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Dhigali: The Maldives Unfiltered

Dhigali, Maldives

I just love the Maldives, the blue open waters interspersed with these idyllic little islands that offer seclusion, peace and the ultimate retreat. Dhigali is one of the newest resorts to open in the Raa Atoll, welcoming the world only since May this year.

Dhigali, Maldives

It’s modern and minimalistic designs attract the younger travellers and families who are looking for a little more luxury and a little less fuss. 5 star’s by all accounts, the newness of this island helps to give an almost untouched appeal to its surrounding crystal reef’s and sands. With only 180 rooms in total, 5 restaurants and 2 bars give you enough places to hideaway and enjoy the sunset from, without lacking atmosphere or losing out on your favourite seat.

Dhigali, Maldives

An excursion list full of aquatic adventures and island hopping discoveries, there’s plenty to do both on and off Dhigali itself. It’s the perfect place to pick a sport and give it a go, as the pier drops straight onto the reef itself. Looking for a little adventure? Discover more about neighbouring Hanifaru Bay, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve where the largest seasonal groupings of manta rays are waiting amidst UV corals and the occasional whale shark too.

Dhigali, Maldives

The highlight of this gorgeous hotspot is the bird’s nest bar – Haali, from which the sun sets directly in your eyeline, dipping below the horizon in a stunning display of shadows and light that only the Maldives is renowned for. Sitting below is a bar with swing seating that will give even the most travelled, the ‘wish you were here’ feels.

Dhigali, Maldives

At 18.5 hectors, Dhigali is a large island for the area and the resort’s 8 room categories are all fully equipped, contemporary hideaways that offer seducing views of the Indian Ocean.

Dhigali, Maldives

Dhigali’s dip away from the norm also extends to its various cuisine options (there’s no Teppanyaki tables here…) from exploring the spices of Asia, to the classic tastes of Europe and traditional Maldivian flavours, with a real focus on fresh Asian dishes at the infamous Battuta.

Dhigali, Maldives

There’s a real jungle vibe throughout the island, having only relocated 30% of its natural foliage during the build, the Dhigali Spa is a hidden amongst the trees in a lush sanctuary with 12 treatment rooms all offering indigenous therapies and healing traditions. This is the ultimate place to lay back and start paying back your body.

Recommended travel

3 Surf Opens in Barbados Not To Miss

Claire Bevilacqua

Ahh Barbados… beautiful beaches, amazing BBQ’s and gnarly breaks. The ultimate sunshine destination boasts the Caribbean’s most consistent surf conditions with swells all year round! Barbados is the ultimate destination this season for all surf enthusiasts. In keeping with Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc.’s a ‘Year of Sports 2017,’ surfing is just one of the country’s key concentrations.

Perfect for all levels, the water temperature never drops below 25*C and peaks at 28*C in the summer, coupled with their tropical backdrops is worth the trip alone. Barbados gets roughly 3000 hours of sunshine and nearly 365 days of surf. In the winter, the north and west coasts pick up plenty of swell and the constant trade winds ensure that the east coast breaks consistently.

Whether you’re hanging out at Surfer’s Cafe with local legends like Barbadian surfing Queen Chelsea Tuach, you prefer to check out all the action from the beach, or even get involved yourself with some SUP yoga, there’s a distinct and very active surfing community here that’s calling…

Shane Campbell

Surfer of the Year (#SOTY) 4 – 14 October, 2017

SOTY 4 is the fourth and final Barbados Surfing Association (BSA) local surfing event of the calendar year. It consists of four events held at various locations around the island, mainly on the south and east coast. This series is open to surfers of all nationalities and points also count towards qualifying for Barbados’ national team. Participant ages range from 11-50. This annual event includes youth events (U12, U16, U18) and Open, senior men and masters male and female categories. There will be stand up paddle (SUP) and longboard competitions for both men and women. The event is open to all.

