Food Travel


Located along the southern edge of the Californian Central Coast is the super scenic, Monterey County.  This beautiful seaside city was made famous by writer, John Steinbeck whose novel, Cannery Row was inspired by the renowned, waterfront thoroughfare lined with former sardine factories that is now home to hotels, shops, and restaurants.

What makes Monterey worth a visit is the plethora of things to do.   Whether you are looking for adventure, want to explore the local marine life, enjoy a taste of the local wine or kick back with a book on the beach there is something for everyone.

Just further along Highway 1 (which reopens in April) is the neighbouring town of Carmel-by-the-Sea, a charming picture postcard destination that packs some punch for its size. 

Carmel’s romantic cobblestone streets are brimming with art galleries, great places to eat and boutique shops.  The main stretch of road runs from downtown directly to the sugar-white beach.  The town is jam packed with culture, unique backstories and film buffs will also be excited to discover that Clint Eastwood who served as mayor of Carmel resides here, and is often seen dining in Michelin Starred, Aubergine restaurant. 

One of the best times to visit is towards the end of summer. It’s less crowded and you can still expect balmy weather.  Start in Carmel before exploring Monterey Bay and the surrounding area.

Where to stay

Just a stone’s throw from the beach and a short stroll from the shops and restaurants, is the Carmel Beach Hotel.  The hotel opened in 2023 and is one of six new boutique hotels in the town.  The vibe here is laid back luxury, this intimate property has just 26 rooms and three suites.  My room was contemporary and spacious, with fresh whitewashed walls and bedding with accents of marine blue taking inspiration from the ocean.  The large bathrooms comprise of double vanity units, shower and a free-standing roll top bath.  There’s a pretty courtyard restaurant, cocktail bar, spa and gym.  The staff are friendly and deliver a personal seamless service you don’t get from big faceless chains.  During my stay I was running late for a dinner reservation and the manager personally drove me to a local restaurant. 

The breakfast here is fabulous, both mornings I had it delivered to my room.  A cute basket of continental delights are served alongside your preferred hot dish.  The eggs were cooked to perfection, toast still warm and bacon crispy.   

The location makes it ideal for sunset walks and picnics on the beach.  

The Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa sits on stilts directly above the crashing surf of the Pacific and in the prime location of Cannery Row.  The hotel is plush with lots of polished marble, soft carpet, dark wood and large ceiling to floor windows that look out over the bay.  The rooms are spacious and have a similar classic design and décor that continues throughout the hotel. 

When it comes to dining you are spoiled for choice.  There’s lobby café’s, excellent room service and for more casual cuisine guest can head to Schooners, there’s a heated deck and uninterrupted views of the ocean.   The menu includes classic American staples making it the perfect choice for breakfast or a light bite. Coastal Kitchen offers fine dining.  Executive Chef Michael Rotondo serves an ever-evolving tasting menu that showcases the culinary treasures from the region.

The adult only spa is decadent retreat for those looking to relax after a day exploring.  Located on the roof, with dramatic panoramic views from the sundeck, there are two outdoor hot tubs, a steam room and indoor sauna. There is also a gym.

Eat and drink

Chez Noir’s French inspired menu showcases innovative, seafood-centric dishes that have earned them a well-deserved Michelin star.  The menu boasts a fusion of flavours, from tantalizing appetizers to decadent desserts. Highlights include their perfectly seared scallops and the melt-in-your-mouth chocolate fondant. The staff’s knowledge and passion for each dish add a personal touch, making Chez Noir a must-visit for those who appreciate culinary artistry.

Lucia restaurant at Bernardus Lodge and Spa is nothing short of spectacular.  Situated in the Carmel Valley it’s nestled on the grounds of rolling vineyards, olive orchards and 28 acres of fragrant lavender.  With beautiful vistas, tables at Lucia are sought after.  Slick service and a menu dedicated to delicious farm to table fare is what sets Lucia apart from other restaurants.  The wood brick pizzas are divine, the seasonal salads are served like a work of art and the larger plates source prime cuts of meat and market fish. Choose from a selection of wines from the Bernardus vineyard to accompany your meal.

For a seafood feast that celebrates the bounty of the ocean, Salt Wood Kitchen & Oysterette is the place to be. This award-winning upscale seafood restaurant is a short drive from Monterey Bay, and exudes coastal charm with a menu that pays homage to the region’s maritime heritage. The raw bar is a standout, featuring an array of oysters and an abundance of seafood. The wood-fired grill adds a smoky richness to dishes like the grilled octopus and honey glazed duck. The casual yet sophisticated atmosphere, coupled with the welcoming staff, makes Salt Wood Kitchen & Oysterette a go-to spot for those craving a seafood extravaganza.

What to do

While staying in Monterey you must pay a visit to the Monterey Bay Aquarium who are celebrating their 40th anniversary in October.  Here, you can see leopard sharks meander through kelp forests and sea turtles bobbing amongst schools of colourful fish.  Floor to ceiling tanks span two floors at one of the largest aquarium exhibits in the world.  There are interactive experiences, a variety of behind-the-scenes tours (some of which allow visitors to feed penguins) and touch pools, where you can get close to sea cucumbers, bat rays and tide-pool creatures.  This is no run of the mill aquarium, and it’s easy to see why it’s one of the biggest tourist attractions in the region, it showcases more than 35,000 animals and plants representing over 550 species.   

Embark on a wine adventure like no other with Kombi Wine Tours, where vintage style meets exquisite vintages. Board the classic VW Kombi, ‘Sweet Pickle’ and journey through the scenic vineyards and wineries of Monterey, indulging in a curated selection of wines from the region. You’ll be collected from your hotel by their knowledgeable guide, Steve who will keep you entertained with the inside track on all things Monterey.  Expect to stop off at some of the finest wineries along the coast, make sure you call in to Galante Vineyards tasting room to see Jack!

Monterey Bay is California’s best location for viewing whales, great white sharks and spotting an abundance of marine life including dolphins, jellyfish and sea lions.  Discovery Whale Watch trips depart from Fisherman’s Wharf daily and the team onboard are the best in business for spotting and guaranteeing whale sightings.   The three-hour tour is an extraordinary experience that allows you to get up close to these amazing creatures, I got to witness a humpback breech and a pod of dolphins escorted our boat out of the bay.   Throughout the trip the crew tee up sightings, impart knowledge and facts with passion, ensuring you have a memorable experience.

House of Coco travelled to Monterey County courtesy of See Monterey.

Slowing down in SLO CAL

Having been fortunate enough to partake in a few American road trips over the years, nothing quite prepares you for the change in landscape and climate that you can experience in a relatively short space of time. In a matter of hours you can be instantly transported into another world, the people are different, the air, the food, the roadsides that flash past you in a speedy blur. As we bid a fond farewell to the dry heat and urban jungle of Las Vegas, we settled into our first long drive of the trip. Armed with Twizzlers, Goldfish and a plethora of other American car snacks, we allowed a needed silence to fill the car, the bells and rings of slot machines and roulette tables slowly dimming in our ears and being replaced with woosh of a coastal breeze. 

As we moved further into the Californian coastline it became instantly apparent why West Coasters have a certain reputation of being laid back and carefree. Our weary Vegas bodies began to revitalise. As we put more distance between us and the man made playground, we softened in tandem with the skyline. Sky scrapers and towering hotels were replaced with bloom covered hills and green pastures. The expansive views of city scapes now replaced with blue ocean. Hell, there was even a ‘did that really happen’ moment of a dolphin jumping out of the sea and swimming alongside our car for a stretch of the journey. We had spent our first week rushing in giddy excitement from one experience to the next in a city that makes you think fast and spontaneously, now was the time to slow down and be mindful about our next moves and as we wound our way up the PCH, stopping every couple of kilometres to take in the breathtaking views, we did just that.

Where to stay

The whole coastline of Central California is peppered with accommodations. When conducting some initial research on the Visit SLO CAL website to see the options available it became quickly apparent that tourists from all price points are spoilt for choice.

