions to science and technology. Just a short walk and you’re at the Agora, a huge sporting complex that has been home to some worldwide events, including the Valencia Open Tennis tournament. This really is a place to visit throughout the day, its modern facilities provide you with an enjoyable day out to both learn and have a bit of fun! Once more, the centre is never overcrowded, so you are able to walk around and not feel pressured to move on.

 

If its photography and culture you’re after, then I highly recommend the North Station. Take your time, sit back and take in some of the breathtaking architecture from creator Demetrio Ribes. The building has it all, using a range of wood, glass, marble, metal and ceramics to produce a stunning view of old and new. Be sure to take your camera with you, the building offers some great photography with the glimmer of the sun bouncing off the colourful glass. A short trip, but one certainly worth taking!

 

If you’re fancying something a little bit different though, check out the Oceanografic, a stunning aquarium that holds a range of different buildings with so much to do. The building features underground tunnels, where you are able to quite literally walk with the whales! The crystal clear waters and state of the art facilities ensure you will never have a disappointing trip! So, instead of taking your chances with a dolphin boat trip, pop to the Oceanografic to get up close and personal with sharks! There are a few cafes on sight so there is food available, all you really need is your camera to get some snaps you won’t get anywhere else!

 

Valencia is a beautiful place to be, but don’t let the hot temperatures and stuffy city travelling stop you from enjoying the city.

 

Okay, so we have all seen crazy YouTube videos of how super fun tubing was back in the day… Before most bars were shut down, zip lines were removed and all the slides and other fun (but slightly deathy) things we could jump off were banned.
But what is tubing like now?
Is it still worth going to Vang Vieng to ‘get in the tubing’?
Well I am currently right here in the tubing capital of Vang Vieng, and I have recently experience tubing as it stands in 2013.
Unfortunately I never got a chance to visit before now, so I guess I can’t compare it as accurately as some of you guys who got involved in the craziness of the past years, but I can tell you about my time in that small, slightly off coloured, rubber ring on the river.
tubing in vang vieng
A Much Quieter River Now…

My first thoughts once getting allocate my tube and walking down to the river was that it was quiet.

Almost ‘dead’.
It was just the four of us, with another small group of backpackers in their rings in the distance however it is low season here at the moment, so I wasn’t too surprised, but I couldn’t stop daydreaming about what the atmosphere would have been like in the peak of it all (you can check out Chris’s tubing experience from 2012 here).
We started floating down stream, looking onto the bank you see burnt out bars and knocked down walls, it’s quite sad really. The ride itself was relaxing though! The gentle sound of the water flowing and the beautiful mountainous scenery around us. That was until we started to float in to the bushes at the side of the river, when we finally emerged out of the greenery we were greeted by several, huge spiders sitting on our legs and stomach.
It was terrifying, it’s safe to say I ruined the peaceful ambiance by screaming and trying to flick them off my body!
Once this horrendous ordeal was over, we were met by our first bar. It was about time!
backpacker tubing vang vieng laos
Party Bars…With Much Less Party!

The bar itself was great fun, a great mix of people and activities going on. I headed straight for the sunbathing area, but there was also games of volleyball and basketball. Now this is what I expected tubing to be like, only it was still much calmer than what I’ve heard it was like before.

There was a small party vibe at this bar, with games of flip cup and beer pong, but still nothing to write home about. It was busy, probably because there are now only about three bars on the river. We didn’t stop again after this, the other bars we came across were empty , so we just finished the tubing route on the river.
The rapids were exciting, being thrown around made it that little bit more ‘crazy’ I suppose.
During our day tubing I only had a couple of drinks, just because I felt like the party atmosphere wasn’t very strong. The time we spent on the river, and even at the bar, had a very chilled out vibe to it. I would definitely say that tubing was different to how I imagined it, I wouldn’t say it was a let down, but I think if you go tubing now, you need to think of it as more a relaxing experience rather than a day to get wasted and jump off stuff.
People still need to visit Vang Vieng and experience the town and what it has to offer, but go tubing with an open mind, as it has changed.
For the better or worse? You decide.

As our inhouse Aussie Oceana is well placed for any advice you might need when heading down under (no innuendo intended!) and she’s done her fair share of travelling around her home country as well as abroad.

So we asked her to share he personal Top 5 Aussie Stop Offs to help you out with planning a trip to Australia..

