13 Must-See Day Trips from Melbourne – Victoria, Australia

13 Must-See Day Trips from Melbourne – Victoria, Australia

Melbourne is absolutely awesome in and of itself, but the extensive amount of day trips from Melbourne make it that much more incredible. While the culture, coffee, bars, history, laneways, and food make the city great, the amazing amount of natural beauty surrounding the city render it a fantastic base to travel or to live.

I spent the second year of my working holiday visa living in Melbourne and leading walking tours around the city each day. As it was literally my job to know the city and its surrounds, I have helped thousands of travelers plan their Melbourne trips. I would like to think this makes me pretty darn qualified to recommend the best Melbourne day trips (and general Melbourne tips!) to you as well.

If you are looking for other tips on Melbourne, I’ve got you covered as well – just click the links below! But for day trips from Melbourne, read on. I’ll give my best tips from my experience on these days trips, recommend to stay more days when applicable, let you know where would be best to rent a car and drive, and always link to the most trusted day tour provider I have tried and tested myself.

 

Heading to Australia? – Don’t forget to obtain your visitor’s visa beforehand.

Great Ocean road Melbourne day trips

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Great Ocean Road

What it is: Gorgeous Rugged Coastline road trip

How far from Melbourne: The Great Ocean Road starts at least 1.5-2 hours from the city, and is will include at LEAST 3 hours of driving.

How to Get There: Follow signs to Geelong and join the Great Ocean Road just past Anglesea

Recommended Day Tour: Great Ocean Road Day Tour with Go West Tours

The most popular and important day trips from Melbourne are to the Great Ocean Road. If you haven’t heard of this Melbourne day trip by now, you’re missing out! The Great Ocean Road is perhaps the number one option for a day trip, as it allows you to experience the rugged and beautiful Victorian coastline.

The Great Ocean Road gives you an entirely different perspective on the region than you can get in the city. You’ll drive through quaint little beach towns like Lorne and Apollo Bay, get to search for wild koalas climbing gumtrees out in the country, experience the sheer power of mother nature through powerful waves crashing on distant rocks, and view famous natural landmarks you may have seen in guidebooks and on Pinterest.

There are important Great Ocean Road trip stops throughout the entire journey, which your driver will be very familiar with. Perhaps the most famous stop on Great Ocean Road day trips from Melbourne is the Twelve Apostles. This landmark used to have twelve standalone cliffs out amid the waves on the shore, but today there are only seven remaining. Either way, it’s a gorgeous must-see sight in Victoria.

My other personal favorite stops are London Bridge (a beautiful sandstone rock out in the ocean that used to be connected to the land) and the Loch Ard Gorge. You’ll see all these stops on a tour from Melbourne, and can see even more if you rent a car.

Must See: Memorrial Arch, Teddy’s Lookout, Twelve Apostles, Loch Ard Gorge

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Dandenong Ranges – Puffing Billy, Belgrave

What it is: Beautiful mountain ranges (with a steam train) just outside the city

How far from Melbourne: about 45 minutes

How to Get There: Rent a car and drive east, or take the train to the base of the mountains

Recommended Day Tour: Dandenong + Puffing Billy Half Day with Autopia Tours (Dandenong Ranges Only) or Puffing Billy + Healesville Sanctuary with Bunyip Tours (Dandenong Ranges and Aussie Wildlife Experience)

The Dandenong Ranges are a bit of an undiscovered gem in my opinion. It’s not one of the most popular day trips from Melbourne, but really should be due to the remote beauty of the mountain ranges.

Within the Dandenong Ranges you can find all sorts of undiscovered gems. The beautiful town of Belgrave is home toe some amazing eateries and the famous Puffing Billy train, which is a decked-out steam train that serves meals and provides amazing views to patrons riding it through the mountainous region.

You can explore some gorgeous small mountain towns and explore lots of different forest hikes and mountain trails. There’s a gorgeous botanic garden area called the Alfred Nicholas Gardens as well, for any plant lovers out there.

Perhaps the most famous viewpoint of the Dandenong Ranges is from Sky High, a restaurant at the top of Mt Dandenong. Here you can try different types of food and telescopes looking out over the land, towards the city and other mountain regions of Victoria. Spot wild kookaburra as you hike to Burke’s lookout, which has a pristine view of Melbourne’s city skyline on a clear day.

Must See: Puffing Billy, Sky High, Burke’s Lookout

penguins parade phillip islands day tours from melbourne

Phillip Island – Penguins

What it is: An island inhabited by hundreds (thousands?) of indigenous (tiny!) penguins

How far from Melbourne: About 2 hours

How to Get There: Take a day tour or rent a car driving southeast

Recommended Day Tour: Moonlit Sanctuary + Penguin Parade with Bunyip Tours (allows you to see other Aussie wildlife with lunch in one day)

Phillip Island is one of the most popular day trips from Melbourne, and rightfully so! Although kangaroos and koalas are definitely very exciting, one of the most local wildlife species to view in Victoria is the ‘little penguin.’ They used to be called the ‘fairy penguin,’ but they have been aptly renamed because they are, well…. little!

When visiting Phillip Island, you can experience what they call the ‘penguin parade’ as dozens if not hundreds of these lil’ guys pop out of the water at dusk to make their homes on land for the night. You’ll sit in a stadium-like area to make sure their habitat is respected while still having a great vantage point – or you can pay a bit more to stand inside a building with a glass window to be even closer to them!

This happens at sunset, so it depends on the time of year that the penguin parade will happen. Some Phillip island day tours are half-day, but some are longer and include a visit to a wildlife sanctuary to view other types of classic Aussie wildlife. Many tours stop at the Moonlit Sanctuary about half way between the city and Phillip Island.

Must See: Penguin Parade

grampians national parks in australia

Grampians National Park

What it is: Bushy + Rocky Mountains with waterfalls and rich aboriginal culture

How far from Melbourne: About 3 hours

How to Get There: Take a day tour or rent a car driving northwest up the M8

Recommended Day Tour: Grampians Day Tour with Autopia Tours takes you to all important POI’s and the cultural center!

The Grampians National Park is an area of outstanding natural beauty in a more regional part of Victoria. Due to its distance, it’s recommendable as a weekend trip but still doable to see its main sights in a day trip from Melbourne. Day tours from Melbourne to the Grampians will leave the city very early, but they will be worthwhile to experience main viewpoints, hikes, and waterfalls.

The Grampians are known for their extensive wildlife and mountain regions. You can walks to high vantage points over the valley with many hikes of varying difficulties throughout the park. There are also some famous waterfalls that are popular to visit, namely MacKenzie Falls.

It’s highly advisable to visit the cultural center when visiting the Grampians, as well. The local aboriginal tribes have an extremely  rich culture full of fascinating legends on how the area came about. You’ll learn all the different theories on colorful animals and regions while educating yourself on the historic culture of indigenous Australians.

Must See: MacKenzie Falls, Hall’s Gap, Boroka Lookout, Cultural center

yarra vallley wine tasting day trips from melbourne

Yarra Valley

What it is: Wine Region with scenic rolling hills

How far from Melbourne: About an hour

How to Get There: Take a day tour or rent a car driving directly east

Recommended Day Tour: Yarra Valley Gourmet Tour with Go West Tours – wine, fruit, cheese, AND chocolate!

The Yarra Valley is an absolute must for those who love wine, alcohol in general, and/or rolling wine regions. Generally less than an hour outside the city, the Yarra Valley is a stunning departure from the city bustle and easily done in a simple day trip.

The Yarra Valley is pretty special because there are over 150 wineries dotted through the countryside. While exploring these wineries, you can also visit a fresh dairy (helloooo, fresh cheese), a famous Gin Distillery called Four Pillars, a cider brewery, and the famous Yarra Valley chocolaterie. In other words, there’s plenty of wine, and also variety as well!

Many day trips from Melbourne to Yarra Valley will visit at least 3-4 wineries as well as a selection of other venues to change it up a little. Check on the itinerary of your tour of choice to make sure it visits all the stops you’d like to see! My personal fave is the Go West tour linked above, which visits plenty of wineries AND places to taste fresh fruit/juice, cheese, AND chocolate!

Must See: a few wineries, at least! Also a few of a dairy, chocolaterie, gin distillery, and cider brewery.

mornington peninsula Arthur's Seat melboure day trips

Mornington Peninsula

What it is: A scenic peninsula south of the city with beach towns, farmland viewpoints, and more wine.

How far from Melbourne: Between 30 mins and 1.5 hours

How to Get There: Take a day tour or rent a car driving directly south. Public Transport can only take you to the northern end of the peninsula.

Recommended Day Tour:  Peninsula + Hot Springs Tour with Hide and Seek (for adventurers – includes viewpoint, 5 mile hike, and then hot springs!) OR Mornington Peninsula Day Tour with Bunyip Tours for those who prefer strolling along beaches (Sorrento/Portsea included) and tasting wine! Both tours are fab.

The Mornington Peninsula may not grace the top of the lists on places to go from Melbourne, but it’s yet another lesser-known gem in Melbourne tourism. The peninsula faces the Port Phillip Bay on one side (calm waters and pristine beaches) and the open ocean on the other (heavy surf and rocky areas).

Between the two bodies of water are rolling hills of farmland, sheep/cows, small beachy towns, and beautiful viewpoints overlooking the coastline. Arthur’s seat is a famously touristy part of the peninsula, with a cable car going up a scenic beachside hill. There are dozens of wineries to visit as you make your way around, one of the most incredible of which is a winery/restaurant/sculpture garden called Pt Leo Estate.

Sorrento and Portsea are well-known beach towns on either side of the thin tip of the peninsula. Mornington is a trendy beach town on the bay side of the peninsula, and Arthur’s Seat overlooks most of it all! There are lots of gorgeous walks to do along the cliffy coastlines, and once you’re finished, you can dip in the warm waters of the amazing Peninsula Hot Springs.

Must See: Arthur’s Seat, wine tasting, bush walking, hot springs

There are SO many day trips from Melbourne - it would be a shame to miss out on the rugged coastlines, mountainous national parks, diverse wildlife, amazing views, wine regions, and relaxing getaways accessible from one of the best cities in the world. #melbourne #melbournedaytrips #australia #greatoceanroad #yarravalley #phillipisland #grampians #twelveapostles

There are enough Melbourne day trips to explore for weeks! Check out 13 of the best destinations to visit from melbourne, from beaches and coasts to wildlife and mountains. #melbourne #melbournedaytrips #australia #greatoceanroad #yarravalley #phillipisland #grampians #twelveapostles

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Daylesford/Hepburn Springs and the Macedon Ranges

What it is: A relaxing mountainside getaway

How far from Melbourne: About 1.5 hours

How to Get There: Rent a car and drive northwest – there are a few day tours but mostly private/wine tours

Recommended Day Tour: Private Daylesford Tour with highly acclaimed Melbourne Private Tours, or a weekend trip.

Daylesford and Hepburn Springs are known to be a relaxing getaway from Melbourne. Daylesford’s most popular feature is why it’s called a ‘spa town:’  pools of mineral hot springs at Daylesford Day Spa. You can visit hot springs, explore galleries in the quaint town, and dine lakeside at some highly acclaimed restaurants.

Although possible as a day trip, I would highly recommend Daylesford area as a weekend getaway from Melbourne because there’s so much to see (and luxurious accommodation as well)! The area is also a popular wine region, with dozens of wineries possible to visit in the area. There are tours that run through the wine region from Daylesford if you decide to stay longer.

Nearby, you will find the beautiful Macedon Ranges. If relaxing isn’t your thing (or before you unwind in the hot springs) there are plenty of trails to hike in the area. Check out Mount Macedon for the most incredible view, or many more trails and tiny country towns as well.

There aren’t too many Daylesford day tours from Melbourne, but check this private tour if you have a group, or book a wine tour from Daylesford itself.

Must See: Hot Springs, Lake Daylesford

healesville sanctuary koalas australian wildlife

Healesville Sanctuary

What it is: Sanctuary to experience Australian Wildlife

How far from Melbourne: About an Hour

How to Get There: Rent a Car, Take a Tour, or take a train and one bus.

Recommended Day Tour: Healesville Sanctuary + Puffing Billy Combined Tour by AAT Kings

Healesville Sanctuary is one of the most popular places for visitors to experience Aussie wildlife. It’s not a complete trip down under unless you get to experience some kangaroos and koalas, is it?! Healesville is a perfect destination to combine with a trip to the Dandenong Ranges or with Yarra Valley, and many day tours do so.

You can feel content that the animals are kept in a natural bushland setting and allowed to roam freely. Spend a few hours exploring many different species of marsupial, mammal, reptile, and bird, and see if you can find on you’ve never seen before!

If you’d prefer just to see the sanctuary, you can rent a car to drive there and schedule a sanctuary tour with a ranger which allows you even closer access to the animals you want to get up close and personal with.

Must See: Aussie Wildlife!

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Ballarat + Sovereign Hill Day Trips from Melbourne

What it is: An inland Gold Mining Town

How far from Melbourne: about 1.5 hours

How to Get There: Rent a car, take a day tour, or take a direct train

Recommended Day Tour: Sovereign Hill + Ballarat Tour from Melbourne with Gray Line

Visiting Ballarat is like stepping back in time. See, Ballarat was the epicenter of Victoria’s massive gold rush in the mid-1800’s, and there are still many remnants of this rich history there today.

Sovereign Hill is an actual replica of what the gold rush town may have looked like all those years ago – complete with gift shops, craft stores, restaurants, and even gold panning opportunities! You can also visit an old mine and experience what it may have been like.

The Gold Museum is a fascinating look back into the gold rush period, and you can also visit the Eureka Center to learn about a rebellion in 1854 that shaped the future of Australia. There are lots of trendy eateries in the Ballarat CBD, and you must also take a walk by Lake Wendouree for a bit of peace and quiet. See my Ballarat Travel Guide for an in-depth look at visiting the area!

READ
Things to do in Ballarat: A Ballarat Travel Guide

Must See: Sovereign Hill, Gold Museum, Lake Wendouree

Wilson’s Promontory National Park Day Tour from Melbourne

What it is: A seaside national park with wildlife, coast, and forest

How far from Melbourne: Under 3 hours

How to Get There: Take a day tour or rent a car driving southeast.

Recommended Day Tour: Wilson’s  Promontory National Park Day Tour with Bunyip Tours

Wilson’s Promontory is another gorgeous area of nature in Victoria, and one of the most rugged day trips from Melbourne. It’s a National Park with gorgeous viewpoints looking down pristine coastlines, complete with hiking trails that could take you for miles and miles.

There are dozens of beaches in what is actually the southernmost point of mainland Australia. The famous ‘squeaky beach’ actually has sand so white and fine that it squeaks when you walk on it!

It’s a huge area, but the day tour will take you to all the best bits within one big day. You’ll see some of the best viewpoints such as Mt Bishop and empty beaches, but perhaps one of the biggest pulls of this day trip is the wildlife. ‘Wilson’s Prom,’ as they call it for short, is inundated with local kangaroos and other marsupials, so make sure to keep your eyes out!

Must See: Squeaky Beach, Mt Bishop

 

my hotham clouds sunset

Mount Buller

What it is: One of the closest skiing mountains to Melbourne

How far from Melbourne: About 3.5 Hours

How to Get There: Take a day tour, rent a car, or take a coach

Recommended Day Tour: Mt Buller Day Tour with Gray Line

Many people are unfamiliar with the beautiful ‘Victorian Alps’ region. Mt Buller would also be much better as a longer trip, but the area is so worth checking out as a day trip if you don’t have much time.

Mt Buller is an alpine terrain park where you can adventure to your heart’s content: skiing, snowboarding, tobogganing, snowshoeing, and more. You’ll have about 5 hours free time on Mt Buller day trips from Melbourne, which surely is plenty to try out a few runs and more. You can also reserve snow gear as well, if you are so inclined. Day tours will also stop in quite a few other small towns and scenic viewpoints to round out the journey.

There’s also a great alpine village in Mt Buller if you are not quite the skiing type but want to enjoy the area. Visitors can enjoy many different food options alongside walks and viewpoints. There are also sled dog tours!

Must See: Mt Buller Village Square, Mountain Vistas/Snow

Silo Art Trail

What it is: Massive murals painted on country silos

How far from Melbourne: Between 3 and 5.5 hours from beginning to end

How to Get There: Rent a Car and Drive!

Recommended Day Tour: You’ll have to rent a car and do this one yourself! 🙂

There are various parts of rural Victoria whose silos have been graced by the mural art of some incredible artists. These silos can be visited in order on what is known as the Silo Art Trail. Visit the silo art trail website to view a map and learn about all the official locations of these murals.

This silo art is actually known as Australia’s largest outdoor art gallery. It’s a brilliant way to get more people to visit the smaller country communities, and an incredible style of art not very attainable in other parts of the world.

To create these artworks, well-known artists met with the local indigenous communities of the areas and created artworks that represented unique stories about that town and its people. If you’d like to get out a bit more into real country Australia, and see how the farmers live in more remote corners of the state, this maybe the the Melbourne day trip for you!