Fortunately for us our choice had been made for us for one hotel and the second, well that is one I had had on my ‘I have to visit here’ list since the dawn of time.

The Cliffs Hotel and Spa

Picture this, a day on the road in the best possible way. Weaving out of LA and up through Malibu, taking in the elite architecture of the 1%  juxtaposed with surf shacks and surfers vans. Blue waves crashing out to your left, white celebrity homes flash past on your right. Squeals of delight as we see dolphins jump through the surface of the water as if they are racing us, murmerings as we wonder who lives behind those gates – Miley or Gaga? All soundtracked to Hole’s Malibu of course. Then up through the Spanish colonial city of Santa Barabara, backdropped by the dramatic Santa Ynez Mountains, a quick stop for ice cream and coffee to fuel up for the final leg up to Pismo – a town known for its surf, beaches and wineries.

There is an old time charm surrounding Pismo Beach, perhaps from the bright lights that showcase the pier or the Americana sign that sits high above the buildings, notifying everyone exactly where they are should they forget. Checking into The Cliffs Hotel, the charm continues. Greeted by an effervescent valet and an even more sparkly concierge, we were ushered to our room. Weary from being in the car for so long, we were now on the hunt for comfort and gentleness. The energy of Vegas had left us, we wanted to hunker down and be looked after, we had come to the right place.

As the door opened to reveal two enormous double beds with a huge jacuzzi style tub perfectly positioned  so you could watch the sunset a wave of relaxation enveloped our bodies. It was as if the hotel new what we needed and was here to look after us, “you’ve had a long few days” she cooed, “come, sit on your private balcony overlooking the ocean with this bottle of red wine and cheese plate, afterwards you can run a bubble bath and rejuvenate”. So we did just that and as we reclined in sheer bliss with wine in hand and cheese on cracker, the sky turned to a fiery orange and a pod of dolphins put on a display, the most magical way to end a magical day. Due to our schedule we didn’t have that much time to explore the hotel but if I am ever back in this area I will be sure to – we only scratched the surface but it was a jolly nice surface to scratch.

Rooms start from £150

The Madonna Inn

A thing of legend and a place where we would be housed for the next two nights of our trip. If you have not heard of The Madonna Inn, look it up immediately. Built in the 1950s, the world famous hotel takes residence in San Luis Obispo. With 110 themed guest rooms ranging from the ‘rock room’ complete with boulders and rock faces to the Sugar and Spice room which literally looks like it has been doused in pink sugar, there is something for everyone. It also has a pool, restaurant, cafe & bakery with its world famous pink Champagne cake, shop (that took far too much of my money, I blame the fringed silk shirts), dance hall, horseback riding and breathtaking views reaching over the Prefumo Canyon. It is truly a unique place, full to the brim with kitsch decor, over the top interiors and camp details and I couldn’t have loved a place more.

The Madonna Inn knows what it is and is totally unapologetic about it. She is bold and brassy and some bits don’t work but everyone seems to be ok with that because what she lacks in blinds that close all the way or aircon that stays on, she makes up for in buckets of personality.

We stayed in the Tack Room – a sexy number. Equestrian paraphernalia at every turn – knee high leather boots, saddles, Stubbs-esque artwork on the walls. Pony skin rugs lined the floor and the walls were drenched in a dark red paint that bled into the equally red leather bed heads. I’m still not entirely sure if this room was meant for two girls sharing a road trip but we had a great time nonetheless. Whilst the walls could probably talk you through far more sordid goings ons, we did the next best thing – ran to the shop, bought matching pink horse print pyjamas and ate bright pink cake in bed – it was glorious.

Propping up the bar at The Madonna Inn is an activity everyone must do at least once in their life, if you are lucky enough to be there on an evening when the famous dance hall comes to life you are in for a treat. But fear not if the calendar doesn’t line up, there is live music most nights and whether you choose to dance or sip your pink cocktail on the sidelines, it is always a hoot. 

Where to eat and drink

As with most things in this region, you are truly spoiled for eateries. Being one of the best known wine regions in the world and having proudly championed farm to table cooking before it was chic, the people of SLO CAL really know what they are doing in the world of food and drink.

Center of Effort

Perched in the foothills of the Edna Valley, this wine estate benefits from the cool ocean breeze and morning fogs rolling in from the Pacific Ocean meaning their Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs are some of the best. The private estate is available to book for dining by request only, a pretentious notion some may think but in actuality, once welcomed in, the benefits are understood. A perfectly tailored experience that allows the somme and chef to take you through both the wines produced and the menu – usually derived from ingredients grown on site or very close by resulting in an informative and one of a kind experience.

Copper Cafe

The Copper Cafe sits within the aforementioned Madonna Inn. Adopting its namesake from the large copper sculptures that were created from waste of wiring and piping when the hotel was built. The cafe is fun and fabulous. A huge circular bar takes centre stage with bright red leatherette seating surrounding it. Clashing floral carpets and wallpapers make you feel like you are sitting within the brain of a drag queen in the best possible way. Famed for its baked goods, the cake is served in slices about a foot tall – I was convinced this would be a style over substance situation but lo and behold, it was the most delicious cake I have ever eaten – layers of soft sponge with clouds of Bavarian buttercream icing, the cake alone is the stuff dessert dreams are made of. There is also the classic American breakfast, lunch and dinner available where you can expect things to be just as kitsch – think pancakes with pink sugar and baked potatoes wrapped in gold leaf.

The cafe is open to non residents making it a must for anyone passing through.

The Restaurant at JUSTIN

From the brash boldness of the Copper Cafe to the refined and relaxed sophistication of The Restaurant at JUSTIN – perhaps the most peaceful and tranquil restaurant I have ever eaten at. Another proud Californian winery but this one with Chef Rachel Haggstrom at the helm who has won the place both a Michelin star and a Michelin Green Star for their work in sustainable cooking and harvesting.

Tables are cleverly positioned on the terrace far enough away from each other that lounging labradors have space to stretch – it is dog friendly and it seemed this was the dog of choice on this day – but close enough to create a buzzy ambience, all positioned in such a way that diners can look over the overreaching vineyards. The sommeliers and wait staff are some of the most knowledgeable I have ever come across and move with the energy of worker bees – darting from table to pass to wine cooler, never so much as breaking a sweat, constantly maintaining topped up glasses and brains as they impart their wisdom with their guests. On completion of our lunch and wine pairing, a quick turn around the kitchen garden, the foundation of the seasonal menu and Chef Haggstrom’s pride and joy – herbs and leaves of all descriptions jostled with each other, begging to be picked and plucked ready for the next award winning garden salad. This place is the epitome of farm to table cooking.

Hidden Kitchen

An institution within the surfing community of Cayucos, this laid back breakfast to lunch restaurant is famed for its blue corn tacos and waffles and gargantuan smoothies and with good reason. 

I don’t even surf but after a breakfast of champions here, sitting on the outdoor patio, watching the waves crash, I felt I could take on a barrel as well as the ripped, tanned guy sitting next to me.

The offering reeks of ‘california cool’, dishes such as ‘Reef Rancheros’ – eggs, black beans, green salsa and Hidden Kitchen hot sauce and huge 16oz smoothies aptly named ‘Big Sur Blue’ fly out of the kitchen to be gobbled up by hungry patrons. Nice touches like a vintage clothes rail where people can leave their wares for the next person to pick up and curated merch make this place what it is, an intricate part of the Cayucos tapestry.

Things to do

You will never run out of things to do in SLO CAL – we could have spent a month there and still not covered everything there is on offer and that’s not including all the places to eat and drink. No matter your age, budget, activity preference there will absolutely be something that tickles your fancy here.

Kayaking in Avila Beach

This may have been my highlight of the whole trip. I kid you not when I say tears rolled down my cheeks at one point during this excursion. My traveling companion, a much more outdoorsy type than I, is an absolute sucker for a kayak related jaunt. Knowing she was nearing capacity of wine and tacos and my squeals of excitement that go along with them, I planned a morning on water to soothe her.

