thewelltravelledman tallinn estonia

Tallinn is a truly beautiful city, caught with a perfect combination of incredible Soviet history and a new, modern culture with a thriving society. The city is notorious for stag-dos, with tourists flocking to the Northern part of Estonia largely for its cheap booze more than its uniquely-stunning architecture. But its cultural value should not be overlooked. Here are a few must-dos on the list when visiting the Baltic city.

Take a trip to the old town

Tallinn old town is full of quaint little shops, restaurants and historic monuments that put it at the top of most people’s list of sites to see when visiting the city. As well as some stunning architecture, the old town offerS something else that you seldom get in European capital cities – tranquillity.

I’ve visited Estonia three times now, twice in the peak of winter and once in the summer, and I would thoroughly recommend a walk through the old town during winter. As you go to Spain for sun in the summer, when you visit Estonia in winter time you know you’re going to get snow. There is something quite magical about being in a thriving country, in the heart of the capital city walking down near-empty streets with snow falling peacefully around you.

Tallinn old town is also the site of the city walls, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. If there is one part of Tallinn that feels like a typically-crowded tourist spot, it’s at the top of the walls. It is a beautiful site that gives you great views across the city, but with its amazing scenery comes popularity, so be prepared to battle with other camera-snapping tourists for the best shots.

TV Tower

Photo by Bernt Rostad. License: CC BY 2.0.

The last couple of decades have really seen Estonia prosper since the Soviet Union dissolved, allowing for its own culture to blossom. Tallinn has staged the international ‘Baltics Weekend’ festival, hosted the 2002 Eurovision song contest and was even selected as the venue for Atletico and Real Madrid’s 2018 European Supercup tie. A hugely significant year, in particular, was 2011, where Ronny Kaiser won the last EPT tournament to famously be held in Tallinn. Estonia got accepted into the EU and Tallinn was named European Capital of Culture 2011.

Despite the city developing its own cultural identity though, there are certainly still some great places to visit from the Soviet era, the TV Tower being one.

It was built and eventually completed by the Soviets in 1980 and stands at 314 metres high. At its base, you often find historical or cultural exhibitions. Visitors take a lift to the top, where a door gives you the option to view the surrounding scenery for miles around the enclosed skyroom. From inside, a 360 degree view can be seen stretching across the City and out in all directions into the Baltic sea.

One last thing to mention, across the floor of the upper room of the tower are multiple glass squares. So, if you are feeling brave you can walk across them with the 1115ft drop in clear view below.

The largest outdoor history museum in the world

This is not exactly how it sounds. Tallinn has museums, many of which are well worth a visit. But it is not home to the world’s largest outdoor museum. What I meant by this is that with the Soviet occupation being so recent, reminders of those times are scattered absolutely everywhere. A walk through a forest near where I was staying ended up with us stumbling upon (what I assume was) a huge, underground aircraft hangar.

On the main road approaching Tallinn from the east, huge structures by the sea that almost look like giant ramps to launch boats from can been seen. Statues, old buildings, signalling towers, former military bases and who knows what else can be found simply by walking around the city and exploring – many of which are almost completely intact.

All you historians out there, forget reading books and visiting museums, experience the real thing in Tallinn.

Sun, sea and sand – often without the sun!

It is not known for its white, sandy beaches, but Estonia does have some beautiful stretches of coastline (the southern city of Parnu in particular). The sun may not be shining all the time, and you’ll be lucky if temperatures are above the 25 celcius mark, but nevertheless, the beaches provide a great place to take a walk and enjoy the views. The Pirita district of Tallinn situated outside of the city is where you want to go for this.

Estonia is a beautiful country and forgive the cliche, but Tallinn is a city like no other. You get the history. You get the modern buzz of a rapidly-developing and technological country. You get amazing views, beautiful nature, beaches, forests, restaurants and bars, with a culture that is unique to that area of Europe. It is absolutely worth a visit, but just make sure you bring your hat and gloves if you go in the winter!

