Posts Tagged ‘beach’

Formentera, the last paradise in the mediterranean

Formentera, the last paradise in the mediterranean

Despite having some of the best natural beaches in the mediterranean sea, with white sand and water that dazzles with perfect clarity, mild climate along the year, great mediterranean food and being just 2 hours by plane (plus 30 min by boat) from the main european capitals, Formentera remains an unexploited paradise in the mediterranean sea.

This little, peaceful and hippie spanish island, together with it’s sister Menorca, hasn’t changed much in the last 30 years… specially if you compare it with it’s other balearic sisters Ibiza or Mallorca. In fact, even in August, when the island is packed of tourists, you can still enjoy it by avoiding the popular places and finding your spot at a hidden beach and watching amazing sunsets just by yourself.

I have just returned from a long week in Formentera (my forth summer so far) and I still discover amazing places that exceed my expectations. These are some of the places I like the most:

Best beaches

Formentera is about exploring and discovering the beach that suits your needs. You have plenty of options: from the long and sandy to the tiny rocky spots just for you and your couple. These are my suggestions:

  • Ses Illetes and Levante beaches
    Part of the Natural Park of Ses Salines (a World Heritage Site by Unesco) you will find a wild narrow piece of land with beaches on both sides (some people choose sides depending on the wind). The northern you get, the less people you’ll find. In august it is full of celebrities and some of the most amazing yachts you will ever see. Unless you get there by boat, the entrance fee is 2€ per scooter and 5€ per car. There is no infrastructure here apart from a series of wood-built beachside restaurants called “Chiringuitos”. I’d suggest “Tanga” for having the best value for money (35€pax, with great paella and seafood). “Juan y Andrea” is definitely the place to spot celebrities (70€pax) and “El Tiburón” to enjoy the best sunset. If you enjoy walking and swimming, try crossing to the private island S’Espalmador (ten minutes walk with water up to your neck + 30 min walk along the park to get to the strait from the nearest parking lot) or take a shuttle boat (20€ round ticket per pax).
  • Mitjorn beach
    Along the south coast of the island, Migjorn combines long sandy beaches with wild and rocky spots of bright green water, ideal for the lonely and nudists that prefer to be accompanied by a good book. In both cases, it is a great option if you travel with kids as it doesn’t get deep enough for swimming until you are far from the shore. Along the beach you will find great “chiringuitos” such as: Blue Bar (good food and good music) and the tiny “Lucky” and “Piratabus” (both always packed, relax and fun, perfect for sunsets).
  • Other beaches
    Try Cala Saona (Carved into a cliff) and Es Caló (tiny fisherman’s town with wonderful micro beaches a couple hundred meters to the west)

Best sunsets

As I have suggested before, Formentera is also about discovering and enjoying your own unforgettable sunsets, free shows repeated day by day, and each time in a different way… These are some tips:

  • Lighthouse at Cap de Barbaria: I do not know what is more beautiful: the lighthouse or the road that leads to it. Lunar landscape crowned by a lighthouse that rises in the middle of nowhere. One of the most magical places in the world.
  • El Mirador: best views of the island while you enjoy the sunset and a good drink
  • Punta de sa Pedrera: if you like to trek, this is one of the wildest places in the island. It offers magnificent views of the rugged coastline and Ibiza
  • Chiringuitos and Restaurants: as I’ve said before, try out Lucky, Tiburón, PirataBus, Chez Gerdi, Café del Lago…

Hippie spirit

The hippie phenomenon was introduced on the island back in the 60s and it still remains part of daily life: traditional craft markets, naturist culture, devotion to the sunset, Flower Power parties… The most important of all takes place in Sant Francesc central square every month of July were thousands of people, of all ages and backgrounds, dress with the hippie style and dance to the music of the 60s, 70s and 80s in a Plaça fully decorated with spectacular psychedelic projections on the church’s white wall. This party features DJ Pharma (Pep Lluis, the pharmacist of the neighbour town Sant Ferran), an institution on the island, that “gives everything” on the stage.

