Island Hopping in the Caribbean

Island hopping in the Caribbean seems like a great way of taking in lots of smaller destinations in one visit to the Caribbean.

On paper – or on a map – it looks like it should be pretty straight forward. All the islands look nice and close together so just pick three or four that you’d really like to see and then book flights or find ferries that run between them. 

In reality, however, this isn’t quite as practical as it at first looks.

Why it’s not so easy to hop between the Caribbean islands

The Caribbean is encompassed by the Caribbean Sea which is some 2.7 million km², so those islands that all look like they are practically touching each other actually have pretty substantial bodies of water separating them.

With the exception of islands which are close enough together that their mutual waters are protected by both islands, ferry crossings are generally impractical, involving navigating open seas. The other alternative is by air, but this can get expensive, not to mention resulting in a lot of down-time hanging around airports.

Unless you have a few weeks on your hands, the disproportionate amount of time spent traveling can quickly make the proposition unattractive.

However, that’s not to say that island hopping in the Caribbean is completely out of the question, the trick is to pick islands which make it a practical and enjoyable travel experience, giving you time to enjoy the laid-back pace of these tropical islands.

Rather than aiming for three or four big islands spread out across the Caribbean chain, a more fulfilling island hopping experience is to find groups of islands which are close enough together to make traveling between them easy and enjoyable.

Practical considerations for island-hopping in the Caribbean

There are a few things to bear in mind when planning an island hopping expedition in the Caribbean (or anywhere, for that matter).

Firstly, check whether the islands you are visiting are all part of the same country. If not, you’ll need individual visas for each of them.

Secondly, be prepared to pack light. If you’re going to be flying, you can seriously cut down your time hanging around in airports if you can travel with just a carry-on. Likewise, if you’re darting about on ferries, it’s no fun being loaded down with luggage.

If the thought of spending more than a day away from home with nothing more than you can squeeze into a carry-on bag is unbearable, consider using one island as a central jumping off point. Book accommodation there for the entire trip and do day trips or overnighters to other islands leaving the bulk of your luggage at your central hotel or a holiday villa.

Caribbean island hopping itinerary ideas

Here are a couple of recommendations to get started with island hopping in the Caribbean.

The Virgin Islands

The Virgin Islands is a collective name for an island group bordering the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean.  

The Virgin Islands and separated into the US Virgin Islands of St. Croix, St.John and St. Thomas and the British Virgin Islands of Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Jost Van Dyke and Anegada. As they are respectively controlled by the United States and UK governments, they are very popular holiday destinations for US and British citizens and boast some beautiful nature reserves and historic sites for adventurous tourists.

Island hopping in the Caribbean - The Virgin Islands
Island hopping in The Virgin Islands

St. Croix

St. Croix is the largest and most southerly of the Virgin Islands. However, it is some distance from the rest of the island group and it is probably easier to fly than to take a boat. The rest of the islands are all within easy ferry distance, making hopping between them very easy.

Indeed, as St. John doesn’t have an airport, ferry trips from St. Thomas to St. John are extremely common as the main means of accessing the island. The longest ferry crossing is from St. Thomas, in the south west of the main group of virgin islands to Anegada, the most north eastern island which takes around 2 hours.

The rest of the main islands are generally reachable in hops ranging from 30 minutes to 1hr 30min, making this a very accessible group of islands, with lots of smaller satellite islands to explore on day trips to boot.

Caribbean island hopping in St. Croix
Caribbean island hopping in St. Croix

The Bahamas

The Bahamas is another great opportunity to indulge in some Caribbean island hopping. Located southeast of Florida, over 3,000 islands belong to this single country, meaning all of your island hops will be domestic.

The Bahamas have a rich and exciting culture, both current and historic. Once a safe haven for pirates, it is now a vibrant and lively country, fantastic for outdoor pursuits such as diving, fishing and golf. Relaxing beaches, an intoxicating night-life and festivals and fascinating historical sites are scattered throughout this archipelago state.

The Bahamas Fast Ferry service connects the islands with regular roundtrip services, making island hopping a straight forward affair. The Bahamas Tourist Board has some pre-prepared island hopping excursions which mostly involve a mix of ferries, domestic flights and transfer via hotel’s private plane.