Not the strongest of swimmers and with absolutely no hand eye coordination, much to her dismay I insisted we take a double kayak out as visions of me drifting out to sea entered my head. After a quick briefing from the team on the shore about which route to take and what we could expect to see we hopped (slid) in. There had been  mention of sea otters and I may or may not have spent the night previous googling ‘how likely is it to see sea otters at Avila beach’. Imagine my sheer joy when we were told “oh yeah, they’re right over there, you can see them bobbing about”. I should probably backtrack slightly here and inform you that I LOVE a sea otter. And there weren’t just a few bobbing about, hundreds of them. Holding hands, rolling around in kelp, ducking and diving – it was one of those moments where you really question “is this my life?” Or at least you do if you are really into sea otters.  The water here  is perfectly sheltered meaning it was like a mill pond when we wet set sail… paddle (?). After what didn’t feel like anywhere near long enough but was probably nearly 30 minutes of staring at these adorable creatures we moved on to the next wildlife installment, a colony of seals basking on a jetty by the pier, another incredible sight to see up close and personal. We continued our journey to a private beach where we moored up and walked to a lighthouse, very picturesque and nourishing. All round, a fantastic way to spend a morning and something I won’t forget for a while.

SOL Spa and Downtown SLO

If even a gentle kayak is too much like hard work, no shame. May I suggest a visit to the Sol Spa at Hotel San Luis Obispo in Downtown SLO. This cavern of tranquility is ready and waiting to welcome you with open arms. As soon as you step foot in the zen oasis, full of neutral tones, soft music and even softer closing doors, any worries and stresses ebb away before you even make your way onto the massage couch. However, on the couch is where things truly get special. Both my friend and I opted for the signature massage and it was perhaps up there with one of the greatest we’ve ever had. Limbs were manipulated and muscles stretched as the folds and creases of car seats were brushed away from our bodies. From here I would suggest slowly wafting your way to the main hotel for a coffee in the lounge whilst your senses return to your body. Once confident that you can walk rather than float out of the hotel, Downtown SLO is itching to be explored. A university town at heart, full of independent cafes, book stores and record shops – the perfect place to wander around and get lost in. If you can schedule it so you land here on a Thursday then all the better for it as when day turns to night, the town comes alive for the SLO Farmers Market.

Downtown SLO Farmers Market

SLO CAL was doing farmers markets before farmers markets were a thing so it was with excitement and intrigue we parked up ready to immerse ourselves in town’s pride and joy. Every Thursday sees the main street pedestrianised and lined with growers, suppliers and producers of the county’s finest offerings – fruit,vegetables, cheeses, nut butters it was all here. Purveyors have the prime real estate here but they make way for street food vendors and food trucks so shoppers can grab their goods and then have a bite to eat. Shout out to the steak slinging cowboys – a treat for the taste buds and the eyes. Alongside food and drink is live music and street shows ensuring that the whole town is shrouded in a palpable energy. It is easy to see why it draws in crowds from far and wide.

Kiler Ridge Olive Oil tasting

High up in the Paso Robles hills sits Killer Ridge olive oil farm. A family run affair producing small batch Extra Virgin Olive Oil, not something stumbled upon very often on American soil but during a cycle trip through Tuscany, the owners pondered if California could produce wine like Italy, why not olive oil? And so the fifteen acre farm was established and 835 Tuscan olive trees planted. Now there is a real sense of community with the farm as people are invited to help with harvest and come together to try each year’s produce. Tastings are available where guests can try the variations of olive oil available and learn about the process from the growers. 


A short drive from Kiler Ridge lies The Bruce Monro installation : Lights at Sensorio. Another highlight of the trip and something that has been on my bucket list since it opened in 2019. An immersive walk through outdoor exhibit in the Paso Robles hills that is comprised of 100,000 solar powered flickering light orbs. Of all the pictures I had pawed over on Pinterest, nothing could do this spectacle justice. Get here as the sun goes down and prepare to lose yourself in something that feels truly otherworldly.

Hearst Castle

No trip to this region would be complete without a visit to the legendary Hearst Castle. Once home to William Randolph Hearst and now a museum allowing us mere mortals who could only dream of such an estate a look into the inner workings of such an establishment. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I arrived here, I had never heard of it, nor could I find much information online but curiosity peaked and culture vulture engaged, we made our way to San Simeon to see what we could find. If you had told me I would be alighting a bus that climbs the mountain tracks with flocks of zebras either side (yes real ones) I wouldn’t have believed you but that’s exactly what happened. As people congregated at the visitors centre, ready to be ushered on to their allocated vehicle, things started to feel a bit Jurassic Park. The bus heaved its way up the mountain side, through pastures we were told once housed all manor of wild beasts. Past old farm buildings where animals were reared for Hearst’s grand banquets – the originator of farm to table cooking in these parts it would seem, and onto the castle itself. Built in 1947, the complex includes two guest houses, pools and fountains, a cinema and tennis courts. This is where the rich and famous escaped La La land and came to play – if worthy of an invite of course. Designed and curated by one of the first female architects in the US and filled to the brim of wares and finds from travels across the globe, there are seven tours to choose from (it would be near impossible to see everything in detail in one swoop) so choose your preference and prepared to be amazed at what has been created here.

Elephant Seals Vista Point

For our last stop of our trip, we wound down from San Simeon and picked up our beloved Highway 1, stopping at a local fruit stand on the side of the road to grab some locally grown strawberries.Making  the decision to drive as far as we could up the PCH, knowing it was closed about 40 miles north but wanting to take in as much of the breathtaking scenery as possible and comfortable in the knowledge we could pull off in a multitude of vista points along the way, the first of those being home to a huge colony of Elephant Seals. Another example of the multitude of wildlife that resides in this region and the vast variety of things to see and do here.

As we leant our forearms on the fencing and dangled our heads over so we could see the beach below and the odd looking beasts that inhabited it, I drew a parallel as two weeks previous I had stood in exactly the same position on a Vegas balcony. Bright twinkling lights of the strip dots of sunbeams dancing across the Pacific. The ringing and crashes of the Vegas soundscape replaced with crashing waves and grunting seals. The suggestion of a cocktail now and outstretched hand offering the last strawberry. The excitement of two girlfriends about to embark on an adventure of a lifetime now replaced with a bond only brought about by traveling the world together.

We had a clear idea of what we wanted out of this trip and it delivered in spades. We laughed, we cried, we ate, we drank. We reconnected with each other as we connected with the West Coast – from the dizzying heights of Las Vegas to the slow paced ways of SLO CAL. This road trip mimicked our friendship – a whirlwind of excitement that blows out and paves the way for a long and gentle journey together and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Getting there

I will always champion driving through as much of this area as you can. Daily direct flights from the UK are available to Los Angeles and San Francisco, both of which are 3.5 hour drive from SLO CAL.

Should you choose not to road trip, there are daily direct flights to San Luis Obispo Regional airport from both Sand Francisco and LA.

Find our more about SLO CAL

Read all about Part 1 of this trip here.

When you think of the Maldives, what comes to mind? Crystal-clear waters, pristine white sand beaches, and overwater bungalows perfectly tailored for romantic getaways, right? While it’s true that the Maldives has long been synonymous with honeymooners and couples seeking a romantic escape, there’s so much more to this tropical paradise than meets the eye.

While it’s great for relaxing and taking time out, each resort has unique experiences to spark your sense of adventure, stoke your senses and light your imagination.   Two resorts that excel in personalised experiences and deliver in abundance are Gili Lankanfushi and Six Senses Laamu.  Both resorts serve up lashings of luxury, plum sunsets, pink skies and azure waters but what sets them apart from their Maldivian neighbours is the exceptional experiences.  Here’s my favourite things to do in the Maldives.

Discover an underwater world at Six Senses Laamu

One of the things that sets Six Senses Laamu apart from the other resorts is the spectacular house reef that hugs the edge of the island, coupled with a state-of-the-art immersive research facility and you have a unique marine experience that lets you take a deep dive into ocean life.  

