Have You Ever Wanted to be Married in a Rainforest?

December 30, 2008

rainforest weddingImagine you and your invited guests, in an intimate celebration with nature as your backdrop for as far as you can see… Daintree Eco Lodge & Spa located just outside of Cairns, Australia offers an exclusive waterfall platform situated at the base of the pristine waterfall, this is the ultimate in uniqueness!

For a different experience, rainforest weddings can include Aboriginal culture (i.e. Aboriginal pastor, corroboree, or a special smoking ceremony), a tropical twist or dinning on the Daintree River… just to get you started!

Rainforest Weddings at Daintree Eco Lodge & Spa ensure your special day is tailored to suit your individual needs and budget. Beginning your new life together in a celebration at an exclusive rainforest retreat offers you the ultimate in tranquility, privacy and seclusion.

Design your rainforest wedding experience to be as formal or informal as you like. Whether you are attracted to the privacy, the rainforest setting or the uniqueness of the property, this is your day.

After your wedding - finish off your Australian holiday with a small ship cruise along the Great Barrier Reef.

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The Daintree Eco Lodge & Spa - Comfort in the Jungle

December 30, 2008

Daintree villaThe Daintree Eco Lodge & Spa is one of the few places where outsiders can interact with Australian Aborigines in their element. Daintree works together in partnership with the local Kuku Yalanji tribe. Guides offer painting workshops using ocher from the lodge’s waterfall and hiking tours to see medicinal plants and ferns with 25-foot fronds.

Daintree Eco Lodge & Spa is located only 113km (90 minutes) drive north of Cairns International Airport and/or 45km (40 minutes) north of Port Douglas, gateway to the Great Barrier Reef. Its a perfect way to build a unique “Reef & Rainforest” holiday.

This past year Daintree Eco Lodge & Spa have garnered most of the “Eco-tourism” awards, including but not limited to the World’s Leading Eco Lodge (World Travel Awards), the Best Spa on the Continent (World Spa Awards) as well as the coveted Ecotourism Award in recognition of this outstanding Australian Lodge AND one of the top jungle lodges by National Geographic Traveler.Daintree villa

Live in your own treehouse!

Guests stay in elevated tree house-like villas ensconced in thick, misty rain forest. Only 15 tranquil rainforest villas occupy secluded positions amongst the world’s oldest living rainforest… reinforcing the impression of being ‘at one with nature‘, yet still providing all the creature comforts of a boutique retreat.

The friendly staff strive to ensure guest expectations are surpassed by actual authentic experiences. The mood of the tropics lends itself to casual attire. Loose, light clothing, coupled with sandshoes, runners or sandals is the perfect attire for daytime resort wear.

For more information, just send us an email at info@luxuryhideaways.net

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Hawaii on a Budget - Affordable Activities on the island of Kauai

December 27, 2008

This is the 4th article in a series on how to visit the Hawaiian islands on a budget. (with a little pidgin thrown in for fun) Can do - no can - yes can!

Kauai - known as the garden island - a rental car (as well as a good camera) is a must on this island. You will see some of the most spectacular scenery in the world. Lets go exploring:

• The Kukui Trail is a 2 ½ mile path dropping into the Waimea Canyon where a large swimming hole awaits.

• The rugged cliffs of the Na Pali coast are without equal in the Islands or even elsewhere for that matter. Kauai is a great place for hiking and gazing at the amazing scenery. Its uncrowded beaches are some of the finest in the Hawaiian islands.

• Kokee State Park boasts Waimea Canyon and a great hiking trail of moderate difficulty.

• Kauai’s waterfalls are terrific and Wailua Falls especially so.

• Be sure to visit the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge and, if in season, watch the annual migration of the humpback whales.

• The Kalalau Trail and Valley is a great way to see the Na Pali Coast. Here experienced hikers will find the Hanakapiai Falls, a 300 foot cascade into a pool.

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Its the 25th Anniversary of Kilauea Volcano, Big Island, Hawaii

December 23, 2008

Kilauea Volcano, located on the Big Island of Hawai’i, is noted extensively in Polynesian legends as Hawai’i’s most active volcano.  Shortly after midnight on January 3, 1983 lava was once again
sighted, this time near the Napau Crater of Mauna Loa, ensuring the legend would live on.

