Clear turquoise water

Hidden Beaches of Crete

What do we look for in a perfect beach? Clean water, secluded from the weather, not too many people, and certainly no traders trying to sell us the latest in tourist tat. Somewhere perfect to sunbathe, listen to the sea lapping at the sand, and to read the latest John Grisham in peace and quiet. Hidden away on the Greek island of Crete there are some beautiful and special beaches that are pretty much perfect.

Voulissma, Lassithi

Damnoni Beach

On the south coast near Plakias is Damnoni Beach. Just don’t tell too many people about it! You wouldn’t want Leonardo Di Caprio turning up trying to start a commune. The sand is yellow and soft unlike many of the beaches on the south coast. The sea is a crystal green, coloured by the plant life on the sea bed. You won’t find ice-cream vans, so don’t forget to take your own picnic with you.

Milatos Beach

Milatos Beach in Lassithi on the south coast is a bit of a trek to get to – but that’s what makes it even more special. Access is via a dirt track down to the cove however, so it’s generally not suitable for wheelchairs or pushchairs. The beach itself is pebbly and often has some big waves crashing against the cove rocks. It’s one for the romantics rather than the sunbathers.

Myrtos Beach

Also in the Lassithi region is Myrtos beach. What makes this beach particularly outstanding is the quality of the water. The sea is packed with fish, plants and wildlife, which makes it perfect for snorkelling. The small town itself gets few tourists as it doesn’t boast much aside from a few cafes and a church. You certainly won’t find a cash point here! That is partially the reason that the beach itself is often very quiet. The sand is a funny grey colour with pebbles , but the sea is a deep rich blue. Just remember to pack your goggles.

Bali Beaches

The town of Bali on the west coast isn’t one that you would first consider when looking for a quiet beach. The main stretch is made up of sandy coves which are secluded and very popular with families. If you’ve got young children and want to set up camp for the day, it’s very easy to find your own little cove and enjoy the cool waters from the springs that run into the sea. However if you’re looking for somewhere more out-of-the-way, Livadi, which is just up the road has two extremely quiet beaches. The Livadi beaches are only accessible via a footpath that runs towards Kouskouras.

Clear turquoise water

These stunning beaches are the perfect place to while away a summer afternoon having a paddle in the emerald waters. What more could you ask of your holidays to Greece?

Fountain in Fes

Luxury holidays – Morocco or Maldives?

When it comes to choosing a luxurious holiday destination you may be considering Morocco or perhaps the Maldives. Morocco offers a beguiling mix of Arab and African culture and a diverse scenery of mountains, desert and coast. The Maldives on the other hand offers a tropical paradise of pristine powder white beaches, perfect sunsets and endless pampering.

Fountain in FesSo, what more do these two luxury destinations have to offer?

Morocco

Morocco offers its visitors a huge range of experiences from beaches to stately imperial cities, bustling souks and heavenly beaches, and even more recently stylish spas and some of Africa’s most luxurious hotels. Bordered by the Straits of Gibraltar, the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, a holiday here certainly feels exotic. Lying on the North West coast of North Africa it is about as different from Europe as any place could be.

There’s plenty of natural beauty including the Atlas Mountains, the Sahara Desert and the Dades Valley. The city of Marrakech attracts a constant horde of fashionable winter sun seekers together with others in search of adventure amongst the luxury riads, souks and chic bars. Inside the medina walls you’ll find a myriad of palace buildings, town squares, and bazaars showcasing an amazing assortment of tapestries, pottery and dazzling jewellery.

Fes is one of the four imperial cities and also the oldest having been founded at the end of the 8th century. The medina is one of the largest medieval cities in the world and you can spend days wandering around and getting lost whilst exploring its mosques and museums, narrow winding streets and fabulous architecture.

The Maldives

ship in the blue water

The Maldives has to be the ultimate Indian Ocean retreat with its dazzling white sandy beaches, warm tropical sunshine and luxurious water bungalows. Its deep blue lagoons and stunning coral islands offer the perfect escape for romantics and honeymooners. There’s hundreds of islands to choose from each one as idyllic as the next. It’s also got some of the best scuba diving in the world with a huge array of colourful fish, turtles, stingrays and friendly sharks. The Maldives is also renowned for its pampering spas and wellness centres where you can truly unwind. With more water than land, the Maldives is a great destination for anyone keen on water sports. There’s snorkelling, swimming, wind surfing, water skiing and jet skiing, catamaran rides and so much more.

Stunning lagoon waters

There’s also excursions to be had, island hopping and deep sea fishing. The Maldives is generally considered to be the premier tropical destination to relax and unwind away from the hectic pace of modern everyday life.

