2017 has been a great year for us. We’ve maxed out our holidays, taking three international trips and several long weekends away within Australia. It’s been a blast! So it wasn’t very hard to put together our top ten list of experiences for the year.
Taking a boat right up close to an active lava flow in the Big Island, Hawaii
One of the best ways to experience the awesome power of mother nature is to get up close to a volcano. On our recent trip to the Big Island in Hawaii, not only did we do this, but we also got to see just what happens when molten lava meets an ocean of water.
We took a speedboat out to where the lava flow from the Kilauea volcano reaches the edge of a cliff and slowly pours down into the sea. This instantly boils the water, emitting huge clouds of steam into the air.
Because both the water and lava flow were so calm on the day we went, we were able to get right up close, rather than simply viewing the action from a distance. Our boat stopped just a few metres away from where the lava hit the water. It was awesome.
A hot air balloon ride over the Inle Lake in Myanmar
Just recently we had the chance to visit Myanmar, and we absolutely loved it. Early on in our holiday, we visited Bagan, where we were booked to take a hot air balloon ride over its famous plains of pagodas. But luck was not with us, and the flight was cancelled due to poor weather.
Fortunately, we were able to reschedule our flight for later in our trip and take a balloon ride in Inle Lake instead. Inle Lake is a large lake towards the centre of Myanmar. It is famous for both its acrobatic fishermen and the hydroponic farming that covers large portions of the outer parts of the lake.
Early on our first morning in Inle Lake, we were picked up and shuttled across the lake to the launch site for our balloon. All of the hard work was already done for us so it wasn’t long before we were in the air, as the sun rose slowly over the horizon. It was, to put it simply, an amazing experience, and one that’s easier to show in pictures rather than write about.
Click here to check out our complete post about our balloon ride (and to see lots of photos), and check out our video to get an even better taste of what it’s like to glide in a balloon over this amazing place.
Cruising the Kauai’s Na Pali coast in a catamaran
Kauai is without a doubt one of our favourite places in the world. That’s also why it’s one of the few that we’ve been back to twice. We love Kauai for its awesome hiking and snorkelling, and because it’s so easy to relax and to chill out there. It has an amazing vibe.
Contributing to that vibe is the amazing natural beauty of the place. Probably our favourite part of Kauai is its famous north shore, with its incredible Na Pali coast. This picture postcard coastline consists of towering, cathedral-like cliffs that plunge straight down into the water.
On our second trip to Kauai, we stayed on the north shore, and we took a day trip to check out the Na Pali coast from the sea. On our small catamaran, we were able to get up really close to not only its impressive cliff faces but also plenty of sea caves and waterfalls. We also found time to do a bit of snorkelling. Diving into the water from the boat we immediately came across seven turtles swimming right below us!
A high-speed boat tour of the Tasman Peninsula
Earlier in the year, we jetted down to Tasmania (our favourite Australian state) for a quick long weekend getaway. We focused this time on the Tasman Peninsula which we had never visited before.
This area of Tasmania is a nature lover’s paradise, with an abundance of wildlife and rugged coastal wilderness to explore.
We set aside one day of our visit to take a speedboat tour of the peninsula. Along the way we were treated to some absolutely spectacular scenery, were visited by some friendly dolphins, enjoyed watching seals frolicking in the water, and breathed in copious amounts of beautiful fresh sea air.
A door off helicopter ride over Kauai (again!)
We loved our doors-off helicopter ride so much last time, that we did it again this year with the same company. It was just as amazing the second time around. In fact, this time we got to see a lot more waterfalls in action.
We had been unable to take our helicopter flight on the Big Island a few days before due to bad weather, but fortunately, our luck returned on Kauai. Although, the weather was a little more changeable than our first flight. In fact, if you watch our video of the flight, you’ll see that at one point we fly right through a rainstorm. That was pretty cool!
Seeing Kauai by air like this has been a highlight of both our visits. It’s by far the best way to fully appreciate the entirety of what this island has to offer in terms of its immense natural beauty.
Some amazing snorkelling in the Maldives
In April Cindy jetted off to the island resort of Finolhu in the Maldives, for a week of good food, sunbathing and lots of great snorkelling. In fact, she said Finolhu has some of (if not the) best snorkelling she’s ever done.
Check out our video showcasing just some of what she saw when snorkelling only metres offshore. It looks truly enchanting, and I will admit to being more than a little jealous!
Climbing the Hartz Peak in Tasmania
On our long weekend down to check out the Tasman peninsula, we stopped off to visit our friends down in the little town of Franklin on the Huon River, before heading back to Hobart to fly out.
While there, we went on an amazing day hike with them in the nearby Hartz Mountain National Park. This hike is a relatively easy one, with just a few moderately steep spots. The 360-degree views from the peak are absolutely stunning and are definitely worth the effort you exert to get there. A great idea would be to pick a sunny day, pack a picnic lunch, leave early, and then spend a couple of hours at the top just enjoying the magnificent scenery.
A boat cruise on the Inle Lake in Myanmar
While in the Inle Lake area of Myanmar, we took an all day boat cruise across the lake and down to the little village of Sagar in the southern end of the lake. Along the way, we passed some stunning scenery, including some incredible ponds of bright pink water lilies.
This cruise let us truly experience the way of life on the lake. We watched hydroponic farmers hauling weed from the bottom of the lake up onto their canoes, to use for feeding their crops. We saw villagers taking their daily bath in the estuaries, and we saw all manner of goods being transported across the lake on the larger cargo boats.
The Skyrail in Cairns
Just this month we headed up to Cairns in Queensland for a few days of fun in the sun. It had been years since I’d been up that way, so I was keen to experience it again. Along with the obligatory visit to the amazing Great Barrier Reef, we did something that neither of us had done before. We took the Skyrail chairlift up over an incredible tropical rainforest.
In my opinion, this is a part of Queensland that doesn’t get enough attention. It is the world’s oldest rainforest and it’s full of fascinating plants (such as the Strangler Fig which grows around a host tree before eventually killing it!) and animals.
The Skyrail deposits you in the quaint little town of Kuranda. Kuranda actually has heaps of attractions to see. There is more there than you can realistically hope to cover in a single day. Our favourite was Birdworld. At Birdworld you enter a giant aviary, and are immediately set upon by cheeky parrots and other assorted birds.
The Vivid festival in Sydney
We love visiting Sydney and we try and get up there as often as we can. We had been meaning to check out the Vivid festival for years, but had never managed to. This year we finally did and we were really impressed by the creativity that was on display. It’s a great festival for the whole family to experience.
As is normal with light shows, the pictures tell much more of a story than I could in words. So check out our complete post on Vivid with lots of lots of photos!
Click here to read our full post on our Vivid experience, including lots of photos of course!
That’s a wrap!
Well, that’s it for 2017. Next year promises to be just as much fun. We’re really looking forward to visiting Vietnam early in the year, and heading back to explore more of Tassie as well. We still have to plan an overseas trip or two for the second half of next year. So, if you have any suggestions, send them our way!