Kilauea is considered to be the present home of Pele, the volcano goddess of ancient Hawai’ian legend. Several special lava formations are named after her, including Pele’s Tears (small droplets of lava that cool in the air and retain their teardrop shapes) and Pele’s Hair (thin, brittle strands of volcanic glass that often form during the explosions that accompany a lava flow as it enters the ocean).

People have claimed to see Pele while traveling on Saddle Road (a road that connects the East and West side of the islands). Legend says that if you take lava from Peles home you will be cursed. Hawaii Park Rangers receive numerous lava rocks mailed back to them each year from guilty visitors that have become believers.

This latest eruption was the beginning of the worlds longest continuous volcanic eruption giving us a rare glimpse at natures incredible force and beauty.

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Early History about Australia & its Aboriginal People

December 18, 2008

Australia Red CenterAustralia’s Aboriginal people were thought to have arrived here by boat from South East Asia during the last Ice Age, at least 50,000 years ago. At the time of European discovery and settlement, up to one million Aboriginal people lived across the continent as hunters and gatherers. They were scattered in 300 clans and spoke 250 languages and 700 dialects. Each clan had a spiritual connection with a specific piece of land. However, they also travelled widely to trade, find water and seasonal produce and for ritual and totemic gatherings.

Despite the diversity of their homelands - from outback deserts and tropical rainforests to snow-capped mountains - all Aboriginal people share a belief in the timeless, magical realm of the Dreamtime. According to Aboriginal myth, totemic spirit ancestors forged all aspects of life during the Dreamtime of the world’s creation. These spirit ancestors continue to connect natural phenomena, as well as past, present and future through every aspect of Aboriginal culture.

Britain arrives and brings its convicts when a number of European explorers sailed the coast of Australia, then known as New Holland, in the 17th century. However it wasn’t until 1770 that Captain James Cook chartered the east coast and claimed it for Britain. The new outpost was put to use as a penal colony and on 26 January 1788, the First Fleet of 11 ships carrying 1,500 people - half of them convicts - arrived in Sydney Harbour. Until penal transportation ended in 1868, 160,000 men and women came to Australia as convicts.

While free settlers began to flow in from the early 1790s, life for prisoners was harsh. Women were outnumbered five to one and lived under constant threat of sexual exploitation. Male re-offenders were brutally flogged and could be hung for crimes as petty as stealing. The Aboriginal people displaced by the new settlement suffered even more. The dispossession of land and illness and death from introduced diseases disrupted traditional lifestyles and practices.

By the 1820s, many soldiers, officers and emancipated convicts had turned land they received from the government into flourishing farms. News of Australia’s cheap land and bountiful work was bringing more and more boatloads of adventurous migrants from Britain. Settlers or ‘squatters’ began to move deeper into Aboriginal territories - often with a gun - in search of pasture and water for their stock.

In 1825, a party of soldiers and convicts settled in the territory of the Yuggera people, close to modern-daykoala bear Brisbane. Perth was settled by English gentlemen in 1829, and n 1835 a squatter sailed to Port Phillip Bay and chose the location for Melbourne. At the same time a private British company, proud to have no convict links, settled Adelaide in South Australia.

Gold was discovered in New South Wales and central Victoria in 1851, luring thousands of young men and some adventurous young women from the colonies. They were joined by boat loads of prospectors from China and a chaotic carnival of entertainers, publicans, illicit liquor-sellers, prostitutes and quacks from across the world. In Victoria, the British governor’s attempts to impose order - a monthly licence and heavy-handed troopers - led to the bloody anti-authoritarian struggle of the Eureka stockade in 1854. Despite the violence on the goldfields, the wealth from gold and wool brought immense investment to Melbourne and Sydney and by the 1880s they were stylish modern cities.

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What the World Needs Now is Fiji!

