Competition: Win a stay at Britain’s Best Beach

Imagine waking up to this view every morning for a week…

Rhossili Bay ©CCSpCW

The beautiful Rhossili Bay, in Wales’ Swansea Bay, has been voted Britain’s Best Beach by TripAdvisor and was described by the poet Dylan Thomas as “very near nowhere”. And you have the chance of winning a week’s stay in this glorious secluded coastal spot.

As part of the 2014 centenary celebrations marking the birth of Dylan Thomas, Visit Swansea Bay is running a competition to win a week’s stay in the National Trust owned, four-bedroom cottage, The Old Rectory – the only place in Britain with the country’s best beach as its front garden! Located on its own in this beauty spot, the cottage is the perfect base to explore the Gower Peninsular.

All you have to do to enter is share three words to describe your favourite place in Swansea Bay – take a look at the website, www.visitswanseabay.com, for inspiration and to enter. Get your entries in by 29 June 2014.

Good luck!

Wormshead ©CCS (Rhossili)

 

Competition time! Win a holiday to Tanzania

It’s 2014 and our friends at NGO Frontier are celebrating 25 years of conservation, volunteering and adventure holidays (Happy Birthday Frontier!). To celebrate they’re giving you the chance to win a two week volunteering holiday for two people to the beautiful country of Tanzania.

Choose from either a beach conservation, wildlife conservation, or teaching and beaches volunteer holiday on Frontier’s original project site of Mafia Island, Tanzania.

To enter, all you have to do is ‘Like’ the Frontier Official Facebook page, then enter your email address into the sweepstakes. But hurry, you have until 31st January 2014. The winner will be notified by email. Good luck!

teach

Established in 1989 as a non-profit conservation and development non-governmental organisation (NGO), Frontier has been an innovator in creating quality volunteer programmes across the globe. Frontier’s first projects started in Tanzania as a partnership with the WWF to create the world’s first successful multi-user marine park in a developing country, a marine park which volunteers still work in today and one that exemplifies Frontier’s aim of creating long lasting and sustainable results. Since then, Frontier’s has grown to operate over 330 capacity building projects in over 60 countries spanning 5 continents, making Frontier a truly international organisation with a global impact.

kate montgomery tzm 14.1

A luxury stay at Costa Rica’s Lapa Rios Eco Lodge

Guest blogger Bev Sninchak reviews a luxurious eco resort nestled in the rainforest of Costa Rica…Macaws at Lapa Rios, Costa Rica

Tucked away in the Costa Rican rainforest, eco lodge Lapa Rios, which means ‘River of Scarlet Macaws’, is a green resort which oozes luxury. According to a Stanford University study published in the Journal of Ecotourism, Lapa Rios offers significant eco-tourism benefits to the region, in addition to offering economic boosts to the area.

Accommodation

Nestled in a private rainforest wonderland of beaches and wildlife, Lapa Rios touts its destination as the place to be for tourists who insist on the ultimate green travel, combining ethereal luxury with environmentally friendly practices that put the goal of sustainability as the top priority. What’s more, the land can never be developed to ensure the forest remains untouched, based on a conservation easement signed by owners John and Karen Lewis.

Facilities

At 930 acres, Lapa Rios’s Eco Lodge features 16 luxurious rainforest bungalows set right in the middle of the rainforest. Awaken to the sound of macaws and enjoy being surrounded by delightful jungle animals such as toucans, sloths and howler monkeys. You can take in a Pacific Ocean view directly from your bed, and when you’re ready for a meal, saunter down to Lapa Rios’s award-winning Brisa Azul restaurant.

Food

Focusing on eco-friendly fare, Brisa Azul serves dishes featuring grass-fed beef, organic chicken, locally caught seafood, and fresh vegetables and fruits produced from the local region alongside organic wine.

Horse riding at Lapa Rios, Costa Rica

Activities

This stunning location in a private rainforest set on the Osa Peninsula reserve that stretches a thousand acres provides visitors with active participation in sustainable eco-tourism. Guided tours with trained local guides teach about the biodiversity of the area. Access to waterfalls as well as three beaches provides a wealth of experiences for lovers of sand and surf, including boating trips, horseback riding along the beach, kayaking, and surfing.

