Posts tagged: beach

Indonesia: Bali Coast & The Gili Islands

By , April 1, 2011 5:05 am
Relaxation In Gili

Relaxation In Gili

A visit to Bali will not be complete without some relaxation time in the sun and beach. Our next three stops accomplish exactly that, but each delivering a different vibe and experience.

If it was not for a popular shipwreck, the village of Tulamben would probably not exist today. There is little infrastructure, just a few diving hotels and not much else to see if you are not diving or snorkeling. Our hotel is just a short swim away from the shipwreck. While looking for a company to dive with, Boris runs into his first diving instructor from Koh Tao, Thailand, Alice P.! She recently relocated here; what a small world.

Local Woman Carrying Diving Gear On Her Head!

Local Woman Carrying Diving Gear On Her Head!

Boris and our friend, Ben, both sign up for a day and night dive. The day dive is ok, but it does not have the exploration feel Boris was expecting. However, the night dive with Alice, the divemaster, is different and a cool experience. The lack of lights gives it a more claustrophobic feel so exploring all the rooms of the wreck with a torch has more of a mysterious touch.

Lush Landscapes

Lush Landscapes

Trying to catch transportation to the village of Amed, which is only a short ride away from Tulamben, is not worth the trouble so we rent a motorcycle. Soon after taking a turn into the road that leads to Amed, the scenery becomes very lush with mountainous backdrops. We drive through several small villages mostly filled with hotels. As we make our way up the cliff, there is a wonderful view of the coast. This is enough to get us to change my plans and stay in Amed.

Frenchie On Moto

Frenchie On Moto

Welcome To Amed

Welcome To Amed

With so many accommodations here and being that it is low season, we get the pick of the best. We rent a small quiet villa with the pool to ourselves. For lunch, we randomly pick Kamara Resto Warung run by the super-nice Gede Sama and his wife. They cook up a Balinese dish, called Nasi Campur, a rice dish topped with various meats and vegetables. It is so good that this is the only place and dish we eat while in Amed! For dessert, we go back on our motorcycle and do a run for longan fruit. It is almost like lychee, but with a brownish peel and white flesh that is very tasty.

Our Mini-Villa In Amed

Our Mini-Villa In Amed

Inside Our Mini Villa

Inside Our Mini Villa

From Amed, we take a fast boat to the Gili Islands. The ride is very rough, but luckily it is short. I recommend taking this route since it is not yet mentioned in Lonely Planet. Also, dive companies in Amed go out to the nearby shipwreck and charge the same as in Tulamben so staying in Amed vs. Tulamben may be a nicer option.

The Gili Islands is composed of three small islands and for our first night, we try out the smallest of the three called Gili Meno. We enjoy the quietness and small number of tourists, but the hotel accommodations turn out to be a horrible experience. Unless you book the only one expensive hotel on the island, the rest are basic with lots of mosquitoes and the beaches are filled with dead coral.

Baby Turtles On Gili Meno

Baby Turtles On Gili Meno

The next day we head to Gili Trawangan. I expected a crazy party island but to my surprise, the island has a great balance of nice hotels, restaurants, bars, and various beach areas to enjoy. Being in the sea feels great, but there are lots of coral so it can hurt.

Gili Trawangan

Gili Trawangan

Frenchie

Frenchie

The Gilies is a great place to kick back. The islands are so small you can easily bike or walk around it. If there are too many tourists in one part of the island, just head the other direction. Just don’t expect too much out of the beaches in Indonesia as they are enjoyable, but we have seen better.

