Isla Mujeres

Isla Mujeres
Isla Mujeres
Isla Mujeres
Isla Mujeres
Beach Huts For Hire
Beach Huts For Hire
Souvenirs
Souvenirs
Souvenirs
Souvenirs
Fishing Boats
Fishing Boats
Isla Mujeres
Isla Mujeres

Isla Mujeres is 30 minutes to an hour ferry ride from Cancun depending on which ferry you ended up onboarding. It is an island off Cancun. It’s small and reasonable quiet. If you decide to check out the markets, the persistent shop assistants from the tacky souvenirs shops are unavoidable. There are many restaurants along the beach ready to provide good customer service and serve a variety of delicious Mexican cocktails with mozarella sticks and bufallo chicken wings. You will also find roaming Mexican female masseuse offering a nice relaxing massage whilst you smell the scent of sea salt and listen to the waves of the Carribean Sea. Ahhh, life is good.

TIP: The price of the huts for hire along the beach are included in your minimum food order.

Cancun

An aerial view of Hotel Zone of Cancun  (image from Google)
An aerial view of Hotel Zone of Cancun (image from Google)
Cancun Sunset
Cancun Sunset
Pencil Souvenirs
Pencil Souvenirs
Wall Art
Wall Art
Warm Turquoise Water
Warm Turquoise Water
We stayed  in Casa Magna Marriott. (image from Google)
We stayed in Casa Magna Marriott. (image from Google)
Cancun Wharf
Cancun Wharf
Hard Rock Cafe, Cancun
Hard Rock Cafe, Cancun
Souvenirs
Souvenirs
Sparkly Mexican Hats
Sparkly Mexican Hats
Downtown
Downtown

In the northeast coast of the Yucatán Peninsula lies a major world-renowned tourist destination that is Cancun. The city is located on the Caribbean Sea and is one of the easternmost points in Mexico.

Cancun is unbeaten in its ability to offer a tropical paradise with natural beauty, cultural and historical treasures and a plethora of activities with modern conveniences. It is home to the world’s second largest barrier reef which makes it an an ideal place for scuba diving and snorkeling. There are a variety of accommodations that ranges from luxurious villas to all-inclusives and all-inclusive resorts budget hotels for kids and romantic getaways.

My impression of Cancun is mad. I was there with my husband without the kids. Happy dance! The Mexicans doted on us Aussies as they don’t see many of us in that part of the world. The souvenir vendors and tour providers ripped us off blatantly. The restaurants fed us Argentinian steaks, tacos and mozzarella sticks ( and by the way, they don’t have Burritos in Mexico). We saw Mexico’s amazing beauty of the Caribbean ocean, the Mayan’s ancient culture and history and we learned the tricks of the trade on the chaos in their streets whilst drinking tequila and sangria alternately…

We visited Isla Mujeres and Chichen Itza and I have a dedicated post for the two places.

Mexican Bar
Mexican Bar
Mixing Sangria at our Table
Mixing Sangria at our Table
Mixing Sangria
Mixing Sangria

TIP: Be vigilant in Cancun downtown and allow yourself to be ripped off as a part of your Mexican culture experience. :D

Denarau Island

Nadi Bay, Fiji
Nadi Bay, Fiji
Nadi Bay
Nadi Bay
Denarau Port
Denarau Port
Sheraton at Denarau Island
Sheraton at Denarau Island
Souvenirs
Souvenirs
Souvenirs
Souvenirs
View from our room
View from our room
Tropical Twilight
Tropical Twilight

Denarau Island is situated 20 minutes-drive south of Nadi. It is a man-made development of waterways and gardens. It boasts one of the world’s finest golf courses. Denarau Marina is also in the island and the base for many transfers and cruise operators. The island is the home for many beachfront five-star-hotels such Westin Denarau Island Resort & Spa, Sheraton Fiji Resort, Sheraton Denarau Villas, Hilton and the Radisson Fiji. The resorts (I could only speak of Sheraton and Westin given that’s where we stayed) without saying provides 5-star-facilities and service. Stay in the resort pools whilst working on your tan and drinking delicious Fijian cocktails and forget about the beach. It is not white sand as you may expect after looking at some tourist brochures. The beach is disappointingly muddy so it’s best to experience Fijian stunning white beaches in the islands if that’s what you are hoping for. I honestly felt sorry for any fish that live there.

Denarau Island has a ‘Bula Bus’ – a shuttle that continuously goes around the island. And if you stay in Sheraton or Westin, you could equally enjoy and use both hotel facilities as they are managed by the same company. I am inclined to say that there is no reason why you should go to Nadi unless you after some third world experience.