Island hopping in the Bahamas
Island hopping in the Bahamas

Related Read: Best Beach Bars in The Abacos, Bahamas


Exploring Mafia Island Tanzania: The ‘Far From Everything’ Place!

Mafia Island Tanzania is a cut of the antiquated Swahili Coast that extends along the Tanzanian and Kenyan coastline.

The name “Mafia”  is a turned form of the Arabic term morfieyeh, for aggregation that alludes to the Mafia archipelago.

Mafia Island appears to be unaffected by the hurrying around of whatever is left of the planet. Occupants of this cut of heaven proceed with their accepted lifestyle essentially undisturbed by the outside planet. That being said, if white sandy beaches and clear waters are your thing, Mafia is the spot to be!

Exploring Mafia Island Tanzania
Exploring Mafia Island Tanzania

Where is Mafia Island Tanzania?

This exceptional island is placed on the southern shore of Tanzania, close to the Rufiji Delta. It is 30 miles from north to south, and up to ten miles in broadness. Mafia Archipelago embodies one vast island (394 km²) and various more diminutive islands and uninhabited coral atolls arranged around the range of 120 km southeast of Dar-es-Salaam. It is for sure stunning that such an astonishing Island stays out of the way, an end just for the perceiving traveller.

Mafia is perfect for dynamic individuals, divers, mariners and walkers … searching for something truly distinctive, interesting and bizarre.

How do you get to Mafia Island?

To get to the island is by flights either from Zanzibar or from Dar es Salaam. Assuming that you need to see Mafia, you can take a transport from Dar es Salaam to Nyamisati which is on the edge of the territory bordering the Ocean, and thereupon by vessel to Mafia Island.

Exploring the Tanzanian island

Mafia Island Tanzania is a spot in the Pwani Region of Tanzania and is home to the biggest marine stop in East Africa. It gloats of the finest unbleached coral in the Indian Ocean and cases to have occupant Whale Sharks, something that lures divers from far and wide. Islands, sandbanks and vacation spots embody Mafia’s protected profound water safe haven and the first ever harbour.

The acceptable, ensured waters put forth phenomenal snorkeling, cruising and swimming prospects. Just past the Bay, a consistent reef develops for just about the length of the island, from Tutia in the south to Ras Mkumbi at the northern tip.

The history of this dreamy Island extends once again to the eighth century when Mafia assumed a huge part in aged exchange between the individuals of the Far East and terrain Tanzania.

The island is home to a collection of uncommon species incorporating green and hawksbill turtles, which sometimes lay their eggs on its wrack-strewn sunny shores. A 200m profound trough off the island is home to fish and marlin. Its individuals are fundamentally anglers; numerous additionally take part in little scale sustenance growth.

The Mafia Archipelago is a veritable heaven for nature significant others and jumpers and the ideal place for total unwinding.

The ‘far from everything’ place!

Mafia has a shocking and differed nature. This Archipelago will delight you with white sandy shores, otherworldly coral reefs, tropical vegetation ruled by huge palm forests, infringing baobab trees, apples and oranges trees. Additionally to be discovered in Mafia are Monkeys, little gazelles, wild pigs, lemurs and a minor settlement of diminutive person hippos. It is likewise a settling region for hawks and fish birds.

Things to do on Mafia Island

There are excursions offered on appeal to different islands in the Archipelago. The treks are carried out in conventional dhows to smaller islands like Jinbondo, Chole and Juani. On Chole Island there are a couple of self-guided trails that will take you around the island, e.g. the Bat Trail and the Village Trail. The trails furnish the chance of review a few destinations in Chole as an old German jail, the Persian ruins, market region and pontoon yard. You will likewise get to meet Chole’s cordial nearby individuals. Chole Island what’s more has a huge state of Comoro bats, a secured types of products of the soil consuming ‘flying foxes’

Once on Mafia Island, you can likewise investigate the neighborhood advertises in Utende and Kilindoni; appreciate the great Baobab trees and curious mangroves, which some way or another continue saline conditions; or only have a great time the sum without stress surroundings.

The island is a fine withdraw for enterprise looking for scuba divers, diversion anglers, and those absolutely in the chase for idyll unwinding and amusement.

There is convenience accessible on the pleasant island.

