The Magical Whitsundays – Activities and Island Resorts

My favourite holiday destination is the magical Whitsundays – 74 unspoilt islands in the tropical warm waters of the Coral Sea, in the heart of The Great Barrier Reef. What could be more perfect? The Whitsunday Passage would have to top the list of island getaways, not only in Queensland but the whole world. This small piece of paradise has everything from the bustling hub of Airlie Beach, to the exclusive romantic haven of Hayman Island and the secluded adult hideaway of Peppers Palm Bay, to the family oriented islands of Hamilton, South Molle, Long and Daydream Islands. If that isn’t enough, you can charter your own boat and see them all. Enjoy all the activities and entertainment you would expect from a holiday at the Great Barrier Reef – snorkelling, diving, all water sports, whale watching, magnificent walks, cruises, deserted island lunches… I’ve included a brief description of the island resorts at the Whitsundays but first, my favourite Whitsunday experiences.

While the Whitsunday islands are home to a number of Australia’s most famous resorts, most of the islands are unspoilt national parks so there are endless deserted islands and beaches to explore and enjoy. Whitehaven Beach is a magnificent beach on the uninhabited Whitsunday Island. It is a 7 kilometre long beach with an incredible expanse of pure white sand and crystal clear blue waters. It is one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. One of the most magical experiences you can have is to spend a night on a yacht anchored off Whitehaven Beach. The sunset is spectacular and throughout the night, the white sand glows in the moonlight. It is a sight to behold. Whitehaven Beach is serviced by ferries, seaplanes, helicopters and cruising yachts. Day trips can be organised from Airlie Beach, Shute Harbour and any of the islands.

Of course, when you are at the Whitsundays, you can’t miss the Great Barrier Reef. The Great Barrier Reef is the largest structure on earth created by living creatures, stretching 2000 kilometres and covering 350 000 square kilometres. The Great Barrier Reef is not one reef but a collection of more than 2600 individual coral reefs and cays. The reef is home to more than 300 species of hard coral, 400 species of sponge and 1500 colourful bright tropical fish. At the Whitsundays, there are so many ways to experience this Wonder of the World. Many of the islands have magnificent fringing reef and snorkelling or diving directly from the island is a simple and fascinating way to view the coral and diverse life under the water. Some of the fringing reefs are off uninhabited islands and snorkelling or diving from a boat is the only way to visit these. Butterfly Bay and Manta Ray Bay (Hook Island), Blue Pearl Bay (Hayman Island), Langford and Bird Island provide some of the best fringing reefs. There are many diving and snorkelling tours to the “outer reef” from any of the islands or Airlie Beach. Another great way to view the reef and to get an impression of the expanse of the Great Barrier Reef is to charter a plane and fly over the reef. It is truly spectacular from the air.

Boating in the Whitsunday’s. If you get a chance, the best way to experience the Whitsunday’s is from the deck of your own boat. The area is protected from the ocean by the Great Barrier Reef and with hundreds of protected anchorages, The Whitsunday’s is one of the safest and finest cruising regions in the world. Safe anchorages are seldom more than an hour apart, so the choices are endless. Choose your favourite places and plan your trip before you leave or make up your mind as you sail around. The decisions are yours.

Each of the islands in the Whitsunday archipelago has it’s own special identity. Some fall to the turquoise sea as a spectacular rocky outcrop, others gradually slope away to beautiful sandy beaches while others offer sandy inlets, fringing coral reef, bays and coves. With hundreds of safe anchorages the Whitsunday’s is the place to “realise your dream”. Cruise to uninhabited islands for lazy days under Queensland’s famous sunshine where your only companions might be whales, dolphins and turtles. Hail a seaplane direct from your boat for a scenic flight or take a day trip to The Great Barrier Reef. The Whitsundays with its safe anchorages and coves, sheltered by the Great Barrier Reef, is one of the world’s finest cruising areas and will undoubtedly capture your heart and imagination. Lying in the tropics close to 20 deg south the Whitsundays has an enviable climate year round. The Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea protect the waters of the Whitsundays from the ocean seas with most islands being surrounded by a fringing reef system.

Resort Islands of the Whitsunday’s.
If you are looking to spoil yourself, you can’t go past a romantic holiday on the beautiful and exclusive Hayman Island. Hayman Island Resort is a 5 star resort and is the only Australian member of the “Leading Hotels of the World” group. It is renowned for its service, elegance and sheer luxury as well as its stunning location in the Great Barrier Reef. Every part of your holiday at Hayman is a delight from dining at one of the restaurants or outdoors, to pampering yourself with one of the personally-tailored beauty and well-being programs at Spa Chakra Hayman.

Peppers Palm Bay is an intimate and secluded retreat with only 21 private waterfront bures, cabins and bungalows nestled beneath swaying palm trees. Enjoy the view across the magnificent Coral Sea from your hammock on your own private balcony. Peppers really is somewhere you can unwind and remove yourself from the hustle of every day life. There are no televisions or telephones so the peace and serenity is complete. Enjoy contemporary Australian cuisine at La Riviera restaurant or an intimate candlelit dinner on your balcony.