TIP: When the package says ‘Kids Eat Free’, expect to pay double for your main meals. There is a good selection of restaurants at the Marina with authentic and reasonably priced Fijian and international food. Also, protect yourself from the sand flies.

Plantation Island

Plantation Island
Plantation Island
Chillax
Chillax
No Fishing
No Fishing
Plantation Island
Plantation Island
Warm Welcome at Plantation Island
Warm Welcome at Plantation Island
Plantation Island, Fiji
Starfish
High tide at sunrise
High tide at sunrise

Plantation Island Resort in Fiji is a short less than an hour ferry ride from Denarau Marina. The island is landscaped with tropical gardens and coconut palms and has 7 kilometres of white sandy beaches. From the very first moment you arrive, you will be welcomed with songs and dance warmth and friendliness of the staff who will make your holiday fun and memorable.

The island offers a wide range of leisure activities, many guided water activity sports, entertainment for children or even reasonably priced-island hopping tours. You only have to go as far as two metres from the shore to do snorkelling, fish-feeding or see exotic and colourful variety of fish. Or you could just sip deliciously refreshing cocktails by the pool or by the beach whilst you work on your tan and wait until the sunset arrives. The tap water in the island is inconveniently undrinkable, however, they provide free bottled water and free refill at the reception and kiosks.

The island caters to both honeymooners and families wanting an affordable and unforgettable paradise-like island holiday experience. The resort doesn’t provide first-class facilities but they are clean and will meet your basic needs. Having said that, they have luxury rooms and lavish traditional bungalows for a more plush comfort. The island has a children-free secluded section which is clearly for the honeymooners wanting to avoid the chaotic atmosphere of family holiday makers with hyperactive kids screaming and running around the island for a more relaxing and private time with their new spouse.

At the other end of the island is Musket Cove. It’s a breathtakingly short stroll from the Plantation Island Resort. The sunset from that part of the island is one of the most vivid sunset colours I have ever seen.

Sunset in Muskett Cove
Sunset in Muskett Cove
Sunset in Muskett Cove
Sunset in Muskett Cove

There is an island which is essentially a sand bank that is about 15 minutes boat ride from Plantation Island. This is only an island when it’s low tide. The snorkelling here is amazing.

It's only an island when it's low tide
It’s only an island when it’s low tide
Snorkelling crowd
Snorkelling crowd
It's only an island when it's low tide
It’s only an island when it’s low tide

TIP: Do not assume that the buffet menu is cheaper than the a la carte menu particularly if you only eat like a sparrow. Also, protect yourself from the sand flies.

Coral Coast

Coral Coast, Fiji
Coral Coast
Coral Coast
Coral Coast
Koralevu Falls
Koralevu Falls
Koralevu Falls
Koralevu Falls
Hibiscus
Hibiscus
Souvenirs
Souvenirs
Souvenirs
Souvenirs
Souvenirs
Souvenirs

A 90-minute drive from Nadi will take you to south-western corner of Viti Levu’s coastline. It is one of the most visited destinations on the island of Viti Levu in Fiji which is relatively a short drive. Whilst driving along the 80 kilometres stretch of coastline, you will easily discover a large concentration of resorts in one place and mostly, these accommodations are absolute beachfront. The Coral Coast is one of the largest fringing coral reefs in the world. The pleasant drive will reward you with a stunning view of beautiful rolling green hills rising in the background and on the other side of the road is a coastline fringed with beaches, bays, rocky outcrops, mangrove forests, lush vegetation and Fijian villages. Sigatoka, the main town, is predominantly Indian with temples and a mosque. The small town has also got numerous souvenir shops and restaurants. Sigatoka is fairly busy and crowded with travellers from across the globe. Coral Coast has extensive accommodations covering all price ranges that will cater for varying types of travellers from champagne drinking honeymooners to beer- backpackers and the ones in between.

TIP: Be aware that the Coral Coast is also known as the Rainy Coast. If it rains on your parade, don’t let it dampen your spirits. There are many things to do before the sun shines on you again.

Castaway Island

Castaway Island
Castaway Island
Castaway Island
Castaway Island
Castaway Island
Castaway Island
Snorkelling at Castaway Island
Snorkelling at Castaway Island
Castaway Island
Castaway Island

Castaway Island in Fiji is an award-winning private island. The island is covered in rich tropical rainforest, surrounded by white sand beaches, vibrant coral reefs and turquoise waters. It is a tropical island escape where you would feel you are a million miles away from the civilisation. Remember Tom Hanks ‘Castaway’ movie? It was supposedly filmed somewhere around there.

The sense of solitude, serenity and pristine surrounds seem almost dreamlike. It was picture-perfect and truly the heart and soul of a Fijian island holiday. My encounter with this island was brief as we only stopped off here for a nice lunch looking over the stunning beach from our island hopping adventure. I want to come back to this paradise and be casted away from all the worries of the world. It’s my idea of heaven.

