Holiday-destination

Sail Away To New Caledonia

Whether a nautical fanatic, competitive racer, slow paced drifter or professional front deck sunbather, jump on board, hoist the sails (or watch someone else do it) and cruise into the sunset, whilst indulging in champagne, exotic cheeses and mouth-watering seafoodSound appealing? In just two hours from Brisbane, less than three hours from Sydney and under four hours from Melbourne, guests can be kicking back, enjoying this French infused destination, encircled by crystal clear waters and soul warming sunshine.  

From serious luxury yachting to the traditional wooden boat, here guests will find everything their inner sailor desires.  Choose from an exotic menu of boating options from yacht charters, with or without a skipper or host; cruises à la carte lasting several days; trips on the Great Southern Seas following the whale route; cruising via catamaran; or even just a water taxi to the islands closest to Noumea. New Caledonia is elegant French sophistication on Australia’s doorstep and with much better weather than its European motherland.

Here are some tips on why sailing in New Caledonia should be top of everyone’s holiday bucket list this summer:

Sail one of the world’s largest lagoons

New Caledonia is already regarded as an ecological hotspot, home to one of the world’s largest coastal lagoons and UNESCO World Heritage site in their backyard, but now this natural wonder has added another to the list.

Covering more than 1.3 million square kilometres, New Caledonia is home to Le Parc Naturel de la Mer de Corail or the Natural Park of the Coral Sea. The marine park is larger than Alaska, twice the size of Texas, three times the size of Germany and is one of the largest protected areas on the planet. The area covers around 450,000 hectares of coral reefs, 25 species of marine mammals, 48 shark species, 19 species of nesting birds and five species of sea turtles. 

Another jewel in the New Caledonia crown is the Isle of Pines, located at the southern tip and only 80km from Noumea, Isle of Pines is a fabulous yachting destination full of adventure and unlimited anchorages with crystal clear water and sandy beaches.  Upon arrival, sailors will be drawn in by the most magnificent bays in the world – a perfect place to start exploring this exclusive paradise.  

Be the captain of the ship  

Guests can charter an individual yacht and become their own captain, as they navigate New Caledonia and its surrounding islands. Enjoy the freedom of waking in the morning to decide where the day will lead.

From day sailing to one or two week cruises exploring the east coast, New Caledonia is the ultimate sailing destination where the tradewinds blow regularly and the array of small islands offer sheltered hideaways. Sailors can expect breezes of about 15-25 knots during the coming warm season, so with virtually no currents and tides that rarely exceed one metre, sailing the world’s largest lagoon is a breeze.

When it comes to mooring to head off and explore, there are several modern marinas equip to house all types of boat. Hulls less than 15 feet are welcomed everywhere, both in the marina of the Southern Port in Noumea and elsewhere on the Grande Terre (mainland) and islands. Port Moselle Marina, in the capital, accepts boats up to a length of 25 meters and the godfather’s of all boats, the Super Yachts can moor at the Quai des Scientifiques (Scientists Wharf), at the Quai des Paquebots (Cruise liners Wharf) or at the Quai du Musée Maritime (Maritime Museum Wharf).

For a competitive edge  

Held yearly in June, the Great Lagoon Regatta attracts sailors from around the world to sail from Noumea through the world’s largest coral reef lagoon to IIot Kouare in the southern lagoon. The regatta circuit has been developed to convey the lagoon’s natural beauty and exquisite marine life. Participants don’t have to be avid sailors to get in amongst the action; this adventure is the perfect combination of nightlife and daytime exploration of the immaculate water views.

For those keen sailors who can’t wait until next year, there is still time to register for the New Caledonia Groupama Race, which kicks off on 19 October, 2014. In its fourth year, the event will once again unite sailors from all corners, in their quest to navigate and maneuver through the blue waters of New Caledonia for three to five days, covering over  1,500km. This is a test of physical and mental endurance as participants fight the urge to kick-back and bask in the sunshine, sipping on French champagne to cross the line first.  This year’s event will also include a new virtual regatta element with live skipper, so for those couch sailors this is an opportunity get a taste before signing up next year.