 

1) Cairns

What’s not to love about Cairns? This tiny Australian town is a backpacker haven, and heaven! It’s packed to the brim with awesome hostels and backpacker bars with all the cheapest drink deals. Everything is super close making the vibe of Cairns is 100% backpacker friendly.  Cairns is not a town where the working holiday travelers come looking for work, so it’s full of people who have money and are looking for a party. This means that every night there’s something going on, a willing group of people looking for an adventure and a whole lot of madness just waiting to happen.

syndey backpacker top australia
Sydney – Totally Worth The Hype!

 

2) Sydney

Ah Sydney, the crown of Australia. Not the capital city but close enough as far as most backpackers are concerned. This is the place most people start, and it’s also often where they finish. Good news for Sydney’s vibe because the working holiday types are totally evened out by those looking to make a good start, and those heading out of Australia with a bang. The city has a whole lot of great hostels, some wicked backpacker bars and enough entertainment to keep anyone going. As big cities go, Sydney is a pretty great place all over, with sunny days, great beaches and lots of opportunities to soak up the Australian lifestyle.

darwin markets australia
Darwin Street Markets

 

3) Darwin

Australia’s northern most capital city, Darwin certainly doesn’t look like much compared to Sydney. It’s not a massive backpacker town all year, although in the Dry Season (May-October) they do flood in looking for work. But there’s something about Darwin that really sets is apart. Closer to Asia than to most southern Australian cities (Timor is less than 1 hour flight) it has a uniquely tropical Asian atmosphere that’s unrivaled. Equal parts great Australian outback, and tropical northern gem Darwin boasts Asian markets, beautiful beaches and fantastic weather (as long as you like it hot!).

 

4) Byron Bay

Now, there’s probably not a backpacker out on the Australian (and perhaps international circuit) who doesn’t know about Byron Bay. Hardly the tiny hippy hub that once made it famous, Byron Bay is still a great place to be. Surfing hub and alternative cultural vibes abound, Byron also has an awesome hostel scene and some unbelievable backpacker bars that just must be visited. The surrounding area is flawless, and although it’s sometimes better in the off-peak season, peak definitely guarantees lots of crazy people to keep the party pumping all night long!

melbourne street art
Melbourne Street Art

 

5) Melbourne

Australia’s culture capital? Well, I’m not going to start any wars here, but there is definitely a lot to see and do in Melbourne. Melbourne definitely holds the upper hand when it comes to street art with almost every available public wall canvassed with graffiti creations. The same could probably be said for the competitive coffee war, easily the best in coffee in Australia and at some of the cheapest prices. Melbourne is full of great entertainment venues and things to see, some more expensive than others. But even without the dollars, the backpacker scene is very much alive, and everyone knows where to go for the cheapest bars, and the free gigs. They might lead you down winding alleys to hole-in-the-wall bars, but that’s what makes Melbourne magical.

 

What would be your Top 5 Aussie Spots? Care to share them and why?!

 

They say good things come in small packages, and those seeking for the proof to support the claim need look no further than the lovely Mediterranean island of Menorca. Far smaller and less developed than its Balearic sibling Majorca, this Spanish island is one of Europe’s real hidden gems.

So why come here with the bigger Balearic island lying just across the water? Well for one thing, whilst Majorca may have stolen the crowds, the reputation and Franco’s construction budget in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, Menorca has been left with something far rarer and more valuable: its purity.

 

Get Back To Nature

Boasting places of extreme natural beauty such as the Parc Natural S’Albufera d’es Grau wetlands and a rich biodiversity notable thanks to the island’s abundance of flowering plants, birds and butterflies, this really is a Mediterranean Eden. Menorca is practically unique in its region in offering the opportunity to discover miles upon miles of secluded, if not deserted beach, which for some travellers represents adequate reason to book a ticket in itself. If you’re looking for sun-kissed bliss in an unspoilt location with a strong tourist infrastructure, you couldn’t do better than look into some of the options available for Menorca holidays.

Menorca has all the wonderful scenery, flora and fauna you could possibly hope to see in any holiday destination, but that’s not all. The island also bursts with an alluring human presence, past and present that really brings its beautiful environment to life.

The locals of this so called ‘Gem of the Balearics’ love nothing more than a good fiesta, making the summer months your optimum period to plan a visit to Minorca. Fiesta season runs (intermittently) from late June until late September – be sure to check dates carefully with your tour operator or a reputable online source before booking. Highlights of the fiesta calendar include the stirring ‘L’ithica’ full moon pageant (August 6-8) and The ‘Festes de Sant Joan’ – watch out for a burly local man carrying a grown sheep through the streets at this one!

 

A Quiet Drink?!

Menorca is not famous as a party island in the ‘UV foam party/throwing up everywhere’ sense, and to many, that’s exactly where its appeal lies. There’s ample provision however, for a spot of cultured fun-seeking; traditional singing and dancing, and drinking Pomada, a traditional mixture of gin and bitter lemon – phew!