You’ve planned a trip to Noosa, which is one of Queensland’s most popular beachside towns located on the Sunshine Coast. If there is one thing you should see while you’re up there, it is, of course, the Fairy Pools.

What are the Fairy Pools?

The Fairy Pools are two natural tidal pools near Noosa. The pools are best enjoyed at low tide when the pools are calm and absolutely spectacular (as the waves aren’t crashing into them creating ripples on the surface). If the timing doesn’t work out, it’s still worth the trip, it feels like a bit of an adventure getting to the pools (eve though it’s relatively easy) and whilst the lower pool may not be visible at high tide, depending on the swell, the higher pool may still be enjoyed for a quick dip while you enjoy the ocean views.

Tip: We’ve seen a couple of people have a quick snorkel to investigate the sponges and fish which inhabit the pools and they said it was absolutely worth it. The disclaimer to this is that we’ve not snorkeled here ourselves!

Where are they located?

Tucked away along the coast of Noosa National Park, you will come across the Fairy Pools. But, you really need to know where they are or you can very easily miss them, as I said before, it feels like a bit of an adventure when you first visit.

Continue reading for step by step instructions on how to find the Fairy Pools.

When to visit the Fairy Pools

To avoid sharing this beautiful spot with a million other people, sharing slippery rocks and trying to get that cool photo, only you have a Fairy Pool filled with other people trying to achieve the same outcome, it is important to visit at just the right time.

Step 1: If you can avoid weekends and school holidays then that is going to go in your favour. If you can’t, and we couldn’t avoid a weekend then follow Step 2 and Step 3. I would even recommend a winter visit, as the beaches are usually far more quiet in the winter months!

Step 2: Check out the tide times. If you don’t take anything from this post except this piece of advice, then you will manage just fine. You NEED to visit the pools on low tide to actually see both of the pools and enjoy them for what they are. You may still be able to enjoy the larger pool on high tide, provided the swell is minimal and the water is calm.

Step 3: Get there early! If there is a low tide early in the morning, wake up and get there! This will be your only chance to enjoy these beautiful natural rock pools on your own or with very few people.

Best spot to park?

If you’re lucky, you can park right at the entrance to the Noosa National Park walkway, but parking is extremely limited and if there is a traffic jam getting in and out it could waste precious time trying to get to the pools at the right time!

We parked at the Lions Carpark just off Noosa Parade, but be careful as there is a maximum time you can park there and yes, they do chalk your tyres!!! So keep an eye on the time and make sure you’re back with enough time to shift your car.

Getting to the Fairy Pools

The Fairy Pools are accessed by a little bit of easy rock scrambling – There is also no clear signage as to where you have to go, so if you’re lucky enough not to be visiting when everyone else is, you won’t have anyone to follow so take note of these directions.

If you’re starting your walk from Noosa’s main beach, at the end of the beach you will see the start of the boardwalk which is the start of the coastal track. The start of the walk will take you past First Point and Little Cove and you will then reach the Noosa National Park Carpark.

When you continue your walk, you will notices changes in the track, a little more rocky, dirt and sandy.

Be sure to keep an eye on the time to make sure you get there in time to see the pools at their best. You can always stop in at the beautiful beaches along the way, on the way back.

As you continue to walk the coastal track, keep note of where you are up to and try not to get too distracted by what’s around you!

You will need to exit the path, at the lookout on the point at the far eastern end of Granite Bay which is AFTER you have passed both Winch Cove and Picnic Cove. But if you have walked to the big bend in the track then you have gone too far.

If you keep an eye out for a picnic bench seat a couple hundred metres away from the Picnic Cove sign, that is a good indication of where to turn off.

Click here for the Noosa National Park headland walking tracks.

The walk itself will take around 30 – 40 minutes from Little Cove Car Park. For the most part, there are well-maintained tracks for you to follow and a little incline in parts. You only need to negotiate the scrambling of rocks to get to the pools at the end.

You can continue walking afterwards towards Hell’s Gate.

Here is a short video of our Noosa National Park trip! Remember to put it on HD 1080p.