Cruising via catamaran 

A catamaran charter is one of the best ways to explore the picturesque sights New Caledonia has to offer. By hiring a catamaran, rookie sailors can embark and travel to as little or as many islands they desire and at their own pace. New Caledonia offers year round sailing conditions, but for catamaraning April to November offer the best sailing conditions with approximately half metre tidal range and negligible currents. For the novice sailor, the Catamaran (the modern cruising cat, built of light weight FRP/foam construction) is said to be virtually unsinkable, so perhaps the best option if the novice caption in the group is questionable.  

With its incredible diversity and beauty, deserted islands, reefs, and abundant marine life this South Pacific paradise is a must on any sailors list, whether they are a member of the Australian Sailing or has a thirst for a holiday with a different….cast off this summer in New Caledonia.

For more information on New Caledonia visit www.visitnewcaledonia.com

August 28, 2014

Fiji Travel Guide

ACTIVITIES

On your trip to Fiji you can either pack in lots of different activities or laze around and do very little.Diving

Fiji’s warm, clear waters and abundance of reef life make the islands a magnet for divers.

The beauty of Fiji is that, with a well-established dive industry, you can have great access to diving regardless of whether your accommodation funds extend to budget or luxury. When choosing a place to stay, decide whether the sole purpose of your trip is diving or whether you also want to pursue other activities. Some resorts specialise in diving, and exclusive resorts often include diving in the daily tariff.

Many travellers take the opportunity to learn scuba diving while in Fiji, and most operators offer courses for beginners as well as certification and advanced courses.

Dive Sites

Fiji has vast unexplored regions as well as many dive sites of world renown. There is no such thing as the best diving site, especially in Fiji. Each dive site has something special or unique. Sites range from the safe and easy, to wall dives in fast currents, to dives with reef sharks.

Snorkelling

Snorkelling in Fiji’s warm waters is a definite highlight and is often fantastic very close to the coast.

You are likely to see brilliant soft and hard corals, multitudes of colourful fish of various shapes and sizes, sponges, sea cucumbers, urchins, starfish, Christmas-tree worms and molluscs. Crustaceans are more difficult to spot and many only come out at night. Night snorkelling is a fantastic experience if you can overcome your fear of the unknown!

May 27, 2003

Dream Holiday Destinations

In a recent SheSaid competition we asked you to tell us about your dream holiday destination. For some of you it’s a place, for other’s more a state of mind. And while for most of us an exotic international holiday any time soon is plain wishful thinking, there’s no harm in dreaming!Here’s a selection of the best responses…

Sun, cocktails, water, beautiful boys. That’s it. That’s all I want. Oh and shops (of course)! Laura.

Toasting on a beach in Jamaica with some beautiful Jamaican guys drooling over me and me drooling over them. Just me my bikini and my men! Kellie.

Somewhere in the pacific, not too hot, but a moderate 25 degrees, palms everywhere, beach pure white, water glistening, and hot babes to serve my meals. Did I mention a small mall not too far away? Katrina

Has to be the Maldives. Think of endless hot days with white sand beaches and dark muscly local men with tight derrieres. Heaven in paradise. Helen.

Somewhere with sun, fun fabulous friends and fabulous food! I need to escape winter and get some colour to stop everyone calling me Casper! Pega.

Australia – there’s so much to see in our own backyard. I’d love to do a big trip around the country and soak it all up – from the rainforests to the deserts. The people, the weather, the food! Jenny.

Bora Bora, tropical blue water, French/Polynesian hospitality, glass bottom huts over the reef, now all I need is the hunky boyfriend and I’m off! Michele.

My dream holiday spot would be my Mum’s house. I miss her like crazy and can’t wait to go on holidays to see her! Carla.

Rome, Italy. Pizza Pasta Wine and the music. Relaxing in a vineyard in the sun with my partner. Kerry.

My dream holiday destination would have to be Paris. It’s a romantic beautiful city filled with art, history, great food and fabulous shopping what more could you want! Flavia.

