Wanderlust for the Hidden Gems

     At House of CoCo we suffer from a serious case of chronic Wanderlust! We love planning random trips, whether it’s for 3 days or 3 months, and we can’t settle until we have something else to look forward to. Many a traveller share this yearning for greener pastures but struggle to settle on a destination. To help ease the pain of being a hopeless vagabond, we’re going to compile a list of must-see places for you to visit. Look out for these lovely listicles with the hashtag #WanderlustWednesday and you’ll surely be in for a hump day treat! Your trips don’t have to be to exotic countries, and they could just be a neighbouring town or city; we’ve chosen a  random selection so that our readers from all over the world don’t miss one of these gems near them.

 

St. Kilda – Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

This bay-side suburb is perfect. If it were a person, we’d marry it. It has a little bit of everything we love, from gorgeous esplanades and sandy beaches, Edwardian houses to edgy street art, a theme park alongside tiny patisserie’s, kitsch stores to family-run restaurants, and best of all, PENGUINS. St. Kilda is renowned for having it’s very own penguin colony that clamber on to the rocks by the bay-side when the sun begins to set. Just a short tram ride from Melbourne’s CBD, St. Kilda was built for Sunday afternoons. Acland Street is where it’s at for local markets and delicious food, particularly home-made cakes and freshly brewed coffees – you can sit out on the street on mismatched furniture and do a bit of people watching, as you eye up what you’re going to eat next from the lines of bakery windows staring back at you. And if you keep your eyes peeled, you might see a dad pushing his triplets along in a trolley. Dotted across the pier are boats large and small, and there’s nothing more beautiful than sitting off the edge of the jetty watching the sunset over the bay, with Melbourne’s skyscrapers towering majestically in the background. For a little extra summer fun, enter the jaws of Luna Park and get your adrenalin pumping.

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Instagram: @caoilfhionnrose

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Instagram: @caoilfhionnrose

Bruges, Belgium

Bruges is one of the most idyllic towns in Europe. With it’s windy cobbled streets, boat-lined canals, red-brick everything, flawless medieval architecture and delectable creperies, it’s hard to believe that this little place used to be the “chief commercial cenrte of the world”. We stayed in a quiet campsite, Camping Memling, just a short bus ride from the town centre. Even driving through the suburbs was a joy! The people are so friendly and everything is so topsy-turvy and intertwined – it’s not hard to get lost. Being in Bruges is like stepping back in time, with it’s horse-drawn carriages, authentic street signs and sculptures scattered every which way. Oh, and the Belgian Waffles do live up to their expectations, and then some (and by ‘some’ we mean 4 waffles later.)

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Instagram: @caoilfhionnrose

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Instagram: @caoilfhionnrose

Lake Tekapo – South Island, New Zealand

This tiny village just south of Christchurch is easily the most breath-taking place we have ever seen. It is beyond us how it hasn’t ended up on one of those “Must-see places before you die” lists because it is otherworldly. We spent 3 days here, and it was really just for the scenery because we only seen about a quarter of the 303 residents of this sleepy town. Lake Tekapo takes it’s name from the lake which surrounds it. The water was uncharacteristically blue for a lake, but we soon learned that it was so because of the ‘rock flour’ from the glaciers that floated in the water, and reflected the sunlight thus creating this unique and unimaginable water colour. Wander around Lake Tekapo photographing the beautiful snow-capped mountains mirrored in the lake, hiking up Mount John Walkway to the South Summit, playing on zip-slides hidden between pine tree forests, and bathing in the Tekapo Springs when dusk rolls around and you’re sure to want to stay forever. It even has log cabins, an ice-rink, and observatory for star-gazing, snow-tubing and skiing.. oh, and a gorgeous church, The Church of the Good Shepherd, that has an altar window that perfectly frames the picturesque scenario outside so you can capture that perfect shot!

If you’re ever in New Zealand, don’t skip this hidden gem – you won’t regret it!!

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Instagram: @caoilfhionnrose

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Instagram: @caoilfhionnrose

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Instagram: @caoilfhionnrose

Croyde, North Devon

North Devon is arguably England’s crown jewels. To be honest, the surrounding areas of Braunton, Saunton Sands, Georgeham and Woolacombe are all beautiful villages, oozing with old-world heritage and British charm, but Croyde just steals our hearts. Simply it’s a village that is mostly beach and sand dunes, with a narrow road winding through white-wash thatched cottages alongside modern beach homes. The people are what make Croyde even more heart-warming. They are a close-knit community who’d welcome any stranger and their dog! It’s so refreshing to see people who actually really care about their village and beaches, especially the young surfing community in Croyde. This little village has a real feel of home about it. A carefree bunch of people who spend their evenings walking their dogs along the sandy beach or on the coastline of Baggy Point, then going down to one of the 4 local pubs in the evening for a pint of Tribute. Our favourite is The Thatch for it’s cosy atmosphere, open-mic nights and mouth-watering, mountainous nachos!