Facilities near the Fairy Pools

You’re in a national park, so there are no facilities near the Fairy Pools. I would suggest visiting the toilet block behind Tea Tree Bay before you continue on with the walk. These are the closest facilities.

What to take with you

We recommend bringing a few essentials with you, as you will be gone for a couple of hours!

  • Backpack
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Water
  • Snacks
  • Beach Towel
  • Sneakers for the walk
  • Thongs for afterwards at the beach
  • Goggles if you want to try and snorkel
  • A camera of course!

Where to stay in Noosa

We recommend staying at the Sofitel Noosa Pacific Resort. Watch this space for our full review of the hotel and our reasons for recommending you stay here!

Other things to do on the Sunshine Coast

If you have a bit of time on the Sunshine Coast, there is plenty to see and do. We can recommend a few things, such as:

Mount Coolum National Park and lookout: Click here to find out more.

Strawberry Picking: Click here to find out more.

Mooloolaba Beach: Watch this space! Blog post coming soon.

Have you visited the Fairy Pools? What did you think? Leave your comments below.

“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.” – Andre Gide

 

Hotel: Sofitel Darling Harbour

Location: Sydney, Australia

Room: Prestige Suite

Perfect for: Couples

Category: 5 Star


From the moment you step into the foyer and smell the famous Sofitel Signature Scent, you know you are in a piece of luxury. The foyer exudes a mixture of sophistication and elegance and a sense of peacefulness with the large fish tank behind the guest services counter. You forget for a moment you’re in the buzzing city of Sydney.

We booked our complimentary night with our Accor Plus membership. It was a perfect way to spend our Babymoon! We decided to upgrade and pay an additional $90 for a luxury room. Because we are Platinum Accor members, we were upgraded and were lucky enough to spend the night in the Prestige Suite.

It was so nice to arrive in the room with a beautiful platter of fruit and macaroons with some balloons! 

Click here to find out more about claiming your FREE night! Click here to read more about the Le Accor Hotel loyalty program.

For a short video of the hotel and room, watch this short video! Remember to change the quality to 1080p HD!

 

Our welcome experience at the Sofitel Darling Harbour…

Being Platinum Accor Plus members, we were able to go straight to the priority check-in counter. We arrived early so the team took our bags and offered us complimentary tea or coffee. We were given a key to access the pool area as well as Club Millesime which we were able to enjoy before our room was ready.

Being a platinum member, or by simply booking a room with club access, you have the luxury of being able to check in/out in Club Millesime, which at peak times can save you plenty of time!

To read more about Club Millesime, continue reading!

The Room…

Words don’t do this room justice. From the moment you walk in, you’re swept up in the views which on a clear day take you all the way out to the Blue Mountains from the city. It is simply breathtaking.

thewelltravelledman Sofitel darling harbour

The lounge and dining room is spacious and really encourages you to sit down, relax and enjoy the magnificent views. We found ourselves just sitting on the lounge, just watching the boats pass in and out of Darling Harbour.

The bedroom is equipped with a king size bed and floor to ceiling windows so you can continue to enjoy the views.

The bathroom is extremely spacious and has an incredible bath situated in the middle of the bathroom. And if that’s not enough, the shower has dual rain showers and a built-in seat. Does it get much better than that?

Meals…

Club Millesime: Breakfast was included for us at the club and it was plentiful. You can order your eggs à la carte or from the buffet. Breakfast, tea and coffee s included when you have Club Millesime access!

Atelier Restaurant: We had dinner at Atelier Restaurant. The service was faultless.

The staff, who knew Jenna was pregnant, identified the appropriate meals and were very helpful. We also had the benefit of using our Accor Plus membership which entitles us to 50% off our food bill.

We ordered the Seafood Bouillabaisse for entre and the Prawns A La Provencale (which are both signature dishes) as well as a Black Angus Medallion.

The food was delicious and the prawns in the main were probably the largest I’ve had in a meal before.

To read more about Accor Plus and how to get 50% off your dining, click here.

Hotel Grounds

A standout for us would have to be the infinity pool on level 4.

