Oh, San Francisco, you beautiful thing. We always liked you, a lot, but it was really on our most recent trip that we truly fell in love (perhaps it had something to do with the week-long sunshine, but in any case…). We love how compact you are (7miles x 7miles), but still how incredibly diverse, creative and inspiring you are as well. We love your many differing neighborhoods – all so close – but all so different. We love that every second person here describes themselves as a “burner” (regular Burning Man-goer, of course), and that good live music is so easy to find. And we love how naturally beautiful you are. We visited Ocean Beach for the first time, and then witnessed the sun setting over the Sutro Baths – feeling more like Ancient Greece than downtown California – it was then that we were sold. Not to mention how easy it is to get out of town – over the bridge, and up the coast (for oysters in Tomales Bay, through Point Reyes) and into wine country. You are a nature wonderland. You are wonderful. We like you a lot.
Here we list some (but not all) of our favorite things. There really are too many to mention! But this should get you started…
Along with Portland and Seattle, San Francisco is definitely home to some of the best coffee in the US. You are spoilt for choice here. We like…
Four barrel: one of our favorite brews. You can find their coffee at The Mill. We also love their roasting space in the Mission.
Sightglass: the coffee is good, and the space is exceptionally beautiful (those windows! Wow). We also loved the music playing the day we visited. We asked who the artist was, and turns out it was a local guy named Young Moon (keep an ear out – he’s good :) ).
Blue bottle: lots of locations around town – we like the one downtown (in an old bank building) and the one in Oakland (see our Oakland guide).
St Frank: a beautiful light-filled space, with good coffee, and also a place to work (where wifi is available).
Ritual: a cute shipping container pop up in Hayes Street.
Front: this garage-esque space, in an industrial part of town, does a great coffee.
Hollow: more for the cute little green shopfront than anything else! So freaking adorable.
Samovar (tea): not coffee, but tea, in a stunning space. Try their signature chai.
The Mill: for their big chunky, lusciously-topped toasts (and Four Barrel coffee). You can also take home loaves of their amazing bread. Look out also for their pizza nights on Mondays.
Lolo: a fun, colorful, buzzy space that’s great for ceviche and margaritas (two locations – both good).
Outerlands: for anything and everything. Outer Sunset. We love it here.
Nopa: a mainstay. Always great. Expect to wait if you don’t have a table reservation (can grab a seat at the bar). The burger is infamous. We love the fish.
Nopalito: for totopos and carnitas tacos. Cute neighborhood spot.
Bar Agricole: for a fancy weekend brunch or dinner.
izakaya rintaro - quiet, tranquil little spot, hidden behind a big wooden fence (look out for the big number 82 painted in white). we love the miso black cod.
Flour and Water: for exceptional pasta.
Central Kitchen/Salumeria: for a casual meat and cheese board (at Salumeria), or something delicious in the more formal restaurant.
Marios: for their meatball focaccia sandwich and homemade Campari.
Baretta: cosy, corner neighborhood spot doing exceptional cocktails and great homely Italian.
Craftsmen and wolves: for their “rebel within”. That’s all you need to know.
Pizza from pizzeria Delfina: the best spot on a sunny afternoon for pizza and prosecco. Sit in the sun, watch the world go by. You can also eat in the more formal restaurant part next door if you would prefer. Just down the road from our favorite supermarket (Bi-Rite) and ice cream shop.
Bi-rite creamery and supermarket: loveliest little gourmet supermarket around (specialising in local, organic and sustainable). Amazing produce. Great for grabbing picnic stuff and taking it to nearby dolores park (for long lazy days, people watching and stunning views of the city). Their ice creamy across the road is next level. We like the hard scoops and the soft serve as well. All so good.
Zuni cafe: a SF institution (been around for 20+ years). Come here for Zuni’s roasted chicken and bread salad (and some oysters).
Tartine: probably the most famous bakery in the city. They serve Four Barrel coffee as well.
Mr holmes bakehouse: for Cronuts and other sweet things.
Plow: wood and white dining room. for breakfast.
Slanted door: in the ferry building. very san francisco. vietnamese. fresh and organic.
Zazie: in cole valley for cosy french bistro vibes.
20th Century cafe: on a sunny corner in Hayes Valley. For Eastern European-influenced eats.
Souvla: this was only newly opened when we visited last year. awesome souvlakis, big salads, and wait for it…olive oil and sea salt greek frozen yoghurt. omg.
little gem: a new one in hayes valley - for healthy eats.
Green heart foods: for health-conscious eats in the mission.
Cala: for mexican seafood.
Locanda: for their delicious gnocchi.
Tosca’s: innovative and fresh italian from famed chef, april bloomfield. dark and moody. we like it here. great cocktails, too.
Trou Normand: if you are into meat. This place specialises in whole animal butchery! Try the Trou lamb burger.
Okoze: in Russian Hill. Eat at the sushi bar only. For dinner. Order scallops. And sake.
Blue Plate: in the mission. A bit of an institution. Come here for american comfort food.
Foreign Cinema: for california-inspired food and film screenings on their outdoor patio.
Foreign cinema: for foreign films.
General store: our favourite store in California (the one in Venice Beach used to be our local). Bright, light and airy, and full of amazing brands. It also comes with the most beautiful, sunny, cactus-filled courtyard and glasshouse out the back. The best.
Case for making: studio supplies for a creative life. Super cute bibs and bobs.
Gravel and gold: clothing, accessories, home goods.
Aggregate supply: literally an aggregate of three shops - Heliotrope, Turk + Taylor, and Acacia. Amoeba records
The Perish Trust: a teeny tiny shop filled to the brim with vintage pieces and other random finds.
Mollusk in Outer Sunset.
Hayes street: poke around the cute boutiques on this sunny street.
Golden gate park: absolutely huge, green and incredibly beautiful.
Sunset at sutro baths: dont miss this. Follow it up with dinner at Outerlands (in Outer Sunset).
Check out China Beach: peaceful, quiet and definitely one of SF’s hidden gems. Tucked in the Presidio across from Robin Williams’ old home (rip).
Picnic in Dolores: grab goodies from bi-rite first.
Check out the murals: they are everywhere.
Farmers market at the ferry building: touristy, but definitely worth a visit.
Catch a live show at the Fillmore.
Farmers markets: so many on offer.
Ferry to Sam’s (touristy, but fun) - oysters and wine.
Brunch at Salito’s. Amazing spot on the water in Sausalito. Order the crab omelette in a skillet.
Hike around Muir woods national monument.
Head up to wine country. Visit Sonoma. Spend a night at the Farmhouse Inn (see our separate guide) - an exquisite barn-like farmhouse property, set amongst the vineyards.
Stop in Inverness - for oysters at Saltwater Oyster Bay, or Hogg Inn. And if you are lucky, spend a night at Mankas. Heaven.
Hotel G: we were so happy to stumble across this gorgeous boutique hotel on our most recent trip to the city. Located smack-bang in the heart of the city - one block west of union square - this 153-room boutique hotel fills up the very stylishly-refurbed 1909 Fielding building. With two restaurants and a gorgeous cocktail bar, Hotel G makes a very convenient base for exploring SF. We love the design - the old wooden and tile floors have been perfectly revamped - and we especially love the artwork. Hotel G has cleverly partnered with a San Francisco nonprofit arts centre for developmentally disabled adults called Creatively Explored. All the artwork you see - in the guest rooms and shared areas - is by these artists. And the best bit, the artwork is for sale, with all proceeds going directly back to Creatively Explored.
Other sleeping options:
Airbnb: one of the most beautiful Airbnbs we have ever stayed in. Beautiful design, exceptional location, and Zoe (a fellow Aussie!) is a kind, loving and energetic host. Look no further than this.
The Battery (boutique hotel/members club, right in the heart of downtown).
We didn't realize before visiting, but while on Kaua’i we learnt that the Hawaiian islands are the most remote islands in the world - the furtherest away from any continental land. Kaua’i, the ‘Garden Isle’, is the oldest of them all and has some of the most unique geographical natural beauty on any island on earth. Here you will find lush green jungle and mountains, pristine beaches, endless waterfalls, the jagged Na Pali coast, and even desert as well. Kaua’i’s Waimea Canyon is like a mini-version of the Grand Canyon. Its like a journey back in time; to prehistoric times. Full of raw natural beauty, it is hard not to fall in love with this magical place. Not only that, the aloha spirit gets under your skin.
We found so many things to love here. We could have set up shop and stayed awhile (a really long while)…but instead we are excited to share with you some of the favourite things we found in our short 4 days bopping around this island wonderland.
First though, a couple of (random) things we found interesting and some which took us by surprise:
- The roosters. Kaua’i has an insane amount of wild roosters!!! They are everywhere. And the little buggers crow ALL through the night. So be prepared.
- There is only one main road around the island, and it gets busy. Be prepared for it to take a lot longer to get anywhere than you might have first thought.
- We were a little shocked to learn that four of the biggest chemical companies are based here on the island. About 90% of industrial GMO corn grown in the US was originally developed in Hawaii, and Kauai has always hosted the biggest area. The good news though is that there is a small pocket of the North Shore who are trying to promote a non-GMO island. They are currently working towards banning all GMO products - and there is a real focus on healthy living and living sustainable off the island (currently the island still imports 90% of its goods).
- There is a little local bird we loved called the red-crested cardinal, which can be identified by its (surprise, surprise) red head; we also found some cute geckos as well - the gold dust day gecko (a bright green or yellowish green colour, and sometimes even in blue).
Sushi girl: a totally awesome find (thanks for the reco, Eddi) - a tiny little hole-in-the-wall sushi joint sandwiched between a couple of shops on the road to the Na Pali Coast State Park. The perfect place to stop for a quick lunch to-go before or after your hike. Fresh and delicious Japanese maki rolls, wraps and salads with fresh ahi tuna. The serves are big (we ordered the kids maki roll and it was huge).
Healthy hut: for everything! We love it here. We would stop by each day for healthy snacks, juices, even some organic wine (and the taco truck next door is good if you are just wanting a quick and cheap dinner on the run. We had a grilled fish taco and the carne asada taco and they were both pretty good - the meat one definitely better though).
Barracuda: for a really beautiful tapas dinner. Grab a seat at the bar (but get there early, they open at 5:30pm but there will likely be a queue out the door from 5pm). They do also take reservations though if you are wanting a table.
Hanalei Bread: for seriously good artisanal sourdough bread. We were so happy to find this place. The bread is delicious and just the way we like it. They do a decent coffee and good breakfasts as well.
Harvest Market Hanalei: a great health food store for smoothies, salads, and a whole bunch of organic, gluten-free, raw and local products.
Lighthouse Bistro: the setting is nothing to write home about, but the food is pretty good. Come here especially for their free-range pork steak (another good reco thanks Eddi).
Mermaids: for their ahi nori wrap (seared ahi, brown rice, cucumber, nori, wasabi cream and shoyu, rolled in a spinach wrap). Open until 9pm.
Kalalea Juice Hale: this became our daily fix. The cutest little orange food stand just off the main road heading north out of Kapaa. Family-run and super friendly, come here for their Acai bowls and delicious smoothies (with homemade nut and coconut milks).
Kauai Juice Co: for great organic, cold-pressed juices in cute glass bottles. Two locations: Kapaa (next to Rainbow Living Foods), and Kilauea (right by Metamorphous Yoga).
Rainbow Living Foods: for all things local, organic, vegan, gluten-free and raw. Fresh juices and smoothies, local coconuts, kale salads, raw falafel, and delicious raw desserts. Closes at 5pm.
Wishing Well shaved ice truck: for coconuts, smoothies, ace bowls and shaved ice.
Java Kai: a cute cafe that is connected to the Shipwrecked lifestyle boutique next door (we like to sit on the tables out the front of Shipwrecked). We tried their ‘power’ bowl one morning and it definitely filled a gap. Juices, smoothies and sweet stuff as well.
Hukilau Lanai: come here if you are in the mood for some old-school Hawaiian. Using local ingredients and products from Kaua’i and the other neighbour islands. We were needing a meat fix and were recommended their filet mignon. Delicious.
Hoku Foods Natural Market: this is another really great healthy and organic food store, perfect if you are in need of some fresh produce, healthy snacks, drinks, or raw food.
Ha Coffee Bar: in Lihue, for undoubtedly the best coffee on the island. Worth driving 20mins from Kapaa for. Owner Jeff, ex-Seattle, even serves an 8oz cup. We were VERY happy to find this place.
Anatta’s Authentic Thai: this food truck was such a lovely surprise. We were wanting a quick and easy dinner while we were in the area and found this place on Yelp. Holed up in the ACE Hardward parking lot, these lovely Thai women make really tasty, really authentic thai dishes. Fresh, delicious and super cheap.
Eating House: traditional and modern, locally-sourced asian-inspired food.
Pizzetta: we stumbled across this place by accident one night when we were coming back from Waimea Canyon. We were on our way to Eating House, but ended up going here instead. Craving a spaghetti bolognese, we grabbed a seat at the bar and were suitably impressed with the authentic bowl of pasta that was put down in front of us. A decent selection of beer and wine as well. The pizza looked totally legit, and the gelato was also great.
