Best place for surf

We sent Daniel Fahey to the very cusp of the known world to catch some Chinese monsters. Here’s how he got on.

So this is it: the long-thought Gate of Hell; once the very edge of the known world, now the threshold to a very new one. As a turnstile to an eternal inferno, it’s not what I had envisioned.

Sure, the heat blisters. The sun, as a pre-curser to the Gate opening, is doing its blazing best as a warm up act. Yawning from a night shift, my watch is stretching its hands out at 0915, and already I’m in shorts.

Perhaps I expected something more apocalyptic than a rum-dark South China Sea; maybe someone more prophetic than the ocean goddess, Mazu, who busily kneads six foot waves into the soft, butter-blonde sands of Riyue Bay.

Whatever I’d conceived, it didn’t include a beret-bearing, oak-skinned Californian surfer called Brendan and an all but abandoned paradisiacal beach. Yet at Hainan Island, the most southerly point of China, that’s exactly what I’ve found.

Brendan has been shacked up here for around seven years. His Riyue Bay Surf Club on the southeast of the island has all the indicia of a self-shaped surf spot: the hand painted driftwood signs (“No Sharks”, “No Limitations”); an acoustic guitar; a bar made from a surfboard, serving imported beer; year-round waves.

It’s the kind of sacred setting you yearn to find as you roll along in a rust-dusted campervan, board roped on top. A few intrepid surfers from Australia and the US have tempered these uncharted swells, now it’s the first generation of Chinese boarders who are starting to find their feet.

For centuries, Hainan was the end of China’s civilised world. The island was a real-life Diyu (Chinese purgatory), where banished Dynasty dissents were left abandoned between the fruits of the Forbidden City and an imminently impending afterlife.

In the 800s, Tang Dynasty prime minister and aspirant poet, Li Deyu, coloured Hainan as the “Gate of Hell”, but as a consequence of China’s ever-quickening evolution, it’s an island still finding its identity. It swirls together the synchronised chaos of classic China (neon lights, noisy bikes and exotic street food) whilst alluding towards a future of homogeneous modernity (deluxe hotel chains, beach weddings and Western menus). Its lost coves, rainforest-rimmed mountains and deserted volcanic villages await rediscovery.

As my surf lesson with Brendan progresses from practising in the sand to lolloping upon grumbling tides, a school of local children ride waves further up the coast. They’re in the water wearing wetsuits and wilting straw hats. Face-kinis are also a regular sight on the beach.

“The locals don’t like to tan,” Brendan explains. “If they’re tanned, it means they work outside and people will think they’re poor. That’s why beaches are often empty in the day and get busier around five.”

Amazing sharks in Utila

Samantha Wilson heads to Útila in Honduras in search of Old Tom, the legendary barnacle-encrusted whale shark who has plied the waters for decades.

“Put your faces in the water, sharks don’t fly!”

Bobbing among the dark, slapping waves off of the Honduran coast I hear the shout of our captain over the gentle hum of the dive boat engine. My heavy, nervous breaths through my snorkel make it harder still.

I heed his holler, though, and dip beneath the glistening surface. Finally I get a glimpse of what I have been searching for: a whale shark, the biggest fish in the ocean.

At 9m (30 ft) long, it glides effortlessly beneath my fins, sashaying gracefully with every swish of its enormous, pointed tail. I swim breathlessly alongside, keeping up with it for several minutes until it dives and its blue and white spotted body disappears into the depths of the Caribbean Sea.

You’d think that finding the largest fish on the planet wouldn’t be too difficult, but this is my forth venture to Utila’s north side after three failed attempts. Although they can grow to 14m (45ft) in length, whale sharks can also be extremely elusive.

They tend to frequent warm, tropical seas and Utila’s plankton-rich waters are a major stopping point on their great migrations along the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef.

Tilting their powerful bodies vertically, they open their wide mouths to gorge, creating a feeding frenzy which encourages small tuna to join in the feast. Known as boils, the tuna writhe in the water, their splashes alerting trained eyes to the presence of a whale shark just below the surface.

Local fishermen call them Old Tom after a legendary, barnacle-encrusted whale shark that plied Utila’s waters for decades. Back on the shore, in doorways of the stilted, pastel-coloured houses that make up the Honduras’ Bay Islands, they still tell rum-heartened tales about the great beast, which they say reached 18m (60ft) in length.

