Showing posts with label Guides. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Guides. Show all posts

The Essentials: Caye Caulker

Location: Island off the coast of Belize in the Caribbean Ocean.

Time Zone: Central Time Zone UTC -06:00

Getting There: If you're arriving into Belize's Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport (BZE) you will need to take a taxi to the Marine Terminal, which is about a 35-45 minute drive, where you can catch the San Pedro Belize Water Taxi to Caye Caulker. You can buy a return ticket from the dock at Belize City for $25USD. The tickets are open ended, so you can return from Caye Caulker to Belize City at any time you wish. For a much faster journey, you can book a domestic flight straight from BZE to Caye Caulker with local airlines Maya Island Air or Tropic Air.

Language: The main language of Belize is English, due to Belize being a former British Colony. Many of the Belize locals though speak multiple languages and dialects.

Climate: Sub-tropical. The humidity can be quite high, especially along the coast, but is often broken up by a cool sea breeze. Generally consistent temperatures all year around, with the warmest days found between May and September and the cooler months between November and January.

Getting Around: Walk walk walk walk walk. You can easily walk everywhere on Caye Caulker. To help you out with your luggage to and from your accommodation and the ferry docks or airport you can grab a local "taxi", which is a golf cart! Rides cost $2.50 USD per person per ride. You can also rent a bicycle to get around easily.

The Money Sitch: I would recommend taking a bit of cash over to Caye Caulker with you. Think beach side burger stands and restaurants with sandy floors, not many places accommodate for credit cards. If you forget to get cash (like we did), you can find ATMs at the front of the island bank to replenish your stash.

Internet Access: We only really had internet access at our beach side villa but to be honest, I'm not sure if we tried to connect anywhere else. Most hotels/hostels offer great wifi and the local airport also has free wifi if you're waiting for a flight.

Best Time To Go: Late November to mid-April for the dry season, clear skies and warm temperatures everyday.

Can't Miss: Scenic flight to the Blue Hole, Swallow Caye Wildlife Sanctuary, Caye Caulker Marine Reserve, snorkelling off the split,

Good To Know: In my opinion, spending the extra money on getting a flight into Caye Caulker is a good idea. The ferry ride is quite long and boring and if you include the check in time and waiting to get your luggage back. And they absolutely cram people onto each ferry until it is at capacity, so it's very uncomfortable. A 10 minute plane ride on a light plane would have been a way better option!


The Essentials: Manuel Antonio

Location: Quepos, Costa Rica 

Time Zone: Central Standard Time (CST), UTC -6.

Getting There: The only international airport on Costa Rica is Juan Santamaria International Airport in San Jose (SJO). SJO is located just under 3 hours away from Manuel Antonio if you're travelling by car. Taxi rides and transfers organized through the hotel cost about $150 USD for the transfer. You can get a domestic flight to Quepos Airport (XQP) from SJO and many of the other domestic airports around Costa Rica that generally only take about 25 minutes. Surprisingly, they can be cheaper than the transfers if the times work for you.

Language: Spanish. Many people working in the tourism and service industry, such as hotel and restaurant staff, taxi drivers and people working at the National Parks speak excellent English.

Climate: High temperatures all year round. Rainy season between May and November, with dry season from December through to April. Very humid and sticky through the drier months.

Getting Around: You can get around pretty much everywhere in Manuel Antonio by taxi or walk. Taxis between the main road of hotels and the main beach and Manuel Antonio National Park cost about $10 USD per ride. You can walk between the National Park and the main beach in about 15-20 minutes.

The Money Sitch: There are absolutely no ATMs inside Manuel Antonio National Park. However, you can do a cash withdraw from the ticket box when you buy your ticket - this does have large fees associated with it, both in a commission fee to the 'banker' at the ticket box and also in international transfer fees, but it is good to know if you're desperate. The most accessible ATM we found was at the small strip of shops on the corner of the 618 Freeway, Provincia de Puntarenas and the road that leads down to all the major hotels.

