The covered passages or arcades of Paris were constructed at the end of the 18th century on the then wealthy right bank to allow residents of the area to shop in all weather, take a shortcut or relax in a restaurant or tea salon. What a delight to accidentally encounter one of these mysterious and quirky attractions that still seem to maintain the style and aura of a bygone era.
Passage du Grand Cerf
This is the highest of the covered passages with an imposing glass ceiling and tiled floor. After years of disrepair this superb piece of Parisian history has been fortunately restored and maintains it’s former charm. Filled with quaint stores that sell unique and enticing objects for all tastes, from vintage eyewear, hand-made jewelry and many more small artisanal wares. It is a place that should not be visited in a rush as each store is a true delight to enter and explore.
Passage Bourg l’Abbe
Not as well maintained as many of the other passages and mostly occupied by offices and art galleries, this charming passage is silent and calm. It is a passage to investigate not for it’s stores but for it’s workmanship and detail.The only passage that is not dead straight but has a curve, with pastel colors enhanced by the light streaming in through the glass ceiling. The walls are frescoed with hour glass lamps hanging from green stems and on one end you will find a barometer and on the other a clock.
This is the most exclusive and elaborate of the passages and also the most visited. Built to be the most elegant shopping gallery in Paris, it is filled with glitzy adornments and an impressive Italian mosaic floor. This is a secret village in the center of Paris where the shops and cafes are still stylish and chic with their facades lined with plants. Another place to be visited without haste to admire the correlation between wood, wrought iron and glass, all mingling to form this stately masterpiece.
This is the longest of the covered passages. It is made up of three storey buildings wire stores on the ground floor and apartments on the upper floors, all connected and covered by a double-slope glass roof. The passage is filled with quaint stores ranging from boutiques and jewelries to book shops and restaurants.
Cour du Commerce Saint Andre
An unusual passageway can be found in the area of Saint Germain. Only partly covered, it is one of the few streets in Paris that still preserve the original cobblestones. Walking along this alley is like taking a step back in time as this was a popular area during the French Revolution. Filled with cafes and restaurants, it is very colorful and bustling with people at any time of the day.
Not only are the passages a perfect refuge on a rainy day, they are also an escape from the hectic Parisian traffic. Each one is a small village hidden in this large city.
Anna Moggia is Owner of Boutique Hotel Zenana.
If you would like to be a guest blogger onA Luxury Travel Blogin order to raise your profile, pleasecontact us.
You know America is the land of supersize and “You want fries with that?” It’s notorious for gigantic meals and unlimited soda refills.
Or is it?
We’ve come to America with the intention to smash down those walls of perception, uncover the hidden secrets and reveal the truth – it’s also the land of supersized health, where many current healthy food trends were born – like green smoothies and kale, cauliflower and quinoa inspired dishes.
This is the America we love. As we said to a local health food store attendant in Hawaii,
“We love America; it’s so easy to get what you want!”
If you follow our Instagram stories, you’ll know that amongst the small sized coffee we consume – and the odd milkshake treat for the girls – we also showcased the variety of delicious, healthy food and experienceson offer.
Health is important to us. I’ve suffered from gluten intolerance for many years, which lead me on a path of healthier living. Craig has been having similar issues, and I’m concerned about the girls.
I’m hyper aware of what food can do to your body – good and bad. Eating crap food scares me.
I was concerned we’d have limited options traveling, but for the past month, we’ve been amazed by what is on offer to help supersize our health and create a happier inside.
We have partnered withUP4 Probiotics for our America Unplugged journey this year and will be sharing posts about healthy living and creating happier insides in sponsorship with them.
You’ll see in point 1, why they are a perfect fit for us and why we are happy to share with you how they can help supersize your health, not matter where you are traveling(or not).
How to supersize your health in the USA
1. Take Probiotics
“Are you taking probiotics, Caroline? Your digestive system is a mess today. I want you to take extra for the next four days.”
This was the conversation I’d have with Dr Matt, our chiropractor almost every week I visited him.
I’ve since done a lot of research and am a devout taker of probiotics and encourage many others to take them. Gut health is everything.
As Hippocrates, the father of medicine said over two thousand years ago,
“All disease begins in the gut.”
Gut health is everything.
Sadly, we live in a toxic world that strips our guts of all the right flora and bacteria, ESPECIALLY if you have taken a lot of antibiotics. Probiotics helpre–line your stomach with good bacteria.
When you are traveling, you are trying different foods and exposed to different environments. Your gut can struggle to adapt, which can easily lead to you getting sick.
Dr Matt’s receptionist told me about her tour to China once. Everyone on tour came down sick, except for her. She was taking probiotics daily.
Probiotics areone of the easiest ways you can strengthen your gut, build your immunity, and protect yourself from getting sick. Particularly in the US because you do not want to be visiting a doctor or the emergency room. There goes your travel and your life budget.
It’s best to take a probiotic that has strong digestive and immune protection when traveling.
I like to take theUP4 Ultra Probioticswith ultra-high potency, which is best for my weak digestive system and what you want when traveling.
I also LOVE that they have probiotics for kids.
The UP4 Kids Cubes come in the form of soft vanilla melts– natural vanilla bean flavor, not sugar. I am so happy they come running to me each morning reminding me it’s time to take their probiotic. It’s one of the few healthy things I promote to them that they have embraced wholeheartedly.
Savannah has a very sensitive stomach. She’s been taking the probiotics for two weeks now, and we’ve had no issues. I am curious (and excited) to see the difference this will make for her gut.
You can buy UP4 Probiotics at Target or online.
Reach for the kombucha instead of the soda. You’ll feel like you’re having something fizzy and naughty, but it’s tremendouslygood for you!
Kombucha is naturally fermented with a living colony of bacteria so is a probiotic drink good for your gut health.
My favorite is the turmeric and ginger, and I found the most delicious one in Hilo on the Big Island of Hawaii – the Big Island Booch!
You can easily find kombucha in most grocery stores, health food shops, healthy cafes, and sometimes even bars.
Yep. I tried a kombucha in The Raleigh Beer Garden. Mind you, it did have alcohol in it, which I didn’t realize you could do. It’s all about the balance, right? I only had one as it wasn’t that good. I’ll just stick to the turmeric kind from now on.
Buy Organic and local
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” Hippocrates
Instead of eating out all the time, splurge in the supermarket, or local farmer’s markets, on organic food.
There are loads of options to purchase organic food in the US and ata great price. It’s more expensive than non-organic, but in comparison to what you’d pay in Australia, it’s a good deal so worth spending that money for a happier inside and a supersized health!
We mostly only purchase organic produce now and can notice the difference. I have been very surprised also by the number of restaurants and cafes that advertise organic meals.
As we are going to be road tripping and will have more space, we shop in bulk at Costco. We get a lot of organic food for a good price. Trader Joes is another favorite supermarket of ours, even Harris Teeter has a growing selection. Whole Foods is also another option. If you want to eat out, Whole Foods has a buffet with healthy options. Each meal is labeled, so you know what ingredients you are eating.
We found the most amazing natural grocery in Nashville called the Turnip Truck. Cheap prices, great variety, and delicious smoothies.
We are also now Amazon Prime members so can easily get our organic food and supplements shipped to wherever we are for cheaper prices and quickly!