Edinburgh … in a warm Scottish pub drinking decent beer with the cold wind howling outside. Erin.

Cuba is my ideal holiday destination, sipping daiquiris all night long dancing away to salsa beats in a hot bar packed with good looking young Latinos. Fay.

I know it doesn’t exist, but I’d love to go to Tolkien’s “Middle-Earth” and holiday with the hobbits. They seem carefree, simple and very, very happy living in the shire. Anh.

Probably the Cadbury Factory in Tasmania. I would have an absolute field day in there. I would not want to leave! Deanne.

December 10, 2002

Peppers Delgany, Mornington Peninsula

Take one castle, superb food, wine, luxurious bedrooms, and most importantly add “Peppers”. It’s all to be found at Peppers Delgany on the spectacular Mornington Peninsula.Peppers Delgany is a small retreat with an air of intimacy, rest and relaxation. Set on 5 hectares of private gardens, Peppers Delgany features 32 spacious rooms and suites, the award-winning Castle Restaurant offering modern Australian cuisine, Portsea Spa offering a variety of health & beauty, a tennis court and heated swimming pool.

The retreat adjoins the famous Portsea Golf Course and is flanked

by an array of Australia’s finest beaches. Local attractions include wine tasting at some of Australia’s best cool climate vineyards, dolphin and seal watching cruises, fishing excursions, horse riding along ocean beaches, bushwalking in Mornington Peninsula National Park and sightseeing in the quaint seaside village of Sorrento.Friendly and relaxed, our castle is your home. Simply stroll around the estate and breath in the fresh sea air, venture down to the beach for a coastal walk, enjoy a hit of tennis, a massage or simply relax into the comfortable guest lounge

your favourite book and a glass of wine. And, with views of the surrounding coastal playground, huge comfortable beds and elegant d?cor, each luxurious guest room also encourages a sense of calm and comfort.Whatever comfort, luxury or pleasure means to you, you’ll find it here at Peppers Delgany.

Peppers Delgany, Mornington Peninsula

Point Nepean Road

Portsea VIC 3944

Phone 03 5984 4000

Fax 03 5984 4022

Email preserva@peppers.com.au

www.peppers.com.au

November 12, 2002

Exploring Sydney – Eat, Drink and be very Merry

Sydney Harbour – soak it up

Sydney is synonymous with individual style, a place where absolutely anything goes. But there’s a lot more to Sydney than surfing and sun. This week we’re exploring some of Sydney’s best-kept secrets in search of fine food, great coffee and a great night out. Join us on our whirlwind tour of eating and drinking in the grooviest parts of Sydney.Newtown is a magnet for passionate people from all walks of life. A place where it’s cool to be straight or gay, pierced or ponytailed, Newtown offers a fantastic, friendly mix of cultures and lifestyles.

King Street is the backbone of Newtown

Double espresso or soy latte?

and no visit to Sydney is complete without a leisurely weekend walk down this famous thoroughfare, where you can window shop or just marvel at the carnivalesque vibe of the street.If food’s your thing your tastebuds will be tantalised by the endless choices of cuisines from around the globe in this gourmet Mecca. From African to Turkish – in fact 20 different ethnic foods are represented and over 70 different unique eating experiences to savour! Yum!

If you’re after something more of the liquid variety, you can’t go past The Bank Hotel – a favourite haunt for Newtown locals, offering a

Flirty cocktails…

cool cocktail, delicious Thai restaurant and al fresco drinking at it’s best. Mingle with the decidedly mixed crowd from builders to businessmen to body piercers. You’ll have a ball! Don’t miss The Imperial for a real taste of ‘pink’ Sydney – and a peek at the pub that was the starting point for drag-road-trip Priscilla: Queen of the Desert.Woolloomooloo is the latest Sydney suburb to get a well-earned facelift. Starting out life as a rough and ready shipping hub at the bottom of Kings Cross, Woolloomooloo, with it’s enviable harbourside location is fast

Fine dining, great views

becoming the place to be for Sydney’s cool set. And with a stunning range of eating and drinking venues, it’s no wonder!The refurbished Finger Wharf at Woolloomooloo is home to some of Sydney’s best restaurants and bars, and is practically a village unto itself! Stroll down the promenade in the afternoon and grab a coffee and a naughty sweet thing from the divinely wicked Laurent Patisserie. Watch the sun set on the harbour and then head into the super-cool W Hotel and their famous cocktail bar for a pre-dinner drink before settling in to an exquisite meal and wine –

Harry’s Cafe de Wheels – pies to die for!

