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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Punta Del Este, Uruguay

Summer In Punta Del Este
Returning to Punta Del Este, after being there during the winter, was like returning to a ghost-town and finding it filled with people laughing, drinking, sunning, and enjoying every moment.

The wealthy set from all over South America and the world descend on Punta Del Este immediately after Christmas and the party lasts for a few months.

Punta Del Este reminds me of South Beach in Miami, with tall buildings overlooking the beaches. And, like South Beach, it is filled with beautiful Latin people (be sure to learn some Spanish before you go so that you can talk to all of them!).

Word on the streets in Uruguay was that the Brazilians take over Punta Del Este during the first 15 days of the season (December 26-Jan 10) and, after that, you will find predominantly Argentineans. There are also Uruguayans of course but many prefer the more tranquil and reasonably-priced beaches of Cabo Polonio, Rocha, and Punta Del Diablo.

But the place to see and be seen is Punta Del Este. Don’t believe me, believe E!:

The Beaches in Punta Del Este

As a peninsula, Punta Del Este offers two types of beaches: the bay side and the ocean facing side. You will often hear people refer to Playa Mansa (bayside) and Playa Brava (oceanside). The bayside offers a bit more tranquility with less wind and waves. The beaches on the ocean side are more expansive and there is plenty of room to move, play football (or futbol), and roam around looking at the various sites.

Often, you will hear people say, “Meet us at the beach at stop 16.” All the beaches are numbered, numbers which you can see along the street, and many people have their favorite number.

Bikini Beach in Punta Del Este
Whoever woefully said, “today’s bikinis don’t leave much to the imagination” is woefully short of imagination.

After seeing the bikinis in Bikini Beach just outside of Punta Del Este, I have nothing but positive reviews of the South American style bikini. The way it hugs the curves of a woman and exhibits their fine physique certainly doesn’t leave me short of imagination. Au Contraire–it feeds the imagination.

Any visit to Punta Del Este is incomplete without a visit to Bikini Beach. View some of the bikini beach photos below and, if that doesn’t entice a visit, you too may be woefully short on imagination:

Want to look great in a bikini?

Nightlife In Punta Del Este
The local catchphrase: “There’s always time to sleep in the winter!”

If you are from North America, or Europe, and you are reading this: Be Prepared. Nightlife in Punta Del Este truly begins at about 2am or later.

I remember asking some friends in Uruguay: “If you go out at 2am, and arrive home at 8 or 9 in the morning, how do you enjoy the beach during the day?”

“Well,” came the collective response, “we still go to the beach everyday.”

This is true. However, I realized the term day has significant elasticity here. To many in Punta Del Este, the beach day begins at about 2 or 3pm in the afternoon. If you are an early riser, you will be heading out the door in the morning before most party-goers get home from their evening.

Don’t believe me?

One night we were going out to the clubs and my friend said, “oh, I forgot my sunglasses.” Sunglasses at the bar? Is your Future So Bright You Have to Wear Shades? No! The hipsters all know that they’ll be leaving the clubs when the sun is coming out and so they’ll need their sunglasses for the homeward journey.

For many, nightlife in Punta Del Este does not take place in Punta Del Este; nightlife happens in La Barra, a small town about 10-15 minutes outside of Punta Del Este filled with many different bars and discos. If you don’t have a car, you can get there by bus. Or, if you are female, there are many cars who will eagerly escort you from Punta Del Este to La Barra. Just look your finest because the competition is fierce.

My friends and I ventured out in Punta Del Este many times as well. There are many bars in the port area and along the beaches that are packed with beautiful people every night. View the links below for the hot nightspots in either place.

Punta Del Este Sunsets

Since the nightlife continues well into the day, our schedule included many Punta Del Este sunsets. We would wake up to hit the beach during the day (at about 3pm) and then take in the sunsets along Playa Mansa, just in front of the Conrad Hotel.

After the sunsets at about 9:15, it would be time for a little nap before the nightlife. Napping at 9pm? In your workweek vernacular, you might refer to this as a paradigm shift.

Embrace the shift-it’s well worth it!

Cabo Polonio, Uruguay

Cabo Polonio, Uruguay

Punta del Este may be Uruguay's most famous beach resort, but the South Beach-meets-South America feel of the place hardly screams, "Off the beaten path."

Ask an Uruguayan to point you in the direction of a beach after his or her own heart, and you can bet it will be located in the laid-back department of Rocha.

Situated a few miles off the highway, the tiny peninsula village of Cabo Polonio is accessed by 4-wheel drive trucks or horseback, which transport visitors over the dunes to a hidden beach.