Must See: Each silo that is part of the trail!

view of melbourne from the you yangs regional park

Geelong + You Yangs Regional Park

What it is: Beachside city and bush walks

How far from Melbourne: 1-1.5 hours

How to Get There: Rent a car or take the train

Recommended Day Tour: You’ll have to rent a car and do this one yourself! 🙂

Geelong is the second largest city in Victoria. It’s located in the southwestern part of the Port Phillip Bay (Melbourne is at the northernmost part). Geelong is much more laid back than Melbourne, and is defined by its beautiful botanic gardens, seaside paths, restaurants, museums, and galleries.

A great day trip from Melbourne would be to mix in a visit to Geelong with a stop at the nearby beach, Torquay, and a beautiful mountainous regional park called the You Yangs. Torquay area is roughly considered the starting point of the Great Ocean Road, and usually has lots windsurfers and people on the beach.

The You Yangs regional park is the perfect place to have a classic Aussie bush walk. The park has a few large hills with trails throughout. The trails are only mildly challenging. But, they present incredible views of the surrounding farmland and also of the Melbourne city skyline.


 

There are still more places that are possible as day trips from Melbourne, but by this point we have stretched to the point of Melbourne weekend getaways. All of the destinations above are fine as day trips, but many would be preferable as weekend trips so that you can spend more time and make the most of your time there.

So if you’d like to keep reading about other places to visit from Melbourne, but this time for places you should visit for LONGER than jsut a day trip, stay tuned for my upcoming article on Melbourne weekend getaways…. coming soon!

For now, give this article a pin if you enjoyed it!

There are enough Melbourne day trips to explore for weeks! Check out 13 of the best destinations to visit from melbourne, from beaches and coasts to wildlife and mountains. #melbourne #melbournedaytrips #australia #greatoceanroad #yarravalley #phillipisland #grampians #twelveapostles

 

 

September 17, 2019 0

Skydiving Melbourne: What to Know + Why You Should Go

Skydiving Melbourne: What to Know + Why You Should Go

Skydiving Melbourne is an adventure that I added to my bucket list as soon as I arrived in this city. With so many gorgeous viewpoints and multiple different drop zones, I knew that it would be time for me to yet again take part in – let’s be honest – probably the biggest adrenaline rush in the world. What could be more terrifying exciting than jumping out of a flying plane?!

The last time I went skydiving was eons ago, in San Diego, back when I turned 18. I figured I had to do something pretty daring for my 18th, and skydiving on the first day of being legally able was a good start. I absolutely loved the experience, but the fast pace of life and years of budget travel prevented me from attaining this special high again… for nearly 9 years!

A few months into living here, I learned about Skydive Australia’sElevate Your Courage” campaign – empowering women to face their fears by jumping out of a moving plane. I mean, what better way to prove to yourself that you can do anything than hurling yourself into the air at 15,000ft?!

I knew that this was the perfect opportunity to skydive again, to promote an awesome cause. I may be quite the daredevil generally myself, but the idea of motivating other women to do something they would ordinarily deem unattainable by skydiving Melbourne was fantastic to me.

free fall skydive over melbourne

Mid free-fall. Cute, right?!

Skydiving Melbourne: Why Go?

1. There are 3 places you can Skydive in Melbourne.

Not sure what kind of view you want from the sky? No problem. You can skydive Melbourne at:

If you’d like the city, dramatic coastlines, or rolling hills of vines, Skydive Melbourne has got you covered. Or, you can experience three completely different sides of Melbourne from a rare perspective – 15,000 feet up! Each drop zone is truly unique and showcases a different side of Victoria.

2. The Melbourne Skydive is the closest drop zone IN THE WORLD to a city.

Yep, that’s right, Skydiving Melbourne will allow you to come the closest in free fall to a city in the world. Skydive Melbourne is one of only two city skydives in the world (the other is Dubai), but this one comes quite a lot closer to the city center.

Imagine marveling at the skyscrapers while you free fall through the air much, much higher than they are? Skydiving near the city gives an entirely different perspective on what you can see below you, with a comparison point of massive buildings you may walk past on the daily. This is the ONLY place you can have that experience!

3. What better way to prove to yourself you CAN do anything?!

I really can’t think of a better way to kick yourself into gear and face your fears than jumping out of a plane… can you?! The adrenaline may run high as the plane climbs up and up, but the rush you’ll get when your feet touch the ground again is truly unlike anything else.

skydive st kilda melbourne

How about those ocean views?! 

Skydiving Melbourne: What to Know Before You Go

The whole experience is actually really chilled out and relaxed (although you may not have expected to hear that!). After checking in, you’ll be given the keys to a locker and a pair of Skydive Australia pants (and fleece/gloves if it’s cold enough, which is basically a given in Melbourne much of the year). After strapping into your harness you’ll watch an instructional video and then board a bus to the airport, where you’ll start your videos and board the plane in twos with your tandem instructor. Then, it’s go time!

General important info to know before skydiving Melbourne:

What do I wear?!

I was worried about this one, too! Just comfy clothes will do – loose fitting are best, likely with running shoes on the bottom. If it’s winter, bundle up a bit more!

Where can I put my stuff?

They have lockers at Skydive Melbourne that you can place all your belongings into before you leave. Safe and sound!

What am I allowed to bring?

Literally – nothing. You must leave all your belongings in the lockers. Can you imagine if your phone fell out of a pocked mid-air? Nooo, thank you. That’s why purchasing the photo/video package is the best idea to preserve some memories from your jump!

Which airport do you take off from?

You take off from Moorabbin airport, which is just down the coast about 30-40 minutes from St Kilda. It’s a tiny little airport with mostly private aviation groups. It only takes a few minutes to get back over St. Kilda, but you’ll spend more time getting up to 15,000 ft.

What about the weather?

If you know Melbourne, you know the weather is COMPLETELY unpredictable. Wind and rain will delay takeoffs, but the team does a great job fitting as many jumps in as they can when the weather is good. Instructors can do up to 7-8 jumps in a day in the high season!

kimmie conner skydive Melbourne CBD in the background

Well if that isn’t the face of pure happiness?

My Experience Skydiving in Melbourne:

So after confirming my jump, it finally actually hit me that morning that I was about to jump out of a plane…. Oh god. I mean, even as someone who loves to push the limits of adventurousness, there’s always that tiny little voice of normalcy in the back of your head. But obviously, I was going to elevate my courage and do the damn thing!

Making sure not to go out the night before (can you even imagine skydiving on a hangover?!), I woke up early and got ready… only to realize the wind had delayed any takeoffs for that morning.

Typical Melbourne. 

Luckily for us it was short lived, and I showed up just an hour later than planned. There were some fluffy white clouds in the sunny sky, and there really couldn’t have been a better day for it.

The build-up felt like forever, and my nerves really made themselves known as we climbed higher and higher into the sky. I’d day it was about half anxiety and half excitement, but what else would you expect when planning to hurl yourself out of a plane?! The whole group of 7 or so guests + instructors smiled for their respective cameras at regular intervals between marveling at the gorgeous coastline view of Melbourne.

After a short delay, we had finally reached our optimal height… it was go time. Before any of us could speak now or forever hold our peace, the rolling door was flung up, and the first skydiver had his feet right off over the edge… and then he had disappeared.

From the first jump it was only about ten seconds between, and before I know it I was being scooted over to the edge. “Holy sh*t holy sh*t holy sh*t” was going on in my brain, but I didn’t have a chance to comprehend anything before my feet were over the edge too. My goggles were on; I was holding the straps like i was supposed to, and milliseconds later my instructor Kez and I flung into a head-first tumble out into the open air.

The Free Fall

I was supposed to keep my head back, but I couldn’t help but absolutely gape at the incredible views from a state of free-fall. An airy scream was coming out of my lungs before I got the chance to acknowledge it, and I looked side to side in a wide-eyed and adrenaline-fueled frenzy. Kez had to non-verbally remind me to keep my head back and then to put my arms out (which were basically the two things we needed to remember (doh), but all flew out the window the same time I did…. get it? 😛 )

I couldn’t contain my exhilaration at I screamed “YAAAAHHHHSS” at the top of my lungs, catching glimpses of my very favorite city skyline from a vantage point you couldn’t possibly attain any other way.

After 2.5 seconds nearly 50 seconds, I felt the big tug of the parachute, and a big high-five from Kez. We hadn’t died! We grabbed a few more awesome shots from the Go Pro on his wrist, pointed out various landmarks throughout the city (including Luna Park), spun in a few circles, and I wiggled my feet, watching the ground get nearer with thousands of feet of nothingness between them and it.

We looped in to landing, and gave one final high five as I shouted praise to the entire experience. I was on SUCH a high – such a massive adrenaline rush that had me feeling awesome for the rest of the day.

As I walked back to pick up my stuff, I gazed up into the clouds and saw the final few parachutes drifting down the the landing site. I had never felt so…. normal... just being on the boring old ground. Walking around just doesn’t seem the same anymore once you have flown through the clouds. This was a feeling I’d never had before – the fact that I could long for more than what gravity limited me to in the everyday.

Skydiving gave me a new perspective in both a literal and mental way, a new level of adventurous high, and to this day has me longing to try it again. It is the perfect way to face your fears, and let me warn you – it can get addictive.

Nest step in life: completing a solo skydiving course. I am soooooo serious – watch this space! 😀

July 31, 2019

6 Adventures in Vang Vieng Laos You Cannot Miss

6 Adventures in Vang Vieng Laos You Cannot Miss

Vang Vieng Laos was a paradise for alcohol and drug addicts just a few decades ago. Being the largest opium den in Asia, foreigners used to visit Vang Vieng just to spend time, drink alcohol and get wasted away. But after the government decided to step in, things have changed ever since.

Vang Vieng now became one of the most popular towns in Laos for tourists and backpackers seeking adventures. In this article, let’s talk about 5 Adventures in Vang Vieng, Laos you must have!

tubing adventures in vang vieng laos

Go Tubing Along Nam Song River

Nam Song River is the river where most tourist activities take place. And tubing is probably the best-known things to do in Vang Vieng, especially for backpackers. People used to bring bottles of beers for their hours-long tubing, but that’s rare now.

To avoid the crowd, go for the earliest session in the morning when most foreigners are still asleep. You can have all the river to yourself!

How does it work? First, you’ll be brought to a riverside far north by tuk-tuk. The operator will provide you a safety jacket (if you want one) and a red tube. A guide will lead the way in front and helps just in case anything happens. Tubing can last for 1-3 hours depending on your package.

After that, you’ll stop at a bar where people have their party. In the morning, it’s most quiet and less ‘noise’, you could basically enjoy the peace. You’ll get to enjoy your Lao whiskey bucket and unlimited zip-lining there for free.

How much is it? Depending on which company you registered with, you can get 1.5 hours tubing, free whiskey bucket, free zip-line, and free tuk-tuk transportation for 60,000 Kip (around $7).

pha poak viewpoint vang vieng

Hike Pha Poak Viewpoint

One of the most challenging short hikes in Vang Vieng Laos, Pha Poak Viewpoint is a perfect destination for those who have only a half day before the sun sets. Maybe you just spent your morning on mini-van from Luang Prabang or Vientiane and you don’t want to waste any more time on your Laos adventure itinerary.

The reason I’m saying this is because it only takes you 30 minutes to reach the entrance for Pha Poak Viewpoint from Vang Vieng town, and another 20 minutes to hike up to the peak.

Pha Poak Viewpoint has the most unique view in Vang Vieng, with one side overlooking the town and another side surrounded by massive limestone karsts. While the hike isn’t beginner-friendly, due to the sharp-jagged limestone, it’s still approachable if you take it slowly.

The entrance fee would be 10,000 Kip (around $1.25) per person. Pay a visit to Lusi Cave, which is located on the hill too. You can also take an organized tour.

Enjoy Panoramic View at Pha Poung Kham Cliff Viewpoint

Pha Poung Kham Cliff Viewpoint is probably one of the most underrated adventures in Vang Vieng. It offers almost the same epic panoramic view on the surrounding limestone karsts and farms as the more well-known Nam Xay Viewpoint.

The entrance itself does not look appealing at all, which is why the view on the peak punches you so hard in the face. The granny in charge at the entrance later told me that this is the best hike in Vang Vieng Laos, we couldn’t agree more.

According to the signboard, it only takes 15 minutes to reach the peak, but it’s almost impossible. We took 30 minutes ascending to the hut at the peak, and spent an hour enjoying the view and moo sounds from the cows at the farms hundreds of meters below us.

It takes around 45 minutes motorbike ride from Vang Vieng town and can be visited any time of the day, though I recommend visiting in the morning or evening.

zipline vang vieng laos blue lagoon

Zip-lining in Blue Lagoon 3

What’s more fun than swimming and chilling around in a lagoon beside massive limestone hills? Blue Lagoon 3 is an hour drive outside of Vang Vieng town, offering free zip-lines upon entrance, kayaks, tubes, bamboo rafts, and a whole lot more!

Due to its far location, it’s less popular for tourists. Therefore, you get to enjoy a more peaceful swim under the shades. Facilities are also very well-maintained there, with campfires and lots of small huts for a picnic.

There’s a small restaurant there, but the food is slightly more expensive and of a smaller portion. Buy some sandwiches from the town, and ride a motorbike there to cool off your exhausted body after the long bumpy ride! Lots of people had a dilemma when it comes to deciding between Blue Lagoon 1 and 3. But I’d go for Blue Lagoon 3 at any time because of the smaller crowds and better facilities.

The entrance fee to Blue Lagoon 3 is 10,000 Kip per person, which is amazingly cheap for all the facilities. You’ll have to pay extra for the safety jackets, but those are not compulsory. Blue Lagoon 3 is probably the best adventure you can do in Vang Vieng Laos!

vang vieng laos buggy cars

Rent a Buggy Car For A Wild Ride

Buggy cars are the best option if you’re sick of the bumpy dirt roads and not sensitive on your pocket. Wherever motorbikes can go, buggy cars can bring you there – Nam Xay Viewpoint, Blue Lagoon 3, you name it.

Buggy cars rental are usually charged on an hourly basis, but the longer you rent, the better rate you get. Be sure to check the cars before getting excited and riding off into the wild.

I’ve seen buggy cars broken down in the middle of the road outside Vang Vieng town. All they can do is wait for help, as it’s a bit technical to deal with.
There are a lot of rental offices for buggy cars all over the town, so you’ll never have difficulty finding one. Rent yours from more established companies for a better-quality assurance.

Watching The Sunset From Hot Air Balloon

Here’s the most expensive attraction in Vang Vieng. Surrounded by massive limestone hills all around, there’s no better place in Laos for a hot air balloon ride.

The hot air balloons take off in the evening an hour before the sun sets, so passengers will get to enjoy the birds eye’s view on the town after their worn-out day.

While the seats can be quite limited, be sure to book early once you arrive in Vang Vieng. Most travel agencies and hostels will have a booking service, and the price is around $90 per person. Pretty expensive, yeah, but it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience for some!

6 adventures in vang vieng, Laos not to miss on your trip to one of the most underrated countries in Southeast Asia!

Pin this guide to the best adventures in Vang Vieng Laos if you enjoyed it! 

Are You Ready For Your Adventures in Vang Vieng Laos?

Here are the 6 best adventures you can do in Vang Vieng. Feel free to comment below if you have more suggestions and tips for visiting. Til next time, happy traveling and hope you enjoyed reading!

Thanks for the guest post, Yen!

Yen (pictured above)  is a full-time university student who always takes full advantages of his holidays to travel for new experiences. He’s been to New Zealand for 6 months, volunteered in Nepal, worked in the US, and backpacked Southeast Asia countries. Having spent months in foreign countries, he gives in-depth travel tips and guides in his travel blog, Swing Abroad.

Blog: Swing Abroad
Instagram: swingabroad 

May 7, 2019

8 Outdoor Adventures in San Francisco to Explore Like a Local

8 Outdoor Adventures in San Francisco to Explore Like a Local

With San Francisco being one of the most diverse and exciting cities I’ve been fortunate enough to live in, it is nearly impossible to narrow down the best  adventures in San Francisco to just 8! There is so much to do in this City By the Bay.

But, with the goal of giving you an overview of the best of the best adventures you have to experience in San Francisco, I’ve narrowed it down to my 8 favorites.

The city’s incredible location in Northern California provides for pretty great and mild weather year-round (even if it’s usually foggy), which is perfect for explorations around the city.

Here are a few of my favorite adventures to have in San Francisco, whether it’s your first time visiting the city or you’ve lived here for years.  

Walk Across the Golden Gate Bridge

A staple activity for visitors and locals alike, a walk (or bike ride) across the Golden Gate Bridge will not disappoint!

The bridge spans about a mile across the mouth of the San Francisco Bay and is one of the most iconic landmarks in the whole world. It will likely take you longer than you think to make your way across due to the endless photo opportunities, history, and the great views you’ll be absorbing as you go.

alcatraz prison adventures in san francisco

Take a Tour of Alcatraz

A piece of living history that really comes to life when you take a tour, former military prison, Alcatraz is certainly a San Francisco experience you won’t forget anytime soon!

The official Alcatraz tour includes a ferry ride out and back from the island in the opening of the Bay, with a complete audio tour that lets your mind wander just enough to think, “did that cell door move or was it just my imagination?”.

To really get your money’s worth, do a night tour of the former prison. The eerie feeling and faint creaks are even more haunting when the cells are dark and there’s no more sunlight illuminating the hallways. It’s utterly spooky.

BYOB…W?

Hit the slopes San Francisco-style and Bring Your Own Big Wheel to Potrero Hill for some old-fashion fun!

