Sunshine, beautiful corals and fish, learning how to throw a boomerang and spear, and walking amongst castle ruins– this is what I think of when I think of Cairns!

To be honest, though it may seem touristy, Cairns is such a fun little place in northern Australia that boasts subtropical weather year-round and is filled with tons of cultural activities! A perfect destination to catch some vitamin D (especially during the winter months (June-August)!), here are some quick stats before we get to the recommends!

  • It is only a two-hour plane ride from the Gold Coast Airport (I must mention that we flew JetStar and, though it was the first time I used them, it was quite possibly the nicest budget airline I have ever been on; so, if you find a sale with them down around here, go on and grab that fare!)
  • Cairns is part of the The Tropical North in Northern Queensland, which boasts subtropical weather year-round (with an average temperature of 84°F/29°C)– yes, please! (I learn more and more each day that I am so much more of a warm-weather kind of gal).

We spent about a week taking in the sun’s rays, fulfilling our need of relaxation, while injecting some fun activities, too. I’ve listed out our little excursions and what I would totally recommend; take a gander and let your travels lead way to memorable treasures! :).

Cairns City Center & Surroundings:

The Esplanade: is great if you’re looking for a nice walk/run early in the morning as the sun rises (or sets, but remember: the sun sets in the west). You’re right on the coast and the length is 2.5km. They also offer free fitness classes daily (check here for what’s happening today!)

The Night Market: if you’re looking for some good ol’ Australian souvenirs, unique gifts for yourself or someone you know, a bite to eat, affordable massages, fish doctors (you know, the ones that are in little aquariums that help get your feet supple and soft), and other things, then this is the place for you to be. It’s open seven days a week between the hours of 4:30PM and 10:30PM. I recommend, if you have the time, going in to check it out and then coming back another day after letting it all soak in! (It also helps with impulsive shopping— that’s my trick!)

Dundees: as in, Crocodile Dundee. Now, I’m not too sure if they sell crocodile or not, but what I *do* one is that food at this restaurant is certainly delicious. Grab a seat right on the boardwalk by the water for a cool little seabreeze to help cool you off, or sit inside for a little cozier option (though this place is pretty big, it still gives you the feeling of cozy).

Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park: this was an absolutely amazing experience and I highly recommend it when in Cairns! I believe in getting a country’s cultural experience whenever possible, and understanding the Aboriginal culture is very important. The center does a beautiful job of explaining the story of creation, taking you to a music performance, teaching of medicinal and poisonous plants, and learning how to throw spears and boomerangs! For an additional cost, you can either paint your own boomerang and make your own jewelry or go on a private bush walk to learn how to identify plants for medicinal and culinary purposes, ending with a little traditional tea party. The family that works here are very proud, knowledgeable and excited to share their culture with the world. If you’re feeling curious, may we suggest the chef’s tasting platter at the café that allows you to try: crocodile, ham, emu and kangaroo.

The Great Barrier Reef: an absolute must do when you’re up here! As you may have heard, the reef is dying (GOSH!), so catch it in all its beauty while you still can (I remain hopeful that we can reverse this). There are many operators that can take you out to different reefs, but we went with SilverSwift after a high recommendation from a pro diver and photographer. I think SilverSwift is the most expensive ones out there, but they are so worth it. What we loved was that the ship was newer and smaller, compared to others, fitting only about 85 people; as uncrowded we could be at the reefs was very important to us. The price includes morning tea, a hot & cold buffet lunch, afternoon tea, sailing to three different reefs for exploring, snorkeling at all the reefs visited (gear (even prescription goggles!) included!) and educational talks while you travel from one reef to another that explains to you the different fish you may see while you’re out exploring. You can add diving to your excursion for an additional cost. Not sure if you want to do it in the first place? No worries, while on-board you can select to dive then (or, if you already dove, to add another dive into the mix!). It was one of the best things I have done in my life and highly recommend it! (ps: they have gopros for hire/ a scubadiving photographer to capture some photos of you under the water, too!)

Take a trip south of Cairns and you’ll find…

Paronella Park: José Paronella came to Australia from Spain with a dream and, after recalling the countless stories about castles that his mother used to tell him when he was young, Mr. Paronella decided to build some castles of his own. Not only did he raise his kids on this beautiful property, but he built little movie theatre pavilions, ice cream shops, diving grounds and many more things, all for the community to come in and, for a simple, low cost, have somewhere that brought them to another place. Unfortunately, it has suffered natural disasters such as floods. In turn, the place turned into ruins and the walk into the park is still beautiful. Your admission lets you in for two years (yes, two years) and gives you access to both the day-time tours, as well as the night time tour; we did both!