So there you have it, two very different destinations which can both cater to those looking for a breathtaking luxury holiday. The choice is yours…

Luxury hotel in the Maldives

The One & Only Resort, Reethi Rah in the Maldives

Maldives picture credit goes to Sarah Ackerman.

Cathedral Le Seu in Mallorca

Action in Mallorca

Majorca is the largest of the Balearic islands and as such is well equipped with amazing attractions to suit the many holidaymakers that head there each year. You can look forward to the following:

Watersports to Suit All

Whichever popular Majorcan resort you choose – perhaps Alcudia, Magaluf or Palma Nova – you’ll find fantastic beach scenes with watersports to suit all ages and dispositions. The calm, warm waters of the Mediterranean lend themselves perfectly to everything from jet skiing to pedal boating with the kids.

Action and Adventure

Away from the beach you’ll find that Majorca’s rugged landscape offers some amazing opportunities for action and adventure.

Scale the Serra de Tramuntana mountains for stunning views and a sense of accomplishment that will last all holiday.

Spectacular Shows

The Pirates Adventure show in Magaluf is a must see while in Majorca, with world class acrobatics, gymnastics and dancing. The earlier showings are family friendly and perfect for kids, whereas Pirates Uncut is a much cheekier version suitable only for adults.

Come Fly With Me is another amazing acrobatic show in Magaluf with great reviews.

Magnificent Architecture

Cathedral Le Seu in Mallorca

Lovers of Gothic architecture should make sure that they see the Cathedral Le Seu in Palma de Mallorca. This cathedral is one of the most famous example of Gothic architecture throughout Europe and is a symbol of Mallorca. It dates back to the 14th century, about a century after christianity made its first forays on the island. The cathedral was so ambitious in scope that it took several centuries and many architects to see it finally completed.

Great Leisure Attractions

Majorca really does have something for everyone, and this shows in the island’s wide variety of leisure attractions.

The Golf Fantasia mini-golf complex outside of Palma Nova makes for a good family afternoon out, and the Palma Aquarium in Palma de Mallorca is another afternoon sorted.

Majorca also boasts no less than four water parks, the Western Park and the Aquapark in Magaluf, Hidropark in Port d’Alcudia and Aqualand in S’Arenal, so you’ll never be far away from some splashing good fun in the sun.

Don’t miss out on Majorca’s amazing array of attractions for all. Start looking for holiday deals to the island online.

Coastal houses of Rhodes

Sites and sights of Rhodes

Coastal houses of Rhodes

Located in the South Aegean just off the coast of Turkey, the beautiful island of Rhodes is a holidaymaker’s haven. Turquoise seas, white sandy beaches, ancient temple ruins and sugar-cube villages – this is the Greek islands at its best.

From Faliraki to Pefkos

And when it comes to booking a holiday you’ll be spoilt for choice. Home to many different resorts from bustling Rhodes Town and booming Faliraki – the party central of the island – to the quiet village of Pefkos, there are more than enough options on offer to please anyone’s tastes, so you’ll certainly find your favourite.

Spoilt with beaches

The beaches here are certainly one of the highlights. St Paul’s Bay near the attractive town of Lindos and the lovely Tsambika Beach near the town of Archangelos are two must-visit scenic hotspots. Tsambika is great for water sports and also boasts the beautiful Tsambika Monastery – accessible via a 300-step climb from the beach.

Ancients sites

Honouring the Greek gods in the temples of Rhodes

For incredible ancient sights, a visit to the Acropolis of Lindos is a must. It’s a natural citadel which was fortified throughout history by the Greeks, the Romans and Byzantines, and exists today as a stunning ancient monument. Not only are the views from the top breathtaking, there are also many other sites to explore in the area including ancient temples, Roman inscriptions, the incredible Hellenistic staircase and the Castle of the Knights of St John.

Your turn

Getting here to explore the island’s fascinating history is easy, thanks to the range of scheduled flights and package holiday deals on offer which takes the stress out of travelling and makes things that little bit easier.

It’s fair to say that the island of Rhodes goes far beyond the standard beach holiday experience. So why not give it a try?

Lovely sandy beach in Cyprus

Back to Cyprus – A Journey To Discover The Meaning Of Life?

Lovely sandy beach in Cyprus

My Cypriot husband and I are going back to the country of his birth to discover true meaning of life. Research on this beautiful country has become my obsession and in the process of pouring over my husband’s childhood photographs, history books and travel guides I’ve completely fallen in love with Cyprus and I’m convinced it holds the meaning of life – my meaning of life at least, and our trip has become a kind of quest.