The Scorpacciata pizza truck. We never made managed to find this pizza shop on wheels before leaving the island, but oh how we wanted to. If you look at their Instagram you will soon see that their neapolitan-style pizzas look completely authentic and amazing. Using only local ingredients, they do breakfast and lunch pizzas only.
Shipwrecked: this cute lifestyle store next to Java Kai is full of cute summer clothes, swimwear, jewelry and our favourite (Australian-made) clutches by @happytiff.
Kiko Kauai: for “simple goods”. Homewares, cards, gifts and other random bits and pieces…tucked down a laneway off the main street of Kapaa.
Hunter Gatherer: this is a gorgeous, cosy store in Kilauea full of eclectic art, homewares, jewelry, books, letterpress stationary, and other local artisan gifts. Its a really cute space.
Check out the Friday market at Warehouse 3540: held in Lawai on every Friday from 9am-1pm. A bunch of different vendors including those selling fresh produce, coffee, clothing, and food (the pizza truck might be there)!
Farmers Markets: there are so many amazing farmers markets on the island - pretty much a different one on every day. Check out tastinekauai.com for the weekly line-up. We loved the one in Waipea on Tuesday afternoon.
First things first, rent a car. It is essential here for getting around the island. It would be impossible without one.
Hike: there are endless options, but don’t miss the infamous Kalalau Trail along the Na Pali Coast - an 11 mile trail that takes you from Ke’e Beach (at “the end of the road”) to Kalalau Beach along the Na Pali Coast. The trail traverses 5 valleys before ending at Kalalau Beach where it is blocked by sheer and rugged cliffs. If you are just wanting a short day hike, take the 2 mile trail to Hanakapi’ai beach (it took us 45mins each way). The scenery is absolutely, mind-blowingly spectacular. The trail is dusty (and often muddy), steep in parts, and so incredibly beautiful. Otherwise, pack a bag, check out the camping permits, and stay awhile. Camping is only allowed at Hanakoa or Kalalau.
Check out all the beaches…some of our favorites include Secret Beach, Molooa Bay, Ke’e beach.
Take a helicopter ride over Waimea Canyon State Park. Or drive up into the canyon around sunset. Often described as ‘the grand canyon of the pacific’, it might not be as big or as old as its Arizona cousin, but we found it to be just as enchanting. Stretching 14 miles long, one mile wide and more than 3,600 feet deep, the views here are over rugged rocky cliffs, deep valley gorges and tumbling waterfalls. Its breathtaking. There are some great hikes you can do around here as well. We recommend doing any of the trails between mile marker 14 and 18 (you will see cars parked on the side of the road near these areas). You will hike through forrest and then pop out into the canyon. Amazing! And if you are lucky, you will also stumble across a waterfall or two.
Surf. Again, plenty of options. But Poipu Beach or Hanalei Bay are probably the most popular.
Swim at Wailua Falls.
Yoga in Hanalei (Yoga Hanalei) and Kilauea (Metamorphose).
Eat acai. And lots of it. And shave ice. And poke. And try as many food truck as possible (our favourite ones are listed above).
Visit Anaina Hou (meaning “a new gathering place”): 500 acres of land in Kilauea that was purchased by Bill Porter, the E-Trade founder, and his wife Joan back in 2004. Bill (who sadly passed away last October) funneled generous portions of his fortune into businesses and nonprofits benefiting organic farming, recreation and community building on the North Shore of Kaua’i. Within Anaina Hou you will find the serene Stone Dam, a 5-mile Wai Koa Loop hiking trail, a skate park, playground, nursery and also (the crown jewel) an 18-hole miniature gold course. Not your average mini gold course, this is one that blends water hazards and other tricky terrain with a tour of Hawaiian ecology and culture in the lush botanical garden setting. You can rent bikes and tour the farm. There are 3 waterfalls scattered around the property. Buddhist statues. A thatched balinese hut. And you can also visit their organic and hydroponic salad greens farm. Its a beautiful place to visit.
Another hidden favourite (that you definitely wont find on the tourist map) is the Kauai Dharma buddhist sanctuary. Tucked away at the bottom of a lush green hill somewhere between Kapaa and Kilauea, we were lucky to get a tip off about this special place from our host Eddi at The Palmwood. We would have otherwise never found it on our own. A place for peace and calm, this is a magical place in the middle of the forrest. A beautiful Buddhist stupa (which the Dalai Lama has visited) sits amongst the pretty grounds.
The Palmwood: one of the most magical guesthouses we have so far had the privilege of enjoying. Firstly, it’s on Kauai (enough said really). Secondly, the setting is absolutely enchanting. The 3-suite guesthouse is set high up on a ridge (between the towns of Kapaa and Kilauea), overlooking lush green jungle and coconut palms, with uninterrupted views of the mountains. And thirdly, The Palmwood is run by the ever-so-lovely ‘Aunty’ Eddi and her son Mychael (both kind, friendly and exceptional cooks). There is a true feeling of warmth and aloha here. Eddi (an American of Korean heritage) grew up in Japan and this, she says, influenced her diet and cooking. She grew up on a healthy and organic diet, and this too is what she therefore brought her family up on - nothing processed, always fresh, local, seasonal, sugar-free foods. Eddi's daily breakfasts reflect this. You can taste the love that goes into her cooking. Every day, something different; something healthy; and something beautiful-looking. On our first day, Eddi had bought blue oyster mushrooms from her neighbors (who call themselves “fun guys mushrooms”) and together with organic kale from her garden, some bacon, parmesan and oven-roasted tomatoes, Eddi made an incredible open-faced omelette. Following that was a pretty looking fruit salad made from grated apple, banana, macadamia nuts, local honey and sesame seeds. We also had a fresh berry smoothie. Thinking it could surely not get any better on day two, we were quickly mistaken. Eddi served us organic scrambled eggs with homemade Kona crab cakes, roasted tomatoes and a kale (from the garden) and apple salad. Following that, a sweet dish of roasted organic pairs, figs and a grilled banana, in a ginger and coconut reduction, with yoghurt. It was mind-blowing stuff. Breakfast is served from 8am-9am, but Eddi has the tea and coffee brewing from 6:30am for those who like to start the day a little earlier (and the roosters might make sure that’s the case). Formerly a very senior banker in LA, Eddi enjoys a much slower pace now. Healthy eating and healthy living are her passion. As is her family. We had so many interesting conversations, and Eddi was a constant source of fantastic local recommendations - helping curate and tailor our days to include hidden and off-the-beaten-track local favourites. So many of the amazing things we found can be attributed to Eddi’s suggestions. It wasn't easy though. Always torn between wanting to get out and explore the island as much as possible, but also wanting to stay and chill and enjoy the peacefulness and the magic of this special place. We became addicted to the light at sunrise, and then again at dusk - full of beauty and magic. You feel a million miles away from anything here. And its wonderful. The Palmwood left a huge impression on us and we cant wait to return.
If The Palmwood happens to be full, check out the Hanalei Surfboard House as another option.
o'ahu [hawaii] - now live.
[o'ahu soundtrack. your rocky spine]
We were pretty damn excited when Jetstar invited us to go with them to Hawaii last week. An easy 10ish hour direct flight from Melbourne to Honolulu, we would be there in no time. On a mission to find some beautiful off-the-beaten track places and things, we were pumped. Hawaii had always been high on our travel wishlist (well, Kauai anyway), but we had still never been.
So we were excited, yes, but admittedly a little nervous as well. Didn't Oahu just equal Honolulu which equaled Waikiki which equaled some kind of Disneyland meets Vegas/Cancun-touristy wonderland??? We were worried that there might not be too much to find beyond the ritzy beachfront resorts and a sea of Hawaiian shirts…
How wrong we were.
Not only did we fall madly in love with the North Shore (hello hot surfers, big waves, chilled vibes, and delicious food trucks and farm stands)…but Honolulu stole our heart as well. With so many cool little pockets, there are fun adventures to be had everywhere - culturally, in the arts, in nature, and on the food scene as well. Jogging along the Waikiki beachfront path at sunrise (or sunset) was pretty hard to beat as well.
We love the way the locals use the mountains and the ocean as a point of reference. When asking for directions for example, you might be told something is MAUKI (mountain side) or MAKAI (ocean side). They use Diamond Head (on the east) and Ewa (a town on the west) as well, “its the Diamond Head side of Cook St”. People here are incredibly friendly. They truly appreciate how lucky they are to live in such an idyllic island paradise.
The iconic Royal Hawaiian (where all our pink dreams came true) and the Halekulani (if you’re in the mood for fancy, pop up to the very formal Le Mer for a pre-dinner cocktail) were our pick of the beachfront hotel bunch.
Here are some more of other favourite things (and hopefully enough to get you started)...
To eat/ drink.
ARVO: a brand new, bright and friendly space. We love it here. A super sweet aussie/Hawaiian couple doing really good Aussie-style coffee (serving Sightglass from San Francisco) and toast - they even do avo and vegemite. they share their space with a beautiful flower store, paiko, in kaka’ako - the arts district of honolulu.
Marukame udon: the thread of Japanese culture has been tightly woven into Hawaiian culture, and as a result, the Japanese food here is some of the best you will ever eat. Marukame Udon is a Waikiki institution. Known for its handmade and freshly cooked udon, you’ve got to get here early. The queues become massive and wind all the way down the street. We like going bang on 7am for breakfast (trust me).
For poké (hawaiian raw fish salad - the most common kind is tuna - don't confuse it with sashimi, tartare, or ceviche though!): found a great spot (a recommendation from the young kid at the bike rental shop) called Ono Seafood in Kaimuki. It was a 20min bike ride from Waikiki beach and its a tiny hole-in-the-wall kind of place in a parking lot. No frills, but the ahi is fresh and cheap. Also try 21 Mart - a bit further out - but its renowned as having the freshest of fresh fish. Ask for the Hawaiian style poke. They don't mix it until you order (unlike most of the others). And for those who are not familiar, Ahi poke is an amazing combination of tuna, soy sauce, sea salt, green onions, maui onions and limu.
Peace Cafe: for breakfast, lunch or dinner - friendly, vegan and wholesome. we loved our nori bowl - black rice, sautéed greens, coconut kale, beans, tahini and sprouts. We hear the Kinako (a japanese powder) iced latte and avocado sandwich are both good as well.
Brue bar: before we found arvo, we found Brue bar. With a couple of locations around town, they do a decent coffee as well.
Any of Ed Kenney's restaurants in Kaimuki. We ate at TOWN (the food was amazing - order the gnocchi), but we preferred the feel of Mud Hen Water across the road. It has a cute fairy-lit outdoor courtyard. Kaimuki Superette is next to that, and is daytime only.
Kim Chee 2: for cheap and cheerful, no-frills bibimbap (next to Peace cafe).
Lucky Belly: a relative newie in Chinatown. Go for the ramen. Fun vibe.
L’aperitif: the fancy cocktail in La Mer, upstairs at the Halekulani hotel. Its quite formal, so leave your flip flops and t-shirts behind.
Wing ice cream: for delicious handmade ice cream (We like the vegan flavors best) with not-so friendly vibes!
Musubi & Bento Iyasume: for a quick bite on the run. This was our favourite hole-in-the-wall find. Super fresh (the rice is still warm) japanese rice balls - pick your filling (we like salmon) and then wrap in nori. They do a few bowls as well. Cute and friendly.
Pig and the Lady: try the pho french dip sandwich, and the sprouting seed salad.
Livestock Tavern: american plates and classic cocktails in chinatown.
Beerworks: a microbrewery in kakaako. Plenty of beer and good vibes.
Pioneer Saloon: a really cute Japanese spot (think big windows and lots of potted plants) in Diamond Head that does great ramen burgers.
Diamond Head Cove Health Bar: for great salads, smoothies and big cups of acai.
Sunny Days (next to the Diamond Head Cove Health bar): for an absolutely gorgeous and sunny cafe doing great breakfast and lunch food.
MONO: a well-curated design store with books, bags (fallraven), and japanese notebooks and stationary.
Paiko Flowers: a beautiful flower shop (which shares its space with ARVO coffee).
Chinatown: a fun place to wander. There are a bunch of cute stores. We like Owens and Co.
Creative Nails: if you need a mani/pedi…this no-frills nail bar in Diamond Head did a great job, and waxing as well.
Diamond head crater hike: this is a steep, but simple hike that is less about nature and more about the views (back over Waikiki). It gets pretty hot, so take a hat and water.
Likeke Falls hike: for a beautiful waterfall hike hidden deep in the rainforest (its 4miles return).
Rent a surfboard, paddle board or bikes.
Check out Lana Lane Studios: an artist collective in Kakaako full of designers, fine artists, photographers, videographers and more. Amazing street art in the nearby laneways as well.
Elephant truck: for thai. This was our favourite food truck on the North Shore. Some of the best thai we have had.
Haleiwa Acai Bowl: for awesome acai bowls out of a cute little beach shack hut.
Pukukea Grill food truck: for their ahi tuna poke bowl.
Acai from the Brazilian food truck opposite Pipeline beach.
