DIVING THE NINGALOO REEF

DIVING THE NINGALOO REEF

My first dive spot in Exmouth was the Navy Pier. When I arrived to the dive shop most of the things were ready for me. I just had to check in and pay the pier fee. Once I did that I was fitted for my gear. We then got loaded on the bus to watch the safety video and we were off. It was all secret business. We had to stop off at the defense base entrance to get the key to the pier and after a certain point we weren’t even allowed to take our phones outs.

As we just got onto the start of pier we were already lucky to see five sharks in the water. Once we finally got to the end of the pier we were rushed to get into gear so we wouldn’t miss our dive time. We were super lucky today as we got two dives not just one. We were able to take it slower and enjoy each section on a separate dive. A dive master Amy took us on our dive, she was great at pointing out different things in the water. On our first dive we I swear I saw more variety of fish than I have in my 10 dives in Honduras. The deepest part of the dive was 14m so we were able to stay for around 50minutes each time.

In between dives we had a short water and cake break, changed our tanks over and went down again. In the two dives we saw so many different fish I couldn’t even name them all. Some of the highlights were seeing a white and black tip reef sharks, a turtle, two Wobbey Gongs, Angler Shallow Water Fish, Nudi Branch in all sizes from centimeter ones to ones the size of my hands, lots of Black Catfish that are endemic to Ningaloo. We saw lots of Starfish, Lion Fish, Butterfly Fish, Angel Fish and Box Fish. We also found a few Moray Eels and Octopuses hiding in the coral. The Navy pier is also known for being a home to BFG (the Big Friendly Groper) which I was lucky enough to get really close to as I got the air buttons confused on my BCD and shot myself right up to it. The pier is such a rich place for marine life because it is so protected and only a dive shop with a license is allowed to go there.Diving in Australia is a bit more expensive but totally worth it!

I then got dropped off back to the van before Yolly so I decided to go visit Matt and Olivia at their caravan park for a swim at the pool. Yolly joined us shortly and we decided to go shopping for the BBQ we would have later that night. We then did the usual camper activities like playing cards while having a few drinks. After dinner we decided it was time to park up the van for the night.

The next morning we did our wake up before sunrise routine. At the beach we bumped into our friend Raul a Spanish guy we met the other night. We had a chat to him and then heading for the dive shop. Today I’ll be diving in Lighthouse Bay.

When I arrived tit the dive shop, I thought I might have confused the times because it was so quiet compared to yesterday but then I saw Roos sitting on the bench. I asked her, “Am I late? Where is everyone?”. She assured me that I was in time and that we are just waiting on two more people. After they arrived we went to pick up the others from their accommodation and made our way to the boat.

On the boat we had all our gear and were briefed on the two spots we were going to dive today. The first spot we were diving at was called Blizzard Ridge before we even got there we saw a sea snake on the surface. We were actually looking out for whale sharks but unfortunately we didn’t see one.

We got into gear and stepped off the boat. On the first dive I got chased by an Olive Sea Snake which I think was the scariest thing ever. I first spotted it and was so fascinated by it. It looked just like a real snake but swimming through water. Earlier on the boat they were telling us that sea snakes are curious creatures and sometime swim up to you. One of the instructors shared that he once had the sea snake swim into his BCD(the air vest you wear). The snake than took an interest in me and began swimming towards me, all I could think of is that they sometimes swim up to your goggles and I really didn’t want that to happen. I began to swim away from it and it began to follow me. It was so freaking scary but eventually it gave up.

After the snake incident we saw a White Fin Reef Shark, lots of Box Fish, Clown Fish, Rankin Cod, Angel Fish, Cat Fish, Butterfly Fish, Long Fin Banner Fish just to make a few.

Back on the boat we had a BBQ and then got ready for our second dive at the Labyrinth. Here we saw another White Tip Reef Shark, a Turtle, Scorpion Fish which are so well camouflaged that we only saw it because Aaron scared it while pointing out a Nudibranch. We also saw Cray fish, Moroorish Idol, loads of Glass fish, Christmas Worms in various colours, Moray Eel and many more.

On the drive home Roos told me where we could watch baby turtles hatch. I couldn’t wait to tell Yolly.

