After National Geographic magazine ranked the Welsh capital, Cardiff, as one of the world’s top 10 summer destinations for 2011, it got us thinking about unusual travel destinations and what actually makes somewhere a great place to visit. Typically, when we think of Cardiff the first thing that comes into my mind is rugby, coal and brains beer, but, the national Geographic magazine informs me that Cardiff has been chosen alongside the glaciers of Alaska and Patagonia as one of the world wide travel hotspots.
Apparently, Cardiff offers windsurfing, power boating, rowing and kayaking along with top notch bars and restaurants. So is that how Cardiff has earned its place in the top ten travel destinations –activates? Or could it something else- something less obvious?
As we think back to my travelling experiences it’s not just the amazing activities that we remember. It’s the adventure, the feeling of a place – the people. That’s not to say zip lining over the jungles of Costa Rica isn’t up there with our favourite experiences, but I’d say it’s on a par with wondering the windy beaches of Sweden with a hot dog to hand and nowhere else to be in a hurry. You don’t have to be somewhere exotic to feel ecstatic about where you are. You know you have found something extraordinary when you get the feeling in your belly and look out at where you are and think to your self – yes. This is it. There is not where else I’d rather be right now. And who’s to say where that can happen? Cardiff Bay or Costa Rica…
The Lonely Planet – a fantastic resource and inspiration for travellers, their books providing everyone from experienced world nomads to first time travellers with great, impartial advice about the unfamiliar lands they are about to visit.
On their popular website they also publish an awful lot of ‘top 10′s’ and ‘top 20′s’. And quite frankly quite a lot of them we don’t like – however, every so often they come up with a good one and this week was a great example. They published ‘The world’s best secret islands‘. Perhaps they made it up in half a day with the first islands they could think of but it worked for us. We really enjoyed reading about the Yaeyama Islands in Japan and the Con Dao Islands in Vietnam. We had also never heard of Ssese Islands in Uganda, which just happens to be in a lake, but still contains ‘golden beaches, whispering palm trees, exotic flora and fauna’.
But we think the Lonely Planet missed one golden, fantastic island out. It may of been there number 10, but it certainly would be close to our number one. And it although it may not be truly described as secret any more, not many people know about it.
Our choice for the world’s best secret island is Palawan in the Philippines. It’s stunning. It’s got everything you are looking for in a tropical island. It’s it is a magnificent, coral-fringed range of jungle-clad mountainous islands. It has world-class diving and snorkelling where you can see huge varieties of marine life. And it’s big enough to make the lush jungle found on the island great for animal-spotting and trekking. Lastly, it is surprisingly easy to get to – there are convenient and quick plane and ferry connections from Luzon. We recommend you go if you ever get the chance or you thinking up your next tropical adventure – you won’t be disappointed.
There you go Lonely Planet – now please consider this when you next publish your secret islands list.
Ahh, the Summer is here in the UK and after a stunning start to Spring the rain has been steadily falling over the last 2 weeks. But we can’t complain because April and May were truly fantastic. And with the promise of a heatwave, a little bit of wet weather won’t do anyone any harm.
So with the dark and moody skies above, we present you 3 sunny and cheerful holiday experiences of the week, which should help you to look forward to the sunnier Summer ahead.
So here are our best travel stories of the week, in no particular order:
1) Is it right to travel to Burma? A tough one to decide, but this photographic journey through this extraordinary land shows you rarely seen people and stunning beauty. Picture 7 is great!
2) From Brussels With Love is a nice story of love featured in the excellent Almost Fearless travel blog. Ahhhh!
3) Lovely stuff from the Telegraph winning travel writer of the week – his view of Peru at election time!