Recommended for…Those who want to completely ‘unplug’ there is no internet, air conditioning, telephone, or television at Lapa Rios.

Be aware that…Lapa Rios is a private rainforest reserve located 45 minutes from the closest airstrip in Puerto Jiménez, and driving takes seven hours from San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica.

‘Good’ credentials:

  • Lapa Rios was the first Costa Rican hotel to receive the highest status for sustainability from the Costa Rica Tourism Board.
  • Provides both organic and biodegradable shampoo, soap, and lotion.
  • Eco-friendly grooming products are produced locally.
  • Serves to educate about biodiversity through the use of informative materials located in a guide hut.

 

For additional information and to book your trip, visit www.laparios.com

About the author: Bev Sninchak is a veteran freelance writer with 16 years of experience producing content for various publications. She writes about many subjects, from managing your social media platform to Reputation.com testimonials.

An eco-lovers’ guide to Gozo

(This post is sponsored by Air Malta) The Maltese island of Gozo has more than enough for those looking for an eco-friendly holiday…

Gozo, just under 70 square kilometers in size, is part of the Maltese archipelago consisting of three islands: Malta, Gozo and Comino. Located in the centre of the Mediterranean, Gozo has embarked on an ambitious yet achievable vision to transform into an ecoisland by 2020.

[gdl_gallery title=”Gozo” width=”125″ height=”110″ ]

Supported by a keen and committed sustainable community the quality of life in Gozo is constantly improving through education, economic development and social progress. The Gozitan lifestyle, the island’s environment, resources, culture and identity are all being protected, and all play a significant part in attracting more visitors and investors to the island. Here are some eco-friendly ways to holiday on Gozo…

Residing in a farmhouse

Gozo is famous for its beautiful farmhouses available for rent all year round. Typically these farmhouses are surrounded with spectacular countryside and sea views, and all equipped to the highest of standards. A majority of these farmhouses keep their carbon footprint down to a minimum. Gozo is fortunate to be a sun soaked island almost all year round and many of the farmhouses available for rent make use of photovoltaic systems and solar water heaters. Using solar energy goes hand in hand with the vision of transforming Gozo into an eco-island

A tranquil lifestyle

You may easily encounter farmers working their land, and get to meet the authentic cottagetype entrepreneurs managing their shops on the main street or tucked away in the Lilliputian villages. Life on Gozo is tranquil and softpaced. The capital, Victoria, is slightly more upbeat with the amenities of a modern town centre.

Local harvest

Gozo, (and Malta) is known for its fresh produce, either caught from the surrounding sea or grown on land. Dolphin fish (known as ‘lampuki’ to the locals), tuna, octopus, prawns, mussels, grouper and sea dates are always available as is fresh Maltese bread, known as Ħobż biż-żejt. The bread is baked in a traditional way spanning back hundreds of years. It is then rubbed with local tomatoes while olive oil is spread onto it with the addition or mix of tuna, olives, onion and cheeselet known as ‘gbejna’.  The latter is a traditional small Maltese cheese made from goat’s and sheep’s milk, either served plain or coated in cracked black pepper. The very best ‘gbejna’ can be found in Gozo.

Landscape and activities

Gozo is quite rural and known for its scenic hills, which are also featured on its coats of arms. The landscape offers unique opportunities to experience a day out cycling with a difference. The landscape changes with every twist and turn, cycling through the gentle undulating slopes, often with country and sea views on either side. Cycling in the Maltese Islands as a leisurely or sporty activity is on the increase for people of all ages and shops catering for the needs of the cyclist can be found in most main towns, offering rentals and repair services, as well as organised tours for groups.

Gozo has some really excellent walking areas which present varying levels of difficulty. The best months for walking are April, May, early June, then later on in the year in October and November, weather permitting of course! You can obviously go in the hot summer months as well but do ensure you seek shade frequently and always carry enough drinking water (it’s best to head out early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid the scorching midday sun).