Giovanni's Shrimp Truck for their shrimp scampi plate (add a side of hot sauce).
Bonzai Sushi: for really fresh and delicious sushi in a little Haleiwa strip mall.
Celestial Natural Foods (a gorgeous and cosy health food store), and the beet box cafe: for healthy lunches, juices and smoothies.
Surf (if you’re really good, or brave). Or just watch instead. Mind-blowing stuff.
Check out the local farmers markets and farm stands. They’re everywhere.
Hit up the food trucks.
Hang on Sunset Beach - our favorite.
Watch the gun surfers at Pipeline.
Swim at waimea beach, quieter and more calm.
Yoga (a few different options around Haleiwa).
We headed east to Kailua to hike the Lanikai Pillbox trail. We only had half a day there, but found a few cute things.
Nalu Bowls in Kailua (funnily the same name as our favorite acai bowl spot in bali) -same kind of deal. Acai bowls, smoothies, salads and other healthy stuff.
Wholefoods: one of our favourite places in the world, haha. This is a small one, but perfect if you need to grab some snacks, a smoothie, or a lunch on the run.
Oliver: this tiny little men’s store is perfect. Jam-packed full of some of our favourite brands, its a must-stop when passing through Kailua.
Olive: the little sister to Oliver. This is their women’s version.
Aloha Beach Club: great street wear, and a little coffee counter as well.
Hike pillbox trail: the trailhead starts in the backstreets of Kailua and takes you up a steep rocky climb to some amazing views over Lanikai Beach. Dont stop at the first pillbox. Dont even stop at the second. Keep hiking up. The trail goes on for miles.
On the western side of the Bukit peninsula (just 45mins south of Bali's Denpasar airport) lies Bingin Beach. This quiet and enchanting pocket of the Bukit quickly became our favorite place on the island. Sheer cliffs that swamp lush green vegetation and coral reefs, stretch far and wide, straddling a spectacular beach - white sand, and clear turquoise water (so different from not even comparable to the beaches further north in Seminyak and Canggu). Home to one of the Bukit’s classic surf breaks (we heard it being called “one of the most beautiful waves in the world”), you scramble down a whole bunch of steep and dusty stairs to reach this paradise. Charming little Warungs and guesthouses dot the cliffs and the beach itself. You can surf. You can swim. You can paddleboard. You can do absolutely nothing at all. We loved getting up at sunrise, walking the beach while the tide was out, around to nearby Padang Padang (best before the crowds arrive).
We found our Bingin days to go mainly like this: eating a homemade Balinese breakfast at our villa (this was by far the best nasi goring we had on the trip), followed by morning yoga at The Temple Lodge (the most magical and mystical place of all) - and breakfast (if we hadn't already had it back at the villa) of their insanely good raw muesli with homemade cashew nut milk, followed by smoothies at the Cashew Tree, beach time at Bingin (or we would jump on the scooter to cruise around to our other favorite spot (near Thomas Homestay) - now this is paradise), a bit of paddleboarding or surfing for a bit, then lunch at one of the beach warungs (we love Sun Surf Stay for their nasi goring and Swamis for their hobo salad), followed by massages and facials ($17…whattt???) at Mick’s Place (followed by snacks of organic Balinese chocolate or popsicles - details below!) and a swim in their infinity pool, and then aperitivo at MU (they even do apertivo snacks like you would find in italy like mini bruschetta and roasted peanuts), and dinner most likely back at the Cashew Tree for one of their soul bowls (or maybe The Temple Lodge). You really don't need to leave a 500m square radius all day! Its all there. And its all absolutely magic.
The Cashew Tree: for breakfast, lunch, dinner and everything in between. This is a must (and only 100m walk from the Fraser Baye villa if you are staying there). They do amazing, healthy vegan and vegetarian meals. Its a big, spacious outdoor set up. Lots of comfy bean bags and different little seating nooks to choose from. They do a mean Acai bowl, some super wholesome soul bowls for lunch and dinner, beautiful salads, amazing smoothies and so much more. We love their frozen margaritas as well. Oh and their brown rice nasi goreng. So damn good. Thursday nights are always a fun hang too. Live music sometimes, and yoga too.
Fraser Baye: the super sweet staff here at the villa get extremely excited to prepare breakfast for you each morning. there is no obligation to eat there, but their food is so authentic and delicious and really shouldn't be missed. their nasi goring was the best one we had all trip. great fresh juices as well.
The Temple Lodge: we are totally in love with this magical place. Walking in, you feel like you’re entering the magic faraway tree or somewhere equally as mystical. Through hanging vines and gorgeous flowers, you arrive at a cute little dining area around the pool, with stunning views over the cliffs to the ocean. We had our favorite post-yoga breakfast here - a raw muesli bowl that was filled with grated apple, raw granola and topped with dragon fruit and honey - covered in homemade cashew nut milk. when we ran out of milk, we kindly requested some more. taking awhile to come out, we could hear a blender working frantically in the background, and we then realized that the cashews were actually being blended then and there to be turned into milk. Fresh to order! We almost wet our pants with excitement. such a special touch. italian-owned and run, the food here is healthy and delicious. we only wish we had have had time to try their dinner menu as well, which changes daily.
MU: we never got around to trying their dinners, but the daily set menu always looked pretty amazing. French-owned, this place is full of charm and is perfectly located on the cliffs. The views are spectacular and they do a delicious fresh juice or cocktail (we love their aperitivo snacks that come out in time for your sundowner).
Sun Surf Stay: for really, really good Balinese food. We love this place smack bang on Bingin Beach. Super friendly vibes. Cheap rooms (from $40 a night). Great food. Its simple done well - light, bright, breezy, beachy perfect.
Mick’s Place: we came here to check out their amazing day spa (on the back of a reco from Fraser Baye) and while doing so found (and fell madly in love with) a balinese brand of organic dark chocolate. so much so, we looked into importing it back to australia!!! thick, dark, and really textural (with a coconut and almond butter base, and full of almonds and some spices as well). its amazing! we would stop past Mick's each day to stock up again. you can also find it at the bali buda health food stores. try some! the other snack we discovered at mick’s were the #madpopsbali. now officially our favorite popsicle brand, they not only have a very cool website (madpopsbali.com) but they make awesomely delicious flavours like banana/dark chocolate, raspberry/dark chocolate, mango/ coconut, coffee coconut/vegan chocolate crunch, and mango/banana/dragon fruit. so good.
Bukit Cafe: owned by a friendly Australian/Brazilian couple - come here for smoothies, salads and other good stuff. Its on the main road between Bingin and Padang Padang.
swamis: another one of the beach front Warungs (“great surf, yummy eats, clean rooms”) the food here is organic, vegan, healthy, vegetarian, gluten-free, and raw!!! Try the hobo salad.
Kelly’s Warung: another beachfront warung and a bit of a surf institution. Check out the Pitaya bowls and watch the waves.
Bumba Bali: not in Bingin, but (as recommended by Fraser Baye) ask their driver Wayan to take you to Nusa Dua for a very real-deal balinese feast at Bumba Bali. Only 25mins drive, the food here is traditional and authentic. They also run unreal cooking daystaking you to the market early int he morning to buy all the ingredients. If you eat meat, be sure to try the sweet soy port and the young chicken wrapped in banana leaf.
MU: our favorite place for a sundowner. We would come here each night for our campari spritz overlooking the ocean at sunset. Its beautiful here. Great little bar snacks as well. One night we met the cutest little 3 year old girl there - bronzed, blue-eyed, and the whitest of blondes - "Poppy" was such a character, so full of wit and charm and intelligence and humor (at only 3!). A wise little thing. We were loving eavesdropping on her conversations with her dad and his friend in the pool.
The Cashew Tree (always): for their frozen margaritas (or just a healthy juice, smoothie or coconut).
Suarga: on the road out of Bingin, just before the Padang Padang bridge, is this pretty spectacular looking restaurant/hotel. Having only recently opened, it took five years to build. The bamboo structure - the largest on the island - is completely sustainable and very impressive. The bar and restaurant here is definitely on the more fancy side of things, but its worth checking out - for the structure alone, and some pretty lovely sunset views. We hear the villas are amazing as well.
El Kabron: if you like gin, this is your place. the vibes are somewhat strange, but the paella is amazing and their gin menu is mind-blowing (but not cheap). Great for sunset drinks and dinner.
Yoga: so many options. We loved our 8am morning class at The Temple Lodge (the open-air space is stunning). The same teacher then takes a 9:30am class in the open-air Shala at MU. The Cashew Tree also sometimes holds a morning class (but the teacher was away when we visited).
SUP: we rented a board from one of the Warungs on Bingin Beach. Its a fun ride if the swell isn't too big!
Massage: again, lots of options. But we absolutely loved our facial at the day spa at Mick’s Place. For only $17, its a steal!! The open-air treatment room, smack bang on the cliffs, looks out over the ocean. Its amazing.
Padang Padang Beach: always nice (if not a bit busy sometimes) for a bit of a hang time during the day. A little cove where a stream flows into the sea. Park your scooter in the carpark off to the left of the main road, and grab a piece of grilled corn on your way down to the beach. Good surfers flock here for the tubes.
And check out some of the quieter, more untouched beaches nearby: the impossibles (between Bingin and padang padang) - for its outside reef break, balangan (so pretty), and dreamland (for surfers, this is a short, sharp right break and a longer more tubular left!). ha. i probably sound like i know what i am talking about???!!!
Bali Buda: our favourite little Balinese health food store. With a few locations, there is one not too far from Bingin on the road back to Jimbaran Bay. Buda means Wednesday in Balinese, “just as good a day as any other to begin a business”. A supplier of organic food and other conscious living products, Bali Buda makes delicious wholesome bread (and cakes and pastries) each morning, plus a whole host of other insanely healthy stuff. They also stock our favourite chocolate! And plenty of kombucha and kefir drinks as well.
Innika choo (@innika): this was another favorite tip-off by the team at Fraser Baye (terima kasihhhhhh). innika’s dresses are not only beautiful (and so totally up our alley!!), but her photos are amazing as well. Her children make for the most gorgeous and unassuming models, and her shoots are always jam-packed full of color and patterns and fun. One of our new favorite instagram feeds for sure.
Fraser Baye: this is the most perfect sleeping option for a group. two lovely villas on the same leafy property, surrounding a cute pool (you can book both at the same time, or just one if you would prefer). there’s a gorgeous little poolside kitchen, which is staffed all day and acts as your own private cafe. the local girls who work there are sublimely sweet and friendly. their food is fresh and delicious. we loved their generous and healthy fruit platters each morning, their fresh juices and smoothies, and my favorite - their nasi goring (for breakfast). the villas themselves are two-story, and light, bright and spacious. the bathroom and living areas are all outdoors - we loved showering outside each morning, and jumping in the big stone bath! its amazing. it might not be bang on the cliffs, but its only a short 500m walk down from there down to the beach…and even better, its pretty much right next door to the cashew tree. a great sleeping option. we loved our time there.
If its just two of you, we would recommend any of the cliffside options: Mick's (check out their honeymoon suite), MU (likewise, ask to see their honeymoon suite, or the suite that's built into the cliff-face itself), The Temple Lodge (pure magic), Sun Surf Stay (beachfront and crazy cheap), and another favorite of ours, the all-white, all bright, hidden little beachfront spot, Sal Secret Spot. Just remember though, for the guest houses on the beach (Sun Surf Stay, Sal's etc.) you will have to carry your luggage and boards down a million and one steep dusty stairs...so keep that in mind when packing. Soft shoulder bags better than wheelie suitcases for this one, thats for sure.
And finally…if you are looking for a really really budget option, we can recommend the Bingin Inn. We ended up staying here very randomly and very last-minute when we decided to return to Bingin for an extra night, and everything else was full. We were in a cab driving past and it looked quite leafy and cute, so we stopped and asked about rooms. For $25, you get a simple, clean room. You can also rent scooters for $6 a day. And there is even a little pool. Its basic, but its friendly and its on the road to Bingin - so its close to all our favourite things.
Before arriving in Bali we were told by more than one friend that Canggu is probably the hippest (as much as we don't love that word) place to be right now. In amongst the lush green rice paddies, and between all the awesome waves, are tonnes of young, fun, interesting and creative people - from all over the world - who are flocking here to live the good life in this friendly corner of Bali. There is definitely a good energy here. We felt it immediately. So much so, that after spending our first night there…we then made sure our last couple of days would be spent here too. Only 20mins from busy Seminyak (far too busy and built up for us), Canggu is much quieter and less developed (so far, anyway). There are stacks of healthy and amazing food places, great coffee joints, cute interior stores, boutiques, old refurbed motorbikes, surf shops, bars, yoga studios and plenty of massage places to be found. We like the vibe here, a lot.
Here are some of our favorite things:
Crate: seriously good coffee, the way we like it at home (in melbourne). Friendly vibes and always busy. Amazing food as well. Open every day from 7am-3pm.
Peloton: only two months old, but so slick and professional it feels like they've been there forever. The coffee (by Revolver) is good, really good. They are vegan here though - so don't come looking for cow’s milk! Try their coconut milk latte. Delicious.