There are plenty of pool chairs to relax and soak up the sun. The pool is heated so you can enjoy it all year round whilst also enjoying the view of Sydney City and Darling Harbour. There is also a pool bar should wish to relax with a cool beverage!

Health and Fitness…

For those who like to stay active on holidays, there is a fully equipped gym located on the grounds. If you need a bit of encouragement, then hopefully the view from the treadmill will help get you motivated!

Club Millesime

Located on level 35, the top level of the Sofitel Darling Harbour, you will find yourself in the sophisticated Club Millesime. There are so many benefits to booking a room with club access or getting the access with your status with your membership.

Benefits include:

  • Private reception with check in and check out services
  • Club Breakfast (6.30am – 10.30am or until 11 am on the weekend)
  • All day refreshments including juices, soft drinks, tea, coffee, fruits and light snacks
  • Afternoon Tea buffet (from 3pm – 5pm)
  • Canapes and pre-dinner drinks (from 5.30pm – 7.30pm)
  • Shower facilities for those arriving early or departing late
  • Complimentary internet
  • Concierge

You are also welcome to bring friends or family along with you (subject to availability). There is just a small fee, which in my opinion, is worth it!

  • Breakfast is $35 per person per day (this includes your coffee, table service for your eggs and drinks and buffet)
  • Afternoon tea is $35 per person per day
  • Pre Dinner Drinks & Canapes are $70 per person per day.

The drinks and canapes for a friend to join you in the Club, is quite reasonable. The canapes are substantial and the drinks are unlimited for the 2 hour period – pretty good value in my opinion!

There is a dress code (basically you can’t wear swimwear, bathrobes or be barefoot) and children policy (children need to be monitored whilst in the club lounge)

Good to know…

The Sofitel has a pillow menu. I would suggest taking a look and ordering a pillow off the menu that best suits the way you sleep! You can also request some Himalayan bath salts to help relax the muscles after a long day exploring Sydney.

If you’re staying at a time where Darling Harbour have fireworks, then you have no need to leave your room! We were there over the Vivid Festival and were able to avoid the crowds and enjoy the show from our room!

Checking out…

Checking out at Club Millesime was quick and easy. If you have club access, I would recommend using this facility.

Above and beyond…

All of the staff at the Sofitel, from check-in, Club Millesime and the restaurant were fantastic. It didn’t matter where we were in the hotel, we felt like we were the only people being looked after. A special shout out must go to Michael who pre-arranged for two body pillows to be in our room for when we arrived. With Jenna being pregnant with twins, sleeping can be quite uncomfortable. We didn’t ask for the pillows, they were just there for us! And, a beautiful touch with the fruit, macaroons and balloons as well to help us celebrate our babymoon. I could not fault the service in any way!

The not so good…

I have nothing to report here.

The verdict…

Yes, yes yes! If you’re in Sydney and looking for somewhere to stay then we would totally recommend the Sofitel Darling Habour. The views, the service and the location is everything you could want for a trip away.

Visiting NSW – Ideas on what else to see and do

Are you planning on spending a bit of time in Sydney and surrounds? Check out our the pages of NSW related posts here.

Do you have travel insurance?

Before travelling, make sure you get a travel insurance policy – you never know when you might need it! Click here for information on travel insurance, what company we recommend and a link to get an instant quote.

“Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” – Ibn Battuta

 

Europe in Summer is next level, out of this world amazing. We have had some incredible holidays and there are so many that we would recommend. However, we thought we’d put our top 5 most popular posts together that will make for one incredible European Summer vacation!

Our top 5 European Summer Destinations

#1 Sicily, Italy

There is no surprise that Italy is on this list (and more than once!). Sicily is one of those places where you truly feel like you’re in another country, minimal English is spoken and the food is devine. Don’t even get me started on the beaches. Simply amazing.

We spent 5 days driving around the beautiful island and recommend doing just that. Click here to read more and check out our suggested itinerary.