The artisans’ market of El Pilar de la Mola is the king of the hippy markets on the island, and the one cultural event for which the whole of Formentera – hippies, locals, Italians and the rest of the tourists – turns up to watch. It has a seriousness and quality that is surprising, and is open on Wednesday and Sunday afternoons.

Restaurants

These are my top five restaurants:

  • Macondo: probably the best pizza in… the world! Full of locals and Italians
  • Fonda Pepe: An institution in the island. Full of locals. Mediterranean food + seafood
  • Can Carlos: Probably the most elegant restaurant in the island
  • Chez Gerdy: great decoration, great spot, great service and nice sunset
  • Can Carol: small familiar restaurant that openned in June 2013 in La Mola, good price, worth a try when you visit the artisan’s market
  • Aigua: my friend Sara suggests this Japanese restaurant at the port. The best views are at the right side

Where to stay

In Formentera I have always stayed at Casa Serena, a physical and spiritual oasis. Located in the best part of Formentera (five minute walk from Mitjorn beach), Casa Serena hosts couples and groups looking for peace a quiet. Their breakfast (with home made bakery) is just perfect. Yo can book one of the 5 rooms… or the entire house for you and your family/friends. Here you will find more info about rooms and rates.

casa_serena-fotos5

One final tip: rent a scooter to move around the island. In Formentera there are no traffic lights. You can also rent a bicycle, but you have to be in a good shape


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Photos by Pedro Sagüés
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Cape Cod, wild beaches and charming lighthouses

Cape Cod, wild beaches and charming lighthouses

Described by Thoreau as “The great Outer Beach” in 1800s, the Cape Cod is a peninsula with 15 towns and more than 40 miles in the outer cop of spectacular scenary, beautiful wild beaches, dunes, ponds and charming lighthouses. A big part of the code is federally protected by the Cape Cod National Seashore.

Those I consider to be the best places in Cape Cod are:

  • Cape Cod National Seashore Park (view map): this is the real Cape Cod, definitely a must see. I’d suggest to begin the journey early in the morning at one of the visitor centers (Salt Pond or Province Land) so you can provide yourself with information for your visit. At Salt Pond buy a day parking pass for 15$ that allows you to park at all 6 National Seashore. You can visit Truro (a town with an impressive lighthouse and a nice beach called Meadow beach). At the tip of the cape you will find the Race Point, with great biking and walking trails, amazing wild beaches, the beautiful Race Point Lighthouse and the magical 1898 Old Harbor Life-Saving Station (one of the few unaltered left in the country). Other places to visit are the Coast Guard Station and beach in Eastham, that offer super-scenic views.
  • Provincetown, located at the very tip, is Cape Cod’s most popular vacation destination, specially for gay men and lesbians (it has the highest concentration of same-sex couple households of any zip code in the US). It was the first landing place of the Mayflower Pilgrims almost 400 years ago and is the oldest continuous art colony in America and the birthplace of the Modern American Theater. Almost three-quarters is preserved in its wilderness state as part of the Cape Cod National Seashore Park
  • Sandwich, the Cape’s oldest town, is full of weathered shingles and whaling captains’ mansions and fully involved with American glass production
  • Sunset at Eastham: Later afternoon is the best time to really explore the beaches with not many people around. Sunset over First Encounter Beach in Eastham is very recommended as well as full moon beach walks
  • Drive-in Theater: if you still have any energy left, there’s a drive-in theater in Wellfleet. Perfect activity for couples and kids (website)

To learn more about the best places in New England, please also read Best Places in Boston and Newport, a yachting capital and a coastal crown.


View Best places in Cape Cod in a bigger map

Finally, i’d just like to say hi to my good friends Diegol, MarkyMark, Moñi and Juanito. What a funny and amazing weekend we spent back in the summer of 1997 🙂
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Conrad Maldives, a perfect vision of paradise

Conrad Maldives, a perfect vision of paradise

When you travel, sometimes the place you visit is so beautiful and interesting that, no matter where you’re staying, it will be memorable (ie: Paris, Venice, Bhutan). Some others, the hotel itself is so amazing, that no matter where it is placed, it will make your journey unforgettable.