Quince: our all-time favorite Canggu find. Run by the most delightful Australian/Balinese couple, Quince is not only aesthetically stunning…but every single thing that comes out of their loving kitchen will blow your mind. The love that goes into each coffee can be tasted in every sip. This is a really special place, and our absolute favourite.
Betelnut: we ate here three times in three days! We cant get enough of this place. A rustic two story restaurant that is packed to the rafters every night. Its healthy, its amazingly fresh and delicious, and its crazy affordable. We love their Gado Gado, their Nasi Campur, their great salads, and their wraps. Try their delicious fresh juices and their raw desserts as well. In fact, try everything on the menu. We love it here.
Peloton: try this awesome new vegan cafe/artisan cycling store/event space for some seriously delicious, fresh and healthy vegan food. We love their Pantani Porridge (coconut and quinoa porridge served with sautéed banana, berry coulis, coco-nut nectar, fresh strawberries, and toasted coconut flakes) for breakfast, and their Fuel Good salad for lunch (Kale, Spinach, Purple Cabbage, Capsicum, Broccoli, Mild Chillies, Carrot, Beetroot, Green Onion, Toasted Pumpkin & Sunflower Seeds, Sesame, Smashed Pumpkin and Hummus.
Crate: for coffee, breakfast and lunch. Its not only the coffee that is delicious here. Try their delicious (and big) breakfasts. We loved all their breakfast bowls (and their hilarious names). The egg dishes looked amazing as well. Its always busy and vibey and fun.
Quince: for their EVERYTHING - but especially for their coffee, their homemade lemonade, their quinoa porridge and their chicken baguettes (the best french baguette you will have this side of paris!). And their lovely chats.
Roti shop: we actually ran out of time to try this cute spot, but we hear its quite the bomb. We like roti. We like curry. And they apparently do both exceptional well. Very legit we hear. You might even think you’re in Sri Lanka. Worth a shot.
Bu Mi: get to this buffet type set-up on Batu Balong really early if you want to nab the freshest and best selection of their daily food offering. Traditional and delicious balinese options - we love their nasi campur.
Boulangerie Paris Baguette: now this - a french bakery in the heart of bali - was another one of our favorite local finds (and one we are somewhat reluctant to share)!!! A little slice of Paris in Canggu, seriously. We were given the tip-off by Michelle and Armed - the kind folk at Quince - as these are the baguettes they use for their lunch menu. So perfectly french (the owner apparently imports the flour from France), their baguettes are crunchy on the outside and soft, chewy (and hopefully still warm) on the inside. They are honestly heaven. Get there early - you wont want to miss out. And make sure you try the homemade baguettes at Quince as well - like i said earlier - they will not only be so aesthetically pleasing on your eye, you will also be able to taste the love in the incredible ingredients and delicious combos Michelle and Armen put together.
Old Man’s: for beachy vibes at sunset. Head here for a sundowner and a bit of live music if you’re lucky.
Lacalita Bar y Cocina: this super bright and colourful bar on Batu Bolong caught our eye on the first day we were bopping around Canggu. All open-air and delightfully welcoming, Lacalita Bar y Cocina is a fun and friendly mexican joint (and sister to Seminyak’s Lacalaca Cantina Mexicana) that does a seriously mean Jalapeño Margarita.
The Deus Temple of Enthusiasm: for a drink on Sundays. This motorbike workshop/surfshop shaping house/gallery/bar/retail store has live music on Sundays and good vibes.
La Laguna: another one that we ran out of time to test out, but we hear its a bit of a boho beach bar kind of situation and one worth checking out.
Massage: day and night. On repeat. Our favorite (but certainly not fancy) massage was at the Canggu Day Spa - a very little and unassuming place on Batu Balong. Its not fancy, but our 1hr massage was heavenly (and only 100,000 rp or AUD10). Ask for Iluh. All the girls there are just the biggest darlings. They do a mean mani and pedi as well (for 170,000 or AUD17).
Another great option is Gold Dust. We didn't get a chance to try it, but we hear their 24K Gold Leaf facial is an absolutely heavenly indulgence.
Massage at Desa Seni: now this is a dreamy experience. Desa Seni is just a dream to begin with, but the spa itself is so lovely. Wonderful therapists and lovely, simple treatment rooms. You choose your oil at the beginning of the massage and then enter into an hour of bliss. Try their signature treatment, its brilliant.
Private massage with Era from Pineapple House: another awesome option. If you are lucky enough to snag a room at the Pineapple House, you might also be lucky enough to lock in a massage with lovely Era.
Yoga: so many options. We really enjoyed our class at Serenity. We also did a great Hatha 101 class (with Antonio) at Desa Seni. And don't miss Rachel’s (from Pineapple House) yin yoga class at Bali Fit (and if you are brave, do one of their other workouts below - see below).
Surf (of course). Not much to add here. Go down to Echo Beach. Get a board. Try your luck.
Workout at Bali Fit: we walked past this Aussie-owned gym on the first day we were in Canggu and admittedly we were a little frightened by what we saw. This is hardcore. But if you are brave, get in there and try one of their infamous workouts (we hear the hurricane session is the one to go for).
You will find lots of cute little boutiques along Batu Balong. We bought a cute beachy dress from Melbourne designer Shakahachi. Deus has lots of great tees for guys. Closer to Batu Belig, our favourite store is Quince - for all things home and textiles (not only that, it is home to our favorite cafe as well).
Hotel Tugu: this is our favourite place to stay in canggu. Perfectly located at the very end of Batu Balong, right on canggu beach, this romantic hotel has an old-world charm and is filled with Indonesian antiquities. Its 22 villas and suites, bursting with colour and character, are set amongst lush green gardens and lotus ponds. The service here is incredible. Staff are so attentive and kind. On arrival, not only were we offered a welcome drink of our choice, but we were also gifted with a beautifully handmade flower arrangement (so cute!). There was a little welcome note waiting for us on our arrival into our room, and we were also offered a complimentary head and shoulder massage shortly after checking in. The location could not be more perfect. Opposite Old Man’s (a great spot for sundowners), right on the beach, and only 5-10mins walk up Batu Balong to all our favourite cafes and stores. This is our first choice when choosing somewhere to stay in Canggu.
Desa Seni: is an absolutely gorgeous and relaxed village resort set amongst the green rice fields of Canggu. A true cultural experience, and one that showcases all things eco, organic, health and wellness. There is a lovely energy here. Choose from all sorts of cute and charming accommodation houses (traditional “joglo” and “gladak” houses), do some incredible and uplifting yoga classes (multiple times daily) in one of their open-air yoga shalas, eat in their deliciously healthy and organic cafe, and try out some of their beautiful spa treatments at their onsite spa. Its a really lovely bali experience (just make sure you rent a scooter, as its quite far from the beach and all the action on Batu Balong).
Pineapple House (“rumah Nanas”): we loved finding this laid-back and super friendly beachy retreat on our last day in canggu. We know where to come back to next time! Designed especially for surf, yoga, wellness and creativity retreats, Pineapple House is a big, open Balinese house with 3 bedrooms, situated right next to Desa Seni (so perfect for joining in their daily yoga classes). Run by an incredibly warm and friendly Brit - Rachel - and managed by the ever-so-lovely Era from Bali, this is a really awesome place to stay. With a big open kitchen and living area, around a sunny pool, its a really friendly place to stay. Era is also an expert masseuse, so don't leave without trying one of her massages. And make sure you rent a scooter. Like Desa Seni, its a little far from the beach (too far for walking anyway) and the action along Bat Balong. Oh and try Rachel’s yin yoga class at Bali Fit on Mondays!
uluwatu [bali] - now live.
Uluwatu, meaning ‘top or tip’ (ulu) and ‘rock’ (watu), is the famed surfing mecca located on the south-western tip of he bukit peninsula. Home to the Para Luhur Uluwatu Temple, it is equally known for its waves.
Gerry Lopez, aka Mr. Pipeline, the well-known American surfer and shaper (now 67) first surfed Uluwatu back in ‘74. Back then the fabled wave was apparently pristine, magical and empty. Gary returned some 40 years later to discover it was no longer so. Bustling, over-developed and a different scene altogether - but not one to deter the throng of surfers from around the world who still hit these shores today to enjoy Uluwatu’s famed left hand breaks that seem to go on forever. It’s beautiful here.
Like its neighbor Bingin, Uluwatu also boasts a whole bunch of Warungs and little stores that are built into the cliffs (the Pecatu Village). They sell and rent out boards, paddleboards, touristy stuff, and provide food, drink, repairs and even massage - whatever you’re needing first.
In terms of accommodation, there is plenty on offer and something to suit every budget.
On this recent trip though, we were very fortunate to be staying at Alila Villas Uluwatu. Perched on top of limestone cliffs, high above the Indian Ocean, the views from here are absolutely spectacular and the hotel itself is outrageously beautiful. From the moment we got out of the cab on arrival (Alila provides complimentary transfers), our jaw was permanently dropped. Exquisite clean lines and minimalist design. Lots of white. Manicured gardens. A stunning infinity pool. But quite possibly the most impressive of all, the cabanas - constructed out of flat black lava slabs - these “bird-cage” like structures jut out over the ocean and around the swimming pool - perfect for lounging around in (and endless photo opportunities). Sunbathing inside one is like “sunbathing inside a giant Jenga game”, we heard someone say! But more on the villas below.
Here are a few of our favorite things for Uluwatu (please also refer to our Bingin guide for more to do on the Bukit)…
Nalu Bowls: at Single Fin (they have two other locations as well - Seminyak and Canggu). Hawaiian for wave, Nalu here in Uluwatu is the perfect place to come and enjoy your Acai bowl while watching the surf below. Nalu's bowls are full of local ingredients, homemade granola (baked fresh everyday) and lots of fresh fruit. Great smoothies as well.
Finns Beach Club: catch the inclinator down, and stay awhile. The beach club is located on a private beach that is part of the Samara Resort, you will be asked to pay about $30 to enter, but you can then redeem some of this back on your food and drink, your sunbed, towel etc. Be sure to visit at low tide. Bonfires sometimes, and good beats as well.
Karma Kandara: a day well spent. As is the case with Finns at the Samara, you will have to pay an entry fee to gain access to the Karma Kandara resort beach (around $30) but this will also be credited back to your food and drinks. A cable car will take you down the limestone cliffs to the beach, where its an awesome spot for lunch and a drink.
Bulgari Resort: for the perfect sundowner. Before arriving, we thought it might be a little too fancy for our liking, but how wrong we were. The Bulgari is an absolutely stunning resort - opulent and tranquil. A golf cart will escort you from reception down to the clifftop bar, where you can choose your day bed or bar stool and menus will be promptly offered and snacks delivered as well. I’m not sure if its just because it was rainy season (January) when we were there, but it was quiet and chilled and super laid-back and friendly. The views are incredible. The service was impeccable. A really beautiful place to watch the sun go down.
Sunday sessions at Single Fin: something we were told not to miss. We liked it here - yes, the views are awesome (especially at that magic hour), but it was very touristy (largely jam-packed full of Aussies (not that we have a problem with that!!!)). Its by no means classy, but fine for a couple of coronas or a jug of margarita to watch the sun go down. You cant argue with an Uluwatu sunset!!!
Suarga (see Bingin guide).
El Kabron (see Bingin guide).
Go beach hunting. Uluwatu is home to many of the island’s best beaches. Jump on a scooter (these can be easily hired anywhere) and explore. Our favourite…the beach down the cliffs from ‘Thomas Homestay’. This was the best tip we received all trip. A hidden little spot that we definitely wouldn't have found on our own. Look out for the Thomas Homestay sign on the road between Uluwatu and Bingin. Park your scooters outside of the homestay and then take the (hundreds of) stairs down the cliffs. Here you will find the quietest, dreamiest beach we found during our time on the Bukit. Its truly paradise (…so keep it on the down low ok?!!). Check out Balangan, Dreamland, Padang Padang as well.
Hang out in bingin (see our Bingin guide for more details).
Uluwatu Temple (Pura Luhur Uluwatu). Set atop the edge of a rocky cliff on the Bukit, this temple was founded by a Javanese Hindu priest in the 10th century. Considered one of the nine directional temples on the island, the temple sits 70m above the ocean below. Look out for the monkeys (we really cant stand those pesky monkeys!!! Sorry).
We must admit, we didn't actually see the temple ourselves! We attempted to…but the day we got there, it was super busy, and there were so many busloads of tourists and queues, and monkeys everywhere, and it was exceptionally hot and it was just all a bit much! We decided the Temple wasn't going anywhere in a hurry, and we would one day return to see it in the flesh. But for sure its something you should do!!!
Alila Villas Uluwatu: to say we were rendered completely speechless on arrival to Alila Villas Uluwatu would be the greatest understatement. Designed by Singapore-based architects WOHA, nothing can prepare you for the view that awaits you as you first walk into the circle-shaped lobby.