Otto, Manta Ray and more, you’ll be in good hands.It’s almost a criminal offence to come to Sydney and not sample the famous pie and mash combos from Harry’s Cafe de Wheels. A Sydney institution, you can chomp on the best pie you’ve ever had and rub shoulders with Sydney’s elite – or just as easily the cab drivers that service them!

Heading over the Harbour Bridge and towards the seaside suburb of Balmoral brings with it a whole new world of tastes to indulge in. Continue the seaside theme and order up big

Beautiful Balmoral…

at what is arguably the best fish and chip place in Sydney, the Bottom of the Harbour Fish and Chips?If you’re after the ultimate in seaside dining, the divine Bathers’ Pavillion should not be missed. The smell of the sea will awaken your appetite and the stunning food and atmosphere of this impressive establishment will leave you completely satisfied. If it’s memorable dining experiences you’re after you can’t go past the famous Watermark Restaurant that has been wowing diners from around the world for years. The sublime view of Sydney Harbour is perfectly complemented by the sumptuous Modern Australian

Jump to it! Visit Sydney…

food served up in style. 

July 2, 2002

Pampering and pure indulgence – Melbourne

Pampering and pure indulgence – Melbourne


Explore your senses in beautiful Melbourne
If you need a break from the everyday then there’s no better way to get away than by indulging your senses and taking time out with a loved one or with a gaggle of girlfriends. Head to Melbourne where there is no end to the decadence and you won’t go broke in the process either!

For pampering why don’t you make a day of it at seaside St Kilda, home to the devastatingly hip twenty-somethings from the Secret Life of Us. Here you can visit the absolutely stunning Aurora Spa Retreat for rest, relaxation and rejuvenation in their total wellness centre. After your pampering session you can head to the famous Acland Street for some of the most delectable and decadent European cakes this side of well…Europe.



Perfect coffee, decadent cakes…

Talking of sweet things, no self-respecting chocoholics, could miss ‘Talkabout Tours’ Chocolate Lovers Walk, this fun, informative and mouthwatering walk will take you through some of the secret laneways and arcades of Melbourne. You’ll sample all manner of sweet things from Melbourne’s ‘Charmaine’s’ traditional and unusual ice-creams to Haigh’s world-famous chocolate frogs. One of the tour highlights includes a visit to ‘Suga’ in the Royal Arcade. Here you can ogle the hip young men as they create brilliantly bright and flavoured candy before your eyes.

Also located in the Royal Arcade, the oldest of Melbourne’s surviving arcades is ‘Spellbox’, where Danae the white witch will read your tarot cards or cast a spell to grant your wish. Here you’re surrounded by wares of beauty and intrigue; boxes that contain the tools to weave magic into your life, jars of organic herbs, wands, amulets and other objects for conniving divine inspiration!



Pampering at the Aurora Spa

Japanese tradition is brought to life at ‘Geisha’ in Little Collins Street where every treatment (haircut or massage) is proceeded by Japanese tea served in the tatami room. You will receive a yukata (a cotton kimono style robe) to wear during treatments the robe is so funky you might be tempted to buy one with a selection of Maiko beauty products at the end of your session. On the second floor, shiatsu and relaxation massages are conducted in pampered privacy.

For total rest and relaxation you can’t beat the spa centres of the big international hotels. Melbourne’s Park Hyatt Spa Club is open to non-guest and your treatment session also includes the use of the stunning swimming pool, steam rooms and saunas. For the ultimate day spa you can’t go past the Crown Spa the epitome of opulence and total luxury. The Crown Spa has over 15 private rooms of varying sizes and with a combination of Western and Eastern treatment styles there’s something for everyone.

