St. George Island

St. George Island State Park

After camping in the beautiful mountains and national forests along the Blue Ridge Park (Blue Ridge Parkway , Great Smoky Mountains National Park) we were in search of some heat and sun. We Looked at the map, in search of our new destination that wouldn’t take us too far off the direction towards New Orleans. We found St. George Island, located off Florida’s gulf coast, perfect! We headed to St. George Island State Park to set up camp, the busiest camping site we had encountered so far on our trip. While it was a little warmer, the sun remained behind the clouds for our trip,but we could still enjoy the beauty of this island, after all, it ranks as one of the top beaches in the US!

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Honolulu

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Oahu

Before reaching continental USA, we took the opportunity to have a seven day stopover in Hawaii. Breaking up the flight from Melbourne to California. And, what a wonderful seven days this was. Oahu ‘the gathering place’ is a beautiful Island, providing amazing sunsets, white sand beaches, culture, the hustle of city life, and the beauty of Island life. Beaches, forests, gardens, scenic views, a nature lovers paradise.

 

Highlights and must sees

  • Diamond head state monument: A Volcanic tuff cone.  This is a great hike, once you reach the top you can witness breathing taking panoramic views!
  • Manoa falls: Hike through a lush green forest to view this beautiful waterfall.
  • Iolani Palace: A beautiful historical landmark. The Palace was the royal residence of the rulers of the Kingdom of Hawaii.
  • Waikiki: The main touristy area for the Island. Famous beaches with high rise hotels and resorts. Perfect for shopping,  and a range of restaurants  along the beach.
  • Pearl harbour, USS Arizona: A national memorial.
  • National memorial cemetery of the Pacific: 
  • Honolulu museum of art: The largest single collection of Asian and Pan-Pacific art in the US.
  • Waimea bay: Beautiful beach and a popular surfing area.
  • Kailua beach park: Breathtaking turquoise waters. With calm water, this beach is great for swimming.
  • Polynesian cultural center: A Polynesian-themed theme park and museum.
  • Hanauma bay natural preserve: 

 

Oahu is a U.S Island located in the Pacific ocean. The third largest Island of the Hawaiian Island chain. The capital of Hawaii, Honolulu is located on the south shore, and is the main gateway to Hawaii. Temperatures are warm year round, with two main season, wet  (November to March) and dry (April to October). We stayed in a hotel close to Waikiki beach and could easily entertain ourselves walking around and exploring this area. We also rented a car to get around Oahu to see more of the beautiful beaches and sights. The seven days on Oahu was a great introduction to Hawaii, with a mix of relaxation on the beach and exploring the sights and culture of the Island. I would love to see the other Islands and spend more time on exploring the stunning Hawaiian Island chain.

 

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Toronto Islands

Escape the city for a relaxing and care free experience at the Toronto Islands. Only a 15 minute ferry ride, the gem of the Islands is must do. The Toronto Islands consists of a small chain of small islands located on the stunning Lake Ontario, south of mainland Toronto. The largest Island is Centre Island. Algonquin (Sunfish Island) and Olympic Island are the other major Islands. The Islands attractions are open from May to October, with the summer months being the most popular. The ferry leaves approximately  every 15 minutes during the summer months and less frequently during winter.  A round trip (for adults) costs $7 and is a perfect day trip from mainland Toronto.

Where to stay:

Looking for somewhere to stay in Toronto? All The Rooms have various accommodation for all budgets and traveling parties from families to solo travelers! Visit this link to view the range of accommodation options: Toronto accommodation  

Highlights and must sees 

  • I would recommend biking around the Islands to get the most out of the day. You can either bring your own bike on the ferry, or rent a bike once you arrive on the Islands. You can go from each Island by bike (or by walking).
  • A visit to the 200 year old lighthouse is a must see! Gibraltar point lighthouse is the oldest landmark in Toronto!
  • The centerville amusement park.
  • Far enough farm. A petting zoo on Centre Island.
  • Franklins children’s garden. This park is inspired by the popular children’s book.
  • Have fun on the water, with opportunities to canoe, kayak and paddle board on the lake!
  • BBQ or picnic either on one of the beaches or the lawns.
  • Explore the beaches across the Islands. Hanlan’s point beach. Ward’s Island beach and the Centre Island beach.
  • Photograph the Toronto skyline from the ferry.

