Curious turtles, resident manta rays, “naked corals” and rare birds: Lady Elliot Island in Queensland (Australia) is not comparable to any other island you have ever seen before. Due to it’s geographic isolation this southernmost coral cay of the Great Barrier Reef has an exceptional wildlife above and below the water. The island lies 85 km north-east of Bundaberg and you can only reach it by plane (there are daily flights from Bundaberg, Hervey Bay, Brisbane and the Gold Coast). In 1816, the island was officially discovered by Captain Thomas Stuart and named aboard his vessel Lady Elliot. But the nickname of Lady Elliot remains Shipwreck Island because several ships floundered ot its reef. And you can still spot some pieces of them at low tide, when the corals “undress”. I spent one day and one night on the island but the fact of it being located directly on the reef left me speechless all the time. If you are neither interested in rays nor in birds: just go to the beach, observe the water moving and have a yummy picknick. And enjoy this island where everything is located at the beach! Lady Elliot is home to an eco resort (the only accommodation, prices from 118 euros per person and night including meals and activities) and an airstrip is crossing the entire island, which is fun to see from above.While walking around you should watch out though…Both, low and high tide have their advantages. During the low tide you can walk around the coral reefs like in a mushroom forest – just a bit prettier. During the high tide you can go snorkling just straight to the beach, no need to pick a boat or swim out to a reef. Lady Elliot has the highest seabird diversity of any island within the Great Barrier Reef (over 100,000). Most of them are very relaxed during the day… During the high tide all the corals hide once again and you have your regular beach back.One part of the island is sandy, the other one full with fossils and shellfish.Low tide once again. It turned the beach into some sort of blue and green leopard fur and I could stay there for hours watching the water leave and come back again.Luckily I found a comfy chair for my observations…Put my prettiest little black dress on for the date with Mr. Turtle. Turtles are actually shy and difficult to approach, not so in Lady Elliot. They are so curious that they even turn around to see who you are. Maybe it doen’t work with guys thoug…The island is home to 40 manta rays and many more come for a visit. This is the view from the glass-bottom boat, but it’s so much better to see one of the world’s biggest fish (measuring up to 8 meters between wingtips) “flying” over your head and covering the sun while you are diving. Manta rays are friendly, they mostly eat plankton and need 14 percent of their body weight per day. This fact keeps them pretty busy. The white lighthouse, built in 1873 to guide the ships of miners, is not longer in use. But it’s still Lady Elliot’s landmark and a perfect place to watch the sunset.As they announced a “sunset picknick” I was expecting some chips, nuts and a beer to be honest, but I’m totally fine with oysters and wine as well…And even the sharks joined our beach party after the sun has set.The birds of Lady Elliot Island work as an opposite alarm clock. When they start to scream it’s definitely time to go to bed. Unfortunately I’ve noticed the earplugs the morning AFTER the night concert…There is another advantage of only being able to reach the island per plane: the views you get on the way there. The island below is mine! I hope there are no birds though…
If you have ever been to Iceland in summer, you won’t recognize it if you go in winter. It’s not better or worse, it’s just like visiting a completely different country. And if you think Iceland looks grey, dark and uncozy during the wintertime, you gonna be really surprised how many colours can show up during one single trip. You will see the sunrise and the sunset every day, even if you are a lazy tourist and love to sleep, because the sun rises at 11 a.m. and goes down at 3 p.m. There is one colour you should be careful with though: the green of the nordic lights. The Japanese believe it brings a lot of babys… So here are my ten favorite things to do in Iceland in winter, I´ve experienced on my last trip with WOW Air, Iceland’s only low cost airline:
1. VÍK, THE BLACK BEACHThe black sand beach of Vík in South Iceland (180 km away from Reykjavik) is counted as one of the ten most beautiful non-tropical beaches on earth. In winter it’s all covered by snow, but you can still recognize the black colour on the rock formation Reynisdrangar in the middle of the sea (picture below) and on the tiny space between water and snow the waves leave everytime they go back (picture above).Plenty of space in Iceland: on the streets and in the nose…2. WATERFALLSDuring a trip in the Golden Circle, the most famous route in South Iceland, you usually get to see 3 waterfalls: Skógarfoss (first picture), Gullfoss (second picture) und Seljalandsfoss (picture below). All of them are beautiful in a different way: Skógarfoss has a nice setting, Gullfoss is incredibly big, but Seljalandsfoss always used to be my favorite one. You can walk behind it (but watch your step on the icy stairs!) and search for a treasure. 