Hamilton Island has something for everybody from the 5 star Beach Club to the Reef View Hotel, luxury apartments and cosy villas. Accommodation is from resort style to self-catering. There is something to suit your style and budget. Hamilton Island has a unique village atmosphere with buggies for hire to enable visitors to explore the whole island. There are eleven restaurants, six bars and nightclubs, boutique shops as well as all the basic services such as doctors, pharmacy, supermarket and a post office. Children up to 14 years can be entertained at the Clownfish Club and there are no shortage of family activities such as go-karts, mini-golf, the Wire flyer, the Koala Gallery Wildlife Experience and any number of water sports.

One of the best value island holidays you could ever have would have to be at South Molle Island Resort. There is a wide range of rooms from the comfortable and well maintained resort rooms to the beachfront bungalows. Many of the packages are inclusive of all meals, making it ideal for a family holiday with no hidden costs. Meals can be eaten at the resort restaurant or the Island Café. South Molle Island is also set up for conferences and caters for groups of 20 to over 300 people. Explore the island on one of the many walking tracks, enjoying the forests and the breathtaking views as you reach the top of the island. Make the most of the perfect weather by the pool or on the beach. All non-motorised water sports are free and motorised sports are available for a fee.
The highlight of the week at South Molle Island is the “Flames of Polynesia” show on Friday nights. People flock from all over the Whitsundays to experience this unique show featuring colourful fire dancing.

There’s something for everyone at Daydream Island Resort & Spa. It has 289 beautifully appointed rooms with a range of styles to suit families and couples. Indulge your senses at one of Australia’s most advanced rejuvenation spas. Just one and a half kilometres long, Daydream Island is packed with a full range of holiday activities, delicious dining options, secluded beaches and magnificent rainforest inhabited by parrots and tiny sunbirds. There are 3 beaches on Daydream Island and one is fringed with live coral and a colourful array of fish, making for spectacular snorkelling.

Enjoy one of the latest blockbusters at the outdoor cinema. Test your skills at the 19 hole themed mini golf course – for young and old. See the unique outdoor aquarium with direct access to a live coral reef. Meals can be taken at the a La Carte restaurant “Mermaids or the buffet style restaurant “Waterfalls”. There are 3 bars, 3 swimming pools and spas and a dive centre. At just one and a half kilometres long, Daydream has a lot of activities packed in.

Club Crocodile Long Island is known as the party resort and there is no shortage of things to do – day and night. The resort is three and a half star and the garden and beachfront rooms sleep up to 4 adults or 2 adults and 3 children (at a squeeze). Rates for accommodation include all meals. The main dining area is Palms Restaurant with 3 buffet meals a day. Alternative dining is at Café Paradiso. For the nature lovers, there are 2500 acres of national park with 20km of scenic walking tracks. Most water sports are available including catamaran sailing, parasailing, jet skiing, water skiing, scuba diving, fishing, glass bottom boats and cruises. Night time activities are a highlight on the island with beach parties, casino night, karaoke and all night discos. Baby-sitting and kids club is available so let your hair down!

So whatever you are looking for, the Whitsundays has something for everybody. Enjoy your holiday!

Why Luxury, Family and Trekking Holidays in Nepal Need Not Be Mutually Exclusive

Kathmandu

Landing in Kathmandu can be daunting: it’s set in the stunning Kathmandu Valley and is home to a twelfth of Nepal’s total population. Raised 1400m above sea level, this literally breathtaking city is worth easing your way into. Therefore it’s best to make yourself at home at Dwarikas hotel, the pinnacle of Luxury Holidays to Nepal. This lovingly created property is the personal project of Dwarika Das Shrestha who bought the land in the late 1950s and over 20 years curated an elaborate personal-home-cum-hotel. The hotel, still owned by his family, is a unique homage to Nepalese culture and the perfect place to unwind and get your bearings in Kathmandu. Perfect for family holidays to Nepal, the hotel has all the facilities you could hope for in your attempts to cleanse your mind body and soul. Educate yourself in the library, bathe in the pool inspired by 12th-century royal baths, or indulge yourself in the Pancha Kosha Spa. Once you are well and truly rested have a wonder around the fascinating temples of Kathmandu. The key areas and sites being: Durbar Square, Pashupatinath, Bouddhanath and Swayambunath.

If you feel touched by the spirituality of these places – wander over to the Kopan Monastery and wonder whether you might find inner peace through one of their 10-day introductory courses. A different breed of Nepal holidays: 6:30am starts, half-day silences, and guidance from Western sanghas and Tibetan lamas make this both an intimidating and intimate opportunity for those genuinely intrigued by Buddhist culture.

