Tobacco Caye is tiny though wasn't always so small, before 1961´s hurricane Hattie it had a school, church and as the name suggests grew tobacco. now its the size of a football pitch taking around eight minutes to walk all the way around with a couple of all inclusive places to stay, a bar or two and generators providing a little light and electricity for charging phones for a couple of hours each night. i stayed in a cabana at paradise lodge built over the barrier reef surrounding most of the island which was basic but where Miss Celia and Miss Junie cooked delicious meals each day catering to my allergy of fish (difficuilt on an island surrounded by them) and joined by an assortment of other guests at the shared dining room table. Spend your days snorkelling, or diving, relaxing in a hammock, sleeping off breakfast, lunch and dinner, watching the ospreys nesting near the dock or taking boat trips to other islands and seeing the rare birdlife.
Bus to dangriga on the southern coast of belize then water taxi from the dock to tobacco caye, expect to wait until the boat is full and spend around $20 for the 1 way 30 minute trip.
Probably the best breakfast view in the world at this beautiful small hotel overlooking the volcanoes of lake Atitlan. Hot tub set into the rocks, great food, kayaking, hikes. Wonderful staff and the perfect place to chill out
Parvati beach huts are located on Palolem beach in south Goa at the quieter northern end of the beach. They have seven beach huts and ours had a spring mattress with our own attached shower/wc room. Free WiFi for the guests. They were clean and fairly priced.
Not everyone knows that you can hike in Mallorca nor that its government provides stunning refuge accommodation for hikers along a well signposted route, the GR 221 Dry Stone Route of the Tramuntana mountain range. The refuges are typical rural manor houses located in beautiful surroundings within small villages or in mountains, like Escorca's 'Tossals Verds' refuge. The Port de Soller refuge ‘La Muleta’ is particularly stunning located as it is in an old 1912 built radiotelegraphy station located on Cape Groson, next to a lighthouse and is quite the perfect spot to catch the sunset at the end of a long walk. All the refuges have been recently refurbished so the conditions are very good with staff providing a warm welcome to tired walkers.
It all leaves you with a certain image – different from the standard - of a Mallorca where you walk, the route is very beautiful and scenic, and at the end of the day, tired, you come to these beautifully located refuges that are not only refuges but a place that lets you ‘experience’ food, meet other walkers and drink great cheap coffee.
To give some background, the GR 221 Dry Stone Route is a 132 km eight stage hiking route of medium difficulty which can be walked in parts or combined with other sightseeing. The five refuges - Can Boi, Muleta, Tossals Verds, Son Amer and Pont Roma – are all located in the northern rocky part of Mallorca which both needs tourists economically and landscape-wise remains unspoilt by the brand of tourism Mallorca has long been associated with.
Price wise, the dorms are all uniformly priced at € 11 a night with optional dinner at € 8.50 which is brilliant value for three courses including a carafe of wine. The refuges can all be booked online at: www.conselldemallorca.net/mediambient/pedra
Final point, the doors close at 10pm with the lights going out at 11pm. So if hard walking and early sleeping is your idea of a good holiday, do check out the link I have put below.
Santuari de Lluc, Mallorca, 525 metres above sea level, reached by an exciting, twisting road, or by a walking route through the Tramuntana Mountains, is a surprisingly large former monastery, now a place of pilgrimage, with simple accommodation in former monk's cells, with bathrooms en suite, at modest rates(book in advance). It has space, calm, striking buildings and interiors, and a good museum, from prehistory to modern times. Restaurants, cafes and a shop cater for varying numbers of pilgrims and visitors -- an evening meal at a table nestling against one of the surrounding wooded hills, with the sounds of goat-bells, followed by a walk up the paved path to a Calvary with superb views of the Monastery and the surrounding mountains, is an excellent prelude to a restful night's sleep.
Utter luxury. Spent a week not really doing much - it's not really the place to go if you want to explore, it's more a place for relaxing, eating and drinking. Loved the bath on the balcony!
It is not until the last coach full of day trippers departs that you really appreciate the quiet beauty of this 18th century monastery. Situated in a valley 500 meters above sea level, surrounded by the impressive mountains of the Sierra de Tramuntana, it is a spectacular location for quiet reflection. Listening to the resident choir school, who sing morning and evening, is a beautiful experience for both believers and non-believers alike. The monastery is an ideal base to explore the mountains, by foot or mountain bike. There are numerous trails direct from the monastery: you could hike up the Puig de Massellana (1364m) or follow the old paved Pilgrims trail to Caimari. Outside the monastery there is an information office for the Tramuntana range with helpful English speaking staff.