Bicycling Around The Island

Bicycling Around The Island

Our Bungalow

Our Bungalow

Dining For Two

Dining For Two

Movie Night In Bungalow

Movie Night In Bungalow

Cute Light Decor

Cute Light Decor

Surfers Done For The Day

Surfers Done For The Day

Private Treehouse Deck

Private Treehouse Deck

Fancy House

Fancy House

Poor Little Lionfish

Poor Little Lionfish

Where The Party Begins

Where The Party Begins

Drink On FIRE

Drink On FIRE

Where The Party Continues

Where The Party Continues

B+D

B+D

What We Paid: IDR USD Euro
Tulamben
– Private double at Paradise Hotel [fan, private bath, short swim to shipwreck] 250,000/double 28.75 20.35
– Diving 250,000/dive 28.75 20.35
– Motorcycle rental 25,000/half-day 2.90 2
– Meals at hotel 45,000 5.20 3.65
– Meals outside hotel 25,000 2.90 2
Amed
– Private mini villa at Pazzo Hotel [private bath, free wifi, pool, friendly staff, restaurant, highly recommend] 250,000/double 28.75 20.35
– Motorcycle rental at Beten Waru 30,000/full-day 3.45 2.45
– Nasi Campur at Kamara Resto Warung 10,000 1.15 0.80
– Amed Sea Express fast boat from Amed to the Gili Islands [75 mins] 250,000/pp 28.75 20.35
Gili Meno
– Private double at Perama Kontiki Bungalow [recommend getting something at least on the 2nd floor b/c of the mosquitoes, bring your own mosquito net if possible] 200,000/double 23 16.30
– Meals 16,000 1.85 1.30
– Water transfer to Gili Trawanga 20,000/pp 2.30 1.60
Gili Trawangan
– Private bungalow at The Beach House Resort [clean, pool, friendly staff, restaurant, recommend] 300,000/double 34.50 24.45
– Street food meals 10,000 1.15 0.80
– Local fried fish at Night Market 15,000 1.72 1.22
– Barracuda fish at The Beach House restaurant [by weight] 80,000 9.20 6.50
– Bicycle rental 22,500/half-day 2.60 1.80
– Single scoop of Gili Gelato [excellent] 15,000 1.72 1.22
– Fast boat [80 mins] + shuttle transfer [90 mins] from Gili Trawangan to Kuta [highly recommend buying one-way ticket in case of cancellations with company] 250,000/pp 28.75 20.35

Flickr Photoset | Slideshow

New Zealand North: Discovering The City Of Auckland

By , February 1, 2011 5:00 am
Children Playing In Buckleton Beach

Children Playing In Buckleton Beach

Our stay in Auckland is easy, as public transportation is plentiful and for the most part, the city is clean with various neighborhoods to discover. Right away, I am impressed with how culturally diverse the city is, something I had not seen so far in New Zealand. Like many other large cities, there are lots of trendy restaurants and shops; western luxuries I feel very comfortable being around.

Ferry Building Now Full Of Restaurants

Ferry Building Now Full Of Restaurants

Holiday Cheer While Shopping

Holiday Cheer While Shopping

The city is nicknamed “City of Sails” because of all the yachts in the harbor. As we make our way to the Fish Market on foot, my attention alternates between the design details on the urban dwellings and the yachts that are bigger than my last apartment building. While I don’t fancy boats so much, I do wish some of that attention to design was shared in the waterfront homes in San Francisco.

Auckland Harbor

Auckland Harbor

Your Very Own Parking Spot

Your Very Own Parking Spot

Enjoying Coffee At The Harbor

Enjoying Coffee At The Harbor

My second favorite stop in the North Island is Buckleton Beach (with Wai-O-Tapu being the first). It’s a short drive outside the city of Auckland and not much of a tourist attraction, but it is here that I come to understand why people love New Zealand so much. As I lay on the tree branch that afternoon looking at the kids jumping off the wooden platform and giggling amongst each other with their parents nearby, but not glued to their sides, I imagine what a safe, outdoor wonderland it is to grow up in New Zealand. There are so many different hikes to go on and get lost for hours or days. There are so many beaches where there is no one else. This is a place where you choose your pace of life. This is a place where you eat free oysters right on the beach rocks. This is a place where you go through the tolls and pay later. This is truly the great outdoors where you can be by yourself or with others. This is a lifestyle.

Buckleton Beach

Buckleton Beach

Me & Frenchie

Me & Frenchie

Higher Please

Higher Please

Rocky Side Of The Beach

Rocky Side Of The Beach

Free Oysters On The Beach (Up To 50 Per Person Daily)

Free Oysters On The Beach (Up To 50 Per Person Daily)

So if you come to NZ looking to be wowed by everything, like myself, this may not be the place for you. However if you want to enjoy the outdoors and be able to hear yourself think, this is the perfect place.

So Young And In Love

So Young And In Love

Baby Starfish

Baby Starfish

Neat Rock Formation

Neat Rock Formation

With 3 other Frenchies, what better way to end our trip than to eat at The French Cafe in Auckland. We are here to celebrate Marie Hélène’s birthday and our meals are amazing.