My husband talks longingly of his fond memories of the beautiful blue sea and warm air of the Mediterranean, the arid country and the rich architectural history of Cyprus. He draws a lot of inspiration from the buildings in his home city of Nicosia, the nation’s capital. I can’t wait to see them, touch them and breath in their long, fascinating history.

I’m quite a romantic and probably the place I look forward to visiting the most is the exquisite Petra tou Romiou beach near Paphos where, it is said, the goddess Aphrodite emerged from the sea. She is the mythological goddess of love and beauty who raised and then fell in love with the beautiful Adonis. There are stunning, romantic places to stay around this area and I’m sure my own Greek Adonis and I will grow from visiting this place and I feel sure it will open my eyes and heart to more of the person he is.

Being a Greek Cypriot my husband was raised a Greek Orthodox Catholic and although he doesn’t practice the religion we were married in a Greek Orthodox ceremony. This quest in me to understand the meaning of life and understand the religion is strong and I feel a desire to explore the faith and rituals on our journey.

One of my greatest loves is food and Cypriot cuisine is fresh and aromatic and the Turkish presence in Cyprus provides delectable sweet treats. My mother in law makes an amazing Soutzoukos, a sweet fruit and nut log dipped in thickened grape juice and I’m desperate to try other traditional cuisine.

I really can’t think of a place in the world I want to be more than Cyprus and I am secretly hoping that our trip might become more than just a three month holiday. I pray to the gods that nothing comes between us and our search for the meaning of life in Cyprus.

Guest post by Melanie D.

The Market of our Lady of Africa in Tenerife

Mercado de Nuestra Señora de África

The Market of our Lady of Africa in Tenerife

Mercado de Nuestra Señora de África, or the market of Our Lady of Africa, is one of the main Tenerife markets, situated in the heart of Santa Cruz. I found HouseTrip to book a villa right on the central facing promenade which gave us easy access to the Markets and fabulous beaches.

Mercado de Nuestra Señora de África definitely takes on a Central American look, with an arched entrance, clock tower and flower sellers. The clock tower is most definitely a landmark of Santa Cruz, being very tall and looking very historic even though it was only built in the 1940’s.

The outer construction and architecture of the market is of a similar style, and was built in a time when the architects wanted buildings to have a kind of historic regionalism, a politically correct patriotism almost. Inside the market is quite on the contrary, the design leaning more towards a more modern take of the classic model of a permanent market.

Everything is arranged around a patio, the meat and fish sectioned sheltered from the sun, and below the market you will even find the biggest modern twist on the great traditionalist pretender; the supermarket!

One of the best Markets on the island

You can buy whatever you could find in any other city here, but the things which are more exclusive to the Canaries, are things such as; the fish, the cheeses and the wine. The fish are all locally sourced and exclusive to the area, and are of the freshest varieties you will ever find. Sometimes you can pick up a fish that has been caught under an hour ago!

As for the cheese, the same applies. It is all locally sourced and comes in many different recipes, with local herbs and spices infused.

The wine however is the piece de resistance, again locally sourced made from locally grown fruits, with the exact locale always secret. The locals are very precious about their wine making recipes which have been passed from generation to generation. Upon tasting some of the wines, which you can do along with the cheese and anything else you may want to sample, you can see why the recipes are so precious. It is the finest selection of wines I think I have ever tasted! All the origins are also protected, but with the variety there must be multitude of locations due to the sheer variety, impressive for a tropical island.

Eat Fresh and Local!

So if you want to get some of the finest local produce, and to eat like a true local, here is where you need to go. All the stall and shopkeepers are very friendly, and speak on the whole good English. The only problem you may come across is with things such as the local spices. All the labels will be in Spanish, and whilst they will offer the best explanation they can, it can be confusing. On the other hand you can sample pretty much anything you wish, don’t be afraid to ask, but as for spices, on their own they may be a little overpowering!

It is an eye opening experience and a shallow submersion into the local produce, of course not too deep due to their vehement secrecy, which I find very charming. A definite must do destination, even just to browse.

More information can be found out about Mercado de Nuestra Señora de ÁfricaMarket here, including when it’s on and the best time to go!

Picture credit:  Nicole Abalde

Gambas dish with prawns

Getting stuffed in Lanzarote

There are 1000´s of restaurants in Lanzarote.  But if you´re only on the island for seven days how are you going to find the best places to eat in?  Help is at hand with our inside guide to island cuisine and the top eateries.

