Category Photography

Photo Friday: Is this the most beautiful beach in the world

You can have Champagne Beach all to yourself on Fiji's Yasawa Island

Is this the most beautiful beach in the world?

I took this photo on Champagne Beach in the remote Yasawa Islands off the northwest coast of the main island of Viti Levu in Fiji.  It is a huge arc of fine pinkish sand which surrounds a wide bay of aquamarine water. At each end are small reefs where you can snorkel to see myriad brightly colored tropical fish and hard and soft corals.

Even better, most of the time you have the whole beach to yourselves save for an occasional fisherman.

So how do you get here to enjoy it?

Yasawa Island Resort: home to the world’s most beautiful beaches

It is one of 11 pristine beaches that are available to guests of Yasawa Island Resort, one of Fiji’s most upscale one-island resorts located on one of the country’s most unspoiled islands. Although remote, it is just a 30-minute flight from Nadi International Airport to the resort’s private airstrip.

Yasawa is a standout in Fiji because of its absolutely spectacular beaches...

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Photo Friday: Bali’s rice paddies around Ubud

Rice paddies around Ubud in Bali

I took this photo for Photo Friday on an early morning walk with a local guide through lime green rice paddies of Bongkasa alongside the Ayung River around the village of Baung in Sayan, which is not far out of Ubud in Central Bali.

It is enchanting to walk through such a lush landscape and watch the farmers work the paddies as well as learning about Hindu traditions and the local names for all the local tropical plants and flowers. After the walk, our guide took us home to his village compound, where we enjoyed coffee and cake with his wife and baby daughter and his extended family and learned how a traditional Balinese home is configured. All in all, it was a fascinating experience.

I arranged this walk through my accommodation, Bambu Indah, which is a delightful eco luxury boutique hotel with 11 antique Javanese bridal homes that were brought to Bali, restored and decorated with authentic Indonesian furniture and crafts...

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Photo Friday: Fez Medina Panorama

Fez Medina Panorama

I took this photograph of the ancient Fez medina from a vantage point overlooking Morocco’s old Imperial capital.

Often called the Mecca of the West, Fez is Morocco’s cultural and spiritual center and its UNESCO World Heritage-listed walled medina is the world’s largest car-free urban area.

The American writer and longtime Moroccan resident Paul Bowles called it “an enchanted labyrinth sheltered from time.”

Once the end of the gold trading route that stretched all the way to Timbuktu, Fez has the oldest continuously functioning university in the world, the University of Al-Karaouine, founded by women in AD859.

Today people live and work in its 9000 laneways much the same way as they have for a thousand or so years. Craft guilds still produce butter-soft leather, copper ware, cactus-silk cloth and much more. Donkeys remain the main form of transport.

If you’d like some insider tips on getting beneath the tourist trail in Fez and connecting with the locals, see my post Insider’s...

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Photo Friday: Sailboats at the Tuileries in Paris

Model sail boats for rent in the Tuileries gardens in Paris

I took this picture of the rickety cart filled with handmade wooden sailboats with their much-patched sails one spring day in the Tuileries gardens in Paris.

In fact, I’ve taken pictures of these boats  and the kids sailing them every time I have visited Paris over the past 25 years. And the same man has been there renting them every single time. I’ve tried to talk to him over the years to learn a little bit more about him, where he makes the boats and mends the sails and just how long he has been doing this. But he is a cagey fellow and doesn’t like all those inquisitive questions.  His face is tanned from spending every afternoon outside in the park, summer and winter, rain or shine.

The first time I saw him my oldest daughter was just a babe in arms and she has now just announced her engagement at the age of 26! I feel like he has watched my family grow up just like he must have seen hundreds of other little kids get big and have children of their own, which they bring down to th...

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Photo Friday: Packing Prosecco Picnic in Victoria’s King Valley

Forges Farm offers a Packing Prosecco picnic in the King Valley

I took this Photo Friday image in the bucolic King Valley in Victoria’s High Country.

The afternoon sun glints on the Prosecco glasses set beside platters of local Milawa cheeses and crusty bread. Ancient river red gums shade our picnic area, set with hessian-covered hay bales, blankets and bright pillows as Hereford cows feast on clover in a nearby paddock. Our horses also enjoyed chomping on those sweet green grasses on the 20-minute pack horse ride…more of a lazy amble really…to the picnic spot along the King River on Forges Farm.

How do you pack a horse

Fifth generation cattle farmers Anne Marie and Graham Forge are the last original settler family on the King River. Before we had set out, they’d demonstrated the fine art of packing horses, once used to take supplies into the high country.

“I am so proud to be living and working on the same piece of property as my forefathers,” says Anne Marie. “And it’s great to be able to show visitors our packhorse skills.”

Lo...