3. FOODPretty sure everybody will like the first dish: icelandic lobster in the traditional Fjorubordid-Restaurant. After that on the pictures below: smoked puffin (yes, the cute bird) in Hotel Rangá, horse meat carpaccio with parmigiano in Cava-Restaurant and Hákarl (rotten shark) from a local supermarket.4. GEYSERSBig plans need big cars. But seriously: in Iceland this size of wheels really makes sence. Like on our way to the geysers of the Haukadalur valley. Strokkur (the geyser on the picture below) erupts every 10 minutes up to 35 meters high. Can you spot the two tiny tourists right to it? There are more than 40 other little hot springs in the area but you are not allowed to touch them because the water can get up to 90 degrees hot. When we were standing in front of Stokkur the sun started to rise and it has been such a magical moment when all the steam got colloured in purple, yellow and finally red. 5. HOT POTSDue to the geothermal activity there are a lot of hot springs all over the country. Some of them are boiling but some have just the right temperature to bath in. These natural jacuzzis – the so called hot pots – are a very important part of the icelandic culture. It’s not just about having a bath. It’s about meeting your friends and family, having a drink, discussing things. The most famous and most touristic hot pot of Iceland is probably the Blue Lagoon (pictures above, tickets for 35 euros – at least the beauty mask is for free) near the airport. But every town bath also has a couple of hot pots outside (tickets for aprox. 5 euros). See the beauty essentials we brought with us on the picture below hahaAnother way to try out a hot pot would be booking a hotel with a hot pot, such as Rangá Hotel. The only obstacle: The hot pots were outside and we had to walk through the snow to get there. With a couple of local beers before no problem…After two beers we even started talking to the bear in the lobby.Still don’t know if it was a good idea to put my Havaianas on for the way to the hot pot. We had minus 17 degrees on that day, if you want to know…Before I left for this trip I promised my Mom always to wear my hat. I kept my promise, Mom!6. WALKING ON THE GLACIERWalking on the Sólheimajökull glacier with spikes under your shoes and a piolet in your hand during the sunset is one of the most breathtaking experiences in Iceland. This glacier is melting away due to the climate change and will disappear completely approximately in 100 years.7. SHOPPINGNever say “Norwegian sweater” in Iceland! It’s Icelandic, even if they look completely the same to us. The Icelandic ones are supposed to keep you warmer though, because they are made from the wool of a special sheep. Anyway, both look nice.The local outdoor label is called 66°NORTH (I had enough money for a hat haha). If you are looking for some hip clothes, you better go to one of the numerous second hand shops in Reykjavik, like Spúútnik on the pictures below. The best thing about shopping in Iceland: it’s duty free when you shop over 25 euros. Just get your taxes (15 percent) back at the airport! 8. LAVA TUBE CAVESIf you think the Blue Mountains are beautiful (25 minutes drive from Reykjavik), wait to explore the hidden world underneath them. All over Iceland lava tubes from the volcanoes have created a huge cave system. The Leiðarendi cave (3000 years old, means “the dead end”) we climbed down into, looked like a castle made of icicles and lava. And from time to time I even had to crawl on my belly from one “room” to another. 9. SNORKELING BETWEEN THE CONTINENTSYeah! It´s minus 19 outside and we go snorkeling! Sounds weird, but the Silfra fissure in the Pinvellir National Park got voted under the top ten dive and snorkeling sites in the world. So we just had to try it! The Silfra fissure is actually a crack between the North American and Eurasian continents, which drift apart about 2 cm per year. So you basically snorkel between Europe and America! There are even places where you can touch both continents at the same time. The second reason the Silfra fissure is so special: The visibility is over 100 meters and I´ve never seen so many different shades of green and blue in my life. The water (about 3 degrees) comes from the nearby Langjökull glacier and needs up to 100 years until it reaches the Silfra fissure – this works like a perfect natural filter. The dry suit will not let the water run inside, they told me. Well, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t…The Silfra fissure doesn’t look special at all from outside, but wait until you jump in!So this is how snorkeling between America and Europe looks like (the picture above is by Arctic Adventures). My underwater camera was dead from the first second it touched the icy water. We stayed inside for about 40 minutes and when we walked out, the boys had icicles in their beards and I had icicles on my lashes. But we felt pretty cool to be honest…10. REYKJAVIKReykjavik is the world’s northernmost capital but I promise you will not feel cold at all. Why? To get from one bar to another you just have to cross the Laugavegur street (well, the good looking guys are also a reason). And there are a lot of nice places to have a drink at . My suggestions: Cava (pictures below) is a bar upstairs and a restaurant downstairs, Kaffibarrinn is famous for it’s famous people hanging around there, Micro Bar has it’s own brewery, Kaldi Bar spreads some kind of industrial charme and you can do you laundry and have a brunch at the Laundromat Cafe. Try Reykavik’s most famous hotdog at Beajarins Beztu Pylsur! The super modern concert hall Harpa has become a landmark of the city. Another special thing to visit: Phallusmuseum where you can find over 280 animal penises. You can book all these tours with Arctic Adventures! Lava caving and snorkeling are available from 189 euros per person as a combo, a Golden Circle safari from 300 euros, glacier hiking & ice climbing from 131 euros. Fly to Iceland with WOW air starting from 59 euros per ticket!