After a spa treatment at the Crown Towers why not wander next door to the Sheraton Southgate and the Melba Brasserie for an award winning meal overlooking the city including the majestic Flinders Street Station, the funky new Federation Square complex and the boats bobbing and gliding along the Yarra.

June 18, 2002

Lonely Planet – World Food Indonesia

Hot off the Lonely Planet press comes the latest tasty little number in the World Food series, World Food Indonesia.

Indonesia’s rich history is one of the keys to the development of this delicious and diverse cuisine with China, India. Persia, Arabia, Portugal, Spain, England and of course, the Dutch, all having their finger in the Indo pie at some time or other.

World Food Indonesia offers the traveller and armchair traveller alike, a wealth of foodie facts and figure, recipes, tips and treats. Chapters include The Culture of Indonesian Cuisine, Staples and Specialties including soups, spices and sauces, Where to Eat and Drink and all you need to know about hosting an Indonesian banquet. World Food Indonesia is the book for people who, as the cover proclaims ‘live to eat, drink and travel,’ and this handy guide will have you ordering rendang, babi guling and tasty jajanan like a local. If you’re anything like me, before long your love affair with the savoury delights of sambal, kecap manis and saus kacang will see you stocking your pantry with these condiments forever more.

The Eat Your Words Language Guide including an easy to follow pronunciation guide will be a great help when eating out and on your culinary shopping expeditions. A selection of useful phrases will see you through most eating and drinking situations with ease.

SheSaid’s top tip? Some parts of Indonesia, notably North Sulawesi and the Batak region in Sumatra, sometimes use the meat of our canine companions in their cooking. So if you’re not in the market for a dish of dog be aware. B1 is the term for dog in the Batak region, a name which derives from biang, the local word for dog. Woof!

By Sally Schofield

April 23, 2002

Valentines Day Getaway Special

ROMANCE IS IN SEASON AT THE SEBEL
This Valentine’s Day treat your special someone to romance, relaxation and rejuvenation at The Sebel Resort and Spa Hawkesbury.

Romantically located in the historic town of Windsor, at the gateway to the stunning Blue Mountains and nestled in picturesque surroundings, The Sebel is the ultimate retreat for a couple seeking a complete getaway.

And for this special occasion, The Sebel Resort and Spa Hawkesbury is offering the ultimate package for you to spoil your Valentine for as long as you like! From Monday 11th to Sunday 24th February stay at the resort for as little as $190 per room per night and enjoy some extra treats, for you’ll also receive a bottle of Australian sparkling wine, chocolates and a single red rose in your room on arrival.

The facilities at The Sebel Resort and Spa Hawkesbury are impressive with 104 guestrooms and suites,

many featuring their own personal spa and some with an open fireplace. Tastefully decorated, the rooms are large and comfortable and feature king-sized beds and stylish furnishings. Many rooms offer spectacular views over the golf course and surrounding countryside.The resort’s expansive grounds include two all weather tennis courts, an indoor heated pool, sauna, spa and fully equipped gymnasium. Adjacent to the hotel you’ll find a choice of two golf courses and a driving range.For those seeking some serious pampering, the world-class Villa Thalgo Hydrotherapy Spa is an oasis of luxurious health and beauty treatments for both men and women. Enjoy the complete European spa experience with soothing massages, invigorating wraps and skin treatments using the latest technology developed in France by prestigious Thalgo cosmetics. There is an array of individual treatments as well as indulgent packages for couples.

February 20, 2002

Valentines Day Getaway Special (Cont’d)


With two restaurants on site, The Sebel Resort and Spa Hawkesbury has a reputation for superb cuisine. The Harvest restaurant serves the best in contemporary Australian food, while the Courtyard Gazebo, surrounded by leafy gardens, is ideal for an ‘alfresco’ buffet breakfast. Then when it’s time to kick-back and relax after a full day, unwind before dinner with a long cool drink or delicious cocktail in the warm and welcoming ambience of Barrack’s Bar. Perhaps you might even like to try one of the two private dining rooms, which can be personally arranged for intimate dinners.

