Road Trippin’, Airlie Beach & The Whitsunday Islands

I’m finally getting back into the swing of things when it comes to blogging, life has been so fast moving on this great adventure of ours, I just haven’t had a second to sit down and write about it all. Writing is one of my favourite things to do as many of you know, but I really wanted to make sure I embraced every single opportunity that came my way during my travels and because of that, writing has taken a little bit of a back seat.

But I’m back, and still reeling in the excitement that was Airlie Beach. I had a little taster of the Great Barrier Reef in Cairns, but like the reef, the Whitsunday Islands have been on my bucket list for such a long time now so needless to say I was super excited to arrive in Airlie and begin discovering the Whitsundays.

We had four days to explore so the first thing we did after settling into our hotel, Coral Reef Resort, was check out all the different tours on offer and decide what we wanted to see and do during our stay. Whitehaven Beach was top of our list, but we also wanted to do some more snorkelling and so after lots of research, we decided to go with a tour company called Whitehaven Xpress.

Whitehaven Xpress offer a one day tour to Whitehaven Beach, and passes by the other Whitsunday islands on the way, including Hamilton and Daydream islands, followed by a BBQ on Whitehaven beach and an afternoon of snorkelling on the one of the reefs nearby. A jam packed day full of everything we wanted to see.

On the morning of our tour we left early to began our hour and a half boat trip out to Whitehaven, the beach considered to be Australia’s purest and most beautiful, and one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.  Although we knew this, you can’t imagine how beautiful it is in real life until you’re there, standing on that fine, dust like sand, feeling it squeak beneath your feet and looking out on that crystal clear water. It is beautiful in every way imaginable and as I lay on the sand, I closed my eyes, turned my face to the sun and felt so much gratitude for my life in that moment. It was magical.


We ate a delicious BBQ and spent a few hours chilling on the beach before making our way to the northern tip to visit the hill inlet. The inlet is that infamous view you see on postcards of Whitehaven, where the fresh water meets the sea water and creates more shades of blue than you can imagine. It is truly breathtaking and something everyone should experience because it really has to be seen to be believed. Nature at its most beautiful.


We stood at the inlet looking out over the water and sand, in what felt like a very surreal moment. I’m not joking when I say I pinched myself to make sure I was really there! Because WOW! How did I get here? But it was real and I was truly awed by the whole experience.

After coming down off my cloud nine bubble, we all made our way back to the boat to go snorkelling. We were a bit concerned about snorkelling in the Whitsundays because the water is much more shallow there meaning the sand swirls in the water making it cloudy and not as easy to see coral and fish. But really there was no need to worry, because even though the water was a little cloudy, we still saw so many amazing fish, and they were huge! This guy in the below photo, a Humphead Wrasse, was almost the same length as my leg!


I just loved the whole experience all over again in Airlie and am beginning to think snorkelling may just be my new thing!

Without a shadow of a doubt, that day was one of the best in my life. I loved every second of it and am so grateful that I was able to do it.

If you read my earlier post this week on my Great Barrier Reef plane adventure, you’ll know what else I got up to during my Airlie Beach stay. But apart from the reef, we had so much fun wandering around this quirky beach town. This truly is a place made for tourists, and everyone is super relaxed and chilled out here. The laid back vibe is contagious and we made sure to soak it all up while we could.

Airlie was also home to one of the most delicious meals we’ve eaten on our trip so far, so much so we’re still talking about it! Walter’s Lounge is a small spot tucked away in the middle of Airlie Port and has an Australian/French food mix. Their ethos is to share everything and there’s no distinction between starter and main courses, so you order a few different plates and share. I loved this idea!

We had everything from slow cooked beef rump, to baked camembert, and sweetcorn croquettes to braised pork belly, and every single bite was heaven on a plate. To top it all off, the dessert of pineapple, mango and vanilla was one of the best desserts we’ve ever eaten and the perfect end to an amazing meal. Not to mention the delicious cocktails!