I spent one summers day exploring the Toronto Islands. It was a cloudy day with periods of light rain. I left mainland Toronto around 9am to make the most of my time on the Islands. I took the ferry to the Centre Island ferry dock and walked the Islands, departing from the Hanlan’s point ferry dock around 6pm.  Centre Island is the most crowded and buzzing of the Islands. After exploring Centre Island I started my journey towards Ward’s Island. I made my way back through Center Island towards Hanlan’s point beach, spending the afternoon here. Stopping to see the Gibraltar point lighthouse. The atmosphere of the Islands is very calm and relaxing, a must see if you are in Toronto for a few days.  A highlight for me was the views of mainland Toronto from the ferry. Also, a fun fact; the Islands are car free making the Islands very pedestrian, cyclist and eco friendly!!

 

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Kota Kinabalu

Gateway to Borneo

Kota Kinabalu also referred to as KK is located on the northwest coast of Borneo, in the Malaysian state of Sabah. Kota Kinabalu, which was once formally known as Jesselton is the state capital of Sabah. The location is an ideal base to explore the northern region of Borneo.

Borneo

Borneo is the third largest (non continental) island in the world. Located in South East Asia, and surrounded by the south China sea to the north and northwest. The Island is divided by three separate countries. Indonesia, Brunei and Malaysia. Brunei has the smallest portion of the Island. The Malaysian part of the Borneo is split between two different states, Sabah and Sarawak. The Indonesian state of Kalimantan controls the largest portion of Borneo.

Borneo is a nature lovers playground. The majority of the island is covered by dense rainforest, with a great richness of species diversity. This rainforest is one of the oldest rainforests in the world! Estimated to be 140 million years old. Home to a range of unique fauna and flora, and the center of evolution and distribution of many species. It is understandable that a lot of ecological research is conducted here. With this, Borneo is also home to a number of sustainable, conservation and responsible travel projects. The Island of Borneo is a really unique and magical place.

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Four days in Kota Kinabalu

Kota Kinabalu was our first introduction to this amazingly unique island. Spending four days in this city was truly wonderful, the only negative was that it was not enough time! We stayed at a backpackers hostel, close to the center of the city. As we arrived in the afternoon, our first day was spent walking around and taking in the atmosphere of the city. Our first evening was spent at the night market, then on to an all you can eat buffet – and buckets of beers, the price was ridiculously cheap. The next morning, we woke up and started to explore more of the city. In addition to visiting the  sights and attractions of KK, the majority of our stay was spent island hopping, which included snorkeling and hiking adventures.

City highlights and attractions

KK water font and times square

With crystal clear waters and sunny skies the waterfront is gorgeous to walk along. Times square represents the commercial downtown area of Kota Kinabalu.

Sabah state mosque

Located close to the city center, the mosque is worth a viewing. The architectural design is very impressive.

Signal hill observatory tower

Provides gorgeous views of the city at the highest point.

Atkinson clock tower

This is the oldest standing structure in Kota Kinabalu. The towers sits on a hill overlooking the city.

Central market

A vibrant and busy market located on the waterfront. A great place to explore and take in the atmosphere of the city.

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Tunku Abdul Rahman Park

The Tunku Abdul Rahman park is a marine park with a cluster of five islands (Gaya, Manukan, Sapi, Sulug and Mamutik) located off the coast of Kota Kinabalu. These islands are easily accessible. The distance ranges from three to eight kilometers off the coast, and you can take a 15-20 minute speedboat ride from the Jesselton point ferry terminal.  Plus, all of the islands are a short boat ride from each other. Island hopping was the highlight of our time in Kota Kinabalu.  We were able to visit many stunning beaches, go snorkeling, hike through jungle trails and see some pretty impressive animal and plant species.