This event is a SF tradition and on its 19th year now, where families, friends, strangers, hippies, hipsters, yopros, techies, and fellow commuters come together to race “big wheels,” aka plastic tricycles, down one of San Francisco’s snaking streets.

The event is free to watch but charges a small fee if you want to actually participate (which they almost guarantee will lead to an injury so – race at your own risk). The best part of this event is the costumes – most of the participants dress up both themselves and their trikes!

polar bear freeze swim san francisco

Swim in the Bay (Polar Bear Swim)

Have you ever swam in frigid Northern California waters?

Most people wear a wetsuit when they decide to brave the ~55℉ brisk, ocean waters. For those wanting to take it to the next level and really get a jump start to your day, hop in the bay for a polar bear swim!

Not sure what it entails? Traditionally, it means stripping down to your bathing suit and hopping into a nearly freezing body of water (think Canada or New York in the winter), usually as a fundraiser.

But no one said you can’t do the polar plunge on your own, and believe me when I say that San Francisco waters are certainly cold enough! It would be one of the most daring adventures in San Francisco for sure.

Join in the Fun at Bay to Breakers

Bay to Breakers is the city’s annual foot race that goes throughout San Francisco. It started in 1912 as a way to boost morale and reunite the city after the devastating 1906 earthquake.

Today, it is much the same as it was when it first started and has really become a city-wide, even Bay Area-wide event.

People come from all over to participate in Bay to Breakers – in one way or another. Costumes are highly encouraged if you’re in town for this event. Both runners and sideline enthusiasts alike spend weeks coming up with the best costumes – a true testament to the unique, zaney diversity of San Francisco!

READ
75 Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip Stops for the Off-the-Beaten-Path Explorer
twin peaks san francisco

Watch the Sunset from Twin Peaks

Offering one of the most incredible views in the city is Twin Peaks, the highest point in San Francisco. This spot has 360 degree views of the city and surrounding Bay Area, and is spectacular to visit at any time of the day, but especially at sunset.

Bring a warm jacket and a blanket to cozy up under (it’s windy up there!), and be mesmerized as the warm, orange or pink sky turns a darker shade of blue and the city lights get brighter and brighter.

Catch a Giants game from a Kayak

A great way to get to know a new city is to watch a beloved local sports teams play. In San Francisco’s case, that would be the Giants!

Of course getting stadium tickets is always a fun way to watch a ball game, but San Francisco has its own funny tradition when it comes to the Giants.

The stadium is located right along the Embarcadero waterfront and right next to a small cove, providing a perfect view of the jumbotron screen and a perfect spot to catch a fly ball heading out of the stadium!

Rent a few kayaks with friends and join the small crowd that gathers there for nearly every single Giants game. You can stock your kayak with a few shareables, some warm layers, and waterproof tunes for a guaranteed good time and one of the bet adventures in San Francisco. 

Dinner at a Japanese Bathhouse

For a cultural adventure, enjoy an evening at a Japanese Bathhouse in San Francisco’s Japantown. These bathhouses feature beautiful communal baths where you can enjoy a long and relaxing soak before cleaning up and dressing for dinner.

This is truly a one-of-a-kind experience, and one that even many locals haven’t taken the opportunity to enjoy.

Dinners at the bathhouses usually feature a spin on traditional Japanese cuisine and drinks that will leave you wanting more (or booking another reservation immediately). Most of the bathhouses offer acupuncture and massages as well!

READ
Big Sur, California - Adventure & Sunset Guide
8 Outdoor adventures in San Francisco to explore like a local

Don’t forget to Pin this post so you can remember all the adventures in San Francisco! 

These 8 unique and classic adventures in San Francisco should give you a good idea of where to start when it comes to exploring San Francisco like a local in an adventurous way.

If you’re looking for more ideas on how to spend your time in the city, or in California as a whole, don’t forget to check out my bucket list post on the top places to visit in Northern California as well.

mini mcfadden travel blogger

Author’s Bio: Mimi McFadden is a travel blogger and freelance writer. Originally from California, she has been slow traveling the world since 2013. When she’s not writing, you can probably find her sipping on a pint of craft beer, chasing waterfalls, or planning her next adventure in a foreign land.

After living abroad for five years in Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Greece, and Portugal she has finally found a home in San Francisco, California. You can find her on Instagram, Facebook, and her blog, The Atlas Heart

 

May 5, 2019

Visiting Kravice Waterfalls, Bosnia and Herzegovina: All You Need to Know

Visiting Kravice Waterfalls, Bosnia and Herzegovina: All You Need to Know

Kravice waterfalls are an incredible waterfall system about an hour outside of Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina. They’re also about 2.5 hours from Dubrovnik, Croatia, and an ideal day trip from either Mostar or Dubrovnik. Some people say that Kravice falls are the best waterfalls they have ever seen, and you’ll understand why when you see them for yourself.

Kravice waterfalls are yet another famous waterfall view in the Balkans, and surely the best waterfalls in Bosnia and Herzegovina. They are special because you can swim in them and climb around the rock pools and waterfall systems that comprise it.

The Best time to Visit Kravice Waterfalls

If you read my Mostar Travel Guide below, you’ll notice that I recommend visiting Mostar and surrounding areas in off-peak summer months due to extreme heat during July and August. The best time to visti Mostar, Kravice Falls, and surrounding points of intererst would be May, early June, late September, or October to get away from the crowds and heat!

Before We Start, Here are a Few Other Articles You May be Interested in:

guide to visiting kravice waterfalls bosnia and herzegovina - all you need to know before you travel to kravice falls.

Pin this guide to visiting Kravice waterfalls to your Pinterest boards! 

Getting to Kravice Waterfalls

The best way to get to Kravice waterfalls is either driving yourself or taking an organized tour.

Driving Yourself to Kravice Waterfalls

You can rent a car from Mostar or Dubrovnik for visiting Kravice waterfalls. I rented a car from Sixt in Croatia which allowed me to cross different Balkan borders with ease and a much better price than Enterprise. Check rentalcars.com to find the price that works best for you. Once on the road, it’s quite easy to direct yourself to Kravice falls and locate the parking lot – just follow a map and/or signs on the roads.

Kravice Waterfalls Tours

There are many tours from  both Dubrovnik and Mostar that visit Kravice waterfalls. Taking organized tours can sometimes be a lot easier because you don’t have to worry about directions, and you receive a guide who informs you about all the history and tips for visiting each point of interest. That means you don’t have to spend time researching and googling – your guide knows all (usually)!

Here are a few organized tours you can take to Kravice Waterfalls:

Taxi to Kravice Waterfalls

You could technically take a taxi from Mostar to Kravice waterfalls if you want, but you would pay much less to do an entire day tour that visits other points of interest in Herzegovina as well. Tours from Mostar start from 35 Euro, vs the cost of an hour long cab ride…. well, the choice is obvious.

kravice waterfalls bosnia and herzegovina

My first trip to Kravice waterfalls, circa 2016.

Arriving at Kravice Falls

The parking lot is up quite a large hill from the waterfalls, and costs 2KM/hr or 6KM/day. You must pay 10KM to get into the park (June-September) and 8KM the rest of the year.

There is a tram you can take up and down a winding road from the parking lot to Kravice waterfalls for 2 euro per person each direction. Or, you can simply walk down a few sets of stairs and around a bend or two. Any able-bodied person should be able to walk down with ease, and then make the determination after walking down whether you’re capable of walking up or want to take the tram up to the parking lot again.

Note that the tram picks up and drops off from a different location than the walking trail. The tram stops at a parking lot on the opposite side of the waterfalls, whereas you’ll emerge right next to them if you walk.

What to do at Kravice Waterfalls

There are lot of places at Kravice Falls to lay in the sun, enjoy an ice cream, or spend an afternoon relaxing. But for me the most obvious choice is to swim, of course! Don’t be discouraged by the slightly chilled temperature of the water; you’ll get used to it quickly and the waterfalls are worth a closer look for the adventurous type!

Changing Rooms

You will see small tarps at the bottom of the slope after walking down to the water – they are big advertisements that disguise small changing spaces (they don’t look like changing rooms at first glance, but they are!). These are much easier spaces to change if you are not already wearing swimming clothes.

Getting into the Water

If you have a waterproof camera, take it with you here – there are some great shots to be taken. They have recently added in a floating lane line-type barrier around the falls, which I assume is to deter people from climbing up into them (you could do it freely before). However, people (myself included) still climbed up to explore the falls more closely without problem. I don’t want to suggest what is right either way, I just know that it its there but people were still climbing.

Climbing Nearer to the Waterfalls

It is possible to climb up some rocks and get closer to most of the waterfalls in the near-semi-circular formation of Kravice waterfalls. Just make sure that if you are going to explore, you proceed with extra caution and stay safe. It’s EXTREMELY slippery and the water is extremely powerful.

That being said, there are lots of mini rock pools, great views, and waterfalls to sit underneath at Kravice waterfalls. They’re so picturesque and with dozens of individual waterfalls, there is a lot to explore.

BalkanTrip18MostarHerzegovina-120

What it looks lie to swim in the chilled waters of Kravice waterfalls 

Best Places to Take Photos of Kravice Falls

Even if you don’t want to swim too close, there are plenty of places to take great photos of Kravice Waterfalls. The best places are:

  • Across the river from the main entry point, on the dirt bank you’ll see a flat area across the water away from the restaurants. You can get closer to the falls this way and get a good angle of all of them.
  • From the railing of the restaurant, about half way back from the stairs entry point towards the tram drop-off point (this will make sense when you see it!).

If you want to get photos without tons of people in them, make sure to get as close as you can to the water. However, as the falls are as picturesque as can be either way, any photo will be great!

Restaurants at Kravice Waterfalls

There are a few restaurants bordering the water, all with views of the Kravice waterfalls. They will all serve different local Bosnian – Croatian fusion fare, like cevapi, sausage, steak, and chicken with fries/veggies. They are a great place to relax and have a meal after a swim, still with a great view of the Kravice falls.

What to Pack for Kravice Waterfalls

  • Swim Suit
  • Change of Clothes
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses
  • Hat
  • Comfortable Shoes
  • Towel/Sarong to dry off and lay on for sunbathing
  • Camera/Waterproof camera/waterproof phone case
  • Cash for entrance, tram, and snacks/food

Final Tips for Kravice Waterfalls

  • Grab an iced cream from one of the restaurants and relax for a bit in the sun, people-watching and enjoying the water. It’s perfect for a hot day!
  • If you are fairly young and fit, use the walking trail to get down to the falls – it’s fairly easy. Then you can take the tram back up to get all perspectives of the area.
  • They offer boat trips on the water at certain times of year for people who don’t want to swim, and they can even go down to view a smaller waterfall downstream called Mala Kravice.
  • Lastly, I would highly recommend a trip to Kravice Falls with a few other amazing points of interest in the area, such as Pocitelj castle and Blagaj Springs (and Mostar if you are coming from Croatia!). There are many more amazing sights in the area that are very close by. See my article on Things to do in Mostar for more information on taking a trip from Mostar, or my article on Day Trips from Dubrovnik to learn about how to see more from Dubrovnik.
kravice waterfalls adventures herzegovina

April 24, 2019

The Best View in Bali: Bali Helicopter Ride with AirBali

The Best View in Bali: Bali Helicopter Ride with AirBali

Doing a Bali helicopter ride was probably the best decision I made while there. I only had a short time in Bali, so I wanted to get a feel for as much of it as I could as quickly as possible. And, what better way to do that than from the air?! This is true in most beautifully scenic places you can go, and especially true in Bali. Seeing the island from the sky gave me a true feel for it and its different parts, and allowed me to see the best view in Bali in just under 35 minutes.

Air Bali does quite a few different helicopter rides, from quick 30 minute southern island tours (what I did) to tours all the way to the Volcano or over to Lombok. One day I hope to do them all! But because it was my first time in Bali, I was stoked to get to know the main touristy areas and southern peninsula from a few hundred meters above.

Wondering how to find the best view in Bali? It's from the air! MY Bali helicopter ride was the best way to see the entire island in under an hour - from rice paddies to cliffs to temples to beaches! #bali #indonesia #travel
But first, Pin this Air Bali helicopter review to your Pinterest boards! 

I was lucky enough to sit in the front seat, an even more excited when I realized that this was a ‘glass bottom’ helicopter of sorts – or, at least a bit of the front floor of the helicopter was see-through. I was already taking photos in my mind as I realized how cool my bare feet looked in front of a transparent floor. I got ALL my cameras ready, and watched in awe as the pilot expertly flipped millions of knobs and switches before lifting us gently off the ground and into the air. Did I mention Air Bali has a perfect safety record?! I mean, I would hope they would, but this is important to note!

From our takeoff point, we first cut through the air directly towards the eastern beaches, before veering slightly north. We spent the first part of the Bali helicopter ride flying over miles of beautiful rice paddies, which extended in every possible direction. I knew about the Bali rice paddies, but nothing could have prepared me for how breathtaking they would be not only in person, but from the sky.

bali helicopter ride rice paddies best view in bali
Ride Paddies 

It’s like they’re such a bright shade of green it’s almost fluorescent, each rising above the next in perfect succession. The small pools of water among the green blades simmered in the sunlight as we passed overhead, presenting a little bit of a different view with each passing second.

Next, we flew over to the Tanah Lot Temple, which juts out on a rock just off the coast. We could see the tiny dots of people gathered all around it posing for photos, but we knew we had the best view of all, and totally unobstructed! We made a few loops to provide all the best viewing angles, before moving on to head down the coast.

tanah lot temple from the sky bali helicopter ride airbali
Tanah Lot Temple

Next we flew from the Tanah Lot temple all the way down the coast to the Denpasar Airport. We spent time hovering more slowly at higher altitudes to have longer perspectives of the coast, and also much closer to the surf. One of my favorite parts of the Bali helicopter ride was when we sped down the coast fairly fast, just a few dozen meters above the waves, and waved at the surfers as we went by! Everyone waved back, and it was a pretty cool moment to fly right over their heads.

go pro bali helicopter ride

bali helicopter ride best views in bali beach boats

Waving at the surfers // coming up to the airport 

After waiting a few minutes for a plane to take off from the Bali airport, it was time to check out the southern tip of the peninsula. This is where all the more idyllic white sand beaches are clear blue water are, and we could quickly tell when we saw the first bright white strip of sand in the distance.

We cruised over lots of these white strips of beach and watched as the landscape turned from relatively flat to green and cliffy, with each beach’s cliffs a bit higher than the previous one. This is the part of Bali that is photographed for the coastal scenes – and for good reason, too! The cliffs grew taller and the water clearer until we reached the pinnacle of our trip – the Uluwatu temple!

The Uluwatu temple is perched on a massive cliff, towering over a pristine surf break below. It’s one of the most popular (and remote) tourist destinations in Bali, and lucky for us we got to get super close in just 15 minutes! We circled it a few times, taking in the views of the greenery, temple, and bright blue water hundreds of feet below.

bali veaches from the sky waves breaking bali helicopter

bali cliff beaches inlets

Some amazing cliff + beach views

(Another) one of my favorite parts of the journey was flying over the crazy cliffs and tiny beach inlets just next to the Uluwatu temple. It’s hard for me to find the proper words to describe this bit, but I think the photos will do it more justice: simply incredible. Around this part of the island were also some of the most incredible accommodations and properties. We saw cliffside resorts, massive villas, and even a clear pod hotel right on the southernmost beaches. Trust me, I set some accom goals for my future Bali trips 😉

After that we flew over the GWK Cultural Park, which just so happened to be hosting the music festival that I was at the night prior. It was breathtaking to be able to see the massive stages from above, which has just been towering over my head and emitting loads of lasers and confetti the night before. The Cultural park is a super interesting place, with massive cliffs cut out to walkways below. It’s at the base of what is most likely the largest and most famous statue of Bali as well, visible from pretty much all over the island in the center of the southern peninsula. After checking out the festival stages we got right up close and personal  wit the statue, seemingly within an arm’s reach of the opulent figure and its fanning wings.

BaliHelicopterRide-1-2

See the stages? Those were FULL of people the night before! 

The last views we had were over the Nusa Dua and Benoa Bay  beaches, which are known for having calm water and tons of waterspouts. We checked out a few more stupidly gorgeous resorts (excuse my language but trust me, it’s appropriate! 😛 ) as well, with huge towers looking over infinity pools looking over the beach. We saw people riding banana boats and wakeboards, creating small white streaks as they glided over the smooth water.

As we came over the final stretch of the loop and back to the heli pad, we had to pick our jaws up off the floor and try to process all the beauty we had just seen. I was spastically switching between my Go Pro, DSLR, and phone for IG stories the entire time, never being swift enough to fully capture each moment before the next. I think I managed to get some good stuff, however – enough to convince you that a Bali helicopter ride if the best way to see the island?! I hope so!

benoa bay watersports beaches bali helicopter views

 

go pro selfie bali helicopter

Thanks to AirBali for hosting me on this amazing Bali helicopter tour! All words are completely my own and I adored the trip.

January 7, 2019

The 5 Best Adventurous Places to Visit in the Philippines

The 5 Best Adventurous Places to Visit in the Philippines

The Philippines is one of the best places you could find yourself on vacation. This Southeast Asian country is full of many sites and some of the most breathtaking natural scenery you’ll ever come across. The country is actually made up of more than 7,000 islands. This already tells you that there are some amazing beaches to look forward to and incredible places to visit in the Phillipines. However, if you’re in the mood for more unique holiday adventures, there are plenty of options to choose from.