Goat Cheese With Beets

Goat Cheese With Beets

Got To Have Fish

Got To Have Fish

Delicious Meat

Delicious Meat

One Of the Best Dinners We Had

One Of the Best Dinners We Had

No Complaints About Auckland

No Complaints About Auckland

Thank you Marie Hélène and Gérard for joining us on our world trip and always spoiling us with your love.

Fish Burger

Fish Burger

Pay Your Toll Online Or Here

Pay Your Toll Online Or Here

Flickr Photoset | Slideshow

New Zealand: South Island Favorites

By , January 20, 2011 8:31 am
Me & Frenchie

Me & Frenchie

Once we passed the half way mark of our road trip around the South Island, we realized we were ahead of schedule so it was time to wind things down. The next couple of stops we made are the most memorable for me because there is nothing more beautiful than seeing animals in their natural environment.

Otago Peninsula

Otago Peninsula

Road Trip

Road Trip

When we arrived in the Petrified Forest, we were bummed out that we missed the sunset. As we walked down onto the rocks, a sudden silence came upon us and people were frozen in front of their cameras. As I walked around to see what was going on, I was told to move out of the way by this old man. I was kind of upset as he could have asked in a nicer manner. Then I saw this little fat figure wobbling side to side and then hopping over the rocks. OMG, it was a Yellow-Eyed penguin and I was standing on his path home. I moved right away and for the next 5 minutes, I was back in high school looking at my first crush and my heart was beating so fast I was sure everyone could hear it.

Yellow-Eyed Penguin

Yellow-Eyed Penguin

I later learned Yellow-Eyed penguins like to nest in the forest or in shrubs. In the month of November, the chicks start to hatch. The parents will take turns foraging at the ocean and return usually at noon and in the evening, while the other stays, caring their helpless chicks. Upon their way home onshore, if frighten, they would go back into the waters which is dangerous for them because of the strong currents. It is vital that we were are always at least 5 meters away from them and if you see a penguin standing still near you, you need to move out of the way.

Basking In The Glorious Sun

Basking In The Glorious Sun

That night, we parked at a campsite for the first time. It was great since we had power for the first time. We charged all our electronics and I caught up on my Twilight series. In the morning, we did laundry, lunched right outside our caravan, and enjoyed the cliff views overlooking the vast ocean. We didn’t see any dolphins but when we returned back to the Petrified Forest at noon, we were once again very lucky to spot an endangered Yellow-Eyed penguin sunbathing on the rocks. Yellow-eyed penguins are very territorial and like to be spread out. This penguin had not been accepted by the clan yet, therefore had no home at this point in time.

Doing Laundry @ Campsite

Doing Laundry @ Campsite

Curio Bay

Curio Bay

For our next rare animal encounter, we headed to the Royal Albatross Centre in Otago Peninsula. While we were standing outside debating on the hefty entrance fee, there were many birds flying around. Someone once told me if I ever saw an Albatross, I would know right away. At that exact moment, I knew I was looking at an albatross as it soared right above us. With its friendly face smiling down at us and its magnificent wingspan breaking all records, I was feeling that high school crush again but this time, I was screaming, “It’s an albatross.”

Albatross Sighting For Free

Albatross Sighting For Free

Oh Magnificent Albatross

Oh Magnificent Albatross

Nearby, there was a group of people, growing in numbers, looking out onto the beach. As I made my way towards the crowd, I bumped into a friendly park ranger. He informed me the Little Blue Penguins were going to make their way home around 7pm. I walked to the sand to see what everyone was excited about. In front of me, behind a fence, was a blue penguin in its burrow. Ever so often, it would pop out as if it was anxiously waiting for someone. We waited until dark and then the most unbelievable thing happened. In the water, there was a group of torpedoes making its way closer to the shore. Then these tiny things hopped onto the beach and wobbled their way towards us. It was the world’s smallest blue penguin after another. When they made their way back home, the sounds they made were the joyous sounds I have ever heard. I felt bliss, hope, and love for these little creatures that take risks all the time when they leave their homes to feed.