TIP: Just stay here.

Castaway Island
Castaway Island
Castaway Island
Castaway Island
Castaway Island
Castaway Island

Treasure Island

Treasure Island, Fiji
Treasure Island, Fiji
Beachcomber Island from Treasure Island
Beachcomber Island from Treasure Island
Baby Turtles at Treasure Island
Baby Turtles at Treasure Island
Chameleon
Chameleon

Treasure Island is the most iconic resort in Fiji and probably the oldest. Its popularity is global. It is set on a coral and sand-fringed island within a spectacular marine sanctuary. The resort provides the same day transfer from Denarau Marina, meaning, you quickly get to the island the same day you arrive in Fiji.

The island caters to both honeymooners and families seeking a unique and unforgettable island holiday experience. It’s not a 5-star nor a 4-star-resort. However, if you just want a relaxing holiday set in a tropical landscape and great snorkelling then this Island will meet just that. As usual, when in Fiji, it’s the people that will make your holiday more pleasant and unforgettable.

TIP: I recommend you to probably stay in another island that has far better quality rooms but offers the same price. If you must stay there, wait until they renovate.

Bilpin

Paid Loots
Paid Loots
Granny Smith
Granny Smith
Halfway there
Halfway there
Lemon Loots
Lemon Loots

Went apple-picking at Bilpin today. Bilpin is situated in the Blue Mountains although it officially sits within the Hawkesbury Valley Region. The area is populated with variety of stone-fruits orchards which are open for your own fruit-picking depending on which fruits are in season. Whilst driving through Bells Line Road, you will come across many charming cafes and restaurants which offers gourmet food in their menu and sell a variety of homemade products like jams, tasty salad dressings, apple pies and local honey. It’s a good a spot to go for a Sunday drive and bring home freshly-picked fruits to make your own delicious homemade pies. It’s fun for the kids too.

Wentworth Falls

Jamison Valley
Jamison Valley
Jamison Valley from Princess Look Out
Jamison Valley from Princess Look Out
Princess Rock Track
Princess Rock Track
Wentworth Falls from Princess Rock Look Out
Wentworth Falls from Princess Rock Look Out
Top of Wentworth Falls
Queens Cascade at the top of Wentworth Falls
Queens Cascades
Queens Cascades
Undecliff Track
Undecliff Track
Weeping Rock Track
Weeping Rock Track
Wentworth Falls, NSW
Wild flowers along the track
Wild flowers
Wild flowers

Wentworth Falls is a historic in town in the Blue Mountains. Wentworth Falls will take you around 100 kilometres to drive west of Sydney. It offers stunning views over the Jamison Valley and boasts the magnificent waterfall for which it is named. It has been a tourist destination for many years. If you are looking for a good selection of walking tracks in the Blue Mountains, then Wentworth Falls is the place to be. It offers many bushwalking tracks with varying degrees of difficulty. Each track boasts a spectacular view of the Blue Mountains (Jamison Valley) as well as beautiful waterfalls that have been the popular subject of many amateur and professional photographers. So, it doesn’t really matter which track you take, the question is how much time have you got to go for a bushwalk? There’s a big board at the Jamison Valley Lookout at the entrance which will tell you how long each Track takes plus or minus 15% percent depending on your level of fitness and factor in picture-taking stops.

Whilst bushwalking, I was quite surprised to see a medium-sized brown snake in the Princess Rock Track given that the track could get really busy with bushwalkers. The more surprising part was I didn’t die from freaking out. Immediately after the initial shock and the hyper-ventilation in my head, we calmly waited until the snake slowly crawled away. The poisonous snake certainly didn’t stop us from continuing with our mission to burn the calories from the big dinner that was consumed the night before by doing a couple of hours of bushwalking. Although the thought of another snake showing up in the track kept sending shivers down my spine. Made me walk extra fast.

South Lawson Waterfall Circuit

Federal Falls
Federal Falls
Junction Falls
Junction Falls
The hidden sign that we missed
The hidden sign that we missed
Adelina Falls
Adelina Falls
Wild Flower
Wild Flower
Lawson Waterfall Circuit, Blue Mountains, NSW
Wild Flowers

The South Lawson Waterfall Circuit track has three waterfalls. It is equally an invigorating walk and amazing nature photography of the waterfalls, wild flowers, mossy trees and the wetland. It’s such a beautiful track. The track is not too far away from Sydney as it’s in the lower Blue Mountains. It will take about 1.5 hours from Sydney. It’s certainly off the beaten track. The small entrance to the circuit was located near Honour Avenue and Livingstone Street in South Lawson. The track was three kilometres long and would have probably taken about an hour and half to complete if we didn’t get lost. There’s a small carpark at the track entrance that would only fit about five cars but there are many street parking around the quaint neighbourhood.