Although often fames for relaxing beaches, there are tons of Phillipines adventures to be had as well. These 5 adventurous places to visit in the Phillipines will be sure to ignite your wanderlust - from diving through shipwrecks and climbing mountains to boating between islands. #phillipines #adventure #southeastasia #asia #travel

Pin this to remember the best adventurous places to visit in the Phillipines! (Pictured: Mt Pulag!)

Climb Mt Pulag in Luzon

You can start your quest for adventure by trekking up to the highest peak in Luzon, Mt Pulag. This climb will provide just the right sort of challenge for those who enjoy mountain hikes. You will have to battle both windy weather and the freezing temperatures to achieve the ultimate reward, reaching the summit of the tallest peak in Luzon and one of the most amazing adventurous places to visit in the Phillipines.

There are three different trails to choose from with different levels of difficulty. Akiki and Ambangeg are generally considered the less punishing options, while Vizcaya is a favorite for the more seasoned trekkers. The climb isn’t just about the punishing trek– the sunrise once you reach the peak is absolutely beautiful and makes it well worth the effort.

Take the Plunge at Danao Adventure Park

If climbing isn’t your thing, then perhaps you’ll enjoy falling instead! Of course, you’ll be doing so while safely secured, but that won’t make it any less thrilling. Danao Adventure Park offers a wide range of activities that will satisfy most thrill-seekers.

You can take part in activities such as caving, rappelling, kayaking, and rock climbing. However, a favorite for many visitors is ‘The Plunge’. This canyon swing has you free-falling from a 200-meter-high gorge before swinging in a gorge 300 meters wide. This is one adventure that visitors find as thrilling as it is terrifying.

El Nido Phillipines adventures drone shot places tp visit in the phillipines island beaches

El Nido is one of the most famous places to visit in the Phillipines for beautiful islands

Do an El Nido Boat Trip

With so many islands making up the country, it’s only natural that one of the favorite activities for those visiting the Philippines is island hopping. The El Nido Boat Trips provide an excellent means for doing this. There are many different boat tours that you can choose from, and each is unique. Some include kayaking, some go to lagoons and beaches, and some go to islands and coves. 

El Nido is surrounded by many smaller islands, and these islands have a lot of unique attractions, including beautiful sandy beaches, coral species, and sites where you can go snorkeling. Some of the islands are incredibly well preserved, allowing you to experience nature at its most pristine.

These boat tours are conveniently packaged to allow you to experience what different parts of the islands have to offer in a reasonable period of time. You can go on different tours on different days, and the experience will not get old. Make sure to read up on things to know before visiting El Nido, first! 

Explore Palawan’s Subterranean River and Cave

If you can only do one thing during your time in the Philippines, visiting the Puerto Princesa River on the island of Palawan is an adventure you won’t regret. This is the longest underground river in the world that’s navigable, and it was named one of the ‘New 7 Wonders of Nature’.

Puerto Princesa flows under the St Paul Mountain Range, passing through 8.2 km of a complex and beautiful cave system before flowing out into the sea. The trip is taken on small boats with only a headlamp lighting the way, but this adds to the experience as you hear the sound of bats, swallows, and dripping water. The cave system has many different features, including giant rocks shaped like cathedrals and limestone spindles, making it one of the most thrilling places to visit in the Phillipines.

Visitors are only taken around 4km into the cave, but you can apply for a permit if you want to explore the entire length of the river. Going the whole length of the river will require some swimming, but it could be well worth it if you’re looking for adventure on your trip to the Philippines! Check tours here.

Coron, Phillipines wreck diving adventure

Coron from above

Wreck Dive in Coron

Scuba diving is a great adventure on its own, but when you throw in a few wrecks from the Second World War, you now have a proper adventure. In the Philippines, Coron in Palawan is the perfect place to do this. Several wrecks from WWII can be found in this location, and you can experience what it’s like to swim through the dark relics of the war with only a torch to light your way.

This experience is quite surreal, but perhaps not for the claustrophobic. Different species of fish and other animals have since turned these spaces into habitats, so expect to come across a few while moving through the pitch black areas. It’s a good idea to take diving lessons first if you’re new to this sort of thing, or just do a regular (non-scuba) tour that visits shallow wrecks. While maybe scary, it’s still one of the best places to visit in the Phillipines. You can also easily get from El Nido to Coron by ferry.

All of these activities can be a great way to spend a day on your trip to the Philippines. Be prepared to catch a few plane rides if you want to see them all. However, flights within the Philippines are cheap, so it’s easily doable.

Thanks for the Guest Post and photos, Renee! 

renee hyde digital nomad

Renee Hyde is a digital nomad who blogs about travel destinations, travel hacks, and ways to work remotely and travel. She can be found at Renee the Wanderess or on Pinterest.

 

January 2, 2019

The Ultimate California Road Trip Itinerary: Cities, Coast, & National Parks

The Ultimate California Road Trip Itinerary: Cities, Coast, & National Parks

Does the ultimate California road trip actually exist? Is it possible to fit all of this extraordinary state into a singular looped route? Well, guys, after living here my whole life and driving countless hours all over the state, I think I have done it with this California road trip itinerary right here.

This California road trip itinerary incorporates the BIG cities (Los Angeles and San Francisco), the whole Pacific Coast Highway, some smaller towns along Highway 1 (Laguna Beach, Malibu, Santa Barbara, SLO, Big Sur, Monterey/Carmel, Santa Cruz, Point Reyes, Fort Bragg, and more), and all the epic and drool-worthy California State + National Parks as well (Yosemite, Sequoia, Death Valley, Big Sur, and more).

This California road trip route is a loop, so you can start and end wherever you want! At the bottom, I have included an optional add-on of San Diego/Southern California and some cool California National Parks down there also. There are so many California road trip ideas… As Will Ferrell once said, SO MUCH room for ACTIVITIES!

My California road trip itinerary is a bit more freestyle – e.g. I won’t be telling you how many days in each place and where exactly to stay the night. Instead, I will make suggestions of things to, places to stay, and the number of days at each of the California road trip stops, and let you decide for yourself what’s best for you! So basically, you can choose your own adventure!

Some people may want more time in LA and San Francisco, some may want a whole week in Yosemite or other National Parks, and some may prefer the smaller, off-the-beaten-path road trip stops to stay the night and take in the nature.

Whichever way is right for you, I am confident these California Road Trip ideas will help you plan the perfect trip! I’m already feeling all giddy inside because I can’t wait for your awesome adventure in my beautiful home state 🙂

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The perfect California road trip including absolutely all the things to do in California in a choose-your-own-adventure style. Do all of these California Road Trip ideas or just a few, it's up to you! From La + San Francisco To Yosemite and Joshua Tree to Pacific Coast Highway, this itinerary has you covered.

Pin this post so you can save this California road trip itinerary!

California Road Trip Tips to Know Before You Go

For the sake of starting somewhere, this California road trip itinerary will start in Los Angeles and go inland/north. It might be best to take this entire article as California road trip ideas and choose what you like best. But, a few things to consider before your trip are:

Getting to California

If you’re driving – sweet. If visiting from afar, you’ll most likely have to fly. The main hubs are Los Angeles (LAX) and San Francisco (SFO). Either are great, because this route is a loop! Check for the best flight rates to Los Angeles here and to San Francisco here! 

Make sure to always book travel insurance and yourUSA ESTA visa also before your trip, if coming internationally.

Transportation

So obviously you kinda need a vehicle to do a California road trip… duh. And unless you have a friend with a car, you’re going to have to rent something. My go-to would be to use RentalCars.com California because they compare the prices of all different rental car companies, giving you the best price for sure. I would try to rent a car with a good amount of space and preferably a 4wd… snow tires would be good in the winter just in case.

Your other option would be to Rent an RV in California. This could have MANY benefits, including saving you on accommodation costs everywhere you go (besides cheap campground fees). This could potentially be a road trip game changer and money saver, and you could make your new home on wheels into a cozy space. That is, if you don’t want to check out some of the awesome hotels in California. Up to you!

Time of Year

The time of year may dictate roads you can and cannot take on your California road trip, especially in the Sierra Nevada mountains (Yosemite/Sequoia National Parks). Make sure to check Caltrans for road conditions when you drive. Summer is obviously going to be a lot easier, but more crowded. In winter, you may need chains to drive in some places in the mountains, but the coast will be OK.

Weather

Snow flurries sometimes still happen in April in the mountains (Yosemite/Sequoia etc), and rain may make certain hilly roads more difficult. Sometimes June and July are not the best times to visit the California coast, because of dense fog we get in the summer (‘June gloom’).

But, California is known for its perfect weather basically always. Just (common sense) make sure to be wary of the weather! September and October are actually still great times to travel in California.

Direction

I assume you will start your California road trip from LA or SF if you are flying in, but it depends if you want to do beaches and coasts first, or remote mountains/desert + nature first. Do whatever suits you!

But I must point out, when you drive south from San Francisco, your car is closer to the water on your Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip. This itinerary works in the way I most recommend – that starting in LA, doing national parks and nature first, then going through SF to the beaches and coasts.

READ
75 Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip Stops for the Off-the-Beaten-Path Explorer
Traffic

In California, traffic is a huge factor. This is unfortunate but true, and you will definitely feel me on this in LA and SF at the very least. Leave yourself more time if you are driving on a weekday mid-afternoon or morning, especially in the cities!

And, without further ado… let’s begin!

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Art in Venice Beach

California Road Trip: Los Angeles

Days: 1-4

No California road trip is complete without a stop in the city of Angels. Whether you are a city person or not, there is something for you! I lived in LA for almost five years during college, and in that time I got to know it pretty well.

If you’re a city person, downtown LA and Hollywood might be for you. If you’re a hiker, head to the Pacific Palisades or Griffith Park. For the beach bums, check out Venice Beach or Malibu. If you love to be touristy, go to the Santa Monica Pier and do a Big Bus tour. If you like to get off the beaten track, there are smaller boroughs of LA that have more of a small town vibe.

I know what you might be thinking – this is SO MUCH to consider! There’s so much going on in LA, and it’s a massively big city with so many different aspects. Well, it turns out I have another post that can help you with your LA specifics:

READ
50 Amazing Los Angeles Day Trips to Satisfy Every Travel Craving

This post goes through all different aspects of LA – like nature, trendy, artsy, small-town, big city, and beachy – and suggests different locations to check out to find the vibe you’re after. Give it a read and you’ll surely be able to zone in on what LA areas and activities you will like for your California road trip.

If you are a lover of great views – whether you want to hike or drive to them – you may also like to check out the 8 Best Views in Los Angeles (ranked by yours truly).

Los Angeles in a Nutshell

But, for the sake of time and a few smaller California road trip ideas, I will give a few recommendations to see the best of LA. But, these are just the main stops I would recommend, and merely scratch the surface. Remember to check out the post above for MUCH more!

      • Universal Studios – A must in LA for theme park/film lovers
      • Santa Monica Pier – touristy, but great classic LA views
      • Venice Beach – you must visit muscle beach, check out the skate park, shop along the boardwalk, and check out great street art. There’s a beautiful boardwalk that goes all the way between Santa Monica and Venice, which is great to run, walk, or bike. You can also take an electric bike, or segway this boardwalk if you want! 😛 There’s nothing wrong with going full tourist once in a while, right?
      • Los Angeles Sightseeing Hop on Hop Off – the best way to see the most sights in LA fastest
      • Hollywood Sign Hike/Griffith Observatory – Definitely check out the Hollywood Hills while there. You can hike to the Hollywood sign, check out Griffith Observatory, or do the classic LA Runyon Canyon walk. Also available are guided Hollywood Hills hikes and Griffith Park Hikes so you don’t have to worry about trail maps.
      • Hollywood Walk of Fame – walk along Hollywood Blvd and see which names you know on the stars! I always take visitors to LA here, its iconic and still fun even for me.
      • Go Los Angeles Card – if you are looking to visit theme parks, aquariums, museums, and check out different celebrity/studio tours, this card may be for you. It includes a LOT of main attractions and could save you money if that’s what you are into.
      • Downtown LA – Downtown, although not classically the ‘city center’ of LA, is pretty cool to check out. This is where ll the tall buildings are. You can check out Pershing Square, go shopping on Santee Alley, or visit Perch rooftop bar (or The Standard! both have great views).
      • Getty Museum – This is my favorite view in LA. The museum is cool, but I think the amazing architecture and design make this one of my favorite places in LA. You would have to pay to park, but entrance is free.

Got limited time? You can also see LA’s highlights on a private day tour.

Where to Stay in Los Angeles

Picking out where to stay in LA on your California Road trip is definitely hard!

Because LA is such a stupidly HUGE city with bad traffic, I oftentimes recommend to people to spend a few nights in Venice/Santa Monica to do the beach stuff, then spend a few nights in Hollywood or downtown to do the hills and celebrity/big city stuff. Here are some ideas!

Airbnb: LA is an obvious place to rent a super cool airbnb. You can find these all over the city, on the beach, in the Hollywood Hills, and more. You know my recommendations regarding what areas to stay in, so check here on Airbnb LA to see if any work for your dates.

Hostels: There are some great hostel options in LA for my backpackers out there. This one in downtown is incredible, this one is right on Venice Beach, and this one is good in Hollywood. Depends what you want, but here are the rest!

Hotels: Where to even begin in Los Angeles?! I’m not sure, so I’ll let you compare all the options and prices here –  type in “Hollywood” or “Santa Monica” if you know what vibe you’re after.

 

California Road Trip: Death Valley National Park

(NOTE: Scroll to the bottom of this post to see the “Southern California Add-On” to this road trip – if you would like to include Orange Country, San Diego, Anza Borrego State Park, Joshua Tree National Park, and/or Palm Springs to your trip in between LA and Death Valley. I excluded them for the sake of time but included all the info you need at the bottom.

Days: 1-2

Distance: 260 miles

Time: 4-5 hours (heavily dependent on LA traffic and road conditions/time of year)

Route: After Los Angeles, you can visit Death Valley next on your California national park road trip. You will first be heading east, towards the Californian deserts and Nevada. You’ll end up on the 178 to get into the National Park, which is near the eastern border of California.

Death Valley in a Nutshell

Death Valley is best known for its rugged desert landscapes, amazing geological formations, and sand dunes. Essentially, if you ask me, it’s a photographer’s paradise!

Death Valley is beautiful for getting out into nature and experiencing the unforgiving desert in contrast to the concrete jungle of Lost Angeles. It actually contains America’s lowest point of elevation – 282m below sea level – even while being between two mountain ranges (one of which contains the highest mountain in the lower 48). It can get very hot in the summer!

Where to Stay in Death Valley:

Camping – Many people choose to camp at Death Valley. As it is a National Park there are a few different sites available to camp, get out into the elements, and maybe do some stargazing!

Hotels: For hotels, the best places to get a hotel are Panamint Springs, Stovepipe Wells, and Furnace Creek.

The Ranch at Death Valley (4 star) and The Inn at Death Valley (5 star) are both clear standouts as they are closest in proximity to the park (and comfortable/beautiful/wellness options). If you’re after a cheaper option, the Panamint Springs Motel + Camping is more affordable and nearer the road you are entering from.

Compare prices and see what’s best for you out of these Death Valley Hotels.

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If you look closely, you can see the stairs up the rock!

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California Road Trip: Sequoia National Park + King’s Canyon (if Weather Permits)

Days: 1-3

Distance: 300-350 miles

Time: 5-6 hours

Route: Next up in your California national parks road trip is Sequoia National Park! Now, Sequoia is actually not that far away from Death Valley as the crow flies. But, in that Sequoia is on the west side of the Sierra Nevada Mountain ranges (of which Death Valley is on the east) you will have to drive back down and around these mountains to get on the proper road to get there.

In winter you’ll have to go back down the 178 to the 58 to the 65 to the 198, but if the roads are open you may be able to take the 178 to the 65 to the 198 (see google maps). Check the road conditions in this mountainous area!

Route Tip: If you are pressed for time, you can skip out on Death Valley and reach Sequoia National Park from LA in 3-4 hours.

Sequoia National Park in a Nutshell

Last year was my first time visiting Sequoia national park on my own California road trip itinerary, and I must say its unbelievably underrated! This highly elevated national park is home to groves and groves of the largest trees in the world. I’m not kidding, either!

You can visit the actual largest tree in the world here, General Sherman, which has more mass than any other tree on Earth. Apparently other trees have grown taller or wider, but when it comes to mass, General Sherman takes the cake. Can you see little me hugging him in the pic?! Apparently the trunk’s diameter is over 100 feet!

It’s not just General Sherman, though. Driving through this area is absolutely incredible, because I swear I saw about ten other trees that were at least almost the same size! It truly is a forest of giants, and these trees are anywhere from 1000 to 3000 years old. Thinking about what these trees have been here through just blows my mind!

Other than this forest, you can also do lots of hiking in Sequoia NP, my favorite of which was hiking to Morro Rock. This bite-sized trail goes straight up a granite outcropping of rock which is actually visible through a lot of the drive up the mountain once you enter the park.

