Where to cuddle koalas and feed kangaroos in Queensland

One of the things we really wanted to do in our time in Australia was interact with the autochthonous fauna. We wanted to spend time observing koalas and kangaroos, beyond our brief encounters in Hamilton Island and the Red Center, respectively. And we wanted to get close and touch the animals, if possible. A bit of online research showed us that Queensland was the best state to do so (koala cuddling is not allowed in Sydney / New South Wales, for example), and that the Cairns Tropical Zoo was the perfect place.

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2 days sailing in the heavenly Whitsundays

I still remember the first time I saw an image of Whitehaven Beach. Someone had posted it on Facebook and I immediately thought it was a scam; that intense aquamarine water had to be photoshopped, those swirls of white sand couldn’t be real. But now that I’ve been there, I can give you my word: Whitehaven is every bit as breathtaking as you’ve dreamt it.

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NYE fireworks, The Bridge Climb… 10 ultimate Sydney experiences

Sydney is a gorgeous city. But even more so, it is a lively city, where you feel the urge to be active, explore, attend events and try new things. These are the top 10 experiences I had in Sydney during my three months living there; some more local, some more touristy, all memorable.

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Manly Beach and the hike from the Spit

Manly competes with Bondi to be considered Sydney’s best beach. And while its sand and water might not be as picture-perfect as those of its southern neighbor, the Spit to Manly walk is definitely on par with the Bondi to Coogee one. There are about 20 km of scenic trails, which can be completed in a rather long day, or split into two days to get more time on the beach and the lively suburb.

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Bondi Beach and the coastal walk

Bondi Beach and the walk along its coast is a quintessential Sydney experience, only comparable to the sight of the Opera House I covered in my previous post. Bondi can easily be reached by bus from any point of the city; we used to take the 380 from Hyde Park, a ~40 min ride for $3.5 with Opal Card (a mandatory prepaid card you can buy and top up at convenience stores). I loved Bondi so much that I came here a dozen times during my months in Sydney, even moved here for a week. And I did the coastal walk to Bronte/Coogee/Maroubra 4 or 5 times 😉

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Destination guide – Tonga

MUST DO:

  • Mapu’a ‘a Vaca blowholes
  • Relaxing in a paradise beach in Vava’u
  • Swimming with whales

NICE TO HAVE:

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A Tongan feast in remote Vava’u

During our stay in the island of Eue’iki, we not only enjoyed its paradisaical isolation, we also got a taste of Tongan tradition. Sunday is a very important day for Tongans, who are devoted Christians; they abstain from working (for real, they don’t even have flights), and families get together and attend church. Our host Veronica organizes a “Culture Day”, where guests visit the neighboring island of Taunga for several activities… and there we went.

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A paradise island called Eue’iki

How did we end up in this little piece of heaven? Eue’iki is a private island in the Tongan archipelago of Vava’u, home to the Treasure Island Eco Resort. A few days back, when we were wrapping up our time in French Polynesia, we started looking into places to spend the last days of our round-the-world trip, and we stumbled upon this one. We booked it without expecting much and we got lucky: it is as close to paradise as it gets.

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Lagoons and Heiva in Bora Bora

Our time in Bora Bora was not what we had expected. We arrived at the southwest tip of the island in the afternoon, after spending the morning snorkeling in Tahaa. We were really looking forward to this paradise island, but the weather turned on us. The sky got completely covered, the temperature dropped and the wind picked up. As we were fighting the waves (some of us puking our guts out) and trying to enter the protected area inside the reef, our starboard motor stopped working. We troubleshooted for about an hour and eventually resorted to calling the harbor engineer to come on board and help. With his help, we were able to get control of the boat back and anchor near Matira. It was too cold and rainy to enjoy the beach time we were looking for. You probably wonder what you do on a boat when this happens, and the answer is simple: play cards. We spent that whole afternoon playing card games and some charades to mix it up a bit.

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