And we purchased a Ninja Blender and Nutri bullet so we can make our own supersized healthy smoothies and juices.
Make it an intention to exercise daily, especially if you are eating out a lot.
The rule of thumb to maintain your body weight is 10,000 steps or 6km walking a day. You can easily check this off when you are out exploring if you are using your feet to get around.
America is a land of many conveniences and accessibility, which is fantastic, but not if it takes you away from movement and supersized health. Choose walking first.
Hippocrates also said,
“walking is man’s best medicine.”
I use the S Health app on my Samsung Galaxy 8 to track. I was easily doing 10,000 steps, and on some days 2-3 x as much.
I also like to get up for sunrise and go for a run and do my morning meditation. Not only is this supersizing my physical health, but my mental health, and giving me the unique perspective of watching the destination come alive.
I loved running along the beachfront in Maui and Waikiki, and at our current location, I am enjoying running through the pine forest.
FREE fitness classes
Whilst staying with friends in Durham, North Carolina Craig and I attended Bootcamp with our friends. We learned about FIANation.com (Females in Action) and F3Nation for the men. You can search the website to see where a Bootcamp may be happening near your location.
It’s free and run by the community. Not only was it keeping me fit, but gave me a wonderful insight to the local community, which we love to experience. The people were very warm and welcoming. You even get a nickname at the end. Mine was Strayed, for obvious reasons!
I love yoga and also have an annual membership to Grokker, which has access to yoga and fitness classes. It costs me $9 a month and it’s of exceptional value. I can easily fit it into my day as there are classes of different lengths and focuses.
My body and mind lovesit, and it’s a great way to unwind from a busy day of exploring.
It has a brilliant calendar feature so you can schedule in classes, and you receive reminder emails to get it done. Plus, you earn wellness minutes which motivates you to keep going and move up the wellness ladder.
Be Fast Food Good
Yes. You can get healthy fast food in America. Do your research to find them.
We often ask locals for tips, or research using TripAdvisor or Google maps.
Google hasa cool section now on their maps which collate local restaurants into themes like best lunch, fast food, where the locals eat – that is my favorite one as locals are going to know the treasures and often ones that aren’t so unhealthy.
If you can, download menus before arriving to make sure they have something you will like and is healthy.
Stick with whole foods, go grilled instead of fried, and be careful of any sauces for salads. You can’t go wrong with olive oil, lemon juice, and salt and pepper.
We love being in Raleigh–Durham as the options for healthy food are overflowing. We randomly passed a fast food place the other day called B.Good. They source all their food locally. My salad was delicious and one of the best I’ve had.
We have followed a lot of cool local accounts on Instagram before arriving in Raleigh, which was a fantastic way for us to discover healthy foods we want to try.
Grab a juice or smoothie
If you’re eating out a lot and you feel you lack fruit and veg nutrients seek out a healthy juice or smoothie to give you a little zing and zap.
We especially needed this after a few days in Memphis – the BBQ capital of the US. It was hard to find good vegetables. On the last day after a desperate search online for healthy food, we discovered The City Silo. OMG. Give me one of everything!
We were devastated to only discover Lanikai Juice on our last day in Hawaii. We’d seen it mentioned in many places, but I ignored it thinking it would be just like Jamba Juice, which I wouldn’t say is aultra-healthy choice.
We were wowed when we finally got a smoothie from Lanikai. They have fantastic recipes, full of nutrition and supplements and are relatively well priced.
I also had one of the most delicious smoothies of my life in a smoothie place, SunLife Organics, I randomly walked past in Manhattan Beach, Los Angeles.
Keep following our travels on Instagram stories as we continue to share just how easy (and delicious) it is to supersize your health in the USA.
[uestion] Do you have any other great local secrets for us to continue our quest to supersize our health on our USA road trip? [/question]
By Paul Johnson on May 27, 2017 in Attractions, Europe, Featured, Food and Drink, Going Out, Netherlands, Regions, Road Travel, Speciality Travel, Travel Miscellany, Western Europe – Read 2469 times
On my second day of exploration with Hertz, it was time to explore Zeeland. Its a place that is practically impossible to explore with public transport, which meant my car rental came in handy. Todays mission? Scoring true Zeeuwse Mussels, and walking on the beach of Zeeland for some true holiday vibes.
After staying the night in Etten-Leur, we drove to our first stop on the edge of Noord-Brabant: Willemstad. Even though it is not far from where I grew up, I cant remember ever visiting. The village lies on the border between Noord-Brabant and Zeeland, with just the water separating the two.
The fortified town of Willemstad was founded in 1583, when the village of Ruigenhil was fortified after the Spanish had overtaken nearby Steenbergen. At this moment, it turned into a fortified city. A year later the town was named Willemstad (Willems city) as an homage to Willem of Orange who was murdered that year.
If you look at Willemstad from above youll see the shape of a seven sided star. The fortified city walls are still there, making for a lovely route to walk on with amazing views over the town. It is the perfect place to just go for a wander, pass by the Oude raadhuis, check out the harbor, and dont forget the amazing windmill. We stopped for the Dutch tradition of coffee and Dutch apple-pie with whipped cream at Het Wapen van Willemstad. I really enjoyed my visit to the town as it was just the most adorable little town, especially with the lovely sunny weather we had.
Then it was time to head on the highway to Yerseke. My initial plan was to search for mussels in the tiny town of Philippine, but Id shared my itinerary with the Herz branch staff on day 1 and they highly recommend I go to Yerseke instead. Thats the power of rental cars: youre free to go wherever life takes you! I arrived in Yerseke a real working class fishermans town. Fishing has always had a central role in this town, and that makes it a great place to taste all that the ocean has to offer.
Lunch took us to Café-Restaurant De Schelde, a family-owned restaurant right behind the dyke and close to the oyster beds. Family De Blieck has been running the restaurant for over sixty years, leaving it in the hands of the third generation by now. I can appreciate a good pan of mussels, but to be honest Ive never been blown away by them. But at De Schelde I had one of the best meals on this trip. A good pan of lightly spiced mussels, fries with creamy mayonnaise (youre not Dutch if you dont eat mayonnaise), bread with herbs butter and a nice cold drink in the restaurant gardens. Highly recommend!
You cant visit Zeeland without going to the beach, and for me that equals the town of Domburg. Not a year goes by that I dont at least visit once to go for lunch and a nice stroll on the beach. Domburg is the second oldest beach town of the Netherlands, and you can tell. The wealthy destination is built for tourism, and theres a fair chance youll hear more German than Dutch here.
When visiting Domburg dont just go to the beach, but also get an ice-cream. We lucked out with weather, so we had a great excuse to try some. We ended up getting ice-cream at IJsvogel, an ice-cream shop on the main strip of Domburg: the Ooststraat. They sell high quality icecream from a small Belgian factory.
After an intense schedule of walking on the beach and tasting ice-cream, it is finally time for the last stop of the day: Middelburg. I decide to get back into my trusty Opel Mokka Turbo to drive the coastal route through Westkappele.
Once I arrived to the capital of Zeeland, I was surprised. Middelburg is such a pretty city. I had never been before, so you could definitely color me surprised at the sight of the pretty medieval center. The city is properly old too, having been founded in the 9th century.