SUP Barbados
National Surfing Championships4 November, 2017

This event will be held at Barbados’ famed surfing enclave, the Soup Bowl – (featuring world class waves, suitable for pro surfers only), and is one of the most exiting events on the Bajan surfing calendar. Participants vie for the National title in categories which include youth categories (U12, U16, U18) along with Open, Masters, Longboard and SUP competitions. All are open to men and women and men. Now in its 34th year, only the best surfers on the island can compete in this event. Some past national champions include Mark Holder, Zed Layson and Alan Burke. More recent champions include Che Allan, Zander Venezia, Chelsea Tuach, Chelsea Roett and Bruce Mackie. Ages range from 11-50. Competition is open to Barbadian citizens.

Surfing Barbados

Independence Pro becomes Part of Inaugural Barbados Surf Festival – 16 – 19 November, 2017

Independence Pro, held every November, has long been the biggest event on the Barbados Surfing Association’s calendar. This year, the event is being renamed and expanded as part of the first annual Barbados Surf Festival. There will be competitions for professional men and women, and juniors (Under 18 and Under 12). There will also be a surfing village highlighting local arts and cuisine, a beach fashion show with a bikini contest, live entertainment, local DJs and live bands. There will also be a kid friendly fun zone and a night road tennis tournament.

Get booking

On the East Coast, which is just minutes away from Bathsheba, where most of the surf events are taking place you’ve got a few options but handpicked by the Tourism department are:

The Atlantis Hotel
Sea-U-Guest House
Santosha Barbados (a great apartment on the East Coast)

If you’re staying further south…
Coconut Court
Savannah Beach Hotel

travel

A South African Safari

South African Safari

There’s nowhere i’d rather be than amongst animals. A true African safari is an adventure that’s been on my bucket list for many years and i’ve had the privilege of visiting a beautiful camp on the Botswana border a couple of years ago, spotting all the big 5 in one weekend, spending the days lounging around in our bush lodge when we weren’t out on a trek. So to visit Kruger Park, with its wide open spaces was my ultimate dream.

No longer surrounded by fences or gated in any way, Kruger Park spans the same amount of land as France. Whilst that is incredible for the wild animals who have been left to freely roam around in their natural habitat, it makes it slightly harder to protect them from poachers. It also means that spotting them all in one weekend might be slightly trickier too. We flew from Johannesburg to Nelspruit on Airlink in just under an hour, where we were greeted and driven an hour to the park’s borders. Kruger Park opens at 6am and closes at 6pm too, allowing public cars to register and enter the park at their own will (through a security gate). This means that occasionally when you do spot an animal, there may be a little traffic to deal with too. South African Safari

Once we arrived at the gates, it took us another hour to reach our lodge Lukimbi as we drove at no more than 50kms the whole way, allowing for a few zebra crossings… literally. On arrival we had a light lunch and prepared for our first bush drive, revelling in what turned out to be the most glorious sunset. Logging 3 out of the big 5 on our first evening, we saw elephants, rhino and lion’s all within 25 mins of the resort. Our ranger was quick to spot tracks left during the day, as well as identifying the herds and packs who’s territories we’d encroached in. Stopping for a quick sunset drink, toasting the surrounding nature made the moment even more surreal. South African Safari

It’s an early wake up for those who are keen to see what other animals are starting to stir. 5.30am call time for a 6am departure from the lodges. You have to be escorted from your rooms during the dark hours too, just in case a passing leopard takes a fancy to the boardwalk – which i’m assured has happened before. The winter is without doubt the most beautiful time of year to take it all in, but it’s certainly not the most comfortable. When the weather’s warmer, the outdoor pool overlooking the local watering hole (theirs not ours) is a fantastic place to hang out in and literally watch the world go by. During the winter though, the temperature can reach as low as a couple of degrees and without the sun up, the wind passing through the open roof cruiser makes it even colder. Waiting for you in the car is a hot water bottle and blanket, but dress warm anyway. South African Safari

