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The Bahamas

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Towering above the water, the monumental Overseas Highway – one of the longest overwater roads in the world, connects the upper and lower archipelago islands known as the Keys to the coast of mainland Florida. Spanning 125 miles to the southernmost point of the US, this chain of islands lay along the Florida Straits between the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico – home to the third largest barrier reef in the world. The 42 bridged highway is an experience in itself, and no stop in the Sunshine State is complete without a road trip along this far frontier. For those wishing to see the best of the Keys but with little time to spare, this route is for you!

Just an hour from Miami airport, Key Largo is the gateway to the Keys, a sanctuary for marine life and home of shimmering sunsets. Offering a first taste of the island life, a waterside lunch at Sundowners is too good to miss. Sit on the deck and watch the diverse birdlife flurry over Florida Bay; with a slice of Key Lime Pie in hand, it’s the perfect introduction to the Keys!

If like us, you’re stretched for time, it’s back on the road for a 50-minute drive from Key Largo to the tiny island of Duck Key – home to a permanent population of less than 500 people. Perfectly located in the centre of the archipelago between Key West and the Upper Keys, a stay at Hawks Cay Resort offers the perfect balance of complete tranquillity, while remaining in easy reach of Islamorada, Marathon and Key West. Its 177 resort rooms are framed by an expansive warren of luxury waterfront villas with wraparound verandas, billowing palm trees and ocean views. Set on the edge of the water, the resort boasts 5 swimming pools and a specular salt water lagoon perfect for paddling. After a day spent swimming and sunning, al fresco dining on the docks at Hawks Cay Marina is in order at Angler & Ale. Order in some Florida Key’s specialities (Conch Fritters are a much) and sip some of Florida’s best draft beer as the sun sets.

Just over an hour west of Duck Key sits the most infamous of the archipelago’s. Key West is the most populous and economically developed of all the Key’s, once boasting a myriad of famous poets, playwrights and musicians amongst its local population Virtually uninhabited in the 19th century save from Cuban fisherman, smugglers and privateers, the island quickly became the largest and wealthiest city in Florida – made rich from wrecking and salvaging valuable cargo from ships that crashed on the reefs and shallow waters offshore. Closer to Havana than Miami, part of Key West’s allure is its distinctly Caribbean character, where Cuban coffee stands and antique shops give way to a patchwork of colourful wooden houses, ramshackle churches and leafy sidewalks.

Though much of Duval Street has been transformed for tourists, the town is encompassed with a sense of nostalgia for way back when; old cigar makers’ cottages still stand in Bahamian Village, while President Truman’s Little White House and Ernest Hemmingway’s Spanish colonial home sit in the heart of Old Town. A frequent haunt of Hemingway himself, Sloppy Joe’s saloon remains a historic cornerstone dating back to the prohibition era, making it the perfect pit stop for pint heaped with a sense of cultural significance. Each street has a story to tell, and a ride on the infamous Conch Train is the easiest way to explore the main sights and gain some historical context.

Time spent on the turquoise waters is almost non-negotiable when in the Keys and an Island Adventure Tour offers unrivalled opportunity to coast through the endless blue, searching for conch shells amongst mangrove islands mushrooming from the warm shallow waters. An afternoon spent snorkelling and paddle boarding with Fury Water Adventures is nothing short of idyllic, with ample chance to bask in Florida’s diverse marine life and spot some pods of dolphins. A sunset sail equipped with cold beers, feel good tunes and a much welcomed evening breeze is the icing on the cake. Speaking of cake, a stop by the Key Lime Pie Co. on Greene Street for a slice of the good stuff, followed by a bucket of Key West’s infamous Conch fritters at Turtle Kraals overlooking Key West Bight Marina, after a long day spent sightseeing and swimming sea sponges.

With sun, sea and unrivalled marine life mixed with the influencers of neighbouring Cuba, these islands boast a rich tapestry of cultural and historical intricacies and no matter your time-scale, it’s easy to discover the best the Keys has to offer.

www.fla-keys.co.uk

It’s vacation time, and there’s nothing as relaxing as enjoying a nice cold drink looking out into the clear water. It is not quite possible to explain the pleasure of a day well spent at the beach. Whether it is lying on the sand, building sand castles, or taking a dip in the water, there is just so much to do during a holiday trip.

The question then arises, where you can find the ultimate relaxation for your next holiday destination. Don’t fret; we will share with you the top destinations with stunning crystal Clear Waters, which you must put on your bucket list, for places to visit.

  1. Italy, Lampedusa

Lampedusa is in the Mediterranean Sea and is part of the Pelagie islands. Lampedusa has a thriving fishing economy, but it also has one of the most amazing white sandy beaches. The water is crystal clear and has become a major attraction for tourists from all over the world.

  1. China, Jiuzhaigou Valley,

Looking at pictures of Jiuzhaigou Valley in China will give you the feeling that an artist became too enthusiastic with Photoshop. The water is so clear that you can see right to the bottom. The Valley is a great hiking site, and the burst of color is something to experience. There is a national park within the Valley, and you will get to experience terrace Lakes, waterfalls, and wildlife.

  1. Poland, Valley of the Five Lakes

You will have so much choice of things to do at the Valley of the Five Lakes. Located in the Tatra Mountains in Poland, you have crystal Clear Lakes. During summer, it is a sight to behold. In winter the Lakes freeze but, they remain as clear as they are during summer. Ice skating or walking across the frozen lake will give you the feeling that you are walking on air.