Treetop Walk: we didn’t quite make it here, but heard great reviews of the walk. You climb stairs and walk on suspended bridges through the treetops, sighting birds and getting a great view of the lush, green mountains and forests around! If you’re looking to get an eagle-eye’s view, this is your place to go and get it.

Central Cairns doesn’t have a real “beach” per se…

it’s more like a wonderful Esplanade with a lagoon that provides a free swimming pool for you during its opening hours. But, head up north and you will find:

Palm Cove: I really enjoyed this little beachside town that we visited it twice. Grab your beach towel and nestle yourself under a palm tree, soaking in the suns rays (remember your sunscreen!) and taking a dip into the cool waters (remember to swim between the flags!). You can rent/hire bicycles and go for a stroll or, as we always do, rely on your own two feel to walk along the many restaurants and shops. We are at Ocean Palms*** and had a delightful lunch. Walk it off with a walk to the pier for some great post-food scenic views.

Port Douglas: About an hour and a half up north you will find this charming little nautical town. If you love to shop, Macrossan Street will be your new best friend. While you’re there, stop at Wicked Ice Cream Co. for some amazing ice cream. Take it with you as you walk down to Four Mile Beach. You can also bring a book and/or your togs (bathing suit) and enjoy a beach loved by many Australians. Make sure to make your way to one of the most beautiful harbours I’ve seen, filled with shops, dinging options and, of course, sailing: The Reef Marina.

We didn’t get to make it all the way up due to scheduling, but do check out…

The Daintree Rainforest and Cape Tribulation: It’s a bit further up, but if you have the time, do go! Regular, private cars won’t be able to access much of the rainforest, so it’s best to book a tour and make the most of your day! My friend Kadi mentioned that she did a waterfall tour where they took her all around the rainforest, stopping at different swimming holes– sounds so cool!! I’ve also seen ziplining available. Overall, check out the site and do let me know if you make it— I’ll add your recommendations to my list for when we make it back there! :).

xx,

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Brooklyn native, Latina, and founder of Enlightened by Bravery, an adventure/travel and wellness blog that focuses on drawing inspiration from adventures around the world back into your life // iPhoneographer // Francophile

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B.

Beaufort: Small City, Big History, Lots of Beauty

I like pushing the envelope. It’s just what my curiosity does to me. It’s a curse, perhaps at times, but when it comes to travel, however, I find it as a true blessing. It was no surprise, then, when planning my trip to Georgia that I wanted to squeeze in a day-trip to South Carolina. Now, I knew my days were tight, so I made sure to make this destination worth it. Cue in Beaufort, SC, a little city that opened my heart and mind through its history.

As a NYC resident, I wanted to explore more of a southern coastal city (can you blame me?)  and so when I saw Beaufort featured in the New York Times (and then after I booked my trip saw it featured in Southern Living and Vogue,) well, you know I just had to check what this city was all about.With a population of about 13,000 (and it being the second-oldest city in South Carolina), I must say, I felt pretty close to everyone I encountered and felt the history instantaneously upon my arrival.

I partnered with the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce to plan my trip and when I asked:
“What’s the best way to see the city?”
“Via a walking tour,” is what they non-hesitantly replied.

So, my husband and I got in the car, waved ‘bye’ to Savannah for the day and headed up north about 1.5 hours.

When we arrived to the visitor’s center in Beaufort, we were happily greeted and given recommendations of where to eat and what to check out. Never be shy about asking locals – they are the best source of information!

We started our day with lunch at Plums. Real talk: I have been having SO much delicious butter (and shrimp!) down south that I opted for a refreshing chicken salad – oh, and some oysters on the side, of course to change things up a little bit and give my body a bit of a break. As we entered the restaurant, we requested outdoor seating and were escorted to the back, right by the Waterfront Park, a wonderful spot for people-watching and seeing boats pass you by. Interestingly enough, every couple of minutes during our conversation, we’d have to stop talking because we had fighter jets fly over us; turns out, we were right near Parris Island, a Marine Corps Air Station. How cool, because you never see those jets flying around in NYC!

After lunch, we went on our walking tour of Beaufort where I walked amongst some of the most beautiful Antebellum houses I have ever seen, built on what used to be plantation fields and learned that they were used during the war. Today, many of the homes are residential and used for films! There were so many movie references while on the tour, I wish I was a big movie person to understand; but it was okay, I understood the history and, honestly, just walking along the streets filled with oak trees, Spanish moss, birds chirping, carriage steps and imaging myself back in the 1700s was just incredible.