Internet Access: Great connections in most hotels as well as many restaurants and cafes.

The Main Streets: The "618 Road" (that's the only name Google maps will give me) runs right down the hill all the way to the main beach of Playa Espadilla and Manuel Antonio National Park. You can find souvenirs and shopping between the park and the beach, with restaurants and cafes also lining the street.

Best Time To Go: Mid-December to April during the dry season, although be prepared for some very hot days and high humidity.

Can't Miss: Manuel Antonio National Park is the main focus of this region of Costa Rica. Not only does it offer some of the most beautiful beaches with white sand shores and crystal clear water, the wildlife in the park is insane, with monkeys and exotic birds everywhere you turn. It's also one of the best places in the country to get the chance to spot a sloth in their natural habitat. Make sure you take a walk down the Sloth Trail in the national park for your best chances. There's also no shortage of adventure activities to be found in Manuel Antonio including 4WD, ATV and off-roading tours, kayaking, canoeing, wildlife safaris and night walks, hiking, camping, ziplining and aerial adventure parks.

Good To Know: If you're arriving to Manuel Antonio via Quepos Airport there will not be transfers and taxis waiting at the airport (it's not the type of domestic airport you're probably used to). Make sure you organize to be picked up from the airport before you land to avoid waiting.

The Essentials: La Fortuna, Costa Rica

Location: Alajuela Province, Costa Rica. 

Time Zone: Central Standard Time UTC -6.

Getting There: Arriving into Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO) in San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica, I would highly recommend organizing a transfer to get to La Fortuna.  By car it takes about 2.5 hours to reach La Fortuna from the airport, and that's if you're driving directly! We organized a transfer through our hotel that met us right at the airport gate, it was so easy and efficient. You can also grab a short domestic flight from SJO to the local airport FON. It's about the same price as the transfer, but only leaves once (sometimes twice) a day so check if your flight times match up.

Language: Spanish. Many of the people working in the tourism industry also speak great English.

Climate: Tropical climate, very warm during summer and wet and dry season. You can often expect some patches of rain even during the dry season.

Getting Around: Depending on where you're staying it can often be quite difficult to get around, as natural attractions are spaced out and far away from each other. We visited as much of La Fortuna as we could in one day on a private day tour, so our transportation was pretty much taken care of during our time in La Fortuna. If you're planning to try and get around yourself I would probably recommend hiring a car as the easiest option, as public transport is extremely limited.

The Money Sitch: For our time in Costa Rica we get out all our cash when we landed at the airport. It was more than enough to get us through our time in La Fortuna so we didn't have to go on an ATM search. Most attractions, stores and restaurants do accept credit and debit cards, but I would always carry some emergency cash just in case.

Internet Access: During the days in La Fortuna we were mostly deep in the jungle, swimming in waterfalls and hiking amongst the monkeys, so we didn't try and connect to wifi. Out hotel had excellent high-speed wifi for us to catch up with the online world in the evenings. A couple of the restaurants we ate in also offered wifi.

The Main Streets: La Fortuna de San Carlos is the main street, however if you've chosen a jungle experience accommodation style like we did you will probably quite far away from the main street. Unless you choose a hotel/hostel on that main street I would recommend choosing somewhere to stay that is amazing enough that you don't want to leave.

Best Time To Go: Mid-December to April, the dry season boasting plenty of sunshine to explore everything Costa Rica has to offer.

Can't Miss: Rio Celeste Waterfall, La Fortuna Waterfall, Arenal Volcano and Arenal Hanging Bridges, Tabacon Hot Springs, Arenal Observatory, Monteverde Cloud Forest,  Kalambu Hot Springs Water Park, Venado Caves, Proyecto Asis Wildlife Rescue Centre

The Essentials: Tulum

Location: Riviera Maya, Mexico.  

Time Zone: Central Time Zone UTC -6.