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Photo Friday: The Spectacular Great Ocean Walk

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I took this picture at the Twelve Apostle’s end of The Great Ocean Walk. I think this image demonstrates just how wonderful it is to be away from the bus loads of tourists while appreciating the spectacular views of the limestone stacks.

It is an almost mythic land and seascape of sweeping beaches, serrated cliffs and misty rainforests that begs to be appreciated at a walker’s pace. Yet this virulent stretch of Victorian coastline has always been known as one of the world’s great DRIVES along The Great Ocean ROAD.

In 1994 a group of locals had a vision to offer something more and the passion to make it a reality. Today the 100-kilometer Great Ocean Walk between Apollo Bay and the 12 Apostles offers one of the finest coastal walks in the world. It traverses a secret landscape left behind as the Great Ocean Road weaves away from the coast through forest and farmland in its rush to reach the 12 Apostles...

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Photo Friday: California’s Big Sur coastline

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Highway One, which snakes along the spectacular Big Sur coastline, is one of the world’s great drives offering splendid vistas of mountains plunging into the often mist-shrouded Pacific Ocean.

Big Sur is a sparsely populated region of the Central Coast of California, between San Francisco and Los Angeles, where the Santa Lucia Mountains rise abruptly from the Pacific Ocean. The Name ‘Big Sur’ is derived from the Spanish ‘el sur grande’ meaning ‘the big south’ referring to its location south of the Monterey Peninsula.

Because of its relative isolation and natural beauty, Big Sur has been a magnet for artists and writers including Henry Miller, Edward Weston, Hunter S. Thompson and Jack Kerouac.

To check out one of Big Sur’s iconic institutions, read my post on The Esalen Institute, which focuses on alternative humanistic eduction. Often nicknamed ‘The New Age Harvard’, it is a spectacular retreat center and hot springs perched on the cliffs over the Pacific Ocean...

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Photo Friday: Japanese snow monkeys

Photo Friday: Japanese snow monkey

I shot this photo in winter when this Japanese snow monkey and his friends were enjoying their hot springs baths in snow-covered Jigokudani Yaenkoen park, not far from Nagano on the island of Honshu.

These snow monkeys are Japanese macaque, a monkey species native to northern Japan and the most northern-living non-human primate surviving winter temperatures below -15 degrees centigrade.

To see the monkeys in their natural environment you walk up alongside the Yokoyu River, which is nicknamed Hell’s Valley because of its steep cliffs and hot water steaming out from the ground. It is fun to watch them going about their business…playing, eating, running around and soaking in the onsen. There is a lot of social activity to enjoy with mothers and babies and alpha males. And it is remarkable how their faces and hands and all their emotions are so like our own.

If you would like to try soaking in an onsen yourself, check out my post on Kusatsu, which is much more human friendly!

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Japanese s...
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Photo Friday: Captain Awesome of Cook Islands’ Koko Lagoon Cruises

Captain Awesome from Koko Lagoon Cruises in the Cook IslandsI took this photo of Captain Awesome, the charismatic leader of a four-man band of guides on Koko Lagoon Cruises in the Cook Islands. He blows on this beautiful conch shell to welcome us aboard the boat. The merry band of funsters are the sole reason why the Koko Lagoon Cruises on Muri Lagoon on the Cook Island’s main island of Rarotonga is such a fun trip. They don’t look that bad either!

Koko Lagoon Cruises

Out come the ukuleles the moment the Koko Lagoon Cruises glass bottom boat pushes off from the creamy sands of Muri Lagoon and Captain Awesome and his mates Captain Amazing, Captain Jack Sparrow and Captain Cook (the chef who creates our lunch) serenade us with toe tapping tunes as we cruise around the aquamarine lagoon. Jack Sparrow even manages to steer the boat with one hand and beat a drum with the other.

We head to the edge of a marine reserve and Captain Amazing jumps overboard to feed the fishes right underneath the glass bottom so that we see a kaleidoscope of color...

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Photo Friday: Tranquil Bay in Australia’s Kimberley

The Kimberley region in Australia's Northwest is filled with beautiful scenes like this tranqul lagoon

I took this Photo Friday picture at Tranquil Bay in the Kimberley in Australia’s northwest. I love the space, the “untouched-ness” of exquisite places like this. Cliffs of ancient orange sandstone are reflected in the emerald waters of this coastal lagoon that is directly behind a pristine kilometer-long white sand beach.

How to get to Tranquil Bay

The only way to access Tranquil Bay is via expedition cruise ship. Sadly, once you are here, you can’t even go swimming as this entire area is home to saltwater crocodiles that would think nothing of gobbling you up for lunch.

I recently enjoyed a cruise along this coastline, between Broome and Darwin, with Australian wilderness expedition experts Aurora Expeditions.

The jagged gorges we cruised along were carved by ancient freshwater river systems flooded after the end of the last ice age. The rocks are more than 400 million years old.

Today, the Kimberley is the most geologically stable region on earth, yet we saw massive sandstone an...

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