#2 Zakynthos, Greece

This is our most popular post by far and it isn’t hard to see why. Zakynthos, when we visited wasn’t all that popular or known. We simply knew it as the island that had the Trip Adviser photo (before they changed it of course!).

Click here to read more about visiting Zakynthos including how long we would recommend, how to get around and what to see on the island!

#3 Lake Como, Italy

What’s not to love about relaxing by one of the most beautiful lakes in the world? This part of Italy is truly breathtaking and absolutely worth a visit this summer.

Click here to read more about Lake Como, where to stay and what to do.

#4 Mostar, Bosnia & Herzegovina

This place is cool. It is buzzing in the summertime and if you’re planning a trip to Croatia, then it’s only a short drive to get to Mostar and see the famous Stari Most.

Click here to read more about what to see in Mostar, and getting there from Dubrovnik via the beautiful Kravice Waterfalls.

#5 Sardinia, Italy

This would have to be one of our favourite summer road trip destinations we did! A week in Sardinia is a week in my life that I will remember forever. It was simply fantastic.

The beaches, the food, the people – what’s not to love about this part of Italy?

Click here to read about our favourite parts, getting around and what to see in Sardinia.

What do you think about this top 5? Where do you love visiting in the European Summer?

“The life you have led doesn’t need to be the only life you have.” – Anna Quindlen

 

When it comes time to planning your trip to Tropical North Queensland, you have to factor in a few things. The time of year, how long you want to spend at each location, getting around and what you absolutely cannot miss.

We had 7 days to enjoy what Tropical North Queensland had to offer, and although more time would have been great, we found we were able to see and do everything we wanted to in this short time.


This was our itinerary. Please continue reading for links to individual posts for each day.

Day 1: Arrive in Cairns

Day 2: Cairns & Surrounds

Day 3: Driving from Cairns to Port Douglas

Day 4: Port Douglas (including Mossman Gorge, Cape Tribulation, The Daintree & Walks)

Day 5: Port Douglas (including Jungle Surfing)

Day 6: Port Douglas (including Ocean Safari and swimming with turtles)

Day 7: Depart Port Douglas for airport (via Hartleys Crocodile Adventures)


We visited in early January, which is rainy season. We were extremely lucky with the weather having only one afternoon of thunderstorms and rain but otherwise the days were beautiful, but VERY warm and humid.

Day 1

We arrived at Cairns Airport in the afternoon and after checking into our hotel, we explored what Cairns city had to offer.

Day 2

Wake up early and jump in your rental car and check out Kuranda and some of the beautiful waterfalls surrounding Cairns.

To read more about Cairns & the surrounding areas, click here.

Day 3

The drive from Cairns to Port Douglas is absolutely beautiful and something that should not be rushed. We stopped into plenty of beaches along the way and it was just beautiful.

To read more about driving from Cairns to Port Douglas and where to stop along the way, click here.

Day 4

There is so much on offer in Port Douglas. We drove up 3 days in a row to visit Cape Tribulation and The Daintree.

The first day, we enjoyed some of the walks that were on offer in the Daintree. If you have time on your way back down to Port Douglas, be sure to stop in at Mossman Gorge. It is worth stopping in for an hour or so and enjoy the beautiful scenery that is on offer.

For our recommended walking spots in the Daintree, click here.

Day 5

Jungle Surfing! Who doesn’t like the sound of that? Well it is a really fun way to spend half a day and it doesn’t matter what the weather is – they run in just about everything! To read more about what this is all about, click here.

Day 6

We really enjoyed our Ocean Safari on the Great Barrier Reef which gave us the opportunity to swim with turtles. This was incredible and absolutely recommended as something you need to do when you visit. To read more about this experience, click here.

Day 7

this was our last day, but with an afternoon flight had some spare time.

We left Port Douglas for Cairns, and enjoyed a quick stopover at Hartleys Crocodile Adventures. Click here to read more and our reasons why you should visit here! We then stopped for a bite to eat in Cairns before making our way to the airport to head home.

Swimming in Tropical North Queensland

Click here to understand why you are NOT able to swim in the waters in Tropical North Queensland at certain times of the year without the correct protective gear on.