A super contemporary and architecturally-astonishing design hotel perched atop the rugged cliffs of the Bukit peninsula, the Alila experience is one that will stay with you for a long time. With exceptional views over the Indian Ocean, Alila’s design is both dramatic and eco-friendly, housing over 80 spacious villas across 14-hectares, surrounded by terraces, pools and manicured gardens. The harmony with nature is expressed in everything from the locally-sourced and reclaimed building materials, to the seamless transitions between indoor and outdoor living and dining. The most dramatic (and most-photographed) of all - the bird-cage like cabanas - made out of flat black lava slabs - that jut out over the cliffs and swimming pool.
Your own private villa comes complete with a plunge pool (which you can literally jump into straight from you sofa), a deluxe double bathroom (with a set of tailored bath products for him and her - we were obsessed with the lip balms), indoor and outdoor rain showers, and king size beds. The interiors are modern and minimalist, with traditional Balinese touches perfectly incorporated as well - recycled wood, stone, bamboo and rattan. Not only that, you are also allocated your own personal butler who is basically available around the clock to cater to your every whim.
Dine at both the Alila restaurants - The Warung (for traditional and wholesome Indonesian food) and CIRE (for East Asian flavours married with Western cooking techniques). The food is almost as impressive as the design. We had a 6-course tasting menu at Warung one evening which was exceptional. The Warung “Megibung” is a traditional Balinese dining experience in which people share a meal on a plate in a festive feast. The purpose being to strengthen a social tie amongst the village members. Our feast started with minced fish sate on lemongrass skewers, followed by all sorts of other wonderfully flavored and colored delights. Our favourites - the tuna salad with shallot and lemongrass dressing, and the green bean salad with chicken and grated coconut. So fresh, so much colour and so full of flavour. It was an amazing way to experience so many local dishes (we were bursting afterwards).
Breakfast each morning is served at CIRE, and is an indulgent feast. Each dish is tasting plate-sized, with the aim being for you to try as many dishes as possible. With both western and asian influences, it was fun to try some local Indonesian dishes we had never heard of (as well as old favorites such as nasi goreng). We loved the Kolek Pisang- finger banana in coconut milk, and the Pisang Bakar Coklat Keju - grilled bananas with chocolate and cheese (trust me). There is always a healthy daily juice and smoothie, and the coffee is good as well.
Book in for a treatment at the day spa (or try a few). Spa Alila engages holistic and organic health and wellness principles, putting a contemporary spin on ancient Asian healing techniques. The space itself is luxurious and inviting. We sank into a world of bliss with a totally sublime 4-handed massage. Two therapists, synchronized movements. The ultimate indulgence.
Rent a scooter. Alila can organize for a scooter to be delivered to your doorstep (and this was the nicest scooter we had in our time in Bali - a brand new scoopy). They also provide lovely new helmuts, bottles of cold water, maps etc. Everything you’ll need for a day out and about on the Bukit.
Check out Alila’s private beach (at low tide). Take the 600-step descent down a rocky cliffside path from the hotel to the beach below. The perfect way to work off your breakfast. Its a bit of a mission getting down, but probably a little harder getting back up! Its a beautiful beach, and it will likely be completely yours. The currents can be strong, so just be a little careful if you’re going to swim.
Rent bicycles and ride out to nearby rice paddies or beaches.
Take a tour of the temples - the ‘Journey of Enlightenment’ is just one of seven customized activities that are designed for guests to integrate indigenous nature, traditional culture and local community for an unparalleled guest experience. This tour affords guests privileges access to five of the holiest and lesser-visited temples on Bali's south coast.
And yoga. Make sure you check out the daily yoga practice that is held in the lovely glass box (it does get a bit hot though!) yoga shala at 9am each morning. This was the best start to our Alila day.
“Positano bites deep…it is a dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone.” — John Steinbeck.
This glittering chunk of the southern Italian coast stole our heart back in 2000, when we first visited as young backpackers. We were bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, and totally fell under its spell. So much so, Positano ended up playing home for a couple of months that summer (while we romanced local boys and rode around the cliffs, barefoot and free, on the back of scooters). We were 21. Not a care in the world. We had one local friend (our Positano insider, Raffaele Mandara) who we had met in Melbourne earlier that year, who took us under his wing. Positano born and bred, Raf introduced us to his town - his family, his friends, their way of life. The rest is history. We have flirted with the magic of the Amalfi Coast for 15 years now. It is also the place we met one of our best friends, our Toronto insider - Amanda Blakely - a Canadian backpacker, also bopping around Italy as a 21 year old. We met on the street, as a local friend was recruiting cute girls to come to his birthday party that night! It is home to countless special memories. Last summer, we were back there again - firstly with Amanda and some other Canadian friends; and then with family. The first time my two sisters and i had been there all together at the same time. Positano is nothing short of breathtaking. We love the trellised walkways covered in vines and lavender flowers, the colored buildings jutting out of the jagged cliffs, the countless stairs (a serious workout), the hot blazing sun, the crazy views, the sight of lemons - everywhere - and limoncello, the smell of wood-fired pizza, the striped sun lounges, the sparkling blue waters of the mediterranean, the hidden coves and private beaches, Da Adolfo (one of our favorite places on the planet), and just the Italian way. The food. The Spritz’s. The music. The feeling of old-world romance. Its our everything. We have kept our recommendations to just a few, but hope it will guide you on your way on your next visit to this magical part of the world.
Da Adolfo: our number one. See below.
Il Capitano: for dinner (go early, around 8ish, for the best sunset skies). Book a table on the edge of the terrace. Its heaven. Start with Campari, and then try the tuna tartare (wow). You cant go wrong with any of the pastas, as well.
Delicatessen: when you want a low-key lunch, grab homemade sandwiches to-go from the deli in the centre of town (up the stairs) - out of control goodness - big ciabatta rolls, ham, buffalo mozzarella, fresh tomatoes, basil, all lathered in a big dollop of olive oil. There is also another great deli opposite Hotel Poseiden on the main street into town.
Buco di bacco: this spot is always good for pizza and gelato (any time of day), but for dinner, go up to the very top floor. Not many people know about this spot, as it is generally reserved for hotel guests. Quiet, private, and spectacular views over the beach - more heaven. The food is excellent.
Casa e Bottega: this charming little cafe is a welcome addition to the Positano food scene. When you need a break from your daily pasta/pizza routine, come here for fruit salad, smoothies, healthy sandwiches and salads. Finish with a (not-so healthy) freshly baked dessert. All so good.
Case Mele: for something more fancy. Raf is an expert chef who has been cooking up a storm in Positano for over 20 years. His new space (summer 2014) is super modern, and a big departure from the traditional Positano-style restaurant aesthetic. He has an open kitchen, where he also hosts cooking courses. Try the raw fish plate, or any of his pastas. Raf is also a dessert whiz, so definitely try his trio of chocolate mousse, and the semi freddo. Tell him we sent you! Our Positano insider is quite the character.
Valle dei mulini: Raf’s original family restaurant. Good for pizza in a nice courtyard garden setting. You will often find live music. It can be found just down the road from Parcheggio Mandara (the garage).
Bar Buca di Bacco: for coffee.
Cafe Positano: a great spot for aperitivo. Beautiful views. The food is good as well.
Le Sierunse: our favorite spot for something fancy. Stunning views from their pretty terrace, and some fancy people watching too.
Music on the Rocks: Positano’s one and only nightclub. This is a must.
A day trip to Da Adolfo. This is also a must. Come here once, twice or as many times as you can. Our best recommendation for Positano. A super laidback seafood shack on a private beach (Laurito) a few beaches south of Positano. Jump on the little wooden boat (with the red fish on its mast) from the jetty on the main beach. It generally runs between 11-1pm each day. Spend the day eating mussels, drinking Campari, and sun baking on the rocks. Also try One Fire Beach in Praino - for the same kinda deal.
Hike/walk. Try ‘The Path of the Gods’: a simple walk, from Positano to Bomerano , with spectacular and awe-inspiring scenery all the way.
Day trip to Ravello (see below).
Day trip to Capri (see below).
Shop: at Lo Scrigno di Brunella for all kinds of linen. Locally produced, unique designs.
Residence La Tavolozza: our favorite place to stay while in Positano. We stumbled across this cute Bnb by mistake last summer. It is just the best. Basic and simple, and affordably priced. A great location (right next to Le Sirenuse). Breakfast is not included (but the delicatessen is just down the road) and our bathroom was just across the hallway from our room (but it was exclusively ours) - but some of the ones have private ensuite bathrooms, if you would prefer. We paid 95 euro per night (summer 2014), which is an absolute steal for Positano. Its literally smack bang next to La Sirenuse which is prob the most exclusive hotel in town, where rooms go for 800+ euro per night.
Villa Maria Antoinetta: if you cant get in to the Residence La Tavolozza, another good one (at the same kind of level) is Villa Maria Antoinetta. Run by a super cute brother and sister - Giuseppe and Carla - its also right in the centre, and they serve a great breakfast each day on the terraCe.
La Casa di Peppe: this beautiful guest house and villa is one of the oldest places in Positano. In a beautiful location, a little bit out of town, the private oasis is surrounded by a lush botanical garden surrounded by bougainvillea trees, hibiscus flowers, banana plants and tropical palm trees. La Casa Di Peppe is nice and secluded, offering a very private getaway.
Le Sirenuse: a luxury Positano institution, with a swimming pool and Michelin-starred restaurant. Only 10mins walk downhill to the main beach, this is a beautiful (high-end) place to stay. Gorgeous details throughout including handpainted Italian floortiles, an incredible line of fragrances made just for the hotel, beautiful linens on the beds, turndown service with chocolates, and a thoughtful handwritten nightly weather report, and a delicious breakfast each morning, served on the terrace.
We generally spend most of our time in Positano, so we only have a few recommendations for nearby Sorrento…but we can happily suggest the following things:
Gelato. On repeat. And we can recommend Primavera. There will most certainly be a wait, but don't let that deter you. They offer over 30 flavors, and they are all life-changing. Make this a must-do while in Sorrento.
Book a boat trip with Sorrento Experience. Old-school Italian wooden boats (think George Clooney), this lovely family business (run by our Amalfi Coast insider, Carla Celentano) has been in the boating game for years, and know all the best places to take you. We used them for a trip from Sorrento to Capri, and were not disappointed. Highly recommend.
Villa Serena: one of many beautiful properties listed through the Inspirato Collection, this large and luxury home - perched high on a hill just outside Sorrento - has views of the Med from every room. Perfect for a group, the property sits among a manicured garden, and is surrounded by a beautiful pool.
La Minervetta: a spectacular boutique hotel (originally a restaurant built in the 50s), sitting on the seacliff overlooking the Marina Grande. This breathtaking spot offers only 12 Mediterranean-style rooms and is a beautiful, modern, design sleeping option.
We only had one day in Capri, and were lucky enough to be accompanied there by the Sorrento Experience. We can recommend these things while on the island..
La Fontellina: book ahead to spend a day at this beach club. Its lunch only, and reservations are a must. Our favorite beach club on the island.
Da Luigi ai Faraglioni: if La Fontellina is full, this is your next best option. Lunch (lemon risotto) and lounging on the rocks. Book in advance. An amazing spot to set up shop for the day.
Al Piccolo Bar: for aperitivo (and amazing people watching in the Piazzetta). Grab a front row seat.
Buonocore Gelateria: for the best gelato in town, served in house-made waffle bowls. Join the queue! Their pistachio cookings are amazing, as well.
100% Capri: for linen everything. Caftans, sheets, homewares, and more.
La Minerva: a beautiful 18-room hotel, located on a quiet street just minutes from the main shopping streets of Via Camerelle and Via Tragara, overlooking the beach of Faraglioni.
A day trip here is essential. If its in the budget, you will not regret (or easily forget) lunch at Hotel Caruso.
Hotel Caruso: lunch here, beside the spectacular infinity pool, looking down on to the mediterranean is an incredible treat. The comprehensive menu offers a perfect example of southern Italian cuisine. Order seafood. Or pasta. Or anything. And start with Bellinis. This is an amazing eating experience.
Ravello Festival: if the timing works, be sure to check out one of the outdoor concerts, as part of the Ravello Festival. The tiny village welcomes all sorts of musicians - big or small names - who perform on a stage jutting out over the sea.
Hike/walk: There is a great 2+ hour walk that will lead you from Ravello to Atrani. Its steep in parts, but wonderful.
There is really no urgent need to spend any time in Naples, but if you do happen to have some time to kill (like we did before our train back to Rome), head to Pizzeria Pellone for some of the best (sloppy) pizza you will ever eat. A quick 5min walk from the train station (it is worth lugging your bags here - trust me), this pizza will stay in your mind forever. A Capricossa so saucy and cheesy and sloppy. The menu is Italian, and there will be a massive queue out the door, but do whatever it takes. You should not miss this.
Perisco Car Service: to get you from Naples along the coast (less hairy than the public buses). Friendly and efficient. They will sort you out with whatever you need, transport-wise.
It may at first seem somewhat intense and over-crowded, but there is a lot of richness to be found here in Greece’s capital if you have some time to get down and dirty. Unfortunately for us, we landed at 10pm and had to be out again by midday the next day, so there wasn’t a lot of time to really give this Greek Goddess a good go…but thanks to some awesome recos from our local friends – including our Athens insider– Fanis Fragoulis – we have managed to pull together a bunch of great little spots to give you a good kickstart for your visit to this city full of history and secrets.