Croyde Bay also plays host to GoldCoast Festival – check it out if you’re planning to head down to this coastal haven!

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Photograph courtesy of Sean Maguire @ IMagine iMages.

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Instagram: @caoilfhionnrose

Best pub in the world!

Whitsunday Islands/Whitehaven Beach – Queensland, Australia

Words escape us when we try to describe this magical place to anyone who asks. Sail around the Whitsunday’s for 2 days on-board one of the many boat trips that leave from Airlie Beach and we guarantee that you’ll rate it as one of the most incredible experiences of your life. By day you’ll snorkel with and fed beautifully coloured tropical fish, play on the purest sand in the world on Whitehaven Beach, watch for whales, dolphins, sea turtles and dugongs in the sea around our boat, and naturally, sip beers under the scorching Australian Sun. By evening/night . With no other light obstructing your view while you’re parked up in the Great Barrier Reef, lay back and gaze in to the night sky to see stars like you’ve never seen before; we could even see the Milky-way. It was incredible!

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Instagram: @CaoilfhionnRose

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Instagram: @CaoilfhionnRose

 

Queenstown – South Island, New Zealand

The daredevil’s capital of New Zealand, as well as the place for skiing and snowboarding, Queenstown is probably busier than the entirety of the rest of the South Island. Although it’s an extreme tourist town, it still maintains the true beauty if Kiwi landscape. Surrounded by water and snow-capped mountains, Queenstown is nestled in a little valley, from which you can hit the slopes, go mountain-biking, or like us, jump to your death. But it’s not just for the winter months, Queenstown is heaving all year round, and the locals love it! You can take a short trip to the Skyline deck on some very cute bubble gondola’s, on which you will pass by pine-tree forests, little picnic areas, log cabins, Flying-fox arena’s and bungee-jump podiums. If you think of yourself a real daredevil then opt for the AJ Hackett Bungee Swing; the view of the valley and of Lake Wakatipu is enchanting, so try to keep your eyes open long enough to enjoy it.

Queenstown has some fantastic eateries, but Fergburger on Shotover Street definitely takes gold for us. It’s a tourist attraction in itself. This burger takeaway has the most obscure menu of burgers that you’ll ever see… as well as the largest – their the size of your head! The owners of this burger joint also own the bakery next door, Fergbaker, where you can indulge in a delicious meat pie as a starter, or a sweet treat for your dessert.

 

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Instagram: @caoilfhionnrose

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Instagram: @caoilfhionnrose

Ravello – The Amalfi Coast, Italy

The Amalfi Coast looks like you’d imagine a coastline would look if a rainbow melted over it. There’s a multitude of colours coming at you from every angle, from houses and churches, to grape groves and food markets, and not forgetting the Gelato stands. Ravello dates back to VI Century A.D. and this is more than obvious from its elegant architecture. With the small town square covering about as much space as a school dance hall, it is lined with family-run restaurants, ice-creameries, grocery stores and bars. Stemming from the town centre are Ravello’s quiet, winding streets of coloured stucco houses, wrought iron gates to the gardens at Villa Cimbrone, rose gardens, and lemon groves, some of which lead to the Terrace of Infinity from which you can take in the heart stopping views of the Gulf of Sorrento! Surrounding towns and villages are easily accessible thanks to the conveniently built, although small and daunting, hillside stairs. Go to Positano and rent a boat for the day – nothing like cruising along the Costiera Amalfitana sipping Prosecco.

Woody Harrelson owns three hotels in Ravello, and we met him, Ed Norton, and Alicia Silverstone, who were on a yoga holiday, at his hotel Villa Eva. Despite the celebrity and tourist draw, Ravello has not succumb to conventional tourist attraction status, and has kept its cultural and regional values in tact – all of which you are expected to abide by when residing in the quiet mountain top village.

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Italy / Campania

Image courtesy of National Geographic

 

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Make sure to return to House of CoCo for all your travel and luxury needs! 

Caoilfhionn Rose

Caoilfhionn is a freelance travel writer who enjoys slow travel and avoiding landmarks in favour of diving into a destination's culture. Instagram: @CaoilfhionnRose

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