As 2016 is coming to an end (already!) it’s time to reflect on what a great year it has been for us. We’ve been really lucky this year, managing to explore some really amazing places and ticking quite a few items off our bucket list.
We visited two other states in Australia and six other countries, which made it a very busy year indeed! With all of that travel under our belts, it’s hard to pick just ten favourites, but we’ve given it a shot:
10- Climbing the Fortress of Kotor in Montenegro
In August we visited Dubrovnik and while there we took a day tour to nearby Montenegro. We spent the day exploring the Bay of Kotor which was absolutely breathtaking. Surrounded by stunning fjords and with such crystal clear water, all we could think about was jumping in for a swim! But the best part of our trip was visiting the old town of Kotor and tackling the very tough climb up 1355 steps to the fortress overlooking the old town. Offering amazing views over the bay and the surrounding fjords, it was definitely worth the climb, even in the scorching midday heat! Check out the pictures below and see what you think!
9-Spending a long weekend amongst the wildlife on Kangaroo Island
In January, we flew to South Australia and took the ridiculously expensive car ferry across to Kangaroo Island. Kangaroo Island is one of the best places to visit in Australia if you want to spot native Australian animals in the wild, and we were not disappointed!
As we wandered around the Western KI Caravan Park where we were staying for four nights, we spotted more koalas in the wild than we’d seen anywhere else. On one occasion we watched a mama Koala with a baby on her back climb down from her tree and walk across the ground to the next tree along. She was completely unfazed by all the tourists gathering around to watch and take photos. It was amazing to see, especially as I’m a big fan of our wildlife.
Koalas were not the only wildlife we saw on Kangaroo island, however. We saw plenty of seals, kangaroos, wallabies, possums, echidnas, wild geese and pelicans. It was incredible!
8- Walking through the gorgeous Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia
While visiting Zagreb, the Croatian capital, we took a day trip to the famous Plitvice Lakes National Park. This park is Croatia’s second most popular tourist attraction and it’s easy to see why. It has sixteen interconnected and crystal clear lakes that are surrounded by over ninety waterfalls of different sizes. Walking through the park was magical! It took us a whole day to cover it because we took our time enjoying all of the natural beauty around us. It was extremely crowded as we visited in the peak month of September, but it was still a highlight of our holiday. Do not miss it when you visit Croatia!
7- Walking along the top of Dubrovnik’s city walls.
This walk was the highlight of our trip to Dubrovnik. The walk gets hot and also pretty touristy, especially in August when we were there. But the view over the red roofs of the old town made up for all of that, along with the beautiful old buildings and the breathtaking outlook over the glimmering Adriatic sea. There is no word for it other than SPECTACULAR! A must do in Dubrovnik!
6- Watching the sunrise at Haleakala Crater in Maui
This one was tough, really tough because we had to wake up at three in the morning to drive the winding road all the way up to the summit of the Haleakala crater. And up the top before sunrise, it was freezing, oh so cold! We were prepared and wore winter clothes, and we even had two warm blankets from our hotel. But nevertheless, as we sat there waiting for the sun to rise, we were shivering. But as the sun finally rose above the clouds to reveal the land around us bathed in a deep amber glow, we managed to forget just how cold we were for a little while as we took in the view. It was such a wonderful experience and one that everyone visiting Maui should try and fit in.
5- Walking around the stunning Lake Bled
While in Zagreb we took another day trip, this time to Slovenia and the beautiful Lake Bled. Lake Bled is such a stunning place to visit with its amazingly clear water and the jaw-dropping backdrop of the Julienne Alps. As we walked around the shores of the lake we were met with incredible scenery around every corner. In fact, it was so pretty that it took us nearly three hours to complete the six-kilometre walking track around the lake. We were constantly stopping to take more pictures! For such as small country Slovenia truly has some of the nicest places to visit.
4- Driving the Road to Hana
Another Maui highlight was our drive along the famous and scenic Road to Hana. The Road to Hana is one of the most breathtaking drives in America and is the number one attraction on Maui.
Along with its fifty-two-mile stretch, you will navigate fifty-nine one-way bridges and six hundred and twenty hairpin turns. But the best bit of the drive was not the road but all the attractions we stopped at along the way. From the stunning coastal scenery to the waterfalls and beautiful beaches, it was a full day packed with awesomeness. The Road to Hana was absolutely worth the sometimes hairy drive!
3- Heron Island and our first flight on a seaplane
In October, we flew up North to Queensland to spend some time relaxing on the beautiful Barrier Reef. We chose to stay at Heron Island for this long weekend and we were so glad we picked it. We experienced some of the best snorkelling we’ve ever had. There were stingrays everywhere, oodles of colourful fish, turtles, reef sharks and the water was so crystal clear and blue that we spent more time in it than out! We were in heaven. To finish it off we took our first ever flight on a seaplane to return to the mainland, a flight that took us over the breathtaking Barrier Reef. It was amazing to see the reef from above with all its different shades of blue!
2- Snorkelling with turtles in Maui and swimming with an endangered monk seal in Kauai
If you haven’t guessed it already we are very keen snorkelers, and Hawaii is fantastic for snorkelling. Plus since I’m a massive fan of turtles, Maui just has to be one of my favourite snorkelling spots ever. With turtles everywhere (and some nearly as big as I am) I was in heaven! Just as amazing was our time on Poipu beach in Kauai. While we were snorkelling there an endangered Monk Seal swam straight past us, happily minding his own business. It was unbelievable! After a few minutes of circling around us, he decided to make his way to the beach. He didn’t care at all that the sand was packed with beach-goers. The crowd gathered around to watch him happily sunbathe and take a wee nap!
1- A doors-off helicopter ride in Kauai
Last but not least, our number one highlight has to be that incredible doors-off helicopter ride that we took with Mauna Loa over the island of Kauai. We saw such a diverse range of scenery during the flight, from the beautiful Wailua river, tens of spectacular waterfalls, rolling green hills, the colourful gorges of the Waimea canyon, the breathtaking Napali coast, the wild beaches of the North Shore, the stunning Hanalei Bay, and the impressive Waialeale Crater. It was absolutely amazing. We enjoyed it so much that we are returning to Kauai in April and will be taking the helicopter for round number two! We’re so looking forward to it.
That’s it for our ten highlights for 2016. It was an action packed year and we are hoping 2017 will be just as fun! What were your favourite travel moments for 2016?