December 16, 2008

  1. Unspoiled…You’ll discover empty stretches of powder white sand beaches, no high rise hotels, no tourist traps,waterfall just intimate bungalow (bure) style resorts that offer honeymooners their own hideaway in paradise!
  2. The Ocean…The ocean water is crystal clear, lukewarm and perfect for snorkeling, diving and swimming.
  3. Safe… crime is just about non existent against tourists, no radical groups in Fiji, no corruption, trustworthy people, no solicitors approach you on the beaches or streets.
  4. Friendly people…they speak English and love tourists! They love to serve you with a smile and a song. You’ll go back to Fiji for the people.. you’ll make life long friends!
  5. Inexpensive…food , drink, souvenirs are less expensive and higher quality than Mexico..$1US dollar = $1.50 Fiji dollars-(approx.)
  6. Easy to get to….10 hours night flight, non stop to Fiji from Los Angeles depart LAX at 11pm, arrive Fiji 5am…return leave Fiji 10pm arrive LAX 1pm on the same day!!
  7. Safe flight…planes are 747/767 Jets.
  8. Variety…There are a million things to do!!! Hiking, Fishing, Snorkeling, horseback riding, shopping, sailing, cultural events, music, island hopping…
  9. Famous…they filmed “Castaway” with Tom Hanks in Fiji..and “The Blue Lagoon” with Brooke Shields!!!
  10. 333 islands…and many, many, awesome resorts to choose from. Trust an expert who knows the islands to assist you in making the right choice!!!

If you too would like to visit the islands of Fiji
Call Me at 1-800-644-6659
Your ‘See the South Pacific Specialist’ at Luxury Hideaways

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Cruising Aboard the M.Y. Galerna Thru Marlborough Sound, New Zealand

December 15, 2008

No wonder Marlborough is considered one of New Zealand’s finest cruising regions. Blessed with myriad crystal-clear, waterways, sheltered by towering, bush-clad hills, the Sounds’ countless bays, islands and beaches are all within easy reach of one of the New World’s most renowned wine regions.

Queen Charlotte Sound is the easternmost of the main sounds of the Marlborough Sounds, in New Zealand’s South Island. It is, like the other sounds, a drowned valley, and like the majority of its neighbours it runs southwest to northeast before joining Cook Strait.

At the head of the sound is the pretty town of Picton, a haven for yachtsmen with its large marina, and embarkation point for the ferries that ply Cook Strait between the North and South islands. Explore as little or as much as you like, knowing at day’s end your luxury yacht awaits. Relax and soothe any aches away in a hot bath and sauna before drinks and dinner.

Just minutes overland from Picton is the city of Blenheim, set amidst an exciting array of vineyards and wineries, each with its own distinctive style and character. Sample from the cellar door award-winning Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris, among other varieties. Enjoy some of New Zealand’s best gourmet dining alfresco amongst the vines.

Cruise to the top of Kenepuru and Pelorus Sounds, an area steeped in Maori history. Visit the historic town of Havelock, once a gold mining centre, today famous as the green-lipped mussel capital of the world. Watch the dolphins playing in the bow-waves and seals basking in the sun, as you sail through French Pass and circumnavigate Marlborough’s largest island, D’Urville.

Everything about cruising Marlborough aboard the M.Y. Galerna is a delight for the senses. On sea or land, whether you’re into relaxing, exploring, indulging or invigoration, every day brings a new adventure.

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Australia - See the Movie - Live the Adventure!

December 15, 2008

Australia the movieFrom the remarkable rustic colours of the Australian Red Centre to the striking azure blues of the heritage listed Great Barrier Reef to the tranquillity of the world’s oldest rainforest. Sea the South Pacific offers you the opportunity to experience all of these awe-inspiring destinations in the one trip.

You are on your way to exploring the ancient cultural heritage of the Aboriginal people; dining under a canopy of stars; diving into the Great Barrier Reef from your own private beach and ultimate indulgence in the tropical Daintree Rainforest.

Suggested 5 night Rock, Reef and Rainforest itinerary.

Day 1-3: Ayers Rock Resort
Fly into Ayers Rock Airport and transfer to Ayers Rock Resort, which caters for a range of tastes- from the 5 star Sails in the Desert Hotel, and the comfortable Desert Gardens Hotel, to the self-contained Emu Walk Apartments, the modern Lost Camel Hotel, the authentic Outback Pioneer Hotel & Lodge.
Activities and touring
» Experience the Sounds of Silence buffet BBQ dinner under the stars
» Marvel at the sun rising over Uluru on the Desert Awakenings 4WD tour
» Take the Uluru base walk and get an up-close view of the ancient monolith
» Discover the massive domes of Kata Tjuta on the Valley of the Winds Walk
» Relax with a treatment at the Red Ochre Spa
» Learn the stories and bush survival skills of Uluru’s traditional owners on an Anangu Tour