Special St Valentine’s Package
$190 (courtyard room), $210 (standard spa room), or $230 (deluxe spa room), per night. Includes, GST, buffet breakfast for two, bottle of Australian sparkling wine, chocolates and a red rose. Offer is available from the 11th to the 24th February 2002.

For more information about The Sebel Resort and Spa, Hawkesbury and Harvest Restaurant phone the hotel direct on (02) 4577 4222, or visit our website at www.mirvachotels.com.au The Sebel Resort and Spa Hawkesbury, 61 Richmond Rd, Windsor.

February 20, 2002

Chilling out in Barbados: A Travel Guide

As someone who used to live there, it’s easy to understand what draws so many tourists to this remote island. There’s the sandy beaches lined with frangipani, bougainvillea, and vibrant flame trees, which provide an exquisite backdrop to the crystal clear blue water that laps the shores of this island paradise. Chaos and stress become a distant memory on Barbados. Inevitably you will find yourself asking, “Hey man, what speed you at?”Here are a few facts about Barbados, as most people know little or nothing about this gem of a place.

  • It’s located between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic, northeast of Venezuela.

    Barbados is only 34 kms long and 23 kms wide.

  • It was originally named Los Barbados, or “the bearded ones”, by the Portuguese after the “bearded” fig trees which grow along the beaches.
  • The English later ‘re-discovered’ Barbados in 1625, and it was only in 1966 that Barbados declared its independence, while still remaining a member of the British Commonwealth.
  • Barbados has a population of approximately 264,000, and is the most densely populated of all the Caribbean islands.
  • Approximately half the population lives in the capital Bridgetown, and along the west and south coasts.
  • An estimated half a million long-stay tourists visit Barbados annually, and it is no surprise that this beautiful island has placed emphasis on the development of a strong tourist infrastructure.
  • Barbados also has a large community of ex-pats from Britain, Canada, Europe, and the USA, who tend to spend half the year in Barbados, and the other half, “at home”.
  • The best time of year to visit Barbados is during the months of November through to March.
  • Although the temperature varies slightly, this season is known as the dry season, and temperatures hover between 23 and 31 degrees. The months from July, through to September, are known as the wet season, and it becomes, horribly humid and hot. Hurricanes at this time of year are not uncommon, and if it is at all possible, avoiding the Caribbean is advisable.

Okay, so where do you stay? What do you do there?

Barbados has 200 hotels, guesthouses, and apartments that cater for most budgets. There appears to be a large number of luxurious accommodation as over the last decade Barbados has become the playground for the seriously rich and sometimes famous, who escape the northern hemisphere winter, in search of warmth, the Barbadian pace of life, and a damn good Pina Colada. The art of relaxation has been mastered on Barbados, and although lying on a sandy beach seems to be mandatory during the day, Barbados boasts an extraordinary range of sporting activities.

There are a number of exceptional golf courses on the island, with the course at the exclusive and luxurious Sandy Lane hotel being the most famous. Snorkeling and scuba diving are also popular on the sheltered west coast, as there is a 4 mile stretch of coral reef, that is not only home to marine life, but also to some impressive wrecks. Swimming is often forbidden on the rugged east coast, however serious surfers relish the wild conditions, risking the wrath of the Atlantic weather, in hope of finding the perfect wave.

Getting around the island is relatively easy, if not amusing. Car hire is readily available and reasonable, however catching the local bus is a cultural experience not to be missed. Bus stops are not clearly marked, and people appear to jump on and off as they please, with no one, least of all the drivers in a hurry to get anywhere. The bus is an ideal, and inexpensive way to see the inhabited parts of the island, as it winds its way through hamlets, and rows of delightful chattel houses. These are a unique part of Barbadian heritage, and are made of wood (often painted different, bright colours), with a symmetrical facade and an overhanging porch.

