Trio of whales in Tenerife

How to have a whale of a time in Tenerife

Dolphin and whale watching opportunities are often one of the draws of holidays such as cruises, but for those serious about seeing these impressive cetacean creatures in their own natural habitat, breaking apart the ocean waves and gliding across the surface, Tenerife is one of the best places in the world to go.

Trio of whales in Tenerife

Busy waters

The whale watching industry in Tenerife is also one of the most highly regulated in the world, having a strict code of practice on the behaviour of the boats when near the whales. No less than 28 species (over one-third of all species) of whales and dolphins reside in or pass through the Canarian waters. Resident species include the Pilot whale, Risso Dolphin and Bottlenose Dolphin, which is renowned for forming attachments to species other than its own, including humans.

The Sperm whale

The Sperm whale also swims the ocean around the Canary Islands, often in schools of 20 to 25. Identified by their enormous square head, they feed on squid, fish and octopuses at extremely deep ocean levels, where, to navigate and hunt, the whales emit clicks to sense what is around them.

Whale and dolphin watching

Besides the resident species, whale and dolphin watchers may well be lucky enough to spot one or more of the 24 migratory species which pass through the waters at various times of year and with flights easy to come by throughout the year and excellent weather for the boat trips almost guaranteed, the island is perfect for these activities.

Watch for free

There are also opportunities on the island to take part in volunteer programmes to assist in the conservation of the animals. One of the most popular routes to this once-in-a-lifetime experience is through AWF (The Atlantic Whale Foundation, , which offers the chance to volunteer as a research guide on whale-watching boats around the shores of Tenerife and on research projects, with weekends free to explore the island and maybe take part in activities such as … surfboarding and windsurf courses, diving courses, power boat, skippering, life guard courses, Spanish lessons, salsa dancing, water skiing, horse riding, jet skiing, marine filming and photography and walking…

2013 AWF projects include underwater filming trips to fund a whale tagging project, and an eco film festival being brought to the island from London.

Paid options

For non-volunteers, there are great opportunities for paid-for whale and dolphin watching. There are various whale watching tour operators on the island but if tours are booked through many operators will donate a proportion of the ticket price to AWF.

Section of the garden at Huerto del Cura

Discovering Huerto Del Cura in Spain

So you’re going to Spain, and need a place to lay down you head after you have your fill of sightseeing and Spanish cuisine. If you’re looking for a quiet retreat after spending time in the busy streets, then have a look at Huerto Del Cura, home of the National Artistic Gardens.

Section of the garden at Huerto del Cura

World Capital of Palm Trees

It is located in the Alicante Province, inside Elche city. Better known as the World Capital of Palm Trees, Huerto Del Cura became part of the World Heritage in 2001. Along with Santa María Basilica church, and the Municipal Archaeological Museum, the National Artistic Gardens are among the top place to see while in Elche.

The best time to go

Climate wise, it’s along the coastline and in the southern part of Spain, so you can expect a mild climate. Summer temperatures average about 26C, while winters often go down to 7C. It receives very little rainfall, mainly in the fall.

When you book, the only factor that should be considered is the crowds July and August; peak vacation time. Otherwise, you can enjoy this beautiful location all year long.

8 arms palm tree

The historic sites in Spain attract a lot of people, but it also has some nice beaches to relax and lounge on. I can’t think of a better way to see those historic sites than to stay next to one! Huerto Del Cura began as an agricultural orchard, tended by a priest named Jose. The garden now has thousands of trees, including the famous Imperial Palm Tree with 8 arms.

As you walk through the park gardens, under the shade of the trees, you find a natural peace found in very few places around the world. The birds chirp around you, and you can smell the earth and fragrance from all of the plants. Spend a few hours here to unwind and let go of the stress you feel.

Huts at Huerto Del Cura


In terms of accommodation, rather than standard hotel rooms, the Huerto Del Cura hotel has huts placed around the original priest’s garden. The main building features:

  • Bar/Lounge
  • Business Centre
  • Fitness Centre
  • Free High-Speed Internet
  • Children Activities
  • Restaurant
  • Room Service
  • Swimming Pool
  • Wheelchair access

Of course these amenities are mostly just the icing on the cake! The serenity and beauty of the park is priceless.


Once you arrive at the airport in Alicante, there are lots of options to hire a car including Auto Europe. Many of the sites, including the gardens, are spread far apart and sometimes actually outside the main city. Having a car will ensure you get to see all of the beauty Spain has to offer.

Urban Zaragoza

Zaragoza- the city of 4 cultures

Zaragoza is a famous cultural city that has more than 1000 years of amazing history. The exact date of foundation is uncertain; the city is believed to appear in the period of 19th-15th centuries B.C.