Ever since that moment it has been a wealthy city, after Amsterdam the most important one in the country because of its beneficial location on the water. I especially liked the stadshuis (town hall) on the market square. The building took fifty years to complete, with the built starting at the end of the fifteenth century. Abdijtoren De Lange Jan is also worth a visit, especially when the weather is good. You can climb the tower and on clear days youll not only see all of Middelburg, youll be able to see nearby islands too.
My hope was to score a Zeeuwse Bolus (a sugary pastry in a snail shape), but as I didnt arrive to Middelburg until dinner time, all bakeries had already sold out. Sad, but a great reason to come back!
Towering medieval buildings meet warm Adriatic waters, its no surprise Dubrovnik has become increasingly popular for luxury travel. For those looking to plan a trip to The Pearl of the Adriatic, the evocative old town is by far the most attractive draw of this beautiful city. Narrow cobbled streets and impressive medieval buildings are enclosed by huge stone walls. Remarkable preservation has endeavoured to keep everything from the cobbles on the street exactly as they would have been. Below we have selected 5 of our favourite things to do in Dubrovnik old town.
Walk in she shoes of famous film sets and explore the city’s charm
Its easy to get lost in the charming streets of mystic ancient stone. Discover romantic city lanes and breathe in the citys aromatic smells. Although there are lots of historic sites to see, part of the allure is simply the dynamic feel of the city. Simply walk through the city and catch the charming chatter of locals and the sunlit squares. Discover Gothic churches, impressive monasteries and sturdy stone houses. Its easy to lose yourself in the olde worlde charm of Dubrovnik old town. Now famous for more than its history the old town has made its appearance on several film sets including Game of Thrones, Robin Hood and more recently Star Wars VIII.
Visit Onofrio’s fountain
Long and dry summers in Dubrovnik meant the city needed a better way to supply water. In 1438 the 16 sided Onofrios fountain was constructed as part of an intricate water supply system. The 16 sides are richly decorated with unique stone carvings, which are different on every side. Unfortunately an earthquake in 1667 damaged some of these so the appearance today is somewhat rough around the edges. You can find the fountain on entrance to the city gates from the west.
Take a refreshing dip on the city’s edges
When thinking of Dubrovnik, beaches dont really spring to mind but swimming certainly does. Surrounding the city walls the rocky cliffs are a popular hangout for sunbathers and swimmers. Its always a good idea to wear your swimsuit wherever you go in Dubrovnik, so you can grasp the first opportunity to jump in and cool off. In several places there are pool ladders so you can gradually enter the water, but youll see a lot of brave tourists dive bombing in as the water is deep. Perched on these cliffs youll find bars that provide a hole in the wall to the inside of the city.
Tour the old city walls
The walls build around the old town were constructed to protect the city from pirates and unwelcome guests. These walls are by far the citys most famous attraction. Ranging from 3-6 metres wide and 25 metres high, you can walk along these walls and gaze upon the citys fascinating orange rooftops. Take the 1,940 metre walk along the walls and gaze out to the shimmering Adriatic Sea.
Shop on Stradun, the popular main street
The main shopping street in the old town is a bustling scene to behold. Multiple restaurants, bars and cafes stand out proudly against the old fortified walls of the city. The 300 metre street stretches from east to west, attached to a lovely square with an impressive bell tower. On Saturday there is a market with local foods and Croatian souvenirs, giving the impression this street is never quiet. A popular tourist haunt there are street entertainers, luxury boutiques and art galleries, providing a beautiful contrast to the medieval buildings.
Nick Munday is Managing Director at Classic Collection Holidays.
If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.
In video 7 from Hawaii, we show you around the Ka’anapali Beach Hotel in Maui.
The Ka’anapali Beach Hotel is said to be the most Hawaiian hotel in Ka’anapali and we loved staying there as part of our family vacation in Hawaii. Ka’anapali Beach is so chilled and the sunsets incredible.
And stay tuned, we have lots of USA videos coming!
But for now, watch the video below, or watch it over on our YouTube channel here.
Thanks to Hawai’i Tourism Oceania for hosting our travels
By Milos Willing on May 24, 2017 in Accommodation, Attractions, Europe, Featured, Food and Drink, Germany, Going Out, Hotels, Leisure Travel, Regions, Restaurants, Road Travel, Speciality Travel, Travel Miscellany, Western Europe – Read 428 times
The second day of my Delicious Drive road trip with Hertz started off with breakfast at the Strandhotel Heringsdorf.
On offer was a lavish breakfast buffet with tasty homemade jams the perfect refreshment to kick-start a new day by the Baltic Sea.
I had a full schedule for the day, starting with a visit to Karls Erdbeerhof (Karls strawberry farm) in Koserow. Unfortunately, the weather had other plans, so I couldnt take advantage of my convertible Ford Mustang. This was supposed to improve over the course of the day, so hopefully Id be able to show off the cars open top… a choice set of wheels from the Hertz Fun Collection.
Karls Erdbeerhof is a mixture of farm shop, factory, restaurant and fairground, where everything revolves around strawberries. Located on the outskirts of Koserow, its the ideal place to take the whole family and its free to visit. In the shop, I stocked up on homemade strawberry jam and strawberry-flavoured sweets which I watched being made in the glass factory.
Loaded with sweets, I continued to the Alte Feuerwehr or Old Fire Station a garden café in the heart of Usedom directly opposite Kirche in Benz, the cherished Evangelical church a small hideaway that invites you to relax and enjoy its cosy, warm atmosphere.
My stay was made sweeter still by a delightful gooseberry and meringue tart, accompanied by typical German Schlager music pouring from the loudspeakers. The cafés homemade blackberry-lavender vinegar/oil made for an unmissable souvenir.
On my way to Kurhaus Binz, the hotel on the island of Rügen where Id be staying the night, I took the iconic Ford Mustang on a short detour to the Susi Erler pottery studio where, in the middle of the small town of Mellenthin, traditional Pomeranian ceramics are made with love.
Whether youre looking for something for the garden, balcony or terrace, this is the place to find a special gift from the north. I got myself a beautiful handmade Pomeranian lamp as a souvenir.
As a rather overcast day came to an end, the sun finally made an evening appearance in Rügen and the convertible Ford Mustang, at long last, could show off its first-class capabilities.
Driving towards Kurhaus Binz with the top down was a real highlight. I made a short, spontaneous stop along the way at Wasserschloss Mellenthin, a castle complex built in 1575 in the middle of Usedom Nature Park. At such a late hour, the suns rays lit up the main building, inviting me to stay and explore this impressive castle.
Unfortunately, there wasnt quite enough time to explore the entire castle and its grounds, so I only managed to make my way to the brewery on the right-hand side of the complex. With a bottle of the castles famous herb liquor in my backpack, I carried on my journey towards the hotel.
I parked my Ford Mustang in the hotels handy and secure underground car park. At the luxury hotel, which belongs to the Travel Charme hotel group, my room was directly on the boardwalk, not far from the pier where I spent the rest of the evening.
In search of culinary delights for dinner, one of the local islanders recommended Strandhalle Binz, the first restaurant in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern to be awarded the So schmeckt Mecklenburg-Vorpommern seal of approval for outstanding regional cuisine. The 3-course menu, with a fish main course, was the perfect way to round off the day.