Getting There: The closest airport to Tulum, when flying both internationally and domestically is Cancun International Airport (CUN). Tulum is located about 1 hour and 40 minutes away from the airport. You can easily organize a transfer or shuttle bus when you arrive at the airport or rent a car if you would like to drive. Private shuttles are probably the most comfortable way to make the trip between CUN and Tulum, check out Cancun Airport Transfers to organize your transfer in advance. Makes for a much smoother and faster trip.

Language: Spanish. Most people working in restaurants, cafes and hotel will be able to speak some if not good English.

Climate: That perfect warm weather all year round. Can get a little sticky and humid during the warmer months.

Getting Around: If you're planning to get away from the main strip of hotels you will most likely need a car, it's definitely the easiest way to get around. Renting cars is cheap and easy, our hotel even organized it for us and had the car delivered to our hotel so we didn't have to go anywhere!

The Money Sitch: ATMs are very hard to come by on the Tulum Beach Strip and are often broken or empty when you come across them. Make sure you have cash when you're dining and shopping in this area as not many places take credit card and you might have to walk over half an hour to find an ATM that works (like I did).

Internet Access: We had wifi in our hotel room, although it was a little slow and would often cut out. Not many restaurants and cafes we went to offered wifi the way had found in other parts of Mexico, so to be honest it is the perfect place to disconnect and switch off.

The Main Streets: Tulum Beach Strip is where you will find most of the beach front hotels and restaurants. It also leads right up to the Tulum Ruins and the main public beaches such as Playa Paraiso.

Best Time To Go: Tulum has beautiful warm weather all year round, often sitting around the low 30s (celsius). There is not really any bad time to go, however September and October are known as the rainy months.

Can't Miss: Tulum Ruins, visiting cenotes (there are so many to choose from), Playa Paraiso, Sian Ka'an Bisphere, Xel-ha Eco Park. If you have some extra time and/or Tulum is your only stop on the Yucatan Peninsula make sure you visit Xcaret, Chichen Itza and Ik-kil Cenote. Check out Travel Yucatan for all the activities in Tulum that you can't miss!

Good To Know: If you're looking for souvenir and gift shops, you will find the most options out the front of the Tulum Ruins. Apart from that you are more likely to find boutiques along the beach strip and more generic shops in the main town.

This post was sponsored by Travel Yucatan. 
Make sure you visit to find out everything 
you need to know about your trip to the Mexican Coast! 

The Essentials: Isla Mujeres

Location: Riviera Maya, Mexico 

Time Zone: Eastern Standard Time UTC -5

Getting There: The closest airport to Isla Mujeres is Cancun International Airport (CUN). From Cancun airport you will need to get a taxi, shuttle or private transfer to the Gran Puerto Cancun ferry dock, about 25 minutes away from the airport. The Ultramar ferry is the easiest way to get to the island, the direct service only takes about 20 minutes to arrive on Isla Mujeres. For the easiest way to get to the ferry I would definitely recommend a private transfer. Not only is it the most direct, but it also means you won't have to drop other travellers off at their hotel on the way to the ferry! To find the best deals on private transfers check out Cancun Airport Transfers and organize your transfer before you arrive to save you time!

Language: Spanish. People working in hotels or the tourism industry will often be able to speak good English, but don't expect it in smaller stores/cafes/restaurants.

Climate: Year round sunny warm weather and amazing temperatures.

Getting Around: There are very few motor vehicles to be found on Isla Mujeres - the only few we saw were taxis or construction trucks. The most popular and most fun way to get around the island is with a golf cart. There are only 500 golf carts on the island, so make sure you either make a reservation the day before, or get up early to secure one!

The Money Sitch: To be honest, our hotel was all inclusive so we didn't need to spend too much money on the island. We got some cash out from the ATM at the Ultramar ferry dock before we arrived on the island, so we pretty much just used cash and didn't need another ATM while we were there. Being prepared made things super easy on the island, so I would suggest getting some cash our before you arrive to avoid hassles.

