The smell of the sea air, the bright flora covering the grounds and trees I have never seen in my life made me want to just cry out of happiness. I had truly landed in OZ!
In a fluke of a travel opportunity that came to me when my ship was based out of Sydney I decided to take myself and also my carry on into an adventure in New South Wales, Australia. It was my first solo extravaganza in OZ and I was devoted to see and do as much as possible. Exploring Australia was a dream for me for a very long time. I can clearly recall sitting in the back of my world geography course in college studying the map of Australia while my professor was lecturing about the Great Barrier Reef. My listening was checked out for a bit as I pinpointed where Perth, Melbourne, Sydney, and Cairns were on the map. I was stunned to read about the aboriginals who still try to make a living in Darwin, around Cairns, and into the outback.
Heading to the Blue Mountains
With my sights set on exploring the Blue Mountains region I headed toward Sydney Central Train station to begin my journey. With a ticket booked from I was on my way to Katoomba out to explore the majestic Blue Mountains with serene and enchanting scenery outside my window. After snacking on Tim Tams and enjoying the Aussie accents around me my train arrived in Katoomba. Nested in the gateway of the Blue Mountains this cozy town has plenty of impressive cafes, restaurants, shops, and little nooks and crannies you just have to find for yourself. With my big map properly sprawled out and the best cappuccino in the world, I was making my plans.
From Sydney Central head westbound to Katoomba. Katoomba is a place that is very easy to reach via Sydney and the sights there are sometimes compared to the Grand Canyon (just not as big). The town of Katoomba itself has some really nice bohemian style coffee shops, nice eateries, and a few Asian restaurants.
To completely enjoy the Blue Mountains region the best way to see everything is to purchase a hop on hop off ticket next to the train station upon arrival. I purchased the two day pass so I didn’t feel I had to squeeze it all into one day. There are more than a dozen stops with drop off points all around different hiking courses as well as little town centers to enjoy a bite to eat or some window shopping. From hiking around the Three Sisters to Leura Cascade Falls I was truly amazed by the incredible sights. Australia is such a fascinating continent that I hope I have to chance to explore more of one day.
The more beaches I have the opportunity around the world to visit the more over development I see with my own eyes.
From the islands around the Caribbean such as Aruba and St. Maarten to Bali and Borocay, as much as I adore these destinations I still crave to soak in a piece of paradise that doesn’t have a lot of traffic and remnants from tourists. But if anyone were to ask me the best spot in the world for the best beach it would have to be Isle of Pines in New Caledonia. Off the southeast coast of Australia (about two sea days away) lies the island nation of New Caledonia. French speaking New Caledonia offers breathtaking beaches around the island as well as smaller islands off the coast such is Lifou (the Loyalty Islands). As New Caledonia is not a common or known destination to many travelers it can still be reached by many cruise ships including Celebrity, Princess, Royal Caribbean and P&O. As it is a fairly difficult and expensive place to get to on your own a cruise ship would be the most suitable way to visit.
I visited Isle of Pines two years ago as my ship anchored into the bay. I truly felt swept away from society with a bit of curiously lingering. Truth be told I was blown away but the natural beauty, solitude, and the unsaturated footprints that tourists leave behind here. Pulling up to shore looking out the tender boat I witnessed a local man playing with a huge black and white striped water snake wrapped around a stick before letting it go into the sea. As my body cringed as it slipped away and began bobbing it’s head in and out of the surface I hoped I would never come face to face with one of those. With this sight leaving me feeling a bit queasy I began my journey exploring the wilderness of an island layered with towering pine trees lining the coast line sipping a young coconut.
With gentle breezes swaying back and forth I staked my claim on the sandy shore and sat back to take in what I thought was some kind of dream. Isle Of Pines is a place that is mostly unknown to many travelers based on its location in Oceania. If you do however find yourself in Australia or New Zealand or are thinking of cruising in that part of the world, make sure that Isle of Pines is on your itinerary. There is simply no place like it on our planet Earth. I cannot compare it to any Caribbean island or paradise that is similar in some parts of Southeast Asia. The beaches are untouched. The locals selling coconuts are just as curious about you as you are about this place created by the heavens. I am a huge lover and fanatic about Isle of Pines and I hope that one day you are too!