Last Day in Sydney

DSCN2223It has been so fun going through all of our photos from our stay in Australia.  I can’t believe we packed so much in!  On our last day in Sydney, we walked and explored what felt like every inch.  The Royal Botanic Gardens were really gorgeous!  I could see why so many people were there (tourists and locals alike) just relaxing on the grass.  We hunted for hours in the gardens looking for the humongous fruit bats I had seen during my last visit years ago.  No luck.  Sad!  We did get a kick out of watching the eels in the main pond though.  It was just too weird to see these long serpent creatures patrolling the edges!  So long Australia.  Until next time, I’ll be missing you.

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LookBook: Sydney

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Oh Sydney.  You are so beautiful.  It was a stunning few days we spent in Sydney for the end of our Australia visit.  Never a cloud in the sky and the temps were perfect for a full day of wandering.  We really enjoyed visiting the tourist sites like the Sydney Harbor Bridge, the Opera House, and the Royal Botanic Gardens.  It was a bit windy along the harbor so I totally had a Marilyn moment or two (or three!).  Sorry about that folks!  I miss this place so much.

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 Sunglasses: Ray-Ban ‘Club Master’, Top: Zara (Similar), Skirt: Kate Spade New York  (Similar), Shoes: Chanel (via Shop-hers.com), Bracelet: McQ by Alexander McQueen

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Hiking Australia’s Blue Mountains

DSCN1890After visiting the gorgeous oceans of The Great Barrier Reef we headed onto the next leg of our journey: Australia’s famed Blue Mountains.  The Blue Mountains are a really unique phenomenon.  I’m not just talking about the blue hue the mountains get from the water droplets in the atmosphere either.  After only an hour and a half car ride from the hustle and bustle of Sydney, we ended up in the beautiful Eucalyptus-filled forest teeming with wildlife.  We even had cockatoos come begging for seeds on the balcony of our B & B.  We stayed at the Valley of the Waters Bed & Breakfast and were simply blown away.  It is situated right up against the forest (I took the pic above from our balcony) and only 2 doors down from the nature reserve center which is the start of the famous nature walks.

There are tons of different hiking options, from slow and easy to full day treks.  You can even visit Scenic World to take in the beauty of the Blue Mountains without having to hike at all!  Just make sure you’re prepared with lots of water!  It got HOT while we were out there.  Overall it’s an absolutely beautiful National Park that will make you feel like you’re a million miles from the big city.

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Great Barrier Reef: Heron Island

DSCN1422Remember when I visited Australia, got halfway through posting photos, then disappeared for awhile all distracted by my full time job working retail over the holidays?  It’s time to get caught up.  Over the next few weeks, every Friday I’ll be sharing the rest of my travel photos from the epic Australian journey.

Heron Island is actually quite difficult to describe.  It’s one of those surreal Discovery Channel beauty type of places that just saying “It was so beautiful” doesn’t even scratch the surface of how I really felt.  The skies are the purest blue of blues and the ocean looks as if a turquoise diamond has melted over the reefs.  This island is located on the Southern end of the Great Barrier Reef so the coral is mostly browns and neutrals with a few great pops of color.  The bright colorful coral is more North where the water is warmer.

One of the fantastically fun things about Heron Island in particular is that during low tide, you can walk a good mile from shore and only be up to thigh deep water.  It’s such a remarkably unique way to visit the reef!  We were able to spot tons of sea life just during these walks alone.  Bright blue starfish, neon lipped clams, sea cucumbers everywhere, and we were even lucky enough to spot a sea turtle both times we did a reef walk.  You’re literally in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef, surrounded by wildlife.  From birds to sharks, you’ll have some form of wildlife in sight at all times.

This Island is known for its sea turtle activity.  While we visited in October, the sea turtles were in mating season.  We witnessed quite a bit of sea turtle love and saw evidence of the females coming to shore for a little rest.  Apparently, the males practically drown the females while, you know, getting busy so the ladies need a break.  A sea turtle cigarette so to speak.  At other times during the year, visitors can witness the entire sea turtle life cycle.  I would have died to see the baby turtles!  Next time, I suppose.DSCN1494DSCN1579DSCN1470DSCN1407DSCN1545DSCN1359DSCN1534DSCN1502DSCN1454DSCN1393DSCN1375DSCN1361DSCN1726DSCN1356DSCN1605DSCN1432

 

Fun fact: Heron Island was named after these birds above but they’re actually Egrets!

To plan your visit to Heron Island, click here.

