Barbados!

After eight years at my current job, I’m moving to a new one this year (I’ll still be at the old one 20% for a while). Sometimes things just work out well, and this year I was lucky enough to be invited to an invitation-only workshop in Barbados, which, coincidentally, was scheduled for my last full-time week at my old job – what better way to spend my last week than at a workshop next to a tropical beach!

The workshop was designed with presentations in the morning and evening, but free time from 1-6pm, and was less than 50m from a beach with a nice shallow reef to snorkel on. Needless to say, everyone spent a lot of time in the water. The place wasn’t luxurious (no air conditioning in the shared rooms), but was set around a garden, with flowering trees, lizards and birds, and frogs singing and bats flying around after dark.

A Barbados Anole lizard.
A Barbados Anole lizard.
A Lesser Antillean Whistling Frog. Also known as the rum alarm since it seemed to start calling just when the rum got brought out.
A Lesser Antillean Whistling Frog. Also known as the rum alarm since it seemed to start calling just when the rum got brought out.

A small group of us also did some diving while we were there. The water was lovely and warm – 25 celcius at the surface, and the reef looked surprisingly healthy. We saw the usual tropical fish, lots of lobsters and crabs, and on night snorkels a couple of us caught sight of “The Thing”, a 4m long nocturnal segmented worm (no pictures of that, it hid again far too quickly when I shone a light on it).

The healthy-looking reef.
The healthy-looking reef.
A cute Burrfish checking us out!
A cute Burrfish checking us out!

A spotted Moray.
A spotted Moray.

The workshop was great, with a really interesting group of people, and lots of good talks. The location was great as well – a perfect way to celebrate my new job!

Sea kayaking at Abel Tasman National Park

Inspired by Pete and Tish’s recent sea kayaking adventure, we spent the day sea kayaking around the north-western coast of Abel Tasman National Park. Golden Bay Kayaks at Tata Beach, near Takaka, were great! They sorted us out with a two person kayak and all the kit, as well as telling us where to go and what to look out for. We set off around the Tata Islands and then kayaked eastwards around Abel Tasman Point and into Wainui Bay. We passed lots of shags on the way and a rare heron (according to the kayak shop owners), but these were nothing compared to the sting rays that we came upon further into the bay. In the shallow estuary entrance, these creatures could be seen at a distance of about 15 m from the kayak as huge black things. Richard steered us over to a huge one that was about 1 m across, but it got rather upset at our presence and put it’s stinging tail into an upright position and out of the water. It scared the life out of me, as I had no idea whether it was going to spit at me or whether it was just a warning! We saw lots of other sting rays, but nothing quite so large. The water in the shallows was amazingly warm. The next cool creature we saw was after we had beached the kayak near Taupo Point; this was a Gannet. It flew around the bay and then suddenly beak-dived into the water right in front of us to catch its unsuspecting prey! Amazing.

Lunch on the deserted beach.
Lunch on the deserted beach.

Once beached, we had our lunch, and then since the water was warm, went for a snorkel around Uarau Point and saw lots of mussels and chitons, a few fish and some starfish.

Rachel on the beach.
Rachel on the beach.

After our break we headed back, again exploring the shallows of Wainui Bay looking for sting rays, and then kayaking through an archway and spotting seals on the rocks. We had a second break at Little Tata Bay to enjoy the late afternoon sun, before finally heading back to return the kayak. A lovely day out!

Paddling towards the arch at Abel Tasman Point.
Paddling towards the arch at Abel Tasman Point.

A week in Mallorca (Part 2) – Alcudia peninsula

We spent the morning snorkelling in the pretty bay we found yesterday (Cala en Gossalba). This holiday was the first time that I’d been snorkelling and this bay proved to be a fascinating introduction. We saw star fish, mackeral, anemones, a sea cucumber and lots and lots of fish, some alone and others in huge shoals that hung around us for safety. We also saw quite a few jellyfish, I don’t like them very much and at any point when I thought I was becoming surrounded, I made a bid for the shallower water near the beach!

After my nose had been sufficiently crushed by the snorkel mask and after I had tasted enough seawater, we packed up and went to look around the Alcudia Peninsula. This area is just south of Puerto Pollenca, where we were staying, and boasts a pretty line of hills. We walked along the edge of the peninsula to a viewpoint on the northern tip and then, after looking at the magnificant views over Cap des Pinar and the Formentor peninsula, we headed to the top of one of the hills before heading back.

Richard on the Alcudia peninsula with the Formentor peninsula in the background
Looking out over the Cap des Pinar

Rainforest meets Reef

I had dreamed of visiting Daintree for years. It looked so idyllic, with tropical rainforest right next to the Great Barrier Reef. Of course, it’s far to hot and humid to climb, but it seemed like a great place to relax after a month on the road.

I wasn’t disappointed. Daintree Eco Lodge was luxurious. The rain forest was alive with bird and insect sounds. It was very hot and humid, bur that gave us a good excuse to do not much except relax and take it all in.

The reef trip on Poseidon was fantastic. We took an introductory diving course and did two dives as well as some snorkelling, seeing the most amazing fish and coral. Sorry no pictures of the diving, but there is a rather sexy picture of me in a stinger suit – it’s stinger season right now so better to look like a telly tubby and be safe. 😉

I would have liked to have seen more, but we were out of time… 🙁

Here is a collection of shots from the three days we had there.