Urban Zaragoza

The Romans

The city of beautiful architecture and breathtaking scenery was long ago a Roman colony and the name of the city was Cesar Augusta in honor of the Roman emperor August.

The Moors

All together Zaragoza bears traces of many cultures and invaders such as Romans, Arabs, Jews and Christians. That’s why it is often called – “the city of four cultures.” In 714, the Moors captured the city and gave it a new name – Sarakusta. They built many imposing buildings like a brilliant Aljafería Palace, 11th century. Beautiful towers and domes of the Cathedral of the Holy Virgin of Pilar, the patron saint of Spain, reflected in the waters of the river Ebro, which flows through the city.

The Christians

In the 12th century, the city was captured by the Christians. And today the presence of 3 worlds’ most important religions is presented in a special style called “mudehar”, which combines luxurious Arabic style with delicate European.

Nuestra Señora del Pilar

The old town and most interesting part of the city is located between the park and the palace of the Aljafería Bruel. The heart of the place is Zaragoza’s cathedral Nuestra Señora del Pilar. The legend says that the church was built on the very spot where Apostle James witnessed visitation of the Blessed Virgin. The existing building appeared later, in 1515 facade of the cathedral was decorated in Baroque style. The interiors of the temple are decorated with extreme luxurious: bronze, different varieties of marble and jasper, which is a rather rare combination in Spain. Great retablo was completed in 1509 by a prominent sculptor Damiano Formenti. The arches of the cathedral were painted by a young Francisco Goya. The cathedral is kept in a so-called Holy column – a relic associated with the phenomenon of the Blessed Virgin in Zaragoza. If you take to the right you will get to a nice street, filled with Zaragoza restaurants that serve the best Spanish cuisine in Spain.

La Seo

Another outstanding landmark of Zaragoza is the Cathedral of San Salvador, often referred to as La Seo. It was rebuilt in 1541 – 1551 years from the mosque that existed during the Moorish occupation. This mosque, in turn, was an early Christian church. Cathedral of San Salvador is a Spanish example of late Gothic style. Among its numerous treasures one should pay attention to the great retablo, made of alabaster.

Torreon del Court

The ensemble of the Plaza del Pilar includes incredible Torreon del Court – the former residence of the Moorish rulers of Zaragoza, built in 918, which since then has come down to our days with great loss but is still one of the most photographed spot in the city, inside the building is pretty simple, today it hosts art exhibitions.

In the countryside of Zaragoza

Balcon Del Mediterraneo

Discover the real Benidorm

If the mention of Benidorm just conjures up the recent TV parody and sends shivers down your spine, then you are doing this Spanish holiday resort a real injustice!

Benidorm may be the Costa Blanca’s most popular holiday resort with a huge influx of tourists every year, but it is also full of wonderful cultural landmarks. So don’t cross it off your cheap holidays in the Med list just yet. Take a look at what else there is to explore besides beaches and a hedonistic nightlife when taking advantage of cheap holiday deals.

Balcon Del Mediterraneo

The Old Quarter

As with lots of Mediterranean resorts, Benidorm started out as a quiet fishing village and the essence of this can still be found in its Old Quarter. You’ll discover narrow cobbled streets and whitewashed buildings decorated with blue tiles. This includes the 18th Century San Jaime Parish Church, complete with its blue-tiled domed roof. Take in the fantastic views over Levante Beach from Plaza de San Jaime and see where Benidorm’s castle once stood at Plaza del Castell. Spend some Euros on fine leather goods and of course souvenirs in the inviting shops.

San Jaime Parish Church

Perched on the Canfali hill, this pretty but unassuming neoclassical church is dedicated to the patron saint of Benidorm, the Virgen del Sufragio. Inside the recently renovated church you’ll see her chapel and beautiful frescoes in the vault. Oh and the view from up here is pretty amazing too.

Balcon del Mediterraneo

The Balcony of the Mediterranean or Castle Viewpoint as it’s also known should definitely not be missed either. The Balcon del Mediterraneo is situated on the rock that separates Benidorm’s two beaches, Playa Levante and Playa Poniente. In its heyday it was a fortress used to protect from invaders, but today all that remains are its ruins. Even so its blue tiles and whitewashed beauty look fantastic against the blue of the Mediterranean Sea.

The Bull Ring

Bullfighting is or should we say was very much a part of Spain’s culture. In recent years the sport has been banned in many areas and now bull rings are used as venues for music concerts and other events. The Bull Ring is fairly young compared to Benidorm’s other landmarks as it was only built in 1962. However that is still 51 years ago and last summer it celebrated its 50th birthday.