This really is the Mediterranean island destination for grown ups – absolutely not dull in any way as some would like to think us adults are, but mature, tasteful and truly rewarding. People have settled here since prehistoric times as the island’s extant megalithic structures attest, and within its traditions it’s not hard to see a strong link back to the distant, distant past. To experience a taste of how the Menorcans have enjoyed unwinding over the centuries, waste no time in booking yourself a flight and setting out for this vibrant paradise.

 

When you think of Morocco as a backpacker destination many people instantly think of bustling souks, Marrakech, camel rides and desert Berberes.

And to a large extent that’s what Morocco is about! It’s a country rich in culture, local markets and has a large history of nomadic people of the desert.

But Morocco alos has and amazingly rugged and empty coastline too – which means one thing to a person like me…SURF!

 

moroccan souks
The Souks – Great For a Haggle and Some Bargains!

Drawing Me Back

I first headed to Morocco back in 2008 with my little bro – with the aim of scoring a heap of warm water waves. And it was an epic success – despite the roughness around the edges we both loved the place!

The surf was perfect, the local cuisine was nothing short of mouth watering, the living was cheap and the weather was a solid 25 degrees+ our entire stay! What more could a travelling surfer ask for?!

In fact I liked it so much I went back a second time after my trip to Oz – and if you’ve seen my travel blog (Backpacker Banter) you’ll know that I just spent 4months working there as a surf coach – what more of a personal recommendation do you need?!

 

Perfect Winter Escape

Even though the cost of living in Morocco has risen slightly (especially in the surf towns) – it’s still heaps cheaper than it’s European counterparts. Not only that but flights to Morocco can still be had for under £100 return, and Easyjet will even take your surfboard (up to 9foot) for £40 all in…now that’s an epic deal!

For me Morocco is the perfect winter escape for any surfer – as the UK water temps start to plummet (and I wont even get started on the air temperature!) Morocco is considerably warmer, you’ll still need a 3/2 suit over the main part of their winter (Dec-Apr) but you’ll spend your time out of the water basking in glorious sunshine and boardies!

The one things I’d suggest if you do a large surf trip to this part of the world though is to take all the kit you need and a heap of spares too. Things like ding repair kits, wetsuits wax, FCS thruster fins and hire boards can be ridiculously expensive in places like Taghazout, and outside of that area they can be near on impossible to locate…so come stocked up!

The upside of being so prepared also means you can sell some stuff if your cash runs short!

 

Waves Waves Waves

surf travel morocco
Warm Water And Pumping Waves!

Wave wise Morocco main surf region is around the sleepy town of Taghazout – about an hour north of Agadir and a 3-4hour bus journey down from Marrrakech.

In all my surf travels I’ve never found a place so concentrated with a variety of surf spots that draws in so much swell!

If you base yourself in Taghazout you’ll have a solid amount of spots (I’m talking in the 20’s here!) within a 10min drive of the village, although to be honest you can walk to most of them! They range from easy beginner beach breaks like Croc Beach and Panoramas right through to pumping world class point breaks like Anchor Point and Killers.

You can check out my Moroccan Mini Surf Guide over on my main blog – and this post including some shots of the surf PUMPING will be sure to get your stoke on!

Even if you don’t surf already and want to learn it’s a great place to start – with a whole load of surf camps to choose from – so whether you want simple surf guiding or full on tuition you’re fully covered.

So if you’re looking for some waves, don’t have a crazy big budget to blow on somewhere like Indo then Morocco is the perfect place to bounce – and at only 4 hours flight from Gatwick it’s perfect for a quick week long escape too!

Just make sure you relax with a mint tea post surf for me please – I bloody miss that stuff!

The stunning setting of New Zealand is the perfect place for thrill seekers and adrenaline junkies to get their fix. There are a range of amazing activities for all types of tourists, and the natural ruggedness of the landscape lends itself to some of the most awe-inspiring acts. Here are the 5 most extreme tourist attractions in New Zealand.

 

Heli-Biking

If speed and heights are what get your adrenaline pumping, you simply have to try heli-biking. Imagine watching the valley fall away underneath you as you take a helicopter ride over the magnificent scenery of Queenstown. Once at the top, you and your fully-set up downhill mountain bike are offloaded, and you begin the heart racing dash to the bottom down some of the most thrilling downhill tracks in the country.

ice climbing new zealand
Cold, But Beautiful! (I’m talking about the ice not me!)

If this appeals to you, consider checking out heli-skiing as yet another way to combine the thrill of flying with the adrenaline rush of some seriously challenging ski slopes.