Whale sharks skim the north shore here throughout the year, but the best sightings are in March and April at the height of their little-understood migrations. Scientists have long been left baffled by their 5,000 mile-long (8,045 km) trips, and individual sharks have been tracked as far as the mid-Atlantic en route to South Africa after leaving the Belizean Reef. The mystery of where they give birth remains unanswered too, but that just adds to their magnetism.

Ulita was the island where unruly English pirates used to come in search of Spain’s golden treasures but now it lures in wannabe scuba divers with promises of PADI courses, a paradisiacal coastline and rustic eateries. The biggest prize on offer though, is a chance to see Old Tom saunter past.

Romantic Spots For Romantic Couple

With a diverse range of heart-achingly beautiful landscapes, England can be an incredibly romantic destination offering many gorgeous backdrops for romantic couples to embrace and share a special moment.

With love in the air, there’s bound to be a kiss or two. So our writers grabbed their walking sticks and meandered through our metropolitan cities and ancient woodlands to discover the top 10 most romantic spots in England to kiss.

1. The Mill Bridge in Bourton-on-the-Water, Cotswold

A tranquil river spanned by picturesque low arched stone bridges drifts through Bourton-on-the-Water, a charming Cotswold village. Set in the village centre, the original Mill Bridge is still as beautiful and functional as it was when it was built over 360 years ago. Take a stroll over it and share a kiss against a backdrop of picture-book cottages to prove that your love will last forever too.

2. Champagne on the London Eye

If Cupid had a home, it would probably be the aptly named ‘Cupid’s Capsule’ on the London Eye. It’s designed for couples, so you and your loved one can drink in the spectacular views of London, as well as a bottle of Champagne, in your own private capsule. The ride lasts 30 minutes; how many kisses you think you can steal above London in that time?

Getting Creative With Tours Advice

Making the Most Fun Out Of Your Family’s Stingray City Tour If you and your family are planning on a trip to the Grand Cayman, one place you shouldn’t miss out on is Stingray City. Generally speaking, the term is a popular distinction to two different locations – Stingray City and Stingray City Sandbar. Anyway, both offer a distinctive sea experience in which you will be offered to ride a boat and enjoy seeing stingray in action. Now if you’re one of those who want to level up the excitement, there even are snorkeling and diving amenities offered, and of course, you can do them with stingrays by your side. If you finally make the decision to take on this tour to Stingray City, you will definitely consider it as the best of all the things you’d expect to do in the Cayman Islands. Obviously, you’d want to know more about what to expect once you get there. Continue reading to find out more. For the most part, the starting point of the trip is at Seven Mile Beach, which usually takes around thirty minutes. Since the sun in that part of the world may be new to you, we recommend that you tell everyone in the family to wear sunscreen and hat to protect your skin during the ride. As expected, you will be greeted by stingrays when your boat arrives at Stingray City. The entire area is just swarming with them and proof of that is when they begin to appear upon hearing the sound of the motorboat.
The Beginners Guide To Traveling (Getting Started 101)
Kids for one will surely love the experience, especially with the sushi handed out to them and intended to be fed to the stingrays. Stingrays are non-aggressive animals, so they won’t be a threat to kids or anyone; though there are times that some younger ones find their appearance as terrifying. Aside from fish meat, rays also love to be petted and fed with squids, which actually is their favorite food.
A Simple Plan For Investigating Vacations
As for the boat ride options, you actually can go for a group charter because it’s not just more affordable, you also get to spend the entire boat ride exclusively with your friends and family. For obvious reasons, being with your group or family for the entire ride is a lot more fun. Once in Stingray City, you must find time to try the snorkel at Coral Gardens. You get to choose from several different diving operators to give you the coral reef snorkeling experience that you will never forget. This part of the tour is something you must try because you’ll never get the same chance of exploring the sea up close and personal and see something that’s literally untouched and unharmed by human hands. To suit your gastronomic needs, you can have lunch at Rum Point or Kaibo, both of which offers the best of what the Cayman Islands have.