  1. Philippines, Boracay

Boracay is a small island in the Philippines that has become a great tourist attraction. The initial inhabitants were goat and rice farmers; what a pleasure it must have been taking the goats out to pasture while surrounded by all the beautiful scenery.

The water surrounding the island is so clear, and there are many activities you can engage in during your vacation.

  1. New Zealand, Blue Lake

If you take an aerial shot of the Blue Lake in New Zealand, you will capture the entire bed due to how clear the water is. If you capture a side-shot of someone sitting in a boat in the middle of the Lake, you would think that it is suspended in the air.

The Blue Lake, which is in Nelson Lakes National Park, is sacred to the Maori, and you are not allowed to swim in it. The water is so pure that tests indicate that it is the same as distilled water.

  1. Greece, Lefkada

If you’re looking for tranquillity and a great spot for kite surfing or other water sports, make it a point to visit the Ionian Sea in Lefkada Greece. You get crystal clear turquoise water and sandy beaches in places like Porto Katsiki beach, among others.

To access the Porto Katsiki beach, you can use the taxi boats or the winding staircase on the cliff.

  1. Brazil, Rio De Prata

If you enjoy a spot of snorkeling and happen to find yourself in Brazil, make sure you visit Rio de Prata. Bring a pair of hiking boots so that you can tour the rainforest. Swimwear is also mandatory for this trip because you will get a chance to swim in the crystal clear waters. Pack a good camera because you will get to see South American fish like pacú and Dourado.

  1. Canada, Alberta, Moraine Lake

If you know anything about Canadian currency, then you know that the Canadian $20 bill has a portrait of Moraine Lake. The lake is in the Canadian Rockies, and the lake gets its water from the glacier, and is an impossible to imagine blue color.

Bring a kayak or canoe along for a scenic tour of the Lake; you will feel like you’re gliding over glass. Visit dream-guides for great selection of cool kayaks

  1. Italy, Laghi de Fusine

The Laghi de Fusine is a glacial Lake that has crystal clear water. You may not want to take a dip here because the water gets very cold; although we can bet on a dare from your friends, you might decide to try. You can, however, enjoy a scenic tour of the Lake while taking plenty of pictures.

  1. Croatia, Plitvice Lakes

The beauty of the area is breathtaking. Tourists are welcome to visit at any time of the year. Seeing the Lakes during the different seasons is a sight to behold. The color burst from the changing leaves, and the blooming flowers will provide great material for your photography endeavors. One thing that stands out though, whatever the season, the water remains blue and crystal clear.

  1. Maldives

The Maldives is another popular holiday destination. Located in the Indian Ocean, you have 1190 Islands to explore. You get white sandy beaches and crystal clear water. There is so much to do with regards to water activities, and the marine life is something to check out.

  1. Bahamas, Grand Exuma

There is no list of top destinations that would be complete without a mention of the Bahamas. It features some of the best sandy beaches and crystal-clear water. Imagine how lucky the inhabitants of these places are, waking up to scenic views, many people only see in pictures.

Now here is one thing you’ll find interesting; it is not uncommon to find wild pigs swimming in the Grand Exuma; a chance to cool off perhaps? If you’re feeling adventurous, by all means, jump into the water and join the pigs.

Final Thoughts

We have shared with you the top 10 destinations with crystal clear waters. You will never run short of fabulous places to visit in your lifetime. Remember to carry many bathing suits, plenty of sunscreen, hats, and get ready to spoil yourself thoroughly.

Expect the unexpected from Del Foxton, she’s an environmentally friendly sculptress and we adore her art.

Tell us about the journey that led you to get into paper sculpting…

I was born in Canada to a family of creative souls and from an early age dabbled in many art mediums. But it wasn’t until years later when I transitioned from a corporate business background in Canada to a quiet island in the Bahamas that I felt my creativity blossom. There was limited recycling on the island and I needed to address the mounds of paper waste produced by my career and family. Web surfing led me to the fascinating stories about the ancient art form of hand paper making. And the rest is history.

What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced and how did you overcome it?

The opportunity for feedback and conversation is important to my creativity and learning. I am pleased to have found community through art associations in the Bahamas, Canada and Florida that provide friendship, guidance and exhibiting opportunities. I am also an active member of the Bahamas National Trust, a true guardian of the environment that provides many opportunities to present my environmentally friendly artistry to an interested audience. I enjoy the opportunity to share my passion with a new generation of young artists. It is fun to watch children mess with the paper pulp and create something unique.

Del Foxton Paper Sculpture

If you were to describe your business mantra in three words, what would they be?

Eco driven. Staying the Path. Enjoying the Ride.

What advice would you offer anyone interested in venturing into the world of art and design?

Go For It….it will be an amazing journey!

Talk us through an average business day in your life.

My day gives me the opportunity to wear soooo many hats.

As Adagio Art Gallery and Studio is home based, I can be in the Studio as early or late as I want or need to be; I am able to receive clients and reserve Tea and Tours of my Gallery effortlessly; having a home office with a view to work all my social media platforms and contact clients is no hardship at all, plus I have easy access for snacks at anytime.

Life is Good!

Business can be an upward struggle at times, what do you do to stay positive?

I stay positive by remembering the success and enjoyment that I have had with my art career so far and reviewing my daily actions to ensure that I am doing what is needed to accomplish my end goal of a strong, rewarding, profitable career.

What is your go to quote when lacking motivation?