When we got back to the dive shop Yolly was already waiting for me there and we set off to Five Mile Beach to watch the turtles. Maybe ten minutes into the drive the car started doing its thing where it doesn’t accelerate when you push the accelerator down and just loses power. We were a little sad but decided to continue towards the National Park.

To be continued…

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YOU SHOULDN’T BELIEVE EVERYTHING YOU READ ONLINE…

YOU SHOULDN’T BELIEVE EVERYTHING YOU READ ONLINE…

DAY 4

This morning we work up in a driveway of some lovely Denham residents. Our one big mistake was not to ask them to stay another night because once again we find ourselves stranded. Our original plan was to stay in Monkey Mia at their camp site for $11 a night, which we looked up the night before online. Well…guess what? It doesn’t exist and the only place to stay at is the RAC resort or the backpackers which are both out of our price range. We thought we would just drive back and ask the same people but they seem to be out tonight so that’s a no go.

Last night when we were chatting with the girls we noticed a guy looking a little out of place. He had all his belongings, a huge backpack on the back and a little one of the front. He just sat on a picnic bench a few meters from us. I wondered about him but didn’t approach him and went on with our night. Today we saw him again at the gazebo and decided to join him to make dinner. It was sad to find out that he was homeless last night because his car, that he has been living in, is broken so he had nowhere to sleep last night. He also told us that he has been volounteering at Monkey Mia the past few days but had no way of getting there today. If only we spoke to him last night we could have taken him there today but instead he was stranded in Denham.

Since he has been staying in town the last few days we asked him where he has been parking his car and hallelujah, I think he might have saved us tonight. He told us that he has been parking is at the resort across the road because their reception hours are 7am-9pm.

Now backtrack to the start of the day. As we woke up we raced off to Monkey Mia to watch the dolphins get fed. Wow, I have never seen dolphins up close for this long, unfortunately we didn’t get chosen to feed them but we learned a lot of facts about them. After that we found a quiet spot on the beach to sunbath and relax. During lunch we got our water colours and did some art and then I went to fly my drone. On the way back to Denham we went past the Little Lagoon.

Follow more of our road trip adventures @travelandotherdrugs on instagram

WHAT TO DO IN RISHIKESH?

WHAT TO DO IN RISHIKESH?

I’ve had a lot of people ask me about my adventures in India. Is it safe? Where should they go? What is the best way to get around? What is my favorite place? What is the best thing I ate? Is it expensive? So I have written a post about that here (coming soon) and now I will talk about my favorite spot where I have been twice already and planning my third trip, Rishikesh.

Rishikesh is a small town on the Ganges River surrounded by mountains, it is known as the capital of yoga in India and is a very spiritual place due to the energy from the Ganga and the people living there.

Is Rishikesh dangerous? No, it is a small place where everyone knows each other. I have walked around after dark many times. The locals will warn you and tell you to be careful especially during the wedding season when a lot of people from other parts of India come and bring in alcohol. Rishikesh is normally an alcohol free place.

Is Rishikesh expensive? No, in rishikesh you can find lots of affordable accommodation. My first night I stayed in a 6 bed dorm for $6 a night. I then moved into an ashram where I had a very basic room to myself with a shared bathroom for $3 a night. A few of my friends were staying in guest houses with common kitchens and the prices were $8-$15 a night. The tip is not to book online unless you have a contact because it will be way cheaper if you rock up and book in person. Just make sure it’s not during the high season or over special holidays because things book out. Food is also super cheap, if you are on a strict budget you will be able to eat out for a $1 a meal if you cook it will work out even cheaper. If you want to splurge and eat like a king it will cost you $4 a meal, $5 max.

What is there to do in Rishikesh? Yoga, hike, eat, shop and enjoy the Ganges River.

Yoga – As I mentioned above Rishikesh is a hub for yoga. Here are some teachers my friends have raved about.

Usha Devi

Ashish Kumar Sharma – usually does drop in classes at the Green Hotel

Surinder

Hiking – There are a lot of different hikes that you can do in the Rishikesh area, some hikes are only done in certain months so make sure you research that as you plan your trip. A popular short hike is to the Beatles Ashram.

Food – For the best food you will have to get a tuk tuk or scooter into town. The best lassi I have ever had was from Pappu Lassi and the best and the cheapest food was from Rajasthani.

There is also an amazing dosa place around the corner from the Pappu lassi.