Flesh Versus Fish

Many visitors to Lanzarote could be excused for thinking that seafood is the staple diet of the locals.  This is an island after all.  Yet whilst fish dishes crop up on virtually every menu most Lanzaroteños would rather be tucking in to goat or rabbit, as these have been standard fare here for centuries.  Thanks in part to the fact that the original pre-Spanish inhabitants of the Canaries, the Guanche, were lousy fishermen.

That has of course changed down the centuries, not least as Lanzarote was once home to one of the largest fishing fleets in the Canaries.  But whenever there´s a fiesta or a festival you can be sure that the locals will be tucking into one of their traditional carnivore options rather than a plate of fresh fish.

Other local favourites include high quality goats cheeses and small potatoes which are boiled with salt in their skins, creating the classic dish of papas arrugadas, or wrinkled potatoes.  These are served on Lanzarote as both a starter with various mojos or sauces, or as an accompaniment to the main course.

Typical Island Cuisine

Comida tipico – typical local food – is a sign that you´ll see outside many restaurants.  But this is by no means any guarantee of quality and certainly not of variety.  As many local eateries tend to serve up a very predictable menu, based on both local and mainland dishes, which varies little from place to place.

Gambas dish with prawns

Starters will always include the ubiquitous Gambas al Ajillo – prawns in garlic- along with other staples such as goats cheese and various salads.  Mains focus on good quality fresh fish and meat cuts – usually cooked in a simple fashion a la plancha, which is a griddle plate.  And served with a small salad and papas arrugadas.

Now that´s fine if you are just on holiday for a short break – less so if you are spending a few weeks here.  But fortunately there are now a number of restaurants which are prepared to break this mould.

Finding the Best Restaurants

There can be a lot of turnover in terms of restaurant staff and chefs.  Pay rates on Lanzarote are low and a large portion of the workforce is itinerant.  All of which means that many restauarants struggle to turn out good food on a consistent basis.

Those that do however really stand out – and these are often family owned and run operations where one member is a constant presence in the kitchen.

Examples of these sorts of establishments can be found in each of the main resorts, as well as around the island.  So for really memorable meals with a difference we suggest you try one of our top five favourites.

El Navarro, Costa Teguise

Family operated and serving high quality international food.

Oscars, Costa Teguise

El Marinero Restaurant

Belgian husband and wife team serving excellent modern food and lots of vegetarian options.

 

El Marinero, Arrieta

The young head chef here isn’t scared of experimenting with flavours and presentation techniques which are totally absent from other local eateries.

La Cantina, Teguise

Eclectic menu served in the atmospheric surroundings of an old merchant’s house in the former island capital.

La Cabaña, Macher

La Cabana Restaurant, Lanzarote

High quality modern cuisine created by British couple Debbie and Darren Spurr.

Why you should visit Lanzarote in the Canary Islands

One of the many beaches in Lanzarote

If you’re planning your next holiday abroad why not take a closer look at the small Canary Island of Lanzarote? As it is big on attractions and great weather and an ideal destination if you are seeking to escape the chill of winter.

Easy To Reach

Lanzarote – along with the other six islands that comprise the Canaries – are a world away in terms of weather but very easy to get to. Flights to Lanzarote from the UK take just four hours, making the island the closest winter sun destination for British travellers. But without the lengthy journey times involved in jetting off to the Far East or the Caribbean.

Wonderful Weather

Lanzarote´s key attraction is undoubtedly its amazing climate as here you can be sunbathing on the beach whilst your friends and family back home are tucking into their Christmas turkey. The island is also ideal during the summer months as it stays cooler than mainland Spain, which can be like a furnace during July and August, thanks to the influence of the Trade Winds.

Beautiful Beaches

As you´d expect from any popular holiday destination Lanzarote is big on beaches. There are over 100 to explore and some are simply amazing, such as the huge sweeping bay at Famara, which is a hot favourite with the surfing fraternity. Each of the main resorts boast superb beaches too, but arguably the number one stretch of sand on the island can be found at Papagayo, located close to the resort of Playa Blanca. As here visitors can select from six distinctly different coves and bays, all of which boast golden grains and great views across to the neighbouring island of Fuerteventura.

Amazing Attractions

There´s so many things to do and see on Lanzarote that you´ll wished you’d booked an extra week. For this reason many people also choose to come back year after year, discovering more about the island as they go. The best known attraction is the Timanfaya National Park, which is home to hundreds of volcanoes and amazing volcanic scenery. But there are also loads of other amazing sights such as the Jameos del Agua and the Mirador del Rio, both of which were created by the famous artist César Manrique.