It’s incredibly easy to get lost in the bushland. Most tracks look almost identical. We had an almost SOS moment and was lost for about an hour. We had to hitch-hike to find my car as we ended up in a different exit. Thanks to my smartphone GPS and the kind guy who gave us a lift to find my car…

TIP: When bushwalking, it’s best not to go on your own. Wear comfortable sturdy shoes and take a small GPS (or compass) and lots of water with you.

Climbing Mt Kosciuszko

Chairlifts in Thredbo
Chairlifts in Thredbo
Chairlifts in Thredbo
Chairlifts in Thredbo
Mt Kosciuzko
Mt Kosciuzko
Snowy River from the melting snow
Snowy River from the melting snow
Rock Hopping
Rock Hopping
Lake
Lake
A kilometre more of this uphill
A kilometre more of this uphill
Trekking across the snow
Trekking across the snow
On top of Australia
On top of Australia
On top of Australia
On top of Australia
Heading down
Heading down
Top of Thredbo
Top of Thredbo

Mt Kosciuszko is the tallest mountain in Australia. It stands 2.2 kilometres above sea level.

Fourteen years ago, I climbed up to the Summit. The 18 kilometre return climb started from Charlotte Pass which took most part of the day. Unknowingly, I was pregnant with my first child.

Fourteen years later, we went back. With aging body and a little less fit, we started the climb from Eagle’s Nest in Thredbo. We took the chairlift to get to the top of Thredbo. From Eagle’s Nest, the steep climb to the peak of the mountain was 13 kilometres return. When we arrived at the peak, the weather suddenly changed. The vivid blue sky turned to a dark navy blue colour. It was windy and the rain was threatening to bucket down.

It’s spectacular to be on top Australia. It was incredibly nice to be closer to the clouds…

Iron Cove – Bayrun

Sunrise
Sunrise
Beautiful View
Beautiful View
View of the Cove
View of the Cove
View of the Cove
View of the Cove
View of the Cove
View of the Cove
Iron Cove Bridge
Iron Cove Bridge
Iron Cove Bridge
Iron Cove Bridge
Iron Cove Bridge
Iron Cove Bridge
Bayrun Track
Bayrun Track
Bayrun Track
Bayrun Track
Kayaks
Kayaks

Iron Cove offers a 7km walking/running track that loops around the bay. Hence, the name Bay Run. It will take you to the riverside of many inner west suburbs from Rozelle to Russel Lea.

I parked at the 2-hour free parking under the Iron Cove Bridge adjacent to the Drummoyne Swimming Pool. I started my run at the Iron Cove Bridge so I finished the loop back at the Cove Restaurant with a nice skim chai latte with a water view. If you are a keen runner, then this track is a must. The view is amazing.

Collingwood Beach to Moona Moona Creek

Changing colours
Changing colours
Loving the sunset
Loving the sunset
Beautiful morning colours
Beautiful morning colours
Beautiful morning colours
Beautiful morning colours at Collingwood Beach
Moona Moona Creek
Moona Moona Creek

Beautiful colours changing during my 5.5kms run from Collingwood Beach to Moona Moona Creek and back. Collingwood Beach is in Jervis Bay which is just two and a half hours’ drive from Sydney and this beautiful beach occupies the western shore of the bay and curves south of Moona Creek mouth that extends for 2.2 kms.

Sydney Fish Market

Oysters
Oysters
Fresh Cooked Prawns
Fresh Cooked Prawns
Lobsters
Lobsters
Variety of Fish
Variety of Fish
Chef Statue
Chef Statue
Fish Market
Fish Market
Oyster Bar
Oyster Bar
Fish Containers
Fish Containers
Seafood Takeaway
Seafood Takeaway
Deep Fried White Tail
Deep Fried Butterres White Baits
Seafood Platter
Seafood Platter
Oyster Mornay
Oyster Mornay

Sydney Fish Market offers Sydneysiders and tourists alike the opportunity to experience an authentic working fish market. It is the largest market of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere and the world’s second largest seafood market in terms of variety outside of Japan. The market opens at 5.30am when seafood buyers arrive to check the day’s catch before the auction, where 2,700 crates (52 tonnes) are sold per day. You can choose from a wide variety of fresh seafood and much more. You can buy fresh seafood for lunch, sit at the quaint tables at the wharf and enjoy the water view with many fish boats calmly resting on the water and the Glebe island Bridge. They also offer a Behind the Scenes Tour where you can see all the action. Sydney Seafood School is also located at the market; it holds a variety of seafood cookery classes including some hosted by Australia’s leading chefs!