Packing for Tropical North Queensland

You definitely need to be prepared for your trip to FNQ (Far North Queensland). There are a few essentials in my mind, one of which is, of course, mosquito repellent! Click here for a printable packing guide for your trip.

Where to stay in Cairns & Port Douglas

We stayed at the Pullman Cairns International. Click here for our full review and video.

In Port Douglas, we stayed at the Pullman Sea Temple. This is the perfect place to base yourself and to relax and unwind. Click here to read more.

Do you have travel insurance?

Before travelling, make sure you get a travel insurance policy – you never know when you might need it! Click here for information on travel insurance, what company we recommend and a link to get an instant quote.

Alternative accommodation

If you’re looking for alternative accommodation to either save some money or share with friends or family, click here for information on Air B&B ($50 discount on your first booking), hotel price comparison website

Located around 80km south of Sydney, New South Wales you will find yourself at one of the largest Buddhist Temples in the Southern Hemisphere – Nan Tien Temple.

We stopped into the temple on our way back from a long weekend in Kiama (which by the way we highly recommend!).

Getting to Nan Tien Temple

Getting to the temple is easy! It is located in the suburb of Berkeley, on the outskirts of Wollongong, which is a beautiful beachside town worth stopping into as well.

The physical address is 180 Berkeley Road, Berkeley, NSW 2506 or you can type Nan Tien Temple into Google Maps and it will take you directly there.

A bit about the temple

Founded in 1967 by Hsing Yun, it is one of the branch temples of the Taiwanese Fo Guang Shan Buddhist order. There are over 120 branches worldwide.

As mentioned earlier, it is one of the largest Buddhist Temples in the southern hemisphere.

There are a number of buildings that form part of the temple. All of which are accessible for those in wheelchairs or those with prams.

The list of buildings and a map of the grounds can be found at this link.

Opening Hours

It is important to note that the temple is not open on a Monday. It is, however, open 9 am – 5 pm Tuesday – Sunday including public holidays. For current opening times, click here.

Dress Code

It is a temple so there is a dress code you must adhere to. You need to be respectful and that means no shorts, singlets or thongs. You also much remove shoes and hats before entering the shrines.

For a full list of dress code requirements, click here.

Here are some more photos of our time at the temple.

Nan tien temple

“Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and enjoy the journey.” – Babs Hoffman

Mount Coolum is an ancient volcanic dome located on the Sunshine Coast and was created around 26 million years ago. It offers incredible views both over the hinterland of the Sunshine Coast and also the ocean. On a clear day, you can see an incredible distance. It really is quite breathtaking.

Getting to Mount Coolum

Located 1.5 hours north of Brisbane, you will find yourself at Mount Coolum. Take the David Low Way exit which is located 6 km south of Coolum Beach. You will find the car park entrance near the intersection of Tanah Street (West) and Jarnahill Drive. Parking is quite minimal so you may find yourself parking on nearby streets.

About the hike

The summit walk is a Grade 4 hike and is 1.6km return. It doesn’t seem like a far distance, but I can promise you the summit is 208m above sea level and given it is a grade 4 walking track, I would recommend only for fit walkers.

The hike up is incredibly steep and there are some rocky sections. We visited early one morning and were impressed with the number of people running up and down the track. There were also heaps of families there. But if you do take your children, you need to watch them closely as there are many rocky edges.

You should allow around 2 hours return for the hike, plus additional time when you’re up the top to catch your breath and to take some photos!

The walk starts in the open forest and you will notice the incline starting pretty quickly and the type of soil and trees around you change dramatically.

The further up you go the more you will notice that only montane heath plants exist which due to the harsh conditions, are the only thing that can grow up there!

If you’re interested in birdwatching, you may be in luck to see some honeyeaters and you may just be lucky enough to see some falcons above you.

Throughout the winter months, if you are there on a clear day you may even see some migrating whales out at sea.

The hike is open during daylight hours only. This is primarily for your safety.

How incredible is this view?

Click here for the Mount Coolum National Park map.