Hey guys, I´ve got a new underwater camera (Nikon Coolpix AW110). Actually it´s my first underwater camera, but a “new underwater camera” sounds more professional. So I tested my NEW underwater camera when I was in the Maldives (or so to say: under the Maldives) last month. I tested it on corals, turtles, sharks and girls. And I am really happy about the results because I didn´t read any intstructions and the pictures still came up like if I did. So if you are not too crazy about underwater photography (or lazy like me) and just want some memories once in a while, this camera might be a good suggestion for you. Ah, and it´s 18 meter waterproof!The real reason why people go snorkling in the Maldives: Romy from Robinson Club Maldives. She shows her guests the best spots around the island twice a day. Poor guys forget to breathe haha
If you are staying in a hotel in the South of Mauritius, one thing you should definitely book is a catamaran trip. There are trips on every coast but this is the most popular one. They say it´s because you can see the dolphins (which is probably the case on 99 % of catamaran tours worldwide), snorkle (get ready to say hi to one fish you wouldn´t even care about in Egypt) and spot a weird coral which looks like a mushroom (this is really a funny picture though). But to me, the really special thing about this trip is the fact that you can see the beautiful mountain landscape of the island (since you don´t get to see a lot of it staying in the South) and notice how fast they get covered by clouds and the weather changes. Well, and it´s certainly not too bad being the whole day on a boat with some drinks, music and a barbecue, loosing half of your bikini while jumping into the water and… don´t forget the dolphins! So the first thing we did when we arrived at our hotel Shanti Maurice and had some indian style pancakes was to head straight to a catamaran tour.The dolphins. Amazing.This is how a bar works on a catamaran…Banana steak anyone?As you can see, snorkling is very popular at this place…A mushroom? After three of these rainbow cocktails this coral could be anything to me.
Rio has Copacabana, Cannes has the Croisette, Tobago has Pigeon Point. It is often considered as the most beautiful beach of the island and the thatch-roofed jetty has become the official signature of Tobago. You pay a small entry fee, but the beach facilities are excellent. They´ve got showers, beach-chair rentals, restaurants and some water-sports shops with good looking teachers. Scroll down for some visual information… Unfortunately you can´t see the backwards roll I did on the board on any of these pictures but thank you, Duane from Stand Up Paddling Tobago, for making me look professional without any talent.The Pigeon Point jetty is also the place where the glas bottom boats leave for a Buccoo Reef tour (nice for snorkling) and for No Man´s Land which is a perfect little island for having a swim or a barbecue or both. One of the most exciting spots during our tour was probably the Nylon Pool, an in-sea shallow white ground coral pool. What´s so exciting about it (except the color)? They say swimming in it makes you look 10 years younger. Wearing a swimsuit which doesn´t let you breathe (like mine) probably does the same…Look at this guy, he is already over 60!No Man´s Land is really tiny, I can walk around it. But we had some work to do.On the way back practicing some Soca moves for the evening party at Pigeon Point (every weekend, even on sundays!). I was wondering if the Nylon Pool spell worked and I was too young to stay till midnight though…
Cayo Largo (long island) is the second largest island of the Canarreos Archipelago after Isla de la Juventud. It is said to have the most beautiful beaches and corals reefs of Cuba. Inspite of the fact that there are 5 hotels and an airport on the island, it has no residents. All the staff goes home after 20 days of work. The only guys who are allowed to stay all the time on this 25 kilometers long island are some funny looking animals. The most people come to Cayo Largo because of it´s amazing beaches. I came because of it´s amazing “zoo”. I even have at home one of the exotic animals I´ve found on this island.We had some free days after our tour around Cuba and before our flight back home. So we decided to book a trip to Cayo Largo at our hotel in Varadero, which I guess is the easiest way to get there. You fly to the island with a small propeller-driven airplane and sometimes you are lucky enough to have it all to yourself (look at my Mom´s face). Don´t fall asleep on your way there, the view from the airplane is a beautiful sneak peek to what is expecting you.
Close to La Marina harbour, where the catamarans are waiting for the tour to get started, there is a small sea turtles farm. They help sea turtles to survive in Cayo Largo, especially during the egg deposition period (only few baby turtles are able to reach the sea). There are also some tubs where ill turtles are treated before being freed back in the sea.Cayo Iguana was the first stop on our catamaran cruise. It is a tiny island inhabited by iguanas. You can walk around and get really close to them.My Mom tried to make friends with some. And they didn´t mind as long she had something to eat…… but then they showed their real face…and she had to run away from them across the whole islandMy new best friend was much more friendly and we even had something in common: 1. We don´t see anything without glasses…2. We love having lunch in a comfortable positionAfter having some lobster on the boat (the captain was also an excellent cook, unfortunatelly married) we switched to the aquarium department of our “zoo” island. And then, nearly at the end of our trip I finally found him: the most exotic animal of Cayo Largo. This white labrador was a a big star on Playa Sirena and looked completely like my dog Lila. We had a lot of fun, althought he didn´t even have an idea what I mean with “sit”.