With simple, functional accommodation and a range of local rustic fayre from no less than three restaurants, a cafe and a bakery it has something to suit all budgets (the cafe is best value). But beware - it will not suit party animals - you are expected to be silent after 11:00 pm!
Plaça dels Peregrins, 1, 07315 Escorca, Mallorca, Illes Balears
+34 971 87 15 25
Google map: bit.ly/KyR2ET
Bus Connections to Lluc: There are buses to and from Inca and Palma. In summer (May-October) there are also public buses from Port d`Soller, Alcudia, Can Picafort and Pollensa. There are also Tourist day trips from most towns, or you could plan as stay as part of a hike or bike across the Tramuntana range (which is what we did).
Arta is a small, picturesque town in north east Mallorca. It is quaint, non-touristy and has charm in abundance. It is relatively easy to rent a lovely traditional house in the vicinity - we did, one with olive trees, vines, small pool and beautiful rustic character. The Sanctuary of Sant Salvador is worth seeing on top of the hill and the local caves are a must (Victor Hugo and Jules Verne have signed the visitors book!) It is a quiet unspoilt corner of the island, great for children, the locals love them. You can get to the coves and nearby beaches easily in a car and further afield are the sights of Pollenca, Soller and the wonderful Tramuntana mountains.
A few miles out from Valldemosa we stayed in a sensitively built restored old building set in the mountain side on an old terrace owned by Enrique Vives who lives opposite. This three bedroom villa is peaceful and very beautiful. It doesn't have the five star luxurious element but the decor is traditional and homely and the facilities are plenty for any family with kids of most ages to enjoy especially with the swimming pool. Set up high, every night we settled down by the covered patio barbeque area at the end of the long garden to eat and enjoy the fabulous sunsets across the sea. Every morning we watched the morning mist swirl around the top of the craggy peak behind the villa. The garden is a delight with several 'rooms' to explore such as finding a tiny pond where water trickled from the rocks containing frogs or the bigger water reserve containing larger goldfish. Most days Enrique would bring apples and talk about how he built the villa stage by stage and his plans to build an ensuite to the main bedroom which already has it's own balcony/ garden area. Walking further up the track you can visit the hertigate -Ermitage de Trinidad which is open at various times in the day to the public (but you won't see a soul!) Another tranquil place set among olive and oak trees and views to the sea. We thoroughly enjoyed the location and would recommend the villa to any family.
A wonderful find, deep in the Umbrian countryside - a bed and breakfast but so so much more. Ca'di Gosto is part of the slow cooking movement offering great food and even cooking lessons. Set among terraces of olive trees, most of the produce is grown by the owners Jenny and David and it's home of the best eggs have ever had.
It is a beautifully renovated Umbrian Farmhouse with wonderfully decorated bedrooms with en-suites, and the luxury of a swimming pool and Jenny the chef to cook for you. The whole place is a feast to the eyes.
If you are not an animal lover then maybe it's not the place for you as Jenny and David have a lovely family of beautiful dogs, a couple of cats and an array of chickens and bantums all with there own characters!
A truly lovely and food filling pleasure.
Atzaro is a sleepy, zen-like agriturismo by day and by night comes alive as a hip,twinkly sushi restaurant/cocktail lounge (dress up). Detox in the 43m lap pool and super spa and then loll around on huge four poster daybeds with a cocktail to hand. Rooms are spacious and have an Eastern influence (some with sunken stone baths and a personal pool!). The front desk/ concierge service will book you those elusive Ibizian taxis and hot spots like Jockey club. Atzaro is the perfect antidote to hedonistic Ibiza.
Sant Joan, KM15, Ibiza 07810
Google map: bit.ly/IzSwd1
An apartment in the medieval monastery of Lluc, high up in the wild Tramuntana mountains of northern Mallorca. Surrounded by a sacred forest of holm oaks with magnificent walks, the only sounds you’ll hear are sheep bells or the Blauets from the monastery’s choir school singing the salve every day. Thick ancient walls make it pleasantly cool even in high summer, and the local produce is delicious.