Benidorm may have suffered in the past from some negative stereotyping. However if you ignore this and visit with an open mind, you like thousands of others will be more than pleasantly surprised with what awaits you. There is plenty to see and do – so much that you may even find that you cannot fit it all in on one visit, being you will end up coming back again and again!

Picture credit: Clare Moylan

White-washed cottages and the green side of Ibiza

Getting back to nature in Ibiza

Ibiza is no longer simply about hedonism, beach parties and toasting yourself in the sun; although of course, you can still accomplish all this and more by heading to San Antonio or Eivissa Town for your Ibiza holidays.

The island’s natural beauty has opened up many other avenues in recent years and eco-tourism, yoga breaks and outdoor ventures have become just as popular here. However unlikely a green holiday in the Mediterranean party capital may sound, here are a few tips on how to do it.

White-washed cottages and the green side of Ibiza

Holistic holidays

Green holidays can mean different things to different people and are not limited to holistic activities or ethical shopping trips. If this is exactly what you’re after, many Ibiza tour operators around places like San Agustin organise everything from meditation sessions to responsible snorkelling so it’s perfectly possible to be an eco-tourist here. With ecological centre Cassita Verde open every Sunday all year, you can dip in and out of herb-tasting sessions, try island-grown beauty products or sample the vegetarian cuisine, just a short drive away from San Antonio.

Nature parks

Prefer to make your own way? There’s plenty of nature to explore for yourself here, with Ibiza’s two national parks offering a blend of rugged coastal scenery and forested inland hills between them. Ses Salinas in the south combines an area both on and off-shore, made up of wide salt flats and tiny islands, which dot the cobalt sea. You might also spot fishing eagles and falcons as you walk the coast and gaze over towards neighbouring Formentera.

The south-west

The south-west of the island includes the Es Vedra nature reserve and the town of Sant Josep de sa Talaia, notable for the sweeping green vistas you’ll experience from Ibiza’s highest point: Sant Josep mountain. There’s much more to see around some of the best hiking terrain on the island, as you stumble upon solitary white-washed cottages and UNESCO-listed sites like Sa Caleta village. The grotto cave of Cova Santa makes a trip to the beach here more unusual and you might even witness an authentic folk dance while you’re passing through the region.

Closer to the ‘real’ Ibiza

As you might expect, the further inland and off the tourist paths you stray, the closer you’ll come to the ‘real’ Ibiza, the island of farming plots, olive groves, Spanish cooking and ancient coastline. Plenty of the more popular attractions like the hippy markets of Es Cana and San Carlos pay homage to Ibiza’s artisan roots and you can rent bicycles to explore around the bigger resorts like Santa Eularia and Eivissa town. The only difficulty in creating your own environmentally-sound adventures here is deciding where to start.

Accommodation in Trujillo

Holidays in Trujillo, Extremadura

Just ask yourself: why is Spain consistently a popular travel destination time and again over the years?

The answer is quite simple:  Spain has  a lot to offer. There is impressive architecture, great food, breathtaking landscapes and friendly people always willing to have a chat.

Accommodation in Trujillo


One of Spain’s recently rediscovered region is Extremadura, part of the former Roman province Lusitania. As expected, there are forgotten Roman monuments and monasteries waiting to be rediscovered, great stories to be listened to and great food to be tasted.

So if you want to have a nice evening stroll discovering forgotten cobbled streets, listening to stories about conquistadors, but enjoying all the comfort of a modern accommodation, Extremadura, and especially the town of Trujillo, as Extremadura’s gem, seems to be an ideal choice. This way, holidays in rural Spain will be as exciting as a safari and as culturally enriching as a visit to London’s British Museum.

Things you can do in Trujillo

Many. Really many.

  • Art and cooking courses. They are suitable for all levels and are held in a superb location, Villa Piedras Albas. The villa was a former palace and boasts with breathtaking interiors. This play of going to extremes – cobbled streets, olive and lemon gardens and then the amazing interiors of a restored palace makes Trujillo a truly unique place. And it’s not just that you look from the outside; you are now the great chef-to-be or Picasso-to-be who will get the inspiration from this remarkable property.
  • Day trips to Caceres, Guadalupe, Merida, Zafra, Plasencia, Badajoz, Yuste. These are all small towns with rich heritage. Roman ruins, ancient monasteries, statues and monuments will make you stop and just meditate on the very condition of a human being. People, capable of creation, capable of destruction. Mérida (now capital of Extremadura) was actually the capital of the former Roman province.
  • The National Park in Monfragüe is a must see for people who love nature. There are some rare species that can still be spotted here.
  • Enjoy the fares and the Fiestas. There are plenty of them. The National Spanish Cheese Festival, Cabezudos, Castle Plays and many others.
  • Get healthier by spending several days, worry-free. The local food is not only tasty, but healthy as well.