So, if you are looking for a place to eat the freshest possible seafood in Sydney? Look no further. Go to the Sydney Fish Market. It is a unique market of its kind. It is a bustling place where everyday seems to be a festival of seafood! The Market has many little restaurants where you could dine-in or just buy some take-away and eat at the outdoor tables along the water and enjoy the scrumptious seafood and water view.

Tip: Many health experts recommended that if you include two portions of seafood in your weekly diet, you will reduce your risk of suffering from a heart attack by 50%.  Seafood is a nutrient rich food that is a good source of protein and it is packed with vitamins and minerals that provide a whole lot of health benefits.

  • Seafood is low in fat
  • Fish is low in cholesterol
  • Seafood is high in protein
  • Seafood is high in vitamins & minerals
  • Seafood is high in Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Lake Parramatta Reserve

Parramatta Lake
Parramatta Lake
Parramatta Lake
Parramatta Lake
Parramatta Lake
Parramatta Lake
Parramatta Lake
Parramatta Lake
Parramatta Lake
Parramatta Lake

Lake Parramatta Reserve is a 75ha bushland reserve which is located within two kilometres of the Parramatta CBD which is about 30 kilometres from Sydney. The entrance to Parramatta Reserve is from Lackey Street, off Bourke Street in North Parramatta. This reserve is popular picnic, swimming and fishing spot with local residents in the area. If you are a nature lover, you would like this spot with all its beautiful wildlife, flora and fauna and a stunning lake. What I like in this Reserve in particular is the walking tracks. It offers three well-signed walks, of varying length and difficulty, though none of the walks are very challenging. The three walks to choose from ranging from easy to hard are the following: 1) She Oak Track (1550m) 2) Banksia Trail (2450m) and 3) Lake Circuit (4200m). The Lake Circuit is a must do for those looking for a longer enjoyable bushwalking.

I went bushwalking in Lake Parramatta with a girlfriend. We did the 4 kilometre Lake Circuit Track around the lake which took us a good 1.5 hours (this includes the stops for some pretty photo opportunities). The track was beautiful. We came across a few wildlife such as; three quarters of a metre-sized goanna, lizzards of many different colours and sizes, native Australian birds and a variety of ducks. I stepped over a coiled brown snake hiding under a rock. (Surprisingly, I didn’t die of freaking out.)

I generally go all the way up to the Blue Mountains to go bushwalking which is about an hour drive from where I live. I didn’t realize that we have a local gem just 15 minutes away. Thanks to a ‘Sydney running track’ google search result. Having said that, I highly doubt that I will go back. The thought of that brown snake that I stepped over, still sends shivers down my spine. However, if snakes don’t bother you, I recommend to do the track or perhaps, go around Winter where the cold-blooded creatures are all hybernating. :D

Old Bus Depot Market

Colours of Pasta
Colours of Pasta
Pretty Macarons
Pretty Macarons
Bread Vendor
Bread Vendor
Variety of Bread
Variety of Bread
Fresh Orange Juicer
Fresh Orange Juicer
Colourful candle holders
Colourful candle holders
Busy Market
Busy Market

You may start to notice, I love going to markets particularly those ones that offer an eclectic mix of gourmet delights.  In Old Bus Depot Market in Kinston, Canberra, you will be delighted by the flavour, fun and its ambience. It is an in-door market.

It has a contemporary urban feel and with many providores offering delightful gourmet delicacies. There is a food court at the end of the market which offers international cuisines.  Apart from food, the market also offers arts and crafts. The market certainly promises a truly eye dazzling and sensory experience.

Nambucca Heads

Colourful rocks along the breakwall
Colourful rocks along the breakwall
Sunset
Sunset
White Albatross Holiday Park
White Albatross Holiday Park
Mosaic at the Twon Centre
Mosaic at the Town Centre
Nambucca Heads River
Nambucca Heads River

Nambucca Heads is one of the prettiest towns on the Coffs Harbour coast. It is situated off the Pacific Highway 15 minute drive South of Coffs Harbour.  The rendezvous of Nambucca River with the Ocean has a magnificent effect and provides a stunning view to holidaymakers who chose to go on detour from the usual driving stretch heading towards the North Coast.  Take a leisure walk along the breakwater called Vee Wall where some cheeky and almost witty holidaymakers have recorded their impressions of the little town with colourful graffiti which looks more like an outdoor art gallery.

TIP: The colours of sunset along the walk is amazing.