Day 3-5: Silky Oaks Lodge & Healing Waters Spa
Fly into Cairns and transfer to Silky Oaks Lodge & Healing Waters Spa by a 90 minute scenic coastal drive. Silky Oaks Lodge is the Daintree’s ultimate resort, offering a compelling blend of casual sophistication and rich rainforest ambience.Tropical gardens and thriving rainforest surround the Treehouses, while the soothing sounds of the Mossman River permeate the exclusive Riverhouses.
Activities and touring
» Enjoy a full day Australian Wilderness Experience tour with expert naturalist guides
» Dine in the Treetops at the Treehouse Restaurant
» Soak up your rainforest surrounds with a revitalising swim in the Mossman River
» Indulge in a restorative treatment at the award-winning Healing Waters Spa
» Take an afternoon trip to Port Douglas (only 20 minutes away) to discover the boutiques, restaurants and shops

Day 5-6: Heron Island, Great Barrier Reef
Fly from Cairns to Gladstone and continue on to Heron Island either by a scenic flight over the Great Barrier Reef, or on the Reef Voyager launch. Heron Island is a true coral cay right on the Great Barrier Reef and renowned for it’s world class snorkelling and diving. A prefect choice for a romantic getaway or family holiday, value is offered no matter what your budget, and children are well catered for.
Activities and touring
» Whether you are a diver or a snorkeller, the beauty of this underwater world of Heron Island will leave you breathless.
» Book your children into the educational Junior Rangers Program
» The Heron semi-sub allows you to view coral and fish along the reef edge
» Come along for one of Heron’s scheduled reef walks.
» The Sea Spa offers a variety of therapeutic and indulgent treatments, which will rejuvenate and relax after a day on the reef.

Call for details and costing - note - you will receive a 15% discount when reserving [Read more]

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Hawaii on a Budget - Affordable Activities on the island of Maui

December 14, 2008

map of mauiThis is the 5th article in a series on how to vacation in Hawaii on a budget. I’ve been living it for 20 years so am sure I can add a few more ideas!

Maui - The perennial favorite island of many, Maui is Hawaii’s second largest island. Maui is named after the ancient god that raised the Hawaiian Islands up from the ocean. Although developed, there is plenty of room to get away from it all, with beaches and forests that are nearly as pristine as the Hawaii of old.

• Drive the Road to Hana and experience for than 600 hairpin curves as you gaze out on vistas that are far too distracting for any driver. On the way, stop to walk up to waterfalls or shop at roadside stands.

• The Red Sand Beach of Kaihalulu is both beautiful and, on occasion, au natural, so take care of taking the children. But while we are at it, all 81 of Maui’s beaches are free, so enjoy!

• Be sure to stop at the Lahaina Whaling Museum in Lahaina. If you are there on Friday, it’s Art Night on Front Street, sponsored by the Lahaina Arts Society.

• Walk on a black sand beach at Wainapanapa State Park.

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Hawaii on a Budget - Affordable Activities on the Big Island of Hawaii

December 13, 2008

This is the 3rd article on a series of how to travel to Hawaii on a budget.

The Big Island of Hawaii - The largest Hawaiian island and the only one with a currently active volcano, the Big Island has spectacular drives and beaches with colorful villages and two distinctly different sides of the island. The Big Island will be bigger when you leave than when you arrive as the volcano there deposits several square acres of land each year. Be sure to rent a car upon arrival to the island as you will want to do some great exploring on this island. Do like the locals, pack a picnic lunch, your towel, beach mat, sunscreen, mask/snorkle, fins and visor, don your rubber slippers and lets hit the road. BTW the beaches are still free!

• Lapakahi State Historical Park - a historically accurate Hawiian Village offering tours on the North Kohala coast.

• Akaka Falls about 13 miles north of Hilo is actually two waterfalls seen across the valley and one of the most photographed locations in the Islands.

• Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is only $10 per car load. Rangers will lead visitors to locations where nature’s most awesome spectacle can be safely viewed.

• Honaunau Bay is a great place to snorkel.

• The black sand beaches of Punaluu and Kehena are must-see locations for every visitor. The black volcanic sand is simply amazing.

• Waikoloa’s Queen’s Marketplace offers Hawaiian craft classes and entertainment for free.

• The Puako Petroglyph Hike reveals more than 3000 petroglyphs of uncertain, mysterious origin that to this day have not been fully understood.

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