Hotels on Mafia Island

Search for hotels and resorts on Mafia Island in Tanzania below:


Badian Island Wellness Resort | Traveldudes.org

 

This is my review of the exlusive island resort of Badian Island.

Badian Island Resort in Cebu’s South is an upmarket exclusive resort on Badian Island (Zaragosa Island).  Around 3 and half hours drive from Cebu City. I also compare Sumilon Island Resort with Badian Island to see which is a better resort to stay in Cebu.

The resort offers ionized seawater outdoor pools that provide relaxation to your body. It has a beautiful beach area perfect for lazing in this tropical paradise.They also have an spa for different massages. See their website for more.

Rooms start from the Junior Suite up to their luxurious Thalasso Pool Villas that have amazing views over the ocean. These are the best rooms at the resort. Prices for the rooms are shown in the video, I show how to find the best rates online from sites such as Trivago, Agoda and TripAdvisor.

Badian Island Resort offers lots of activities to nearby attractions like Kawasan Falls and the whale sharks in Oslob. They also have a dive shop and if your into snorkelling, you can snorkel around their Coral Garden, where I did see a turtle.

They have some great food at their restaurant or laze by their swimming pool. Badian Island is one place to spend your holiday in Cebu.

For more travel vlogs on the Philippines by a foreigner please subscribe.

*All rates and conditions subject to change. Please check directly with Badian Island Resort.

 

Mövenpick Hotel Mactan Island Cebu

 

In this video I review one of Cebu’s top luxury hotels, the Movenpick.

The Movenpick Hotel (resort) in Mactan Cebu is one of the best luxury resorts in the Philippines. Rated as a 5 star resort the Movenpick Cebu has its own spa (DEL MAR) and one of the best dining and entertainment venues in Cebu the Ibiza Beach Club.

Here you can sit outside by the beach and enjoy the amazing 15 course grill of seafood and meat. The Ibiza Beach Club also has live entertainment such as Latin dancing. The resort has one of the best beaches (although man made) in Mactan Island. It looks beautiful when the sun is shinning. It also has a swimming pool, gift shop and gym.

The Movenpick Cebu has 245 rooms, the best ones having views of the ocean. For best rates at the hotel I look at the hotel’s own website as well as Trivago, TripAdvisor and Agoda. This is where you will find if the hotel has any promo rates.

The other restaurant SAILS mainly serves up buffet meals, you can book rooms that include a buffet breakfast included.

I show day use as well at the Movenpick with prices. At the end of the view I will sum up my review of the Movenpick Hotel Mactan Cebu.

For more top vlogs on Cebu please subscribe to my channel.

*All rates and conditions subject to change. Please check directly with the hotel for latest info.

 

Australia Kangaroo Island rocks

Kangaroo Island – An Australian Icon

 

Kangaroo Island (dubbed KI) is considered an icon of Australia.

Not only is the wildlife worth the visit (and yes you will see kangaroos), but it also offers surfing, swimming, snorkeling and diving opportunities along with the best off Australia’s shores, along with gourmet food and a rich history that really is worth exploring.

Located just 15 km or just less than 10 miles of the southern coast of South Australian, not far from Adelaide, Kangaroo Island is the third largest island in Australia, after Tasmania down south and Melville Island up north.

It covers an area of about 4,500 square kilometers (which is about 1,700 square miles), and it has a coastline that stretches 540 km or 336 miles. The highest point on the island is the 307 m- / 1,007-ft high Prospect Hill.

The island is a highly popular tourist attraction and more than 140,000 people visit it each year. But if you hope to get more than a glimpse, you’re going to have to spend at least three days here, ideally staying in different parts of the island.

The locals

There are about 4,400 permanent residents living on Kangaroo Island, many of whom are farmers (farming a wide range of produce from sheep to oysters) and fisherman whose families have lived there for generations. You’ll also find winemakers who produce some of Australia’s top varietal wines, and beekeepers who produce world-famous Ligurian honey, made by honey-bees exported from Liguria in the north of Italy.

The island also boasts numerous eateries, from humble cafés to elegant restaurants that offer the best of fine dining; and of course these come with a cross section of restaurateurs, publicans, hoteliers and all those dedicated people who help to house and feed travelers and tourists. They too form part of the local community.