Getting Around

Exploring Lanzarote is easy as the island is so small. Car hire in Lanzarote is cheap too so the island is very accessible for visitors.

Mother's Beach, Maui, Hawaii

Take a Leap and Visit Maui, Hawaii During the Winter Time

Mother's Beach, Maui, Hawaii

With the New Year vastly approaching isn’t it a good time to get away and soak up some ocean dreams? Maui, Hawaii is a well sought after vacations spot that offers everything from gorgeous seaside streets, whales, shopping, hiking, and more.

Volcanoes and rainforests in Maui

Whenever I go to Maui I am enchanted with this sunny island’s beautiful waters and scenic road to Hana, to name a few beautiful attributes of this fabulous island. If you don’t get car sick and are willing to conquer windy roads, it’s worth it to see the inactive volcanoes and rainbow trees within the rainforest on the road to Hana. Get a car rental and along the way, get out of your car and go for a walk in the woods or travel to the 7 Sacred Pools where you can dip your feet into the warm water.

Humpback whales

The winter time is also supposed to be the best time to see humpback whales. During the summer you are less apt to see them, hence why going in December and the surrounding months is the best time to see these magical creatures. It is during the winter months you will see them because they migrate to Maui’s shores. Gaze at the waters and watch them leap into the air or entertain you with their tails and tricks.

Black Rock at Kaanapali Beach

When you’re done soaking up the sun, head over to the Whalers Village to go shopping and grab a bite to eat. After you’re shopped out get a glimpse of the Black Rock at Kaanapali Beach. If you are feeling brave enough swim over to the rock and leap off of it! I’ve never had enough guts to do it, but have seen people do it every time I’ve visited the beautiful location. Maybe someday I’ll do it and I’m sure I’ll be proud of myself for finally taking the leap.

You most definitely need to take the leap and head to Maui. It’s a beautiful island full of family fun or enjoyment for a newly married couple. Whatever the occasion, Maui can satisfy anyone’s needs. Its waters, location, scenery and beaches never cease to amaze me.

Majorca beach

Holidays in Majorca

Majorca beachMajorca, located off the Eastern coast of Spain, is one of the most beautiful and exotic of the Spanish islands. It has an amazing party atmosphere and is known for the summer vacation experience, with amazing parks, gardens, beaches, museums, and nightlife. Some of the most highly recommended places to visit in Majorca are the resorts, as many can be all inclusive and many have amazing beaches and many adventure activities. Below you will find a list of some of the most highly recommended resorts to visit in Majorca. Take a look, then set off on your fantastic, tropical holiday!

Puerto Soller

Puerto Soller is a wonderful beachfront resort that sits on a horseshoe shaped bay overlooking the ocean. There are great restaurants and shops along the promenade, and the best part about this little beachfront resort? The tram that runs into the nearby town of Soller, where there are plenty of cute shops and fantastic restaurants. The tram also continues into the town of Palma, which is the capital city. There is a ton of shopping, restaurants, and nightlife, and it is similar to the culture you would find in Barcelona.

Puerto Pollensa

One of the more popular resorts in Majorca is Puerto Pollensa. Situated at the end of the Tramuntana mountain range, it is a very traditional resort that has a modern marina and amazing beaches. There are cafes and bars situated all along the beaches, and the shelving in the water provides safe swimming for swimmers of all ages. As for nightlife, there are a number of bars to choose from. Eating out is easy, as there are many restaurants and they are relatively well priced and cater to families. One famous after dinner activity is known as the “pine walk”, which wanders along the coast through the pine trees and offers views of traditional Majorcan houses. There are a good choice of apartments, hotel rooms, and villas at all areas of the resort, as well as a small number of private rentals.

Cala Millor

Cala Millor actually translates into English as “the better bay”, and the beach is considered to be one of the best on the East coast of Majorca. The beach itself is more than 1 kilometer long and fairly wide. Backing up to the beach is a promenade with restaurants, cafes, and bars.The resort itself is one of the largest and most popular on the coast. There is an array of food choices, shopping, and some nightlife to choose from, including a few discos. There are also some water sports, including windsurfing and surfing school. One of the best things about the beaches at this resort is that there is fine white sand and a gentle slope with shallow waters, which make the beach very safe for children.

Majorca is a wonderful vacation destination for couples, families, or even individual travelers looking to get away. The resorts listed above are just a few of the options you have when traveling to Majorca, so it is recommended that you do your research before travelling. It’s also a good idea to brush up your Spanish with these few useful phrases.