Little Havana

IMG_5573
Calle Ocho
Calle Ocho
Calle Ocho
Domino Club
Domino Club
Little Havana Cigar Factory
Little Havana Cigar Factory
Local Busker
Local Busker
Typical over the counter restaurant
Typical over the counter restaurant
Maximo Gomez Park Domino Club
Maximo Gomez Park Domino Club
Calle Ocho
Calle Ocho
Latin Walk of Fame
Latin Walk of Fame
Welcome to Little Havana Sign
Welcome to Little Havana Sign
Welcome to Little Havana Sign
Welcome to Little Havana Sign

Little Havana is located just west of Downtown Miami which is also known as the Latin Quarter. Little Havana offers a slice of Cuban culture transported in the middle of Miami. As soon as we arrived via a get on-and-off tourist bus, it was obvious that the colourful Cuban culture permeates everything in Little Havana from the vivid colorful murals, happy buskers playing traditional Cuban and Afro-American music along the main street, over the quaint counter-restaurants, monuments for the heroes, unique art galleries, Cuban gentlemen playing dominoes and that ever-present aroma of Cuban coffee and cigar. Little Havana’s colourful scenes and its festive ambience were intoxicating. A taste of Cuban culture made me want to go to the real-deal Cuba which is now included in my bucket-list.

The main drag of Little Havana is called Calle Ocho where they have a Hollywood-like Walk of Fame but mainly dedicated to famous Latin celebrities, such as Gloria Estefan and Celia Cruz. The colourful street is pepppered with fruit stands, over-the counter authentic Cuban restaurants, art galleries and cigar shops. At Domino Park, you would see the elderly Cuban migrants playing domino games for most part of the day and the scene is a tourist spot in itself. If you have time, you may want to see a show at the Tower Theater, a restored Art Deco theater and cultural venue. .

Tip: On the last Friday of each month, Little Havana hosts Viernes Culturales, or Cultural Fridays, a monthly gallery night showcasing the cultural arts scene of the neighbourhood.

Calle 8, Little Havana, Miami, Florida
Calle 8, Little Havana, Miami, Florida

Miami

Miami  Beach Lifeguard House
Miami Beach Lifeguard House
Lifeguard Stand
Lifeguard Stand

Miami has been featured enormously in movies and TV shows and it is one the most popular holiday spots in Florida. As a vacation spot, it offers many entertainments to suit everyone. For those visitors who would like to feel the beat and party, there is a trendy nightlife at South Beach including a fine beachfront dining experience from many different restaurants offering a variety of cuisines. For those who are looking for cultural experience, head to Little Havana for a more festive and eclectic mix of culture atmosphere. For the sunseekers, there’s the famous Miami Beach. For the shopaholics, go to Bayside Marketplace or Coconut Grove for a more personal attention from the boutique owners. If you’d a like a bit of history, visit the historic hideaways of Coral Gables. And if you are a photography enthusiast like me, enjoy the colourful Art Deco district for great colourful architecture photography.

We came here to board our Royal Caribbean Cruise. I arranged our travels of transits and accommodation so that we will have enough time to see the popular tourist spots that Miami has to offer.

Note: I didn’t include Little Havana below. I have a dedicated post for Little Havana.

South Beach
The sight of South Beach screams party – all day long. It is trendy and fun place to be. Everyone seems to be having a great time. It’s a place for the rich and famous and young at hearts. It is lined with 1930’s to 1940’s art-deco designed hotels, restaurants and spas.

South Beach Giant Cocktails Display
South Beach Giant Cocktails Display
Old Gianni Versace House
Old Gianni Versace House
South Beach
South Beach
South Beach - Art Deco Building
South Beach – Art Deco Building
South Beach - Humphrey Bogart's Car
South Beach – Humphrey Bogart’s Car
Giant-sized Mojito
Giant-sized Mojito

Miami Beach
Miami Beach is what you’ve seen in the movies. The colourful iconic lifeguard stands are scattered along the shore. You can swim, surf and jet ski in the warm and crystal-clear Atlantic waters or just simply lie on the sand and work on your tan.

Lifeguard Stand
Lifeguard Stand
Lifeguard Stand
Lifeguard Stand
Miami Beach
Miami Beach
Miami Beach
Miami Beach

Coral Gables
Coral Gables is popular for its tree-lined boulevards, grand mansions covered with ivy and historical 1920’s landmarks such as; Biltmore Hotel and the Venetian Pool.

Biltmore Hotel
Biltmore Hotel
Venetian Pool
Venetian Pool

Bayside
The Bayside Marketplace is an open Mall which offers a great variety of shopping and restaurants overlooking the Miami Marina populated with yachts, water taxis and water tours.