The past

While not everyone is into the history of the place they are visiting, there’s an intriguing mystery about Kangaroo Island’s past. There is archaeological evidence that Aborigines lived on this island at least 16,000 years ago; yet nobody so far has been able to explain why they left or where they went. There are legends that tell of how the island was divided from the mainland by a great flood, and how those who had lived in this part of the country drowned trying to get back to the mainland. It is unlikely we will ever know the truth.

The island was only rediscovered in the very early 19th century, by Captain Robert Clark Morgan. However it was Matthew Flinders, a British explorer, who gave the island its name after landing there in 1802. Soon afterwards a French explorer, Nicolas Baudin arrived on the island, and he went to work mapping the island. This, it is thought, is why so many parts have French names.

Sealers were the first to try and make a living on the island. There are many stories of how these “rough”, probably ex-convicts kidnapped Aboriginal women and forced them to work for them in the sealing industry.

If you “dig” the past and want to dig further, you don’t have to visit stuffy museums.

Instead you can:

  • dive wrecks,
  • visit old lighthouses and read the diaries who lived there (often not very happily),
  • climb the steps that Flinders did to see the island from near the top of Prospect Hill,
  • even see some of the remains of stone tools from ancient Aboriginal camp sites.

And of course there is a lot more.

The wildlife

You’ll find there’s lots of wildlife on both land and sea, from kangaroos to sharks! More than 25% of the island forms parts of national parks, within five wilderness protection areas.

Animals that are native to the island include:

  • The Kangaroo Island dunnart, a little mouse-sized marsupial that is endemic to the island.
  • A sub-species of the Western grey kangaroo, commonly referred to as the Kangaroo Island kangaroo.
  • The tammar wallaby, which is grey in color and the smallest of all the wallaby species.
  • The common brushtail possum, a nocturnal animal, and the largest of the possum species.
  • The short-nosed Southern brown bandicoot, a small marsupial that is relatively common throughout Southern Australia.
  • The short-beaked echidna, a spiny anteater that could be mistaken for a kind of hedgehog.
  • The southern fur seal – also called either the New Zealand or Australian fur seal.
  • Rosenberg’s sand goanna, a monitor lizard that the Aborigines refer to as “bungarra”.

Kaola bears, the common ringtail possum, and the semi-aquatic platypus, which is endemic to eastern Australia, have been introduced to the island and are often seen. Sea lions are a common sight in Seal Bay.

Kangaroo Island is also an important area for birds, as a number of threatened and vulnerable species are found here, including the endangered glossy black cockatoo.

 

My trip to Lanzarote, Canary Island, Spain – Travel in Covid-19 Times

 

I’ve just returned from a trip to Lanzarote, an island located on the Canary Islands of Spain. 

After self-isolation in Llandudno, North Wales for three months due to coronavirus, COVID-19, I was ready to travel again once it was safe to do so.

On Monday 6th of July, the Welsh Government lifted the 5-mile stay local rule, and I could finally travel outside of my local community again.

At this point, I would like to highlight that everything mentioned within this blog post is based on my personal experience, and you should seek government advice from the correct sources.

The reason why I mention this is because the rules are changing all the time and I wanted to share how my trip went to help paint a picture of what your trip could be like so you can make an informed opinion on if you should travel at the moment.

Why did I choose Lanzarote, Canary Islands

At my time of flying, Spain was on the list of countries you could fly to from the UK without the need to isolate for two weeks after returning from your trip.

Of course, this could change, but this was one of the reasons why I choose Spain.

I didn’t fancy flying to a Spanish city due to crowds, but Lanzarote, one of the Canary Islands has direct flights from the UK and felt like a better option due to the current situation.

Plus the sound of the stunning volcanic landscape, hiking trails, sunny sandy beaches and locally sourced food all tempted me to visit the island of Lanzarote. It was just what I was looking for after being at home for so long.

With my bags packed and passport in hand (don’t forget your passport, it’s been a while!) I was ready to travel and explore the Canary Islands.

Around Lanzarote, not all businesses were open for tourism as visitor numbers are still operating on low capacity.

However, businesses are slowly opening up again for tourism, and many restaurants, visitor attractions, rental cars and a select number of resorts were open for visitors on the island.