Tips for the hike

In the summer months, try to walk in the early morning or later in the afternoon making sure you don’t run out of daylight to come down. Also, do not attempt to walk the track in wet weather. The rocks can become extremely slippery and very dangerous.

There are no toilets in the national park. You will need to make sure you’ve made a pit stop before starting the hike.

What to bring with you

  • Comfortable walking or hiking shoes
  • Water
  • Insect repellent, especially in the summer months
  • Hat
  • Sunscreen
  • Camera

Note: Remember to take your rubbish with you!

After the hike, why not stop into Coolum Beach for some relaxation and cooling off!

“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.” – Andre Gide

wollongong

If you’re looking for a lovely road trip south of Sydney, why not stop in at Wollongong, a beautiful coastal city located on the Grand Pacific Drive in New South Wales, Australia.

If you haven’t heard about the Grand Pacific Drive before, click here to find out more – it is truly a special road trip either heading to or from Sydney. The drive from Sydney is around 1.5 hours so you can easily make a day trip or a long weekend. We stopped into Wollongong on our way back from a long weekend in Kiama.

thewelltravelledman grand pacific drive sydney australia

Why visit Wollongong

If you’re into surfing, Wollongong has great surfing beaches and if you’re not, you’ll be able to find some rock pools to relax in.

The coastal town is perfect for thrill seekers or those wanting to relax. You can take part in skydiving and of course landing next to the beautiful beach, or just relaxing and getting some sunshine.

Wollongong Head Lighthouse

Actually, Wollongong Harbour is home to the only point on the eastern coast of Australia which has two lighthouses.

The point makes it a perfect spot for views over Wollongong and a pretty cool spot for a picnic if you have the time!

Where to stay and eat

Although we popped in only for a few hours, we stayed for lunch at Pepe’s on the Beach which we highly recommend!

If you’re looking for somewhere to stay, you should check out the Novotel. If you’re a Le Club Accor club member of an Accor Plus member then you can definitely collect on some of the benefits!

What else to do in the area?

If you haven’t visited the Figure 8 Pools in the Royal National Park, I would suggest trying to add this onto your long weekend away but it is important to know when to visit – you can’t just turn up! To read more about this really cool spot, click here.

“He who would travel happily must travel light.” – Antoine de St. Exupery

As a child, you imagine spending time at rock pools, swinging from ropes into the water or jumping off rocks into waterways. Well, that’s pretty much what our childhood was about. Jenna grew up in Brisbane, so visiting the Gold Coast was something that happened frequently and so a trip or two to the Currumbin Rock Pools were definitely on the cards. The thing about South East Queensland is that there are so many incredible choices when it comes to visiting unique spots – we are certainly spoilt for choice.

We recently stopped by the rock pools and it is still just as popular as it was all those years ago.

Where to find the Currumbin Rock Pools

Located in Currumbin Valley, just a short 15 – 20-minute drive from Currumbin Beach (around 1 hour and 15 minutes from Brisbane City) you will find yourself at the Rock Pools. Just put in Currumbin Rock Pools into Google Maps and it will take you directly there.

The area is well signed, however, if you happen to arrive on a day where it is quieter, you may drive right past. However, no doubt you will see the line of cars that are parked underneath the trees along the road.

If you’re coming from the Pacific Motorway, take the Stapley Drive/Reedy Creek exit as that will be your most direct route.

The drive from the beach through the Valley is lovely and worth it even if you don’t want to stop for a quick swim.

About the Rock Pools

The water, when we visited, was quite cold! It certainly took your breath away but the beauty of these natural rock pools is that they are filled with fresh mountain water.

You will notice a variety of smooth sloping rocks, pebbled pathways and large boulders. A gorgeous little waterfall created the perfect spot (seat) for cooling off and people watch.

Always remember to be careful when jumping from any of the rocks into the water. Some areas are quite shallow and can often have rocks underneath the surface.

Facilities at Currumbin Rock Pools

The great thing about the area is the ample grassed area where families can bring their own picnic, or you can utilise the bbq facilities there and tables provided.