Bayside
Bayside
Bayside
Bayside
Normal-sized Mojito
Normal-sized Mojito

Key West

Southernmost Point of USA
Southernmost Point of USA
90 Miles to Cuba
90 Miles to Cuba
Southernmost House in USA
Southernmost House in USA
Working Dog
Working Dog
Duvall Street
Duvall Street
Shipwreck Museum
Shipwreck Museum
Duvall Street, Key West, Florida
Duvall Street, Key West, Florida
View of key West from the Cruise Ship
View of key West from the Cruise Ship
Souvenir Dolls
Souvenir Dolls
Souvenirs - Coconut Head Pirates
Souvenirs – Coconut Head Pirates
Key West Museum of  Art and History
Key West Museum of Art and History
City Tram
City Tram
Train Tour
Train Tour

Key West is in Florida and it is the southernmost point in the United States. It is a relatively small island and a famous holiday destination for its watersports activities, happy-hours (which is all day), lively nightlife, beautiful beaches and historic sites. The town is only 90 miles to Cuba. It separates the Atlantic Ocean from the Gulf of Mexico, however, the town ambience and the attitude of residents are more like the easy-go-lucky Caribbeans.

Souvenirs
Souvenirs

We took the Conch Tour Train which provided us a great history lesson on Key West and it took us to the popular landmarks. The tour took us through the main Duval Street which is colourful and has an energetic vibe. The street is lined with an eclectic mix of shops, bars and cafes. There are many train tours to see the colourful town but a walking tour is a great way to see the island’s intresting architecture, courtyards and gardens. We are relatively fit so we just walked the island independently after the train tour. The town has an amazing free-spirited and quirky atmosphere which makes it a uniquely beautiful American town. Everyone appeared to be happy which is quite contagious.

Conch Tour Train Station
Conch Tour Train Station

We also patiently lined up and visited Ernest Hemingway’s Home and Museum. The home served as Hemingway’s base from 1928 until 1940. The house is a great to experience to visit and it is worth lining up for for 30 minutes. The tour guide gave us a comprehensive biography on the famous author as well as in-house gossips about his personal affairs. It is incredible to look into the office where Hemingway’s desk, chair, typewriter and wall ornaments are supposedly just as he left them. We also encountered a graveyard of past generations of his beloved cats.

Ernest Hemingway's House
Ernest Hemingway’s House
Cat Cemetery
Cat Cemetery

Coco Cay Island

Floating Mats for Hire
Floating Mats for Hire
Royal Caribbean Cruise
Royal Caribbean Cruise
Barefoot Beach
Barefoot Beach
Colourful Kayaks
Colourful Kayaks
Coco Cay Island
Coco Cay Island
Rain is coming
Rain is coming
Barefoot Beach
Barefoot Beach
View from the bar
View from the bar
Coco Cay Island
Coco Cay Island
Lifeguard on Duty
Lifeguard on Duty
Royal Caribbean Cruise
Royal Caribbean Cruise
Coco Cay Island
Coco Cay Island
Early morning serenity
Early morning serenity

Coco Cay Island (previsouly know as Little Stirrup Cay) is one of the Berry Islands in the Bahamas. It is located approximately 55 miles north of Nassau.The island is about a kilometre wide from East to West and about 183 metres from North to South. The island’s east end is the heart of the island where all recreational activities are. They have beaches fronting a coral basin where all the island’s marine life can be seen.

We came to this beautiful island as one of the stops in our Bahamas cruise. Royal Caribbean has lease on the island for their exclusive use so the island is private for the Royal Caribeean cruise passengers. Our Royal Caribbean cruise ship anchored off the island and brought passengers ashore by ferries. Apart from the beautiful vivid turquoise-coloured, crystal-clear and warm water at the beach, the island offers a variety of water activities which includes swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, parasailing, scuba diving, and Waverunner piloting. There are shops where water sports gears can be hired. The island also features nature trails that run the entire length and width of the island. If you just want to relax, soak up the warm Caribbean sun and enjoy the paradise-like atmosphere; you can just hang-out on the blue and white beach chairs under a rainbow coloured beach umbrellas sipping your favourite cocktail from the island bar or hire a mat and float on the water to work on your tan. The island also holds an ocean Snorkel Adventure and treasure-hunt competition where we participated and won a little prize of free floating beach mat. It is nice to just stroll around the island and visit the Straw Market for some souvenirs made of…wait for it…straw and other crafts souvenirs. The cruise provided a nice BBQ lunch and buffet with nice island flavours. We had a fabulous day! You would too!