You should book travel insurance before you travel around Europe

Please make sure you arrange suitable travel insurance for your trip before you depart. Some travel insurance providers have changed their policy to adapt to coronavirus COVID-19 so please read the small print and make sure that you have a cover.

Proper guidance is to check the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) website for up to date travel advice for UK travellers, and typically your travel insurance will follow along the lines of the FCO. So, if the FCO says not to travel, then your travel insurance usually is not valid, so please check the FCO website frequently for the latest travel advice.

Also, for those within the EU, make sure that your E111 card is up to date before you depart. For those within the UK, you can still travel and use your E111 card until the end of December. Remember that the E111 doesn’t replace travel insurance, but it’s good to have it with you at all times when travelling around the EU, especially at the moment.

Do you have to wear a face mask in Spain at all times?

Do you have to wear a mask all the time? This was a question I had before travelling to Lanzarote.

Of course, this advice will differ from other countries in Europe. But in Spain and on the Canary Islands, the simple answer is yes. You do have to wear your mask at all times.

After gathering some local advice, wearing a mask is not only to protect yourself from spreading germs but as a courtesy to protecting others.

Any situation where you’re unable to keep your social distance is when you should wear your mask in Spain.

This would be any place where social distancing is challenging, such as within shops, restaurants and public transport.

You can remove your mask when you sit down to eat or have a drink. You can withdraw your face cover while on the beach or when going for a swim in Spain, as long as you can keep your social distance.

Within your hotel room or rental car, you can remove your mask. If you’re going to the hotel breakfast buffet, you should wear your face mask.

I hope the above information clears up some questions you might have.

What is it like to fly at the moment?

It was a bizarre feeling only seeing five flights on the departure board of Heathrow terminal 5, usually the busiest airport in Europe. It did come as a shock.

Heathrow felt like a ghost town with limited passenger numbers flying on the day.

Throughout Heathrow, you will have to wear a facemask at all times from the entrance until you’ve exited at your arrival destination. It’s advised to swap your face mask every few hours, so you should pack a selection to use throughout your travels.

My temperature was checked as I entered Heathrow airport and I found hand sanitizer located all around the airport.

Check-in was rather swift, and many airlines are allowing free baggage check-in to free up space in the cabin, which is worth taking advantage of.

Security has never felt so fast; it was a swift experience and didn’t take much time at all.

Once airside, in regard to places to eat, I could only find one Pret open, which was enough to grab a coffee and a bite to eat before the flight.

Most airlines are not allowing food and drink service at the moment.

I did notice that a passenger requested a cup of water which was allowed but generally, nothing will be served on the flight unless you’re travelling business.

At the boarding gate, passengers were boarding individually based on row numbers, starting from the back of the aircraft towards the front.

At the check-in desk, the staff said to allow an extra hour due to additional boarding time. Be patient as it will take more time to board the flight, but you could always book your seat at the back if you wish to board sooner.

Once on the flight, cabin crew informed us that the aircraft used an advanced air flow filtration system that kills most germs. This, combined with a face mask and limited contact, helps to reduce the risk.

Once I was at my seat, I noticed that the airline had used empty seats to keep travellers at a safe distance from each other as best as they could.

They also blocked off and limited access to the number of toilets you could use. You can still use them but not as many so you might have to wait.

Generally, I found the flying experience rather relaxing and pleasant, indeed longer than usual, but the additional steps gave me reassurance rather than worry.

I wouldn’t want to take a flight with a connection due to the extra time it takes to board and go through the airport, but one direct flight wouldn’t be an issue.

What was your hotel resort like in Lanzarote?

I stayed at the Sands Beach resort located in Costa Teguise on the island of Lanzarote.

They had self-catering options for families with a large selection of swimming pools to choose from, which was great for social distance swimming.

Swimming is one of the things I missed the most, so it was a much-welcomed joy to have a few laps in the pool each morning.

The breakfast buffet was open, and you had to order each item individually. This will take some additional time, so be sure to arrive early to allow your choices to be accommodated.

I would visit the local supermarket and stock up on breakfast items to make in your room so you can relax in the morning and take the stress out of breakfast.

Not all resorts are open yet in Lanzarote, and some have chosen to stay closed until September so your choices will be limited.