The Maldives Underwater Initiative (MUI) by Six Senses Laamu is a collaboration of marine biologists from the resort and three partnered NGOs; the Manta Trust, Blue Marine Foundation and the Olive Ridley Project. The Sea Hub of Environmental Learning in Laamu (SHELL), home to MUI, is a stunning visual and interactive experience that showcases the marine environment.  Here a cool team of marine biologists conduct innovative research in the lab facilities and take guests on an extraordinary journey into the ocean.  This awesome facility wouldn’t look out of place at the Science Museum.  Full sized manta’s hang from the ceiling, while a series of dedicated informative stations are dotted around, jam packed with fun facts and statistics on the mysteries of the ocean and those who inhabit it.

The SHELL is home to an interactive room designed for guests to discover the secrets of Laamu and the underwater world. Highlights include an augmented reality sandbox which allows you to change and redesign habitats and topography using projection mapping technology. There’s a nifty little piece of animation kit that lets you get creative and watch your favourite marine creatures come alive on a large screen and watch them swim in a virtual world.  I came away with a plethora of facts and a better understanding of the ocean.

Following some time exploring the SHELL you can get up close and personal with sharks, parrotfish and green turtles at the house reef.  Private tours are available for beginners as well as seasoned divers and snorkelers.  

The coral reefs of the Laamu atoll are rich in colour and brimming with marine life. I took a snorkel tour with the resident marine biologist who knows all the best spots along the reef to get a glimpse of Nemo and the impressive eagle rays.  I spent over an hour exploring the stunning coral garden coming face to face with oriental sweetlips, a moray eel, schools of needlefish and pretty Moorish idols.  It’s easy to get lost in this breathtaking world.   

Whether you are a marine enthusiast or a novice, I’ll guarantee you’ll quickly fall in love with the ocean and this is without a doubt the most impressive snorkelling sites of the atoll.

Experience your own private jungle cinema

Upon arrival at Gili Lankanfushi you are assigned your own Mr Friday, a dedicated butler service to ensure that your stay and experience is second to none.  I can vouch that this is very much the case, with my Mr Friday going above and beyond to make sure my stay was nothing short of incredible, recommending a series of unique experiences to enhance your stay.  My Mr Friday arranged for a slice of movie magic under the stars, a fantastic way to spend an evening.  Nestled in the middle of the island ensconced in your own private leafy jungle is an outdoor cinema like no other.  Ahead of my private screening I got to request my movie of choice and select from a mouthwatering barbeque menu.  This wasn’t your run of the mill burger and sausage menu, instead it comprised of succulent lobster and fresh seafood with wagyu beef and premium cuts of meat, accompanied by delicious sides and salads.  

After drinks on the beach watching the sun go down, I was whisked to a quiet nook of the island where flanked by tress and foliage was the most fabulous outdoor cinema.  I was greeted with a glass of champagne while a private chef was getting to work on dinner discreetly in the corner.  The set up was nothing short of spectacular.  A large screen played out an action-packed Denzel Washington movie while my date and I were served starters, and our champagne was topped up at an intimate candle lit dining table.  After our main course we retreated to a cosy lounge area, with reclining beds and blankets.  Here we sipped more champagne, indulged in a delicious chocolate treat for dessert and enjoyed the rest of the movie. 

Be warned, once you experience the private jungle cinema at Gili, popcorn and a slushy at the local Odeon just won’t cut it.  It has ruined the regular cinema experience for me!

Indulge in Culinary Delights

Situated amidst the outstanding beauty of Six Senses Laamu, the team at Kaji bring the vibe direct to your dinner. Combining the artistry of Teppanyaki with the stunning backdrop of the Indian Ocean, this culinary gem promises an unforgettable journey for the senses.

As soon as I enter the restaurant, I’m hit by the aroma of warm sizzling garlic that fills the air and entices my taste buds.   

There’s a set menu of five courses, each thoughtfully curated to showcase the freshest seasonal ingredients and bold flavours. From tender cuts of beef to seafood delicacies, each dish is a masterpiece.

The dining experience revolves around the ancient Japanese cooking technique of Teppanyaki, where skilled chefs showcase their talents in an open kitchen setting.   What makes Kaji exceptional, is the theatrical element where right before your eyes, chefs expertly grill and flip.  I get to take a seat around the Teppanyaki grill, where I am treated to a front-row view of the culinary action unfolding before me. The chefs, deftly wield their knives and spatulas with precision and grace, chopping with speed and accuracy, turning cooking into an art form. It’s not just a meal, it’s a performance.

But beyond the spectacle, it’s the quality of the food that truly shines at Kaji. Every ingredient is sourced with care, ensuring the highest standards of freshness and flavour. The chef takes time to talk you through each dish, explaining with passion the process.  Whether it’s the buttery texture of the scallops or the umami-rich taste of the miso-marinated black cod, each dish is a testament to the resort’s dedication to excellence.

And let’s not forget the fun factor. Dining here is not just about satisfying your hunger – it’s about enjoying a lively and convivial atmosphere with friends and fellow diners. Whether you’re celebrating a special occasion or simply indulging in a night of gastronomic adventure, you need to book a table at Kaji.

Nightly rates at Gili Lankanfushi start from £1,397/$1,722 based on two adults sharing a Villa Suite with breakfast included. For more information or to book please visit Gili Lankanfushi

For more information on bookings at Six Senses, Laamu please contact or visit the website

House of Coco travelled to the Maldives via Dubai with Emirates.  London Heathrow to Male return is £1,749. This is based on Premium Economy from London Heathrow to Dubai and then Economy from Dubai to Male. Prices subject to change. 

If you haven’t heard of renowned Colombian chef, Juan Manuel Barrientos, you will very soon. He is affectionately known as ‘Juanma’ by locals and at the very young age of 40 is already the founder of a hospitality group that includes restaurants and hotel across the Americas. He was named one of the 50 best chefs in Latin America and there is no doubt you will see his empire extending into Europe in the not-too-distant future.

His original restaurant is based in Medellín. It is now situated inside his boutique El Cielo Hotel. You can appreciate his popularity with a visit to his fabulously inventive restaurant there. With an open kitchen, you can see all the staff in action. They are all dressed in white lab coats with hair nets and meticulously beavering away at their workstations. You can be excused for thinking you’ve walked into the world of Willy Wonka and his chocolate factory.

Their tasting menu includes more than 15 courses or ‘moments’ as they like to call them in the restaurant. They like to create a sense of mystery with their menu. If you look online, you’ll find a long list of mostly single words, which don’t describe the ingredients of the dish. They are in fact, different regions of Colombia and your gastronomic journey at El Cielo is a whirlwind tour of the different regions of the country. What is important to note is this tasting menu is only available at the Medellín branch. If you visit their Michelin-starred restaurants in Miami or Washington DC, only some of the highlights might be on their menu.

The moments are designed to stimulate your senses. The restaurant is well-known for its choco-therapy, so for one course, you’ll be crushing a chocolate truffle ball with your hands. Then you will be enjoying the delights without the use of cutlery. It will bring back innocent childhood memories when dining was less rigid and formal.

This is also the case for another course, where diners are offered edible balloons with helium inside. That is the cue for a chorus of Donald Duck voices reverberating around the restaurant. What makes their concept so successful is they take the seriousness out of fine dining and with every course, they bring a heartfelt smile to everyone’s faces.

Although not advertised on their website, they do cater for dietary requirements. They can readily prep for a vegetarian version of the tasting menu. For example, when they present locally cured charcuterie, they can offer smoked peppers instead.

Dishes are nevertheless always exquisitely presented. The “tree of life” is a case in point, it’s a crunchy canopy of yucca bread presented in a tree trunk structure that made it resemble a bonsai tree.

You might have thought the “tree of life” would represent the Amazonas course. Instead, it is the fish course that contained arapaima. It is the largest freshwater fish in the world and is found in the Amazon River. The dish is presented with burning charcoal and you do wonder whether it is intentional to represent the long-suffering rainforest. The Arapaima has a rather firm texture reminiscent of cod. Another seafood course is the Cartagena-inspired sausage course that is made with crab meat and white fish.