Snorkel Adventure and Treasure Hunt prize
Snorkel Adventure and Treasure Hunt prize
The Straw Market
The Straw Market

Nassau

Junkanoo Beach
Junkanoo Beach
Local Chap
Local Chap
Junkanoo Beach, Nassau, Bahamas
Junkanoo Beach, Nassau, Bahamas
Cruise Ships from Junkanoon Beach
Cruise Ships from Junkanoo Beach
Soaking up the Bahamas sun
Soaking up the Bahamas sun
Nassau
Nassau
Pink Flamingos
Pink Flamingos
Ardastra Gardens, Nassau, Bahamas
Ardastra Gardens, Nassau, Bahamas
Colourful Restaurant
Colourful Restaurant
Atlantis
Atlantis
Straw Market
Straw Market

I will move to Bahamas in a heart beat. Who wouldn’t? Even King Edward VIII gave up his throne to marry the woman he loved and settled in Bahamas. It is a paradise-like island full of beauty and life seems easy. The Bahamians are friendly, the weather seems eternally beautiful and the vast 1000,000 square miles of crystal clear and turquoise coloured water is enchanting. They will tell you that for a true Bahamian experience “all you need to do is relax”. English is generally spoken so it is very easy to get around. The colourful colonial architecture, pink buildings and English Georgian-style architecture of Government House and Parliament Square provides the island a unique charm. Nassau has an extra ordinary mix of culture. They are part British, part Spanish and part West African. The eclectic mix of cultural influences here gives Nassau a unique spirit on its own. It is rich in history and certainly rich in culture.

Nassau, is the capital city of The Bahamas and it is in the New Providence island which is 21-mile-long which is surprisingly on the 11th largest island. Nassau’s main harbour is protected by Paradise Island. History says it that Nassau’s population was consisted mainly of pirates until 1718. The Bahamas first Royal Governor, Woodes Rogers expelled them, restored order and built Fort Nassau. Bahamas has kept its strong ties to England, remained within the Commonwealth and declared its allegiance to the Queen.

We only had a day trip experience in Nassau as one of the stops in our Bahamas Royal Caribbean Cruise and obviously, it left me a lasting impression that I know I will go back to savour the warmth of Bahamian sun and people, its remarkable beauty and the rich culture. For the limited time that we were there, we joined a Sightseeing Tour for most part of the morning, then we hired a Vespa to tour the island which I think was a great way to explore the island.

Below are some of the popular points of interest that we visited within our limited time.

    • Ardastra Gardens Zoo- The marching flamingos are the star of this garden. They provide a fun entertainment to visitors by marching in formation to commands. This zoo is also a Conservation centre which specializes in the conservation of Caribbean species including the endangered Bahamas Parrot and several species of iguanas.
Marching Flamingo at Ardastra Gradens
Marching Flamingo at Ardastra Gradens
    • Atlantis Paradise Island – Atlantis is a luxury hotel and an entertainment complex at the same time. It has massive aquarium and huge water park. It is great for the kids but adults young at heart will love the water park too.
Atlantis
Atlantis
    • Straw Market – As the name suggests, you will find a lot of souvenirs woven in straw from hats, mats and baskets. You will also find souvenirs such as wooden carvings (being carved on spot), colourful fabrics and many other tacky souvenirs as well as fake designers goods.
Straw Market
Straw Market
    • Queens Steps – The 66 steps were carved by slaves in the late 18th century popularly known as Queen’s Staircase. The staircase was named after Queen Victoria to honour her her role in abolishing slavery in the Bahamas.
Queen's Steps
Queen’s Steps
    • Junkanoo Beach - It is public beach closed to the Port. The view of the harbour where the Cruise Ships are all calmly lined up and the light house from the beach is stunning. The beach has the basic amenities and lined with colourful bars and restaurants where you could buy your delicious Bahamian cocktails and local conch as well as shops where you could hire beach chairs from.There are also a few pop up tables selling souvenirs.
Junkanoo Beach
Junkanoo Beach
    • Fort Montagu – Fort Montagu is a small fort of four cannons and the oldest fort in Nassau. It is at the eastern end of Nassau harbour along the waterfront. It was built from the local limestones and named after the Duke of Montagu.
Fort Montagu
Fort Montagu
    • Fort Charlotte – Fort Charlotte was built by the British to defend the island for supposedly a French invasion. The French must have been scared because they never came. A tour guide will take you around the Fort and provide a comprehensive Bahamas history lesson. The view from this spot is stunning.
Fort Charlotte
Fort Charlotte

Harbour Bridge from Lavander Bay

Harbour Bridge from Lavander Bay
Harbour Bridge from Lavander Bay
Harbour Bridge from Lavander Bay
Harbour Bridge from Lavander Bay

I go for a run during my lunchbreak at least three times a week. Running around Sydney Harbour is one of my favourite life’s simple pleasures. Not only it doesn’t cost me anything, it also makes me feel good as well as it makes me look good.

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