Diving the Galápagos Islands, Ecuador

Diving the Galápagos

Having just completed my PADI Advanced Open Water Diver course, I was keen to put my new skills to the test. Diving in the Galápagos Islands seemed the perfect way to do this

We were pretty much winging our trip to the Galápagos Islands but we decided to pre-book our first hotel as well as our diving.

In the spirit of the Galápagos, we decided to break our budget for our first stop, and so checked into the rather luxurious Royal Palm Hotel in the centre of Santa Cruz island. It was nice to be away from bustling Puerto Ayora, cocooned within lush gardens with epic views across the island.

How to find a good camping spot: a guide

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While there are some things that you simply cannot plan for when camping, knowing how to find a good camping spot is essential

When I was young my Dad would tell a “funny” story of how he took my mother camping in Wales for the first time. They pitched in a dry riverbed and went to sleep cozy and comfortable after a hearty meal.

Alas, in Wales the weather is prone to change and so they awoke in a riverbed which had now become a river. My Dad would chuckle while he told the tale. My mother would look on far less impressed to say the least. They don’t camp much anymore.

San Agustin: the mystical funny faces of Colombia

San Agustin in Colombia faces lead image

San Agustin in Colombia is a sleepy little town buried in the rolling green hills of the southwestern part of the country. The town unfortunately lacks the pretty and quaint charms of colourful Guatape or adorable Salento, but makes up for it with Colombia’s finest archaeological park within walking distance.

Best South Pacific cruises: 5 stunning voyages

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Having spent six months of our trip crossing the ocean, we list the best South Pacific cruises and dream that one day, we’ll return to experience them all

The Pacific Ocean is the largest body of water in the world and the South Pacific is arguably the most beautiful. Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan first entered the Pacific on an expedition of world circumnavigation from 1519 to 1522.

Guatape: the best day trip in Colombia

A quaint and charming town awaits you in Guatape with colourful streets and quiet piazzas, while La Piedra Del Penol offers the best views in the land

When I’m about to visit a country for the first time, one of the first things I do is scan a guidebook and pick out a few highlights or must-sees. This can be dangerous business as you’re often putting yourself at the author’s subjective mercy.

When I first scanned our guidebook’s Colombian highlights I saw colonial towns, national parks and coffee plantations. After a month in Colombia, I can safely say that the best day I had there barely gets a mention in the guidebooks.

Cartagena in Colombia: 26 dos and don’ts

Cartagena in Colombia: the very name has an aura of old-world romance; of steamy hot days, winding city roads, and crumpled treasure maps.

Its charming architecture and interesting history certainly didn’t disappoint, but it was a baptism of fire after six months in the Pacific.

We quickly learned that there are two rules governing the streets of Colombia. First, do not offer papaya. Second, if papaya is offered, someone has to take it. They don’t mean papaya in the literal sense of course; it’s a byword for your valuables.

13 days that shook the world

days-that-shook-the-world-berlin wall - 1Lear 21/Creative Commons

Our travels are shaped by history. It dictates where we can and can’t go and has done so for explorers of centuries past. Major events throughout history have changed and defined the world we inhabit and explore today. Here, we take a look at some of the days that shook the world, creating notable and lasting effects that are still felt and seen today.

Welcome to fabulous Las Vegas: twinned with Great Yarmouth

WELCOME TO FABULOUS LAS VEGAS: TWINNED WITH GREAT YARMOUTH

I grew up in a small village called Caister-on-Sea near Great Yarmouth in Norfolk. Norfolk’s a pretty rural part of the UK, positioned on the east coast and buffeted by the North Sea. Although I left my home county over 12 years ago, and rarely return apart from the odd visit, I still have a lot of affection for the county I grew up in.

Off the beaten canyon: exploring Grand Canyon’s hidden gems

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There’s something familiar about the Grand Canyon. Its dramatic landscape and red-gold hues have been depicted in movies, posters, pencil cases and postcards. It’s a recurring symbol of the road movie, a faithful slice of wholesome Americana – and, yet, when you see it for the first time, it’s still daunting, still overwhelming.