Soller is a small town that is a train ride away from the capital Palma. The train between Palma and Soller is an experience on its own as it is an old train that snakes through limestone mountains with some breathtaking views. Soller is nestled among mountains with several interesting walks for all abilities from simple strolls through olive groves to steep climbs. There is one nice walk to a small coastal village called Deia where Robert Graves lived for several years. Soller is a small atmospheric town with several hotels and small bars and is relatively underdeveloped compared to many more touristy areas in Mallorca. A great place to stay if you enjoy hiking and nature and want to get away from the more busy touristic areas of the Balearics.
Google map: bit.ly/ITmURs
Beautiful small rural hotel in the stunning village of Orient. My wife and two teenage sons stayed here in August last year. Son Palou is a family owned and run and the welcome we had from check in until we checked out made us feel like part of the family. The hotel is in the charming village of Orient and I can only describe the hotel as Heaven on earth.
Specific highlights were the swimming pool where my sons and me spent an idyllic summer afternoon, our evening meal on the terrace patio - the suckling pig was wonderful. We also enjoyed the freshest sangria I have ever tasted. My youngest son's highlight was the fresh orange juice at breakfast straight from the orchard.
The website is lovely but the reality is even better, every part of the hotel inside and out is pristine.
Son Palou has my highest recommendation and we will be back.
Adults only hotel tucked away on the north eastern part of island. Amazing pool area with sun loungers and four poster beds on the grass. It's an oasis of calm. Luxurious air-conditioned bedrooms and public areas.
There is a buffet menu for all meals with local cuisine and fresh produce. Sporting activity programe and nightly entertainment if you want it. An adult only haven. No coincidence most of my fellow guests were teachers!
Urbanización Cala Mesquida, s/n, 07580 Capdepera (Mallorca), Spain
+34 971 89 70 08
Google map: bit.ly/IHePjG
At the charming Hotel Atalaya in Mundaka, Basque Country, you can open the shutters, step onto your balcony and people watch over the harbour. If you prefer sand there’s a beach at nearby Lekeitio where happy dogs lift their legs on the “no dogs” sign. Place names are a series of randomly jammed typewriter keys: try saying – and definitely visiting - Gaztelugatxe, a tiny island with a narrow winding causeway, twinkling at night with fairy lights. For day trips there’s Guernica, immortalised by Picasso, with its “Junta” headquarters museum where I cricked my neck admiring the stained glass ceilings; and my favourite, the eerie but entrancing painted forest at Oma.
There's a great five-day coastal walk you can take from Escala to Palau-Saverdera which passes through the old fishing village of Cadaquez. Salvador Dali had a holiday home here which you can visit and there are sea view bars and restaurants to while away the evenings. It's not over run with tourists and manages to hang onto its quaint 'villagey' feel. We stayed at the Dali themed Hotel La Residencia. Great place to rest after walking.
It's a beautiful eco-lodge in a stunning setting, at the foot of the Atlas mountains of Morocco. It is a traditionally built stone building standing above a green valley, offering amazing views. The interior is very tasteful, using local materials ans items, but providing all the comfort and luxury western people need. We had a wonderful, very relaxing stay, surely something different than the usual hotel experience and a great escape from the hustle and bustle of Marrakech.
A friendly, very clean hotel that offers large family rooms with views of the Cathedral and harbour. Extremely well located, within a two-minute walk you find yourself on Paseig Maritimo in central Palma giving you easy access to the Cathedral, the Almudaina Moorish palace, the port and vast promenade, but also quaint shops that still sell Spanish-made leather goods, shoes, clothes. A few minutes in the opposite direction takes you to the open air market where you can stock up on local goats cheeses and meats, sweets and local empanada pastries. Snaking through the medieval streets takes you to the station, from where you can catch a train or bus to other parts of Mallorca, as well as the old picturesque train to inland Soller. Go at carnival time, so you can soak up the good-natured atmosphere, with families turning out in fancy dress for two days running: pirates, bumblebees, Smurfs, ladybirds or Inquisitors provide a riot of colours and laughter. Come back to the hotel for a glass of dark, deep local red wine on the sun terrace, and watch the sun set over the mountains or enjoy views of Bellver castle on the horizon.
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