Electricity and running water - only delivered to a few places by rainwater and the odd generator - are rare commodities here. There are a few posadas(rustic motels), and most of the block-style vacation bungalows dotting the dunes are lit with candles at night. The long, sandy beach - popular with windsurfers from around the world - is rugged and totally undeveloped. On one side of the peninsula the ocean pounds the shore, while the other side offers a sheltered crescent of beach more suited to swimming.

STAY: Rent your own private beach bungalow for a few nights or by the week. Most online information about rentals online is in Spanish, so consider contacting the country's Ministry of Tourism for assistance with bookings. The oceanfront rooms at Posadoy Parador La Canada have hot-water showers, and there's a communal kitchen.

EAT: There are a few restaurants in Cabo Polonio, but most folks cook in (bungalows are usually equipped with gas burners or outdoor grills). There's a small grocery store with very limited supplies, so it's best to bring the bulk of your food with you.

Beaches of Mauritius

An island nation in southwest Indian Ocean, Mauritius is renowned the world over for its natural charm and beautiful beaches. While the country is endowed with exquisite beauty and unspoilt elegance, beaches in Mauritius do have their own appeal. It is no secret that the country is visited by a substantial number of tourists from all across the world and for most of them, the lure of Mauritius beaches is simply too big to resist.

The beaches in Mauritius are beautiful with spectacular white sand and pristine water all around it. The Belle Mare is a white sandy
Mauritian beach that boasts of a deep lagoon at the eastern coast while Mont Choicy is a beautiful long beach at the northern coast and is known for a great collection of Filao trees. Riviere Noire is the center of deep sea fishing in Mauritius. Pointe aux Piments is one for people enjoying the quite and cozy warmth of the seashore

However, it is the Grand Baie that is one of the biggest pulls for visitors to Mauritius. Shops for a wonderful shopping experience, restaurants with all sorts of popular and delectable dishes including a collection of seafood's and hotels catering to most of the requirements of the guests, all are available here. Discotheques and bars are there too and tour operators in Mauritius organize a number of sea excursions from this beach too. And to give you the thrills of a lifetime, amenities for all kind of water sports are available so as to give the guests a wonderful sojourn in the country. From business executives to honeymoon couples, all make a beeline to Grand Baie in Mauritius.

Blue Bay is acknowledged as an important center of water sports in Mauritius. Surfing, sailing and snorkeling are widely popular here. The Flic-en-Flac with a beautiful lagoon has a range of shops, restaurants and hotels. Baie du Tamarin offers a picturesque view of the landscape and Baie de Tombeau beach is overgrown with cocos.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Beaches of New Caledonia

New Caledonia (French:Nouvelle-Caledonie) is a dependent overseas territory of France lying in the western Pacific Ocean, in the Coral Sea, to the east of Australia and west of Vanuatu. The territory consists of the main island of Grand Terre, the archipelago of the Loyalty Islands (Iles Loyaute), and numerous small, sparsely populated islands and atolls.
New Caledonia offers beaches, mountaintop fondue in chalets, camping, amazing snorkeling and diving, and fabulous French food.

New Caledonia includes:
Grande Terre - The main island. It is one of the largest islands in the Pacific. The barrier reef lying off New Caledonia is second only to the Great Barrier Reef in size.
The main tourist destinations are:
Île des Pins - Was one of the few places in the Pacific with trees tall and sturdy enough to provide replacement masts for ships.
Loyalty Islands (Iles Loyaute)

New Caledonia has a semi-tropical climate, modified by southeast trade winds. It is often hot and humid in January and February. The islands are subject to tropical cyclones, most frequent from November to March. During winter (April to August) the daytime temperature is around 22 degrees. The water may still be warm, but it often feels too cool to really want to go swimming.

The main island of New Caledonia is one of the largest in the Pacific Ocean and its terrain consist of coastal plains with interior mountains. The highest point is Mont Panie (1,628 m).
Grand Terre is rich in minerals, and is an important source of many ores, mainly nickel and chromium. There is a mountainous interior green with subtropical foliage. The outlying islands are coral-based, and have stunning white sand, and sport palm trees.

Get in By plane
New Caledonia Airport (IATA: NOU) (ICAO: NWWW), in Païta, 52km northwest of the capital city of Noumea, (687) 35 11 18, [] Air France provides direct flights from Paris. Regular flights are available from Tokyo on Aircalin, as New Caledonia is very popular with the Japanese. Air New Zealand and Qantas also serve the airport. There are also flights from various Pacific nations, New Zealand, Australia, and Southeast Asia. However, there aren't many flights overall, so beware of availability. There is little or no competition on routes, so be very wary of high flight prices.
Noumea-Magenta Airport (IATA: GEA) , 4 km from the city center, (687) 25 14 00. Serves all domestic flights within New Caledonia, such as the Loyalty Islands (Maré, Tiga, Lifou, Ouvéa), from Isle of Pines in the south to Belep Islands in the northern tip of the mainland as well as Koné and Koumac on the west coast and Touho on the east coast.

