HOW I CAUGHT THE TRAVEL BUG
I feel blessed to say that I have visited a fair few places in my life so far, some fleetingly and some for long enough to have created a real impression on me. When I was in my early twenties I developed the bug for travelling after working on an American summer camp and then travelling around the USA. My camp was based in Connecticut but I travelled to New York, Washington, Miami, New Orleans, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon and even made it across to San Diego and through into Tijuana in Mexico – a fascinating contrast to the gloss of American soil.
The whole trip was such an amazing and unforgettable experience. I spent my 21st birthday in San Francisco and even partied in LA with a then young establishing actor called Leonardo DiCaprio! Imagine my heartbreak though, when I lost in a house move, the one precious photo album I had created of all my ‘1993 America Summer Trip Adventures’. Even to this day it still upsets me that I can’t share it with my children.
However, heartbreak aside, it was a trip of a lifetime that only fuelled my passion to venture further. I wanted to see as much of the world as possible so spent a season working as an Air Stewardess for Caledonian Airways which took me to places I would possibly have never gotten the chance to visit otherwise. As part of my job we often got to stay at our long-haul destinations. I travelled to Bahrain in the Persian Gulf, I got to safari in Kenya (another incredible experience), we stopped over in Toronto and I memorably got to spend a week in Athens, shuttling football fans between Athens and Barcelona (those were some pretty rowdy flights let me tell you!). I then saved up and spent a year living and working in Australia before travelling to Thailand. I honeymooned in South Africa and have been to many European destinations.
In more recent years I have been lucky enough to engage my love of travel again with my work as a photographer taking me to New York, Las Vegas, Portugal, Iceland, Marrakech and Paris. I have also fallen in love with the South of France, in particular Nice, as a beautiful place to enjoy a short break.
The world however, is a big and beautiful place and it pains me that I’m unlikely to get to visit all the places I dream of in one lifetime. I need at least another three!
However, there are 5 destinations on my bucket list I’d love to experience at some point (aside from the planned trip to Disney World with the children of course) and if I win the lottery I plan to hire a tutor for the kids and work and educate from ‘wherever’. Now how amazing would that be?…
Santorini is a place I have dreamed of visiting for some time now. The island was created some 3600 years ago, forming as a crescent-shaped volcanic rock, after a huge volcanic eruption caused the centre of the southernmost Cyclades islands to collapse. The Aegean sea poured into the resulting caldera (crater) and Santorini as we have come to know it was born. Considered by many to be the supermodel of the Greek Islands, it’s stunning white washed villages, dotted with blue domed churches, tumble down the hills to the azure bays below. Offering breathtaking panoramas, volcanic sand beaches and distinctive architecture, Santorini’s beauty is what makes it such a popular destination with travellers. The best time to visit is between late April and early November when it is warm with little rain. However June to September is best for nightlife, swimming and sunbathing or if you prefer to avoid the crowds then October is a good time to go.
There are many beautiful places to stay in Santorini, with picturesque villages such as Oia, reputed to have some of the most breathtaking sunsets on the planet. Charisma Suites is a famous sunset spot and an all-suites hotel located in Oia and would be one of my dream place to stay in Santorini. Other places to stay in Oia, that include the panoramic views Santorini is famous for, include Katikies Resorts and Clubs and offer the same 5 star luxury as the Charisma Suites.
The Maldives. Need I say more! The Maldives is a chain of 1192 islands located south-west of Sri Lanka and India in the Indian Ocean but only 192 islands are actually inhabited by its 300,000 inhabitants. Except for more than 100 islands that have been developed for the top end of the tourist market, the rest of the islands are virgin islands and remain untouched.
Known for their incredible natural beauty, from turquoise lagoons and abundant sea life, to palm trees and white sandy beaches, it’s no surprise that the tourism industry market the Maldives as a tropical paradise.
The islands average no more than 1-2 kilometres in area and are no more than 1-1.5 metres above sea level and is entirely made of coral sand. The climate is tropical with temperatures averaging around 30 degrees year round but with two dominating seasons – dry and rainy season. The best time to visit is between November and April with high season between December and March.