 

Ice Climbing

The famous Fox glacier offers adventurous travellers the opportunity to undertake the trip of a lifetime. Fox Guides will harness you up, teach you the basics of climbing, then allow you to scale the massive vertical sheets of ice. This is an awe-inspiring experience, and the sheer enormity of the glacier is truly a humbling sight.

 

Caving

Exploring the deep, dark underground of New Zealand’s natural caves is the premise for this fascinating tourist attraction. Caving offers a serious adrenaline rush with activities such as ‘black-water’ rafting, abseiling down waterfalls, and climbing through some seriously narrow and twisting tunnels. If you’re even slightly claustrophobic you should probably give caving a miss. However if crawling through small spaces isn’t an issue, you will see some of the most magnificent caves in the world during this unique and exciting experience.

 

Zorbing

This bizarre trend originated in New Zealand and quickly took the world by storm. Basically thrill seekers climb into a giant inflatable ball, and are pushed down various hills. Naturally, the ball bounces around and picks up considerable speed as it plunges down the hillside. It’s an unusual sensation which isn’t for the faint hearted, or the weak of stomach for that matter!

 

Bungee Jumping

Last but not least, there is the extreme tourist attraction that New Zealand is the most famous for. Thousands of people queue up every year to jump off bridges and plummet into ravines, dunk themselves into rivers and swing through stunning gorges all in the name of fun. Bungee Jumping and Canyon Swinging are the ultimate adrenaline rush for adventurous tourists.

 

On The Flip Side…
Everyone needs some down time, so why not consider exploring New Zealand via cruise. You can get your adrenaline pumping by day, then take the evening to relax and socialise in the luxurious surrounds of your cruise liner. Carnival Cruise Lines are famous for their beautifully appointed liners and plenty of opportunities for an action packed itinerary when in port. This is truly the greatest way to experience the best of both worlds and see the natural beauty and magnificence of New Zealand.
Written by Emma Jane

Over in the UK, the Brits love their caravan holidays. Well it turns out that backpacking and caravanning have more in common than you think!

 

  • We both love extended travel
  • We share a love for the great outdoors
  • We love the freedom to hop from one place to another
  • We both like a bargain when it comes to accommodation
  • I’m pretty sure we all love falling asleep in a bed, some more than we care to admit
  • Not sure we understand the concept of packing lightly!

 

With so many caravan sites to choose from in the UK, it is sometimes a struggle to pick out your destination to pitch up. I’ve selected some of the best sites in the UK, offering you a range of events to keep you busy on your travels, or if it’s a quiet weekend away is what you fancy, you just need to know where to look! I’ve narrowed it down by featuring a range of different places around the country, so why not get a taste for them all and join the club!

If this will be your first caravan trip and you need help planning it there is a lot caravanning discussion over at Caravantalk.co.uk! Don’t forget, whether you’re new to caravanning or a seasoned caravanner, you need some kind of caravan insurance, definitely check out the Caravan Club website for this.

 

Low Wray – Cumbria 

Perfect for gentle-walkers, pop on your hiking boots as you stroll by Wray Castle, with views of the forestry to accompany you. No need to take the car out, off-road biking, walking and water-sports are all on offer in short distance to keep you busy. Good value for money at £8-10 per night.

 

Bay View Farm – Cornwall

No problem here if the sea is your thing, listen out as you hear the waves crash together. Literally, a five-minute walk separates you from the Cornish coastal path overlooking Looe Bay. Looking at about £10-20 a night.

 

Cedar Gables – Kent

Very small, yet very quiet – this site sits next to the nearby Bewl Water, perfect for your cycling, walking and in particular a unique fishing experience. Cedar Gables is also a partner with the National Trust, with many properties available to look further into.  £8-20 a night but do budget for electric hook-ups etc.

 

Vale of Pickering – North Yorkshire 

This site is situated closely to the North Yorkshire Moors, allowing you the chance to see some of the glorious highlands. A superb sight for families, with plenty to do in the town to keep the children entertained. Travel in low season to avoid the rush of people; if you do then you’re looking at £15.50 a night.

 

Lonely Farm – Suffolk 

A perfect get-away from anyone who is consistently disturbed by the hustle and bustle of work and traffic. This adult-only site highlights the iconic parts of East Anglia. The seaside town of Aldeburgh is very close and boasts the ‘finest fish and chips’ in Britain. £14 a night leaves you with a reasonable budget to go out and treat yourself.

 

So if you’re looking to explore the UK a little more (something that I highly recommend as it’s dead easy to underestimate the amount of amazing activities and sites on your doorstep!) caravanning is a great way to avoid the crowds, be completely flexible in you plans and explore some of the most beautiful spots the UK has to offer.