Known for its vibrant nightlife, there is also an amazing creative energy here, a cultural edge - one that is even said to rival that of Berlin. Best to see for yourself...
Grecotel Pallas Athena: this is where we spent our sleeping hours, and we can absolutely vouch for this being the most perfect, and affordable sleeping option in the city. To be completely frank, we were a little concerned as we rolled up from the train station. The hotel building, with its super modern and shiny façade, was not our usual style….but once inside, it was a different story. We were greeted by the friendliest staff and shown to our room, which - complete with a ginormous blue hippo (!) - was light, bright and sparkling clean, with all the modern amenities and some great little design features as well. Perfectly located right next to the Athens City Hall, the Grecotel Pallas Athena is just a 5min walk from Omonia Metra Station (where the airport train pulls into), and only 10mins walk down straight down Athinas Street to the famed Acropolis. Each floor of the building has cute and unique design features – some amazing photography by an old Greek celebrity photographer (whose name we were unable to track down), and some great paintings on the wall. The highlight though – the breakfast! Possibly one of the best hotel breakfasts we have had to date. Plentiful options – Greek, Meditterean and Western – unlimited freshly squeezed orange juice, barista-style coffee, and amazing food (prepared using fresh products from the property’s farm, Agreco). A fabulous outdoor terrace as well. Concierge were super willing to help with directions, taxis (to Mount Lycabettus at sunrise; and also to the central bus station for our bus to Lefkada), recommendations, and printing services as well. It’s beautiful here.
Leather sandals: they are everywhere. And they are cheap (especially having come from the Amalfi Coast where they will set you back 80 euro a pair. Expect to pay no more than 15020 euro here – different colors, different styles. Perfection.
Sunrise at Mount Lucabettus: start your day at 6am by getting a taxi to the base of Mount Lycabettus, and then walk the short distance to the top of the hill. This is Athens highest point (at 277 meters above sea level), and a beautiful place to see the sun rise over a new Athena day. Watch as the colors change, and the sun illuminates ampitheatres, the 19th century Chapel of St. George on the top of the hill, temples, green pines, and mountains. And of course what we came here for, to see the Acropolis shine. A beautiful, and peaceful, start to the day.
Visit the colorful Central Market on Athinas Street (the same street as our hotel). An amazing array of delicious food – fruit, nuts and spices, meats, cheeses (try all the Greek favorites – feta, graviera, kefalotyri). Its hectic, its buslting, and its lots of fun. You can also enjoy a meal at one of the small tavernas tucked into the market, and hang out with the locals. We love seeing all the old Greek men sitting on the sidewalk enjoying their morning coffees.
Visit the Greek Gastronomy Museum: located in a 150-year-old townhouse just behind the central food market, this museum of Greek cuisine was started by four young locals and is run by volunteers. There is a lovely courtyard café, and part of your admission price includes a half-hour cooking lesson. For reservations call +30 210 321 1311.
Yoga with Melina: if you are feeling like a good stretch, Ashtanga Yoga Kifisia is the only place to go. Melina is the queen of ashtanga, and offers a range of different classes at her lovely studio in Kifisia – a space dedicated to the teaching and practice of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga.
Haircuts and shaves at Barber Stories. Cute retro barber shop on Kountouriotou street, Piraeus. Panagiotis the barber pumpes out old-school British haircuts, and traditional shaves as well.
Other recommendations we were given, but alas, had no time to check out:
Amin’s Falafel (Tsamadou 15): we ran out of time to find this friendly Iranian - Amin, but we have heard good things about this guy who sets up his stand on the pedestrian zone outside the Immigrant’s Lodge (near Eksarheia Square) and pumps out late-night falafel. Perfect when you are needing a break from gyros, but need a feed after a fun night drinking beers - Eksarheia style (i.e. buying them from a kiosk and drinking them in a park, or other outside place). Always packed. Serves from 1030pm until 2am on weekends. Not always there though. Risk it.
Santorinios (Dorieon 8): this beautiful taverna is located in a small enchanted garden, tucked away in the midst of the Petralona’s urban sprawl. You could easily forget you were in Athens here, more likely on some beautiful Greek island. Super friendly owners, service, lovely design, and great food (and prices) – this place is perfectly authentic, and a great spot to visit. Try the ‘fava’. Open Tuesday-Sunday.
To drink (these recommendations come from the king of cocktails – Spiros – owner of 155 Cocktail Bar in Vasiliki. The man can certainly be trusted when it comes to where to find a good drink.
42 Bar: one of the best cocktail bars in the heart of Athens. Amazing cocktails. Anything you can think of. (Closest Metro station: Panepistimio or Syntagma Station).
Baba Au Rum: this cute retro bar pumps out jazz and old “pop” tunes, and classic cocktails. An impressive list of non-alcoholic ones as well. (Closest Metro station: Panepistimio, Syntagma or Monastiraki Station).
And a couple of drinking spots we were recommended:
Tailor Made: one of the newer bars downtown. A special Micro Roastery serving some seriously good coffee, great teas, and beautiful cocktails as well. (Closest Metro station: Monastiraki Station).
Romantso(Anaxagora 305): right off Omonia Square, this is a cool modern bar and culture center named after the magazine that was printed in the same old industrial building for 60 years. The original neon sign still flashes on after dark. Also check out their other venue – an alternative arts space in Keramikos – Bios.
The train from the airport takes about one hour into the center of Athens and costs 8 euro. They only accept cash. There are no atms at the airport train station, so make sure you have cash on you, otherwise you will have to go back into the airport to find an atm (what we had to do)!
Also, Greeks have a bit of a habit of underestimating the time it will take to do things, or get places. So if you ask a local how long it will take to get from the hotel to the airport, and they say 30mins, always allow 45mins-1hour. We got caught out a few times because of this! Greek time. Got to love it.
+ like what you see? we would love to help curate a personalized itinerary for your next trip to athens (or anywhere along the way!). please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more info. happy adventuring +
Broome had long been at the top of our travel wish list, so we were hugely excited to be invited by Tourism WA to come and experience the magic and wonder of this far north corner of Western Australia. A unique town situated on a peninsula, where one of the world’s last great wilderness regions meets the Indian Ocean, Broome is the gateway to the Kimberley - a land largely untouched and unchanged by man. The pearling capital of the world, Broome’s people are transient and multicultural. Travelers from all corners of the globe are drawn here by the sun, the heat, the changing landscapes, and the laid-back lifestyle. A slower pace and friendly vibe. Broome can offer up a holiday full of total relaxation or one jam-packed full of action, together with once in a lifetime, breathtaking experiences. Here, you can choose your own adventure.
The Yawuru (pronounced ya-roo) people are the Native Title Holders of Broome and the surrounding areas. Warany-jarri liyan yargarrgi - means (in Yawuru) to agree with one spirit, one feeling and one mind, and the Yawuru people believe that once you have visited Broome, you will experience this spirit, this feeling and hold it always in your heart
We certainly will.
We loved our time in Broome, but even more so loved our time adventuring into the Outback. We spent time in the remote coastal areas of Cape Leveque, Cygnet Bay, and Eco Beach. Its hard to describe the intense richness of the colors in these parts - the redness of the dirt, the impossibly turquoise sea, the whitest of white sands - but hopefully our pics will give you some idea.
Some things to note (bearing in mind we were visiting at the start of the wet season):
- its gets hot - really hot - early. Don't leave home without suncream, hats, sunglasses, and water.
- shops in town close early. By 2pm, Broome feels a bit like a ghost town.
The Zookeepers Store: our favorite coffee in Broome (especially when Paul is behind the machine - hi Paul). Great coffee, good breakfasts, and friendly vibes. Opposite the Cable Beach Club. Known for their “cronuts”.
The Good Cartel: great drive-through coffee, just get there early. Opening at 4am (!!), they shut up shop by 12pm.
Aarli Bar: good coffee (and great food) in a leafy courtyard in the centre of town. Popular with locals as well.
The Zookeepers Store: as above.
Aarli Bar: for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Delicious asian-inspired menu.
18 degrees: beautifully designed bar. Good cocktails. order the Threadfin salmon (local to these parts) - it was served ona super fresh and delicious watermelon salad the night we went. great cocktails as well. we loved our Campari spritz. Ryan, the owner, was previously in the music industry with EMI in Sydney, then moved to NYC for a few years, before deciding to move to Broome (talk about a change of pace) after he visited for a 2 week holiday.
Zensai: great Japanese. the host dave, originally from tassie, is super friendly and loves a chat. We loved the miso salmon, and green tea rice.
Cairo Cafe: when Aarli Bar was (sadly) closed the evening we tried to visit, we stumbled across this low-key cafe by mistake. We were greeted by a super friendly and smiling owner, and really loved our totally fresh and delicious vegetarian platter (fresh falafel, dolmade, fried eggplant, pita, humus, tahini and rice). Not somewhere you would dine-in, but perfect to grab something to-go.
Matso’s Brewery: a Broome institution. A beer and cider heaven. Try the Desert Lime Cider with Wild Ginger. Perfect for an afternoon drink on the patio.
Land of the Pharaohs: when all you feel like is a damn good kebab.
Cafe Amore: for homemade pasta, tucked away in a residential part of town. This was one of our favorite finds.
Sunset Bar and Grill: for a cold beer at sunset. The location is hard to beat. Even better, grab some Coronas and go and sit on the sand like the locals do.
The Roebuck Bay Hotel (The Roey): a real-deal Australian pub. Broome’s original. Cant say we were tempted by its Thursday night wet t-shirt competition, but if thats your thing…
Cable Beach: the quintessential Broome experience. 22km of white sandy beach. Walk it. Ride camels along it. Drive your 4WD around it. Sit on it and watch the sun go down. Wander down to the southern tip to check out Gantheaume Point to check out the amazing red rock formations and to see the giant dinosaur footprints at low tide.
Sun Pictures: the world’s oldest outdoor cinema. A cute spot to grab a deck chair and settle into a flick (they show new releases as well as golden oldies). You can even BYO food and drink (although they do have a candy bar as well).
Town Beach: near Roebuck Bay for sunrise. This is where the locals hang out. It is also the perfect spot to watch the staircase to the moon, and to kick back with a BBQ.
Check out the Staircase to the moon: a natural phenomenon where the full moon rises over the exposed mudflats of roebuck bay at extremely low tide creating an optical illusion of a staircase reaching up to the moon. Most commonly watched from either Town Beach or the Mangrove Hotel (from March until October). Streeters Jetty: in Chinatown makes for some awesome photos when the tide is high. The water is like thick jade. Off Dampier Terrace.
Yoga: at the blue body buddha sanctuary. A beautiful open air community space just behind the Cable Beach Club. We did sunrise yoga here each morning.
Courthouse Markets: a broome institution. fresh local produce, locally made ice cream, and various crafts. every saturday (year round), sundays (from easter to october) and night markets (from easter to october).
Reddell beach: for sunset when the light hits the radiant red of the rocks.
Chakra readings and spiritual healings with Sage at the Ancient Earth crystal shop. Sage is an absolute character and downright legend.
Broome museum: for an interesting look at the history of this fascinating place.
A trip into the Kimberley (ESSENTIAL): more details in our guides to Cape Leveque and Eco Beach.
Cable Beach Club: easily the best place to stay in Broome. The location is unbeatable. The only hotel accommodation on Cable Beach. Lovely reception staff and family friendly (warning: there are kids everywhere). Great restaurants (Zensai our favorite) and some pretty luxe treatments in the day spa.
The Mangrove: our second pick. Located on Roebuck Bay, although it feels a little bit 90s-ish, the rooms have recently been renovated and it is fresh and clean. Beautiful sunrises, and close to Matso and 18 Degrees.
Byron Bay has long been a love of ours. This coastal beauty, with its laid-back charm and instantly calming vibes, is packed full of so much natural grandeur. With its long, white, empty sandy beaches and constant good waves, this beachy paradise is a magnet for surfers, hippies, poets, hipsters, healers, backpackers and dreamers alike.
Its all about healthy living here. And a lovely respect for mother earth. With endless farmers markets (our favorite is the Friday market in Mullumbimby), you can eat locally, seasonally and ethically. We love the closeness to nature and the lush hinterland, the hidden waterfalls, and the secret beaches. Byron days are long and luscious. They seem to go on forever. Our dreamiest days are filled with early morning beach walks, lighthouse walks, yoga, Brekkies at our favorite cafes (folk, bayleaf, woods, the farm) and coffee too (sparrow), then beach time, some reading, making a surf or a bike ride somewhere, some waterfall chasing, a sundowner at the treehouse or the roadhouse, and then dinner at one of those as well. Not only that, you can find good music here too. This coastal paradise draws awesome local and international music acts to its annual festivals…Bluesfest, Splendour in the Grass, and Falls. All good times to visit.
We also love spending time in the hinterland and other nearby towns of Bangalow, Newrybar, Federal (for Doma), Mullumbimby, Brunswick Heads and so on.