Internet Access: Our hotel had an excellent wifi connection, as did a few of the restaurants and beach clubs found on the beach. Most of the restaurants and cafes around the streets are quite small and authentic, and I wouldn't rely on them all to have a good wifi connection.

The Main Streets: Av Rueda Medina where you will find the ferry wharf, Av Juárez and Av Guerrero and the street crossing over them for food and shopping. Carlos Lazo for the best beach access.

Best Time To Go: Year round.

Can't Miss: Just sitting on the beach and doing absolutely nothing, what else is an island for?! Playa Norte Beach, Acantilado del Amanecer, Garrafon Natural Reef Park & Tortugranja. Check out Travel Yucatan for a complete list of everything you need to see in this beautiful region, including day trips you can take from the island.

Good To Know: Book accommodation in the Centro Supmza, 001 zone as this is where you will find the best resorts, beaches and shopping/dining options. The rest of the island is largely a residential zone. It's awesome to go down a check out during the day, but definitely doesn't have as many options within walking distance.

This post was sponsored by Travel Yucatan. 
Make sure you visit to find out everything 
you need to know about your trip to the Mexican Coast! 

The Essentials: Cabo San Lucas

While I love sharing experiences and activities around the world, I think it's also really important to share the important stuff - the break down of what to expect in each city, what might be different or difficult, or just things you might not be able to find super easily in a travel guide. So before I share my adventures with you from each place, I am going to share a destination guide in a new series called the essentials. Let's begin with Cabo San Lucas. 

Location: Baja California, Mexico

Time Zone: Mountain Standard Time GMT -7 

Getting There: The closest airport is SJD Los Cabos International Airport. You can find direct flights from many major airports. The airport is located about a 45 minute drive from Cabo San Lucas. You can either rent a car on arrival at the airport or grab a shuttle (private a little more expensive than shared) to your hotel. I would recommend also booking a return trip with your shuttle company, as catching a taxi from Cabo San Lucas back to the airport can be 2 to 3 times more expensive. 

Language: Primarily Spanish, but you will find that many people in the tourism industry will speak English. You might find a bit more of a language barrier in local restaurants and shops or market stalls.

Climate: Cabo has a desert climate, with a dry heat most of the year.

Getting Around: You can pretty much walk around everywhere in Cabo. The main town is small, close to the beach and marina and within walking distance of most of the major hotels. If you plan to get out of Cabo you can rent a car either at the airport or downtown.

The Money Sitch: ATMs can be found everywhere, offering both USD and Mexican Pesos. Credit cards are accepted widely, as is US cash.

Internet Access: Excellent. Internet offered in almost all restaurants, cafes and bars around Cabo. Check with your hotel for wifi offers and connections.

The Main Streets: Lázaro Cárdenas for the most authentic food & Blvd. Paseo de la Marina for clubs, souvenirs and local shopping.

Best Time To Go: Cabo is a great destination all year round, with hot summers and warm winters. Shoulder season - May to June and October to November - are great times to visit because the weather is perfect and the summer and winter holiday crowds are dying down.

Can't Miss: The Arch, Lovers Beach, Whale Watching, El Squid Roe, Cabo Wabo Cantina

Good To Know: You will find March and April are extra busy months, as spring breakers from USA flock to Cabo to enjoy the sunshine and tacos. If you're not into the party scene I would reconsider visiting at this time.

Check out all of my Cabo San Lucas adventures here.

If there's anything else you would like to know or you think is important to add to this breakdown, let me know in the comments below. I really want to make sure these guides have as much helpful info as possible!

The Essentials: Melbourne

Location: Victoria, Australia

Time Zone: Australian Eastern Standard Time UTC +10, with Australian Eastern Daylight Savings Time UTC +11  in effect generally from October to April.