I always loved Picasso’s quote…Every child is an Artist.
The problem is how to remain an artist when we grow up!
…and so far, so good for me.

How much has social media played a role in the success of your brand?

I began my full time career as an artist in 2004 with a business card and a website.

Now, I still have business cards and a website, PLUS 4 social medial platforms that give me the opportunity to showcase my artistry around the world …and that is a fantastic benefit.

Del Foxton Paper Sculpture

How do you want people to feel when they first see your work?

I love that people are not only interested in my art, but also that they see that I am addressing an important issue of our time, paper waste. I enjoy giving the history of my paper waste journey and of my process of marrying the eons-old techniques and procedures of hand paper making with the magic of today’s technology that has allowed me to expand and enhance my artistic journey.

Our readers love to travel, what destination is at the top of your bucket list?

Living on Grand Bahama Island is a perfect hub for travel.

It has allowed us to visit many destinations, Asia, Australia, British Isles, Europe and the United States but, we still have Africa on our bucket list. I am fortunate to live and have Adagio Art Gallery locations in the Bahamas, United States and Canada.

What’s next for you and your brand?

As a Hand Made Paper Sculptress, I am excited that hand made paper artistry is being welcomed by galleries around the world. In my opinion, this is a huge step forward for the art world. I am delighted that my artistry and medium is valued for its fantastic contribution to our environment and economy and I look forward to having high profiled representation in galleries, exhibitions and events to share my journey with like minded people.

Where can people find out more about Del Foxton

Website – Del Foxton
Facebook – Ms Del Foxton
LinkedIn – Del Foxton
Instagram – @delfoxton

Occasionally the team at House of Coco Magazine meet some extraordinary people, many of whom are women, and this interview is one of those memorable occasions. We had the opportunity to talk to Nicole Collie based over in the USA, an artist with more than just a flair for art. She is truly passionate about her art, and every element of Nicole’s paintings have a back story ignited by women.

Take us back to your childhood and when you first started drawing and painting…

My first memory of being creative is from around age 4 when I was always coloring and making art while at home in the Bahamas with watercolors. My parents were very conser-vative and I had quite a strict upbringing but I was always allowed to draw, color and paint. I went to private school and graduated at 16, but I didn’t want a traditional job, because something inside me knew that I was meant to work in or around art.

Tell us about your style of art…

I like to push boundaries, and coming from such a strict background, my way of doing this was to rebel and as a result I started to paint nudes. So, my style of art is showcasing women as the strong and vulnerable women they are. Mothers, daughters, the female form, the female shape, the black woman, the embodiment of a woman; these are all my passions and my art.

My art goes through different phases; it can be very maternal and warming, right through to angry maternal and the struggles that come with being pained. It’s light and bright and dark and dangerous all at the same time.

Image 1. No Judgement – BE KIND
Image 2. She ROSE Up

If you to were to describe your business mantra in three words, what would they be?

Passion, Drive, and Desire

Talk us through an average business day in your life…

Now that we are working from home I have found my art to be my amazing grace. My first 6 months I was very depressed, I did not realize how important physical contact with other people was. I ended up diving into my art. I set it up where anytime I walked past my art table (the dinner table) I would put paint on the canvas. It didn’t matter the color if I had an idea or not, the purpose was to release whatever was being built up on the inside because within that 6 months of depression I had totally shut down. My art has saved me so many times during my life.

Business can be an upward struggle at times, what do you do to stay positive?

I paint, and I spend time with my husband and kids. I’m also deeply inspired by women of all shapes, sizes and color, so I tend to focus on all the achievements of women all over the world. As women we go through so much during our lifetime so it’s worth spending time thinking about all the positives.

It has taken many years for me to be happy with who I am and feel a sense of self worth, this is a great way to stay positive. I want this for the future of our children too, they should be taught self worth from an early age. I was invited to illustrate a number of kids books recently, they are all about being different and being wonderfully you, I love this. We are all unique in our own special way.

I am WONDERFULLY made – Illustrated by Nicole Collie Jamison

What is your go to quote when lacking motivation?

“Being creative is about living life and finding the beauty in it. Being true to oneself is being creative”.

How much has social media played a role in the success of your brand?

I started out over 20 years ago selling my art when there wasn’t any kind of social media, so the fact that I can now showcase all my work across different platforms is an added bonus.

How do you want people to feel when they first see your work?

Image 1. Keeping Watch
Image 2. Expression of Love

I want them to feel uplifted, enlightened and interested to see more. I’m always around to talk to anyone about my art and give them the full story behind a specific piece of art. I want them to be as passionate as I am and to walk away happier than before they saw it.

Our readers love to travel, what destination is at the top of your bucket list?

I’m from the Bahamas and think that everyone should visit at least once in their life. Equally, I’m now based in Fort Worth in Texas and this is an amazing place for a vacation. Personally, I want to visit Africa and Ireland to experience both cultures.

What’s next for Nicole Collie Artist?

Well, this is something I’m very excited about. I’m looking for someone to represent my art, a Talent Manager or an Art Dealer. I want to be represented by a professional who under-stands the world of art and where to hold large scale events and art shows around the US and the world.

Where can people find out more about Nicole Collie?

Website – NicoleCollie
Instagram – @nicole_collie_art
Facebook – Nicole Collie Artist
Twitter – @nicolecollie

This past week has been a rollercoaster for women all over the world but hearing about positive initiatives is always a great reminder that there is always good to be found in this world. Our friends at Sandals Resorts are calling for guests to bring sanitary towels, tampons, and hand sanitiser with them on holiday to help vulnerable women in the Caribbean.