Make sure you hold on to the railings (and watch out for slippery snow/ice in winter) because it’s a long way down! The views are second to none, though, and you can see all the way through the valley you drove through and also across to some of the highest snowy peaks in the Sierra Nevadas.

large trees sequoia national park california road trip

King’s Canyon National Park

King’s Canyon is just a bit north from Sequoia, and you can drive straight there when the roads are open in the summer/spring/fall. The actual ‘King’s canyon’ is one of the deepest canyons in the country, and also has famously large sequoia trees, amazing mountains views, hikes, nature, and more. To hear more about things to do in Sequoia and King’s Canyon National Parks, click here!

Where to Stay in Sequoia/King’s Canyon:

Camping: There are lots of camping options here as with most National Parks.

Hotels: There are plenty of adorable, tiny, extremely mountain-esque hotels up here. On a budget at one point, I stayed in the Sierra Lodge Three Rivers which completely met my needs. There are plenty of other hotels near the southern entrance to Sequoia National Park in Three Rivers as well.

You can stay at a few properties inside the national park or out the northern side in Pinehurst. The most popular hotels inside the park are the Wuksachi Lodge and John Miur Lodge.

My recommendation: if you are doing a hotel, try staying a night in Three Rivers after a driving day, and then a few nights at a hotel inside the park that will be in close proximity to all adventures you’d like to do.

yosemite national park california road trip tunnel view

California Road Trip: Yosemite National Park

Days: 1-3

Distance: 130-180 miles, dependent on accommodation (see below)

Time: 3-4 hours

Route: For Yosemite national park, you’ll want to either camp inside the park, or stay at a hotel outside. If you stay inside or close to the park, you’ll drive to Fresno from King’s Canyon and head up the 41 towards Yosemite West.

If you stay in one of many hotels out the north gate, you’ll take the 99 north from Fresno to Merced and end up on the 120 past Groveland (where many Yosemite rangers live).

California Road Trip Ideas for Yosemite

Yosemite is a must-visit in California, and its beauty has lead to the world fame that it has today. Be wary that you were lucky in King’s Canyon and Sequoia though – now you’re going to experience real crowds. That is, unless you are visiting Yosemite National Park in Winter, which is what I did.

So, go ahead and check my winter Yosemite post below for more info on the places below and all kinds of tips on visiting (that are appropriate all year but geared towards winter), or see my shorter summary of things to do in Yosemite on your California road trip itinerary below.

READ
Yosemite National Park in Winter: What to Do and Where to Stay
Yosemite Valley

Yosemite Valley is the picture perfect part of Yosemite that we have all seen in photos. It is one 7-mile loop that takes you past lots of hikes, river beaches, granite cliffs, camping areas, hikes, and more. This is where you must go if you only have one day in Yosemite!

Tunnel Viewpoint

This is the first viewpoint of Yosemite Valley that will take your breath away!

Glacier Point

If it’s open, Glacier Point may be the best view of your California road trip. Located above the whole Yosemite Valley, glacier point allows you to look out over sweeping views of El Capitan and Half Dome – and you can drive to it (no hiking involved).

Waterfalls

Some waterfalls you may want to check out in Yosemite Valley are: Bridalveil Falls and Yosemite Falls (visible from the loop drive) and  Vernal Falls and Nevada Falls (a shorter and longer hike).

Hikes

Some hikes to check out during a few days in Yosemite are: the Yosemite Falls trail and Bridalveil falls loop (very easy), Mirror Lake Trail (also easy but can extend longer), and the Vernal Falls/Nevada Falls trail (harder) that continues up to the most famous hike up to Half Dome (very difficult).

Where to Stay in Yosemite

Camping: There are lots of camping places in and around Yosemite Valley.

Hotels: During my stay, I stayed at Rush Creek Lodge, which is just outside the park’s northern gates. I absolutely LOVED it here and couldn’t imagine staying anywhere else! Read more about Rush Creek in my Yosemite post. It’s quite luxurious though; it was cheaper in the winter and can get pricey in the summer – with good reason, though!

There is one hotel actually inside Yosemite Valley, and many more in Yosemite West and in different locations in/around the park. Compare the best hotels and prices here!

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SF view of the Golden Gate Bridge from Batter Spencer

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California Road Trip: San Francisco

Days: 2-5+

Distance: 160ish miles

Time: 3ish hours

Route: You’ll want to take the 120 to the 205 to the 580 across the Bay Bridge (80) and into the city!

I hope you have enjoyed your time out in nature, because you’ll be livin’ the big city life now! San Francisco is one of my favorite cities in the world – a compact 7×7 mile square full of vibrant culture, interesting people, great food, beautiful views, and so much to do.

Like LA, SF has different areas for different vibes. There’s the Marina for the preppy shoppers and brunchers, The Mission for the trendy and grungy, Haight + Ashbury for the psychedelic hippie, the Embarcadero and Fisherman’s wharf for the tourist, and more. There are loads of different tours and ways to explore the city.

San Francisco in a Nutshell

I could write thousands of words just on San Francisco alone, but I’ll keep it fairly short here for you. All these points of interest and SF California road trip ideas will be visible on Google Maps. See the post below for a few more recommendations as well!

  • Viewpoints: Twin Peaks, Bernal Heights, Forest Knolls, Dolores Park (great for picnics!)
  • Best Views of the Golden Gate Bridge: Battery Spencer, Baker Beach, Crissy Field, Land’s End Labyrinth (great nature walk too) or the best: a Golden Gate Bay cruise
  • Self-guided bike tour of golden gate park
  • Fisherman’s Wharf: Touristy wharf/pier with seafood restaurants and views across the bay
  • The Mission: Neighborhood with great food (especially Mexican food), shopping, culture
  • Hop On Hop Off Tour: Easiest way to see the city with little time
  • Haight + Ashbury: psychedelic, antique, costume shops, street art, interesting people
  • GoCar Tour of Lombard + Golden Gate: Super fun way to explore
  • Union Square is like the Times Square of SF – shopping, tall buildings, and ice skating in the winter.
  • Sunset Bike Tour: Cycle: Ride along the coast and Golden Gate
  • Helicopter Tour: Amazing view from the sky
  • Visit the prison on Alcatraz Island: No trip to SF is complete without seeing Alcatraz! This tour to Alcatraz also comes with a city tour as well.
Where to Stay in San Francisco

Where to stay in SF depends on your budget and what kind of area you like. I would recommend staying in the Marina (upscale near the water), Haight + Ashbury (more free-spirited and near Golden Gate Park), Pacific Heights (up on the hill above the city), or Downtown/near Union Square (city center) or North Beach/Wharf (near the water).

Airbnb: San Francisco has tons of accommodation options! My best recommendation would be to book a cool airbnb early in an area you like.

Hostels: There are also quite a few hostels in San Francisco for more budget travelers, although they are still quite expensive and it might even be cheaper to split the cost of a hotel or airbnb with any travel companions. This hostel in Fisherman’s Wharf is a great location and I’ve heard good things about it.

Hotels: As for hotels, check The Top 30 Hotels in San Francisco to compare prices in the location you’d prefer to stay.

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The ‘Lone Cyprus” on the 17-mile Drive in Carmel

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California Road Trip: Pacific Coast Highway 1

Days: 2-4+

Distance: 655 miles top to bottom, 460 miles San Francisco to LA (because the Pacific Coast Highway extends farther north than SF and farther south than LA)

Time: without stops, 10 hours from SF to LA and probably about 16 hours top to bottom (Leggett to Dana Point). I would recommend spending at least 2 nights/3 days on this road trip, and preferably 4-5+ to really explore the amazing places.

Route: Just stay on Highway 1… that’s it!

Now it’s time for perhaps the best part of your California road trip itinerary – Pacific Coast Highway/PCH/Highway 1! Before I get too far into it I’ll let you know that I’ve written an ENTIRE POST specifically dedicated to an awesome Pacific Coast Highway road trip. In it I list over 75 different PCH road trip stops and tell you a little bit about each one so you can decide which places you’d like to stop based on your needs, desires, and time.

Highway 1 Extends a few hundred miles north of San Francisco if you are so inclined to explore a bit farther up. It also extends down past LA, so this is where you can decide if you’d like to finish your California Road trip in LA or continue south through Orange County to San Diego, Joshua Tree, and more.

I won’t go into as much detail as I do there, so click the photo below or this link for my Highway 1 PCH Road Trip Stops Article to continue your road trip:

75 Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip Stops for the off-the-beaten-path explorer or the one who wants to see it all! Includes ALL of Pacific Coast Highway from Leggett to Dana Point - including Fort Bragg, Jenner, Point Reyes, Marin, San Francisco, Monterey, Carmel, Big Sur, SLO, Santa Barbara, Malibu, LA, Newport Beach, and Laguna Beach!
A few of the many PCH California road trip ideas included in the post above:
  • North of SF: Fort Bragg Glass Beach, Mendocino, Point Reyes Lighthouse + Seashore + Cyprus Tree Tunnel
  • Santa Cruz, Monterey Bay, Carmel 17 Mile Drive
  • Big Sur, hikes + viewpoints, Nepenthe restaurant overlook, Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park waterfall onto the sand, Hearst Castle
  • San Louis Obispo, Santa Barbara
  • Malibu + Los Angeles
  • Orange County
  • tons of waterfalls, lighthouses, state parks, beaches, viewpoints, small towns, and more!
  • recommendations of where to stay the night

Use my guide to create the perfect Highway 1 section of your California Road Trip. You can either end in LA, or continue to the Southern California loop I have detailed below.

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Views from the beaches of Laguna Beach

California Road Trip Itinerary Add-On: Orange County, San Diego, Joshua Tree, Palm Springs, and Anza-Borrego Desert

Now that you have read my PCH Road Trip article above, you will have ended up past Los Angeles and now down into Orange County/San Diego.

Many people consider San Diego as must-visit in California, and/or may want to visit the esteemed Joshua Tree National Park. This is why I have included this optional add-on for extra California road trip ideas if you have more time.

It may also be a contributing factor that I am from Orange County, and think that some of the best beaches in the whole state (and world) are in Laguna Beach. So take this California road trip add-on and put it right between LA and Death Valley if you are so inclined – So Cal is the BEST!

California Road Trip: Orange County

Days: 1-2+

Distance: LA is directly adjacent to Orange County, so if you are making stops along your PCH road trip the distance doesn’t matter as much. For a frame of reference, Newport Beach is about 55 miles from Santa Monica.

Time: About 1-2 hours from LA depending on where you start and finish/time of day (traffic)

Route: You can stay on PCH/Highway 1 for the scenic route, or there are quicker freeways available (the 405/5) but they’re very boring!

Most of Orange County is already detailed in my PCH Road trip stops article above – I hope you read it! Most of the places you would want to visit in Orange County are along the coast anyway and are all elaborated in in that post. Here’s a rundown of the places you’d want to see (from north to south):

Huntington Beach: This is the ‘surfing capital’ of the area and has a lively beachside downtown, busy beach, and pier with a restaurant at the end.

Newport Beach: Newport has a long peninsula/beach that gets pretty busy in the summer time, and a great boardwalk to ride your bike or go rollerblading – perhaps with some ice cream! You can also go whale watching. There’s a good bar scene too.

Laguna Beach: This is one of my favorite places in the whole world, and also a great place to spend a night. Check out the 10 best hotels in Laguna Beach for a quick taste, and I also love the Surf & Sand and Montage for ultimate luxury (let’s be honest, I usually just go walking there – but they’re amazing!).

There’s a bustling little downtown with amazing art and galleries all over the place, with great restaurants around as well. There are some beautiful beaches right next to the road, but the true charm comes with the smaller beaches you can only reach via stairwell. The beast few beaches:

    • Victoria Beach
    • West Street Beach
    • Thousand Steps

Dana Point: The Dana Point Harbor is a beautiful place to have a walk or grab a coffee, and Salt Creek Beach is very family-friendly.

la jolla kayaking san diego

la jolla beach san diego california road trip

California Road Trip: San Diego

Days: 1-3

Distance: Southern Orange County to Downtown San Diego is about 60 miles.

Time: About an hour

Route: You’ll want to stay on the I-5 South, which is what becomes of the Pacific Coast Highway after it finishes in Dana Point.

Sunny San Diego is on the list of many California visitors, with good reason! Located right above the border from Mexico, it basically has perfect weather all year long and is full of tan, fit, not-as-pretentious-as-LA Californians living the good life.

It’s full of beaches, viewpoints, beach towns, and happening nightlife. If you don’t have much time, you can see most of the below in a one day sightseeing tour.

Here are some of the places you might want to see in San Diego:

La Jolla 

La Jolla is where the elite of San Diego live – it’s an area where life can’t be much better. For the water-lovers, La Jolla Cove is a beautiful seashore full of caves, cliffs, beaches, grassy parks, and beautiful aqua water. The best things to do here are a snorkel + cave tour or coast + mountain biking.

Ocean Beach

Ocean Beach, or ‘OB’ as it is called, is the more free-spirited and hippie section of San Diego. Expect tattoo parlors, street art, thrift shops, and that type of thing on the main street of OB next to the beach and pier. They also have a fantastic night market.

Pacific Beach

Pacific Beach, or ‘PB,’ is a more upbeat and trendy place full of yoga studios, hip bars, and cafes. There are great family friendly beaches and the area also borders Mission Bay.

Downtown/Gaslamp District/Balboa Park/Coronado

The Gaslamp Quarter is the heart of downtown San Diego, and there is tons going on in this area. The Gaslamp Quarter itself has loads of trendy restaurants and a popping nightlife scene. Balboa Park is a vast park with museums and gardens. Coronado is an island right off the coast from Downtown San Diego that’s known for its beauty. Here are the top ideas for what to do in San Diego:

Where to Stay in San Diego

I would recommend getting a place close to the action so you can get everywhere you want to go, quickly. For this reason I would say to stay in the Gaslamp Quarter/Little Italy – or if you need to be beachside, Pacific Beach would be a good idea (La Jolla is a bit farther north – it’s a lovely place to visit but it’s not really close to anything else).

Airbnb: There are some fantastic Airbnb’s in San Diego to check out.

Hostels: There are also a few hostels in San Diego as well – one of the coolest hostels I have seen is this one in Ocean Beach (it’s fully covered in a colorful mural and is right next to the beach and rents surfboards). There are also tons in the Gaslamp Quarter if you want to be close to everything.

Hotels: There are some lovely boutique options in Pacific Beach and in the Gaslamp Quarter/Downtown.

 

California Road Trip: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

Days: 1-2

Distance: Just over 80 miles from downtown

Time: About 1:40-2h

Route: I would check Google Maps on the day of your trip for this one – sometimes it’s faster to take the 1-8E to the 79N to the 78E, and sometimes the 15 to the 67 to the 78E is.

The Anza-Borrego State Park is one of California’s lesser-known gems and one of my favorite smaller California road trip ideas. You’ll be awestruck when you see this beautiful desert after just having been relaxing on the beach the day before!

This is actually the largest State Park in the lower 48 states, and there’s a LOT to do (and you might need a map to find everything properly)! Most of the park is free, public land, which means camping is also free is you are so inclined (minus a few places with day fees).

You’ll feel like you landed on Mars when you see Anza-Borrego’s incredible desert rock formations and both deep and thin canyons making for great photo ops. There are amazing wildflower blooms at certain times in the year and beautiful varieties of cacti, too.

If that wasn’t cool enough, this area has one of California’s only dark sky communities, meaning its the BEST place around to see the stars. Free camping + amazing stars gives you some good ideas, doesn’t it?!

Places to Visit in Anza Borrego
  • Hikes: Borrego Palm Canyon, Smuggler’s Canyon, Pictograph Trail/Little Blair Valley, Blair Valley
  • Font’s Point Viewpoint
  • Explore the Badlands
  • “The Slot” Slot canyon
  • Borrego Springs: Visitor’s Center, small desert town + Accom
  • Stargazing: learn more in Borrego springs
Where to Stay in Anza-Borrego Stage Park

I don’t think there will be any airbnb’s, but there are plenty of trendy desert accommodation options and, of course, free camping like I mentioned.

If you want some luxury, La Casa del Zorro resort is unanimously the place to be. It’s 10 minutes from the state park and has FIVE outdoor pools, among other things. Or, you can stay at a vintage trailer park for a bit of a different experience.

 

California Road Trip: Palm Springs

Days: 1-2

Distance: 90ish miles

Time: About 1.5 hours

Route: From Anza-Borrego/Borrego Springs you will take the 78E, to the 86N (and drive along the Salton Sea) to the 10W.

So Palm Springs is an optional stop on your California road trip itinerary, but many people really enjoy this little haven in the desert. Palm Springs is known for having lots of sun and pools to splash around in, and some beautiful mountains you can ascend with a cable car as well. There are loads of big resorts, golf courses, and also boutique hotels for you to relax for a while by the pool.

What to do in Palm Springs:
  • Take the aerial tramway up to Mt San Jacinto State park – ascend about 6,000ft (1800m) up into the mountains and go from desert to mountain in just a few minutes. There are miles and miles of hiking up here if you want – or just to relax in some cooler temperatures.
  • Visit celebrity houses – The likes of Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, Bob Hope, and more used to have houses in Palm Springs, and these are popular places to visit these days.
  • Go Golfing – there are over 100 golf courses in Palm Springs!
  • Go for a meal on El Paseo – the main road of town
  • Visit the Desert Hills Outlets – if you want some good deals
Where to Stay in Palm Springs

Palm Springs is perhaps one of the most famous places for super cute boutique hotels. The Saguaro is beautiful and hosts a music festival a few times a year called Splash House. Coachella Music Festival is also the first two weekends of April – so if you love festivals it could be a great California road trip idea! Compare other hotel options here.