Passing a rhino mother and her young 1 week old baby has to be one of the most incredible sightings, alongside a mother Hyena and her tiny little black cubs. We also spotted leopards, buffalo, mongoose, warthog, civet, jackal, crocodile, giraffe, zebra, kudu, impala, waterbuck, nyala, some spectacular birds and my very first hippo! So no shortage of animals in our surrounding camps. It’s a trip you will remember forever. The smells, sights and sounds (often a tad unnerving at night) are all just so tangible in the bush. South African Safari

travel

Huvafen Fushi: An Island of Idyllic Proportions

Huvafen Fushi, Maldives

The Maldives never get old… Huvafen Fushi, Maldives

Visiting another one of these exquisite islands is nothing but a privilege and landing on Huvafen Fushi, (Fushi means island) we were greeted with an entire Maldivian marching band! it’s a much smaller island to navigate than others i’ve visited, with believe it or not, even more honeymoon corners to explore. It’s the first time we’ve come across an island that’s a bit more health-conscious too, with a healthy breakfast bar and plenty of seafood specials in the evening. Huvafen Fushi, Maldives

When your only goal is to relax, a unique 200* glass paneled, underwater spa is your ultimate destination for a little R&R. You can enjoy all their beautiful house reef has to offer; an abundance of turtles and black tips to lionfish and eagle rays, there’s always something to get your go-pro going. What’s even more exquisite is re-visiting the spa at night with their resident marine biologist Beth, who’ll show you around the underwater world with a black light. This is where the giant GT’s and moray eels prefer to say hello and with bioluminescent corals giving off fluorescent ‘sunscreen’ colours, it’s an entirely different paradise. Huvafen Fushi, Maldives

If you’re like me and prefer to get a little more hands-on, then hang around the beach at sunset to meet ‘Cutie’, ‘Holly’ and a whole host of personality filled giant stingrays that like clockwork will swing by to say hello! Dream come true! Huvafen Fushi, Maldives

The water villas are exceptional, infinity pools off the deck, Jacuzzi tubs facing the sunset and a glass floor in the middle of the living room to make sure that when those rays swim underneath, you don’t miss a thing! You really only leave the villa to remind yourself that you aren’t alone on the island, although we barely saw any other guests in the fully booked out resort. It’s truly the kind of island that helps give the Maldives its honeymooner reputation! Huvafen Fushi, Maldives

Adventure travel

Staying Salty in Antigua

Stingray City, Antigua

Bermuda, Bahama, come on pretty mama… in short, the Caribbean has been on my list for so many reasons and for so many years, so when I got a beautiful invite to attend a close friend’s wedding in Antigua, I couldn’t resist! Blue Waters, Antigua

But just what is there to do in the Bahamas? I’ve heard about islands with swimming pigs, celebrity retreats and of course, a lot of culture… so arriving in Antigua, I wasn’t surprised at just how laid back everything was. There’s literally no rush, whether it’s the traffic, people walking in front of you or the service, it’s all done with a huge dose of ‘chill’. I can’t say I hated it either… (and that’s coming from someone who’s name actually says RUSH!) Antigua

What’s beautiful about this island is the colours, whether it’s the green on the trees, which is totally comparable to the way you feel in Asia with all the palms, or it’s the pastel houses that are dotted across the island. Either way, it’s certainly got soul. We stayed at the Blue Waters Resort, which is by far the most beautiful on the island, where the wedding was set on their beach, underneath an idyllic flower-crested pergola and tropical sky. Blue Waters, Antigua

The hotel itself held a few things for me to get up to, from a little gym to a paddle board or two, but it really was all about being poolside this trip… Antigua

We ventured out to an island institution… the D-Boat on the first full day in Antigua, which was an awesome little hotspot – it’s family friendly too, something Dubai definitely needs! A retired oil tanker was renovated and anchored back in 2014 to create the island’s first, fully floating entertainment. D Boat, Antigua

Whether you’re jumping off one of their decks, swinging out to sea, snorkelling around the reef’s below or sliding off their crow’s nest, this boat has everything you could possibly need, including a bar and trampoline to work off your lunch. D-Boat

From one adventure to another, if you’re visiting Antigua, there’s one place you do need to see and that’s Stingray City. Now I was worried that it was going to be more os a sea world-esque experience and that would be a definite no-no, but it’s just a short boat ride away from the shoreline to a pontoon in the middle of the sea. Just where the blue waters turn turquoise, the stingrays come in for an easy snack. Stingray City, Antigua