Something closer – the best curries are at Purple Dhaba, best shakshuka is at Omkar, the best soups and vegan food is at Ayurvedic Cafe, best chocolate Reece’s balls are at the German Bakery, the best smoothies and lemon, honey, ginger drink is at the Juice House, the best vege burger is at the Beatles cafe, the best pizza with a view is at Garden Restaurant and Pizzeria.

Shopping – There are a lot of shopping opportunities both at Lakshman Jhula and Ram Jhula and in between but if you wanted to get more of a local feel and on a bigger scale you will have to get the tuk tuk into town. Just say you want to go to the markets and they will drop you off. On one side there will be the food market and on the other is clothes and anything you can think of from pots to heaters.

Ganges – The river is a place for rituals, swimming, acro yoga and relaxing. You can offer it gifts and ask for something. It is a great place to cool down if its a hot day, just make sure you are covered if you are a female. I used to go to the beach area and practice acro yoga with my friends.

Hope this post gave you a better idea of what to do Rishikesh, if you have any other questions comment below.

Follow my current adventures on insta @travelandotherdrugs

 12 THINGS YOU MUST KNOW ABOUT CUBA!

 12 THINGS YOU MUST KNOW ABOUT CUBA!

1. Cuba doesn’t have to be expensive if you do it right!

2. You will be treated as a walking wallet and probably ripped off on many occasions.

3. If you are female you might end up with a Cuban boyfriend, if you are a male you will be told to back off and stop talking to “their” women.

4. The food there is delicious but you won’t find stuff that you get from a Cuban restaurant back home.

5. They have beautiful beaches.

6. There is wifi.

7. There are new cars.

8. Rum is cheaper than water.

9. Bring everything with you the store shelves are empty.

10. There are two currencies, tourist and local.

11. Hole in the wall food is cheep and delicious.

12. The local buses are cheaper and more comfortable than a collectivo. You will be surprised how many people they can jam into one car, don’t do it (book buses in advance).

 

WHAT IS YOUR PASSION? WHEN IS THE LAST TIME YOU ASKED YOURSELF?

WHAT IS YOUR PASSION? WHEN IS THE LAST TIME YOU ASKED YOURSELF?

I once again find myself in a quarter life crisis (yes, a term I coined myself). I guess when you are in your everyday life, going on about your day its rare for you to take a moment to stop and ask yourself, “what is my passion?” I invite you to take a moment and do so now.

Above is a quote I stumbled upon in a cafe in Bulgaria, it bought a tear to my eye. It made me stop and acknowledge how amazing my life has been so far. I have been traveling for nearly 5 months all over Europe, and there have been a lot of long journeys through airports or via buses that allowed me to listen to some podcasts and reflect on life. I am constantly heartwarmed and disheartened by humans on Hack (news etc. back in Australia), I’m inspired and confronted by the amazing people being interviewed on How I built this with Guy Razand I have laughed, cried and got aroused with Guys we f****dThus eventually bringing me to think about the question I asked you all. What is my passion? 

I just turned 24 years old, I have an undergrad in psychology, I’m a yoga teacher, I helped start the staffing side of a marketing company, I have traveled through countries like Honduras and Colombia on my own. I have visited 44 countries in my lifetime. But what now? I want to travel forever, yet have a career and a family and kids. How can I have it all? Is it even possible? Since my birthday 9 days ago I have again began questioning my purpose/passion in life and just questioning life in general. What is next? Do you ever wonder this? I guess 24 is the age on uncertainty, right? Some of our parents already had us at that age, mine sure did. Do you feel like you have a balanced life or do you feel like you constantly have to give something up? I would love to hear from you to see that I am not alone or maybe just crazy…

Lastly, I stumbled upon this incredible video yesterday that really resinated with me and I wanted to share it with you.

WHERE TO GO IN COLOMBIA?

WHERE TO GO IN COLOMBIA?

My trip began in the north of Colombia and so will my tips. Of course you can do the reverse, skip or add stuff. Below is a little teaser and soon I’ll add more detailed tips for each location.

Firstly I highly, highly recommend crossing the Panamanian/Colombian boarder with San Blas adventures. There is also an option of doing a sail or flying.