Getting Creative With Tours Advice

Making the Most Fun Out Of Your Family’s Stingray City Tour If you and your family are planning on a trip to the Grand Cayman, one place you shouldn’t miss out on is Stingray City. Generally speaking, the term is a popular distinction to two different locations – Stingray City and Stingray City Sandbar. Anyway, both offer a distinctive sea experience in which you will be offered to ride a boat and enjoy seeing stingray in action. Now if you’re one of those who want to level up the excitement, there even are snorkeling and diving amenities offered, and of course, you can do them with stingrays by your side. If you finally make the decision to take on this tour to Stingray City, you will definitely consider it as the best of all the things you’d expect to do in the Cayman Islands. Obviously, you’d want to know more about what to expect once you get there. Continue reading to find out more. For the most part, the starting point of the trip is at Seven Mile Beach, which usually takes around thirty minutes. Since the sun in that part of the world may be new to you, we recommend that you tell everyone in the family to wear sunscreen and hat to protect your skin during the ride. As expected, you will be greeted by stingrays when your boat arrives at Stingray City. The entire area is just swarming with them and proof of that is when they begin to appear upon hearing the sound of the motorboat.
The Beginners Guide To Traveling (Getting Started 101)
Kids for one will surely love the experience, especially with the sushi handed out to them and intended to be fed to the stingrays. Stingrays are non-aggressive animals, so they won’t be a threat to kids or anyone; though there are times that some younger ones find their appearance as terrifying. Aside from fish meat, rays also love to be petted and fed with squids, which actually is their favorite food.
A Simple Plan For Investigating Vacations
As for the boat ride options, you actually can go for a group charter because it’s not just more affordable, you also get to spend the entire boat ride exclusively with your friends and family. For obvious reasons, being with your group or family for the entire ride is a lot more fun. Once in Stingray City, you must find time to try the snorkel at Coral Gardens. You get to choose from several different diving operators to give you the coral reef snorkeling experience that you will never forget. This part of the tour is something you must try because you’ll never get the same chance of exploring the sea up close and personal and see something that’s literally untouched and unharmed by human hands. To suit your gastronomic needs, you can have lunch at Rum Point or Kaibo, both of which offers the best of what the Cayman Islands have.

Options Tips for The Average Joe

The Advantages of Using Stainless Steel Cookware Every cooking enthusiast knows how important it is to choose the best cookware in order to come up with a complete kitchen experience. The absence of an ideal cookware in your kitchen means you might not be as effective as you want to become when cooking. But good news is that there is a wide variety of cookware choices for you, with so many different materials to which they’re made of. The most popular choices include copper, aluminum, cast iron, and stainless steel. Each one of them has distinct qualities and they also differ a lot in terms of price. Anyway, of the four primary types of material used for making cookware today, it looks like stainless steel is the most popular. So the question is why is stainless steel cookware so popular these days? Well, this article is all about revealing the advantages of this type of material.
What Do You Know About Options
1 – Stainless steel is best in terms of heating up evenly.
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It’s safe to assume that you’re looking for a new cookware for the reason why your old one in your kitchen is just way too slow to heat or when it is heated, the distribution is quite uneven. For those who haven’t tried using stainless cookware before, they will be surprised at the perfectly even heat distribution of this cookware, which literally is unmatched in the industry. The main reason why stainless steel gets this unique attribute is because it naturally can maintain temperature in its surface quite evenly. As a result, it can easily be called as the best cookware set in terms of cooking food quickly and evenly. 2 – Cleaning is fast and straightforward. It’s no secret that cast iron cookware is a dependable option, and the fact that it is one of the earliest options means it has passed the test of time. But then again, it’s also hard to argue as to the challenge of cleaning it. You probably have tried using it and experienced food getting stuck in its surface, which in turn requires additional effort to clean. With stainless steel cookware meanwhile, there’s a high tolerance on heat, which suggests that food particles won’t get burned and hence, won’t stick to the surface. As a consequence, cleaning is a lot more convenient since you only need water and dishwashing detergent and you’re good to go. 3 – Stainless steel cookware is durable, which is in contrast to what many people think. Well, the fact that it is made of steel is enough proof that it is indeed durable. What’s even more interesting is that in spite of its durability, this cooking material is very light and thin, which makes it perfect for any kind of cooking. So if you really want the best type of cookware, the stainless steel variety is the smartest choice.

Lady Elliot Island is the perfect island for you

Basking near Australia’s continental shelf, Marie Barbieri loses herself among marine creatures of all colours and contours on Lady Elliot Island.

I sharply inhale and halt dead still – or as still as one can hover atop a swaying reef. A majestic four-metre beauty arcs up and we clock eyes. It’s love at first snorkel with a manta ray.