And the fact you have your accommodation with you just makes everything that much easier!

It’s not the most famous holiday destination; this island sits next to the Caribbean, and my god, what a way to discover this hidden gem. It’s not known by everyone, which is what makes this place so good. No crowds, no loud tourists, just you, the sea and a handful of new experiences to indevere. This island boasts a glorious turquoise sea, and wherever you are on the island, you’re never too far away from it.

Although this island is in itself, a unique little vacation, there is still so much to do and – even if you’re staying in an all inclusive it’s easy to tempted you out of the hotel!  Head over to Long Bay Beach to experience Kite boarding, something that has really taken off over in the Caribbean – whether your watching or just getting to grips with it, this water sports spectacle is an enthralling adventure. Everywhere you look, people are enjoying it, it doesn’t matter, no one is there to judge.

Take yourself down to Long Bay; it really is hard to imagine the silent shores gently wave in the sand only a few hundred metres away from the surf-goers and dog-walkers, a friendly little place where anyone is welcome.

If the beach lifestyle isn’t your thing, then Turks and Caicos is also home to some unique arts and crafts. Pop over to the Middle Caicos Co-op at Conch Bar, you’ll find over 60 stalls and little shops selling the most precious model sailboats, to the large drift wood furniture, a brilliant experience to check out some of the behind the scenes stuff that goes on all year round. This isn’t like your normal market either, most stallholders will make to order, so your vacation souvenir can be all that more personal when you get home.

A way of seeing just how much this place has to offer is to head down to the waters of Grace Bay. There, if your lucky, you might get a glimpse of Jo Jo the Dolphin – the island’s pride and joy. Spend the day sipping an ice-cold beverage down by the Bay, as young and old share the same experience as you. And don’t worry, if you don’t manage to see Jo Jo during your stay, you’ll be sure to see him on much of the local art, as Jo Jo is seen as an iconic memory of the island.

Grace Bay is also home to a lot of the attractions out on the sea, the bay is crawling with excursions and activities that you turn up and usually book on the day due to it being so quiet. Kite Sailing, ATV Tours, Bone fishing and even a chance to see the natural display on offer by the underwater glowworms. What makes this bay different is there is no stressful booking, it doesn’t take up any of your time, just pop down when you fancy it and they are very helpful.

As well as the mid-twenty temperatures and gentle breeze, Turks and Caicos has more than just the perfect weather conditions. During the night, the bay is lit up with restaurants offering a wide selection of local cuisine. The island will tempt you to try something new, as there are very little English restaurants. However, take it as a good thing and spend the night doing something you wouldn’t normally do. The Lraye cinema has been newly built this year and offers a selection of up and coming films, so if you are a fan of your home comforts, use the night to get back to basics and spend some time with the family or your loved one.

 

Where do you really start when you get into this huge city? Well, I’ve made it a little bit easier for you, here are some of my top places to visit once you’re touched down in Barcelona. Just two years ago I visited the city for a couple of weeks – I’ve visited all of these places myself – each of them being a unique experience I don’t think you can get anywhere else. Barcelona are famed for their architecture and there is so much more to explore than what I’ve listed, so take your time to check out the other Gaudí building located in Barcelona, but this lot will be sure to get your started…

 

  1. Casa Battlo: My favourite place to visit, Casa Battlo is home to some of Gaudí’s finest creations. These whacky colours and peculiar shaped buildings are all outside and provide a good shade as you gently walk around the grounds. Very different to any art exhibition you’ve ever been to!
  2. The Magic Fountain: A brilliant spectacle! Stand and stare as water is propelled out of the floor at random points throughout the day. Complete free to come and see and a truly romantic place to visit during the evening, with lights illuminating the venue and music to lighten the mood.
  3. Nou Camp: The Nou Camp is home to Barcelona F.C, possibly the biggest footballing side in the world, famed for their sexy football and world renowned players. The likes of Messi, Henry and Ronaldinho have all graced this hallow turf.
  4. Little Barcelona: A very pretty little place to visit, the sandy beaches and turquoise seas make you forget you’re right next to the hustle and bustle of the city. Many unique jewellery shops and a host of different choices for food in the evening, you will simply have to visit twice! The perfect way to finish the week, with some beautiful food and a view of the seaside as you walk down the lit up promenade.
  5. Las Ramblas: Las Ramblas is a great place to visit for the day to keep you busy. From street dancers to freestyle footballers, this 1.3km street holds hundreds of market stalls and variety performers to keep you entertained. I like to call it Barcelona’s ‘Covent Garden’ with a great number of shops also lining the stretch of road.