Where to stay?

Six older villas and former palacios have been restored to suit some of the most exquisite tastes. Some are suitable for longer stays, other for shorter.

Why choose this option?

There is room for those who want to experience an aristocrat’s lifestyle, but also for the young ramblers who are in search of a holiday that can cater for their budget, need for freedom but also for the imperative need for comfort.

Colourful market in Granada

Granada for lovers

Colourful market in GranadaSpain has long been a country which, of necessity, merges and celebrates cultures, beliefs and learning, and no city more exemplifies this than Granada, the last Moorish foothold before King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella swept their foes from Spain and ruled jointly a unified country where before there had been only fragmented kingdoms. The story of the “Catholic Kings” is, of course, a tale of conquest, but not just militarily. The match between Ferdinand and Isabella was, according to most historians, a case of love at first sight, with both parties brushing aside familial disapproval.

Aside from the poetically beautiful Alhambra Palace – where Ferdinand and Isabella lived, loved and raised their five children (including Catherine of Aragon, who would go on to be the first wife of England’s Henry VIII) after the conquest – Granada has much to offer modern-day lovers in search of a romantic getaway or holiday, with picturesque, intimate dining and accommodation, as well as rich, sensuous sights, sounds and textures.

Lovers’ Retreats

The Parador of Granada was once a 15th century convent within the Alhambra, but now 21st century couples on lovers’ holidays can experience the unrivaled majesty of a European medieval castle that was once a sacred palace for Moorish rulers. The complex could not be any better located for exploring Granada, while the rooms within are elegant and modern, featuring air conditioning, minibar, Wi-Fi and satellite TV. Venture out of your room for a quiet nighttime walk and soak in the sights and sounds of rippling fountains, bird song and ornate decoration.

Hotel Abadia is located in the very heart of Granada, a charming and romantic accommodation that has recently undergone restoration. Nonetheless, it is still a beautiful example of 16th century architecture, with a stunning patio area that features traditional Granada art. There are 19 rooms within the hotel, all decorated to reflect the city’s lively cultural melting pot, while the hotel also offers free Wi-Fi and tour booking for adventurous (and hungry) tourists.

Romantic Granada

The much-touted Alhambra Palace is, of course, the most famous and celebrated monument in the city of Granada. Aside from the love shared by Ferdinand and Isabella which flourished in the palace as their family and influence grew, the harmonious architecture and exquisite, exotic detailing in the palace, indeed, in the whole of the complex (which is like a walled city within a city) hints at the sensual, even the erotic. The Jardin de los Adarves, or Garden of the Ramparts, dates back to the 1600s; take a hand-clasped stroll through the stately yet welcoming trees, shrubs and flowers, while the ever-present trickle of fountains soothes. Water proves to be an essential aspect of Alhambran architecture, as the Patio of the Myrtles, with its long, beautiful pond flanked first by the myrtle plants and, more imposingly by the Palace of Comares.

The Cathedral of Granada, with its absolutely astonishing Renaissance and Baroque interior, was built by the Catholic Kings in place of what was once a mosque. Try not to hold your breath as you gaze up from the Capilla Mayor (sanctuary) to the harmonious but spectacular dome. The unique experience of such grandeur is one that will stay with you and your lover for a long time after.

Before sunset head toward the Mirador de San Nicolas, across the river valley, where you can view the Alhambra as the beams of fading sunlight pinken the stone towers. If you’re lucky, you and your beloved will get seats on the stone benches, watching a sunset just as magical as any on a beach.

Love What You Eat

Supper can be as indulgent or simple as you wish, but Andalusian cuisine is a must in Granada, whether it’s gazpacho at the Parador of Granada’s on-site restaurant or ensalada de remojon at La Mimbre. The staples of Andalusian cooking include fried fish and shellfish, jamón (ham), olive oil, chickpeas, olives and sherry wine. Be aware also that in Granada the locals take their last meal of the day very late so you might find you and your squeeze eating quite alone – which could suit you just fine.

For a little something extra with your meal, try the Jardines de Zoraya restaurant in the old Moorish district of Albaycin, which features nightly flamenco dancers at 8:00 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. The sultry, passionate dance should bring your blood to a fever pitch!