Each island in the Hawaiian islands has their own distinct flavor and reason for visiting. As for things to do on the Big Island of Hawaii, it’s the place for big adventures and wow moments.
Many people mistakenly call their vacation to Waikiki or Oahu a Hawaiian vacation without realizing that in fact, Waikiki is on the island of Oahu and Hawaii is the name of the largest island in the archipelago.
Being the largest of the Hawaiian Islands there is a lot of ground to cover and a lot of exciting and adventurous activities to do.
Many visit Hawaii Island on a day trip from Oahu. We recommend spending at least five days on the Big Island, even longer if you can!
I don’t feel the Big Island of Hawaii is the place for a beach vacation. I think Maui and Oahu have more stunning beaches that are better for swimming and relaxing.
The Big Island for me is about volcanoes and incredible adventures.
We had five nights, six days on the Big Island of Hawaii. We decided to create an itinerary to help you get the most out of your time there.
This Big Island Hawaii itinerary is not exactly how we experienced it, as there are a couple of things we would have done a little differently.
We like to give you the best information to help you have the best travel experience in Hawaii, so this is what we think will work.
If you can spend extra days, we recommend it and will add in suggestions to cater to that for you.
Things to do on the Big Island of Hawaii
Day 1: Hilo, Big Island
Fly into Hilo airport in the morning from Oahu. Download the Skyscanner App so you can find the best prices for flights. When you arrive in Hilo, pick up your rental car.
Plunging 442 feet into a stream-eroded gorge, Akaka Falls is Hawaii Island’s most famous waterfall and one of the most popular things to do on the Big Island of Hawaii and is situated within the Akaka Falls State Park.
You can also see the 100-foot Kahuna Falls on a looped walk. The loop walk was closed for us, I believe due to storm damage so we missed the falls.
HOT TIP – don’t visit during the afternoon like we initially did. The sun is in the worst position behind the falls making it hard to see with your eyes, let alone getting a photo.
Craig returned the next day early in the morning so the sun was shining on the falls and saw a much prettier and vibrant waterfall.
Entry to the state park will cost $5 per car or $1 per pedestrian. You can park up the road just outside the car park to nab the cheaper price!
Near the center of Hilo town is Rainbow Falls, a smaller, yet pretty waterfall. A short trail from the parking lot offers views from the waterfall’s summit. If you time it right you may see the reason for the fall’s name.
From the lookout area, take a few slippery steps up and through the exquisite forest (ah those trees!) to the river and waterfall views from above.
Warning – swimming is not advised anywhere on the island of Hawaii (apart from the beaches) This is due to unseen lava tubes that can be anywhere. Lives have been lost.
Lunch at Conscious Culture Cafe
When we asked our online community for advice on things to do on the Big Island of Hawaii, we loved all the tips on places to eat and drink!
The Conscious Culture Cafe in Hilo, Big Island of Hawaii was everything I loved in a square building on the side of the road: ginger and turmeric kombucha, healthy smoothie with bee pollen and organic, vegetarian meals.
They even have buckwheat pancakes which are hard to find!
And music. From the 60’s Vietnam era from White Shades of Grey to If you’re going to San Francisco.
This place was one of our favorite finds in Hawaii. It had our vibe and was a tip from a couple of locals. Make sure you always ask them for the hidden secrets! (Our journey is called America Unplugged after all!)
Okay, so if you want an unhealthy milkshake or breakfast on the go, head to Just Cruising Coffee. Again, locals recommended to us that this was the best place in town for coffee as it was a local business.
I won’t say it was the best coffee I had – I am a little coffee fussy – but it was better than Starbucks. And our kids loved their milkshakes.
Dinner – Hilo Bay Cafe
The food at Hilo Bay Cafe is innovative and fresh following contemporary American, French and Asian styles.
The ambiance was peaceful with views overlooking beautiful Hilo Bay, old Hilo Town, and the slopes of Mauna Kea.
We shared a few delicious starters:
Mushroom poke – a chilled pan-roasted mushroom twist is a Hawaiian favorite dish.
Mushroom lettuce cups – sautéed mushrooms, house-made garlic shoyu, basil, cilantro, shaved heart of plan and roasted macadamia nuts.
I also loved the ginger and turmeric kombucha made by the local Big Island Booch.
Where to stay in Hilo, Big Island
You can either stay the evening in Hilo – we stayed at the Grand Naniloa Hotel, a DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel – the rooms were pretty small, but the views that overlook beautiful Hilo Bay, old Hilo Town, and the slopes of Mauna Keau to the ocean were great as was the location.
Or, you can head to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park for the evening. It depends on your time frame.
Day 2: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Big Island
Spend the whole day (and evening) exploring the Volcanoes National Park – one of our favorite things to do on the Big Island of Hawaii.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
What an amazing experience to be immersed in the art of creation.
Visiting Volcano National Park has been my favorite homeschooling lesson so far. I didn’t have to do anything, I let Mother Nature take over to teach the girls about fire, land growth and rainforests.
Where else in the world can you get so close to an active volcano? Put this on your list of educational things to do on the Big Island of Hawaii.
Our only disappointment was that we could not walk close to the lava flow or see where the lava flows into the ocean.
You can get closer with an 8-mile return hike, or on a boat tour, but apparently, visibility at the time wasn’t good.
We didn’t have time for either, but we were also warned that it’s not a good idea with young children. The high sulfur content can damage their developing lungs. Not worth the risk. It goes on our bucket list of things to do on the Big Island of Hawaii for when we return!
And next time I’d love to spend longer in the park exploring the many walking and biking trails you can do.
We drove along the crater chain link road, spending time pulling off the road to view the craters, see giant fields of lava rock and marveling at their texture and shape imagining the red hot lava seeping down and cooling down to the preserve its last movement into rock.
The girls were fascinated. Especially Savannah who grabbed a pen and piece of paper to write a story of all she learned about volcanos and lava.
We sat down together by a sprouting baby fern and talked about rainforests and how volcanoes help create them.
We also visited the Jaggar Museum & Overlook to learn more about earthquakes and volcanoes and to see the bubbling lava in the crater.
Pele, the Hawaiian Fire Goddess, and creator of the Hawaiian Islands lives inside the Halema’um’a Crater at the summit of Kilauea and continues to send forth lava and growing the island chain. She destroys everything in her path, yet creates.
We could see the tips of Pele’s spurting up during the day, but later we returned after dinner to see a fiery glow in the sky above and the volcano really on fire.
It was amazing to see it moving around. There is a lava lake in the crater and when it fills up it bubbles over. We arrived on the lucky bubbling-over day.
You might even be able to find strands of Pele’s hair within the National Park. These glistening golden threads are actually fragile volcanic fiberglass and are formed when lava is ejected into the air and small droplets are caught by the wind, which then cools and stretches them into very thin strands.
Watch our video from Volcanoes National Park:
Beware of the Kapu
It is kapu (taboo) to take the rocks from the lava fields. Every year, dozens of packages are sent to post offices on the Big Island returning rocks or black sand that brought the thief bad luck!
Hawaiian tradition is strong and guarded by Pele, the Goddess of Hawai’i’s volcanoes.
