On the northern coast of Colombia lies the magical Tayrona National Park. This protected area features forests teaming with wildlife leading down to pristine beaches on the Caribbean sea. The only way to reach many of the most beautiful, palm-fringed sands are the meandering footpaths through jungle and over sea-strewn boulders. With only a little effort you can find your own slice of paradise in Tayrona.
Somebody told me that Los Frailes is the most beautiful beach in Ecuador, so of course I had to see for myself. Just down the road from the small fishing town of Puerto López, I found it hard to believe that it would be much different from the littered beach there. I jumped on a bus heading north out of town for 50 cents and after 15 minutes they dropped me off at the entrance to Machalilla National Park. There was no entrance fee but I did have to sign a form promising not to litter and some other stuff that I didn’t understand so just hoped I wasn’t signing my life away.
Just off the Western Australian coast lies an island named after one of its rather cute inhabitants. Rottnest comes from the Dutch for rat nest, as the small, kangaroo-like quokkas were mistaken for giant rats by sailors in 1696. Nowadays the island is a popular holiday destination for locals being just a 25 minute ferry ride from the city of Fremantle. I recently hopped aboard to spend a day exploring the affectionately nicknamed Rotto.
Singapore is known for towering skyscrapers, shopping malls on every corner and, of course, the huge variety of tasty food. However visiting here doesn’t have to just be about the city, it’s easy to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life and take a trip back to nature. An island small enough to explore in a day, yet interesting enough to hold your attention for a few more, lies just off the eastern coast of Singapore. Pulau Ubin mixes mangrove swamps and jungle teaming with wildlife, with the opportunity to experience a traditional kampong or village, as the mainland used to be.
Twelve miles north of Liverpool, Formby is a town with a beautiful coastline. Wide sandy beaches are backed by windswept sand dunes that shelter pinewoods, home to the rare red squirrel. I recently took a bracing winter walk in this National Trust protected area.