Rock climbing on Gozo was first developed by The English Army with a number of climbers developing a small Cliffs, Gozo, Maltaguidebook with traditional routes in the 1970’s. Since then it has been forgotten as a climbing destination. Gozo is an undiscovered heaven for rock climbers. The limestone rock, washed out by millennia of rainfall, has steep walls and overhangs which provide excellent routes and invite climbers to go to their limits. Gozo is gaining in popularity amongst the climbing fraternity. It offers enough variety and challenges to fascinate even the most experienced climber.

If climbing, cycling or hiking is not for you then Gozo has several very nice beaches that are useful for recreation and they are all remarkably unique. Besides the physical differences in the beaches themselves, accessibility and services are also factors.

Gozo’s relative isolation means that the beaches don’t get as overcrowded as most of the better beaches on the larger island of Malta, but during the hot summer days many are full of tourists and locals. Ramla and Marsalforn are two of the most popular beaches on the island, mainly because of their location and close by facilities.

Other beaches are equally unique and beautiful, but may see fewer visitors due to their remote locations. Ghajn Barrani, for example, which is on the road that runs from Xaghra to Marsalforn, is a beautiful and quiet beach, but not very accessible.

Getting to Gozo is fairly simple as it is only a short 15 minute ferry ride away from Malta, the main island. Located in the centre of the Mediterranean, Malta is just a few hours’ flying time from Europe’s main cities and Air Malta, the airline of the Maltese Islands, operates flights to and from all the major airports in Europe.

This post is sponsored by Air Malta. Goodtrippers retains editorial control over all content and only selects sponsored posts that fit the Goodtrippers ethos.

Britain’s best wild beaches

Summer is finally on the horizon and what better way to spend the free time on this island nation than beside the seaside.

Britain’s coastline is almost 18,000km long dotted with thousands of beaches – and not all littered with amusement arcades, funfairs and fast-food cafes. The country is blessed with a wealth of rugged, wild, secluded or simply tranquil beaches up and down the country – perfect spots for swimmers, walkers, wildlife lovers or those just looking to escape the crowds.

So whether you’re looking for campsites or hotels by the sea, here are just a small selection of Britain’s best ‘wild’ beaches (this is just a few to start you off – if you’ve got a favourite wild/quiet/secluded beach, share it with us!).

Holkham, Norfolk (c) Creative Commons_photoaf
Holkham, Norfolk (c) Creative Commons_photoaf

Holkham Bay, Norfolk

When the tide is out, this beach looks like it goes on for miles. Surrounding by pine forest and shaped by sand dunes, this expansive beach is the perfect place to take a picnic, lie back in the sea breeze and get lost in the huge Norfolk skies. As a National Trust protected area, you really are in a secluded spot free from tourist traps (the nearest place for a cup of tea will be the small van in the car park, or the fancy Victoria Hotel outside the entrance – which is a long walk from the beach itself!).

Beer Beach, Devon

A bit busier than Holkham, this pebble  beach in the little fishing village of Beer has popular beach cafes, deckchairs and walkways. If you’re up for a walk, take the South West Coast Path west to Branscombe beach and enjoy the beautiful views from Beer Head.

Sandsend, Yorkshire

The village of Sandsend is quieter than its neighbour Whitby, and arguably prettier. Attracting walkers for its clifftop rambles along an old railway track (part of the Cleveland Way), you can drink in the views of the village and out across to St Mary’s Church in Whitby.  Down on the mainly sandy beach, you can while away the time exploring the rock pools before getting a cream tea in one of the beach front cafes.

Achmelvich, Highland (c) Russel Wills, Creative Commons
Achmelvich, Highland (c) Russel Wills, Creative Commons

Achmelvich Bay, Highland

Achmelvich is really a cluster of remote and rugged beaches three miles long stretching from Loch Inver on the west coast of Scotland. It has been awarded a blue flag for 13 consecutive years, as well as being recommended by the Marine Conservation Society and winner of a Green Coast Award.