If you didn’t stay here the day before, definitely do so tonight. I’d recommend staying again so you can have a full day getting to Kona tomorrow as there is a fair bit to see.
Where to stay at Volcanoes National Park
We stayed at Hale Ohai Cottages just outside the National Park.
You can also stay at Volcano House within the Park. We recommend having dinner at the lodge (at least a drink from the bar) because you can see the red glow from the crater from the dining room windows.
Entrance Cost & Details:
It costs $25 per car, or $12 per person without a car to enter the park.
You can combine this with a Tri-Park Pass for $25 which includes entry to Puuhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park and Haleakalā National Park on Maui. Visit the official website.
Day 3: Swim with the Manta Rays, Kona
Leave early in the morning so you have plenty of time to explore some of the sights on the drive from Volcanoes National Park to Kona.
Punalu’u, Black Sand Beach
Another top recommendation from our community on things to do on the Big Island of Hawaii was Black Sand Beach.
Not only is Punalu’u Black Sand Beach so interesting to look at and walk on, it’s also a place where Hawaiian Green Turtles like to visit.
We were lucky to see one chilling on the sand at the water’s edge.
Please remember to respect the turtle’s space. No selfie is worth distressing an animal over. There are plenty of reminder signs around. And even lifeguards politely reminding you. Blew my mind to see people still continuing to stick their camera inches from their face.
Use a zoom lens. That’s what we used to get this photo above so although it looks close we were a respectful distance away.
We continued our lessons on how volcanoes shape the land with a visit to this beach, the jet-black sand formed when molten lava from two nearby active volcanoes (Mauna Loa and Kilauea) flowed into the water, cooled, and broke into fragments that washed ashore.
Papakolea Beach, Green Sand Beach
We had to make a judgment call on Green Beach, otherwise known as Papakolea Beach.
We had plenty of people recommend it as one of Hawaii’s best, but as it was about a 12 mile (one way) detour from the main road, we were running short on time and it had just started raining, we feared it would be just a quick I was here photo. Was it worth the mad race and stress of being late?
So we decided no.
I’ve since learned that you need to hike 2.5 miles (one way) from the parking lot to reach the beach. I’m so glad we listened to our gut! This would have been too challenging time wise with the girls and really put us out. Apparently, the hike is beautiful, and as the beach is remote you will have it to yourself.
A visit to Papakolea Beach is a full-day trip, so plan ahead.
The hike to and from the beach alone takes about 2-3 hours, depending on how fast you can walk, and then you still need to calculate for some time on the beach and the drive time it takes to get to South Point.
In hindsight, I would have traded the Puuhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park (see below) with this, arriving early in the morning after a quick stop at Punalu’u Black Sand Beach.
This is why we write these posts – to help you learn from our mistakes to have a better experience.
Puuhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park
What fun we had trying to pronounce Puuhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park. Even after the park ranger gave us a lesson on it, we still couldn’t say it.
You can see our attempts on the video here:
Puuhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park is an 180-acre national historic park that was once the site of royal grounds and was a place of refuge for Hawaiian lawbreakers.
I found it fascinating that if a lawbreaker was able to make it here alive they were absolved of their sins.
It kind of reminded me of my ex-boyfriend from South Africa who was told by a lawyer if he managed to stay illegal in the UK for 14 years without getting caught he would be granted permanent resident status. He was eight years in and on track when I left him!!
The Pu’uhonua is still considered a sacred site. You can still feel the spirit of peace and forgiveness that continues to surround and bless this special place.
The park is in a beautiful location on Honaunau Bay. It’s where the Kings once resided so of course, it would be! the Hale o Keawe temple houses the bones of the chiefs that infuse the area with their power or mana.
This area is also known as the second best snorkeling spot on the Big Island. So you can combine that into your trip. You can’t snorkel off the historical park though, the area is slightly north. You can see it from the shores of the City of Refuge.
It costs $5 per car, but if you combine it with the parks pass from the Volcanoes then it’s essentially free.
If you are short on time, I recommend skipping this park.
Swim with manta rays
WOW…I’m not sure there is anything else to say. This was definitely our favorite things to do on the Big Island of Hawaii.
It didn’t hit me until our traditional Hawaiian 40-foot double-hulled Hawaiian sailing canoe pointed towards the setting sun that it hit me what we were about to do.
Swim in the ocean, in the dark, with manta rays and my five-year-old child!
Were we crazy? I was nervous, and I was letting the girls do it?
Savannah was doing that pretending to be brave thing she does so well but I could tell she was shaking on the inside. I promised her that Mummy and the lovely crew from Eka Canoes would definitely look after her and she didn’t to do it.
But, in my motherly way to also ensure my girls learn not to run from their fear, I encouraged her to give it a go.
She did. I was so proud of her. Over the edge of the boat, we went, myself and Jono carefully lifting her down and guiding her to the floating surfboard. The board had handle grips on the side which we held onto and laid on our belly with feet up so we did not disturb, or kick the manta rays.
That was enough for Savannah though, she refused to put her snorkeled face into the water and see the manta rays, but she definitely saw them swimming below illuminated by the lights. The lights attract the plankton which attracts the manta.
I wasn’t expecting anything like we experienced.
Here came these gentle butterflies of the sea, flapping over to our board and barrel rolling over and over again so close that we could peer into their stomachs.
They glided by so close to our faces that we could have easily planted a sloppy kiss on their horned fins. Their eyes looked into mine, “I see you. Stay still and let me show you how beautiful we are. “
It’s difficult to get great photos due to it being night time and the illuminated lights, but if you didn’t watch this video already at 8mins, 30 secs in you will see them:
No gleeful cries or exclaims could convince Savannah to look under though. Kalyra did it and was blown away. It wasn’t long though until the cold seeped through their skinny bones and I took them back to the boat to warm up with hot chocolate.
You get about an hour in the water with the manta rays. I only got about 15 minutes with the girls, but it was so worth it. It was one of the best wildlife encounters I’ve ever had. It was by far the best thing I did in Hawaii.
You’ll be buzzing after this experience and probably hungry.
Instead of driving into town I recommended eating at Rays on the Bay at the Sheraton. It’s right next door to where you will alight from your swim with the manta rays experience.
Dinner at Rays on the Bay
I found the prices at Rays on the Bay reasonable for a resort, the atmosphere is fun with live music, and the black lava pudding was out of this world. It’s definitely worth eating there for that.
Where to stay in Kona, Big Island of Hawaii
We stayed at the Sheraton Kona. If you wanted to add a few more days to your Big Island itinerary we’d recommend staying extra nights at Kona and relaxing.
The Sheraton Kona is great for families. They have several pools, one with great views of the ocean, especially at sunset. Our only disappointment was that we didn’t have enough time to enjoy the views from our balcony!
Our girls loved the waterslide. Kalyra thinks it was the best one out of the Hawaiian hotels we stayed at. There was also a smaller one for the little tots in the inner pool which is opened 24 hours.
The rooms here were spacious and comfortable and the service great – it’s a Sheraton!
Day 4: Snorkel at Kealakekua Bay and explore Kona Town
You can either switch this day around – go snorkeling at Kealakekua Bay and explore Kona town either in the morning or in the afternoon. Whatever works best for you.