Guests visiting the brand’s resorts in Jamaica, Barbados and The Bahamas, when international travel resumes, are urged to bring a small number of products with them in their luggage which can be donated to local women’s centres via the Pack for a Purpose initiative.

Heidi Clarke, Director of the Sandals Foundation, the Company’s non-profit organisation, says: “Period poverty is a problem all over the world and now, more than ever, disadvantaged women in the Caribbean are finding it difficult to access the products they need. By bringing one or two packs of sanitary towels or tampons with them and signing up to the Pack for a Purpose programme, Sandals guests can do their bit to help women who are living difficult lives. What’s more, they weigh next to nothing, so guests don’t need to worry about exceeding their luggage weight allowance.”

The Sandals Foundation distributes products donated by guests chosen from the Pack for a Purpose site to local women’s centres and programmes in the Caribbean, giving them much needed support.

Projects that benefit from the programme include:

Jamaica:

  • The Women’s Centre of Jamaica provides a second chance at education for adolescent mothers. With seven main centres and 11 outreach stations across the island, the facilities serve 200 young mothers through continued educational instruction, group and individual counselling, mentorship programmes and vocational training. Holidaymakers can help young mothers secure a better future by bringing feminine products that are a necessity but can sometimes be inaccessible due to no or low-income.

The Bahamas:

  • The PACE Foundation in Nassau, The Bahamas provides access to continued education programs for 25 teen mothers. In addition to helping with coping mechanisms, the Centre prepares its student mothers academically and socially for re-entry into secondary school, a technical and vocational centre or the job market. Guests can help prevent absenteeism that can interrupt their developmental progress by donating feminine care products, which are sometimes expensive and out of their reach.

Barbados:

  • In Barbados, Jabez House, a non-profit partner of The Sandals Foundation serves as a haven of hope and empowerment for female sex workers, facilitating their transition from the sex industry through educational and vocational training. As the women of Jabez House carefully map the road to their new lives, lowered earning power can prevent them from adequately meeting their basic needs. Guests’ donations of feminine products on their next trip can help eliminate one more barrier.

To take part in the programme, travellers just need to visit the Pack for a Purpose website, select the resort that they’re visiting from the ‘destinations’ list and pack the chosen items they wish to donate before they travel. Items are then delivered to the hotel’s front desk on arrival.

For more information about the Sandals Foundation and other projects supported by it, visit www.sandalsfoundation.org. For more information about Sandals Resorts visit www.sandals.co.uk.

Getting some much needed fresh air in the great outdoors is an absolute must these days. If you’re headed for a hiking trip in the Sierras or a tropical beach getaway in the Bahamas, there are some essentials you’ll want to make sure to have on hand.

Being prepared for your adventure is going to greatly increase your enjoyment of the experience. Here we’ve compiled an extensive packing list for your next outdoor getaway.

A Few Tips

First, we recommend that you make a definitive plan about what you’ll be doing. This will help you narrow down the appropriate gear. If you’re going camping, can you drive up to the site, or are you going to need to hike out to the location? This will determine if you need to have super lightweight gear, or if you can pack an air mattress.

If you’ll be out sailing, check the weather beforehand and make sure to pack a sweater in case the winds pick up. Or if you’ll be kayaking, ensure that your gear is waterproof or you have waterproof blankets for things like your camera and food.

The Basics

No matter what you’re doing outside, there are some very basic essentials for every excursion.

Sunscreen

Even if you’re in the north of Scotland visiting the Isle of Skye and the weather forecast is cloudy all day, it’s still important to have some sunscreen. As a matter of fact, approximately eighty percent of the UV rays from the sun can penetrate cloud cover.

Even if you’re relaxing under an umbrella on white sandy beaches reading a book and drinking a Mai-Thai, the sun can reflect off the sand. So it’s always a safe bet to carry sunscreen that is at least 30 SPF and apply it hourly.

Water Bottle

Staying hydrated is essential regardless of what you’re doing. Particularly if you’ll be out on long treks through remote areas where you can’t just stop at the store and pick up a bottle.

A water bottle that has a built-in filter is a great option. You can also look for something lightweight and dishwasher safe. Try a few out until you find the best one for your preferences.

Lightweight and Breathable Clothing

Choose clothing items that are lightweight, moisture-wicking to keep you dry and comfortable. Stay away from one hundred percent cotton items. Cotton does not keep moisture away from your skin, takes forever to dry, and doesn’t provide insulation when the sun goes down and it gets cold.

Instead, look for garments made of nylon, polyester, or a blend. These materials tend to be very durable and super-fast drying. For cooler weather activities, consider wool. Wool has come a long way and is no longer bulky and scratchy. Try an ultra-fine merino wool base layer. It’s moisture-wicking, fairly quick-drying, breathable, and itch-free.

Travel Towel

Always carry a towel, and don’t panic. Though that is a joke from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, it is a very accurate assessment. Travel towels are one of the most versatile items you can have.

They function as a towel, of course, for drying yourself off. You can lay it down to sit on the ground comfortably, use it as a blanket to wrap up in sitting around the campfire, or roll it up and use it as a make-shift pillow. Look for a lightweight, sand resistant one if you’re hitting the beach.

Ones that are made with one hundred percent Turkish organic cotton that is super absorbent and quick drying. Look for one large enough to be a picnic blanket or something to wrap up in to stay warm, but also fold up to fit nicely in your bag. For example, one of these waterproof camping blankets could come in very useful, especially if you get caught in the rain.

