Photo Friday: Whitehaven is one of the world’s best beaches

Whitehaven Beach in Queensland's Whitsunday region is one of the world's most beautiful beaches

Whitehaven Beach, located in the heart of the Whitsundays region of the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Queensland, is regularly voted one of the world’s most beautiful beaches.

Comprised of 100 percent pure white silica, the seven-kilometer beach stretches along one side of Whitsunday Island, which is the largest of the 74 islands in the Whitsunday region.

At the northern end of Whitehaven Beach is Hill Inlet, which is a stunning cover where the tide shifts the sand and water to create an ever changing fusion of colors.

I took this picture on a scenic helicopter flight from Hamilton Island. We swept along the full stretch of Whitehaven Beach before heading out to Heart Reef, the other iconic attraction in this part of the world.

There are several ways to access Whitehaven Beach. Many companies offer day trips (from Airlie Beach or Hamilton Island) by  power boat or sailing boat. Most overnight sailing trips also stop here...

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Exploring Alaska’s Largest Wilderness: Wrangell St Elias National Park

The Bagley Ice Field is the largest non-polar icefield in North America

The 52,000 square kilometer Wrangell-St.Elias National Park is bigger than Switzerland. It has an active volcano, the largest sub-polar ice field in North America, 150 glaciers, and the tallest coastal mountains in the world with nine of the 16 highest peaks in the United States, four of which are over 4,800 meters including Mount St Elias, the biggest vertical rock face on the planet.  There are way more grizzly bears, moose, Dall sheep, bald eagles and salmon than humans. Together with Canada’s adjacent Kluane National Park, this area is the largest protected wilderness area on earth.

I have come here to explore “The Alaska factor.” Here everything is bigger, larger, greater – and tougher than it looks.

It is a spectacular five hours drive from Anchorage just to get to the park’s main entrance.

Before becoming a ...

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Photo Friday: Walking Japan’s Nakasendo Way

Japan's Nakasendo Way is the traditional samurai trail between Edo and Kyoto

I took this Photo Friday image in a bucolic section of Japan’s Nakasendo Way between the restored post towns of Tsumago and Magome. The Nakasendo or the ancient “Middle Mountain Way” wends its way across valleys and mountain passes between the old Imperial capital of Kyoto and the Shogunate stronghold of Edo, now known as Tokyo. Once a busy byway traveled by feudal lords, samurai warriors, merchants and pilgrims, the Nakasendo Way now offers a tantalizing taste of old Japan that can be well nigh impossible to find in the country’s kitch-obsessed, neon-bright cities. It was springtime and beautiful pink blossoms floated down from the cherry trees that lined our path. It couldn’t have been more beautiful.

We had just been invited in to a traditional tea house for refreshments by a fellow wearing a traditional blue jacket and conical hat. We sat on tiny stools around a low table set on a dirt floor in a room that felt like it hadn’t changed for centuries...

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Kayaking the Remote Islands of Papua New Guinea

Kayaking in the Tigak Islands of Papua New Guinea

Australian-owned No Roads Expeditions offers a terrific 50-mile kayaking trip along the coral atolls that stretch along Papua New Guinea’s province of New Ireland. It is a perfect way to explore the traditional Melanesian culture of these remote and pristine islands, where many children have never seen white people before.

The company developed its expertise as a trekking operator on the popular Kokoda Track in the New Guinea highlands, site of Australia’s most significant campaign of the Second World War, as well as kayaking and hiking trips in Indonesia. Bringing eco-sensitive, low-impact tourism to these remote communities, No Roads partnered with Papua New Guinea Tourism to provide new water tanks as well as paying each village for food and entertainment.

My hus...

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Santorini: Where to stay, what to do and where to eat

Santorini WWW

Oia is the only place to base yourself on Santorini. This is the source of all Santorini’s iconic images that grace the covers of travel magazines.

Here is everything you need to know to enjoy your stay in Oia: Where to Stay, What to do, and Where to Eat.

Where...

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Santorini: Plan Your Trip

Santorini the Low Down

Ah, Santorini…its curving white cubed buildings and blue church domes, pots of fuchsia bougainvillea, and winding staircases descending to the lapis lazuli waters of a drowned volcanic crater. One of the world’s major sigh-inducing images, for sure. No wonder, then, that it’s on all hot lists as the perfect island escape.