There are also some lovely Palm Springs Airbnb’s and no hostels that I know of.

pioneer town joshua tree national park

Scenes from Pioneer Town

joshua tree national park tree

Joshua Tree + Boulders

California Road Trip: Joshua Tree National Park

Days: 1-3

Distance: About 35 mi to the National Park Entrance from Palm Springs

Time: About 45 minutes

Route: You’ll want to enter Joshua Tree National Park from the north – passing through Yucca Valley and the town of Joshua Tree. So you’ll need to get to the 62 from Palm Springs and take that.

Joshua Tree is the last epic California National Park you’ll visit on your ultimate California Road Trip! It’s a high desert- meaning the altitude will change the temperature quite drastically. It could get quite cold at night depending on the time of year.

Joshua Tree is known for having millions and millions of, well, Joshua trees scattered about its vast landscape. There are also incredible stacks of smooth boulders that are tons of fun to explore and climb. There are many hiking trails through/around these massive piles of boulders as well. Check out my Joshua Tree/Pioneer Town photo album for some inspo… there’s also a Joshua Tree Music Festival if you’re there the right time of year.

What to Do in Joshua Tree
  • Check out Pioneer Town – it’s outside the entrance and just a few miles up the road from the entrance. It’s literally an old pioneer town model (it used to be a movie set) with wooden buildings, old-style carriages, and ancient jail, and more. It’s an amazing photo op!
  • Wander around the eclectic shops of Joshua Tree town
  • Do some hikes/walks through all the Joshua Trees! Some popular hikes/points of interest are: Ryan Mountain, Hidden Valley, Split Rock Loop, and Arch Rock, Skull Rock, and Barker Dam.
  • Drive up to different boulder piles and climb them! Explore, see how high you can get, squeeze through crevices, and look through arches.
  • Keys View – a popular vierpoint
Where to Stay in Joshua Tree

Well, the obvious choice yet again would be to camp! There are heaps of great campsites inside the park, for which you would obviously just have to pay a small fee. Check out ‘Jumbo Rocks Campground’ and/or ‘Hidden Valley Campground.”

Other than that, Joshua Tree has some pretty awesome accommodation options. There are entire houses, airstreams, treehouses, and cabins to rent on Airbnb. Some of the most famous accommodations include Joshua Tree Acres, which is a gorgeous/trendy/artsy boutique accommodation made from old airstreams and other re-done things. This 1975 airstream on airbnb and this other 1964 airstream are the most famous of their rooms – but they book up very quickly!

Here are some other hotels in the area for all budgets.

 

The ultimate California road trip route includes national parks, cities, desert, and the coast. This california road trip route takes you through Yosemite, Sequoia, Death Vallet, and Joshua Tree National Parks, the Pacific Coast Highway, San Francisco, LA, San Diego, and more.

Don’t forget to Pin this so you don’t forget all these California road trip ideas!

Well, that’s about it for your California road trip itinerary! From Joshua Tree you can just drive 2-2.5 hours/about 130 miles back to LA, dive onto a bed for the night, turn on a movie, and revel in the awesomeness that was your incredible journey!

You visited three main cities, 4+ National Parks, probably 5+ State Parks, tons of beaches, loads of beautiful hiking trails, some charming smaller cities and towns, and probably checked out some pretty sweet accommodation options as well. California really has it all, doesn’t it?! And now, you’ve seen it!

How much of this California Road trip did you complete? What do you think of these California road trip ideas? Would you add or change anything? Or subtract things?! I would love your feedback on everything in the comments below!

 

October 27, 2018

Croatia Sailing Tours: How to Choose the Best Island Sail Week in Croatia

Croatia Sailing Tours: How to Choose the Best Island Sail Week in Croatia

So you haven’t been on any Croatia sailing tours yet?! What are you waiting for?! As a booming newer destination in the past decade, sailing Croatia is now on the radar of travelers everywhere. As someone who has been working there for quite a few years, I’ll tell you that there’s no better way to experience this beautiful country than to take part in a sail Croatia –  a sail week tour of the Croatian islands.

Croatia sailing trips are becoming so popular that new companies and Croatia sailing weeks are popping up left and right; everyone wants to try to get their slice of the booming business of the perfect idyllic holiday.

There are some companies that have been around for years and some new ones, some bigger sailing companies and some smaller ones, both budget and luxury sailing Croatia, and some massive boats with more passengers or smaller ones with less. There’s definitely a lot of choice when it comes to picking the best Croatia sailing tours, and I’m here to help you figure out which sail week in Croatia may be right for you.

With dozens of companies and hundreds of boats, it's hard to know how to choose the best Croatia Sailing Tours for you! This guide will help you choose the right island sail week company based on what YOU are looking for.

Hey guys. This post is super long. Why not save it to Pinterest so you’ll have it to refer to?

I worked three summers as a tour guide on these very Croatia sailing tours I’ll be describing to you, and during that time I got to know the in’s and out’s of all the different companies and different tours. I came to know what the selling points of each company are, what makes each one different, which tours are better for what ages, and what kinds of people tend to book a certain tour.

Bigger boats are better for some people, while some enjoy a more intimate experience on a smaller boat. Some people love to party during their Croatia island cruise, and some love to relax.

Below I have outlined all that I know about each Croatia sailing company and what kind of person it may be more geared towards. I’m hoping you can take all this info to make the perfect decision on the right one for you! If you need any help planning, feel free to reach out.

And before you go, don’t forget to check out my Tour Guide’s Super Guide to All of Croatia – outlining ALL of Croatia and guides to each city complete with adventures, activities, food/restaurants, nightlife, history, and more.

READ
Where to Go in Croatia: A Tour Guide's Ultimate Croatia Travel Guide

Disclaimer: All this info is my personal opinion from working three seasons of sail Croatia on the Adriatic. They may not be correct or agreeable but I hope my experience can be used to help you choose the best Croatia sailing tour week for your needs.

croatia sailing tours boats

What to Know Before Booking Croatia Sailing Tours

Sailing Croatia Tour Boats

Before I start, I want to give a quick description of what kinds of boats you’ll be looking at for your sail week Croatia. The boats come in a few different classes and styles that you will want to know before you go!

Floatilla Style Croatia Tours/Boats

Some tours run in a floatilla style, meaning that there will be 5+ (usually even more, up to 20+) smaller boats all sailing together. Each small boat will have a skipper and the option to have a hostess. These boats don’t specifically have a guide, but workers who help to run the whole floatilla smoothly. Usually on these tours skippers/hostesses are responsible for relaying the plans and info to the passengers with a few higher-up’s helping out as well. (This style of tour is when you see the photo of a bunch of boats all docked up in a circle with a party in the middle!)

Floatilla boats – these boats will be smaller, slower yachts that hold about 8-10 people. Depending on the company you book with you may find a bit bigger or even smaller boats to sail croatia, but in general these are a 2-crew boat for a smaller group. If you upgrade to have a hostess she will make some food and clean for you, but you can bring your own food and drinks on these boats.

Bigger Sail Croatia Boats – B/A/A+

Companies with bigger boats run as one complete tour in and of itself. Bigger boats will hold around 25-35 people, sometimes up to 40. These boats generally have their own Croatian sailing crew (captain, chef, bartender/server, sailor(s), etc) and may have a tour guide responsible specifically for the well-being of the guests. Bigger boats come in three categories:

B Class boats – These are wooden boats with shared facilities and usually no air conditioning. They are of course quite a lot cheaper. Cabins will have two bunk beds each and toilet/shower facilities will be shared with everyone. These boats are usually smaller (18-25 people) and are quite the authentic sailing experience! These are usually just for the younger sail Croatia passengers.

A Class boats- A-class boats have ensuite toilets in each cabin and sometimes a communal air conditioning in the downstairs hallway or saloon/eating room. Beds are usually bunk with two in each room. There’s a large range of A class boats – some much nicer than others – but will all have this basic ensuite structure.

A+ Class boats – A+ boats are the luxury of the seas and are the fancy white boats you will see on the Adriatic. Usually the crews of these are all wearing matching embroidered polos, and your linens might even be embroidered as well! A+ boats have air conditioning in each room, two (not bunk) beds in a spacious cabin, a safe in each room, and LOTS of space to chill. They usually have a spacious upper deck with nice chairs, great speaker systems, and spacious eating areas. A+ boats also have a hot cooked breakfast each morning (A and B have basic cereal breakfasts) and hold 35+ people. These are obviously more expensive Croatia sailing tours, and the prices onboard will be higher as well.

Smaller Private Yachts

Some sail Croatia companies that are more family/all-ages oriented will have one smaller 8-10 person boat available for Croatia yacht charter hire for the week. These will come with a skipper and possibly a hostess.

Katarina Lines

Because all boats are privately owned and operated, most companies use an agency to obtain the boats they work with. The agency that operated most of Croatia is called Katarina Line. 

You will see these logo’s all over the place, and you can actually book tours with KL themselves, as they have some sail Croatia tours which are not affiliated with a specific company and also can help find you what company works best for your needs.

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Croatia Sailing Tours Routes/Duration

You will find that most of the Croatia sailing tours will be one week, from Saturday morning to Saturday morning. On the brochures it may say 8 days, but that includes the little snippet of the last Saturday in it for whatever reason. Some run Wed-Wed or Thurs-Thurs, and are usually quieter.

Sail Croatia weeks will mostly be one-way or round-trip between Split and Dubrovnik. If you fly into one of the airports, it’s easy to get a ferry/bus transfer to the other city if need be.

On bigger, more highly powered boats (not floatillas) you will either sail Split-Split, Dubrovnik-Dubrovnik, Split-Dubrovnik, or Dubrovnik-Split. Some companies have better one-way routes than others, which I will detail below. Some companies also sail more north then Split – occasionally as far as Zadar, Pula, or Zrce – which I will also detail below.

Floatillas will generally not make it all the way between Split and Dubrovnik because they’re smaller boats and can’t move as fast. Usually they will start and end in Split or Dubrovnik and visit islands around there. Don’t forget to check my Tour Guide’s Guide to Croatia to see which islands and cities you would like to see the most!

Croatia Sailing Destinations:

When looking at routes, make sure you pick places you like most (or just follow my recommendations!). To read a bit more about different destinations, see my guides below:

Split

Vis

Hvar

Korcula

Dubrovnik

ALL OF CROATIA

20 Best Festivals in Croatia

Croatia Sailing Tours Added Costs, Currency, and Optionals

When you go on a Croatia sailing trip, you must be prepared for extra costs. Most (non-floatilla) routes will include breakfast and lunch, but not dinner. There are usually two optional dinners onboard the boats during the week which you can have if you wish.

Drinks and dinners on the boats will go on a tab system you can pay at the end of the week. Drinks and food outside the boat will usually be paid for in cash in the local currency, kuna. Kuna is about 5 to the AUD, 6-7 to the USD, and 8 to the GBP. Any adventure tours (like zip lining) or activities will cost extra as well.

On floatilla style tours or private hire boats, you can bring your own food or hire a hostess to make you breakfast and lunch.

croatia sailing tours for young people hvar selfie go pro

Croatia Sailing Tours for Young People – Party Tours for 18-39+

So if you didn’t already know, sail Croatia tends to be a bit of a party. Okay, not just a bit…. it tends to be a huge party. Many people come to Croatia to enjoy the scenery a little bit and sip on cocktails, take fancy shots, dance on bars, and party quite a lot.

This isn’t to say that you can’t come on a Croatia sailing holiday and have a mellow, chilled week relaxing in the sun and swimming in the cool waters, but just be warned that there will be quite a lot of debauchery going on around you. I also will say that it is actually part of tour guides’ jobs on these ‘young people’ boats to take you to at least one (or 4) bars every night. It’s up to you whether or not you wish to take part!

What Do I Need to Know Before Booking Party Croatia Sailing Tours for Young People?

Bell Rings: It will be a thing on each boat that if you ring ‘the bell’ (every boat has one) you buy a round of shots for the entire boat. Yes, everyone on it. Bell rings are like a Croatian right of passage; they’re a ceremonial symbol of Adriatic party and one of the top reasons you know you’ve sailed Croatia. As soon you ring the bell, the bartender will compile a tray of shots with the amount of people on the boat, and put it on your tab which you pay at the end of the week. Dangerous.

Nights Out: There’s always a good mix of bigger and smaller nights out. Not every town you stop in will have the opportunity for a big night, and most tours balance them fairly well. Save up for nights out in Hvar, Dubrovnik, Makarska, and Korcula. At the rest of the ports, you can go crazy at one or two small bars or chill out and stargaze on the boat. Tour guides should always give you a nice alternative to a party night.

Nationalities: On the bigger boat Croatia sailing tours (Topdeck, Busabout, Contiki, Sail Croatia) you will find that there are a lot of Australians (and Kiwis) around. You will find Americans, Scandinavians, and more Europeans on floatilla tours like The Yacht Week and Medsailors. I have no idea why this is, but that’s how it turned out. I think the marketing campaigns and word-of-mouth bookings of the bigger boat tours really reaches all of Australia.

Not a single Aussie doesn’t know what Topdeck, Contiki, and Busabout are, but hardly any Americans know those companies. For whatever reason Americans only know about The Yacht Week in Croatia, although there is so much more. I only had three or four Americans on my tours in three years! But anyway, I hope this post can broaden your horizons a bit, wherever you are from!

Some companies tend to end up as bigger parties than others, and I will go through each one and their general stereotype/clientele! For another reference, check out some hilarious questions asked to tour guides on sail Croatia.

croatia sailing tours swimming sail week

 

Sail Croatia Companies: Busabout

Busabout is one of the Croatia sailing tour companies with the most boats on the water. As a company, they focus on their freestyle bus tours of Europe, but Croatia sailing tours are huge for them also.

Busabout boats are everywhere! They do special packages for Ultra Europe Music festival in July, and have their tours running longer than any other company (well into October if I remember correctly!). Busabout tends to be on the cheaper end of tours too, but that heavily depends on the week/boat you choose.

Busabout Clientele

The clientele for Busabout is primarily Australian (as you will find with many of these companies) with a bit of variety thrown in here and there.

Busabout Boats

Busabout has a majority of B class boats (shared facilities), quite a few A, and a couple A+ boats. Expect a B Class boat generally.

Busabout Guides

Busabout was the company I was the closest to during my time leading Croatia sailing tours, and their tour guides are always amazing, fun, easygoing, and know how to party. All absolute legends.

Party Level

These are definitely party tours. Bell rings will be rampant, costume parties will happen (pirate night!), and there will be the opportunity to go out every night because your tour guide is responsible to take you out.

Age Range

As far as I know, Busabout accepts bookings from any age (18+). So if you’re older and are up to having a week of being young again, go for it! I saw a few absolutely amazing older Busabout passengers who were outdoing most of the 20-somethings. But it will be mostly 18-39’s.

Routes

Busabout have really well-planned out one-way routes, and for that reason I would recommend a one way tour with this company. They will spend their first night on a Dubrovnik-Split tour in Dubrovnik so it will actually be a part of the tour. Their Split-Split routes tend to be a bit more crowded with lots of boats. Busabout is also one of the only companies that run a north route sail up to Zadar and Zrce beach.

Busabout Tours

When booking a Busabout tour, you basically choose if you want ensuite or communal (A or B class) and a cabin on or below deck and the boat is decided for you. They have some A+ boats but it is not listed which ones – I am guessing the more expensive ones! Just remember that sometimes boats have air conditioning in the hallways below deck leading it to be cooler – darker but definitely cooler.

In these links, I believe the ‘calssic standard’ refers to a B-Class boat, the ‘Classic Ensuite’ refers to an A-Class boat, and the ‘Cruiser Ensuite’ refers to an A+ ?Class boat. That’s what the prices reflect, anyway. If you want my expert opinion, the best and most cost-effective Busabout sail week Croatia to do would be the Ensuite below deck Split to Dubrovnik tour, given the route, price, likelihood of aircon in the downstairs hallway, and having your own bathroom.

If you want luxury, the A+ boats are a lot more expensive, and the below-deck cabins are only about $100 cheaper than on-deck. They will haev a lot more light but you’ll have people always walking by your room. It’s up to you!

One-Way Split to Dubrovnik

Below Deck B Class Boat Cabin 

On Deck B Class Boat Cabin

Below Deck A Class Ensuite Cabin

On Deck A Class Boat Ensuite Cabin 

Cruiser A+ Ensuite Below Deck Cabin

Split-Split Route

Below Deck B Class Boat Cabin 

On Deck B Class Boat Cabin 

On Deck Ensuite A Class Boat Cabin 

Below Deck Ensuite A Class Boat Cabin 

Cruiser A+ Class On-Deck Cabin

Cruiser A+ Class Below-Deck Cabin

One Way Dubrovnik to Split

Below Deck B Class Boat Cabin 

On Deck B Class Boat Cabin 

Below Deck Ensuite A Class Boat Cabin 

On Deck Ensuite A Class Boat Cabin 

Cruiser On-Deck A+ Boat Cabin 

Cruiser Below Deck A+ Boat Cabin

Busabout Ultra Europe Packages

Busabout Ultra Hostel Package (not sailing) 

Note: If you want to be on the boats during Ultra, book a Croatia sailing week that ends on the weekend of Ultra and book the hostel package afterwards.

croatia sailing tours old town korcula

Croatia Sailing Companies: Koda Sail

Koda Sail is a more intimate and detail-oriented company geared toward the more mature partier and the young professional. Koda Sail only has one boat/tour going at a time and only runs premiere A+ style luxurious boats, but is still quite affordable for young people. Koda Sail stands for the fact that sometimes young people need a bit of luxury too, but can also have a bit of fun.