Leaving Walter’s and Airlie, we definitely had big smiles on our faces. We had so much fun, discovered new places, ate great food, laughed, drank, played… All the things that make a trip somewhere so great.

I know that sounds similar to how I finished my post on Cairns, but the thing about travelling is, it’s all experiences, great experiences – and thankfully all our experiences have been great. Reality goes out the window, responsibility goes out the door, and life walks in. All the amazing, incredible, wonderful things about living life to the full.

We’re over half way through our trip now and I can’t believe it. But every day that I am here, I am so thankful to have had this opportunity.

The world is an incredible place just waiting to be discovered. What are you waiting for?

Sorcha x

Cairns, The Great Barrier Reef & My First Snorkel Experience| My Travel Adventures Part 4

I can’t quite believe it’s been over a week since my last blog post, for two reasons really. Mainly because I’ve packed so much into the last few weeks, it feels like a month’s worth of blogging, but also because time is flying by and for just a moment I would like it to stand still so that I can bask in the incredible beauty that is the Great Barrier Reef.

After Bali, we flew to Cairns in North Queensland, known for its crystal clear waters and spectacular coral reefs. Though the Great Barrier Reef reaches much further North than Cairns, this seaside town is where most of the reef tours and adventures start from, with most guide books recommending it as a good place to begin your reef exploration.

Cairns is a small seaside town, and during the day can appear deceivingly quiet. But don’t be fooled, the many hundreds of tourists are all spending their days out in the deep blue ocean. It took us a few hours for the penny to drop, at first we couldn’t figure out why there wasn’t anyone about as we strolled along the Esplanade on our first day. But, fast forward a few hours to bustling bars and restaurants and the streets full of people, and it all began to sink in. Ah! They were all out on the water. Of course they were, because that’s why most tourists come to Cairns; that’s why we came to Cairns.

Although I had done a lot of research into the different types of tours you can do before arriving, we decided not to book anything until we got there because frankly, there’s no better advice than that of the local guides who can tell you how things really are. Thankfully, our hotel had a tour desk so we ventured down there after getting our bearings to book our first reef tour.

We were staying in the DoubleTree Hilton (a far cry from the luxury of Bali let me tell you!), and although the hotel itself wasn’t great, the tour desk was brilliant. Sue, the woman running the desk, is a seasoned diver and knows everything there is to know about the reef, snorkelling and the best tours on the market. We were worried we may not get a good tour as we didn’t want to dive, but we needn’t have because the tour we ended up booking was absolutely incredible. Thanks Sue!

Like many Cairns tours, Tusa Dive offer full day tours to the reef for both divers and snorkelers and provide all equipment as well as food and drink for your day out on the water. But what made the tour so great for us was the crew. They honestly couldn’t have been more helpful, professional, or encouraging, especially to us newbies scared of the open water.

We boarded our Tusa Dive boat early and were so relieved to know there were many others in the same boat (excuse the pun!) as us. Most had never snorkelled before, and apart from some very shallow snorkelling in the Maldives last year, I have never snorkelled properly, let alone done a dive, so this put my very nervous tummy at ease so I could sit back, relax, and settle into my day at sea.

We started our morning out with tea, coffee and muffins on board as well as running through the day’s events and safety demonstrations. The plan was to visit two reefs, the first being one called Pretty Patches. The two reefs you visit on your trip are only decided on the morning, weather and water conditions obviously playing a part in the decision. We were extremely lucky to get a very fine, clear day meaning we could sail out to the furthest reefs near the continental shelf, and crystal clear water.

Nerves were building as we got fitted for our wetsuits and flippers and before I knew it, it was time to get in the water. Eek, holy crap! Like any of these scary moments in life, it was time to bite the bullet, get over the nerves, and embrace this amazing opportunitiy right in front of me, and so I took a deep breath and jumped right on in.

I’m not going to lie, the first minute or so I was a bit panicky. You jump into the water in the deep blue, no reef below you, nothing to see. Obviously the boat can’t go right up to the reef so it pulls up as close as you can and you swim over. For someone who never, and I mean NEVER, swims in the sea, this was scary. But once I got my bearings I calmed down, put my head under water and swam. And oh, was I glad I did.