With a guided experience you can feed them squid with your own hands, or simply get hold of a snorkel (provided) and swim around with these majestic creatures. Many have asked if they are dangerous and honestly they are not, there’s no way kids would be allowed to swim freely with them if there was and when we were told about the simple lack of muscle control in their tails (spike), it helped reassure even the most cynical. Get out there if you’re headed to the Caribbean because it truly is an incredible experience! Stingray City, Antigua

travel

Niyama: The Ultimate Honeymoon Escape

Niyama, Maldives

Arriving in the Maldives is always special, whether you’re headed to a divers paradise, honeymoon hotel or even a working retreat, the azure blue of the sea is as mesmerizing out of the plane window as it is from the port. A short sea-plane ride from the capital lies Per Aquum’s Niyama, an island that’s no more than 5 minutes wide by bicycle. Niyama, Maldives

From the beach villas, looking out on your private pool is as postcard-worthy as it is stepping out beyond onto your slice of beach. You could get lost watching the waves gently take back some of their land with every kiss of the beach, as the sun slowly dips below the horizon, casting an electric orange glow across the open ocean that lies in front of you. If like me you’re only missing an umbrella-clad coconut from this picture… rest assured there’s plenty around. Niyama, Maldives

A whole host of restaurants dot the shoreline that vary from themed a la carte offerings to bespoke fish markets with plenty of fresh catch to choose from. The reef fish is a must-try, a little disconcerting if you’ve just been snorkeling with them at sunset mind but you’ll soon learn to adjust to island life. Niyama, Maldives

What’s totally unique if you’re not too keen on getting to grips with the marine life the more traditional way (by getting wet) is their underwater restaurant, located on it’s own little sunset hotspot just off the island’s coast. A quick pontoon ride away and you’ve landed at ‘Subsix’ which turns in to a nightclub and a bit of a glow party once the sun goes down. Dancing with the fish is a new one on me, but it’s a must even for just a drink. Niyama, Maldives

Biking around the island is a great way to make sure you’ve not missed an instagram opportunity, as there’s plenty of hidden hotspots for you to snuggle up on. A soon-to-be-open surf bar at the end of the atoll will have more than just couples swooning. From shore to surf in no time, this break boasts some beautiful left-handers… we will be back! Niyama, Maldives

Snow travel

A Helmet Saved My Neck!

Livigno, Italy

I’m a very active person and you won’t find me sitting still very often, so I jumped at the chance to squeeze in one more snowy adventure before the end of the winter season in Italy. We headed to Livigno for a little ski trip with about 20 of my boyfriend, Jordan’s work colleagues. Once settled in to our hotel, we got all of our equipment ready for that evening’s night ski.

As the weather was 13*C + we were contemplating just wearing sunglasses and beanie’s out on the slopes, but we ended up renting helmets just in case, as we’ve done for the last couple of years now. The night ski was amazing and the next morning we were up early after testing the snow, happy to get our ski legs back (and I won the slalom race too). All in all, a fantastic start to the trip! Livigno, Italy

We headed up the first slope, to our dedicated red run, which was cordoned off for our group only. We had the eyes and talents of 3 instructors from St. Moritz teaching us, one of which was World Champion Alpine Skier Georgio Rocca… so we couldn’t have been in safer hands.

After a particularly fun run on the somewhat dissolving snow, we knew this really was the end of the season, but we were determined to enjoy every moment. Jordan and I skied to the instructors who were waiting at the plateau on the first third of the run, so that they could analyze and correct our bad habits. Once we reached them, we were given corrections to our techniques and told to carry on down the rest of the long, easy, white slope.

Whatever happened next is a mystery. There were no trees, rocks or molehills, I was told that Jordan had followed me over the ridge by a mere matter of seconds and in that time, I’d managed to somehow take quite a tumble. Face down in the snow, with no memory of the accident or quite where I was, the instructors and Jordan arrived to assess my situation. With short-term amnesia it was necessary to get me off the mountain with the medical team quite quickly, because on landing I had broken my helmet with the sheer force of the impact, so there was a real worry about how severe the concussion could be.

