5 Beaches with a difference… The most colourful beaches in the world

Now we all have that image in our minds of crystal clear turquoise waters ebbing gently on beautiful white powdery sand… It’s the stuff of day dreams and fantasies. Being addicted to sunshine and coastal living I’ve seen my fair share of golden beaches but if you want something different you might like these…

Punalu’u black sand beach, Hawaii

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Black sand beaches can be found on volcanic islands such as Hawaii or Lanzarote, a Spanish island in the Mediterranean. This beach, I visited in Hawaii, was about 2 hours drive south of Hilo and we found it easily reading the signs and the rental cars map. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t amazing that day but the beach was lovely. An entire beach covered in black sand with huge columns of trees swaying violently along the edge of the sand created quite the dramatic effect.There’s little more than a shop here so bring whatever you need with you for a day trip.  Also, another tourist attraction here is the turtles. They were swimming right at the waters edge and in the middle of the beach had a little nest where they laid their eggs. Pretty awesome 🙂

Papakolea Green sand beach, Hawaii

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It’s quite a hike to get to this beach (2.6miles to be exact)! Locals have copped on to the fact that some visitors are on the lazier side (me!) and offer rides on the back of their trucks from the make shift car park to the top of the cliff where you want down to the beach. I think they charge $15-20 per person return. Alas, I wasn’t alone and my German compadre was more than happy for us to walk the whole way to the beach! So, as I longingly gazed as each truck drove by, we progressed through fields, sand and mud to get to our destination. To the right was a beautiful horizon and it had become a habit of mine to stare out into the ocean as I had successfully seen many whales breach and this time did not fail. Watching as a family of three or four whales swim by,far in the distance, makes my heart slip every time. After about 45 minutes we arrived at the top of the cliff and began to descend the steep slope to greener pastures! We were greeted by a handful of people who were chilling out on the beach but in general the beach was quiet. After a bit of splashing about in the water and taking some photos it was time to head back to the car as we still had quite a drive to go before evening fell. It’s illegal to take the green sand with you as it is considered rare so be careful if you do go there! Interestingly enough, a few weeks later I ended up on a private beach, accessible only by sea, and there was also some green sand there as well as white, brown, red and purple. The most interesting sand combination I’d ever seen!

 

Rainbow beach, Australia

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During my travels down the east coast of Australia we stopped at Rainbow Beach for a few nights. It may have just initially been a stopover with the intention of sailing out to Fraser Island from here, however, this small town boosts a gorgeous beach that is said to be made from 72 different coloured sands, hence the name!
Perfect for a day of relaxing in the endless Sunshine Coast.

Siesta Key, Florida, USA

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Everyone likes to play sometimes and Siesta Key is the perfect playground. The famous white sand here is so soft and powdery it actually feels like snow. This is because it is 99% silica in its content. Every year they hold world famous sand building competition in May and people of every age come from all over the globe to participate in this fun in the sun. http://www.escape-to-sarasota.com/siesta-sand-sculpture-contest.html. I’m not generally a fan of sand and the way it gets in all the awkward crevices but this soft sand felt so amazing I couldn’t help myself from making some sand angels lol!

Pink Sand Beach, Bermuda

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Located in Bermuda, this beach indeed a pinky colour. It’s pink hue is as a result of tiny red organisms living under the coral reef and when they die, they, along with shell and coral particles, are corroded and abraded into tiny sand particles.

 

These are my favourite beaches with a difference. Please feel to leave a comment below to tell me about an unusual beach you’ve been to. Otherwise you can just use the poll to vote for your favourite! Maybe I should trade in my flip flops for  Dorothy’s shoes… Simply click your heels together… I wish 🙂

 

 

 

7 days to see… Ireland

This lovely Emerald Isle is small enough that you can drive from north to South in 8 hours and east to west in just over 2 hours! On my travels I’ve often been asked for advice on where to go in Ireland. There’s so much to choose from but I’ve managed to put together an itinerary here that includes the best sights Ireland has to offer.
Day 1 – 2 Dublin