Clientele

Koda Sail was founded by an Aussie guy named Chris, who is a total legend! I can only assume that a lot of the clientele would be similarly Aussie/Kiwi. But Koda Sail is not like Topdeck/Contiki/Busabout in its word of mouth marketing and corporate base, so I can only assume that its clientele can get a lot more varied in nationalities and just follow a similar frame of mind.

Boats

Koda Sail only had A+ style, ensuite, air conditioned boats. See A+ category boat descriptions above.

Guides

Koda sail has experienced guides who are a bit older but still know how to have a good time. Chris, the owner, runs a lot of the tours himself I believe.

Party Level

The option to party is always there on Koda Sail (as with any Croatia sailing tour) if you want it. Groups will go out to select bars and restaurants each evening. Koda Sail tours like to go to more cocktail bars rather than backpacker bars to keep a more refined vibe 😛

Age Range

Koda sail passengers are generally mid twenties to late-ish thirties, but if you are of the young professional category/mindset you will be just fine.

Routes

During the summer, Koda Sail has three different routes, the S-S, S-D, and D-S. There’s only one tour per week so the route depends on the date. All routes include great places, and the one way D-S includes Dubrovnik as the first night on the tour.

Tours

Split to Split Luxury A+ Koda Sail Cruise (this route runs most of the summer) 

Dubrovnik to Split one-way Luxury A+ Koda Sail Cruise 

Split to Dubrovnik one-way Luxury A+ Koda Sail Cruise 

croatia sailing tours destinations makarska

Croatia Sailing Companies: Travel Talk

Travel Talk is a tour company with bus tours throughout Europe, and Croatia sailing tours are just a small part of their product. They have two boats that switch between Split to Dubrovnik and Dubrovnik to Split routes, and are one of the cheapest Croatia sailing tours – even with ensuite facilities. 

Clientele

Travel Talks clientele is also largely Aussie, with a bit of variety thrown in here and there, and do love a good party.

Boats

Travel Talk have two smaller wooden boats (about 20 capacity) with ensuite facilities (A-class). One of them, Lav, is an actual pirate ship and is awesome to see sailing! But be warned, they’re not the nicest A class boats out there (ok, they’re probably the least nice ensuite boats), but they are fine (especially for the price!). These ensuite boats are cheaper than Busabout B-class tours. I worked on one of their boats for a few weeks one summer, and I survived. 😛

Guides

The guides on Travel Talk are usually super fun Aussies who are outgoing and helpful but know how to have a good time. I was friends with all the travel talk girls in my years and loved them!

Party Level

These will be a high party level tour, with options to go out each night (or drink in the day! :P)

Age Range

I don’t think there’s an age cap with Travel Talk but most people are in the young category.

Routes

Both the Dubrovnik-Split and Split-Dubrovnik tours have great routes. Choose the one the is efficient with your travel route!

Tours

Split-Dubrovnik Ensuite A Class Cabin  

Dubrovnik-Split Ensuite A Class Cabin

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Croatia Sailing Companies: Contiki

Contiki is a global tour company that focuses on bus tours all over the world. They have a couple Croatia sailing tours on different types of boats. Contiki is rather well-known for being a party tour company; I think they are trying to rid themselves of that stereotype but Contiki passengers usually do love a party. And with a slogan like #NoRegrets it is also attracted.

Clientele

Contiki passengers are usually Aussie. However, as their brand grows, their clientele is also. Expect Kiwis, South Africans, Americans, Canadians, and every so often a few people of Asian descent – rarely European.

Boats

Contiki have a few types of boats. They have some premium A+ boat tours and also a few A category ones which differ in price quite a lot. Two dinners are also included on these tours, which is great and differentiates them from most other tours.

Guides

There are a few Contiki Croatia sail guides who stay in Croatia all summer, but a lot of the guides are normally European bus tour guides who come down and guide sails for a few weeks a summer. I always had a hard time connecting with Contiki guides – they seemed really awesome for their passengers but were very pro-contiki and not prone to socialize with other guides (which doesn’t really matter for a passenger anyway).

Party Level

There will generally be a lot of partying on Contiki Tours.

Age Range

Contiki tours are 18-35 ages.

Routes

The Contiki round trip routes spend two nights each in Split and Dubrovnik, giving you more time to see the bigger cities but less time in the smaller ones. The one-way routes, in my opinion, are more desirable.

In a lot of the booking sites it is unclear whether trips are A, B, or A+ class. Also note that on the itinerary for the last two normal 8-day tours, the stop at ‘Wild Bay’ will be a night on anchor where you stay and party on the boat but don’t go to a port. I think the first two are more expensive because they have an extra day in the beginning and end.

Tours

Contiki Island Hopper One-Way Split to Dubrovnik Tour (9 Day) 

Contiki Island Hopper One-Way Dubrovnik to Split Tour  (9 Days) 

Contiki One-Way Split-Dubrovnik Ensuite Sail

Contiki One-Way Dubrovnik to Split Ensuite Cabin 

Croatia Sailing Companies: Topdeck

Ah, Topdeck. I worked here for three summers. I’m going to keep my opinions of the company to myself and try not to be biased in my review, but I do know this company the best and because of that I will give a little idea of what each boat is like, because you can specifically choose your boat when you book (unlike most other companies).

Topdeck is a global, corporate tour company that does tours in six continents. Croatia sailing tours are a pretty big part of their European product, with about 7 boats over the summer.

Clientele

Topdeck is another one of those companies that gets around well with Aussie word of mouth. Most passengers will be Aussie and Kiwi, with a few Canadians and maybe a South African or American once in a while. Tours are definitely becoming more diverse over time.

Boats

See below for a description of each Topdeck boat. All boats are A category ensuite boats, with 3-4 A+ class boats (up from just 2 in 2017). I think they’re shooting to slowly take over the fleet with A+ boats only, and the prices reflect this for sure.

With Topdeck, you basically book your boat rather than On-Deck or Below-Deck cabin like Busabout. If you ask me, it doesn’t really matter either way whether you are on or below deck, because below deck will usually have air conditioning, and on-deck will have people walking past your room all the time and be really bright but have an ocean view.

Guides

Topdeck Croatia sail guides are some of my best friends and most legendary people I have ever met! (whoops, I said I would try not to be biased 😛 ) But honestly, pretty much all sail Croatia guides during my time were knowledgable, passionate, kind, and loved a good party. But, I heard that the team spirit among the guides pretty much diminished after my big group of 7+ guides all left, leaving only one to return. Basically, what I’m trying to say is that I have no idea how they will be in the upcoming summer, but they have been great in the past.

Party Level

There is a lot of partying on Topdeck sails, which of course depends a lot on the group. There’s also a lot of culture included as well, as guides are required to show you around or do an activity in each town but also take you out each night.

Age Range

Topdeck is 18-39’s.

Routes

Breaking news: Topdeck FINALLY changed their terrible one-way routes for summer 2019. *cue fog horn and loud celebrations* It took them long enough, but they finally amended their one-way routes to be actually good. 

Topdeck used to be the only company I would fully recommend to do a round-trip (S-S or D-D) tour rather than a one way, because the one way tours skipped out on one of the best spots on the Adriatic (Makarska + Ziplining) and had a couple ports that were very (too) small and quiet. This was to make room to visit the blue cave in Vis, which was cool but was only a 5 minute portion of your week and, in my opinion, not worth missing out on a few other destinations for (when you could also visit them as a day trip from Split after your sail is over).

ANYWAY, now Topdeck’s one-way Croatia sailing tours visit both Makarska and the famous beach on Brac called Bol, as well as all the other good places. You may now take my word for it and book one-way tours on Topdeck… I give you my permission. 😛

Now all of the routes are quite desirable and go to all the main places you would want to go, so maybe focus on which boat you would prefer or which route fits in best with your travel schedule.

Topdeck Croatia Sailing Tours

Dubrovnik-Dubrovnik Route

This is my favorite Topdeck route and has two of my favorite boats. It has a great mix of big and small nights and goes to the right places.

Petrina: I am definitely biased here, but I have lived on this boat for about 3 full months of my life and it is my second home! Petrina is actually the oldest boat on the Adriatic (but has been redone of course :P) and is still going strong with the most awesome + fun crew who are like family to me. I won’t lie – it’s really not the nicest boat, and is more of an authentic sailing experience than a luxury one. But with a good attitude anything is possible! Petrina also has one pre-season Dubrovnik to Split sail and one Split to Dubrovnik.

View Tours on Petrina 

Dalvin: This tour runs Thursday-Thursday (unlike most which are Sat-Sat) for those with a different schedule. Dalvin is THE party boat. The crew (while doing their jobs of course) might even party harder than the passengers, and have club-grade speakers inside the dining room. So if you love a bit of cheeky fun and good laughs (and maybe some noise), book Dalvin for sure.

View Tours on Dalvin 

One-Way Topdeck Tours

If you like a few smaller nights (but still enough of big ones) and would rather see the blue cave, here are the one-way route boats.

Toma: Toma is a beautiful A-class boat with a great crew and facilities. The owner just started out last year and has quickly gotten the hang of sailing and loves a good party with the guests. Toma has a week pre- and post-season doing the Split Split route too.

View Dubrovnik-Split Tours on Toma 

View Split-Dubrovnik Tours on Toma

Moja Maja: This is a lovely wooden A class boat captained by the only female captain on the Adriatic. The crew are lovely but can be a bit more strict and also keep in mind you will always be sailing next to two A+ boats which can get depressing – it’s a great boat but if you ask me just book the nicer ones for a tiny bit more money!

View Moja Maja Tours Dubrovnik-Split 

View Moja Maja Tours Split-Dubrovnik

Pape Prvi: This is a new boat I unfortunately don’t know much about, besides the fact that it’s a super nice and lush A+ class white boat that will be expensive, spacious, and luxurious.

View Pape Prvi Split to Dubrovnik Tours

View Pape Prvi Dubrovnik to Split Tours

View Pape Prvi Split to Split Tours

Split-Split Croatia Sailing Tours

This is the most popular Topdeck route and you will have 2-3 Topdeck boats parallel sailing with you with the same itinerary.

Vapor + Meridijan: These are Topdeck’s first two A+ style luxury boats. One captain (Vapor) is the father and the other captain is the son (Meridijan) and the boats sail parallel with each other and even have other family members as sailors/cooks. It’s a family affair! These boats are really nice with air con, great food, and open spaces. Just remember that with nice boats come a bit more strict crew/rules and a bit higher prices onboard. Both boats are great and truly luxurious… and honestly, they only cost a few hundred dollars more.

This year, both boats are classed as the same on the booking option- book here or here! 

Nerezine: Apart from Dalvin, Nerezine is the other real ‘party boat.’ Nerezine is an A-class boat which was recently renovated and holds the most passengers out of any other A class boat (36 max). The crew are easy-going and absolutely love a good party, and may be known to let you sample their rakija more often than should be. The cook (the owner’s mum) is also amazing.

View Split-Split Tours on Nerezine

croatia sailing tours croatia sunset

Croatia Sailing Companies: Sail Croatia

Sail Croatia is actually a massive company that runs sailing tours for many different clienteles, both old and young. But they are known in the young person sector as the main party tour in Croatia (and tours on other companies are often just called, ‘Sail Croatia’).

Check their website for all they offer, but the majority of their product are tours for young people. They also do have some of the nicest and biggest boats for older crowds, however.

Clientele

Sail Croatia clientele, on their ‘navigator’ tours, are mostly young Aussies looking for a good party. They are known for this. But other then ‘Navigator” tours, they also have ‘explorer,’ ‘elegance,’ ‘cycle,’ and ‘hike’ tours for all types of people.

Boats

Sail Croatia has all classes of boats but the party cruises will usually be on B or A class boats, with the possibility to book an A+ too for young professionals (explorer tours) or older guests (elegance tours).

Guides

Sail Croatia is one of the only companies that employ Croatian tour guides for their trips. I think they have a couple Aussie guides, but they’re mostly Croatian. I find that this is actually not favorable because the cultural barrier is usually quite large and having an english speaking tour guide to form the liaison between the Croatian crew and Aussie/English speaking passengers is better… especially one who goes out with the groups and understands the culture.

The culture gap between Aussie/UK/USA and Croatia is larger than you may think, and when you have an English-speaking guide, they usually understand this gap and take the brunt of all the Croatian crew’s potential rude/bluntness and relay nothing but happiness to the passengers. This may and often does get lost in a Croatian guide. Take it from my personal experience!

Party Level

These will be lots of (often messy) partying stereotypically on Navigator tours, but oftentimes it’s just good fun.

Age Range

Party cruises are for under 35’s. Elegance and Hiking etc are for older crowds.

croatia sailing tours nightlife

Croatia Sailing Companies: Fanatics

Fanatics is another sailing Croatia company with one boat. Fanatics is a Europe-wide tour company dabbling a bit in the Croatia sailing scene. Guides will usually be Aussie, and clients will usually be a bigger mix of internationals. Fanatics boats are usually very nice either A or A+.

Croatia Sailing Companies: Stoke Travel

Stoke Travel just recently started running Croatia sailing tours. Stoke is most well-known for being the party tour company of Europe (even more so than the rest – it’s part of their branding), and I am sure this will correlate to their Croatia tours too.

Clientele are mostly Aussie, as are guides, and it is sure to be a loose and fun time with like-minded young people. One of their selling points is also selling unlimited beer and sangria for a small price.

Their tours are very fairly priced as well.

View ‘Stoke Afloat’ Croatia Sailing Tours

croatia sailing tours locals souvenirs

Croatia Sailing Companies: Life Before Work

Life Before Work, or LBW, is a lifestyle-oriented company geared toward the international young professional. They run tours all over Asia, Central America, and Europe, and are well-liked by their passengers. They also offer to help you plan/book your flights as a part of the package. They have lots of optional activities, like scooter riding in Vis and banana boating, and are very adventure-driven too.

For an in-depth review of this sailing trip, read my friend Dana’s LBW Yacht Life Review to learn much more about what the experience is really like.

Clientele

Life Before Work passengers may be a more evenly distributed mix of Aussie/Kiwi/Brit/America/Canadian with maybe a few more nationalities as well. They are based in Canada.

Boats

LBW only sails on A+ luxurious boats for what they call their ‘Yacht Life’ tour. The boat will be top-of-the-line, and you’ll truly live it up for a week of yacht life.

Guides

LBW will have cool and fun-loving guides to accompany you on your adventures. They are all experienced and know the areas well!

Party Level

Like all of these tours, the option to party is always there, and people on this tour will definitely be partying. They have DJ’s on board and also a few themed parties through the week to add to the fun.

Age Range

Passengers will generally be young professional age.

Routes

LBW has an interesting Split-Split route that doesn’t make it to Dubrovnik but rather spends more time on Vis Island and a few more secluded places. There are still great parties on Vis and the route seems like it would be good fun and adventure-driven. The price is also very reasonable!

Split-Split A+ Cabin LBW Tours Will Be Added When 2019 Dates Become Available!

On-the-Go Tours Sailing Split Budget Tour

On-the-Go tours are usually a multi-age and more relaxed Croatia sail week, but they have one budget tour on a B-Class boat designed for 18-29 year-old passengers. There will be shared facilities and all the main amenities of a B-Class boat – breakfast, lunch, crew, etc.

View Split Sailing Budget Youth Tour

Croatia2016B2-25

FLOATILLA STYLE CROATIA SAILING TOURS

There is an increasing number of floatilla-style tours in Croatia each summer, that sail with lots of smaller boats together. They are very different yet just as fun as doing sail Croatia on bigger boats! Floatillas do not travel as far (they either stay around Split or Dubrovnik), and may have day and night stops. See the beginning of this article for more logistical information on how floatillas work, but here are a few main floatilla companies you can consider.

The Yacht Week

The Yacht Week is the Croatia sailing company that most Americans know about. The Yacht Week is glamorous and is known for its music, dj’s, and ‘exclusive parties.’ The Yacht week definitely has a different vibe than a lot of tours, but a lot of the destinations and parties are still the same. They also have lots of tours centered around Ultra Europe music festival and Ultra week in Croatia.

Clientele

The Yacht Week get most American, Scandinavian/European, and South American clientele. The 8-10 person boats will be full of groups of friends from different places.

Party Level / Age Range

The Yacht Week is a massive party, but tends to be a more expensive one. Yacht week passengers always seem to buy tables at the fancy clubs and spend more money on what seems like a businessperson’s week off to have fun.

Med Sailors

Med Sailors is another of the biggest floatilla companies that sail Croatia. They run great tours with great skippers who will also love to take guests out to the bars at night (always wearing their yellow and blue Med Sailors shirts – you can’t miss them!)

Routes

Like I said, floatilla-style small boat tours don’t make it all the way from Split top Dubrovnik but will rather spend more time in some more secluded destinations around each. The MedSailors Croatia Sailing Tours I have linked below cruise around Split, Hvar, Vis, and Northern Korcula.