Good Shoes

A good pair of activewear shoes are going to make all the difference during your outdoor experience. Again, this is where planning comes in. Will you be on a long backcountry trek or kayaking at Big Sur.

One suggestion is to look for a pair of shoes that will cover all your bases. Something that is lightweight, breathable, and super comfortable. A great pair of durable hiking sandals is a good way to go. They are good for a mountain trail or a day out on the paddleboard.

Hiking Gear

So you’re headed out on the rail and want to be prepared for an all-day adventure up to the top of a beautiful mountainscape. You’ll be best off if you have all of these things with you.

Day Pack

You’re going to have a decent amount of gear on hand for an extended day hike. Make sure that you have a solid backpack to haul it all. Look for soft and breathable shoulder straps and the same for the back panel. It should be padded slightly and made of breathable material. You don’t want a super gross and sweaty back at the end of the day.

Some external side pockets to carry your water bottle is nice. Also having a rain cover included is a good idea. Find a pack that is manufactured with thick and durable material to help protect your gear inside and the outer layer from being torn.

First Aid Kit

This one is mission-critical. Regardless of where you are going and what you’re doing. First aid kits can be made with a few standard items or purchased. A hand full of bandages and butterfly bandages in case of cuts or scrapes, an elastic wrap bandage, if there are unfortunately any sprained ankles along the way. Antibiotic ointment with a pain reliever is also ideal.

They make smaller versions of these kits that are ideal for hiking. They have compact scissors and tweezers, plus some tiny alcohol wipes and a small roll of adhesive bandage tape.

Camping Gear

Depending on if you are a camper or a glamper, there are a few different types of camping gear items you’ll want to have on hand. Of course, you’ve got your tent, sleeping bag, and cooler full of food ready to go. In addition, here are a couple of things that will make your camping experience a fantastic one.

Camping Stove

If you’re not going to be backpacking out too far, a larger camping stove can be a huge asset when camping. Though it’s fun to cook stuff on the campfire, it can also be a ton of work. Keeping the fire going enough to actually cook meat all the way through, or having to build a fire every morning just to make coffee.

Even if it’s a single burner propane stove it is worth packing a little extra gear for convenience at mealtime. Especially if you are cooking for a few people.

Foldable Chairs

Not all campsites have great seating. Usually, there’s just a picnic table, and that’s about it. And we all know the best part of camping is sitting around the fire at night. Invest in your camping comfort by picking up a sturdy and durable folding chair.

Grab one that doesn’t sit too low to the ground, they are smaller yes, but they are a real pain to get out of every time you need to put more logs on the fire.

Let the Adventure Begin!

Whether you’re headed out to the Appalachian Trail, camping at the beach, or spending a day at the lake; make sure you plan ahead and pack accordingly.

Hopefully this little packing list has helped get you ready for your next awesome outdoor adventure. Have fun and stay safe!

When you think of taking a casino holiday, what’s the first destination that springs to mind? We’re certain its Las Vegas; in fact, we’re so certain that we’d put a bet on it! Sin city is certainly famous for its bustling casino establishments, spinning slots reels and Roulette tables, glitz and relentless glamour. You’re guaranteed the time of your life in Las Vegas that’s for sure, but its dominance in the casino industry sometimes means that alternative destinations are overlooked, and some of these can be just as impressive and entertaining for an unforgettable casino holiday. Stick with us as we explore a few, and if you’re saving the pennies for a trip in the future, in the meantime you might want to play a few hot casino games at the next best place: leading online casino sites.

1. Bahamas, The Caribbean

If you have the money, The Bahamas is a destination that most certainly shouldn’t be overlooked. Home to an extensive range of luxury casino establishments and varied gambling options, it is the idyllic setting for gambling, fine dining and drinking cocktails. Enjoy the perfect weather and sensational views, while enjoying the delights of venues such as the Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island. Simply perfection.

2. Monte Carlo, Monaco

Monte Carlo has a significant place in the history of gambling, with age-old casinos and one of the destinations where the original versions of Roulette began to gain popularity. The glamorous holiday spot is still home to the fascinating Monte Carlo Casino which is 157 years old (built 1863).

3. Macau, China

Macau is third on our list as a top gambling hotspot. Gambling is not legal in much of China, and so many flock to the Macau region where the casinos, nightlife, shops and restaurants never sleep. Not for the faint-hearted; prepare for excitement aplenty and very little sleep on a truly memorable trip to Macau.

4. Sun City, South Africa

Gambling has become legalised in some areas of South Africa, and Sun City resort has become a hotspot for keen casino players to flock to. Combine spotting South African wildlife while enjoying high class casino entertainment and dining at this beautiful destination.

5. Montego Bay, Jamaica

It was 2008 when Jamaica legalised gambling and the casino scene has been growing rapidly ever since. There are a number of luxury resorts offering casinos and gaming lounges, plus beautiful scenery at this stunning destination.

6. Aruba, The Caribbean

White sands, crystal clear ocean and an enjoyable casino game sounds like the perfect combo. doesn’t it? Well you can have all this in Aruba; the stunning Caribbean holiday destination. Relax in the sun during the day, enjoy a fine dinner and head to the brilliant casinos for a long evening of fun and entertainment.

Final Thoughts

Whether you prefer the dazzling bright lights of the city or the sandy white beaches of the Caribbean, there is the perfect gambling destination for you. Which casino vacation is next on your list?