He’s enjoying a body scrub, courtesy of a bluestreak cleaner wrasse that nibbles the attached parasites. This giant black and white kite tangos with the swell, its implausibly placed eyes holding the stare. We share a magical 10 minutes together, until he breaks off the affair.

Lady Elliot Island, located between Fraser Island and Lady Musgrave Island off the east coast of Australia, is the resident home of the Manta alfredi. Due to its isolation (80km/49 miles northeast of Bundaberg), it claims some of the most limpid waters of the Great Barrier Reef.

The glorious, paradisiacal island was actually built by poo (guano, to be precise), courtesy of excreting seabirds that fertilised and seeded the isolated cay.

In 1863, however, it was almost stripped of its vegetative richness. Around 30 Asian miners arrived to pillage Lady Elliot for her guano. Settlers deforested the island, sparing just eight pisonia trees. They dug the topsoil and sold 20,000 tonnes of guano as gunpowder and fertilizer to Sydney and London.

Roll on 1969, when visionary pilot Don Adams arrived, bringing with him native shrubs and seeds for re-vegetation. Planting sheoaks to naturally fertilise the depleted soil, he regenerated the topsoil and reintroduced pisonia trees.

They flourished into the feather-flapping forest here today, reunited with the eight, now 400-year-old, pisonia trees. Adams earned himself a conservation award for his work in 1994.

British seaside towns

The Great British beach holiday is back in vogue. Ruth-Ellen Davis rounds up the best coastal resorts for a summer staycation.

1) Margate, Kent

Eating fish ‘n’ chips on the promenade. Licking ice-lollies on the beach. Paddling in the surf with your trousers rolled up. Think of the quintessential British beach holiday and Margate might well come to mind.

One of the original Victorian seaside towns, like so many others it was abandoned by holidaymakers in the 1990s when low-cost airlines promised better things abroad. But today this down-at-heel resort is enjoying a renaissance thanks to an influx of artists, high-speed rail links with London and the reopening of Dreamland, the UK’s oldest pleasure park.

2) Brighton, Sussex

A lack of sand hasn’t stopped Brighton from establishing itself as the UK’s coolest beach town. With its anything-goes attitude, hip inhabitants (Nick Cave lives here) and pier filled with classic attractions, this kitsch seaside resort is a whole lot of fun.

Its winding Lanes are an Aladdin’s cave of retro trinkets, and there’s a good nod to the city’s green credentials – pick up everything from biodynamic wine to vegetarian shoes. This August marks the 25th anniversary of Brighton’s annual Pride parade: as the UK’s self-proclaimed gay capital, it’s sure to be one heck of a party.

The famous private island for travelling

Though somewhat inconvenient, becoming a castaway needn’t be a harrowing experience. Heed the lessons of Alexander Selkirk, a sailor who survived alone on an islet for over four years. Jack Palfrey retells his tale.

The roaring winds of the South Pacific buffer the bow of the Duke, a hardy British frigate, moored near the craggy island of Más a Tierra.

Aboard, the ship’s captain and experienced seahand, Woodes Rogers, awaits news from the small landing party that have gone ashore, investigating bright lights they believe to be French sailors stocking up on supplies.

Rogers whiles away the idle hours scribbling in his diary, a soiled manuscript that will go on to be published in England under the title: A Cruising Voyage Around the World.

“February 2, 1709: We are all convinc’d the light is on the shore, and design to make our ships ready to engage, believing them to be French ships at anchor,” he wrote.

As the sun bows to kiss the Pacific Ocean, Rogers becomes worried. Fearing his men have been captured, he commands a signal be raised for the crew to return. When he finally spies the returning boat, he is stunned by what he sees.

“Our Pinnace return’d from the shore, and brought abundance of Craw-fish, with a Man cloth’d in Goat-Skins, who look’d wilder than the first Owners of them,” he scribbled.

The wild man was Alexander Selkirk, a Scottish sailor who had been living alone on the small atoll for the last four years.

“At his first coming on board us, he had so much forgot his language for want of use, that we could scarce understand him,” authored Rodgers. “We offered him a Dram, but he would not touch it, having drank nothing but Water since his being there.”

The feral Selkirk intrigued Rogers. He admired his physical prowess and was impressed by his resourcefulness, inviting him to be a mate aboard Duke.

As a dense darkness smothered the vessel, Rogers ushered Selkirk below deck, hoping to be regaled by the castaway’s tale under candlelight.