As you swim, the reef suddenly appears out of nowhere, colours you can’t even imagine shine up at you like something out of a David Attenborough TV series. I’m not even joking, I could almost hear him narrating what I was looking at as I swam over many different types of coral, fish and other marine life. It was quite literally breath-taking and nothing like anything I had ever seen or done before.

We spent about half an hour in the water, took loads of under water pictures with my adventure camera, then headed back to the boat for lunch. I got out of the water and as sad as this may sound, I almost cried! It was a feeling of pure elation, and pride for what I had achieved. It may seem like a small feat to most but open water and me? I just never thought I’d have the guts. But I did, and it felt amazing!

We had a gorgeous buffet lunch on board as we left Pretty Patches and made our way over to the second snorkel sight of the day and do it all again. I found the afternoon snorkel a little tougher as the current had picked up and was quite strong – swimming against it certainly took strength and concentration. But never was I concerned because the instructors and staff on the boat were keeping a close eye on us.

As we sailed home and the sun began to go down, I was full of adrenalin and happiness from the day. It was so much more incredible than I could ever have imagined it to be. I loved every minute of it.

I knew the Great Barrier Reef would be amazing, I knew snorkelling would be amazing, but honestly, I never dreamed it would be as incredible as it was. I had imagined what it would be like for so many years, but seeing it in real life with your own eyes is another thing entirely. It is something I’ll never forget.

Obviously there was a lot more to our trip to Cairns than just the reef, we also visited Cairns Zoom, an indoor Zoo on top of a Casino, sounds strange I know but this place was incredible. I met Ruby the Pademelon, Goliath the four meter long Croc, and even got to have a cuddle with Micro the Koala, an experience pretty high up on my list of best things ever! We also strolled along the esplanade, ate some great food, drank, laughed, and pinched ourselves more than a few times.

We arrived in Australia with the best bang ever and our adventures have been incredible so far. We left Cairns and made our way down towards Townsville for an overnight pitstop before making our way towards Airlie Beach and the next big adventure on our trip.

The road trip is well and truly underway…

Sorcha x

 

So Long, Farewell

I can’t believe the day has arrived, the day when Dave and I jump on a plane to the other side of the world and embark on our two month travelling adventure. Some of you may already be sick of me talking about it, some of you may only be coming across my travel posts for the first time; either way, I hope that you’ll come along with me for the ride.

A pipe dream that we never really thought would come true is today becoming reality. We are throwing caution to the wind, letting go of all adult-ing responsibility, and heading off for an awfully big adventure.

We start in Bali where we will spend two weeks touring around soaking up cultural delights, visiting temples, doing some yoga and lying by the beach. Then, we make our way to Australia where we will spend a month driving down the east coast, taking in all the breathtaking wonders that the Great Barrier Reef and other islands have to offer. Finally, we leave Australia and head to Thailand for one last hurrah, where we plan on doing some shopping, diving and lots of boat trips, not to mention a little sunbathing.

Needless to say we are brimming over with excitement, a little bit of nerves and anxiousness, but mostly excitement. It’s going to be one hell of a trip of a lifetime and I can’t wait to share each step of it with you all.

For now, I’ll say goodbye, only to see you all on the other side… the Bali side!

Sorcha x

Travel Thursday | Beauty Around the World

Well, I can’t believe I’m writing this, but today marks just three weeks until Dave and I head off on our big adventure to see the world. Many of you will already know this if you’ve been reading my blog posts of late, but if not, then let me fill you in.

In three weeks time, Dave and I are embarking on a two month trip around the world. Yes, I really just said that. I can’t believe it myself. Eeek! When I say around the world, I really mean the other side of the world namely, Bali, Australia and Thailand. We’re just packing up, heading off, cameras and suncream in tow, and going to see where the adventure takes us. Somewhere good I hope…

As amazing as my trip is going to be, I don’t want to let my blogging fall by the way side while I’m gone, so I’ve decided to set a few blogging challenges for myself. Hence the purpose of today’s blog post.