If you only have two nights in Kona, and you do the swim with manta rays on the first night, you might want to do the morning tour at Kealakekua Bay so you can catch the sunset at Hugo’s (see below).
We did the afternoon Kealakekua Tour, which is cheaper as the morning includes a BBQ lunch.
Kealakekua Bay Snorkel Tour
How does zipping down a slide into a pristine marine bay filled with colorful fish and coral sound? Or perhaps, making your entry off a high diving tower?
This ticks the box of fun things to do on the Big Island of Hawaii.
Our snorkeling tour with Fair Wind Cruises to Kealakekua Bay was a blast. Kalyra and I loved racing each other down the slides. You can see all of that in this video:
Kealakekua Bay is an underwater marine sanctuary 17 miles south of Kona.
The bay is not just famous for its pristine beauty and underwater world, but also as the place where Captain Cook lost his life.
Given our deep historical connection to Captain Cook, Australians will get a thrill out of seeing the place where he was murdered due to tense relations with the locals. You learn all about the fascinating story when you arrive.
The next 90 minutes is spent snorkeling, swimming and playing the water.
They had plenty of flotation devices for children and unconfident swimmers. Savannah loved holding onto the rubber tube and snorkeling. She put her head under for this one and saw lots of colorful fish.
The best place for snorkeling is the area near Captain Cook monument which the cruise boats take you.
Your other options are a little more restricted due to the rising popularity if this area and the need to restrict the negative impact upon the reef system.
Your choices to get there from the car park, which is on the opposite side of the bay.
Swim from the car park area (1.5) miles
Hike to the opposite end of the bay
Rent a kayak and paddle. It is illegal to land vessels along the Ka‘awaloa shoreline or moor at the wharf adjacent to the Captain Cook Monument. Make sure you ask to see the permit from whoever you rent the kayak from to avoid getting in trouble. These companies have been issued permits for guided kayak tours Aloha Kayak, Big Island Kayak, Kona Boys We originally wanted to visit this way, but thought it might be too much for the girls.
Explore Kona Town
One of the relaxing things to do on the Big Island of Hawaii is explore Kona town.
It’s only really one street that runs along the water’s edge, but it has a vibrant feel to it. There are plenty of cafes and restaurants to choose from and a few shopping places.
It’s quite a historical town as it once was the retreat for Hawaiian royalty and you can see some of the history reflected in the Hulihee Palace and the Mokuaikaua Church.
If you’re crazy, you might be interested in the Ironman World Championship that starts and finishes here each October. I only wish I could!
It looks like a fun place to be of an evening with live music and Hawaiian chill spilling out from the bars and restaurants onto the Bay.
Kona is also a good place for stand up paddle boarding. Hire a SUP from King Kamehameha Hotel. Paddle out to the bay here and you just might be joined by dolphins.
Places to eat in Kona, Big Island
Sunset at Huggo’s
Huggo’s on the Rocks came recommended to us as the place to go for sunset views. Check it out for yourself. They also serve food here if you want to hang around for dinner or check it out for lunch. We didn’t eat here so can’t comment on that but I did like the views.
Island Lava Java
We ate at their sister restaurant near Waikoloa and had a yummy breakfast. Island Lava Java in Kona has views of the ocean but is popular so get there early!
Daylight Mind Cafe
When we asked our online community for tips on things to do on the Big Island of Hawaii, we had many recommendations for Daylight Mind Cafe having the best coffee in Hawaii.
My expectations were high so it fell a little short, but was still good and they use pure Kona coffee.
It’s always good to go local. Craig ordered a boutique coffee, which I did find exceptional. I think that’s what you want to order over an espresso.
The outdoor seating right on the water is great, and they had a little toy section to keep the kids occupied.
Kona Canoe Club
We found this right before our flight to Maui. It was fantastic and so cheap.
We made Happy Hour 2-5pm – $3.95 frozen margaritas and $5 meals– hello! We had ocean views and a colorful gecko hanging out with us. This seems like a local’s favorite which is where we love to hang out most.
Day 5: Waikoloa on the Kohala Coast
If you don’t choose to stay in Kona, you can head a little further north to Waikoloa Village. As we had moved so quickly before this, we decided to spend the day relaxing at the Hilton Waikoloa Village Resort.
This goes on the list of relaxing things to do on the Big Island of Hawaii – our kids loved the pools and waterslides!
Check out the video below of the fun you can have here:
Places you can visit nearby to Waikoloa
Slightly north are the beaches of Hupana Beach State Recreation Area
Kaunaoa Bay has one of the few white sand beaches on the Kohala Coast
Waimea is Known as paniolo (Hawaiian cowboy) country and is home to rolling, green pastures, cattle, cowboys, and ranches. Take the scenic drive north to the charming town of Hawi and the Pololu Valley Lookout, which showcases breathtaking coastal views of the Hamakua Coast.
Sunset and dinner at Lava Lava Beach Club
What made our stay at Waikoloa worthwhile was the amazing Lava Lava Beach Club.
I didn’t find the food at the Hilton Waikoloa particularly exciting and it was overpriced. I’d definitely drive the short five minutes to the Lava Lava Beach Club if only for a sunset drink!
Get there early to grab a beach chair and enjoy the vibe and views. It does get busy so consider reserving a table in the restaurant in advance. Otherwise it’s first come first serve to grab a beach chair.
We were lucky that someone left as soon as we walked by. We had the best seat in the house. The sunset didn’t show off too much initially due to clouds, but then it shone this pretty pink color whilst we had a little fun dancing to the band.
There is an airport at Kona so you can fly to your next Hawaiian Island. We flew to Hawaii from Australia with Hawaiian Airlines and loved them.
You can drop off your rental car in Kona for a small fee. It will probably work out better than driving back to Hilo.
We have more posts from Hawaii coming soon, including Maui. Subscribe to our VIP email travel tribe so you don’t miss it.
And check out our Things to do in Waikiki with kids post for more tips for your Hawaii vacation!
More tips for things to do on the Big Island of Hawaii
As mentioned we loved getting tips from our online community on the best things to do on the Big Island of Hawaii.
Check out these tips from this Facebook thread and from this update on our Instagram.
And be sure to check out all our Hawaii videos on our YouTube Channel.
Find an accommodation deal on the Big island of Hawaii
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Did we miss anything? Do you have any tips for things to do on the Big Island of Hawaii?
By Jackie de Burca on May 22, 2017 in Europe, Featured, Food and Drink, Going Out, Leisure Travel, Regions, Restaurants, Road Travel, Spain, Speciality Travel, Travel Miscellany, Western Europe – Read 472 times
I was delighted to team up with Hertz recently to introduce you to some wonderful Delicious Drives in this relatively undiscovered part of Spain. Our first route covered Belle Epoque by the beach and the spectacular Desierto de las Palmas. The second route included a fun boat trip, meeting the Mussel Professor, and areas of outstanding natural beauty. Our third route focused on three of Spains most beautiful towns.
All of our trips brought you some great foodie finds. We also had some fun adventures along the way, like our special police escort through the old quarter of Morella.
This next road trip is easy to do and is very close to my heart, as I know how much this area has to offer in terms of gastronomy and nature. I also realise that many others are unaware of this part of Spain.