If you are a meat lover, your main course will be paradise. It’s a confit duck served with a peach sauce along with a duck reduction sauce. It’s a surprise you see a lot of menus offering duck and orange but rarely see duck and peach paired together.

The meal is also interactive. For one of the dessert courses, you are a paleontologist looking for an ammonite, as you brush away the edible powder to reveal your dessert. History is never far away from your experience. With the petit fours, it is presented alongside a replica of the Muisca raft, which is the most famous artefact from the Gold Museum in Bogota.

Coffee is an integral part of the Colombian dining experience. The cafetal course includes the use of liquid nitrogen before your coffee is served to resemble the misty conditions of the coffee-growing regions of Colombia.

Throughout the meal, the kitchen excels in showing its mastery of molecular gastronomy. The full experience generally takes at least 3 hours, so make sure you plan either a full afternoon or evening for your meal. ‘El Cielo’ means heaven in Spanish and you will be in gastronomic heaven by the end of your meal.

For more information on the restaurant, please visit –


If you follow travel content creators on social media, there is a very high chance you would have seen the unique town of Guatapé in Colombia. The Rock of Guatapé with the iconic zig-zagging staircase features prominently on the likes of Instagram and TikTok. Surprisingly, the monolithic rock is a natural formation. It takes a short 15-20 minutes to ascend the rock, and climbing the 740 steps to reach the summit will offer a great cardiovascular workout. The panoramic 360º views of Guatape Lake and the El Peñón region as you reach the pinnacle are worth the endeavour.

The town itself is filled with ‘zocalos’, which are vibrant, colourful murals that surround the cobbled streets of Guatapé. The paintings often depict local life or concealed messages about local beliefs and products. This is one town where you want to ensure you have enough storage on your camera phones to ensure you capture countless photo opportunities.

If you want to know where to stay in Guatapé, I would highly recommend booking a glamping experience with Bosko. This is glamping with a capital G. Their ‘tents’, the Mush.Rooms are geodesic structures that resemble globe lanterns in the nighttime.Their concierge service is on par with any 5-star hotel in the country. They can arrange a private transfer for you from José María Córdova International Airport in Medellín. It’s an approximate 2-hour drive through some of the most scenic parts of the country.

On arrival, you are offered a detoxifying welcome drink immediately and this is followed by a coffee exfoliation ritual to cleanse your hands. Unsurprisingly, Colombians are fervent coffee connoisseurs and don’t just use it for drinking but in all aspects of their lives. Next, you are led to your Mush.Rooms, which are scattered throughout the property and provide maximum privacy. The pathways are relatively narrow but thankfully their staff team will assist with luggage transfer. There are three types of accommodation: deluxe, golden and presidential.

If you want a bucket-list experience, I would strongly suggest booking for the presidential Mush.Room. It is surprisingly affordable if you are comparing it to other presidential suites at 5-star hotels. The pièce de résistance is getting your private thermal pool with jaw-dropping views of the surrounding forest and lake. If you enjoy taking selfies, you will be in seventh heaven. Even if you are camera-shy, this is sheer paradise.

The Mush.Room also offers high-speed WiFi, internal heating including an electric blanket on your bed and a fully-stocked minibar including exquisite wines. The dark wood interior is smartly designed and resembles a showroom in a high-end interior design store rather than a camping site in a rainforest. They offer an open-sky shower with luxury amenities from L’Occitane.

For those staying in the other Mush.Rooms, they do have a general sky pool for you to relax and enjoy the surrounding scenery. They helpfully have signs posted throughout the grounds which highlight the animals you might encounter such as the great trush or the sparkling violet ear. There is also a QR code for you to hear what the birds sound like.

Dining at Bosko is a hidden gem, which you won’t read much about even on their website. Breakfast is cooked to order and delivered to your tent at no extra charge. It is delivered in one of those luxurious hampers which you suspect might be floatable in your thermal pool. You can opt for traditional options like sunny-side-up eggs on toast or Colombian specialties like freshly baked arepas with Colombian-style red beans. Naturally, Colombian coffee is served along with an exotic fruit platter selection.

If you don’t feel like heading into town, their restaurant is a superb option for lunch and dinner. They have an eclectic selection that caters for all tastes. Typically, they offer western dishes with a hint of Colombian flavour such as pork tenderloin served with mashed potatoes and a sweet and sour coffee sauce. The dishes are all exquisitely presented and wouldn’t look out of place in a 5-star hotel. For vegetarians, they have stronger options in the starters and finger food section such as empanadas with homemade aji sauce. and creamy sweet corn with cheese and tajin. In your travels in Colombia, you are more than likely to come across their love of cheese. They even enjoy hot chocolate with cheese.

If you want to offset some calories post-meal, they have kayaks and paddle boards for hire free of charge by the lakeside. The vast Peñol-Guatapé Reservoir is a man-made phenomenon rather than a natural lake. It was built in the 1980s as part of a hydroelectric project that powers up to 30% of the electricity supply of Colombia. You can paddle to your heart’s content as long as you return by 17:00, which is when the lake closes for water-sporting activities.

If you prefer the luxury James Bond-style experience instead, you can book a private speedboat tour instead and see more of the lake area. Your guide will show you the famous houses owned by the likes of footballers from the Colombian national team and Pablo Escobar’s former mansion. If you are lucky, you might be allowed to drive the boat at some point during your trip.

Whether you are a nature lover, a thrill-seeker or just want a tranquil wellness break, there is something to offer for everyone in the magical town of Guatapé.

For more information on the hotel, please visit –

It is not difficult to see why locals and tourists alike fall for the charm of Cartagena. This medieval walled city on the Caribbean coast has it all: charm, culture, vitality and a vibrant nightlife scene. The narrow, colourful streets are lined with independent, boutique shops and the old city is one of the best preserved in the Americas.

There is a more modern part of the city, filled with glass-laden high rises, which is reminiscent of Miami. However, I would recommend staying in the old city to soak up the magic of Cartagena. Staying in one of the refurbished, grand colonial homes from the 17th and 18th centuries is the best way to discover the city.

Casa San Agustín is one such property and it is situated in the heart of the action at Plaza de los Estudiantes. The refined boutique hotel was created from three meticulously restored 17th-century mansions. It has only 20 guestrooms and 11 suites, so attentive service from the staff is guaranteed. It seamlessly blends modern comforts with authentic Colombian features. You’ll notice the original frescoes in the library where they serve complimentary afternoon tea. In the guest rooms, you’ll see their iconic wood-beamed ceilings that are centuries old.

The main feature of the hotel is a 300-year-old aqueduct that serves as a backdrop to the main plunge pool. It is precisely because of the existence of boutique hotels like Casa San Agustín that helps to keep these important relics well-preserved. Plenty of greenery such as palm trees surround the public areas to offer a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of the old town.

The rooms are relatively spacious even at the entry-level deluxe rooms, which range from 409 and 839 sq. ft. They provide luxurious Frette linens as well as renowned Ortigia amenities from Sicily. On the other end of the spectrum, you have the eye-catching Suite Prestige. They are duplexes with an area between 1539 and 1732 sq. ft. They include two bedrooms which is ideal for families and close friends to share. All the rooms offer a complimentary mini-bar that includes soft drinks and beer. The combination of dark wood, polished marble and ornate painting tiling in the bathroom adds to the colonial grandeur of the surroundings.

Their sister property, Casa Pestagua offers a similar level of comfort and sophistication. It is known as “the most beautiful house in Cartegena”. It belonged to the powerful 18th-century aristocrat, Count of Pestagua. It had undergone a major 15-million-dollar refurbishment and had only reopened last April. Now you can live the life of a count too, when you book in to stay at Casa Pestagua. The hotel is a proud member of the Relais & Chateaux group, the only hotel in Colombia awarded with that honour.

You might feel even more exclusive at this property with only 10 spacious suites and 6 deluxe rooms. The laid-back charm is very similar to Casa San Agustin. The central plunge pool is ideal for escaping the occasional sweltering Caribbean heat. The shaded sunbeds underneath the tropical palm trees are an ideal spot for catching up with your reading list. You’ll notice plenty of Moorish-inspired arches around the boutique hotel that recount the colonial times of previous centuries.