Little Blue Penguin

Little Blue Penguin

Now that I was satisfied with my penguin sightings, I had no expectations of SandFly Beach. After 2 hours of walking in the hot sand dunes, we finally made it to the beach. We later realized there was a road that would have brought us directly to the beach without all that hiking. I just wanted to jump into that freezing cold water and lay on the beach. While I tried to embrace the sun, I saw large mounts of sand randomly across the beach. I went for a walk and as I got closer to one of the large mounts, it started to move. When I saw what it was, my face stood frozen and I was suddenly unable to talk or move. It was a remarkable moment and it felt as if I went exploring on the wild beaches of New Zealand and found a new subspecie. It turned out to be a sea lion, a male Hooker’s Sea Lion to be exact.

Hike Into Sandfly Beach

Hike Into Sandfly Beach

Fattest Sea Lion Ever

Fattest Sea Lion Ever

Frontal View Of A Hooker's Sea Lion

Frontal View Of A Hooker's Sea Lion

HUGE

HUGE

Which One Is The Sea Lion Again?

Which One Is The Sea Lion Again?

Now this was something I could not find back home. If time is limited on your visit to the South Island, head straight for the Otago Peninsula.

Moeraki Boulders

Moeraki Boulders

The Silly Four

The Silly Four (photo by Damien)

Me & Frenchie

Me & Frenchie

Wonderful Reststop

Wonderful Reststop

Sunset

Sunset

Flickr Photoset | Slideshow

New Zealand South: Our Arrival In Sheep Country

By , January 13, 2011 5:00 am
Panoramic View Of Queen Charlotte Sound

Panoramic View Of Queen Charlotte Sound

New Zealand was high on my list of places to see before I die. Every photograph I have seen promised raw and grand landscapes. Boris and I were both very excited to finally set foot on New Zealand. Our first stop was the Southern Island where our friends, Coralie and Damien, from France, were meeting us.

Our Home On Wheels

Our Home On Wheels

We got lucky with our caravan, as it was quite roomy for 4 people with separate sleeping and eating areas. It was a different lifestyle for us as the only things we had to pay for, on top of our rental, was food and gas, which alone was still pretty pricey. We cooked most of our meals and tried to hit the larger supermarkets, which had a larger selection and lower prices. At night, whenever we started to feel tired, we would try to find a good spot to rest, preferably right next to the beach. The mornings were the best part as we were awoken by the sounds of the waves, birds, fur seals, and sometimes ongoing traffic.

Kaikoura Coast

Kaikoura Coast

I'm Trying To Get Some Sleep

I'm Trying To Get Some Sleep

Having two boys onboard definitely calls for attention. Their instinctive behavior truly came out whenever we were parked by the beach. It began with a manhunt for wood and then building a fire. I admit it was lots of fun as we got to toast marshmallows by the fire. However, I definitely advise against cooking on the beach as we always ended up with sand in our food.

Our Friends, Damien & Coralie

Our Friends, Damien & Coralie

One of my favorite activities up north was the Puponga hilltop walk. As we stood on a wooden platform, close to the edge of the cliff, staring out into the sea and the spectacular Cape Farewell Arch, I just didn’t understand how the views were going to get any better. As we ascended up to the hilltops, the trail consisted of mostly grassy fields covered with grazing sheep just staring at us. In New Zealand, it was definitely the sheep that have the best views. It makes sense, as there is more than 20 sheep for every human!

Cape Farewell Arch

Cape Farewell Arch

Start Of Puponga Hilltop Walk

Start Of Puponga Hilltop Walk

Gazing Sheep

Gazing Sheep

Time To Relax

Time To Relax

The grass trail suddenly ended and then it felt like déjà vu and I was back in Mui Ne, Vietnam. In front of us was large sand dunes and Whariki Beach. I let the three Frenchies have some alone time. As they were sliding down the sand dunes, I found a nice spot on the soft sand to rest. While watching them from afar, it dawned on me that I was traveling the world, something I always wanted to do. Yes, I forget sometimes and when I’m reminded of it, it does shock me still.

Whariki Beach

Whariki Beach

Go Boris!

Go Boris!

I was soon awoken from my nap when it started to sprinkle. We all ran inside one of the large caves and waited for the rain to stop. Luckily, there were no sea lions hiding inside.

Be Careful Of Sea Lions In The Caves

Be Careful Of Sea Lions In The Caves

1, 2, 3 ... Freeze

1, 2, 3 ... Freeze

More to share on our next post of the South Island.