Aside from sugar cane, production of vegetables and crops is limited, with the majority food for the island being shipped in daily from the USA. This makes food expensive, both in supermarkets and restaurants, and the choice fairly limited. However Barbados does have some extraordinary restaurants and the combination of a gastronomic feast and exquisite beach surroundings equate to pure heaven in the realm of global dining experiences.

The nightlife in Barbados is fabulous. The Harbourlights nightclub is the most renowned, with local and international DJs performing nightly, but also provides its patrons with some of the best reggae in the Caribbean. Bars such as the very groovy Croc’s have a more laid back (if this is at all possible) atmosphere, where regulars play pool, and compare suntans.

For more about Barbados go to www.funbarbados.com or http://barbados.org/

May 1, 2001

Caribbean Dreams – The Virgin Island Travel Guide

Thinking of taking a trip? Why not chillax in one of the most beautiful places on earth?

Even if you’ve never been on a boat in your life, the Caribbean’s Virgin Islands will make you want to hoist your sail and take a swill of rum. These sleepy little islands – like giant stepping stones scattered across the sea – are a sailor’s and water lover’s delight. Put simply, the exquisite, emerald green islands will take your breath away.

Okay, okay, so getting to the Virgin Islands may prove to be a royal pain, but the extra effort is worth it. You can fly into Tortola but you’ll probably need to ply the sapphire-blue Caribbean waters by water taxi or ferry to reach your hotel, villa or guesthouse. Thankfully you won’t find any monolithic, high rise hotels straddling the beaches here. You also won’t find any rah rah all-inclusive resorts.

Still a British colony; the BVIs (British Virgin Islands) have more than 50 islands in the chain, though only a handful are inhabited. They are remarkably underdeveloped and sparsely populated, with only 18,000 local inhabitants. If you can’t give up your MTV, shopping, golf or a flutter at the casino, skip the BVIs. But if you want to chill out and spend your afternoons doing nothing more stressful than napping in a hammock by the sea, the BVIs are a perfect choice.

Although you’ll still find a touch of British formality, the vibe here is casual and fun. When you’re at the beach bar, you’ll be sitting alongside captains of industry, rock stars, famous actors, and colourful local characters, all gathered to sip Painkillers – a rum concoction – with their new best friends.

About the only place you’ll see much evidence of tourism is at the most famous spot on Virgin Gorda, called the Baths. Their grand granite boulders frame the most perfect blue Caribbean you could desire.

The best things about the Virgin Islands are picnics on deserted beaches, sunset sails in tiny boats and morning walks where you won’t run into another soul.

The British Virgin Islands you must visit

Tortola: The largest of the BVIs, Tortola is only 21 miles long. It’s name means ‘turtledove’ in Spanish. The BVI capital, Road Town is here, as well as a huge marina filled with hundreds of yachts that account for half of the BVIs ‘tourist beds.’

Virgin Gorda: Home to some of the most spectacular resorts in the BVIs, Virgin Gorda packs a world of beauty into a mere 8 miles. It has two national parks, both great for hiking.

Anegada: Although this stretch of land is within sight of the other islands, you can easily overlook the flat, sandy island that looks like a giant beach and feels like the end of the earth.

The best bits

Sailing, sailing: Free spirits just love drifting from one island to the next through the Sir Francis Drake Channel.

Eye popping gorgeous setting: The Caribbean doesn’t get any better than this. You can truly find that island getaway and snag your own private strand of beach.

Unexpected fun: When you’re at Foxy’s or Bomba’s beach bar, you may encounter Jack Nicholson sipping on a cocktail or Eric Clapton jamming the night away with a few mates. Honestly.

For more great travel advice click here!

April 1, 2001

Caribbean Dreams – Barbados Travel Guide

Steeped in English tradition and more straightlaced than some of its neighbours, Barbados has been giving the wealthy and famous the royal treatment for centuries.