Best known for its beautiful Caribbean beaches and all-year-round Summer, Aruba is a gem in the Caribbean islands, often forgotten when compared to the Bahamas and Bermuda. Affectionately dubbed the Island of Alternative Aruba, it offers a unique charm and allure that sets it apart from its more famous counterparts.

However, you only have to venture a short way from the beach to find many attractions and adventures to take part in. Whether it’s snorkelling, scuba, hiking, windsurfing, kitesurfing or paddleboarding, there is something for everyone on this action-packed and fun-filled island.

The Caribbean has for a long time been on my hit list of places to explore so when my boyfriend’s uncle and auntie moved out there a few years ago, I knew it was the perfect excuse to visit. Last summer I visited the island of Aruba with friends, for a week of fun-filled activities, food and new experiences.

the Island of Alternative Aruba

Aruba, which is famous for its white sandy beaches, all-year sunshine and interesting history is the alternative destination for a million tourists, each year. The island is only 19.6 miles long and 6 miles across, with a total area of 70 square miles.

Unlike many other Caribbean islands, Aruba is below the hurricane belt so does not suffer dreadful weather and instead has a dryer climate without much rain at all. In the interior of the island, you’ll find a desert-like terrain and in Arikok National Park, with a variety of wildlife, cacti and rock formations.

How to get to Aruba

I travelled with KLM from Heathrow via Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam for six nights in the luxurious Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino. The flight took an hour to Amsterdam and then nine hours to Aruba, with a small stop at Bonaire, before landing at Queen Beatrix International Airport (AUA).

Where to stay in Aruba

The hotel is situated in Oranjestad and is one of two hotels on the island under the same name, one which is a family hotel and one which is an adult-only hotel. I stayed within the adult-only hotel which boasts an array of amenities from the rooftop pool, restaurants, casino, spa, marina and much more.

As a guest of the hotel, you also have access to the beautiful Renaissance Aruba Private Island – a ten-minute speed boat ride from the hotel across the waters to a private island. This is where you can have your photo taken with the Instagram-famous family of flamingos. It’s a slice of Caribbean paradise.

Top Activities to do in Aruba

During the five-day stay, we indulged in great food and an array of activities. Some activities you can enjoy, include: Windsurfing The Windsurfing World Championships were happening during our stay, and it was wonderful to see both windsurfers and kite surfers whizzing across – and above – the water, like enormous seabirds.

Paddleboarding

My fellow travellers tried stand-up Paddle Boarding with Dennis Martinez of Aruba Surf and Paddle School and did very well, especially as a rainstorm hit just as they were getting into their stride!

Snorkelling

I’ve never seen so many colourful fish, except on the Great Barrier Reef, as we did on the reefs near Baby Beach, Aruba. It was astonishing to see so many beautiful fish, coloured in pink and purple hues with lime green and yellow stripes. There is also an opportunity to snorkel on the Jolly Pirates Boat Trip.

4×4 Safari

One of the most popular ways to see the island is on a 4×4 Safari Tour; we booked the half-day Natural Pool Land-Rover Adventure with De Palm Tours. Travelling in convoy, from the north to the south of the island, we experienced many of the island’s highlights, including California Lighthouse, Alto Vista Chapel, Wariruri Beach, Bushiribana Gold Mill and the ruins of Natural Bridge, before a breath-taking bumpy ride over the rocks and dunes of Arikok National Park to the Natural Pools.

Horseback Riding

Aruba’s geology means it is a great place for horseback riding. It offers a variety of exotic locations for adventurous visitors, from the challenging dunes to the desert-like plains that will make you feel like the star of your Western motion picture. Tours include The Gold Mine Ranch, RanchoDaimari, Rancho La Ponderosa and Rancho Loco.

I thoroughly enjoyed exploring this beautiful island. From snacks at traditional beach shacks and staring across the ocean from the lighthouse to snorkelling at Baby Beach, awe-struck by fish hiding in the coral reefs.

Looking for the ideal romantic getaway? Check out our guide on the “Top 6 Locations for a Perfect Romantic Tropical Vacation” on House of Coco for some dreamy destinations to escape with your loved one.

I will be back very soon and cannot wait to explore more of this incredibly vibrant and exciting country.

Tips from a Local

Amelie – local living in Aruba

“When visiting Aruba, go off the tourist trail and do as the locals do. At weekends we get our families together and often head to Zeerovers in the fishermen’s town of Savaneta, for some fresh fish dishes, delivered from sea to plate within a few hours.

The food is amazing here with fresh fried fish and shrimp with side orders of fried plantain and pan bati. Everything is served to you in a basket as you sit on the dock overlooking the water.

If you are with family, head inland and explore Arikok National Park or the Donkey Sanctuary. And if you are after a beach day with the locals, we all head to Baby Beach. Located in the southern part of Aruba, close to San Nicolas, it’s a true Caribbean beach paradise.

The shallow waters make it a prime beach destination for snorkelling. For a real Aruba, experience have a BBQ on the beach or visit the beachside café!”

While you may have seen this epic location in the James Bond remake, Casino Royale starring Daniel Craig, Nassau, Bahamas, is known for a lot more. It’s a fascinating and unique junkanoo culture, breathtaking beaches, and remarkable resorts are the highlights of the location.

Perhaps the most prominent tourist attraction in Nassau is its relaxing beaches. Furthermore, Nassau is a very budget-friendly destination as well, of course, if you don’t stay at a resort. The beaches are free for everyone to enjoy.