Monsoon weather runs from May to October with August being one of the wettest months despite holding its temperatures. Water sports such as swimming, fishing, scuba diving, snorkeling, water-skiing, windsurfing and kite boarding can all be enjoyed as part of your stay in the Maldives but if you prefer to stick to land then the white sandy beaches have plenty of allure!
Once again there are so many beautiful places to stay in the Maldives like Anantara Resort which is only 35-minutes by speedboat from Malé International Airport and which offers 67 over water and ocean bungalows. A complete escape from life as you know it and a chance to completely unwind. What’s not to love?
Renowned to have some of the best nightclubs in the world, Ibiza has long been famous for its amazing nightlife and is considered a clubbers heaven. However, Ibiza has so much more to offer with its white sandy beaches, turquoise waters, provincial towns and wonderful food. While things start to heat up on the clubbing calendar from June onwards and the average age of the traveller to Ibiza is between 20-35, you may want to avoid areas such as San Antonio if you prefer the idea of a more relaxed break, and head instead to places such as Portinatx. Situated in the northernmost point of Ibiza, Portinatx is a secluded and very beautiful part of the island, surrounded by three sandy beaches with shops and restaurants nearby, it makes it the perfect escape from the madness of the cocktail clubbing crowd in the south part of the island. If you are after an adults only escape then Barcelo Portinatx hotel makes for a contemporary choice with beautiful sea views.
However, if you’re all about the nightlife and want to experience all the craziness that Ibiza has to offer then staying at Paradiso Art Hotel is frankly a dream stay for lovers of Instagram or photographers like myself. With a true Miami vibe, this pink paradise is a retro lovers heaven and would definitely be my choice for photoshoot opportunities alone!
Located 90 miles off the coast of Key West, Florida, Cuba is the largest and most popular island in the Caribbean spanning some 44,200 miles. Frozen in time due to the 1959 socialist revolution and US trade embargo, the island is famous for the brightly coloured vintage American cars that still roar through the streets of its cities. Combined with ramshackle streets, pastel coloured colonial and neoclassical buildings and palm trees that line its coastline, Havana is undoubtedly a photographers paradise with photo opportunities at every corner.
Cuba is a vibrant and exciting island filled with colourful art, music and a warm and friendly population. Its climate is tropical and is wet from May to October and dry from November to April with an average temperature of 25 °C.
If staying in Havana and looking for some 5 star luxury then Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski La Habana is well worth a look at and is situated in the heart of the old Havana with a direct view of the Capitol and the Great Theater of Havana and amidst UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Maybe it was my vague recollections of watching Hawaii Five.0 as a child that sparked my interest in visiting Hawaii, or maybe it was the images of palm trees and white sandy beaches, along with beautiful hip swaying ladies wearing big welcoming smiles, grass skirts and floral garlands that dazzled me most. Either way, Hawaii is somewhere I have wanted to visit for as long as I can remember. The state of Hawaii consists of eight main islands: Niihau, Kauai, Oahu, Maui, Molokai, Lanai, Kahoolawe and the Big Island of Hawaii and is the most isolated population centre on earth. It’s capital is Honolulu and as of 2017 has a population of 1.428 million.
The Hawaiian Islands were first settled thousands of years ago when Polynesians from the Marquesas Islands, 2000 miles away, traveled to Hawaii’s Big Island in canoes which is pretty amazing when you think about it! Captain James Cook, became the first European to land on the island of Kauai in 1778. Hawaii is part of the United States but is the only state made up entirely of islands. It is the birthplace of modern surfing and the hula and home to one of the most active volcanoes, and the world’s tallest sea mountain. It also provides one-third of the world’s commercial supply of pineapples, along with flowers and nursery products as its chief market industries and its tourist industry is its largest source of outside income with over 60% of the 9 million visitors being from the United States.
It has over 750 miles of coastline and over 400 named public beaches ranging from white to yellow to black and red sand so a beach to suit every taste!
There are countless places to stay in Hawaii depending on the island you are staying on, but if you find yourself in Honolulu then Halekulani would be the ultimate choice for high end luxury. However, there are plenty of hotels to fit with your budget.
There are so many other places I would love to visit in the world but these are definitely all on the bucket list. Do you have a list of places you’d love to visit or have visited and recommend? If so, I would love to hear about them!