With your appetite building head back to the hotel and eat at one of the three in house restaurants specialising in Nepali, Japanese, and fusion cuisines respectively. Or if you want something a bit different why not try Chez Caroline. In a former royal stable house, this little French haven serves up very respectable gastro cuisine. With steak, wild-mushroom tart, imported cheeses and Pastis liqueur on the menu you might be shocked to find yourself in a lush outdoor courtyard in Kathmandu.

Trekking

Head away from the indulgences and spirituality of Kathmandu and fly over to Pokhara. The flight itself being, arguably, the most spectacular mountain flight in the world, gliding alongside the Himalayas you get views of some of the world’s highest peaks, including Everest. Pokhara is the heart of trekking holidays in Nepal with many possible routes panning out from here. Make your base at the Tiger Mountain Lodge. The architecture is strictly functional but the views are to die for. That isn’t to say they haven’t added a lovely ambiance through a magnificent fire-pit centred lounge, a grand alpine-style dining space, and a chatty and amicable owner, Marcus. Add to this impeccable service, eco-friendly ideals, and culinary delights cooked from their own organically grown produce and you have a fantastic place to get ready for your adventure.

For those who flew out here for full on trekking holidays in Nepal, there are all the options. A 5 day trek to Ghandruk and back, a small village at 6,560 feet with stunning views and home of some of the Ghurka soldiers, will take in a the enchanting Modi valley and Birethanti village. Whilst there are also options for the serious trekkers to do the 21-day Annapurna Circuit, one of the world’s most renowned treks. Passing through four regions, two low lush sub-tropical Hindu areas and two higher Buddhist areas, this “tea-house trek” takes in religious sites and villages along the way. For the more laid-back traveller indulging in more local walks around Pokhara also pays dividends with beautiful lakes like Phewa Tal where you can rent a boat and row, or be rowed, across this mirror like surface.

Conclusion

Nepal holidays are inherently adventurous due to their altitudinal nature, however they need not be arduous. Trekking holidays in Nepal are certainly the big draw, but alongside that you have a booming luxury holiday market and an amazing aura of spirituality to explore. You almost feel as if the free-spirited origins of Nepalese travel have been converted into forward thinking tourism options. With comfort comes the development of family holidays in Nepal, the level of services provided means even those of us without the legs to hike for more than a day can have an awe-inspiring time in the mountains of Nepal.

Corfu Holidays: The Island’s Top Hotels

Corfu holidays offer visitors the chance to relax in the warm climes of the Mediterranean. This popular Greek island has a multitude of different activities to engage and entertain. When planning a holiday it can be difficult selecting a hotel. So, to allow you to select the best Corfu all inclusive holidays, consider this list of the island’s top hotels, from the family-friendly to the luxury 5 Star experience.

Topping the list of family-friendly resorts is The Aquis Pelekas. An ideal location, less than eight miles from the airport, and just as close to Kontogialos-Pelekas town centre, the Aquis Pelekas is a luxury hotel located along a white-sand coastline. In and amongst an unspoilt, wild landscape, the hotel has a seemingly endless list of entertainment to cater for old and young alike. But it is for its child-centric entertainment that it has grown and developed such a positive reputation. Replete with a kids’ pool, Kids Club, archery centre, table tennis facilities and mini playground, there will be something to entertain all. Evening entertainment for adults is also laid on, with its shows and music nights proving popular. Alternatively heading into town is made easy by its free shuttle-bus service.

For young couples on the lookout for holiday deals then finding a cheap hotel is a necessity. Fortunately, if travelling to Corfu, ‘cheap’ doesn’t have to mean poor. The Helion Resort at Govino Bay ranks highly among visitors and is testament to the inexpensiveness of Corfu holidays. Located close to the village of Gouvia, this hotel has proved popular with young couples due to its ability to proffer excitement and entertainment in Gouvia – with its plethora of shops, restaurants, bars, and discos – alongside the beautiful settings and scenery of the hotel. Everything is included in the price, so you needn’t worry about an extortionate air-conditioning bill – a common irk of holiday makers on the Greek islands. Facilities include two bars, a restaurant, two pools – one of which is a children’s – and, for the sportsman in you, a tennis court. With the beach on your doorstep, Corfu Town moments away, and the airport less than a 20 minute drive, the 3 Star Helion Resort is ideal for those looking for budget accommodation with a luxury feel.

The Calimera Miramare Beach and Spa complex in Moraitika is one of Corfu’s premier establishments. A 5 Star resort, the hotel seeks to offer every possible amenity you could require for a dream holiday. Located on the island’s east coast, 12 miles from the airport, it is surrounded by beautiful gardens and ancient olive groves. Pools, Turkish baths, tennis courts, Jacuzzis, a gym, and a private beach are just some of the facilities you’ll have access to. With Moraitika just a short walk away, there is plenty keep you entertained. For those on a Corfu all inclusive holiday, The Calimera Miramare Beach and Spa Hotel proves popular and deserves repeat visits.