Our unexpected great American road trip

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In two weeks, we have crossed four states on our American road trip, seeing an array of landscapes straight out of the movies

We never even planned to be in the US!

In fact, we should have been about 3,000 miles further south by the time we rocked up on Venice Beach in LA, mixing with the crowds of hippies, hipsters, tourists and homeless. I’ll admit that with my two-month old beard, huge backpack and threadbare flip flops, I blended in most with the latter.

In the two weeks since our arrival, we have crossed four states on our American road trip, seeing an array of landscapes straight out of the movies. From snowcapped mountain ranges to tumbleweed-strewn deserts, from glitzy casinos and roadside motels to the empty and silent towns of the Midwest, we saw it all. And it was magical.

Pearl Harbor Memorial: a Brit’s view

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Our day starts with a 50-minute wait for the bus in Honolulu’s main thoroughfare. An hour after that, we find ourselves crawling along in the capital’s multi-lane traffic – not what we imagined when we planned our eight-mile journey in this supposed island paradise.

Kia tosses me a look. “I hope this is worth it,” she says with a tone that sounds sweet to the ears but hides much promise of pain.

“It will be,” I assure her, quietly gulping.

Mauna Kea: summiting the world’s “tallest” mountain

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Why Hawaii’s Mauna Kea takes the crown as the world’s tallest mountain

Okay, so we all know that Mount Everest is Earth’s highest mountain, measuring at a staggering 8,848m (29,029ft) above sea level.

What’s less well known is that if you measure from base to peak, it’s not Everest but Hawaii’s Mauna Kea that takes the crown as the world’s tallest mountain. Mauna Kea lies largely hidden beneath the ocean surface but is a monumental 10,203m (33,476ft) in height from base to peak.

Why I’m actually happiest travelling with my girlfriend

travelling with my girlfriend

Okay, so I have to be very careful here. If I miss the mark on this I risk offending all women and marking myself out as a chauvinist pig. On top of that I’ll offend Kia and, trust me, Kia when angry redefines those famous sayings about women scorned.

So here we go.

16 fragile and failed states

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As we continue our trip around the globe, there are some areas of the world we are forced to avoid. Instability and unrest in these regions often make them unsafe or irresponsible choices for tourists.

When backpackers end up on a luxury cruise

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Talk about being out of our depth. Kia and I depart for Los Angeles today in rather ridiculous fashion considering our financial position: on a Princess luxury cruise!

We’ve been “stranded” in Tahiti for the past month, unable to afford flights eastwards to the Americas. We were planning to fly from Tahiti to Chile, but the cheapest flight we could find in December was in the thousands as opposed to hundreds. With that in mind, we took a modest room in Tahiti and relaxed for Christmas, hoping prices would drop in the new year.

15 unique hotels we love

At Atlas and Boots, we’re always on the lookout for new and exciting places to stay whether it’s a Samoan beach fale or a Tongan eco-lodge. If you’re looking for something a bit different this year, have a look at our favourite unique hotels from across the world.

How well do you know the countries of the EU?

City life: how not to let it crush your soul

Whether you’re British, European or from further afield, the European Union continues to divide opinion. Nearly everyone has a position on the subject, but do you know who’s in and who’s out?

Put yourself to the test and see how you measure up with our quick quiz below. How well do you know the countries of the EU?

Bora Bora lagoon tour: money well spent

If you do one thing, do the Bora Bora lagoon tour – you won’t regret it

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.

World’s most divisive destinations: should you go?

most visited countries in the worldAtlas & Boots

We look at some of the world’s most divisive destinations destinations that continue to pull in the crowds

Should we or shouldn’t we go?

There are some travel destinations that no matter how picture perfect their landscapes or how much history steeped in their ancient lands, will always provoke a strong reaction in traveller circles. Whether it’s for political, geographical or social reasons, the world’s most divisive destinations will likely divide opinion for a very long time.

Below we look at some of the most contentious and divisive destinations that rightly or wrongly pull in the tourist crowds year after year.