I visited the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island resort in december 2009, and I can assure that both aspects match in such way that they become a perfect vision of paradise. Twice voted “Best Hotel in the World”, this barefoot resort spreads across two private islands, surrounded by idyllic white sand beach and a vibrant coral reef and lagoon.

We spent one week enjoying romantic dining experiences with its fine cuisine and stunning dining venues (undersea restaurant, dreamy sunset at a private beach…), indulging in the two spas, diving in one of the world’s most remarkable waters or just reading a book and doing absolutely nothing while we enjoyed the sunset at our overwater villa’s jacuzzi 🙂

Perfect place for honeymooners and sybarites.

To learn more about Conrad Maldives Rangali Island, visit their website

Photos by Pedro Sagüés

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Selous and Ruaha. Tanzania's best kept secrets

Boat Safari at Selous Game Reserve. Photo by Eduardo Sagüés

Selous and Ruaha. Tanzania’s best kept secrets

Following my previous post about the best safaris in Africa, now I will talk about Tanzania. While most visitors head straight to the amazing, famous but also usually crowded “northern safari circuit” (Serengeti, Ngorongoro…), very few others head down to the beautiful and unspoiled southern National Parks: Selous and Ruaha.

Selous Game Reserve

Selous Game Reserve, Africa’s largest protected area uninhabited by man, offers the lucky few visitors an experience in absolutely wild and unspoiled bush. The park varies from rolling grassy plains to open woodlands and rocky outcrops cut by the Rufiji River – the lifeblood of the park, whose tributaries form a network of lakes, lagoons and channels that offer a superb method of game viewing especially during the dry season (from June to October). Selous hosts Tanzania’s greatest population of elephants.

We stayed at Selous Safari Camp (Camp’s website and other useful info), a luxurious camp tucked away beside the beautiful Lake Nzerakela (we were told that the Prince of Wales stayed there with his family). Some of the safaris are done by boat so you can get really close to the wildlife, spotting not only lions, elephants, giraffes but also hippos, crocodiles, … The camp organizes fly-campings for a night or two (luxury walking safaris where you sleep out in the open with only a mosquito net between you and the sky).
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Ruaha National Park

Due to its’ distance from any major city, very few tourists visit this park. Ruaha National Park has a varied and fascinating terrain with wild fig trees, rare baobab forests and gorges of glowing orange sandstone. Compared with Selous, here you won’t find big grassy plains nor lakes (so you won’t be able to do safaris by boat). The Great Ruaha River contain swirling rapids and deep pools crowded by dozens of crocodiles and hippos fighting each other. Ruaha is a good place to spot predators. In fact, apart from lions, jackals and hyenas, we saw a group of wild dogs hunting.

We stayed at Jongomero, probably the most comfortable way to experience Ruaha. The camp stands beside the ephemeral Jongomero River. At the time we visited the camp, the river was dry. If you have the time and you convince the camp’s manager, he can take you to visit sculptor Robert Glen and Sue Stolberger, top class artists that live together in tents in the middle of the bush and fly to Europe and America for the opening of their exhibitions in major museums. Take a look at the art work and Robert’s giant monuments.
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Ras Kutani. End of the trip at the beach

After visiting Selous and Ruaha, we head to the coast and we enjoyed a couple of days at the beach before returning to Spain. We wanted to avoid touristic Zanzibar, so we went to Ras Kutani. The lodge is situated only 35 kilometers South of Dar es Salaam but offers the perfect hideaway, far from the maddening crowd. The setting ensures that feeling of being on one’s own tropical island. There is not much to do but swimming in the sea and sunbath on the beach just for yourself.
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Photo credits: Pedro Sagüés, Iñigo Sagüés and Eduardo Sagüés

Best places to visit in Sydney

Sydney Zoo. Photo by: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tjt195/105783812/

Best places to visit in Sydney

This is my third and last article about Sydney. Previously I wrote about the best bars in Sydney and the best restaurants in Sydney.