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Dublin, the capital and biggest city in the country, certainly is bustling with activity and has lots of sights to appeal to tourists. In fact I’m always surprised how few Irish people I hear when I’m wandering through the city. Dublin seems to have become an international hub for foreign students especially South Americans, which, in my opinion definitely adds to Dublin’s appeal 😉
There are several tourist offices on the O Connell St. where you will find maps and information on places to go. In the middle of O Connell street is the Spire which is 120m in height and has towered above the city’s skyline since it’s unveiling in 2002.
The city is built along the River Liffey and there are many lovely bridges to cross over but my favourite is the city’s first pedestrian bridge, the Ha’ penny Bridge, where couples write their names on padlocks and padlock them to the bridge and throw away the key as a symbol of their love and commitment to each other. I think it’s very sweet!
The Guinness Storehouse is a very popular place to visit in Dublin also. Despite it being typically an old mans drink, many young and old visitors to the city can be seen sipping on the famous Irish drink, trying to experience the famous Irish culture!
Temple bar is perhaps the most popular area as it is filled with restaurants and bars playing traditional Irish music and it wouldn’t be uncommon to see live bands playing on any given evening with merry folk dancing around! For shopping, check out Grafton St. and make sure to walk by St. Stephens Green to enjoy the lake and beautiful gardens. Dublin zoo in Phoenix park is another lovely outing.

Day 3 – 4 Kerry

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Kerry is home to many beautiful beaches. Ireland isn’t famous for it’s good weather but when the sun does appear, these beaches are crowded with people, enjoying the sunshine.
Killarney is a popular town to visit and you can spend hours wandering the quaint streets or sampling some Irish coffees while listening to live Irish music in many of the pubs here. Most people use Killarney as their base for exploring the surrounding regions, especially the famous Ring of Kerry. Click on the link for more information on the amazing mountains, waterfalls and lakes that can be seen in the area.
Another gorgeous, little town is Dingle, which is home to one of our most famous celebrities, Fungi the dolphin. He has been living here for over 30 years and a statue has been erected in his honour.
Another interesting fact is that there are some parts of Kerry that are part of the Gaeltacht which means they only speak the native Irish language, Gaelige/Irish.

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Day 5 Limerick

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This is my home town 🙂
Limerick is a small city located on the River Shannon. A 15 minute drive from the city you will arrive in Killaloe from where you can do a self driven boat trip along the river. There are lovely cafés and restaurants here if you fancy just relaxing with a nice view.
Bunratty is located just a short distance outside the city as well and is a well preserved medieval fortress built in 1425. You will definitely enjoy a day exploring the folk park and climbing the steep,narrow, winding staircases in the castle. At night, you can participate in a lavish banquet served by waiting staff in native costumes and enjoy the live musical and dance performances. If you don’t fancy leaving the city I’d recommend a visit to St. John’s Castle which is right in the city centre.

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Day 6 Clare

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Located in the west of Ireland, is County Clare, which is best known for its stunning coastline. It is home to one of the most visited sights in Ireland, the Cliffs of Moher. Here you can witness the staggering columns of rock lining the jagged coast of Clare which is absolutely breathtaking so don’t forget your camera.
Beaches are plentiful in this part of the country. Kilkee and Lahinch are the biggest beach towns and are often crowded on a sunny day. Lahinch is a popular place for hen and stag nights so pubs are often filled with young people having a great time and wearing costumes for the occasion. Luckily nothing cures a hangover like a dip in the Atlantic so the surf schools are usually busy at the weekends. I have enjoyed some surfing lessons here myself!
The Burren is a unique karst landscape which should also be visited if you have some extra time in Clare.

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Day 7 Galway

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Galway is always a favourite city for visitors. Drop by the beach in Salthill for an early morning jog and spend the afternoon revelling in some retail therapy in the lovely pedestrian shopping streets. Galway is a great place for a night out to get to know the friendly locals and have the ‘craic’!

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7 days to see… Florida

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Day 1
Starting location: Orlando airport
End destination: Orlando
Main attractions along the way: Orlando

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I really wanted to rent a vintage VW bus for the week but they were all booked out for Easter. Check them out http://www.floridavwrentals.com/
I would advise booking your rental car online. Try these sites.
http://www.thrifty.com
http://www.expedia.com
http://www.rentalcars.com/florida

We ended up renting a car from advantage and they lived up to their name and took advantage of us. Beware of unnecessary upgrades and insurance costs. You should not have to pay anymore than the price given on your booking.
Begin your trip with a jaunt into the city. It is best explored on foot so park your car on a side street and off you go. We discovered a very cute Mexican themed street where we lunched on quesadillas and enchiladas.
Our villa was booked on Florida Vacation Villas on http://www.hotels.com.
Thanks to technology we followed google maps the whole way to the house. I would happily have moved in forever. It had a swimming pool, outdoor Jacuzzi, 6 bedrooms and a games room in the garage. It even had an air hockey table, which I love!

