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12 things to do in the Faroe Islands

Our selection of the best things to do in the Faroe Islands, from searching for puffins on Mykines to strolling scenic streets.

Four days were never going to be enough. Lying adrift in the North Atlantic, the far-flung Faroes were once reserved for only the hardiest travellers. However, much has changed and today the 18 wild and windswept isles are drawing more and more visitors each year.

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6 best hikes in the Faroe Islands

The best hikes in the Faroe Islands offer a wonderful way to explore these wild and windswept isles.

Deep in the North Atlantic, there is a volcanic archipelago protruding from the untamed waters between Iceland and Norway. This remote clasp of 18 basalt rocks make up the Faroe Islands and are home to stirring fjords, dramatic cliffs and sweeping glaciated valleys.

These islands are repeatedly and relentlessly buffeted by the swells and squalls of the tempestuous Atlantic Ocean. As such, the Faroes feature some seriously exciting hiking trails with equally extraordinary scenery.

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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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Flinders Chase National Park: what not to miss

Flinders Chase National Park on Kangaroo Island is one of South Australia’s finest parks. We take a look at seven sights not to be missed.

Sprawled across the western end of Kangaroo Island, Flinders Chase National Park is home to wild coastline, diverse wildlife and some truly extraordinary landmarks. The park has steadily recovered from bushfires that destroyed over 400 sq km of land in 2007, and today offers a uniquely Australian landscape of sugar-gum canopies and mallee scrub.  Continue reading

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Learning to paddleboard in Scotland

I spent a week learning to paddleboard off the west coast of Scotland, the perfect setting for trying the world’s fastest growing water sport.

My only experience of standup paddleboarding (SUP) was the odd paddle at a beachside resort here and there. I’ve never liked surfing (I know that’s so uncool to admit) but I have always enjoyed kayaking whether it has been along the Thames in London or kayaking in more far-flung destinations.

So when I joined the Lady of Avenel for a tall ship sailing adventure recently, I was excited to learn it would be part of a wider paddleboarding trip organised by London-based SUP enthusiasts Active360.

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Tall ship sailing adventures off the west coast of Scotland

I joined the Lady of Avenel for a week of tall ship sailing adventures around the Inner Hebrides archipelago off the west coast of mainland Scotland.

This summer I joined the tall ship Lady of Avenel to sail around the Inner Hebrides archipelago. When the sails were furled we put kayaks and paddleboards overboard and headed for land, exploring wild beaches, craggy coves and traditional fishing villages en route.

Unhindered by ferry schedules, busy roads or hiking trails we could access some of the most remote scenery in Scotland; scenery that only the sea has passage to. The unique approach to tall ship sailing adventures provided by the Lady of Avenel combines traditional sailing with outdoor activities. Continue reading

Mont Saint-Michel: 10 dos and don’ts

Essential tips for visiting Mont Saint-Michel – the most fantastical building in France.

When it comes to French architecture, there are myriad contenders for the throne. The most notable is the Eiffel Tower, a world-famous symbol of Gallic ingenuity.

Then there’s the Louvre, possibly the most famous museum in the world. After that we have the Notre Dame and, in any chosen order, the Arc de Triomphe, Sacre Coeur, Palace de Versailles and the Pantheon.

Less famous but more impressive is Mont Saint-Michel, Normandy’s abbey on a rock in a bay.

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Colossal coasts: 10 largest islands in the world

We take a look at the largest islands in the world, from deserted Ellesmere Island in the Arctic Circle to metropolitan Honshu in Japan.

We’ve spent a fair amount of time on islands. Not only were we born and raised on one, but island destinations appear to be a reoccurring theme on our travels.

In 2014, we started Atlas & Boots with a six-month journey across the South Pacific via Vanuatu, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Cook Islands, French Polynesia and Hawaii. Our latest extended trip has seen us spend a month in Sri Lanka shortly followed by another in Mauritius. Continue reading

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Visiting Easter Island: the middle of nowhere

I’m going to begin with a bold statement: visiting Easter Island deserves a place amid the Seven Wonders of the World, easily surpassing Christ the Redeemer and arguably one or two others as well.

Between us, Kia and I have visited all seven wonders and believe that visiting Easter Island deserves a place among mankind’s greatest constructions. Out there in the middle of nowhere, it is often forgotten compared with mainstream monuments and structures. But it shouldn’t be forgotten and it really shouldn’t be missed. For so many reasons, we left our hearts on Easter Island out there in the middle of the Pacific. 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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How to visit Bora Bora on a budget

This article featured on Lonely Planet as one of their top posts from December 2014.