The rooms have a light and airy design, no doubt helped by the double-height ceilings and excellent use of natural lighting. You’ll find sturdy-looking light wooden beams on the ceiling of all the rooms. Similar to the sister property, the entry-level room is deluxe and includes luxury linen and ever-reliable Ortigia amenities. Having been refurbished recently, the decor is marginally fresher looking than her sister property but both boutique hotels are maintained to the highest of standards.

The restaurant offering at both hotels is headed by renowned Chef Heberto Eljach, who is one of the most celebrated chefs in Colombia. At Casa Pestagua, we have the culinary delight of AniMare. The menu is a journey of Colombian cuisine with modern touches. It takes in both influences from the Caribbean and the Pacific side of the country. You’ll get to savour local classics such as shrimp and snail cocktail Cartagena style. Typically, such a dish is found as street food in the local streets of the city, but here it is served in a much-elevated format, with avocado and homemade bread. Their seafood casserole main course is equally elevated with treasures of the sea served up in lobster cream and coconut milk sauce along with fried plantain chips. At Alma situated in Casa San Agustín, you’ll enjoy a similarly extravagant fine dining experience. They are particularly proud of showcasing the best of Colombian cuisine and cater for all kinds of dietary requirements from gluten-free to vegetarian needs.

For those looking for a beach holiday, you can enjoy that as well whilst staying at both hotels. They have a private beach club at ACASĪ on Isla Barú. You can immerse your feet on the white sandy beaches and swim in the turquoise waters of the beach. The hotel can arrange a private round-trip boat charter that takes about 45 minutes and you can admire the picturesque coastline along the way. It will be a different experience to the history and culture of the old town.

Photography by stephane louesdon .

Finally, if you want to relax further, they have the Aurum spa. You can enjoy everything from a detoxifying body scrub in the hammam to a gold wrap to help nourish the skin. Aurum is the Latin word for gold.

For a holiday where you can enjoy both a city break and a beach holiday. One where you can embrace history and modernity. Make sure you check out the romantic city of Cartagena.

For more information on the hotels, please visit –

From quaint brunch spots to unique wineries and Michelin Star dining, Monterey County, CA has a diverse, vibrant culinary scene. Here’s our guide to some of the best foodie experiences in Monterey County.

Best Foodie Experiences in Monterey County

Michelin Star Dining

The cool coastal town of Carmel by the Sea is quickly becoming a firm favourite with foodies.  This postcard-pretty town is home to top-notch wineries and Michelin-starred restaurants.  Chez Noir’s French-inspired menu showcases innovative, seafood-centric dishes that have earned them a well-deserved Michelin star.  The restaurant comes from husband and wife duo, Jonny and Monique Black, both of whom bring their experience of working at Michelin-starred restaurants to the project. Jonny previously cooked at restaurants including Per Se, Atelier Crenn, and Quince. 

Tucked away down a quiet street in Carmel, Chez Noir is a true haven for food enthusiasts seeking a unique and intimate dining experience. The velvet corner booths and open buzzy kitchen set the stage for a memorable meal. The menu boasts a fusion of flavours, from tantalizing appetizers to decadent desserts. Highlights include their perfectly seared scallops and the melt-in-your-mouth chocolate fondant. The staff’s knowledge and passion for each dish add a personal touch, making Chez Noir a must-visit for those who appreciate culinary artistry.

Craft Beer Paradise

For beer aficionados, Alvarado Street Brewery is a pilgrimage site in Monterey. The industrial-chic setting exudes a laid-back vibe, creating the perfect backdrop for sipping on innovative craft brews. From hoppy IPAs to rich stouts, the beer menu is a testament to the brewery’s commitment to quality and creativity. The friendly staff are more than happy to guide you through their extensive selection, ensuring you find the perfect pint to pair with the bar food. Alvarado Street Brewery is a haven for beer lovers and a testament to Monterey’s thriving craft beer scene.

Coastal Elegance with a Culinary Twist

Just a stone’s throw from the iconic Fisherman’s Wharf, Jacks Monterey at the Portola Hotel & Spa, is the epitome of coastal elegance.  Tall bar tables, as well as plush lounge-style sofas surround the full-length bar that stretches across the back of the restaurant.  Unlike some hotel restaurants, this is contemporary and cosy.  At one end is an open fire and the lobby entrance features a tree adorned with twinkly lights.  While the setting is fabulous, the menu and service are excellent.  The menu showcases locally sourced ingredients, transforming them into exquisite dishes that capture the essence of the region. The Jacks Famous Chowder is a standout, a hearty bowl of the local dish is brimming with clams, dungeness crab, organic corn, artichoke hearts and bacon.  For mains choose from fresh salads, pizza or larger plates like their Short Rib Ravioli served in a silky tomato, mushroom and sherry cream sauce with shaved parmesan.  The drinks menu features some fantastic local wines like the Bernardus Griva Sauvignon Blanc and Imagery Pinot Noir.  There is a great selection of cocktails too.   With its stylish interior and prime location, Jacks Monterey stands out as a top-notch dining destination on the Monterey Peninsula.

Sip, Savor, and Cruise

Embark on a wine adventure like no other with Kombi Wine Tours, where vintage style meets exquisite vintages. Board the classic VW Kombi, ‘Sweet Pickle’ and journey through the scenic vineyards and wineries of Monterey, indulging in a curated selection of wines from the region. Their knowledgeable guide, Steve is full of local tit-bits and banter which makes the tour not just educational but thoroughly entertaining.

Carmel by the Sea is home to husband and wife wineries, Dawn’s Dream and Galante Vineyards.  Jack Galante heads up Galante Vineyards, what Jack doesn’t know about wine is not worth knowing.  He is Mr Carmel by the Sea (the town was founded by his great grandfather) and his knowledge and passion are infectious.  His wines are rich, full bodied and include Cabernet Sauvignon, as well as limited amounts of estate grown Malbec, Petite Sirah, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, and several other blends.  Every bottle has a ‘cowboy philosophy’ on the label, which is very Jack.  He also commissions local artists to create unique pieces of art on bottles which can be refilled or saved as an investment.

Meanwhile Jack’s wife, Dawn, is serving up some outstanding tipples over at Dawn’s Dream Winery which is tied to non-profits for women and children. Her dedication to producing her ‘wines with a purpose’ has been revolutionary in the industry, supporting many great causes each year.  The microclimate in the region is perfect for crips Pinots and Chardonnay.  Dawn has dedicated three of her Pinots to each of her daughters, Rachel, Alyssa and Nicole.  I loved Jack’s style but Dawn’s wines were my favourite.

Just along from Carmel is Corral Wine Co.  Their tasting room has a ‘casual, local wine bar’ feel and this is reflected in their motto, ‘we aren’t fancy, we just make good wine.’  Corral’s young winemaker Adrien Valenzuela is creative and, on a mission, to produce well balanced wine with a lot of flavour. He says that sourcing grapes from some of the regions very best vineyards is ‘key to their success.’ His wines are exceptional, the Sauvignon Blanc is vibrant and crisp with lemon blossom notes and a pleasant minerality.  Their Rose wine is also a big hit, it’s light and delicate, with aromas of strawberry and orange blossom.  

Puma Road Winery is a family operation who use grapes grown in Apex vineyard soil which gives their wines a unique taste.  Expect crisp Blanc de Blancs, cool Chardonnays, and light Pinot Noir.  All their wines are crafted from grapes direct from their own estate and they reserve five percent of the output to create exclusive wines for their label.  Their wine tasting room is close to Fisherman’s Wharf and offers wine by the glass and bottle, small bites, and often has live music.

Whether you’re a wine novice or a seasoned connoisseur, Kombi Wine Tours tailor the experience to ensure you get the most out of each tasting.