Getting There: Melbourne Tullamarine International Airport (MEL) is the main arrivals airport into Melbourne. Tullamarine is located about 30 minutes from Melbourne's CBD. The SkyBus is the easiest way to get into the city, which is a direct airport bus between Melbourne Airport and the city centre offering a ride 24/7. You can also rent a car from the airport or find an abundance of taxis. A taxi ride into the city should cost between $55 and $65AUD.

Some domestic flights will also fly into Avalon Airport (AVV), generally from Sydney, Hobart and the Gold Coast. If you're flying into Avalon you will need to pre-arrange car hire or a transfer, as it is a very small airport and services are limited.

Language: English.

Climate: Melbourne is famous for having 4 seasons in one day. All seasons can be quite unpredictable with scorching hot days in summer, freezing cold days in winter, and a crazy mixture of sunshine, wind and rain inbetween. Always check the weather report for the day before leaving the house.

Getting Around: If you're not leaving the main city of Melbourne you will be able to get around everywhere by tram or train systems, with a free tram available in the city centre. If you're looking to get out of the city and explore a bit of the country a rental car is definitely the best way to go.

The Money Sitch: Australian Dollars. ATMs available and credit cards accepted everywhere.

Internet Access: Can often be difficult to find free wifi. Make sure to book a hotel with a good wifi offer, load up street maps and anything you might need before you leave for the day. It can be rare to find restaurants and cafes offering wifi. If you do come across some free wifi it can often be very poor quality.

Best Time To Go: Summer months, December - March.

Shopping: In the CBD you will find Melbourne Central and Emporiam, sprawling across three blocks with all the shops you could ask for. You can find all the designer stores on Collins Street. Bourke Street, Chapel Street and Swanston Street also offer great options.

Can't Miss: Get out of the city and experience more of Melbourne and Victoria by exploring The Great Ocean Road, The Grampians or The Yarra Valley; or even just explore the surrounding city suburbs of South Yarra, Docklands, Southbank, Prahran and Richmond. Melbourne is also the heart of sport in Australia so make sure to catch an Australian Rules Football (AFL) game at the iconic MCG. For the best views of the city make sure you visit the Eureka Skydeck.

Good To Know: Most of the year Melbourne definitely doesn't live up to that hot Australia reputation. Bring a jacket and warm clothing if you're visiting in or around winter.

Check out all of my Melbourne adventures here.


The Essentials: Sydney

Location: New South Wales, Australia

Time Zone: Australian Eastern Standard Time UTC +10, with Australian Eastern Daylight Savings Time UTC +11  in effect generally from October to April.

Getting There: The only airport in Sydney is Sydney Kingford Smith Airport (SYD) which is located about 25 minutes away from the city, depending on the traffic conditions. Sydney offers a regular train service, to and from both the domestic and international airport or a taxi should cost you around $30AUD.

Language: English.

Climate: Mild winters and hot summers.

Getting Around: Sydney has a great train system that can get you around the whole city, as well as out to the wider suburbs such as Bondi Junction. Would definitely recommend renting a car to make your life easier, many of Sydney's attractions are quite spread out and car can be the best way to get around. Just look out for toll roads.

The Money Sitch: ATMs available and credit cards accepted everywhere.

Internet Access: Hotels often offer free wifi in their rooms. Free wifi can often be hard to come by around the city. Keep an eye out for free wifi signs on restaurants and cafes to make your life easier.

The Main Streets: Definitely changes depending on what part of Sydney you're visiting. In the city, George Street and the surrounding streets are considered the city centre. When you move out to the beach suburbs, generally the main streets run towards our parallel with the beach front.

Best Time To Go: October - April.

Can't Miss: Bondi Beach, Sydney Harbour Bridge, Toronga Zoo, Manly, The Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk, The Rocks Historical District, Sydney Opera House, Circular Quay, Darling Harbour.

Good To Know: Sydney's city centre can be very difficult to drive in, with one way streets all over the place and toll roads that run right through the city. Make sure you're aware of where you're driving before you leave to avoid confusion along the way.

Check out all my posts on my adventures of Sydney here.
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