When you have a head injury – it’s quite common for your neck to feel as much, if not more, force through the impact and your muscles should (and did in my case) all come up to protect my spine, which meant I couldn’t move my head at all. Protected by the neck brace at the first clinic we arrived at, I was moved by helicopter to another much larger hospital about an hour from our town. There I had a CT scan to determine the spine and skull damage, which thankfully wasn’t more than a bad concussion! Livigno, Italy

10 days later and the pain has now gone, the concussion subsided and this story has been well told, but had I not been wearing a helmet, my joy ride across the alps in a helicopter would have been a different tale. I grew up not wearing them but it’s terrifying to think that had I of been more concerned about my outfit than my safety, or been too over-confident in my ability, my injury would have been life-changing.

travel

Kuramathi – The People’s Island

Kuramathi

So far on my travels to this beautiful blue archipelago, the island’s have been one beautiful breathe of fresh air and nothing but relaxation awaiting you. They all persuade you with a wide array of sandy, tropical and underwater sanctuaries to explore and all have a similar variety of cuisine on offer, with copious luxury-laden opportunities for you to fully enjoy your weekend away. KuramathiKuramathi is however, without doubt, the island you could quite happily move to more permanently. Kuramathi went through major refurbishment in 2009, where more than a third of the rooms were completely redone and environmentally friendly methods implemented across the island. Kuramathi

It is the Maldives but on a much larger scale, boasting 1.8km from tip to tip, it’s the largest one I’ve visited so far. It houses 4 different water villa complexes and it’s actually fairly easy to get a little lost in the midst of all their footpaths. I was a bit affronted by the golf buggies tearing up and down the island as their main mode of transport, because I wanted nothing more than to remain barefoot and enjoy the jungle trails as I had done on the past few islands. Here however, they are more of a necessary evil, especially welcomed when the giant fruit bats start flying about in the canopy and you can’t quite see what’s making all the noise!Kuramathi

One of the nicest traits the island has is the full community vibe in the middle of it, where staff are kept almost hidden in other areas, here there’s frequent football and cricket matches held in the middle of the island for their 1000+ employees. Amidst such a big community, it’s a welcome sight to see the sustainable hydroponic garden producing all the deliciously fresh produce and plant life across the island. Kuramathi

If you’re looking for a longer trip then this is the perfect place for you to enjoy getting lost in. Not only is there plenty to do above the water during the day, the evening’s are well covered with restaurants like Reef – the local seafood restaurant, with a substantial wine cellar, that boasts nothing but 100% fresh catch where nothing goes to waste – all set to the sound of absolutely no music, so that you are settled solely by the waves all around you in their open dining hotspot. Kuramathi

Looking for a way to explore the reef’s but finding the water a little chilly? We’ll there’s two options for you here… Kuramathi offers a unique diving experience like no other – in a submarine! Expect to be fairly surface-side most of the time, so it’s ok for those who are a little claustrophobic like me. KuramathiIf you’d rather get a tan in the process too, take out the monokini– a see through canoe – for the afternoon. It’s a great way of being able to drift across the reefs and spot all the fish below without getting wet. But if you are a diver… this island has a full Hyperbaric Chamber available to you too – especially if you’ve been out on one of their early morning boats to Hammerhead Shark Point – only 8 minutes by boat from Kuramathi and these gorgeous creatures can be seen all year round! Kuramathi

If you’re an early bird like me, there’s a sunrise yoga session that’s sure to stretch you out, after all, it’s hard doing almost nothing ☺ If that’s not for you however, the spa certainly will be! Treat yourself to the signature massage (which I’ve checked – differs from island to island) and enjoy the post-relaxation thrum of the jungle around you. Kuramathi