Seafood Extravaganza

For a seafood feast that celebrates the bounty of the ocean, Salt Wood Kitchen & Oysterette is the place to be. This award-winning upscale seafood restaurant is perched above the marina dunes at the Sanctury Beach Resort.    The space is carved out into three distinct dining spaces, a buzzing bar and lounge, perfect for pre-dinner drinks, an expansive dining room that faces an open raw bar and for long summer evenings there’s an al fresco dining patio.

Located a short drive from Monterey Bay, this restaurant exudes coastal charm with a menu that pays homage to the region’s maritime heritage. The raw bar is a standout, featuring an array of oysters and seafood. The wood-fired grill adds a smoky richness to dishes like the grilled octopus and honey glazed duck. The casual yet sophisticated atmosphere, coupled with the welcoming staff, makes Salt Wood Kitchen & Oysterette a go-to spot for those craving a seafood extravaganza.

Quaint and Quirky Culinary Haven

Tucked five minutes from Cannery Row is Happy Girl Kitchen, a quaint and quirky culinary haven with a focus on organic, vegan and vegetarian options.  The menu, filled with farm-fresh ingredients, reflects the restaurant’s commitment to sustainability and community. The avocado toast is a must-try, showcasing the simplicity and excellence of Happy Girl Kitchen’s approach to food. The team here specialise in making jams and pickles so you can stock up on rich tasty preserves when you visit.  Whether you’re in the mood for a brunch or a take-away lunch, Happy Girl Kitchen delivers a fresh, seasonal menu that celebrates the beauty of wholesome unpretentious food.

Enjoy the stunning Californian vistas

Lucia restaurant at Bernardus Lodge and Spa is nothing short of spectacular.  Situated in the Carmel Valley it’s nestled on the grounds of rolling vineyards, olive orchards and 28 acres of fragrant lavender.  With beautiful vistas, tables at Lucia are sought after. 

The main dining room, located just off the lobby is contemporary. French wooden floors, soft cream furnishings, chandeliers and a focal, showpiece fireplace set the scene for a culinary cache.  The patio doors open onto an al fresco dining terrace.

The day I visited the Californian sun was shining so the outdoor terrace was bustling with ‘ladies who lunch’ and while it’s a popular spot, it still has an air of calm and tranquillity. 

Slick, seamless service and a menu dedicated to delicious farm-to-table fare is what sets Lucia apart from other restaurants.  There’s a great selection of small and large plates to choose from.  The wood brick pizzas are divine, the seasonal salads are served like a work of art and the larger plates source prime cuts of meat and market fish. Choose from a selection of wines from the Bernardus vineyard to accompany your meal.

After lunch you can wander around the gardens or enjoy a game of bocce or croquet on the lawn.

House of Coco travelled to Monterey County courtesy of See Monterey.

For the culinary enthusiast with entrepreneurial aspirations, the world of food-related businesses offers a tantalizing journey. While fast-food franchises centered on burgers and pizza remain popular choices, an entire universe of diverse global cuisine beckons to be explored through franchising opportunities. In this blog post, we’ll embark on a delectable odyssey, featuring a selection of ten distinct global cuisine categories. These culinary domains not only gratify your passion for food but also present promising prospects for your business aspirations.

Savoring the Sizzle

For aficionados of sizzling and smoky flavors, the world of grilled cuisine is an exciting territory to explore. This category encompasses diverse cuisines such as barbecue, kebabs, and grilled seafood. By investing in a franchise dedicated to grilled delights, you introduce your community to the mouthwatering experience of open-flame cooking.

A World of Wraps

Street food encapsulates a world of quick, flavorful dishes from across the globe. Whether it’s Mexican tacos, Indian wraps, or Middle Eastern falafel, owning a street food franchise allows you to present your patrons with a passport to global flavors, all within the convenient and casual ambiance of your establishment.

A Toast to Tantalizing Sandwiches

Sandwiches are a universally beloved culinary creation, and the potential of a sandwich franchise is as vast as the range of ingredients that can be nestled between slices of bread. From classic deli-style sandwiches to international creations, a sandwich shop enables you to craft satisfying and convenient meals for your patrons.

A Taste of Tradition

For those who relish the timeless elegance of classic dishes, owning a bistro-style franchise is a delightful endeavor. This category includes an array of French, Italian, and Spanish classics, from escargot and ratatouille to spaghetti carbonara and paella. It’s an opportunity to bring the charm of traditional European dining to your neighborhood.

Exotic Spice Journeys

Embark on a journey through the vibrant, aromatic, and sometimes fiery world of Asian and Indian cuisine. This franchise category encompasses a variety of options, from sushi and Thai curries to Chinese dim sum and Indian tandoori. By owning a franchise in this realm, you can invite your guests to discover the intricate flavors of the East.

Mediterranean Medleys

Mediterranean cuisine offers a unique fusion of flavors, featuring dishes from Greece, Turkey, Lebanon, and beyond. Exploring a Mediterranean-themed franchise allows you to serve dishes like gyro, shawarma, baklava, and more. Your customers will appreciate the opportunity to savor the richness and freshness of this cuisine.

A World of Noodles

If you have an affinity for noodles and pasta, this franchise category is tailor-made for you. It covers an array of options, from Italian pasta dishes like linguini and lasagna to Japanese ramen and udon. You can provide your community with an array of noodle-based delights.

All About Appetizers

Appetizers and small plates are often where the excitement begins in culinary exploration. Whether it’s Spanish tapas with chorizo and olives or Chinese dim sum with dumplings and buns, owning a franchise in this category gives your customers the chance to indulge in diverse, shareable, and flavorful bites.

The Hearty World of Soups and Stews

For those who appreciate hearty comfort food, a franchise specializing in soups and stews offers a satisfying experience. Whether it’s the spicy warmth of a Mexican chili or the creamy comfort of a French bisque, these franchises bring comfort and flavor to your community.

Raising the Bar

For those who seek a fusion of culinary delights and a lively social scene, a bar franchise is a thrilling prospect. Beyond just beverages, these establishments often boast a diverse menu with offerings ranging from tapas and wings to craft cocktails and local brews. Owning a bar means creating a space where friends gather, flavors collide, and memories are made.


The culinary franchise categories we’ve explored in this post merely scratch the surface of the expansive world of food possibilities for enthusiastic entrepreneurs. Whether you’re passionate about grilled cuisine, global street food, or classic bistro offerings, there’s a franchise opportunity to match your taste. As you embark on this culinary journey, remember that success in the food industry hinges on dedication, quality, and a genuine love for the cuisine you’re sharing. So, embrace the adventure and take pleasure in offering your community a world of flavors!

Are you someone who likes to travel? If so, you’re probably always looking for ways to make your trips more enjoyable. One way to do that is by making sure you enjoy food when you travel. From, restaurants to street stalls to all-day snacks, there is so much culture involved with food in the places you visit.

To make sure you can get the most out of the experience, don’t forget these tips:

1. Check Your Oral Health

Seriously, how often do you think about your mouth when you travel? Probably never. However, when you’re in a new city or country, your mouth can become just as much of a sensory organ as your eyes. Besides, you need to make sure that you can chew well and taste the food properly.

Before you travel, see your dentist first. See to it you don’t have cavities or gum inflammation that could get worse and even cause you a lot of pain. If you have malocclusions, which can affect your bite, the dentist may recommend appliances like Herbst Device orthodontics to correct the issues.

2. Take Note of Your Allergies

Having food allergies won’t stop you from taking trips. However, you may need to bring appropriate medications in case you develop reactions even on ingredients that are less familiar or completely unknown to you.

You also need to ensure that the food you’re eating doesn’t contain the food you’re allergic to sensitive to. It may help to know the local language equivalent of these. You can always research about that before you leave or use Google Translate. Otherwise, consider eating in more familiar restaurants or dining places with staff who can understand your language.

3. Research on the Food You Want to Eat

Usually, there’s no point in trying to eat something different when you feel you won’t enjoy it in the first place. It’s a waste of both time and money. You could have spent these resources on those that bring you joy.

Before you travel, research the food you want to eat. Check out the most popular ones in their country of origin and check if they’re available where you’ll be. You can also consider going to different places with a specific category of food in mind, such as the top 10 restaurants or best kiosks for street snacks.