First stop for me was a little town just over the boarder from Panama it is called Capurgana. That was the final destination of our San Blas adventure. It is super cute and the accommodation there was incredibly cheap. The only issues was that when we got there it was in the middle of the riots. I was originally going to stay a few days there but we found out last minute, that the last boat till who knows when was leaving that day, thus we decided to drop everything and go!

After a boat and a few chicken buses we finally made it to Cartagena. Wow, what a change from our last stop. A beautiful, modern city, with everything you could wish for, from international food to someone who knows how to wax. Here you can find delicious restaurants, beautiful beaches and huge shopping malls. If you are in the US you are lucky enough to find return flights here for $240 USD.

From Cartagena I then hopped onto a shuttle bus to Santa Marta, I was told to avoid this big ugly city and head straight to a cute little town called Taganga. Taganga is a popular place to dive and is knows as a hotspot from Israelis. It is also a great base for exploring the north of Colombia but you can also do this from Santa Marta.

Here is my must visit list for the Northern Colombia:

I started with the The Lost City Trek (Ciudad Perdida) they pick you up and drop you off anywhere you like. I was picked up from Taganga and dropped back off there.

Tayrona National Park is the next stop if you are working west to east.

Costeno Beach is the next on the stop.

Rancho Relaxo is the stop after, I actually never made it there because I stayed longer in Costeno and then decided to go to the desert instead but I heard awesome things about the place if you just want somewhere to chill.

Polomino would be the next on the map but I actually skipped it to head straight for the desert and stopped there on the way back to break up the journey to Santa Marta.

Cabo de la Vela is one of the most incredible places I have ever visited, it is where the desert meets the sea. The juxtaposition of the reddest dirt and the bluest sea. It is also a great place to kite surf or just sleep in a hammock on the beach a meter away from the water.

Punta Gallinas (The most northern part of South America) you can get here from any of the above but the further away you book the more you will pay. The best was would be to make your own way to Cabo de la Vela and then book a tour from here for 150,000 Colombian Pesos which equals to $70USD, hammock included. The thing you need to know about these type of countries, they have a lot of travel agencies but everyone goes on the exact same tour, so we had people that booked in Santa Marta and paid $300USD for the exact same thing plus transport from Santa Marta. The transport which cost us like $20USD in total but if you hitchhike it would be free. It is just one road so hitchhiking is actually super easy.

After galavanting to the most northern part of South America I stopped over in Minca before returning back to Taganga to pick up my bags and get on the plane south to Bogota.

Minca is home to a little oasis in the mountains away from the heat, called Casa Elemento (it is famous for its giant hammock and delicious family dinners). A beautiful location to relax and to hike.

Hope you enjoyed the read and are now inspired to visit Colombia. More to come on Bogota, Medellin, and southern parts of Colombia.

PALENQUE

PALENQUE

(Read original blog post here)

How to get there? ADO bus to Palenque and then you want to catch a collectivo that is right out the from of the bus station to El Pachan, don’t stay in the city.

Where to stay? There is a few accommodation options in El Pachan. The cheapest one is Jungle Palace you can get a shared bathroom for 100 mexican pesos. They don’t take bookings, rooms are allocated on first in first serves basis. If you are traveling with someone its worth looking at Margaritas its a bit newer. Be warned there is no kitchen or free wifi. They do have two restaurants where you can get breakfast, lunch, dinner and purchase wifi.

Where to eat? The two restaurants they have there or get a collectivo into town.

What to do? Most people come for the ruins, which are hidden in the jungle this could also be a day trip activity without having to spend any time in Palenque.

The Palenque ruins from the ruins.

Another popular activity is visiting Agua Azul but when we were there, there were riots and protest going on so the road was closed. We ended up going to Roberto Barrios waterfalls twice which was cool because they are so huge. We had a completely different experience both times, the waterfall has lots of underwater caves that you can explore.

Roberto Barrios waterfalls.

Party? You can have a few drinks at the restaurant but its a pretty chill place.

The next stop on the gringo trail is San Cristobal, there is a road connecting the two. Although when we were there the road was closed or at times just avoided because of the protests against the government. The protesters were robbing and setting tourist buses on fire. San Cristobal is a beautiful city up in the mountains, the temperatures there are nice and refreshing. The city was built for tourism so there are a lot of cobblestone pedestrian only streets and the city is jam packed with souvenir shops, delicious restaurants, cafes, and numerous bars.