 

With it’s close proximity to the UK, numerous low cost flight options and vacation apartments in Barcelona to suit every budget there’s no reason to escape the cold and get exploring. Next time I’m back in Europe it’s definitely on my hit list…

 

 

Bali is a beautiful place with gorgeous beaches, great nightlife and it’s bursting with a rich, vibrant culture with bucket loads of history.

You could easily stay a few weeks and book any of the ocean front Bali hotels and lounge around on the beaches indulging in the delicious cuisine. You can enjoy much more than the scenery, since the country has so much more to offer. Here are just a few of our favorite things to do in Bali:

 

Hit the surf

The surf in Bali is out of this world and it’s a paradise for anyone who loves the waves. It’s a great place if you’re an experienced surfer but it’s also brilliant for beginners. There are plenty of surf schools, particularly in the touristy destinations like Kuta, where they will take you to areas with gentle waves. You’ll get a great price for a full-day lesson and you’ll be up on your feet before you know it.

 

Dive a shipwreck

If you want a diving experience like no other then head to the east coast to Tulamben to dive the USAT Liberty Shipwreck. The water here is calm and warm so it’s perfect for beginners and you can dive right into the old boat to explore.

 

Take a cookery class

After just a few hours in Bali you will realise that the food is to die for and you won’t find tasty treats like these anywhere else in the world. So the best solution is to learn how to cook it for yourself.

If you have the chance, take a full day cookery course so you can go to the market in the morning to pick your produce. You will stay with the class right until the end of the day when you will finally get to dig into your chosen menu. Then when you head home you can take a little of your travels with you and cook up a storm for your friends and family.

 

Stretch it out with a yoga course

If you head to Ubud in Bali you’ll be surrounded by hippies, meditation, art and yoga so you might as well embrace it and give it a go. There are plenty of yoga courses to choose from which are suitable for all levels. You’ll find some of the best yoga schools tucked away in the rice paddies for the ultimate in relaxation and peaceful solitude.

 

Monkey around in Monkey Forest

While you’re in Ubud you have to check out Monkey Forest which is in the centre of the town. The monkeys have been living here for hundreds and hundreds of years in the ruins of the three Holy Monkey Temples which were built during the mid-14th century.

 

Barter at the markets

The Balinese are a create bunch of people and the markets are packed with artistic creations, clothes, jewellery and unique souvenirs. It would be a crime to leave without a few goodies so get to the market and haggle for a bargain.

Bartering can be intimidating at first but it can be great fun when you get the hang of it. The general rule is to try and knock about 20-30% off the asking price.

 

Spot some dolphins

Head up to the northern coast of Bali to Lovina to see dolphins cruising through the surf. Your best chance to see them is around sunrise so take an early boat trip and there’s a high chance these gorgeous creatures will join you to watch the sun rise and playfully chase your boat back to shore.

This is an experience like no other and not to be missed!

Have you got anything else to add to the list of top things to see and do in Bali?

 

Yeah I know what you’re thinking;  Australian people speak English, I speak English, you speak English, what more could there be to learn, really?!

Spend just a few days in Australia and it becomes clear that language barriers do exist….you just have to know how to get round them!

It all starts with a visit to the pub, of course., or  hotels as they’re sometimes called in Australia.  You’re ready to order a pint of whatever it is you’re drinking and suddenly notice something rather alarming;

Wait, those aren’t pint glasses!

Pubs in Sydney
Pubs in Sydney - Courtesy of Creative Commons

No, they’re schooner glasses and it’s basically the norm in Australia for a lager or ale to be served in one.  A schooner is 425ml, about 3/4 of a pint.  A friend told me a few weeks ago that beers are served this way as, if you were to sit in the Australian sun with a pint you’d probably get halfway through and find yourself drinking warm beer (never good) but I also sense it’s something to do with the stricter alcohol rules which Australia also has in place.

There are some pubs where you can buy a pint but you can also ask for something called a pot which holds 285ml  – you’ll often find that you’ll get a free pot of beer with a meal in some pubs as a meal deal.

The above applies to Queensland and Victoria but in New South Wales for some reason a pot is called a middie.

In South Australia and pot is a schooner.

In Western Australia a pot measures 575ml which, being slightly more than a pint, is usually just called a pint by all the English people living there.

Confused yet?

Maybe it’s time for a lie down……but not on the duvet.  Nope, in Australia a duvet is called a doona.