Because it’s such a vast island, the eco-sanctuary and marine station have a much bigger job of keeping it all growing. We spoke with their resident biologist who’s having a tough time with the thorny crown fish in the area, attacking what’s left of their mostly bleached reefs. It’s not a total loss though as if it’s even 10% of the Maldives at their best, it’s still 100% better than most other places in the world! Kuramathi

travel

Kurumba: An Underwater Haven

Kurumba, Maldives

If it’s the fish you fancy most about the Maldives and its abundant blue ocean, then the underwater world at Kurumba is for you. Named Vihamanaafushi after the word for coconut, this diver’s paradise opened back in 1972 and is one of the longest running resorts in all the atolls. Kurumba began with just 30 rooms that were all constructed using local materials with walls made from coral stone and roofs composed of palm thatch. It’s close to Male airport in the North, which makes it even more appealing for the weekend warrior. Kurumba, Maldives

There’s a much more relaxed and casual atmosphere here, as apposed to the other often-intimidating 5* resorts in the area, it’s perfect for families or for the solo traveller looking for a bit of winter sunshine. Kurumba, Maldives

Currents and reef at this time of year bring with it an abundance of fish feeding on plankton – the current moves around the island with a strong pull and limits your efforts snorkeling so you wont get exhausted quickly, you can just enjoy the ride and take in the array of aquatic action. Kurumba, Maldives

The reef here is less damaged than the rest of the Maldives, with less bleaching affecting the corals as apposed to the more southern atolls. Sky blue lagoons and darker reef drops are visibly different in vibrancy to the deeper turquoise shallows elsewhere. Kurumba, Maldives

Expect to get up close and personal with the local black tip sharks, barracuda, eels and a few house reef turtles too. There’s an app in the Maldives that’s used by the marine biologists across the islands to help identify turtles, whale sharks, manta’s and stingrays, with just a couple of close up shots, you can determine if you’ve stumbled across a newbie (which you get to name) or if they’re locals and have been named before! Kurumba, Maldives

For those looking to keep their head above water for a bit longer to enjoy the beautiful weather… the spa on Kurumba is a breathe of fresh air. Take in a signature massage for an hour to truly enjoy your time off. If like me you’re looking to stay a little more active in between your snorkeling sessions, sign up for a sunrise yoga with their dedicated island instructor and wake up with a little extra good energy. Kurumba, Maldives

Snow travel

Dreaming of Switzerland

Freeride_001

From chocolate to cheese, Switzerland is slowly becoming one of my favourite weekend escapes. Work related travel brings me to Lugano in the Italian part of the country, but i’m dreaming of adventuring in to the other areas of it too.

Picture lakes that lie still for as far as the eye can see, Switzerland is a wintry fairytale and a summery retreat. It’s got the ultimate adventurer appeal with most landscapes available all year round. From quaint cobblestone streets, fountains that date back to the 1500’s and medieval architecture that line the town’s, highlighted by Gothic cathedrals in their centres too. With an average annual temperature of 14°C and up to 24°C in the summer, the place to be is at the heart of the Lake Geneva region, which is dubbed “the Swiss Riviera” thanks to its microclimate.

Diablerets-3

Diablerets-3

Lausanne is one town that has a younger appeal with a very cosmo, arty and up-and-coming urban scene in the city and is very used to tourists. Lausanne is the capital of the Canton de Vaud, often referred to as the “Olympic Capital” because it’s the home to the International Olympic Committee and the only museum of its kind in the world, as well as lots of individual, global sporting institutions too. And as it’s hosting the next edition of the Winter Youth Olympic Games in 2020, so there’s definitely more of an appeal in its panoramic snowy peaks for me.

PeakWalkByTissot_001

PeakWalkByTissot_001


With altitudes of 3,000m and 25kms of runs, the open season is from October to May and the backdrop here is supposed to be uniquely beautiful. It’s a high alpine terrain with a variety of runs for all levels of skier and a snow park to test your ability too. It also houses the worlds highest bobsleigh track, a 107m suspension bridge from peak to peak and dog sleigh rides too.
Fairmont Montreux Palace Hotel Bellevue 019

FMPH Bellevue 019

As for where to stay… there’s plenty of beautiful options with the Alps as their backdrop and located right on Lake Geneva so you have the best of both worlds, but i’ll let you know next time I visit 😉