4. Pack Snacks

Traveling long hours between destinations without having to wait for your meal is the best feeling. So pack snacks to tide you over until you arrive or before you go on a trip.

You could also ask if you can get free food samples in the places you plan to visit. Just make sure they’re not expired. Otherwise, just head straight to the local grocery stores and buy your favorite brand.

5. Respect Mealtimes and Customs

Never forget to consider the place you’re in when it comes to food, especially if you’re visiting a foreign country. You’ll never know if their customs or eating times are different from what you’re accustomed to at home.

For example, breakfast is usually earlier than lunch and dinner combined in some cultures. Also, in many places, you’re not supposed to eat in public inside a mosque or in a funeral parlor.

Some cultures may invite you to join them at mealtimes, but you may bring something for the family. Others may find it rude to reject their offers for food.

6. Try Local

We are creatures of comfort, and so we usually pick the ones we’re more familiar with, even when it comes to food. But as mentioned, food is part of travel, so why don’t you try local cuisine?

You may not be able to get the chance to eat homemade meals, but at least visiting establishments that serve their dishes is already worth it. It also gets you one step closer to understanding the food culture of where you are. Even better, trying to eat like a local gives you access to more affordable meals.

7. Don’t Eat Too Much

It’s quite common to be enthusiastic about all the new places and foods you’re experiencing. However, don’t eat too much that it affects your health or will lead to serious stomach issues. Besides, you may not have enough space in your tummy for other types of food.

You can always follow the 80/20 rule – that is, you can stop eating until you’re 80 percent full. You can also plan where to eat each day. This way, you can eat the food you want to try, plan your budget accordingly, and learn to control your meals.

Traveling also gives us an excuse to try new flavors, but if you want to enjoy their food, you also need to prepare for it. These tips will help you.

In today’s digital age, sharing your travel and culinary adventures on Instagram has become more than just a pastime – it’s an art form.

From picturesque landscapes to mouthwatering dishes, Instagram is the perfect platform to showcase your lifestyle, wanderlust, and gastronomic discoveries.

In this article, we’ll dive into the world of Instagram-worthy food and travel experiences, offering tips, tricks, and destinations that are sure to up your Instagram game.

Setting the Stage for Your Instagram Adventure

Choosing the Right Gear

Before we embark on our Instagram journey, let’s talk gear. While smartphone cameras have come a long way in delivering high-quality photos, investing in a good camera can make a world of difference. DSLRs or mirrorless cameras with interchangeable lenses allow for greater control over your shots. Consider purchasing accessories like tripods and lens filters to enhance your photography.

If you prefer using your smartphone, explore the world of smartphone photography accessories. Attachable lenses, stabilizers, and external lighting options can help you capture stunning images even in challenging conditions.

Mastering Lighting

One of the fundamental aspects of photography, especially for Instagram, is lighting. Natural light can be your best friend. The soft light during the golden hour (the hour just after sunrise and before sunset) works wonders for outdoor shots. It casts a warm, flattering glow on your subjects and landscapes.

Experiment with the direction of light to create depth and shadows in your photos. When shooting indoors, use soft, diffused lighting sources like window light or photography softboxes for a professional look.

Finding Your Aesthetic

Developing a distinct Instagram style is essential for standing out in a sea of content. Your aesthetic is like your visual signature. Whether you prefer minimalistic, vibrant, vintage, or moody edits, consistency is key.

Try to maintain a cohesive color palette and editing style across your photos. Popular photo editing apps like Adobe Lightroom or VSCO offer presets that can help you achieve a consistent look.

Destination Delights

Off-the-Beaten-Path Locations

Instagram is all about telling stories through visuals, and unique travel destinations provide the perfect canvas. Seek out off-the-beaten-path locations that offer incredible photo opportunities. Discover hidden beaches, explore charming streets, and embark on scenic hikes that lead to breathtaking vistas.

These less-visited spots often have fewer tourists, allowing you to capture the essence of a place without the crowds. Whether it’s the pristine beaches of Zanzibar or the mystical landscapes of Cappadocia, these destinations will not only enrich your travel experiences but also your Instagram feed.

Iconic Landmarks

While off-the-beaten-path locations are gems waiting to be discovered, iconic landmarks have their charm. The challenge lies in capturing them from unique angles or during less crowded times. Research the best times to visit and photograph these landmarks to avoid hordes of tourists.

For example, instead of photographing the Eiffel Tower from the Trocadéro Gardens like everyone else, explore less-known vantage points like the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont or the Montparnasse Tower for stunning views of the Parisian icon.

Local Food Adventures

No travel experience is complete without savoring the local cuisine. From street food markets in Bangkok to wine tastings in Tuscany, food is a central part of any journey. But how can you capture these delectable moments on Instagram?

Tip: Shoot your food from different angles to highlight its texture and presentation. Close-ups of vibrant ingredients or a forkful of your dish can make your audience crave a taste.

Tip: Don’t forget to photograph the atmosphere – the bustling market, the cozy café, or the vineyard under the setting sun. These contextual shots add depth to your culinary stories.

The Art of Food Photography

Plating and Presentation

Food presentation is an art form in itself. Chefs and home cooks alike take great care in arranging dishes to appeal to the eye as much as the palate.

When dining out, pay attention to the way your dish is presented – the colors, textures, and arrangement. Try to recreate this attention to detail when photographing your own meals.

Tip: Experiment with different plate styles, backgrounds, and garnishes to enhance your food’s visual appeal.

Food Styling Tips

Food styling isn’t reserved for professional photographers and chefs. Anyone can create stunning food compositions with a few basic principles in mind:

Balance: Distribute elements evenly in the frame to create balance and harmony.

Texture: Highlight the texture of the food, whether it’s the crispiness of fried chicken or the creaminess of a dessert.

Props: Use props like utensils, napkins, or fresh ingredients to add context and tell a story.

Eating with Your Eyes

Ever heard the phrase “you eat with your eyes first”? It couldn’t be truer in food photography. Capturing that perfect “bite” shot – the moment when a forkful of pasta is lifted or when a burger is about to be devoured – can evoke a strong sensory response from your viewers.

Use a burst mode and fast shutter speed to capture these fleeting moments. Shooting in burst mode allows you to select the perfect frame from a sequence of shots.

Getting Started on Instagram and Protecting Your Privacy

To begin your Instagram journey and safeguard your privacy, follow these simple steps:

Download and Install the App: Download the Instagram app from your device’s app store. It’s available on both Android and iOS platforms.

Sign Up: Open the app and tap on “Sign Up.”

Username and Password: You’ll need a unique username and a strong password, combining letters, numbers, and symbols for security.

Email or Phone: You can sign up with your email address or with your phone number, depending on your preference.

Profile Setup: Add a profile picture, write a brief bio, and include any other information you’d like to share.

Follow Your Interests: Start following accounts that interest you, such as travel bloggers, food enthusiasts, or photographers. Instagram’s algorithm will also suggest accounts based on your interests.

Protecting Your Privacy with a Temporary Phone Number

During the registration process, Instagram may request your phone number for security and account recovery purposes. If you’re concerned about sharing your real phone number, consider using a temporary or disposable number for the Instagram phone number verification. Numerous online services and apps provide these temporary numbers.

Using a temporary phone number allows you to receive the verification code and complete the registration without revealing your personal information, ensuring your privacy while enjoying the benefits of Instagram.


Instagram isn’t just a platform for sharing pictures; it’s a canvas for storytelling. By following the tips and ideas presented in this guide, you can turn your Instagram feed into a work of art that not only captures your unique lifestyle and travel experiences but also inspires and connects with a global community of fellow adventurers and food enthusiasts.

So, grab your camera, pack your bags, and embark on a journey of Instagram-worthy discovery!

In the end, it’s not just about the likes and followers; it’s about the memories you create and the stories you tell through your photos. Use Instagram as a tool to enrich your experiences and share the beauty of the world, one image at a time. Happy Instagramming!