The Sands Beach Resort chose to open early to learn about the extra steps needed to open up. The Spanish government have issued rules that resorts must follow to remain open to meet the health guidelines and create a safe environment for guests.

Another issue is staff. The resort is running at low capacity and it’s been tough getting the team back to work as some have chosen to wait until it’s safer to return to work while others are happy to get back to work again.

Rooms are required to undergo additional cleaning after each guest which is why I would recommend staying for 1-2 weeks.

Also, the stock has been an issue as the supply chain for resorts has not been open on the island since lockdown and resorts are having to use supermarkets to purchase items they need to operate.

It will take some time for resorts to open up again but those that have chosen to open up as soon as possible will learn from the experience and adapt to the guidelines, which will take time for some resorts to adjust to.

What is it like going to a restaurant on the Canary Islands?

After cooking for myself for three months, I’ve simply run out of hot pot recipes and I’m also getting a bit bored of baking banana bread.

Being allowed to visit restaurants again and not have to do the washing up was one of the most enjoyable moments from the trip.

Getting to taste the local flavours again was an absolute pleasure. Enjoying fresh seafood and a glass of white wine that’s made on the island was pure joy.

If you wish to dine out, it’s best to call in advance to book a table as space within the premise is limited due to schedules and social distance.

I noticed that temperature checks took place before entering the restaurant, and hand sanitizer was always found at the entrance.

You must wear a facemask until you have taken a seat at your table, then you can take it off to enjoy your food and drink.

Also, I noticed that the menu could typically be found by using a QR code to access on your smartphone. Make sure you have your Roam Like at Home data turned on while travelling around the EU as it will come in handy.

If you can pay for your meal by using contactless payment, this would be the best method rather than using cash.

Do you need to fill out health forms before you travel?

Spain requires you to fill in a health form before you arrive. Once the form is completed online, you will get a QR code which will be scanned on arrival.

You must be checked into your flight and have your seat number before you fill out the form. This information helps with track and trace, and you will be contacted if needed.

Also, when returning to the UK, you must fill in a form explaining where you’ve been and where you will be going to in the UK.

After filling in the UK form and placing my address in Wales where I will be, I instantly got an email from the Welsh government asking me to quarantine and stay at home for two weeks. I was not aware that the rules in Wales required two weeks quarantine, but not a problem as I have been home for the past two weeks and will follow the guidelines as instructed. Something to think about as I was also aware that those from Scotland had been advised not to travel to Spain altogether. So, the rules are different depending on where you live.

Did I enjoy my trip to Lanzarote, Canary Islands?

The most important question. Did I have a great time going to Lanzarote? Were all the extra steps worth it?

My answer is for the most part yes. I do have mixed opinions about it though, as I enjoyed the trip, but travel is no longer normal like it used to be and some fun has been sucked out the experience.

But I do understand that this is for my own and others’ safety to allow tourism to open up again so I would say that it was worth it.

My issue was the length of the trip; I wish I could have stayed longer to justify the extra time you need to go through all the additional safety steps.

So, If I were staying in Lanzarote for two weeks, I would have said that it was worth it.

My advice at the moment to make travel safer during COVID-19

I would recommend only taking one direct flight to reach your destination. Avoid having to take connection flights as this increases your risk of a possible infection.

Stay in one resort and try to find a self-catering option so you can prepare breakfast and lunch from your room as buffets are not a safe environment at the moment.

Book ahead to reserve your table if you wish to dine out at a local restaurant.

Book a rental car to explore your surroundings and avoid public transport.

Use contactless payment and avoid cash when possible.

Stay for 1-2 weeks. Travel to your destination will take more time so you should allocate this time into your holiday to make it more rewarding.

Don’t forget to relax and enjoy your holiday. You will have to go through many additional steps to make your holiday safe so please have patience, remain calm and take your time.

For this reason, a weekend city escape might not be ideal at the moment as you won’t have enough time to enjoy the actual holiday.

Thank you for reading my blog post about my trip to Lanzarote

I hope all the above information helps you understand what travel and tourism are currently like in Europe at this moment in time, and I wish you a pleasant future trip!

This blog post was put together in collaboration with the UNWTO and the Canary Islands as part of the #RestartTourism campaign to help tourism recovery on the islands. I hope you’ve found this blog post informative.

Travel tip shared by Dave