Therefore, here are the six amazing free and public beaches in Nassau that you can’t afford to miss. If you are in the Bahamas, you must take some time to enjoy these excellent spots. So, could you keep reading to check them out?

Cabbage Beach:

The almost two miles of white sand coastline of the beautiful Cabbage beach is quite impressive; however, this beach is notorious for being severely overcrowded, mainly because there are several nearby resorts and hotels. Yet, if you go there by taxi, the driver will know where to drop you for the public access entry.

There is a lot to do on this beach, you can meet different people from all over the world, or you can also rent some amazing water sports gear like jet-skis, and paddling boats to have a fun time with your friends.

Cabbage beach is also a good spot for surfing, or just tanning in the sun, with your partner. If you aren’t bothered by a bit of a crowd or enjoy meeting new people, visit Cabbage beach while you are in Nassau.

Cable Beach:

If you thought the last beach was crowded, this one has five resorts surrounding it; however, I don’t see it as negative. If you want an intimate and secluded spot, this beach might not be for you, but if you like to party and have an excellent time, cable beach has a lot to offer.

You can pay a small fee to use the pools and other amenities of the resorts, or you can also stick to the ocean if you don’t want to spend some extra cash. Another advantage of having these resorts near the beach is that you can always find some delicious food. You can get anything you want from the resort restaurants, or you can even enjoy some authentic local cuisine from the various street vendors on the beach. When it comes to dining, you will have a lot of options on Cable beach.

There is also a wide array of watersports and beach activities you can participate in, or you could find a nice spot to relax, enjoy the ocean, and get a nice tan.

If you want a less crowded and more personal space, where you don’t have to worry about loads of strangers, you can look into getting private islands in the Bahamas.

Junkanoo Beach:

Located close to downtown Nassau, Junkanoo Beach is one of the most accessible beaches in the area. Unlike the last two spots, Junkanoo Beach is significantly smaller and a lot less crowded, unless you are visiting during spring break, when this beach is as popular as any other.

Another factor that sets this beach apart from the others is the existence of proper public bathrooms and a changing area, which is quite rare in most of the Bahamas Beaches.

So, if you want a less crowded place, check out Junkanoo Beach; however, it will not have all the resorts and activities that other beaches have.

Love Beach:

As the name suggests, this beach is the perfect spot for a romantic date with your partner. Keep in mind that this is a locals-only beach, but since it is mostly empty, no one will stop you from visiting it, make sure that you are respectful of the locals when you visit the beach.

This means that you probably shouldn’t take your Bluetooth Speakers with you to play some loud music and have a party.

The beach is located on the northern shore of Nassau, past a village called Gambier. You will need to do a considerable hike, about nine miles to be accurate to get to this beach, but trust me, it is one of the most romantic and amazing spots. And you can also have a sensational snorkeling experience on this beach.

Western Esplanade:

This is another small beach located close to Cable Beach; it is the perfect destination for you if you want to relax and enjoy the amazing local foods. This is also a very common spot for fundraising cookouts, and you are always welcome to take part in the effort.

This is an excellent beach for people who don’t like heavy clouds but still want to have all the foods available at Cable beach; however, keep in mind that since this is a small beach, there aren’t any public facilities like restrooms and changing areas.

Saunders Beach:

Saunders Beach is also located close to Cable beach, but it is designed specifically for families. You won’t find any raging spring break parties over here; instead, there are several safe swim areas and swings for kids to enjoy.

The beach has a nice parking area so there will be no problem with parking your transport, and it is properly lit. Restrooms, showers, and changing areas are also accessible on this excellent and small family beach. Therefore, if you are traveling with your family and want to have a great time with the kids, Saunders beach is the spot for you.

Final thoughts:

Nassau is one of the best destinations in the Bahamas, especially when talking about amazing beaches. This small location has several beaches for every type of person. Whether you want to enjoy a fantastic spring break party, have a romantic evening with your partner, have fun with your kids or go there by yourself to have some me time, the Beaches of Nassau will not disappoint. Therefore, don’t miss out on the spots mentioned in this post.

Every three years, thousands of visitors descend upon the Seto Inland Sea for the Setouchi Trienniale Art Festival. Discover an art lover’s paradise within the Setouchi islands, often referred to as the Japanese Mediterranean, as Eulanda takes you on a multi-island journey over six days with our Setouchi Island travel guide.

Day 1: Tokyo

Arrive in Tokyo, and head to Tokyo Station Hotel. If it’s daytime, ignore the urge to sleep, and hit the streets of Tokyo for Japanese fare. Kick off your night with a mixed selection of yakitori and sake at Tokoshima in Sangenjaya. Here, you’ll find Chef Tokoshima serving Tokyo’s popular grilled chicken staple.

Double rooms at Tokyo Station Hotel begin at £323 per night.

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Day 2: Kurashiki

Japanese Mediterranean

Grab a traditional ‘ekiben’ Bento box, and take the direct Nozomi bullet train south to Okayama station. Upon arrival, taxi into town and check in to Ryokan Kurashiki; a traditional Japanese inn where the rooms are outfitted with tatami mats and sliding doors.

Here, the historic town of Kurashiki with it’s striking white walls and merchant townhomes, transports visitors to the Japan of yesteryear.

Take several hours to explore this picturesque city on foot. Once you’ve satisfied your curiosity, head to Tsuneki Tea Shop for a cup of roasted green tea (hōjicha). The owners of the tea shop are always on hand to give a warm welcome to each customer.