Byron Bay will shower you with love at any time of year. The weather can often be pretty unpredictable, but even if it rains, the sun will generally come out shortly after. Its beautiful here.
To caffeinate…try any of our favorites (more info below):
Bayleaf (and their new take-out shop next door, Leaf + Grain)
Folk - for breakfast and lunch
The Farm - for anything, but we prefer breakfast or lunch (not dinner)
Bayleaf (and Leaf + Grain)
Top Shop - for burgers and milkshakes
Naked Treaties - for all things healthy
Treehouse - for pizza
The Italian - for great pasta and cocktails (order the coconut chill martini)
Bay Kebabs - for a damn good kebab
Mongers - for great fish'n'chips to-go
Outside of Byron...
Fleet (Brunswick Heads)
Jones + Co (Brunswick Heads) - for coffee and cake
Woods Bangalow (Bangalow) - sister cafe to Folk
Milk + Honey (Mullumbimby) - for pizza
Punch and Daisy (Mullumbimby) - for coffee and breakfast
The Belle General (Ballina) - for super healthy amazing food and coffee
Go chasing waterfalls (so so many - our favorite is definitely Protestors)
Surf. The Pass is where you can learn. Heaps of other waves to be found all around though if you are already a pro (tallows, cosy corner, wategos, whites beach, lennox head etc).
Walk to the lighthouse - the most easterly point of australia.
Spend an afternoon at Crystal Castle - stunning.
byron farmers market - thursday mornings.
Mullumbimby farmers market - friday mornings.
bangalow - for their little saturday farmers market plus brekkie at woods and shopping at babylon, our corner store, island luxe, a cute books and record store, a cute florist, etc
broken head national park and whites beach (our favorite beach of all)
climb mt warning (8.8km return - about 5 hours)
drive "the rainforest way"
snorkeling or diving at julian rocks
spa or massage at gaia retreat and spa in the hinterland
The Cape Beach House - an old favorite (we have been staying here for 10+ years). Simple, clean beachy weatherboard house with 6 rooms and a delicious healthy breakfast each morning (not to mention the friendliest vibes thanks to gorgeous host, Katie).
The Atlantic - totally dreamy, right in the centre of town. This is a beautiful sleeping option.
Pip's Beach House: this architecturally-designed treehouse in Belongil Beach is spectacular. Effectively a whole house, it sleeps 2 people (but they will be adding a second bedroom/bathroom soon) and has direct beach access. It comes complete with a full kitchen, bbq, and eclectic, vintage furniture. Our new favorite place to stay.
Welcome to the precious natural beauty that is Lefkada (or Lefkas). One of the lesser known gems of the Ionian Sea. Connected to the mainland of Greece by a bridge, Lefkada is easy to get to. It is big. It is rugged. It is surrounded by insanely turqouise sea, and dramatic, jaw-dropping beaches. Charming little villages are scattered throughout, and olive trees dot the horizon. Locals sell honey from street stalls on the side of the road. Abandoned villages cling to the edge of mountains, narrow roads winding right through them. Fresh fish tavernas pop up everywhere. The Greek yoghurt tastes better; the tzatziki is life changing; and Greek salad is on tap. The locals are friendly and welcoming. Known for its watersports - Lefkada is one of Europe’s most popular windsurfing destinations. And as well as all of that, its conveniently positioned right near Kefalonia and Ithaca (two other islands we hear are equally as intoxicating).
Lefkada would have never been on our radar had it not been for our good friend (and local insider) Chrissie Argyros, a Melbourne girl whose father Stathi was born on the island. Chrissie – whose mother Jane is Australian - was born in Melbourne, but has spent pretty much every European summer of her life here on Lefkas. Known by her friends as the unofficial “mayor” of the island, Chrissie has spent countless holidays here playing tour guide to hoards of visiting Melburnians. This woman is certainly down with all the best, most hidden and local spots. I was lucky enough to join the roll call last summer.
Here we provide some of the (many) things we fell in love with about the island. Chrissie - and our other local insider, Cris Solvates - chime in as well with their favorite hidden hotspots. If you are still tossing up ideas for your next european summer vacation - add Lefkada to the list. Its one of those places we want the world to know about, but at the same time, kind of want to keep to ourselves. It's so beautiful here.
We recommend choosing one village as your base, then renting a scooter or jeep and doing a bunch of day trips from there. We chose Vassiliki (situated on a wide bay on the south coast of the island). Quieter and less touristy than the bigger towns of Lefkada and Nidri. And still close enough to all the good stuff.
Things we love:
More Faje yoghurt lining supermarket shelves than we have ever seen in our life.
The white paper tablecloths on top of restaurant tables that double as maps of the island.
Greek salad for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
4 euro bottles of locally produced Rose.
“Greek time” – if they say it will take 15mins, it will take 45. Don't believe anything to the contrary.
The gents club - the old local men who meet for hours on end at their local coffee shop each morning. We would love to know what they talk about.
The charming little villages that cling to the edge of the mountains, and the abandoned ones that are tucked away in the hills.
The Greek yoghurt at tavern oasis.
Restaurant “No menu” – for exactly that.
Rachi - in exanthia - for everything. This is our favorite place on the island. The view, the sunsets, the food, the beer, the wine, the good vibes. Oh and the best tzatziki we have ever experienced.
And finally - the beaches. Every single beach will completely blow your mind. Guaranteed.
Rachi: in Exanthia for absolutely everything. As previously mentioned, this is our favorite place on the island. So much so, we visited 3 times over 10 days. The location will take your breath away. The food is fresh, local and seasonal (we are obsessed with the vegetable salad with yoghurt, and the zucchini fritters - but everything is good). The Rose is their own brew. And the view - well - thats something to behold. Go before sunset, and stay right through. Grab a table on the edge of the terrace if you can. This place is special.
Oceans: for excellent seafood. Order the stuffed calamari, and the grilled fish of the day (oh and the rocket and parmesan salad).
Kima: for moussaka. Emelia, the owner, has been making the same moussaka recipe since she was a 17 year old girl (now in her 50s). This is a local favorite.
The bakery in Vasiliki (opp service station): for their spanakopita.
The bakery in Vasiliki (in town, next to grill house): for their sourdough bread, and their sesame/raisin gingerbread cookies.
Yianni’s Grill House: for the best gyros on the island.
Selitas: for Greek-style tapas.
Ta Katamia (meaning “no menu): for literally that. They will ask if you want vegetarian or meat. Thats it. There’s no menu (as the name of the restaurant would suggest!). A great, colorful, friendly, open-air dining space in a busy (not so pretty) part of town (Nidri).
Tavern Oasis: a little family-run tavern on the road to Porto Katsiki. We stopped here for breakfast - amazing greek yoghurt with fruit, honey and nuts.
Stavros tavern: in Sivota for dinner.
Agios Nikitas: for all its cute bars and restaurants. We liked ‘Nikitas’ Fresh Fish Taverna.
155: this is the best (and only) craft cocktail bar on the island. The two (brother) owners are ex-Athens, where they run a hugely successful cocktail bar there as well. Ask for the special marmalade cocktail (not on the menu, a trip from our Athens insider).
Tunnel bar: grab a drink and sit on the street.
rachi: for potentially the best sunset drink you will have in your life.
Any of the bars in Sivota: a pretty harbor town.
Copla Beach Bar: on Kathisma Beach if you are in the mood for some party beats, and pretty amazing people watching!
Beach-hop. Obviously. Jump on a scooter and spend days bouncing between: Agios Nikitas, Milos, Pefkoulia, Kathisma, Kavalikefta and Megali Petra (Kalamitsi), Gialos, Egremni and the Island’s most famous beach ‘Porto Katsiki’.
Its hard to pick a favorite, but we will go as far as to say our favorite is Milos. Only accessible by boat (or a short, but steep, 15min hike from the village), Milos is long, wide and incredibly white (sand) and aqua blue (sea). It would be awesome for beach camping. There are no ameninites though, so be prepared. Pack a cooler. You might find the odd donut seller, but thats about it.
Egremni on the other hand, is probably a favorite among the masses, and rightly so. Its requires a bit of effort to get to (we counted 350 stairs). Theres a fun beach bar, playing perfectly chilled summer beats, and cold drinks (no decent food though - pack your own).
Porto katsiki - another crowd-pleaser - is out of this world. Only a small stretch of sand, every inch will no doubt be occupied by beach bums, umbrellas, and families. Its busy, but its beautiful.
Lastly, we really, really love all the little secluded coves that surround Vasiliki town (literally named first beach, second beach, third beach and so on). To get to fourth beach (our favorite), look out for the electricity shed at the top of the hill (about 5mins walk from town), and then find the tiny walking path that has been carved out of the forrest. The quietest, and most hidden, and our top pick.
Jump on board the waterspouts bandwagon - windsurfing, sailing, paddle boarding and more.
Yoga (check if Melina from Melina’s little shop is hosting any classes - she is amazing).
Take out a boat.
Visit the nearby islands of Kefalonia and Ithaca.
Explore the island (there is a small church - where 3 nuns still live - hidden away in the hills. If you find it, they will open it up for you and show you through. You can buy their honey. This is a special experience).
Fabric: a well-curated selection of apparel and accessory brands, and very friendly vibes. The brainchild of our Lefkada insider, Cris Soldatos, be sure to pop in and say hi while in Vassiliki. If you pop a thong (or flip flop), you will find plenty of new ones here.
Melina’s little shop: opening in the summer of 2007, Melina’s little shop in Vassiliki is a cute and cosy corner boutique, full of bright and colorful jewelry, beach dresses, greek sandals, handwoven turkish towels, and other artisan products. Melina, who not only owns this cute spot, is a yoga instructor as well, and also the host of our favorite sleeping option (see below). She is a true darling.
Local goods (from the side of the road): honey, olive oil, beeswax cream, mountain tea, yoghurt, oregano etc.
Melinas rooms – this is our favorite sleeping option in Vassiliki. Right in the center of town, these clean, simple and bright rooms are totally gorgeous and very affordable (expect to pay between 50-60 euro in high season). Run by Melina and her husband (who owns cocktail bar, 155), this is a super friendly, family-run option.
What Brooklyn is to New York City, Oakland is to San Francisco. Still gritty in parts, but rich in culture, diversity and history. Cheaper living and constant growth has made it appealing to many finding it hard to cope with crazy rents in the city. We only had a day to explore this side of the bridge, but we loved what we saw (thanks to some awesome local lowdown from friends in SF) and we found lots of fun things to share. There were also a bunch of other recos that we didnt manage to get to, but we decided to include them below in case you might have more time. We know we will back there soon. The Oakland seed has been planted, and we want to see it grow.
Blue Bottle: our favorite of all the Blue Bottles we have found so far. Housed in the old WC Morse building, there are more beautiful big windows here than you could possibly imagine. A light, bright and happy space - the coffee, as is always the case with Blue Bottle - will not disappoint.
Bicycle Coffee: there is nowhere to sit or hang out, but the coffee is good (in the less pretty/more industrial part of town).
Bakesale Bettys: an Oakland institution. You come here for a fried chicken sandwich, and you come here bang on 11am (because they are only open from 11am-2pm, and they sell out everyday). Founded by a fellow Australian - Alison Barakat - these sandwiches mean business. A must when in Oakland.
Curbside Creamery: for ice cream in the Temescal Alley. Quality, artisanal scoops - both dairy and (amazing) cashew-based vegan.
Ramen shop: a purveyor of artistic, organic, and sustainable ramen. A must.
Temescal Alley: a cute little alleyway filled with bright boutiques and friendly faces. A barbershop, a florist, clothing, jewelery, ice cream, and more. We especially like:
Ali Golden: beautiful airy dresses, and other goodies, all handmade locally.
Crimson Hort: the most gorgeous plant store, for all things hoticultural.
Neigbor: a gorgeous home and garden shop with artisan and vintage pieces for home decor, gifts and interior design.
Cruise along Piedmont Avenue, check out these:
Good stock: for gifts and accessories.
Mercy vintage now: for awesome vintage and consignment.
Book a tour of St George Spirits, a Gin Distillery - their bottles are stunning. Im obsessed.
We ran out of time to check out these awesome recos (shout out to Timmy Crosland, Lauren Geremia, Ali Hall) - so if you go, let us know what you think! Need to get back there, stat…
Pizzaiolo. For pizza, obviously. Awesome wood-fired pizza. A neighborhood favorite. Get there early.
Chez Panisse, Berkeley. Enough said. If you are lucky enough to get a table, that is.
Ippuku: Japanese Izakaya style dining bar.
Penrose: for dinner.
Boot and shoe service: busy pizzeria.
Brunch outside at the colorful, Doña Tomás.
Kronnerburger: seriously recommended.
Real Miss Ollies: for Caribbean soul food.
Donut dolly: the daughter of chez panisse pastry chef, Hannah Hoffman now applies the same Alice Water’s simple, thoughtful cooking policy to her doughnuts. Amazingly interesting flavors.
Bartavelle Coffee and Wine Bar: for toast and coffee: great after a hike in Berkeley Hills.
Camino: a rustic Californian eatery, very photo-worthy (we hear).