Marloes Sands, Pembrokeshire

This National Trust managed Welsh beach is full of stunning geology (sandstone cliffs, volcanic rock and fossils), evidence of ancient people (and Iron Age fort overlooks the beach), and wildlife (this birdwatchers’ paradise also attracts seals). Lots of sand, space and safe swimming make this an attractive location to spend an afternoon as you gaze out to sea at the outlying islands and beyond.

Do you have a favourite wild, remote, secluded or quiet beach in Britain? Let us know in the comments below…

 

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Golden Buddha Beach Resort, Koh Phra Thong, Thailand

Golden Buddha Beach Resort

Koh Phra Thong, A. Kuraburi, Phang-nga 82150 Thailand

T: +44 (0) 208 123 2053

www.goldenbuddharesort.com

[gdl_gallery title=”Golden Buddha” width=”105″ height=”110″ ]

This place has ‘responsible travel’ weaved into every possible aspect of your stay – a true definition of the term ‘eco resort’. Not only that, but it has a ‘down-to-earth’ luxuriousness about it, and is an incredibly beautiful and peaceful place to stay. The hosts describe it as “luxury created by nature, not man”.

Accommodation: The resort consists of 25 individually-decorated bungalows (Premiere, Luxury or Deluxe; either immediately facing the beach or behind the path) all of which are secluded in their own garden area, and no more than 80m from Golden Buddha beach and the Andaman Sea. We stayed in the lovely Baan Tao Tanu (Green Turtle) which was spacious for two people with its large raised deck and ‘look-out’ perch (we weren’t overlooked by anyone leaving us free to open the bedroom doors each night and keep cool by the sea breezes).

Restaurant: Just a two-minute walk to the ‘clubhouse’, guests can expect a fantastic multi-dish Thai meal every lunch and dinner time from a set menu that changes daily – no choice but you’re always guaranteed expected favourites and new discoveries (a free-to-choose buffet takes place on Wed and Sat nights alternating between meat and vegetarian). A fully-licensed bar, including daily cocktail specials, is open throughout the evening. There were two other small, low-key beach bars on the island (from what we could find) which would probably appreciate some passing custom when you fancy a change.

Activities: Yoga groups visit the island and there is a purpose-built yoga platform overlooking the bay which is perfect for sunset yoga sessions. You can hire kayaks and snorkeling gear (or book scuba-diving trips if experienced) from the Blue Guru dive shack on the beach or from the locals and explore the smaller islands and reefs around the bay (you may get a chance to spot a green turtle or sting ray while swimming). The Naucrates Turtle Conservation Project based on the island is happy to welcome guests who may wish to volunteer a few hours monitoring turtle activity. Surrounding mangroves make for a leisurely kayak trip or walk. Massage and spa treatments are available, and the kitchen staff run cookery lessons.

Recommended for… Peaceful and beautiful location; very friendly and helpful staff; delicious food; ‘affordable’ luxury; nature (bird life and marine life)

Be aware that… This really is the definition of ‘escape’ – if you need lively nightlife, shops, multiple restaurants, in-room TVs etc, this isn’t the place for you!

‘Good’ credentials

  • Energy conservation: power is restricted to 6pm to 11pm; no air-con or fans used; no hot water except two houses heated by solar power; minimum use of fossil fuel-powered vehicles/machines
  • Water conservation: water is taken from showllo wells; rainwater is collectef for drinking and treated with aeration; low water-user toilets installed; biodegradable detergents and soaps used
  • Recycling and waste: food is bought fresh and locally to reduce packaging and food miles; paper, glass and aluminium is recycled; the kitchen is ‘zero waste’
  • Nature conservation: low-impact construction for all buildings; minimal external lighting; plants that prevent erosion; supporters of the Naucrates Turtle Conservation Project, and run programmes with dive group Blue Guru on coral restoration, whale shark and turtle awareness
  • Community: over 90% of staff are local and paid above the local prevailing wage; use local suppliers, income is re-invested locally; supporters of projects in local village and school of Baan Lions

 

Date of visit: February, 2012

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