A long history

Once upon a time, it was a rather ordinary round, brown blob in the Aegean Sea. But the island classically known as Thera was smack bang on important trading routes as an outpost of the sophisticated Crete-based Minoan civilisation. Then, some 3600 years ago, one of the largest volcanic eruptions in recorded history gouged a massive crater and all that remained was a mere crescent-shaped landscape, with striated red, black and ochre cliffs embracing a flooded caldera, a few other specks of land becoming satellite islands.

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Kayaking and Walking in New Zealand’s Abel Tasman National Park

Kayaking and walking in New Zealand's Abel Tasman National Park on the South Island

“Sweet as…” says Bruce, one of our easy going Kiwi kayaking guides who is leading us along the coastline of Abel Tasman National Park, New Zealand’s smallest national park on the north of the South Island. It is a paddler’s nirvana.  What finer way could there be to explore a pristine coastline of granite headlands and tiny coves of golden sand backed by voluptuous hills cloaked in emerald green.

It is a cloudless autumn day and we are suspended on an aquamarine bubble between land and sky. Eight yellow double sea kayaks glide over a sea so translucent that a casual observer might think for a split second that no water was there at all.

Wilso...

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Photo Friday: Bull elephant in Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Crater

Elephant in Tanzania's Ngorongoro Crater

 

I photographed this ancient bull elephant in the Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania.  He looked like he’d had more than his fare share of battles over the years.

Located west of Arusha, the Ngorongoro Crater is the world’s largest inactive, intact, and unfilled volcanic caldera.

It is a UNESCO World Heritage site because it has yielded an exceptional long sequence of crucial evidence related to human evolution and human-environment dynamics and its stunning landscape combined with its spectacular concentration of wildlife is one of the greatest natural wonders of the planet. It is home to more than 25,000 animals, including the world’s highest density of lions. Maybe this old elephant has had a few run ins with those lions.

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Ngorongoro Crater

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Ngorongoro Crater -3.161752, 35.587670

 

 

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In the Wake of Bikini Models: 8 Adventures on Aitutaki in the Cook Islands

Aitutaki MFP

The world’s most beautiful lagoon can be found on Aitutaki, a tiny unspoiled dot in the South Pacific. Having visited recently, I can vouch for its massive WOW factor. Aitutaki is in the north of the Cook Island archipelago, which is scattered across 2.2 million square kilometers, halfway between New Zealand and Hawaii.

It is likely to get a lot better known thanks to the recently launched world’s most beautiful safety video, Air New Zealand’s Safety in Paradise.   In the video, Aitutaki starred alongside the 2014 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit models who were celebrating 50 years of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue. And just in case you have any doubt how the regular punters feel about ...

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McLarenVale: Australia’s quirkiest and most laid-back wine region

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Just 40 kilometers south of Adelaide, McLaren Vale’s undulating vineyards start in the foothills of the Mount Lofty Ranges and meander down to a pristine coastline of white sandy beaches on Gulf St. Vincent. McLaren Vale is part of the coat-hanger-shaped Fleurieu Peninsula, named by French explorer Nicholas Baudin. Its proximity to the sea creates a mellow Mediterranean climate that is marvelous not only for the vines but also for winemakers, whose laid-back style creates an easy-going ambiance that seduces all who visit. With an irreverent clutch of eccentric personalities at the helm, McLaren Vale wins the award for the quirkiest wine names in the business. Dead Arm Shiraz, Derelict Vineyard Grenache, Woop Woop, and The Mongrel head the list.

While winemaking defines the region today, McLaren Vale was a magnet for Italian immigrants after World War II and became one of the earliest places in Australia to grow olives and almonds. Today there is still a smattering of groves, orchards and dairy farms amongst the acres of Shiraz and Grenache, Italian varieties, Cabernet and some gutsy whites and this local produce is put to good use in McLaren Vale’s terrific restaurants and winery cafes. There are plenty of natural attractions, too, including marvelous beaches and the dramatic gorges of the Onkaparinga River, which offer spectacular bushwalking and rock climbing.

All in all...

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