Clientele/Party Level/ Age Range

Med Sailors also has a varied clientele of more English/Irish/Americans than many companies. The option to party is also always available, and people are usually young (18-35) but more mature.

View MedSailors Premier Tours

View MedSailors Premier Plus Tours

View MedSailors Catamaran Tours

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Sail Croatia Tours for the Older Passenger or Family

Phew! Now that we have gotten through the Croatia sailing tours for young people, it may seem it is not possible to visit this country without a party, but that is far from true! There are loads of Croatia sailing tours that cater to different audiences- older people, families, bicyclers, even tennis players and vegans! I’m telling you – there’s something for everyone.

Remember to read above for descriptions of boats and facilities!

Croatia Sailing Companies: G Adventures

G Adventures is an extremely reputable tour company that runs tours all over the whole world. It’s no surprise that their Croatia product will be amazing as well. Their tours are for smaller groups (max 8 on smalelr yachts) and run from April all the way until October.

Demographics:

G Adventures tours are for 12-70 year olds. Younger people may book out the boats for a private tour, but they’re also great for families or friends of any age.

G ADventures Split to Dubrovnik Croatia Sailing Tour

G Adventures Dubrovnik to Split Croatia Sailing Tour

Sail Croatia Companies: Intrepid Travel

Intrepid is yet another world renowned travel company (operating in all 7 continents, I believe!) who also run both small group tours and larger boat tours in Croatia. The small-boat groups will be about 8-10 people as a single tour, and will stop at all sorts of islands on the way across the Adriatic. The larger boat tours will be similar in nature to all others I have described with groups of 30+ and family oriented. They also have a few accommodated or coach tours to visit the same area.

Intrepid has started doing young-person Croatia sailing tours this year as well, offering boats and routes for 18-29 year olds. But, because I believe that that other companies I have mentioned are far more established in the young Croatia party cruise scene, I will be leaving it at that for now!

Routes

Intrepid has come out with some incredible sailing tours for 2019. They have all the classic routes between Split and Dubrovnik (on both large and small boats) but have now come out with some longer routes that go up to the north in Croatia and even to Venice! They have a new two week cruise of the entire Croatian coast and two that start in Venice, which look awesome… linked below.

Demographics:

Intrepid is listed as 15 to 99 year olds, so would be perfect for families or groups of friends of any age who like to be a bit more low-key (for all boats) or have a tour to themselves (for the small boats).

Smaller Boat Tours (Max 8)

Split to Dubrovnik Sailing Tour with Intrepid Travel 

Dubrovnik to Split Sailing Tour with Intrepid Travel

Larger Boat Tours (Max 31)

Split to Split A+ Boat Cruise

Dubrovnik to Split A+ Cruise

Split to Dubrovnik A+ Cruise

Dubrovnik to Split via Zadar + Plitvice (15 Days)

Venice to Split (8 Days, partial driving)

Split to Venice (8 Days, partial driving)

Dubrovnik to Venice (15 Days, partial driving, via Mostar, Split, national parks)

Compare G Adventures and Intrepid Travel Here! Many of their tours are similar, so check out this review comparing the companies.
Croatia2016B2-121

Croatia Sailing Companies: Kompas

Kompas is one of the Adriatic’s premiere luxury travel companies. Perfect for families or people of any age, Kompas tours have a minumum of 8 years of age and a maximum of 80. These tours will be on the nicest A+ category ships and your every need will be catered to!

Kompas has some of the most unique routes of any sailing company, and has tours going as far north as Zadar and Porec, Istria (the very north of Croatia). Bigger boats can go faster, I suppose! Many tours will have daytime and night time stops to cover more ground in the same amount of time – 8 days.

Many boats will have small pools/jacuzzis onboard and premium space to relax on lounge chairs or eat meals in style. These are the ridiculously nice boats that other people just gape at. You can see all information about the boat before you book a tour!

I think it would be great to see more of Croatia in the same amount of time, but the pace might be fast so what to choose depends on what you prefer! Here are some of the most interesting Kompas Routes:

Kompas Dubrovnik to Porec, Istria (Northern Croatia) Sailing Tour

Kompas Porec to Dubrovnik Sailing Tour

Kompas Zadar to Dubrovnik Sailing Tour

Kompas Dubrovnik to Zadar Sailing Tour

Kompas Split to Dubrovnik Sailing Tour

Kompas Dubrovnik to Split Sailing Tour

Kompas Dubrovnik to Dubrovnik Sailing Tour

Sail Croatia Companies: On-the-Go Tours

On-The-Go Tours, besides the young person budget tour I mentioned above, is a very chilled-out tour for all ages. There’s no discernable age limit on these tours, with about half of passengers aged 50+ and teenagers as young as 16 with their parents. A few of the tours ask that the age starts at 28, however – just make sure to check before you book.

On-the-Go Tours are perfect for the older crowd who doesn’t want to pay as much, younger travelers who are not looking to party, or families who want to have a lovely holiday together.

They have three different classes of boats, which they call ‘traditional,’ ‘premium,’ and ‘premium plus.’ They are not the same as B, A, and A+, however, in that they all have ensuite bathrooms and the only different with the premium plus is that there’s more space.

The cheaper tours will simply be cruises to different ports, and without a tour guide. But all the tours on premium boats will have guides.

Here are some of the tours offered by On-The-Go:

Dubrovnik to Split Premium Sail Croatia Tour

Dubrovnik to Dubrovnik Premium Plus Sail 

Split to Split Premium Plus Sail

Split to Split Premium Sail (best deal!)

Traditional Sailing Split to Split (no guide)

Croatia Sailing Companies: UTracks

UTracks is an outdoor adventure tour company, running hiking, biking, and nature tours all over Europe. In Croatia, they run cycling tours for families and people of all ages. These tours will drop passengers off in one location to cycle with a guide to the next location, all through the Adriatic. No age limit/minimum at all!

View UTracks Bike & Sail Adventure Tour

Croatia Sailing Companies: Back-Roads 40-90yr

Back-Roads is a tour company for the older traveler (the opposite age spectrum of the 18-39 party cruises) – the 40-90 year olds. Middle and older aged passengers can enjoy visiting much lesser known ports and National Parks between Split and Zadar on this smaller group cruise.

Back Roads Split-Split Off-theBeaten-Path Northern Croatia Sailing Tour

Croatia Sailing Companies: Go Croatia Sail Tennis Cruise

Yep, that’s right: a tennis cruise. This Split to Split cruise is focused specifically on playing tennis in different places in Croatia! It’s only one specific week in June, so if you are a tennis person get in it now (I actually can’t get over the cover picture on this tour with everyone and their tennis rackets!) 😛

Book your Tennis Croatia Sailing Tour

Croatia + Montenegro River Cruise

If you’re looking for something a bit bigger and more like an actual cruise, CroisiEurope River Cruises has brought their 103m long, 48-crew river vessel to the Adriatic to sail you and 197 other people around Croatia and Montenegro.

There is no age limit whatsoever for this cruise and could be a cool option for those who like bigger boats and larger groups.

Check out the river boat tour here

Sailing Croatia Companies: Custom Walks

Custom Walks does Croatia sailing tours for hikers! Capped at 11 people on a two-masted motor yacht, a Custom Walks tour will take you around the islands on various trails and hikes around Split, Vis, Hvar, Brac and Trogir. Make sure to book soon, though – they only have two weeks total in the summer, one in June and one in September.

Check out the Croatia Hiking Tour

Did you think I was kidding when I said there was a Vegan Cruise?

You thought wrong! This raw vegan cruise takes place during the first week of August in Croatia on a very nice boat, and has yoga classes and lectures on veganism. What will be next?!

PHEW! That was a lot of Croatia Sailing Tours. Overwhelmed? I would be too. Feel free to send me an email if you need help sifting through all this information to find out which sail Croatia tour is right for you. Nonetheless – all the information is here! Just use deductive reasoning: figure out if you want a young person tour or not, a floatilla or not, a smaller 8-person boat or a larger 30+ person boat with a chef/aircon, if you want something super luxurious or something cheaper, and finally if you want a specialty cruise (hiking, biking, tennis) or something… normal.

This should narrow things down, but I’m always here if you need more help! Enjoy your week sailing in Croatia!

 

With dozens of companies and hundreds of boats, it's hard to know how to choose the best Croatia Sailing Tours for you! This guide will help you choose the right island sail week company based on what YOU are looking for.

Did you enjoy my comprehensive guide to Croatia sailing tours?! Planning to do a Sail Croatia? Please pin me!

 

October 24, 2018

Riding the Tren a Las Nubes: Salta Argentina’s Train To the Clouds

Riding the Tren a Las Nubes: Salta Argentina’s Train To the Clouds

While visiting the Salta and Jujuy provinces of Northern Argentina recently, I got the opportunity to ride the Tren a Las Nubes, or the “Train to the Clouds.” This incredible train ride is much more than transportation; it’s an engineering marvel, an underrated tourist attraction, and a view like nothing I’ve seen before.

The Tren a Las Nubes is one of the highest altitude trains in the world, reaching elevations of up to 4200m (13,800ft). It is more of an entire experience, beginning with a bus ride from Salta that takes the beautiful Highway 51 and stops periodically to admire colorful mountains, small villages, and other sights.

The Train to the Clouds leaves from the small city of San Antonio de Los Cobres, which is also the highest city in Argentina at 3775m (12,385ft). You can feel the thinning air as you approach the city, which has a very different and much more indigenous vibe than the rest of the country.

Before You Read On, Why Not Check Out Some Other Argentina Content?

Salta Argentina is home to the Tren a Las Nubes, or the Train to the clouds, which is one of the highest altitude and most beautiful train rides in the world..

Want to remember the Tren a Las Nubes? Pin this!

My Day on the Tren a Las Nubes (Train to the Clouds)

My Tren a Las Nubes Tour began far before dawn at an old train station in Salta – but we were not yet taking the train! The Train to the Clouds begins and ends in San Antonio de Los Cobres, so you must make the meticulous drive there via bus before you can take the train ride. Luckily, the whole process is made into a tour.

We had three busses shuttling us on the 3-4 hour commute that morning, with bilingual guides helping us get set up for an eventful day. We stopped a few places on the way – at least a few times an hour – to break up the journey and to appreciate the jaw-dropping landscapes of Northern Argentina.

You can read more about the specific Quebrada del Toro/Puna de Atacama Route 51 Road Trip Stops on the way to the train by following the link to my specific post about it. We stopped in a beautiful little town called El Alfarcito for a provided breakfast, and had multiple photo stops to take photos of the incredible Toro Gorge (Quebrada del Toro) and Atacama Highlands (Puna de Atacama) on the way to San Antonio de Los Cobres.

When we arrived at the train station, there were dozens of locals clad in tons of beautiful colors and indigenous patterns. They were selling every possible kind of clothing and craft, and many had llamas on their arms to sell photos. I just had to get a llama selfie – I mean, were you even in South America if you didn’t get a llama selfie?! 😛

el alfarcito priest blessings tren a las nubes

puna de atacama train to the clouds road trip

Priest blessings in El Alfarcito, and the beautiful road to San Antonio de Los Cobres

tren a las nubes indigenous crafts llamas

tren a las nubes llamas and crafts san antonio de los cobres

Indigenous crafts + Llamas

The Tren a Las Nubes Journey into the Clouds

After checking out all the crafts, it was time to find our assigned seats on the train. During my journey there was tons of extra space, so if I needed I could have had a window seat on either side for photos.

Pro Tip: Try to get a seat on the left side of the train, this is the best angle for the Polvorilla Viaduct! 

As the train began, we were presented with INCREDIBLE views of the unique highland desert, the Puna de Atacama. This flatland has an average altitude of 3500m, and is lined with watercolor-like mountains that can reach up to 6000m.

As the train gained speed, we could see miles and miles of fairly barren landscapes, with colors that were bright and blotched with different colors. Over the loud speaker, we got little tidbits of history and info about this train, which is a true engineering marvel.

Everything was spoken in English and Spanish, but it did seem that I was the only English speaking (or only non-Argentinan, really) person there. It’s crazy to me that most of the tourism here was domestic!

tren a las nubes train to the clouds view argentina highland desert atacama

water colors of puna de atacama northern argentina highlands tren a las nubes train to the clouds view

Watercolored highlands of the Puna de Atacama highland

tren a las nubes leaving san antonio de los cobres

Leaving San Antonio de Los Cobres

Some History of the “Train to the Clouds”

So, the Tren a Las Nubes is one of the highest altitude trains in the world. Its intention was to connect Argentina with Northern Chile over the Andes mountains, and open up a connection for Argentina with the ocean, since Buenos Aires was over 2000km away.

The Train to the Clouds originally left from Salta, and even left from Salta for a while as a tourist attraction too. It was 573km, and joined Salta and Socompa pass in Chile. But after years of repairs and a few accidents, the train now leaves from San Antonio de Los Cobres only.

In 1921 plans were set in motion by an American engineer named Richard Maury. Because the train had to gain so much altitude, he had to think of something different to propel the train upwards. So, what makes the Train to the Clouds so unique is that about halfway into the journey, the train stops and they bring the locomotive from the front of the train (where most locomotives are) to the back, so it can push the train upwards rather than pull. This makes it a super unique and interesting engineering marvel.

As I’m sure you can imagine, building this railway was no easy task. Construction started in 1921, but was not finished until 1948! They went through problems with funding, engineering complications, and much more. Apparently, a few hundred people died during its construction.

Unfortunately, when the construction was finally finished, flying was around and there were some more improved routes between the two countries. It was used to transport cargo for a while, but is now solely a tourist attraction. It’s gone through a few phases of repairs, the most recent of which was in 2015.

tren a las nubes views

Views from inside the Tren a Las Nubes

lead copper mine northern argentina tren a las nubes

The mine we passed before changing the locomotive to the back of the train

 

Tren a Las Nubes Sights

The train wound round and round the highlands for a while. The other passengers and I gaped wide-eyed at the views, finding it hard to put our cameras away for more than a few minutes as there was always another spectacular view around the corner.

We passed some salty springs, and also an old mineral mine that used to extract silver, copper, lead, and zinc from the colorful landscape until 1985. It was at this mine that the train stopped to transfer the locomotive to the back, as all the passengers watched in awe of what has been called the most amazing work of Argentinian architecture.

After the mine, the final stop of the Tren a Las Nubes was the most famous – the Viaducto la Polvorilla, or the Polvorilla Viaduct. This is definitely the most photographed and possibly the most impressive part of the Train to the Clouds.

The Viaducto la Polvorilla is a massive, 64m high, 232m long Viaduct over a deep canyon in the mountains. The train curves to the left over this viaduct, leaving an absolutely flawless photo op of the train, the viaduct, and the canyon!

Everyone on the train knows this, too, because each and every one of them sticks their entire body out the window with a selfie stick as the train nears the viaduct. But, can you blame them?! The view is pretty damn awesome, incredibly unique, and basically just jaw-dropping.

PS – I was also sticking my whole body outside the train with my selfie stick. 😛 

tren a las nubes selfie viaducto la polvorilla

The best selfie ever… too bad my cheap camera ended up being HORRIBLE! 

baby llama salta kiss northern argentina Train to the clouds tren a las nubes

Baby Llama kisses!

Then it was time for another stop. Just next to the viaduct, there were dozens of locals who had spread out blankets full of indigenous crafts, Inca art, and the classic South America sweaters. We had some time to shop and take more photos with baby llamas before returning to San Antonio de Los Cobres.

Although the same, the way back was just as incredible as the way there. This landscape is just so unique, it would be impossible to get tired of it. But considering that the elevation at the Polvorilla Viaduct (the highest point of the train to the clouds) is 4250m, it was in everyone’s best interest to start a bit of descent. They even have oxygen tanks for people who get woozy with altitude, and they were definitely getting used!

After a lunch stop in the town, it was time for the long, winding, Route 51 back to Salta. Our attentive guides kept us entertained with fun facts and stories, and we can a few more stops on the way back to break the journey up a bit.

All in all, the Train to the Clouds was definitely one of the most unique things I have ever done. Sure, I love looking out the window on train rides, but I’ve never been on a train whose sole function is tourism and photography… let alone one at 4,200m elevation in a watercolored South American highland! I think this is a must-do while in Salta and one of the coolest, most unique, and far underrated activities in South America. It’s kindof just one of those things you splurge a little bit on because you’ll never get a chance to do something like it again.

BOOK YOUR TREN A LAS NUBES JOURNEY HERE

Tips for the Tren a Las Nubes:

  • You’re at a high altitude. This means a few things:
    • ITS FREEZING. Dress Accordingly. Like, gloves, hat, boots type accordingly.
    • Walking a few steps is TIRING. Take it easy, and take breaks!
  • It’s a very long day with lots of time on the bus. Maybe bring a book or just know you’ll be tired. It would also be good not to plan anything long the day before or after this tour.
  • If you want to try llama, San Antonio de Los Cobres is a place to do it. If that disgusts you, get a humita – it’s like a cheese tamale. Maybe some empanadas too!
  • Selfie sticks will actually get you amazing photos across the Polvirilla Viaduct. Sit on the left!

 

More Train to the Clouds photos for inspo:

train to the clouds baby llama

llama train to the clouds salta argentina polvorilla viaduct

 

polvorilla viaduct train to the clouds argentina salta

August 4, 2018