A Cuddly Teddy Bear

A Cuddly Teddy Bear

Oyster Catcher

Oyster Catcher

Heron

Heron

Golden Kiwi

Golden Kiwi

Super Yummy NZ Meat Pie

Super Yummy NZ Meat Pie

Foxglove Flowers, Beautiful But Poisonous

Foxglove Flowers, Beautiful But Poisonous

Queen Charlotte Sound

Queen Charlotte Sound

Me & The Frenchies

Me & The Frenchies

Short Walk At Te Waikoropupu Springs

Short Walk At Te Waikoropupu Springs

Te Waikoropupu Springs

Te Waikoropupu Springs

Farewell Split

Farewell Split

Amazing Views That Keep Coming

Amazing Views That Keep Coming

What We Paid: New Zealand
Dollars
USD Euro
– Caravan Rental + Mileage + Insurance (shared among 4 people) 214/day 163 126
– Fuel 46/day 35 27
– Groceries 16/pp day 12 10

Flickr Photoset | Slideshow

Colombia: Lost In Tayrona

By , October 25, 2010 5:00 am
Tayrona National Park

Tayrona National Park

It seems wherever we go the rain comes with us. We were hesitant about going to Tayrona with the bad weather, but our friends who went before, convinced us it was a must-see. We stocked up on some snacks and on the local bus to Tayrona we went.

Through the jungle we hiked in our sandals. It was wet most of the way so we had to walk in mud. There were many moments when the mud actually reached our knees. We quickly realized we were better off wearing nothing on our feet. Over time, I still did not get used to stepping in the wet mud but I got good at it. There were so many ants, especially large red ones, and when we weren’t watching where we stepped, those suckers bit hard. Worse than that, there were many thorny branches so we had to be super careful not to step on or bump into one.

Hiking In Mud

Hiking In Mud

After two hours, we were finally rewarded with sun, soft sand, and sounds of waves crashing. It was a beautiful moment and all we wanted to do was to jump in the water but unfortunately we had to hike 30 more minutes to a safe swimmable area. Along the way, I kept seeing scenes from the television series, “Lost”.

Backdrop Of Palm Trees And Jungle

Backdrop Of Palm Trees And Jungle

Feels Like Paradise

Feels Like Paradise

Our final stop in Tayrona was El Cabo. It was truly a postcard shot with the beach, large rocks, and a backdrop of palm trees and jungle. In the middle of two beaches was a two story wooden bungalow. On the first floor were just hammocks and on the second floor were four private rooms. We rented two hammocks and had a great sleep under the star lit sky.

Welcome To Cabo

Welcome To Cabo

Hammocks With Memorable Views

Hammocks With Memorable Views

We are so thankful the bad, turned to good, weather we had during our three days in Tayrona. Ironically, my favorite moment was when it rained. It was just a wonderful feeling to be swimming in the cool seawater and having raindrops fall on us at the same time. Also, it was kind of nice having the entire beach to ourselves.

Let It Rain

Let It Rain

Rainbow After Rain

Rainbow After Rain

What We Paid: Colombian
Pesos
1800
USD eRate
2500
Euro eRate
Taganga
– Local bus from Taganga to Santa Marta: 20 mins 1,200 0.67 0.48
– Private Double Room at Casa Felipe Hostal:
fan only, private bathroom, shared kitchen, wifi, great staff, highly recommend
40,000 22.22 16.00
– Meals: DIY, supermarket in Santa Marta
– Bus from Cartagena to Taganga: 6 hours 40,000 22.22 16.00
Tayrona
– Park Entrance 34,000 18.89 13.60
– Shuttle Inside Park: Or walk 1 hour 2,000 1.11 0.80
– Hammock @ Cabo 25,000 13.89 10.00
– Breakfast 8,000 4.44 3.20
– Lunch 14,000 7.78 5.60
– Dinner 21,500 11.94 8.60
– Local Bus From Santa Marta To Tayrona: 1 hour 4,000 2.22 1.60
Tip 1: Buy Snacks in Santa Marta before going to the park
Tip 2: When leaving the park, there are lots of taxi’s who did a one-way drop off and would bring you back to Santa Marta for same price as the local bus

Flickr Photoset | Slideshow

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