I blog mostly about beauty and lifestyle, with a little bit of travel thrown in here and there when I visit different places, but because I’m going to be gone so long, I was concerned that travel posts may take over and not all of you will be interested in reading those posts. So, to make sure I cover topics everyone will be interested in, there will be a beauty challenge, a lifestyle challenge and of course, a travel challenge (the last of which let’s be honest, should be a doddle).

While I haven’t decided on all the challenges just yet, I have decided on one and that is, the beauty challenge. The first challenge is for me to discover, trial, test and blog about at least two beauty products or rituals native to each place I visit. So whether it be buying makeup from a local cosmetics company, having an amazing facial or massage experience, or giving a weird and wonderful local old wives tale a try, I’m going to challenge myself to embrace, blog and put them all to the test.

I’ve started researching beauty and skincare in each of the countries I’m visiting and already I’ve come up with a few gems. Here’s a look what awaits me:

Bali

Image: Tripadvisor

From what I’ve read so far about Bali, inner beauty is deemed just as important as outer beauty, in other words, healing and looking after ourselves from the inside out. Apart from regular massages, yoga and mediation, many Balinese use herbal heeling recipes, or Jamu it is known, to keep them healthy and glowing.

Image: Pinterest

Jamu is said to be full of anti-oxidants with amazing age-defying properties so needless to say I’m intrigued. I plan on routing out some Jamu filled products during my stay to see what all the fuss is about. I think there are Jamu teas and drinks too.

Image: Pinterest

There are also several Indonesian cosmetics brands, one in particular I keep coming across is called, Caring Colours. Now, I’ve no idea what the products are like, I’ve tried using google translate to learn more, but unfortunately I think I’ll just have to wait until we get there to suss it out.

Australia

Image: Pinterest

Australia is way ahead of the curve when it comes to certain beauty products and rituals. They do beach waves (and I mean the hair kind) better than anywhere else, they embrace natural beauty both in their look and in the products they use, and there are just so many Aussie brands I am dying to try out.

I’ve been in Australia before, I spent three months there about six years ago. But, it was my last stop on a ten month trip around the world and I was pretty broke. So beauty and makeup sadly didn’t get much of a look in back then, but I’m going to make up for that this time around.

Image: Pinterest

Perhaps the most famous products to come out of Australia is cult favourite, Lucas’ Papaw Ointment, which is said to be a miracle ointment made from 100% natural ingredients. It is good for chapped and cracked lips, minor burns, sunburn, insect bites – you name it. And it was even voted ‘Most Popular Lip Balm’ in Tripadvisor’s 2015 Traveller’s Choice Awards – who even knew there was such an award? It sounds very similar to my trusty Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour cream, so this is first on my list of products to try when I arrive.

Apart from Lucas’ Papaw, there are so many other Australian cosmetic and skincare brands I’m sure I’ll discover during the trip, but what intrigues me even more are some of the natural beauty remedies or old wives tales that are still used to this day. From applying almond oil all over your body after a cold shower; to putting apple cider vinegar in your hair for extra shine; to using basil to get rid of spots and blemishes, the Australian’s definitely know how to embrace the alternative. And although a bit apprehensive, I think I’m going to have to give some of these a try to see if they really do work.

Thailand

Image: Tripadvisor

Well, we all know that in terms of beauty, Thailand is probably most famous for its massage. I cannot wait to get a real, authentic Thai massage. I’ve heard they are sore, uncomfortable and a bit awkward, but I’ve also heard that you feel feckin’ fantastic afterwards.

Image: Pinterest

Spa culture is big in Thailand, and it’s one of the things I’m most looking forward to about our trip there. Because of this, several high quality holistic, natural skincare brands have shot to fame over the past number of years and by all accounts, they are amazing. Two of the most recognised and seemingly popular brands I’ve come across through my research so far are Siam Botanicals and another brand called Thann.