Maybe you wanted to drink at your hostel though instead of at the pub?  For this you’d need to go to the Bottle-O or bottle shop, generally an off license where you can buy 24 bottles or cans in a carton called a slab, a few stubbies (small, 375ml bottle of beer) or a tallie (a long-necked bottle of beer.)

Ooooh and don’t forget the goon; yes, it’s a gross cheap wine in a bag but it’s cheaper this way to get blotto, loose or magotted!

At some point you’re going to have to eat though right?

In Australia a pepper is a capsicum and an aubergine is an eggplant.

A courgette is a zucchini and if you want a toasted sandwich you need to ask for a jaffle.

Thai Dish - chicken with capsicum
Chicken with pepper....I mean capsicum....no, pepper!

A chicken is a chook and a lolly is what we’d probably refer to as sweets or candy.

tasty cheese is cheddar cheese and cheddar cheese is that plastic cheese normally reserved for barbeques and kids lunch boxes.

Want a sausage from the barbeque?  Ask for a snag and if you’re having it in between two pieces of bread it’s a sanger.

Many of the food names though are just shortened versions of the original.  If a word can be shortened you can guarantee that it will be in Australia:

Avocados are avos

Brecky is breakfast

Throw another shrimp (read prawn) on the barbie and get a stubbie from the Esky – an esky is an insulated container for food and drinks, usually taken to the beach to keep your beers cold!

That famous Australian dessert, the pavlova?  Call it a pav.

Need to pop to the corner shop?  Here it’s a milk bar.

And there’s no need to waste your breath asking for a cappuccino, that’s far too much effort, just call it a cap!

And these are just a few of the many ‘Australianisms’ I’ve come across!  Can you think of any more?

This week’s #frifotos theme is…..Paradise! 

If you’re not familiar with #frifotos, it’s a weekly theme on twitter where anyone and everyone can tweet or blog about the week’s theme by using the twitter hashtag #frifotos.

We’ve been digging through our travel photos all week so here are our #frifotos of Paradise!

Koh Tao Paradise
My photo of Paradise comes from Koh Tao in Thailand. I just love sunsets on exotic islands - Dan

 

My idea of paradise is a sunset surf in Australia Byron Bay - Chris

 

Tulum, Mexico -Gemma
Where I though 'yes, this is paradise'... Tulum, Mexico -Gemma

 

Blue seas, check. White beach, check. Sunny skies, check. Infinity pool, check- Monica
lookout at Byron Bay
The walk up to Cape Byron Lighthouse in 30 degree heat wasn't anything like paradise, luckily this view of the beach, the ocean and the hills in the background made it all worth it! - Beverley
Diving in Malapascua
This place was paradise, not overly built up and the super clear water made for some great diving - Malapascua Island, Philippines- Poi

The East Coast of Australia, from Melbourne to Sydney (oh and Canberra…..) and finally up to Cape Tribulation in the far North of Queensland, is probably the most popular and most visited part of Australia and with a huge amount of exciting cities and beautiful beaches to explore we can see why.

But how can you travel Australia’s East Coast and see everything it has to offer?

Brisbane at night
Brisbane at night

1. Take a flight

There are two main budget airlines for domestic flights in australia are Jetstar and Virgin Australia (formerly Virgin Blue), both will get you pretty much anywhere on the East Coast, providing you’re not fussy about having to get a bus or taxi from the airport.

How about flying from Sydney or Melbourne to Ballina where, after a 30 minute bus journey you could be exploring Byron Bay or fly from Brisbane to Prosperine where you can sail, dive and snorkel your way around The Whitsunday Islands?

You can easily plan your trip to Gold Coast with Expedia and try your hand (or feet!) at surfing in Surfers Paradise, touch down at Cairns airport to explore the Great Barrier Reef, stick around Sydney to find the perfect balance between beach and city-living and while away your time in Melbourne with coffee and cake in one of its many cafes.

Flying isn’t always the cheapest option but if you’re looking to get somewhere quickly and conveniently then it’s definitely the way to go.

2. Book a bus journey

Greyhound Australia and Oz Experience both have different packages you can use to travel Australia’s entire East Coast in one go or, if you’re planning on working in Australia or just staying longer in places you like, you can opt for a 12 month pass – just use the calculator on their website to work out how many kilometres you’ll need over the year and you’re away!

The great thing about travelling by bus is that it actually stops at the most popular destinations – you can see the entire East Coast by bus easily without the hassle of airport transfers and departure lounges and you’ll easily make friends along the way.  Prepare for a bumpy ride though!

Byron Bay Beach
Byron Bay Beach

3. Hire a Campervan

Ah the traveller’s dream!  Riding around the country in a campervan, getting back to nature, cooking on a camping stove, beers on the beach – perfect.  Thankfully there are a huge amount of companies in Australia who want to make this dream come true, for a price of course.