There is also a toilet block on site for those planning on spending some time there.

If you’re not one to bring your own food with you, or you happen to stay longer than planned and get hungry, there is a cafe across the road and they can arrange takeaway so you can take it back over to the pools.

What to bring with you

You need to remember you’re in Queensland and particularly if you’re visiting in summer, you will need to remember to pack for summer!

  • Swimmers
  • Towel
  • Hat
  • Sunscreen
  • Food & Water or you can use the cafe across the road
  • If you have rock shoes, bring them – it will make it easier!
  • A camera of course!

“The life you have led doesn’t need to be the only life you have.” – Anna Quindlen

 

 

 

Photo Credit: Penang by marcustanyiwei is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The following is a guest post from Ryan and Carolyn, a like-minded couple who are traveling the world together. They’re thinking of starting their own travel blog, so they contacted us for some advice. We invited them to write a guest post on our blog so they could experience what it’s like. We hope you enjoy it.

Like Steven and Jenna who’ve had heaps of great tropical travel experiences in the last 12 months, Carolyn and I have had some absolute gems.

We got really lucky in 2017. Surfing the web for new places to travel to, we caught a great deal to visit Malaysia, which included a short stop in a place called Penang. I’ve got to be honest, it wasn’t at the top of our travel list, but that’s what’s so great about travelling – going to new, exotic places and being open to new experiences.

At the time we were considering buying a new car, but instead we decided to take another holiday! Penang, here we come!

We hooked up a great AirBnB near the centre of the main city in Penang called George Town. We did a bit of research and figured we could find tons of things to see and do within a small area, which limited how far we needed to travel each day. No point travelling further if there’s heaps to see and do on your doorstep.

George Town

George Town is capital city of Penang, located on Penang Island. The British founded it in 1786 as their first settlement in South East Asia, and became a trading town throughout the 1800’s. It attracted people from all over the world who brought their food and culture with them.

The place has been inhabited by Thai, Burmese, Chinese, Japanese British and countless other nationalities, so there’s this really exotic mix of different buildings, monuments and styles of food. You can almost feel the history everywhere you go.

We spent heaps of time just walking the streets, looking at all the old buildings. At some you could pay a dollar or two and go on a tour.

Photo Credit: Ernest Zacharevic’s Street Art, Penang Malaysia by elvizlow is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Tour time

The first day we took a hop-on, hop-off bus tour. It’s such a great way to see a new city and get oriented.

The next day we booked a full-day Penang Island tour so we could check out all the major attractions, without needing to do all the research ourselves. We’ve done these in heaps of places when we’re short on time.

First we stopped at the Reclining Buddha Temple. Then we went to the Penang Botanical Garden, which had a great waterfall nearby.

For lunch we stopped off at Hawker Centre for a plate of Nasi Kandar; spiced steamed rice with lots of different curries. Delicious.

After lunch we took a cable railway car up Penang Hill to get a look at the island. The views were absolutely stunning.

Photo Credit: Penang Hill by khalzuri is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Later we visited Kek Lok si temple, which had a huge 35-meter-tall statue of the Goddess of Mercy.

Things we loved

The street art was really quirky and interesting. It was everywhere, even where you least expected it. We’d be walking down a little alleyway and there’d be a cool little installation that someone had put together.

We took a few rickshaw rides around the city and down by the harbour. It was pretty hot and sticky so we didn’t mind getting a bit of breeze and giving our feet a rest.

One of our favourite stops was the Pinang Peranakan Museum. It’s an old merchant’s mansion and is full of original items. It’s like you’ve been transported back in time 200 years. It’s a must see if you get to Penang.

As interesting as all the old historical stuff is, sometimes we just needed a dose of modern civilisation. Fortunately, Penang had heaps of great malls to check out.

We only had a few days there, but we’re so glad we took the chance and visited. We probably wouldn’t go back again because there are too many other places in the world like Vietnam that we’re dying to see. But we’d definitely recommend a visit, especially if you’re going to Malaysia.

 

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