Kota Kinabalu, with its tropical islands and stunning landscape is a nature lovers playground, and is rapidly becoming a more popular tourist destination, due to the city being a cultural hub with natural beauty. Kota Kinabalu was the perfect introduction to the island of Borneo. I am so eager to return and explore even more of the Island. I would love to experience a wilderness trip, absorbing the true remoteness and adventure that Borneo can offer.

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Phuket

Sunshine and smiles

Phuket, my first introduction to Thailand and to Southeast Asia. It was a wonderful introduction, such beautiful and friendly people and very helpful. Smiles, great scenery and amazing food. Culture and history, perfect. A great week in Phuket and it is on the list to visit again! Hot weather, sunshine and beaches, a perfect combination. Tasty and cheap Thai food was a definite winner, one of my favourite cuisines and easy to find healthy and vegetarian options. Walking around the streets, chatting to the locals, exploring the markets, spending time on the beach and drinking Thai cocktails whilst enjoying the Phuket vibrant nightlife, is a perfect way to explore the beauty of Phuket.

Highlights and must-sees of Phuket

  • Patong: Beach resort town. It is the center for Phuket’s shopping and nightlife. Beach by day and explore the many beer bars, go go bars and nightclubs during the night.
  • Old Phuket town: Historical part of Phuket with shrines and temples.
  • Bangla road: The heart of Phuket nightlife, music, cheap beer, street performances  and more. An interesting and must do experience.
  • Wat Chalong: A stunning Buddhist temple and considered to be one of the most important in Phuket.
  • Simon Cabaret show: An entertaining and beautiful musical performance, performed by ladyboys.
  • Thai boxing: Exciting to watch live.
  • Phuket weekend market: A maze of stalls to get lost in.

Phuket is located in Southern Thailand, it is a rain-forested and mountainous Island. It is also the largest Island in Thailand! The climate is hot and humid year round. There is a monsoon season from May – October to be aware of. The official language is Thai and Baht is the currency. It is easy to get around Phuket. Most places are walkable, and a great way to explore the streets and markets. Tuk Tuks, and buses are readily available. Plenty of accommodation options. We stayed in a guest house in the Patong region. The local people are very friendly and willing to help. Can’t wait to go back!

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Phi Phi Island

Day trip to Phi Phi Don, Thailand.

A Tropical Getaway

Breathtaking scenery, turquoise waters and stunning limestone formations. Phi Phi island is the perfect tropical getaway. I love hot weather, beaches and remote locations, Phi Phi Island is the perfect place to enjoy nature, relax in the sunshine and to immerse yourself in the water. A time for reflection and relaxation. Whilst I was staying in Phuket, this was a great day trip to explore more of the amazing Thailand.

I made the trip to Phi Phi Don the largest and main Phi Phi Island. The Phi Phi view point was the highlight of my visit, a scenic 20-30 minute hike to the top, located 186 meters above sea level. It is well worth the hike, as the view is absolutely stunning and provides a great overview of the Island. After the hike, Exploring and relaxing on the beautiful beaches is a great way to spend your afternoon. To finish, eating the amazing local Thai food and drinking cheap beers or cocktails at an outdoor restaurant tops off the visit before heading back to Phuket! I would love the opportunity to go back and explore more of the surrounding Islands. Next time I would  take advantage of and enjoy the snorkeling and kayaking experiences.

Phi Phi Island is only a 90 minute ferry ride from Phuket, or a 45 minute speed boat ride! The Phi Phi Islands are a small archipelago consisting of six Island groups. The Islands are apart of the Krabi providence in Southern Thailand. The region of these Islands are a part of a marine national park  The largest Island Phi Phi Don (where I visited) is the ‘main’ Island, it is the only inhabited Island. The peak season to visit is from December to March (dry season). Be weary if you visit during April-November, as this is wet season, where monsoons are likely to occur. These are some of the most beautiful Islands in the world, however they are at risk from tourist leaving their mark. When visiting the Island, do so in an eco-friendly way to ensure the preservation for future generations. Be a responsible guest and don’t leave your mark.

 

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