Known for its posh resorts from Sandy Lane to the Royal Pavilion (think Robyn Leach and ‘Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous’), Barbados offers a range of accommodation, whether you’re seeking a chilled getaway at an intimate guesthouse or the frenetic activity of a sprawling resort. You’ll receive the royal treatment from the moment you are greeted at the airport and whisked away to your hotel. And you’ll pay for it too – the star treatment doesn’t come cheap.

Barbados is a favorite destination of an older, British crowd who migrate to the island year after year. This is hardly surprising when you consider the island was under British rule for three centuries until 1966. The place is full of the type of people who dress up for dinner. Dressing up is a must in Barbados and the mood is unmistakably civilized. The British influence is still strong, but the many locals, Bajans, provide the island with an animated dose of culture. The one good thing about the island’s demanding clientele is that the food is of a world class standard. Dining in Barbados is definitely worth dressing up for.

The Best Bits

The Dining Scene:

Chefs on Barbados, unlike those on similar Caribbean islands, are experimental, sophisticated and eager to meet the challenge of demanding palates.

The Service:

You won’t want for attention; you’ll have help at your beck and call.

Safety:

Crime is hardly a concern on this well-heeled island.

On the East Coast:

You’ll see miles of untouched beach along the island’s wildest, hilliest and most beautiful stretch of coast. Bathsheba/Cattlewash beach is the premier destination for surfers keen to lap up the East Coast’s crashing waves. Locals ride the waves here daily but swimming here or anywhere along the Atlantic coast can be extremely dangerous, so you should stick to sightseeing in this area.

On the South Coast:

Here you’ll find medium waves and a young, energetic crowd. The beaches are consistently broad with white, powdery sand; the reef-protected waters are crystal clear and safe for swimming and snorkeling. South coast beaches to check out: Accra, Casuarina, Needham’s Point, Sandy, Bottom Bay and Silver Rock.

On the West Coast:

If you want the calm, magnificently clear Caribbean, head for the west coast, where you’ll find stunning coves and sandy beaches as well as excellent water sports. You can even water ski here. This area is also nicknamed the ‘gold coast’ for it’s unbroken chain of beaches. Beaches to check out: Mullins, Paynes & Bombas.

Read more about this exciting destination in California for Dummies Travel Guide or check out www.dummies.com. The Travel for Dummies series covers many more of the world’s most fabulous cities. The Travel for Dummies series is available from all good book stores nationally.

March 1, 2001

Caribbean Travel Guide


But Keep in Mind

Mind your Manners:

The ‘have it your way’ philosophy doesn’t belong here – it’s the Queen’s rules all the way. Better polish up on what fork to use with which course.

Deals:

Rates are out of sight unless you’re willing to look hard. Prices are high on everything from food to hotel rooms.

Claustrophobia-inducing roads:

Oddly you’re likely to find busy, narrow roads right next to your room at many hotels.

The Bottom Line

If your idea of paradise is the feel of an English outpost in the tropics, Barbados will be your cup of tea.

Where to stay:

Barbados has classy villas, small boutique hotels, timeshares and a handful of all inclusives. You won’t find any big chains. This island is not the place for romantic secluded retreats like you’ll find on the British Virgin Islands or Jamaica. It’s also not the place you’ll find stunning architecturally designed hotels. With a few exceptions the architects who designed them didn’t go for a cutting edge look. Most resorts have relied instead on Barbados’ beautiful beaches and lush gardens to enchant visitors.

Almond Beach Villa

Heywoods, St Peter, Barbados

Tel: + 800 425 6663

Fax: + 800 246 422 4900

Website: www.almondresorts.com

Set on a mile-long stretch of beach this is Barbados’ largest resort. It’s also a great choice for families or sports enthusiasts.

Cobblers Cove

St Peter, Barbados

Tel: + 800 890 6060

Fax: 246 422 2291

Website: www.barbados.org/hotels/cobblers.htm

Built on the site of a former British fort, Cobblers Cove is adjacent to a small but pleasant crescent beach situated on a placid cove on Barbados’ famed Gold Coast. This is a small resort, and a favourite of gourmands and older European visitors stands out as one of the comfortable, hospitable places to stay.

February 1, 2001