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Seaplane to The Great Barrier Reef

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The next step of our adventure was to visit The Great Barrier Reef.  Visiting here better be on everyone’s bucket list.  It’s an amazing surreal experience.  It’s absolutely incredible how up close and personal you can get with the wildlife.  For example, we got up to watch the sun rise one morning to witness a little sea turtle love and saw tracks where the ladies had come to shore for a nap.  Just a flat out cool experience.

I highly recommend trying to take a helicopter or seaplane out to wherever your stay takes you for another perspective of The Great Barrier Reef.  As we were flying over we saw sharks, stingrays, schools of fish, and lots of sea turtles.  Pretty much everything I wanted to see!  The seaplane experience was really awesome too.  Landing and taking off on the ocean was crazy! I’m so happy we did that.  Stay tuned Wednesday for more on my Great Barrier Reef adventure.

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Hunter Valley Zoo – Feeding Kangaroos

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Hunter Valley Zoo is such a unique zoo!!  It is privately owned and the owners sound like the nicest people ever.  The cost of entry is totally reasonable and a lot of the fun extra activities are free.  The owner believes that everyone should be able to experience the animals up close.  So cool!  You can even pat a wombat or koala at no cost!  We missed the wombat one but I did get to pat a koala!  Man, they are adorable!  Of course feeding the kangaroos was a total blast!  They even have a few albino kangaroos!  I was really surprised how soft these little guys were!  Of course, it was instant love for the little Joey in its mom’s pouch (photo above).

I also really love how open the animal enclosures are.  You feel like you’re right up next to all the creatures.  You can even get decently close to the alligators!  I could have stayed here all day but we needed to get to the wine tasting portion of our road trip.

For a fun day experiencing Australian Wildlife up close and personal, definitely head to the Hunter Valley Zoo!

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Resort Review: Tokoriki Island Resort & Spa

 

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If I have ever dreamed of paradise, this is definitely it.  The Tokoriki Island Resort & Spa was hands down the most luxurious and overwhelmingly fantastic place I have ever visited.  I mean, I cried while we were leaving!  That has to mean something wonderful!  As I sit here writing this, I literally can’t think of a single thing I would change about our time at Tokoriki.

The resort is located on Tokoriki Island, which is part of the Mamanuca group of the Fijian Islands.  It was a quick helicopter ride over from Nadi (the main international airport where most people fly into).  You are greeted with the Bula Song and escorted to your own private bungalow.  Everyone has their own bungalow at Tokoriki Resort.  The rooms were so welcoming and comfortable!  If we were there longer, there would have been a lot of naps involved.  We wanted to take in all we could in our short stay (3 days) so we were up and out for sunrise and took part in everything we could.  One of my favorite features was the outside shower!  I know it sounds silly but it’s just so beautiful in Fiji, you won’t want to spend one minute inside!  Don’t worry, nobody can see you!

As an adults only resort, there’s something just extra special about being able float in the quiet that a no kids resort can offer.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s not overly quiet and stuffy, just a tad on the more peaceful side.  You can also go a little wild if you’re feeling adventurous!  They offer daily trips out to visit an authentic Fijian village, snorkeling adventures (both free and longer paid trips), and you can even be dropped off for a private island lunch!  Truly, this resort is what romance was meant to look like.

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I got to wake up to this every morning. This is the spectacular view from our bungalow.

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Our super comfortable amazing room.

Now I’m not really a huge “Let’s Get A Massage” person but something about this place made us both want to give it a try.  Not to mention the prices are totally reasonable! Well, we had one of the most romantic moments ever at the Tokoriki Spa!  They offer a couples massage for an ultra romantic spa experience.  It was absolutely incredible!  You bathe in a beautiful outside tub full of hibiscus flowers while sipping a glass of champagne.  That is followed by a luxurious side-by-side massage.  We were surprised how much we absolutely loved our experience at the spa.  It was the perfect way to jump into vacation mode!

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The entrance to the beautiful spa. Get ready to be spoiled!

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Not a bad view from the lounge and restaurant, right?

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The view from the beach of our bungalow.

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A storm was rolling in. Don’t worry! It just sprinkled a little bit!

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I took this photo at 6am so nobody was up yet. It’s usually full of super relaxed vacationers.

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Me on one of our snorkeling adventures.

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The church was so pretty!

DSCN0475_2TIP:  If you plan on having any alcohol on your stay, it’s a good idea to pick up what you’d like at the duty free shop in Nadi.  Trust me, you’ll save a lot of money and it’s no problem to transport to the resort.

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