The most popular choices are Jucy, Wicked Campers and Spaceships but there are smaller companies as well.  This is when your negotiation skills come in handy as your try and play one of against the other in a bid to get the best deal: to be honest, it works!

You can also check to see if there are any relocation deals available too – this means that, usually for something ridiculous like $1/day, you can ‘relocate’ a campervan to a specific depot in a certain amount of time.

Campervanning is the ultimate adventure and ensures that you get to see, stay and do whatever you want in your own time frame.

campervanning in Australia
campervanning in Australia

4. Hitch a Ride Part 1

This one takes a bit of courage but once you’ve stuck your thumb out a few times you’ll get used to it.  Obviously hitchhiking your way up the East Coast isn’t the most conventional way to travel and so you’re going to have to get used to being flexible.  There won’t always be someone driving where you want to go and you’ll have to change plans – it could be the best thing you ever did though; meeting new people and living one day to the next without any plans can be exciting!

Obviously if you’re going to hitchhike it goes without saying that you need to be careful and stay safe especially if you’re travelling alone.  Stay in contact with friends or family via text, keep your wits about you and don’t try and hitch a ride in the dark.

5. Hitch a ride Part 2

Wait, didn’t we already cover this?  Well, no.  Scour the noticeboards in any Australian hostel or even just pop onto Gumtree and you’ll find heaps of people already driving somewhere who want a road trip buddy or are willing to take a passenger, usually just for the cost of petrol money.

Again, this requires a lot more planning and a flexible approach but it’s definitely a fun way to meet people, have an adventure and catch a cheap ride!

How did you travel Australia’s East Coast?

Heaps of backpackers travel through Vietnam each year but where are they all going? Here are the main stops on Vietnams backpacker trail: Beginning in the north.

Sapa – Right up in the North West of Vietnam, Sapa is most famous for it’s trekking and home-stays, most visitors spend at least a few days exploring here before heading to Hanoi for some home comforts after some hard work.

Hanoi – It would be wrong to visit Vietnam without checking out their capital city. It’s a busy and noisy city because there’s always something going on just like any good major city. Why not book a Hanoi hotel for a few days to enjoy some of the best tourist attractions in Vietnam. There is plenty to do during the day and a thriving nightlife you really can’t go wrong.

Ha Long Bay – Chances are if you’ve spent more than a minute looking into South East Asia you’ve come across the spectacle that is Ha Long Bay, a must visit for anyone in the area.  This amazing seascape made up of thousands of limestone pillars is often visited via arranged 2/3 day trips from Hanoi but can be done independently. There are both sightseeing orientated trips as well as options for those looking for a bit of a party at the same time.

Hue – A small town located just above Hoi Ann does not receive nearly as many visitors as it’s close neighbor but if  it’s you’re sort of thing its well worth a day or two to explore the Imperial city.

Hoi Ann, Vietnam
Hoi Ann

Hoi Ann – One of the more popular stops in Vietnam famous for it’s tailors. Hundreds of shops offering to make just about any item of clothing you could want, out of any material you want.  Very well made and at ridiculously cheap prices it’s no wonder  so many people chose to get suits and dresses for all occasions made here and sent home.  Hoi Ann has far more to offer than shopping and is arguable one of the nicest towns in Vietnam to explore on foot.

Nha Trang – The must have beach stop along the route, Nha Trang is a typical tourist town.  Sit by the beach all day, take advantage of drink offers at night and maybe squeeze in a day at the waterpark.  What more could you want?

Waterfall in Vietnam
Dalat

Dalat – Your gateway to the mountains, Dalat is the most visited city in the Central Highlands and offers great adventure activities in the stunning surrounding areas. Easy rider tours are also a popular way to explore the often overlooked mountains of Vietnam.

Mui Ne – Another tropical beach stop, this town is often visited for the main attraction of sand boarding on the nearby dunes.

Ho Chi Minh City – Despite not being the capital HCMC is possibly the most known city in Vietnam.  It truly never sleeps and usually mesmerises its visitors instantly with the constant cramped flow of traffic that fills the roads. HCMC is huge and has tonnes to offer both during the day and at night, you’ll need at least a few days to even scratch the surface.

Mekong Delta – Where the famous river of the SE Asia, The Mekong, meets the sea at the southernmost point of Vietnam, this watery world is easiest seen via a guided tour and if it’s your cup of tea well worth the money.

We loved our time in Vietnam, and with great, regular, cheap transport available from The Sinh Tourist throughout the country it really is easy to cater your trip to exactly what you want.