Upon returning to your room, don your Yukata robe and head to dinner at Ryokan Kurashiki. Their ten-course feast is an immaculate experience from start to finish.

Kurashiki sites of interest: Ōhashi House, Ivy Square, Kurashiki Denim Street, and Achi-jinja.

Double rooms at Ryokan Kurashiki begin at £206 per night.

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Day 3: Shodoshima

After a traditional Japanese breakfast at your ryokan, catch a ferry to the island of Shodoshima. Step foot into the ferry terminal where you’ll be greeted by an installation featuring glass balls and cloths used to make the sounds of taiko drums. This ripples across the exhibit, where the clothing designs of Junko Koshino can also be viewed.

Next, visit MeiPam Yokai Art. Yokai is representative of the animistic roots of Japanese culture; often depicted in the form of figurines and sculptures. Seek out the work of Chubei Yagyu and Mitsuo Takeda–two artists out of the one hundred featured onsite during the festival.

Stone is the medium of choice for Takeda’s work, which believes that it “holds the smell of thousands of years of energy.”

End your day in Shodoshima with a stay at Mari Ryokan. With its east-meets-west decor and architectural design, Mari Ryokan fuses modern boutique elements with rustic Japanese design.

Double rooms at Mari Ryokan begin at £450 per night.

Shodoshima sites of interest: Nakabu-an Somen Noodle Factory, Angel Road.

Day 4: Naoshima

Start your day touring part of the 88-shrine pilgrimage at Joko-ji temple (Temple 8) located on Mt. Goishizan. Be prepared for a light hike, as full views over the Seto Inland Sea can only be seen upon ascending Mt. Goishizan.

Upon descending Mt. Goishizan, head to Tonosho port to catch a chartered boat to Naoshima; the most well known of the art islands.

Only a short walk from the ferry port, located among the art houses of the Honmura district, indulge in a vegan feast at Aisunao; a restaurant with a design aesthetic that can only be described as ‘hipster meets artist.’

Following lunch, check in to Benesse House; a hybrid between a contemporary art museum and a sixty-five-room hotel. Explore the property’s onsite installations and then catch a complimentary hotel shuttle, and spend the afternoon exploring nearby museums.

One of three museums designed by Tadao Ando along the shuttle route is the Chichu Art Museum. Ando is considered the architectural grandfather of the Seto Art Island project.

The entire site is an architectural masterpiece from all angles. Ando insisted that the entire building (an ecosystem of geometric shapes) should be buried within the hillside, and every piece of art should be lit by natural light sources.

Head back to the hotel for a Setouchi seafood dinner at Museum Restaurant Issen or try dining on French cuisine at Terrace Restaurant.

Double rooms at Benesse House Hotel begin at £275 per night.

Naoshima sites of interest: Benesse House Museum.

Day 5: Naoshima, Ogijima, & Fukuyama

After breakfast, visit Yayoi Kusama’s iconic ‘Yellow Pumpkin’ located at the end of Benesse House’s picturesque pier. Kusama’s contribution to Japanese contemporary art can be experienced throughout the island.

No visit to Noashima is complete without experiencing Art House Project’s Minamidera. American artist, James Turrell’s immersive light installation ‘Backside of the Moon’ is located in the house structure; whose design was conceptualised by Tadao Ando.

Upon completing your museum tour of Naoshima, head to Miyanoura port to board Seto Yacht Charters for your pre-organised yacht transfer to the neighbouring island of Ogijima.

Ogijima is one of Japan’s infamous ‘cat islands.’ With a little over 150 human residents, Ogijima’s furry counterparts and unique art installations attract 154,500 visitors per year–with a bulk of footfall due to art-related attractions.

Take time to explore the steep alleyways; where creative installations lurk at every turn. Fourteen permanent art pieces from previous festivals can be viewed on the island, but several indoor pieces are closed during winter months.

Head back to your yacht charter, and sail towards Takamatsu port. Upon dropping your belongings off at Hotel Ofutei, explore Tomonoura on foot.

Day rate onboard Seto Yacht Charters begins at £941 for up to 10 people. Double rooms at Hotel Ofutei begin at £282 per night.

Tomonoura sites of interest: Jozenji Taichorou temple, Joyatou lantern and fishing village area.

Day 6: Momoshima & Kobe

After breakfast, take a ferry from Tuneishi Port to Momoshima Island. With a population of 350, the island has seen its numbers slowly increase as its attraction grows amongst artists looking for spaces to create small and large-scale installations.

Our guide explained that artists often relocate to Momoshima to find abandoned homes. They work with local organisers to contact the owner in hopes of gaining permission to occupy the premises. Several of the artists who’ve successfully found accommodation show their work at Art Base Momoshima.

Paying homage to the island’s ageing population, Art Base is housed in a disused school building. Fans of Yukinori Yanagi will be delighted to find several large-scale installations on and off-site of Art Base.

After making your way to Fukuyama Station, take the Sakura bullet train to Shin-Kobe station, explore the city, and enjoy a Kobe beef dinner at ISHIDA Kitonozaka.

Later, take the bullet train back to Tokyo and check in at Marunouchi Hotel, before catching your flight home the next day.

Double rooms at Marunouchi Hotel begin at £230 per night

Kobe sites of interest: Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art, YokooTadanori Museum of Contemporary Art.

Travel Details:

Economy airfare to Tokyo starts at £660 (direct from £856) onboard ANA

More information on the Setouchi Islands can be found on setouchitrip.com/