Vineyard in Spain

The beautiful countryside of Spain vineyards

Good wines are produced near rivers… You may disagree with this statement, but this is confirmed by a simple look at most of the important wine producing regions in the world. Why would this be of interest if we were to think of tourism? We can simply say a river adds to the beauty of a region… but it also means many other tourist attractions are made available: kayaking, fishing, trekking…

Spain´s most famous wine region is one of these cases – Rioja is well-known for the quality of its red wines, and the region is becoming increasingly famous thanks to the spectacular combination of modern architecture and old medieval villages.

Vineyard in Spain

A master piece

Well-known architects like Frank Gerhy or Spanish Santiago Calatrava have transformed some vineyards in actual Master Pieces. A simple look at the Ysios vineyard in Laguardia summarizes the essence of the region: the futuristic vineyard can only hardly rival with the presence of nature: the Sierra de Cantabria mountain range puts a limit to the wine region…


At a short distance, the Walled city of Laguardia keeps an eye on both the vineyard and the mountain. Laguardia deserves a trip: you will go back to the XIIth century while you walk along its cobbled streets and get seduced by its old houses and palaces and its two fortified churches.

Old & modern

Any traveller to this region of Spain would want to visit a vineyard… or 2. Hundreds of cellars are awaiting the tourist and in most of them English is spoken. Some of these vineyards have existed for over 100 years, and the same families that initiated the business are still working there.

The visitor will always find a good hotel to stay at. Many old palaces have been refurbished and new hotels have also appeared, offering spa services and a wide range of services.

The wine regions

Rioja is only one of the many regions Spain has for wine tourism. You can find information on wine tours and wine holidays at

Wine regions such as Jerez, Barcelona, Rioja or Murcia are holiday destinations by themselves. The proximity to the sea and the many beaches in these regions attract millions of tourists every year… Yet wine tourism is not considered as an alternative for many of them today.

Other less frequented regions also offer very good value for money and great opportunities to combine wine tours and historical tours:

Galicia and Saint Jacques Route, Navarre, Rioja, la Mancha, and even Madrid are all good places to enjoy culture, gastronomy and wines.

Spain is putting lots of efforts to increase the awareness of what it can offer as a gastronomic tourist destination, a quick look at the Spanish official Touristic information webpage confirms this.

Watersports in Spain

Types of Watersports available in Spain

Watersports in Spain

With almost 5000 km of coastline it’s hardly surprising that water sports in Spain are amongst the favourite activities among the travel and leisure seekers. From sailing to boat excursions; windsurfing to deep sea fishing; scuba diving to kite surfing and kayaking to jet skiing, whatever your preference you will find excellent facilities for all kinds of water based pursuits in the resorts of both the mainland and its islands.

Scuba Diving and snorkelling

Whether taking to the sea with a snorkel and mask or with scuba diving equipment you will discover many places to explore the delights the sea has to offer. Enjoy the crystal clear waters of Cabo de Creus on the Costa Brava or maybe explore the underwater caves at Cabo de Palos on the Costa Calida. At all resorts, expert tuition is on hand should you need it.

Windsurfing and Kitesurfing

Windsurfing has become one of the main attractions of Spain, in particular the Canary Islands. With 10 km of beach, Tarifa on the Costa de Luz is known as the wind capital of Spain and has become a world renowned venue for international championships. Added to that, Gran Canaria in the Canaries is considered one of the best places in the world to windsurf because of the trade winds. For the very same reasons, the relatively new sport of kitesurfing has also become popular in these areas. Participants race over water on a surfboard propelled by a kite. The best kitesurfers from all over the world gather at Playa los Lances at Tarifa to compete against each other.

Sailing and Motorboating

There is a great sailing tradition in Andalusia, due to the cleanliness of the water and the warm climate. From the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, with its 836 km of coastline, this area has a wealth of excellent facilities for sailors and motor boat enthusiasts alike.

Saltwater fishing

Both the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea are excellent places to try your hand at deep sea fishing. Chasing swordfish is perhaps the most spectacular past time and during the months of July and September; swordfish can be found in abundance off the coasts of Almeira, Granada and the Bay of Cadiz.

Fresh Water Fishing

Fishing in lakes and rivers is just as popular as heading out to sea, with all kinds of fishing available. The 64 fishing preserves in the Nature Parks of Cazorla, Segura, Las Villas and Sierra Nevada are home to freshwater species such as trout, pike and black bass.

Rowing and Canoeing

Rowing, canoeing and kayaking have become increasingly popular on the rivers and lakes of Spain with both canoes and kayaks available to hire. In addition, marinas such as the ones at Sevilla and Gelves have made sailing on the rivers very popular too.

Of course if you prefer to just have a fun experience, there are plenty of opportunities to take part in water sports in Spain at the many holiday destinations, such as jet skiing, water inflatables and boat excursions. The choice is huge; you are only limited by your imagination.

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.