Visiting Boulders Penguin Colony, Cape Town

Boulders Penguin Colony near Cape Town is home to 3,000 African penguins – but does it live up to the hype?

The ‘African Penguin’ is a contradiction in terms. Somehow, the hottest continent on Earth is home to a bird most often associated with the coldest: Antarctica. And yet, the three species of penguin I’ve seen have all resided in warm climes: the Galápagos Penguin off Isabela Island which lies right on the equator, the Little Penguin in super-dry, super-hot Australia and now the African Penguin in Boulders Penguin Colony in South Africa.

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Whitehaven Beach: is it really the best in the world?

With swathes of white sand curving like a dervish around a vivid blue sea and a reputation for unparalleled beauty, would Whitehaven Beach beat everything we’ve seen?

It’s fair to say that Peter is not a beach baby. Give him a stretch of sand and he’ll search for a kayak to go off exploring. Give him sunny skies and he’ll plan a day of solo sailing. It’s no surprise then that he was dubious about our visit to Whitehaven Beach. On boarding the Providence V, he was clearly more excited about the journey there and back rather than the beach itself. Continue reading

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Sailing the Whitsunday Islands from Airlie Beach, Australia

The sheltered waters of the Coral Sea off Queensland’s tropical coast are best explored by boat. Here’s our account of sailing the Whitsunday Islands.

Home to 74 tropical islands, the Whitsundays are perfect for sailing. Dotted along the beautiful tropical coast of Queensland, fringed and sheltered by the Great Barrier Reef, the picturesque islands are home to some of the finest beaches in the world.

One’s gaze is immediately drawn to Whitehaven Beach, repeatedly named one of the best beaches in Australia and indeed the world. With 74 islands to choose from, however, there are secret beaches hiding around every secluded bay. Continue reading

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Great Ocean Road attractions: the musts, shoulds and coulds

We list the best Great Ocean Road attractions you must see, should see and could see along the way. 

The Great Ocean Road in Australia is one of the world’s most scenic coastal drives and one of Lonely Planet’s Epic Drives of the World. Stretching for 243km along the southeastern coast of Australia, the road showcases some of the country’s most dramatic coastal scenery.

The Great Ocean Road runs between the Victorian towns of Torquay and Allansford and was built between 1919 and 1932 by soldiers returning from World War I. It is dedicated to soldiers killed during the war and as such is the world’s largest war memorial. Continue reading

Things to do on Kangaroo Island, Australia

From charming wildlife to soaring sand dunes, we share the best things to do on Kangaroo Island in Australia.

Kangaroo Island doesn’t get much billing among the famous sights of Australia. There’s Uluru of course and the Great Barrier Reef and the cities of Sydney and Melbourne, but Kangaroo Island remains less known – perhaps no bad thing.

Home to around 60,000 kangaroos, this island has more roos than it does people. The roads are straight and empty and the pace of life is slow: a little bit prairie, a little homegrown. Continue reading

Rio de Janeiro: the world’s most photogenic city?

Rio de Janeiro is a vibrant, colourful, life-affirming city. Here, we illustrate why it was the perfect way to end our year-long trip around the world.

We are ensconced in a small Copacabana hostel in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It is by far the worst accommodation we’ve had in months. Contrary to the decidedly lovely pictures on the hostel website, our bedroom is tiny, stuffy, smelly and inexplicably noisy.

With maddening frequency, a loud foghorn judders through the water pipes, keeping us up all night long. We don’t know what it is; just that it’s drip-driving us crazy.

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The best beaches we’ve ever seen

When I first went on holiday I was 18 and on the lookout for the perfect beach. You know the sort: powdery white sand and clear turquoise water set against a blazing blue sky. I’ve seen beautiful beaches in Barbados, Tunisia, Thailand, Mexico and Dubai, but none were quite the same as the brochures and billboards.

They were either lined with high-rise hotels (Waikiki), filled with tourists (Ko Phi Phi), or not quite as soft and powdery as the pictures would have you believe. Eventually, I decided that all the adverts were photoshopped beyond reality and that there was no such thing as the perfect beach. And then I went to the Maldives and Fiji and Samoa, and I found what I was looking for. Continue reading

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Bora Bora lagoon tour: money well spent

When we landed in Bora Bora, we were worried. Really worried.

It was the worst weather we’d seen in the Pacific. And I’m not talking about the tropical storm with torrential downpours and billowing breakers kind of bad weather, which is wretched but at least dramatic. I’m talking about miserable damp-towel, grey skies and sodden ground kind of bad weather. The sort of bad weather that signifies winter (and autumn and spring and often summer) in London – the sort of tedium we were trying to escape.

“I’m sure it will burn off,” I said confidently to Kia, not entirely convinced by my own optimism.

Luckily for us, it did burn off… after three days! Continue reading

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The Samoa beach fale: a million-dollar view without the price tag

Samoa doesn’t have much in the way of luxury accommodation. Apart from a spattering of three-star resorts spread over the two main islands and a motley collection of motels and lodges in Apia, there is only the Samoa beach fale left to choose from. On first impression, they may seem a bit basic but scratch the surface and you’ll find beauty and tranquillity to match the most luxurious of resorts.

For those unfamiliar with this charming offering, a fale is basically a small wall-less wooden hut on stilts with decked floors and a thatched roof. Palm leaf louvre shutters can be dropped to provide shelter and privacy but apart from that, they’re pretty open. Oh, and I should probably mention that they’re usually located over the most pristine turquoise waters and glowing white sands you’ll ever see! Continue reading

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City girl, country boy: camping together for the first time

I’ve always been impressed with Kia when it comes to outdoor adventuring. Ever since our first big trip when we spent a day hiking through the Cambodian jungle beneath torrential downpours, Kia has proved remarkably resilient.

We’ve since hiked to the top of slippery peaks, caved in pitch-black darkness deep underground and waded through icy cold rivers in the highlands and she’s always handled it with grace and mettle.

In fact, when it came to skydiving she put me to shame, barely even flinching as she launched herself out of a plane from 12,000 feet. She has certainly earned her stripes, so I figured it was time to put her to the test and go camping together for the first time. And what better place to do it than a tropical beach? Continue reading

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Untouched by tourism: Tanna Island in Vanuatu

After a week of comfortable self-catering in Efate, followed by a fairly luxurious week on Aore Island, Santo, it was time to get back to basics, cast off the First World, and experience a bit of real Ni-Van culture. We knew that our adventure would really begin here: on Tanna Island in Vanuatu, a 40-minute flight south east of Port Vila on an island just 40 kilometres long and 25 kilometres wide. We stayed on the east side of the island at Port Resolution Yacht Club, which sits above a beautiful calm bay. The glow of the island’s active volcano, Mt Yasur, can be seen from miles around and acts as a beacon to travellers and locals alike. We spent five nights at Port Resolution and we loved it – here’s why. Continue reading

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Not surfing in Taghazout, Morocco

You don’t have to be Australian, a sun-bleached “dude”, or even a surfer to enjoy this quiet little gem. Most people, including me, go to Morocco for the deserts, the Atlas Mountains, Marrakesh or to visit some of the romantic (sounding) cities of Casablanca or Essaouira. Some may venture south to the resort-town of Agadir, which unfortunately feels more Costa Del Sol than Arabian dream. Few, though, will visit Taghazout, a small, quaint village 20km north of Agadir on the main coast road. Continue reading