By boat
Noumea is a popular port of call for people sailing around the Pacific, though most dare not sail during cyclone season.

Snorkeling, diving, windsurfing
Îlot Canard just outside the Anse Vata is a good place for beginners
Aguille de Prony is an amazing underwater structure in the Prony bay south of Noumea
relaxing, tanning, and generally doing nothing.

Baie des Citrons and the Anse Vata are common beaches at the Noumea peninsula
Îlot Maitre has a resort. This can be reached by taxi boat from the Anse Vata, and by boat from the Baie de Mouselle

Numerous other tourist resorts can be found throughout the Grande Terre and Île des Pins
eating French and local cuisine
hiking, camping

Parc Rivière Bleu in the Yaté region south of Noumea
Joining a hiking group is generally a good idea, since you then can really enjoy the great scenery without fear of getting lost, or having to stick with conventional tourist spots.... cat

Yacht charter New Caledonia [1] Windward Islands, one of the worlds largest yacht charter companies, can take care of all charter requirements, from bareboat to luxury yacht in New Caledonia and Vanuatu. Operating from different offices worldwide (UK, USA, Honk Kong, Dubai, Germany, Italy, France, Spain and Switzerland).

New Caledonia's greatest attraction is its beaches. All over New Caledonia one will find quiet lagoons and white sand perfection. You can venture to the world's biggest lagoon and explore the second largest coral reef in the world (after the nearby Great Barrier Reef of Australia). The reef can be as close as a few kilometers from the coast in some places and as far as 65 km in others. With an average depth of 40 m. New Caledonia's reef system contains varied fauna composed of multicoloured fish and corals of incredible shapes.

From the Isle of Pines, the Loyalty Islands, and the main island Grande Terre, there are plenty of white sandy beaches, turquoise warm waters with a backdrop of unique flora to explore.

Beaches of Barbados

Barbados Beaches

Accra / Rockley Beach
One of the longest and widest stretches of beach on the south coast, this is also one of the island's most popular among locals and visitors. Several vendors ply their wares here and the beach has public changing facilities. Waves are moderate, not too much undertow, and it is always a busy, active beach.

One of the few truly 'safe' swimming beaches along the entire Atlantic side. There is usually a lifeguard and there are parking, changing, picnic and eating facilities. Medium to small waves and slight undertow close to shore. Best swimming is off to the left of the beach bar
Bathsheba has been a popular beach for years with both Bajan and vacationing surfers alike, riding the waves at a spot known as "Soup Bowl" in Bathsheba. This picturesque little fishing village becomes a hive of activity several times a year when the surf contests come to town. Known for its big and powerful waves blown in by our ever-present trade winds, Bathsheba offers something to everyone, even if you don't surf, as there are pools in the reefs which make for enjoyable investigating. There are several restaurants and hotels are in the area, and Smokey's shop will serve you an ice cold Banks when you get thirsty.

Bottom Bay
Located just north of the famed Sam Lord's Castle, this is a bay protected by jagged cliffs.
An isolated, wide sandy beach lined with coconut palms, bottom Bay has a true Robinson Crusoe kind of feel to it. Crystalline waters, medium waves, slight undertow, and a good picnicking spot.

Brighton Beach An ever-popular local beach, Brighton is an amazingly long stretch of beach with only minor breaks of rock or reef. Fairly calm most of the year, very little undertow, but watch out for sea urchins in some areas near the reefs.

Cattlewash is by far the longest beach on the island and, due to its rough and rugged splendour, a popular sightseeing and relaxing spot. The beach is several miles long, and very often deserted, so take care when swimming, as the waves and undertow currents are very strong. There is a lifeguard station on the beach, so ask advice. A perfect location for nature lovers. Pack up your cooler and head for Cattlewash. Interestingly so, this beach was christened "Cattlewash" as it was the bathing spot in the olden days for herds of cattle which were shepherded down the hills from neighbouring villages. Cattle are still seen in the hilly area.