Friends, look at the following photos and imagine yourself hearing horseshoes and standing in front of these beautiful homes while feeling the slight breeze on your cheek.  We walked around the city for about two to three hours. All worth it. So in love:

After our super informative tour, shopping was obviously next on the list. I sometimes wish I had a cute little beach home that I could decorate à la plage. But, who says that daydreaming is a bad thing?  Even if it’s to go inside and imagine the décor I’d put into my beach home, I have a wonderful time just strolling around, touching every piece of glass, opening up and flipping the pages of freshly printed coffee table books, and sniffing every candle my nose can handle.  At this point, my husband was outside sitting on a bench waiting for me as he turned to his phone and flipped through who-knows-what. Either way, I stayed inside the store and kept exploring. Scout Southern Market was such a great find! They have such wonderful things inside that are one-of-a-kind and I poo-poo on myself for not buying the beautiful blue & white porcelain dish I kept going back to!  Lucky for me, they deliver.  I’ll be adding that to my to-do list ;).

As we know, shopping works up an appetite (yes, yes it does, ladies ;)) and I was craving something sweet. I recalled the gelato sign we passed by earlier in the day and headed back to Common Ground Marketplace Café where I indulged in a wonderful lemon sorbet. As a lactose-intolerant soul, I highly appreciate when places that carry gelato also carry sorbet. It was the perfect treat after walking around for hours under the sun.

After our little snack, we sat by the Waterfront Park on its swings for a while and enjoyed the beautiful waterside view. We made our way through some more cute shops and pondered about how great our day was, how much we learned and which restaurant would be our last stop for dinner (we love to eat, don’t judge ;)).

We ended up crossing over a little bridge and (per a local’s strong recommendation- I mentioned I loved locals, ya?) headed on over to the Dockside Restaurant for dinner. I KNOW.  I know.  I said I wasn’t going to have any more shrimp. But… it was strongly recommended… and how could I not? ;).

As we finished up our dinner, we packed ourselves back into the car and headed back down to Georgia. Our day in Beaufort was as beautiful as its homes, its nature, its water, its friendly people and, most of all, its rooted history (for the history buffs, check more out here). In a city that I knew nothing about, I walked out knowing so much and banked the trip in my memory, so happy I fed my curious mind.

xx,
Loren.


Outfit

Dress: Revolve | Shoes: Nine West | Watch: Fossil | Sunglasses: Shein

2.

2018: Goodbye NYC, Hello New Zealand!

…and I don’t mean it just as a vacation. Family & friends, it is with great excitement and joy that we share with you all that we are leaving everything we know about NYC behind and heading off on an adventure abroad for the year!

We are moving to New Zealand!!

There have been so many factors that played into our decision: one of them was attending a Tony Robbins seminar (that post coming next!), another was experiencing the beautiful culture in Denmark last summer (gosh, I love that bicycle life), and another was that, frankly, I have been left feeling a little uninspired by NYC lately. Nothing against the concrete jungle, but maybe that’s my problem: too much concrete.

I don’t know if I ever shared this, but there were two times in my life that I literally sobbed on the plane as we took off: once was when I wheeled up from France after studying abroad there (oh, the tears!), and second was when we left Denmark (how could I live without all the pastries and that bike life?!). I started noticing a pattern and it drew up a concern for me: why was I crying so hard? And what was it about those countries that made me want to stay forever?

In my efforts to understand myself, it was clear that those other places (and travel in general), always filled a void of unpredictability, new adventures and new customs/cultures. When I landed, it was like a game of strategy in which you must survive, learn the rules and get excited about all the different things happening around you. I know NYC is a giant melting pot, but having been born and raised here, it all has just started to feel and become a little, well, predictable. I already know we are all celebrating the fourth of July no matter what state in the country I am in. And while I love traveling around the country (the USA is beautiful), I am seeking something more.

It occured to me that in order for me to continue to grow, continue to be inspired and continue to love deeper, I need to get out. NYC, USA, it’s not you, it’s me; we need a break. You will always be my home, but I feel that distance will make the heart grow fonder. You give such great opportunities that I have yet to be thankful for. The opportunities are endless and you can be whoever you want to be; yet, I’m not grabbing anything by the horns.

So why New Zealand? Well, why the heck not?!

xx,