Spain Michelin Star Triangle
As of November 2016, this small area which flows between Catalonia and the Valencian Community, has three Michelin starred restaurants, located within a 25 mile radius of each other. I have called this the Michelin Triangle.
Theres also a special gem that deserves to be included in this feature, which is Restaurant Carmen Guillemot. The food in this restaurant is of Michelin star quality without a doubt. However the owners offer a personal, intimate experience and dont wish to expand their infrastructure to the point where they would qualify for a Michelin Star.
One common thread between all four restaurants is that they all use the incredible wealth of natural ingredients available in the area.
Restaurante Raul Resin: Chef of the Year Spain 2016 & One Michelin Star
It was a real pleasure to interview Raul Resino, Chef of the Year Spain 2016, in his restaurant close to the beach in Benicarlo. Located on Spains Orange Blossom Coast, Restaurante Raul Resino was awarded a Spain Michelin Star Triangle-Michelin Star Raul Resino on 23rd November 2016.
Raul, who started his career aged 16, is a chef with a superb imagination, creating dishes from locally sourced products from the Orange Blossom Coast (Costa Azahar), the region of the Maestrazgo and the Delta de lEbre Natural Park. Working with local orchards and providers, Raul has a unique style, which blends cutting edge methods, with traditional cuisine. However the ingredients are always the stars of all his dishes.
Packed with creative touches
Packed with creative touches, Rauls gastronomic menus frequently change in order to offer only the best seasonal seafood and vegetables of the area. Presentation is absolutely stunning and service is wonderful, equal to a restaurant with even more Michelin stars. His restaurant accepts only 30 people for each meal, and he has a team of 15 highly trained waiters who ensure a seamless experience for patrons, who speak a selection of languages.
Raul has worked his way through both humble and world-famous restaurants, perfecting his art. He worked at the Martín Berasategui restaurant in Lasarte (three Michelin stars), El Celler in Can Roca in Gerona (three Michelin stars), El Raco in Can Fabes (three Michelin stars) and under Japan Prestigious master Yoshikawa Takamasa at the Suzaku Restaurant in Tokyo, among a number of others. He frequently appears in the media, collaborating on television programmes and cookery books.
Gastronomic tasting dinner menu 19 dishes: 65.00 (Tuesday to Saturday)* 3-course lunch menu: 40.00 (Tuesday to Friday)
Opening hours: Lunch: 1.30 pm a 3.30pm Dinner 9pm to 11pm (Closed Sunday night and all of Monday)
L’Antic Molí Restaurant – Chef of the Year for La Vanguardia and Catalonia Gastronomic Forum – One Michelin Star
The name of this restaurant translates into The Old Mill, and as the name suggests LAntic Molí is a beautifully converted old mill, on its own lovely grounds. The restoration work has been carried out seamlessly to blend the old mills features with a striking, clean modern look.
Third generation chef
Owner Chef Vicent Guimerà started his career, aged 12, making his the third generation in his family to be talented chefs. In fact LAntic Molí is very much a family affair, with Vicents wife, Maria Pilar, working alongside him, and the last time we ate there, his aunt served us.
Awards are for all the family
Vicent is a lovely guy, who was aged only 36 when he was awarded his first Michelin Star on 23rd November 2016. He also won the prestigious La Vanguardia (one of Spains most important newspapers) and Catalonia Gastronomic Forum Chef of the Year Award.
Although these awards are officially received by Vicent, he acknowledges that they are the result of many years of hard work, carried out by him and his super team of chefs and waiters. Some of which are blood family members, but the rest of all part of the LAntic Molí family. You can feel this is the atmosphere of the restaurant; that perfect balance between the utmost professionalism and friendliness.
Immaculately-presented foodie offerings
Vicent and his team create immaculately presented foodie offerings, designed from locally sourced and organic ingredients. Vicent is a leader in the Slow Food movement here and also fondly known as the Galera Chef. Galera is Spanish for the seafood that is mantis shrimp in English.
For around seven years now, Vicent and his team, have been working hard to elevate the status of what was previously considered a second-class crustacean. They are successfully doing this with delicious innovative recipes, which apply the latest culinary techniques.
I have dined a number of times in the LAntic Molí and each time has been wonderful. As a lover of duck, I often sample duck dishes when out at a restaurant. The best duck at a restaurant that I have had to date was in LAntic Molí, served with a sumptuous fruit of the forest sauce.
El Tour de lAntic Molí (22 dishes): Tuesday to Sunday 75 without drinks Le Petit Tour: (13 dishes) 45 from Tuesday to Sunday without drinks Daily menu: appetisers, first course, second course and dessert 13.50 Tuesday to Friday Saturdays: three starters, second choice, dessert and drink 20
Address: Carretera Ulldecona- La Sénia, Km. 10, 43550 Ulldecona, Tarragona
Phone: +34-977 57 08 93 +34-663 96 49 83
Tuesday to Saturday 1pm to 4pm Friday and Saturday 8.30pm a 11pm Closed Sunday nights and all Monday
If you are a group of 8+ people they may be able to facilitate you on a Thursday night, by opening the restaurant specially for you.
Les Moles, Catalan Olive Oil Award, One Repsol Star, One Michelin Star
Open since 1992, Les Moles was the first restaurant in this Michelin Triangle to be awarded a Michelin Star. Also in a charming setting, Les Moles is also run by a husband and wife team, Jeroni and Carmen.
It’s all about proximity
One of the restaurants big themes is what they call Proximity, which is basically locally sourced but even closer to home when possible. The restaurant has its own orchard, makes their own bread and everything else is locally sourced.
Out of the restaurants featured, I cant personally review this one, as we havent been there for many years, but we will go back soon and then update this article for you.
Historic tasting menu El Camino Recorrido 75 Gastronomic tasting menu 72 Les Moles Traditional menu -32.90 available Tuesday to Saturday- starters, first course, second course and desert includes some wine, water and bread Mola menu Gastrobar 18 available daytimes Tuesday to Friday starters, first course, second course and desert includes some wine, water and bread
Address: Ctra. Sénia, Km. 2, 43550 Ulldecona, Tarragona, Spain
Phone: +34-977 573 224
Opening hours: Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday 14pm Thursday to Saturday 14pm, 8:3011pm Monday Closed
Special gem: Restaurant Carmen Guillemot Sunday Times Recommended & Game of Thrones Wrap Dinner
Based in Peñiscola, which was featured in our Delicious Drive Route 3, Restaurant Carmen Guillemot is also a family affair. Both Mamen and Philippe are culinary geniuses, but Mamen is responsible for the majority of the food creation. Philippe does a spectacular job at front of house. He is genuinely warm, friendly, charming and efficient.
The Game of Thrones actors and crew chose this restaurant to have their all important wrap dinner the meal to celebrate the end of filming. In an interview with Mamen and Philippe, they explained to us that they are delighted about the Michelin Star Triangle, which they acknowledge is wonderful for the area. However their establishment is too small and intimate to qualify for some of the aspects of achieving a Michelin Star.
We originally discovered the restaurant when it was located in Alcanar. I remember the experience as if it were yesterday. All of us were rather quiet during the meal, purely as we were savouring and contemplating the delicious taste explosions. It was as if an atmosphere of awe had enveloped our table.