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Day 2 – 3
Starting location: Orlando
End destination: Orlando
Main attractions along the way: Disneyland

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Tickets can be bought in stores along the road offering specials. Otherwise you can buy packages online. https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/tickets/

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Day 4
Starting location: Orlando
End destination: St. Petersburg
Main attractions along the way: Tampa, Clearwater Beach, Madeira Beach, Treasure Island Beach

Description
Just a two hour drive from Orlando, is the large, popular tourist spot that is Clearwater Beach. It was very busy but we found a nice spot by the water to enjoy a few hours of sunbathing and swimming. We stopped at several beaches enroute to St. Pete’s, some of which I have mentioned above. It seemed like every stop had miles of gorgeous white sandy beaches, each more beautiful than the next. We arrived at St. Pete Beach in time to observe the gorgeous sunset, and listened to the waves crash as day became night.

If you have extra days, optional stops
* Honeymoon Island
* Caladesi Island

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Day 5
Starting location: St. Petersburg
End destination: Siesta Keys
Main attractions along the way: Anna Maria, Holmes Beach, Bradenton Beach, Longboat Key Beach, Sarasota Island

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Enjoy the incredible views of the Gulf and tiny beaches as you cross the famous 5.5 mile Sunshine Skywalk Bridge. Taking the scenic coastal route, you will have lots of opportunities to stop beautiful beaches along the way, some of which I mentioned above. Long bridges connect each of the islands, and the drive is very enjoyable across the Gulf of Mexico. A good place to stop for lunch is Sarasota. We chose to picnic in Sarasota Island Park and Marina and enjoyed the sunshine and the artistic displays in the park. Next, we took Ocean Blvd. and Beach Road to Siesta Keys, which apparently was awarded No. 1 beach in 2011. It certainly deserved its title, as this massive beach not only had volleyball nets, picnic tables and loud dance music, it also had the most unbelievably soft sand I’d ever felt ( I even rolled around in it and I’m not the fondest of sand generally!). Once a year, this beach holds world sand building competitions where people come from all over the globe to produce some marvelous sand creations. Every Sunday there is a drum circle held on the beach at sunset and as luck would have it, we were there on a Sunday (of course!), and got to observe people of all ages dancing, playing music and even hula hoop dancing. Coincidently, I had bought a hula hoop earlier that day, but my skills are atrocious so I didn’t partake, but promised myself to practice before next time!

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Day 6
Starting location: Siesta Keys
End destination: Fort Myers
Main attractions along the way: Venice Beach, Sanibel Island, Tarpon Bay, Lighthouse Beach, Bowman’s Beach

Description
The first stop of the day is Venice Beach. It is a large white sandy beach and was very quiet when we were there. After a lovely morning walk, we headed for Sanibel Island which is famous for its shell beaches. I have never seen anything like them before. There are shells of all shapes and sizes and if you make a quick stop at the touristy information office, they will give you plenty of informative leaflets so you can tell what type of shells they are. Shells are a great souvenirs to bring home.

There are many activities to choose from on this island especially water sports but I would recommend the Thriller Dolphin cruise. It leaves from Tarpon Bay and is a 90 mile exhilarating ride around the two islands while dolphins chase your speed boat. In the evening you have many beaches to choose from on the island. We drove to Lighthouse Island, which was another beautiful strip of white sand lined with the warm, turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico. It was here, one of my life dreams came true. As I was out swimming, two young dolphins swam in close beside me. I’ll admit I got a little scared as I recalled (falsely I’m sure) an article about being bitten by dolphins ( I watch too many movies!). Despite this, it was a magical moment for me as I watched them play for a few minutes before gliding off into deeper waters. To top a wonderful day off, watch the sunset at Bowman’s Beach.

If you have extra days, optional stops:
* Captiva Islands
* Cayo Costa

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Day 7
Starting location: Fort Myers
End destination: Miami airport
Main attractions along the way: Naples Beach

Description
This drive was less than 3 hours so we had time to stop for some last minute sun at Naples Beach before heading to the airport. There is a state park here for some nice walks.

If you have extra days, optional stops:
* Miami
* The Everglades

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