Sydney impressed me when I first saw it. Somehow, I had the feeling I was in many cities at the same time. Barcelona, San Francisco, Los Angeles, … It is the perfect city: amazing beaches, great sightseeings, good weather, healthy and cosmopolitan lifestyle, intense nightlife, … what else can you ask for!! I have been to many great places but, again, my good friends Lucía, Gonzalo and Sue helped me to complete this list of the best things to do when you visit Sydney:

  • Sydney Opera House: A top class opera house that offer multiple options such as “The Playhouse“, a cheaper ($30 a show) and more intimate option to enjoy great music.
  • Spit Bridge to Manly walk: long walk but worth it, with many secluded beaches along the way.
  • Bondi to Coogee Walk: walk along the cliffs with a view to the Pacific. You can spot the migrating whales in October/November.
  • Farmers’ Markets at the Carriageworks: Amazing selection of fresh food, cheeses, etc. A traditional weekly undercover farmers’ market in the renovated market space at Eveleigh Railyards.
  • Balmain: great neighborhood to walk around. 10 min from the city. Old docks still there, loads of cafes and restaurants and pubs. A “real” experience of a Sydney neighborhood.
  • For booklovers: the best second-hand bookshops are in Glebe, along Glebe Point Road.
  • The Rocks: the oldest part of Sydney, just in the City center, near Circular Quay. Many boutique shops, bars and restaurants, design hotels and art and photography galleries. Every weekend there are artisanal markets, gastronomy fairs, street concerts…
  • Swimming pool at Victoria’s Park: it is possible to enjoy a bath a sunbathing just in the city center. In Victoria’s park, there is a big public outdoor pool with fitness centre, to which you can have access for only $2.
  • Surry Hills: in the south-east of Sydney. A bohemian suburb in which you can find small coffee shops and organic restaurants, new designers retail shops, and curious book shops or furniture stores.
  • Picnic at Botanical Gardens: an habitual plan among Aussie people. A huge park surrounding Circular Quay and the Opera House, where you can enjoy a picnic with the typical “sushi rolls”, imported from the many Asian inhabitants living in Sydney.
  • Captain Cook Harbour Cruise: see some of the harbour’s most spectacular sights
  • Taronga Zoo: perfect plan for kids. One of the major tourist attractions in Sydney. Great place to see Australian wildlife and enjoy great views of the city.
  • Visit to Watsons Bay: taking the ferry from Circular quay, you will arrive to Watsons bay where you can find the most beautiful bays and coves from which you will admire awesome views of the Opera House and Sydney. One of the best beaches is the nudist Lady beach.

Your opinion about this list of the best places in Sydney

Is there a place that should definitely be listed in this post? Have you got any suggestion to improve this blog? If so, please place a comment

Update:
Nathan posted an interesting comment were he suggests visiting “The Rocks“. Thank you Nathan!

Ksar Massa, a paradise of peace and serenity

Ksar Massa's beach. Photo: Pedro Sagüés

Ksar Massa, a paradise of peace and serenity

In 2006 I was invited to a wedding in Morocco. We stayed for four nights in a paradise called “Ksar Massa“, in the heart of the National Park Souss Massa, forty kilometers south of Agadir (Morocco). The hotel has a sandy beach of nearly 7 km that is a paradise for walkers, bird watchers and surfers.

My experience at the hotel was great: the service, the food, the rooms (they all look different to each other)… but before organizing your trip, take a look a Trip Advisor’s reviews. Many people say it offers a low value for money and a disappointing experience. Some of my friends repeat year after year. They simply love the place. The hotel has an average price of 180$/night. Don’t expect it to be as luxurious as a “Four Seasons”. It has nothing to do with that. Ksar Massa is an attractive place full of peace and serenity, in the middle of the nature and with an amazing beach just for yourself.

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Photo credits: Pedro Sagüés. I am not very proud of these pictures. I think they were taken with a mobile phone… 🙂