Image: Siam Botanicals

Aside from the fabulous spa culture, the Thai women also have some secret beauty rituals of their own. They believe mango is the cure for, well, pretty much everything from spots to cuts; Tamarind pulp is apparently a great skin exfoliator; while seaweed is reportedly their secret to shiny, bouncy hair. I’m not feeling very brave right now, but I’ll just have to man up – all in the name of beauty as they say!

Who knows if I’ll come across any of these brands whilst on my travels, I may discover many other weird and wonderful rituals and products instead, or I may discover none. But that’s my challenge, and I choose to accept it.

I’m hoping I might learn a thing or two, and maybe come home with incredibly gorgeous glowing skin just in time for Christmas? Or maybe I’ll have a few disaster stories that will do nothing more than give us all a great laugh! Either way, it’ll be an experience.

The countdown is well and truly on now, so be prepared for plenty more travel posts coming your way soon. And if you’re not into the travel posts, don’t worry, I’ve got you covered with lots of beauty and lifestyle too.

Sorcha x

Travel Thursday: 8 Weeks To Go, Help!

If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you will know that shortly I am heading off on a very big trip. A trip that let’s be honest, I had no idea would take place this year, but somehow the stars aligned and it is really happening. Eeeek!

I know many of you will have heard me talking about this already, it’s not really new information, but last night I endured the stark realisation that we are leaving in less than eight weeks. Eh, what?! I don’t know where the Summer has gone to be perfectly honest with you, once I finished up work at the end of June I had so many plans and now it’s almost the end of August and I’ve only achieved about half of my goals.
But sure look it’ll be grand, there’s nothing I can do about that now, and now that our trip is so close, it’s time to forget about Summer goals and start planning for that. But, by planning I’m not actually talking about the trip itself, that’s all done and dusted (being the organisation freak that I am). The planning I am actually referring to here, is, wait for it… PACKING.

Packing. Where to start? What to bring? How can I pack for a whole two months and not bring every single thing I own?! I’m one of those ‘just in case’ people, you know the ones who bring everything away just in case they need it and it sits at the bottom of the suitcase for the whole trip? Yep, that’s me.

I’ve travelled before, I spent almost ten months travelling the world about six years ago, so I should be a pro at this stage. But, things were different then, I was backpacking, I was on a budget, and anything that came with me was basic, multi-purpose, and cheap. But not this time. This time it’s not just backpacking, it’s suitcases, it’s hotels, it’s nice restaurants, all of which mean I will need nice clothes, good makeup, clever accessories, great books, and even a pair of shoes or two.

Now, don’t get me wrong, this trip is not going to be all luxury, no. It’s going to be a mixture of budget and beautiful, and therefore I need to plan everything meticulously.

So this my lovely readers, is where you come in!

I need your help. I want to know all your must haves for travelling, the good, the bag and the ugly. I have a fair idea of what I need but the best advice anyone can get is from those who have been there, and done that. So, please, please, please help a sista out and let me know the following:

  • What was your must have makeup for travelling?
  • Any skincare you couldn’t live without?
  • Did you regret not bringing something with you?
  • Best books to read while seeing the world?
  • Your favourite item you brought that you used over and over again?
  • Best piece of advice you were given about going on your trip?
  • One thing you couldn’t have survived without?

I need every little morsel of information you have, stories, products, tips, whatever.

If you have specific tips for the places we’re going to which are Bali, the Gili Islands, Australia and Thailand, then please send them my way too. All the info on our trip is in my original travel post which you can read here if you want to know all about it.

I’m so looking forward to reading your comments, tips and stories, I would massively appreciate it if you could comment below with them all. MASSIVELY!

So on that note, I shall sign off and await all your comments with baited breath.

Sorcha x

Hello World, I’m Coming To Get You

It’s official, it’s real, and it’s happening. Eeek! Those of you who follow my Instagram will perhaps already know what I’m about to announce, but for those of you who don’t then here it is – the Year of the Holiday is about to get epic!