Selkirk was marooned on Más a Tierra after a disagreement with his then captain over the seaworthiness of his ship. Selkirk dramatically suggested he would rather stay on the island than sail on.

His captain, somewhat of a literalist, left Selkirk ashore with his bedding, clothes, firelock, gunpowder and bullets. He also had his tobacco, a hatchet, a knife, a kettle, a bible and his mathematical books.

Grappling with a strong sense of despair, Selkirk turned his attention to survival.

Philippines preserve Siargao Island

A little-known surf paradise in the Philippines is about to get a big wave of tourism. Emilee Tombs asks if Siargao can preserve the very thing that attracted people to it in the first place.

The journey to Siargao should have taken an hour, but we’d already been in the air that long when an enormous cloud tore across the sky and chased us twice around the island.

When we finally touched down I realised that the runway we’d been circumnavigating was little more than a finger swipe through custard, a patch of scrubland disappearing into the jungle around it.

After hauling my bag from the prop plane, baffled at the lack of security checks, I climbed into a waiting jeepney, the ubiquitous and colourfully adapted American army jeeps used as public transport in the Philippines.

Bouncing along the dirt track was like stepping back in time. The only life in the dense palm jungle was around basic stilt huts clinging to the road edge. Bamboo frames held up corrugated iron roofs which acted as petrol stations. One litre of gas in a Coca Cola bottle would set you back 20p. Carabao grazed lazily in lush rice paddies; the smell of slow-cooked Lechon pig hung in the hot air.

Siargao (pronounced Shar-gow) is one of over 7,000 islands that make up the Philippine archipelago. Perched 448km (278 miles) off the coast of cacophonic Cebu, the teardrop-shaped isle is relatively unknown, except to the surfing community, for whom it is a mecca.

Compared to neighbouring Boracay (an island with a 5-star Shangri-La resort, full moon parties and a busy airport), Siargao is a sleepy sibling. There are no direct international flights and volatile weather makes current airline timetables chaotic.

But all this will change from 2015 as more than £400,000 is set to be spent on improving and extending Siargao’s Sayak Airport over the next three years.

Most expensive visa fee and beautiful tourism object

Is the world’s most expensive visa fee a way for tourists to pay for Bhutan’s road to riches? Or is Bhutan truly the last Shangri-la? Kara Fox investigates.

At first glance, Bhutan is just that – a magical landscape seemingly immune to the pull of the ever-tightening grip of modernity. Situated at a dizzying 2235 meters above sea level, most journeys begin with a steep descent into Bhutan’s sole international airport. The adventurous flight in can feel as reason enough to want to visit – a mix of altitude, excitement and vibrant green rice paddies growing in the shadow of imposing Himalayan snow-capped peaks will create a pungent cocktail of sensory overload for even the most experienced traveller. The Bhutanese word namasame literally translates as ‘between the heavens and the Earth’ – and landing in Paro town can feel that’s exactly where you’ve arrived.

Like all foreigners, my experience in Bhutan began by being greeted at the airport and whisked away to Paro town, a world of white washed houses, quaint roadside vegetable vendors and tidy, winding roads.

A few months earlier I had been offered a job working at a luxury resort in Paro town. Securing a working visa allowed me to avoid paying the mandatory $250 per day visa costs, which clips most travellers’ trips to about a week or two maximum. The luxury of this ‘free time’ allowed me to form more lasting friendships, to learn Dzongkha, the national language, and to adapt my taste buds to the national dish, ema datse – a diet of never ending chillies and cheese. But most importantly, it allowed me to gain a more coloured perspective into the friendly debate between tourism’s model Buddhist pleasantries and the Bhutanese internalization of those ideas.

When I arrived I rapidly began to notice the discrepancy between what I had thought existed as a land untouched by modernity in this ‘Shangri-La’ versus its reality. Tour guides sporting Oakley sunglasses walked around the town in traditional ghos (a large man-skirt of sorts), complimented by knee high socks. Old women spinning prayer wheels in one hand could be seen typing on their iPads in the other. Monks on mobiles, DJs at discos spinning top 40 tracks, everyone under 30 obsessed with social media. Was this so foreign after all?

Maybe I was unfairly spotting obvious physical juxtapositions, especially in today’s globalised world. But in a place that markets development and tourism with an official policy of Gross National Happiness over Gross National Product it seems blissfully ignorant to experience Bhutan only for what the tourism council encourages you to see.