It’s Friday night and we’re seated in Bora Bora’s yacht club a few metres away from the capital of Vaitape. Next to me sits Tim, a yacht broker who’s in town to examine Noble House, a gorgeous two-storey yacht that’s been put up for sale by its Texan owner.

Opposite me sit Pedro and Scott, the yacht’s engineers who have many stories to tell about life on board. The yacht, I’m told, can be rented for £250,000 per week – mere pocket change for some of the club’s clientele. And, so, the obvious question is: what the hell are two backpackers doing in Bora Bora sipping cocktails in the company of the rich and richer?

The answer is that we’re DIY-ing Bora Bora. We don’t have access to overwater bures, luxury bathrobes or gourmet cuisine; we’re doing it on the cheap. Backpacking here may not be the quintessential Bora Bora experience but for those unable to do it any other way, here’s how we did Bora Bora on a budget. Continue reading

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Rarotonga tips: 5 things to know before you go

One of the disadvantages of travelling in the South Pacific (if there can be such a thing) is the lack of infrastructure for backpackers. It can be done on a shoestring but it’s certainly more difficult than say Southeast Asia or Europe. At home in London, we knew no-one that had visited places like Tonga or Rarotonga, so first-hand wisdom was very hard to come by. We largely managed with internet research and guidebook information – until we got to Rarotonga where we were hit by a few surprises. Below, we share the Rarotonga tips learnt to help future visitors prepare for what’s in store. Continue reading

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Rarotonga Cross Island Walk: probably the best hike in the South Pacific

The Rarotonga Cross Island Walk is one of the best hikes in the South Pacific. Even the most inexperienced hiker can get up there with a bit of care.

We stood outside our hostel, staring up at the morning sky. It had been raining all night long and the ominous clouds still threatened to thwart our plans. Adrienne, the hostel owner, had already warned us against doing the Rarotonga Cross Island Walk.

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The second-best seats on the best flight in the world

The best flight in the world is surely over the Tongan archipelagos of Vava’u and Ha’apai, streaking across the bright blue skies with glorious views below.

We’ve been on the road for three months now and taken 15 flights and counting. Ever since we first left continental Australia there’s been some breathtaking aerial views from our windows across the Pacific thousands of feet below.

In general, we have reserved air travel for international journeys, using inter-island ferries instead for domestic trips. However, we were short of time in Tonga and weren’t prepared to spend 24 hours or more travelling between the island groups. Continue reading

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5 unmissable natural wonders of Samoa

Samoa is made up of two main islands, ‘Upolu and Savai’i. We split our time evenly between the two and were never short of activities to fill our days. Despite its tiny size, the natural wonders of Samoa are vast. I suggest hiring a 4WD on each of the islands and spending a day driving round and taking in the natural landscapes along the way. The roads are quiet and pretty much hug the coast on both the islands making it almost impossible to get lost. (I say ‘almost’ because I had Kia as my navigator…) Continue reading

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Diving Juno Wreck with turtles in Samoa

Diving Juno Wreck with turtles in Samoa was a unique experience. Getting up close and personal to underwater wildlife like this is just incredible.

“You’ll either love it or find it extremely depressing,” reads the guidebook description of Satoalepai Turtle Sanctuary.

I’ve never been a huge fan of zoos and captive wild animals, so when I read about the chance to go diving Juno Wreck with turtles in Samoa at the sanctuary I decided to pass. Maybe I’d get a chance to see them in the wild… Continue reading

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Pimp my bus ride: Samoan buses are a unique experience

Samoan buses are uncomfortable, noisy and won’t run on time. But that’s the fun of it! Even if you have nowhere to go in Samoa, take a bus somewhere. 

We wanted to get out of Apia and head to the south coast. We’d heard the waters were incredible and there were some great natural sights to see. Taxis are expensive and as we are on a budget the bus was the answer. We’ve taken plenty of buses across the Pacific islands now, but this one was a little bit different. 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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Aore Island: a week in seclusion

Aore Island lies 2.6 kilometres off Espiritu Santo’s coast, opposite the island’s capital, Luganville. It is easily accessed by a short ferry ride across the Segond Channel. We’ve spent a week at Aore Island Resort, hosted by Anne, the warm and friendly Australian owner who bought the resort around 10 years ago. The resort has 18 cosy but spacious bungalows set amid neat, tidy and well-kept gardens. The resort backs onto a charming coconut palm plantation and is surrounded by local farms. Continue reading