As most of you will know by now, for our first year of marriage, Dave and I decided to travel to as many places as possible, to see the places we’ve always wanted to see, to experience new cultures, to go on lots of adventures, and over the past seven months we’ve managed to pack a lot in. But now we’re taking it to a whole new level.

In October we’re going to embark on our biggest adventure yet and go travelling for two months. TWO MONTHS! To some of you that might not seem very long to see the world, but we’ve both been travelling before and the purpose of this trip is to get to the places we didn’t get to last time around. It’ll also be our first time travelling the world together.

Our first stop? Bali. Beautiful Bali.

We both have friends and family who’ve been to Bali travelling or on honeymoon and I’ve never heard anyone say a bad thing about it. From its beautiful green rice fields, to incredible culture, from amazingly friendly people, to white sandy beaches, Bali sounds like it has got a little bit of everything worth seeing.

I also have a romantic view of Bali from reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s adventures there in Eat, Pray, Love. I may have mentioned this before but that book had such a profound impact on me. Not because I think a medicine man is going to dramatically change the course of my life or anything, but because I love yoga and meditation, and the dreamer in me wants to find myself a little bit.

And being brutally honest here, I am the type of person to give a medicine man a visit too.

Our plan is to spend five nights in Ubud soaking in the culture, then head over to Gili Trawangan in Lombok for one night. I’ve heard to Gili islands are really worth a visit, and I’ve been longing to stand on the swing in the sea at sunset for quite some time now!

After that we go back to Seminyak and relax by the beach for five nights before heading to our next destination, the grand old continent of Oz.

I’ve been to Australia before, as has Dave, but while he spent a short bit of time around Cairns, neither of us travelled the East Coast. I spent most of my time in Sydney working while I was there, and apart from one weekend visit to Melbourne and Brisbane, didn’t get to see anything else. So this time the plan is to hire a car and spend a month travelling from Cairns to Melbourne. 

There are so many things we want to see and do. We want to snorkel in the Great Barrier Reef even though the thought of it fills me with fear, we want to sleep on a Whitsunday island, we want to try to surf in Byron Bay, we want to go to a show in the Opera House, we want to eat delicious food in Melbourne and drink beer on the beach in St. Kilda. We want to do as much as we possibly can.

After Australia we make our way to Bangkok where we plan on spending two weeks discovering Thailand. Again, it’s probably not a huge amount of time to see everything we want to see there and so we’re sticking to the west side.

We will spend two nights in Bangkok to get our bearings and of course soak up the madness that is the infamous Koh San Road. Having spent three months in South America a few years ago, as well as a few weeks in India a few years before that, I’m used to the culture shock of different places, I absorb it, I thrive on it. I’m excited to see Dave’s reaction though as he’s never been anywhere like it before and I imagine the culture shock will be somewhat the biggest in Thailand. 

From Bangkok we will fly down to Phuket for a few days to relax in a nice resort before then making our way to Koh Phi Phi, Koh Lanta and finally the last stop on the trip, Railay in Krabi. 


I’ve heard the beaches in Railay are incredible so we decided to finish our trip there in a gorgeous five star hotel as it will also coincide with our one year wedding anniversary. What better way to end our trip and celebrate being married a year than on a beach in Thailand?!

Writing about it now, I still can’t believe it’s going to happen. But it is. Although it’s been in planning for quite some time now, on Friday we booked our flights and made it all official.

Simply Sorcha was never intended to be a travel blog, my regular readers will know I write about everything from beauty to fashion to anxiety to meditation, and to travel. It’s a blog about all the things happening in my life, and things that I love. But for two months of this year, it will most certainly become a travel blog.

I’ll take you all with us, I’ll share our stories, our experiences, our favourites and least favourites, but I’ll try keep some beauty and lifestyle posts in there too. 

So there you go, our big news. To say we’re excited is an understatement, it’s literally a dream come true.

I’m currently lying in the sun in my back garden, taking in the joy that is a sunny Dublin day. So for now, I will say goodbye as it’s time for me to get back to my travel guides.

Hello world, I’m coming to get you…

Sorcha x