Crane Beach originally a harbour, is considered by many to be one of the island's most beautiful beaches, in fact, Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous rated it as "one of the ten best beaches in the world"! The name "Crane" was derived from the large crane situated at the top of the cliff which was used for loading and unloading ships. If nothing else, this is a gorgeous beach fronting one of the prettiest and oldest hotels on the island, The Crane Beach Hotel, standing on the cliff above the beach, which has been a favourite with honeymooners since it opened in 1867. Bigger waves make it good for body surfing, but in the cove on the left there is safe swimming close to shore.

Church Point / Colony Club Public Access
A very special beach. Clean, not terribly wide and somewhat sheltered, the waters are almost always placid with no undertow and good snorkelling. This beach fronts the magnificent Heron Bay House, which is almost as beautiful to view as the pristine beach it looks upon. Chandeliers in the trees and a looming coral stone house make this 14 acres of sheer opulence.
Long Beach is last in the island loop, and stretches for more than a mile, a great find since it is little visited. The nearby long Beach Club has some facilities, otherwise, this is a fairly private setting.

Dover Beach lies at the southern end of the St. Lawrence Gap 'strip'. A popular beach among south coast visitors. Medium waves and a number of facilities right close by add to its appeal. One of my personal favourites as while walking from the Bougainvillea to the Gap I found a Ramier pigeon nesting in a small bush by the shore.

Enterprise/Miami is another fine stretch of beach, very popular among locals. Somewhat sheltered, the waters are crystal clear with medium to small waves most of the year.

Folkstone beach, St. James Parish, lies one mile north of Holetown, and is the home of the government-run Folkestone Marine Park. Folkestone has a good beach, many water-related activities, along with fresh water showers and shops. There is an interpretive centre and museum with marine and coastal environment displays, exhibits of the island’s fishing industry and a salt water aquarium. The underwater park zone extends from Sandy Lane to Colony Club and you can rent gear for snorkelling around the fringe reef, or hire a boat for diving. A glass bottom boat also plies the area.

Mullins Bay is another popular hang out, a picturesque bay with a nice, placid beach almost all year round. Plenty of facilities, from parking and eating, Mullins is also a very good snorkelling area.

North Point Cove is a magnificently beautiful bay that is not well-suited for swimming. Rough seas, serious undertow and large waves dominate this beach most of the year, and make it unsuitable for all but the very strong swimmers.

Paradise Beach
Paradise and Brighton beach are separated by a small stand of woods. This is another lovely, placid beach with virtually no undertow and calm waters most of the year. It was the beachfront to the old Paradise Hotel, which has been closed for several years. There are public access entries to this beach.

Paynes Bay
This busy little beach has water sports, eating and parking facilities.
Set in a small bay, this beach is always calm, with no undertow, and is quite popular with the west coast crowd.

Sandy Lane Bay
There is a public access to this beach at the south end of the hotel.Since it sits in something of a bay, the beach is nicely sheltered with little wave movement most of the year and no undertow.

Silver Rock / Round Rock
The island’s top windsurfing spot, this long, luxuriously wide stretch of beach has medium waves, a lot of undertow and good ambience.
A windsurfing equipment shop sits at the apex of Silver Rock and the reef a little ways out provides a nice break for good windsurfing during the season.

Privacy: All beaches in Barbados are open to the public. Properties which front onto a beach may own the land to the high-water mark only. Access to the beach is a right for every Barbadian and many of the sea front properties must provide a public right of way across their land to the ocean.

Nude Bathing: There are no nude beaches and all beaches are open to the public. Nudism is actually illegal. Barbados has a history of conservative British tradition and Barbadians are not comfortable undressing or seeing other undress on public beaches.

Beach Vendors and Security: Selling goods to tourists on the beach is a regulated practice in Barbados. Vendors are not permitted to roam the beach and set up shop out of a carrying case. If you are bothered by a vendor, report it to the police. Most of Barbados' favourite beaches are patrolled by police, but they cannot be everywhere and it is prudent not to leave valuables unattended.

West Coast: Generally the seas on the West coast are the calmest, but good, safe, quiet swimming is available in the many tranquil bays along the South West and the South that touch the Caribbean Sea. If you like calm waters with a soft sandy bottom, then the West Coast is probably the best of these conditions, but seasonal variations can cause things to change.

South Coast: Here you will find seas of gentle waves for body surfing and tumbling in the water. There are rollers for surfing with buggy boards and surfboards and some of the best windsurfing in the world. Annual surfing competitions and international surfing meets are held on both the South and East Coasts.
East and North Coasts: The East and North coasts of Barbados meet the Atlantic Ocean where huge waves crash along the shore and coral reefs. This coast is not recommended for swimming except for a few of the very protected bays. There are strong currents and fierce waves beating on the rugged coral to create a spectacle of power of a wild and rugged sea.

Barbados Beaches
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