Both Mamen and Philippe are also artists: a painter and sculptor. It seems as if their boundless creativity permeates through all areas of their life. Its in the restaurants decor, ambience, their personalities and of course the foodie offerings.
Inventive, perfectly balanced, delicious dishes are presented throughout the meal. One perfect surprise after another. I would highly recommend the tasting menu, but you can also go a la carte if you wish. Mamen makes her own wonderful bread, and all ingredients are organic and locally sourced.
Restaurant Carmen Guillemot is an experience to delight all of your senses. Youll find them in a little street in the old town, full of character.
Gastronomic tasting menu 7 courses 42 A la carte menu which changes to incorporate seasonal ingredients each month
Address: Juan José Fulladosa, 27, Casco Antiguo, 12598 Peñíscola
Phone: +34-964 481 381
Opening hours: Friday to Sunday: 1.30pm to 4.30pm Friday & Saturday night: 8.30pm to 11pm
When I was younger, I remember hearing someone jokingly say that New South Wales stood for Newcastle, Sydney and Woolongong. Meaning that nothing interesting existed on the western side of the Great Dividing Range.
But I’m here to tell you that this is far from the truth.
As we recently discovered, small country towns like Coonamble near Dubbo in NSW have so much to offer. They really do make for a truly unique holiday experience.
Things to do in Coonamble, NSW
Coonamble (pronounced Coo-nam-bull) is located on the Castlereagh Highway half way between Dubbo and Lightning Ridge.
The ‘dry’ Castlereagh River divides the town in half. This river rarely has water flowing in it, but interestingly, there is plenty of water to be found underneath the river bed.
Coonamble is a small town with a population of fewer than 3,000 people. It features wide streets, old buildings and that slower pace of life synonymous with rural Australia.
The Nickname Hall of Fame
The Nickname Hall of Fame is a quirky way to celebrate the characters who live or have lived in Coonamble.
Take a walk along the main street and you will find about a dozen caricature portraits. Each portrait expresses the particular traits and personality that each person was known for. You can ‘meet’ local characters like Tumbler, Ghost, Icey, Vanderbilt, Darla and Bricky.
As nicknames are a very personal thing, it is not always known how people acquire their nicknames. At least for the folks of Coonamble, this is no longer a mystery.
The Museum Under the Bridge
Just off the main street of Coonamble, you will find the Museum Under the Bridge.
The building was formerly the Police barracks and comes complete with the original Police stables. Many of the displays will take you back in time to the beginnings of Policing in the area.
Built in 1886, the Museum Under the Bridge has an excellent collection of memorabilia. Items on display include the dock from the old Coonamble Courthouse, household goods, photographs, clothing, and descriptions of the history of the area.
Run by a small band of dedicated volunteers, the museum is open to the public Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 10am to 12 midday. The museum can be open at other times by request. Entry will cost you a gold coin donation.
Nakadoo Working Farm
Nakadoo is a working farm just two kilometres from Coonamble and it’s where we stayed during our visit.
A labour of love for owners Karren and husband Naka, this unique property is available for campers and caravanners to stay free of charge. If you aren’t a camper or caravanner you are still welcome to come and visit Nakadoo.
Also at Nakadoo, you will find ‘The Shed’ which is a fantastic museum, dedicated to rural life.
Included in the display are shearing implements, farm equipment, a wall and windows from a nearby farmhouse that was to be demolished and plenty of memorabilia from the rodeo circuit of which Naka is heavily involved in.
Karren’s knowledge of the history of the area and her passion for Coonamble is obvious as she leads you through the museum. Afterward, you can enjoy a cuppa and maybe even some fresh damper.
Naka and Karren also run horse-drawn wagon tours of the area. As these tours are seasonal, bookings are required to ensure that a team of horses will be available.
Naka’s horses are beautiful. I felt very privileged to meet ‘Lucky’ who is an enormous Shire draft horse who frequently pulls the Nakadoo wagon.
For the kids, Nakadoo’s farm yard has animals galore. Guinea pigs, rabbits, chooks, geese, goats, and llamas all live in happy harmony.
Things to see and do in the Pilliga
A vast area of National Park and State Forest located between Narrabri in the north and Coonabarabran in the South, the Pilliga covers an area of about 3,000 square kilometres.
The Pilliga is an area of great biodiversity and is home to around 300 native animal species and over 900 plant species. With its scrubby woodlands, vivid orange soils and rocky outcrops, the scenery is truly unique.
To access most parts of The Pilliga you will have to drive on rough, sandy and corrugated roads. Many of these roads become impassable in wet weather. At all times, use caution when driving in this area.
The Pilliga Forest Discovery Centre
Before you venture into the Pilliga, I highly recommend visiting the Pilliga Forest Discovery Centre.
Located in the tiny village of Baradine, the very knowledgeable staff will provide you with all the information you need to know before you head out into the Pilliga itself.
It also houses a very interesting, interactive display of the flora, fauna and Aboriginal Cultural Heritage of the area.
Also in Baradine, you will find the lovely Freckles Coffee Spot. Here you can enjoy some morning tea or lunch in Baradine’s former Embassy Theatre.
If you are looking for accommodation, Camp Cypress has plenty to offer ranging from cabins to campsites.
Sculptures in the Scrub
In my opinion, Sculptures in the Scrub should be your number one reason for visiting the Pilliga region.
Located in the Timmallallie National Park section of the Pilliga, about 40 kilometres east of Baradine, this group of five sculptures scattered along a 1.2 kilometre long walking trail will take your breath away.
Inspired by the Aboriginal cultural heritage of the area, they sit high upon the Dandry Gorge, which is a place of special significance for the Gamilaroi people.
The views are spectacular from the rugged, rocky outcrops of the cliff face high on the other side, to the peaceful serenity of the valley below. This is a truly special place.
The return walk is about 3-kilometres long. At the start of the track, there is quite a steep incline of steps. A reasonably good level of fitness is required as this track is rated medium difficulty.
Pilliga Pottery and Barkala Farmstay
Tucked away on the eastern side of the Pilliga Forest you will find the beautiful Barkala Farmstay. Barkala is also the home of Pilliga Pottery.
As soon as I walked into the courtyard area I felt myself relax. The courtyard has an almost Mediterranean feel to it, with its dolphin fountain, shady trees and terracotta hues.
The pottery itself is breath-taking in its beauty. Much of it features the tiny blue wrens which can be seen flitting around the farm. The colours are so vivid and the attention to detail is evident in each piece.
Be prepared to pay a hefty price though if you want to take a piece home with you.
However, the onsite Blue Wren Bush Cafe was nowhere near as expensive and we enjoyed a coffee and delicious homemade Apple Crumble with fresh cream for a mere $12.50.
If you would like to stay awhile at Barkala there are several accommodation options available. These include lodge accommodation, guest houses, and a campground. There is also a beautiful swimming pool available for guests to use in the warmer months.
We loved our time in the Coonamble and Pilliga region.
I would suggest allowing at least a week to enjoy all there is to see and do. April or May are ideal times of the year to visit, as the days were warm and sunny, with just a hint of a chill at night time.
Did we miss anything? Can you add any other tips on things to do in Coonamble or the Pilliga?
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Thanks to our sponsor Dubbo Regional Council for making this post possible!