Starline Social: a very new and eclectic restaurant, bar, and performance space on the edge of Uptown Oakland. Opened in April 2015.
Prizefighter: cocktails and patio.
Cafe van Cleef: for craft cocktails.
Heinold's First and Last Chance Saloon: a super old, circa-1883 bar featuring cocktails & draft brews. And patio.
Erica Tanov (Berkeley): for soft, beautiful, clean and pure women’s wear and home wear collections.
Tokyo Fish Market (Berkeley): Japanese grocery store, also carrying many household items.
Orpheus Island Resort is a little known jewel in the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland, Australia. A spectacularly beautiful, intimate and remote island resort surrounded by national park, this is a true tropical paradise. The island itself has 11km of coastline (most of which is bordered by the national park) and is surrounded by impossibly turquoise waters. This is the ultimate picture-perfect, pinch-yourself setting. Palm trees (have you ever met a silver “Bismarckia” palm? wow), tropical plants, a heavenly infinity pool overlooking the quiet beach, beautiful suites, outrageously comfy big white canvas hammocks, and endless options for action (think fishing charters, sunset cruises, paddleboarding, kayaking, day spa-ing, etc etc) or relaxation instead.
From the moment you arrive, the island’s super friendly staff welcome you like old friends. You are greeted with big smiles, trays of champagne and perfect chilled tunes that just float along in the background. Ranaul Crabb runs the show and is an incredible host. His lovely staff will have remembered your names within minutes of meeting you, they will remember your coffee order and have it delivered to your breakfast table each morning before you can utter the words “cappuccino please”, they will bring you sparkling water refills by the pool (because you opted for sparkling rather than still the day before), they will remember that you really, really like Aperol Spritzing (but with Campari instead), and that, if possible, you always prefer your scrambled eggs to be on the runny side. This is personalized service at its finest, and attention to detail like nothing we have experienced anywhere before.
All meals are included, and Indonesian chef Arie Prabowo, ensures you have something beautiful, interesting and delicious on your plate every time. He is also more than happy to tailor the menu to your liking. The onsite herb and vegetable garden (which is worth having a look at) plays a big part in meal time. Dinner time is quite fancy and there will be a personalized menu (with your name printed on top) waiting for you on the table setting out four courses you will soon enjoy. Where i had sashimi for my starter, my friend (who is pregnant) might have had something vegetarian instead. Or perhaps a grilled version of whatever raw thing i was eating. Thoughtful and considered each time. Some wines (by Victoria’s Fowles winery) are included. We loved their chardonnay and shiraz. If you are wanting to try something different though, there is a more thorough wine list on offer and those wines can be purchased separately. Our favorite meal of the day though was lunch - a different theme each day. We were taken from Indonesia to Mexico to Japan and on to the Middle East over the four days we were there. Lunch was more about big family-style, share plates with lots of color and flavor. The way we like to eat.
For lodging, there are four different room categories, each at different price points. If budget is no issue, we suggest going for south suite one or two. These large, spacious, light-filled suites are totally lush and come complete with your own private outdoor tub. Old black and white photos of the island back in the 50s line the walls, the beds are covered in pale pastel linens, the fridge is stocked with cold beer, wine and champagne, there is good coffee, iPod docks, robes, and so on. Enough to make you feel very much at home. You cant go wrong with any of the room types though (because lets face it, its not like you're going to be in the room much anyway).
Our island mornings would begin with a few laps of the pool, followed by a huge and delicious breakfast, and then some stand-up paddle boarding or kayaking out to the mangroves (before the tide went out), followed by lunch and a walk (at low tide) to visit the sea garden full of giant clams (these things are amazing)!!! For those interested in reef life, there is a reef research centre on the island which is also worth visiting. In the afternoons, we would bounce between pool and beach (and pool and beach), until it was time for our afternoon spritz. A long and indulgent dinner would follow, and we would then be tucked up in bed by 930pm. The luxury of island days that seem to go on forever. Just perfection.
At some point during your stay you will also get to enjoy a cute concept they call “dining with the tides”. This is where two couples are set up on the jetty with a silver service degustation experience. It was a full moon the night we were out there, and the tides were high. We saw stingrays racing below us. It almost felt like we were dining on a boat. Dinner started with an appetizer of 36 Hour Marinated Ocean Trout (with preserved lemon, apple celery foam, green sauce and radicchio), followed by pan seared dive scallop (with cauliflower, turmeric crisp and macadamia), and then fillet mignon (with capsicum jus, garlic cream, beetroot, spiced red wine, and roasted potato swisschard), with a hazelnut praline semifreddo with salted caramel and spiced chocolate for dessert. Needless to say, we were so full (but so happy) that we pretty much had to be rolled off the jetty back to our room! It was a fun experience.
To get to Orpheus, you need to find your way to either Townsville (closer) or Cairns airports. From there, the lovely folk at Nautilus Aviation will take you across to the island by helicopter. From Townsville its a short 20min hop. We must say, it was quite the rockstar arrival. The views on the trip over the Great Barrier Reef were incredible.
The whole trip to Orpheus completely blew our mind. Not just for its spectacular natural beauty, but for every little detail we were lucky enough to experience from the minute we arrived to the minute we (sadly) had to leave. It was an island we knew very little about, but very quickly got to love. Its a special place, and one that we are so happy to share with you.
taipei [taiwan] - coming soon.
sun moon lake [taiwan].
alila villas soori [north east bali].
nusa lembongan/nusa ceningan/nusa penida [indonesia].
southern ocean lodge [kangaroo island].
buccaneer archipalego [the kimberley].
cape leveque [the kimberley].
cygnet bay [the kimberley].
eco beach [the kimberley].
canberra [coming soon].
lorne [coming soon].
port fairy [coming soon].
somewhere in victoria [fields of gold].
castlemaine [coming soon].
bendigo [coming soon].
halcyon house - cabarita beach - australia [coming soon].
noosa [coming soon].
brunswick heads - australia [coming soon].
melbourne [coming soon].
wonder valley [what the hell is wonder valley???].
Less than 45 minutes from Marrakesh, in the foot of the Atlas Mountains, lies this incredible mountain Kasbah. Perched majestically on a hill, overlooking the Ourika Valley and beyond, the Kasbah commands breathtaking views - quite possibly one of the most spectacular settings of any hotel we have visited so far.
In a former life, owner Stephen Skinner was a barrister in the UK. Stephen traveled to Morocco for the first time in 1998, and this is where his love affair with this country began. He bought (and renovated) a beautiful riad in Marrakesh (Riad Edward). And then in 2004, bought the land here. Taking 5 years to build, the Kasbah opened to the public in 2009 (in the heart of the recession). Stephen’s brief for designer Romain Michel-Meniere at the time was to create a simple, Berber-style oasis.
Bab Ourika extends well beyond a simple oasis, this heavenly retreat is at once not only stylish but also eco-friendly. Made from rammed earth – a traditional Berber building technique – the Kasbah has admirable eco-credentials and sustainability practices. Thick walls provide environmentally sound insulation so air-conditioning is unnecessary, hot water (and underfloor heating) supply is heated by solar panels, there is a water recycling system, and there is also a programme in place to generate its own electricity and to assist the local community with projects funded by the hotel for the benefit of local Berber schools and villages.
Sourcing most of the furnishings locally, designer Romani Michel-Meniere paired natural earthy tones with Berber textiles. The Moroccan influence both lovely, and subtle. We love the hand-made leather chairs (made by local craftsmen), rugs and lanterns.
The Kasbah has 15 rooms in the main building and 6 suites, with incredibly comfortable beds, and fine linens. Most rooms have private terraces as well. At the time of our visit, Stephen was putting the finishing touches on a new pool suite, which once revealed, will be beyond amazing. To the left of the most magnificent herb and veggie garden we have ever seen, this beautiful new suite will have a large terrace and infinity pool, with sweeping views of the entire valley. It is so beautiful here.
We fell in love with the completely mesmerizing 360 degrees views of the Atlas Mountains and the Ourika Valley, the endless sunshine, the changing colors throughout the day, the lush and shady terraces and hidden alcoves. In winter, you can cosy up by the fire in one of the many common living areas.
The restaurant and the service found here are both outstanding. Rashid, our porter, gets a special mention for his kind, sweet smile and warm hospitality. Despite neither of us speaking the same language, we were able to communicate easily over my two day visit and Rashid helped me find friendly hiking paths and gave directions into the nearby villages.
This is a breathtakingly beautiful retreat, and easy to see why it was named one of the Fodders Top One Hundred Hotels of the World in 2011. We cant wait to return.
The in-house restaurant serves locally sources food, as well as seasonal finds from their very own (and very impressive) herb and vegetable garden. Traditional Berber recipes, with a more modern twist. Meals can be served in the garden or in the beautiful colonnaded indoor restaurant. Our beef tagine with peas was served with homemade Berber bread and local Moroccan wine. For breakfast, enjoy eggs anyway (try their Berber omelette), fruit salad, yoghurt, granola, and fresh bread. The coffee is good as well.
Lounge by the lovely secluded pool.
Hang out in the garden – find a shady spot under the trees – read, relax, play cards, nap.
Explore nearby Berber villages, and be sure to visit the local Monday Berber market at nearby Trine Ourika.
Hike, trek, ski or ride in the nearby mountains.
And visit Bab Ourika’s sister properties…
In Marrakesh…Riad Edward // In Skoura…Dar Faracha (House of the Butterflies). A beautiful private house with 3 bedrooms. Can be rented with a maid/cook, or without.
+ like what you see? we would love to help curate a personalized itinerary for your next trip to the atlas mountains (or anywhere along the way). please email email@example.com for more info. happy adventuring +
Texas’ capital is laid-back and progressive, with a strong emphasis on music, outdoor brews and good food…and where BBQ is a religion!!
The stereotype is true. Southern hospitality is alive and well in Texas. From pedicab cyclists to food cart vendors to skateboarders to shop owners and boot-scooters; locals here are warm, sweet and welcoming.
A full-of-fun, honky-tonking town on any occasion, our favorite time to visit is in March for South by South West (SXSW): the annual music, film, and interactive conference and festival, where 70,000 of the world’s movers and shakers take over the town. October is another perfect time (for the Austin City Limits (ACL) festival), where Zilker Park explodes with a sweet line-up of bands.
At any time of year though, Austin will impress.
On our first ever visit here, our taxi driver took great pleasure in educating us on “Stevie” Ray Vaughan, as we drove past his memorial statue in Austin’s Auditorium Shores Park. Vaughan was an American guitarist/singer-songwriter/record producer who was tragically killed in a helicopter crash in 1990 and was then posthumously inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2000. We sat there listening to the legend’s tunes belt out of our cab driver’s stereo. A fitting introduction to what would be the beginning of an Austin love affair for all things music, and more.
Aside from the recos below, grab a copy of ‘Rather Austin’. A cute little city guide that became our go-to – focusing exclusively on locally owned restaurants and stores. The perfect companion for navigating your way through Austin’s streets.
1. To caffeinate…
The espresso-based coffee scene is starting to take off in Austin. Perhaps not to the same extent as our favorite coffee town, Portland, but if you love good coffee as much as we do, there are definitely a few options...
Houndstooth: a handsome space with friendly service. You can even order a flat white.
Flat Track Coffee: a few locations, but their flagship store is a cute, tiny space with just six bar stools and an inviting bench out the front.
Wright Bros. Brew & Brew: we love this concept – equal parts coffee shop and classic bar, you will find specialty coffee and craft beer in a comfy setting.
Cafe Medici: good brews and snacks. You will find the Bearded Brothers’ bars here. We are obsessed. Raw, vegan, gluten and soy free, organic goodness (made in Austin)! We have also found them at Jo’s Coffee at Hotel San Jose.
Vintage Heart Coffee: located on the East side. Fair trade coffee brews from local roasting company, Third Coast.
Frank: the purveyor of artisan sausage! Despite their moniker being all around hot dogs and cold beer, these guys serve up delicious Handsome Coffee. As passionate about their sausage as they are about their coffee!
Patika: great coffee from a little food truck in the Warehouse District. A good place to stop on the way to Franklins BBQ.
Finally, if you are lucky enough to be in Austin for SXSW this year – make sure you pop by SouthBites – the gourmet foodtruck area curated by celebrity chef, Paul Qui. Perfectly located on Driskill Street, at the top of bar-crazy Rainey Street, you will find our very own HOUSE OF CARD pop-up coffee house. Our little cardboard house will be pumping out good quality Aussie-style coffee, including flat whites, lamingtons and Tim Tam slams!
2. To eat…
Elizabeth Street Café: if you only eat in one spot (which you wont...but this is how much we love it!!) make sure it is here. A hybrid of Vietnamese and French deliciousness, this bright and aesthetically stunning café is by the same folk behind our seafood favorite, Perla’s. We love everything about this place – the minty color scheme, amazing food, friendly service, the waitresses in their cute 50s style smocks, the Stumptown coffee, and the stunning outdoor terrace shaded by oak trees. We find it hard to pass up the luscious banh mi sandwiches served on house-baked baguettes, and the big bowls of bun (order the shrimp!) that come with vermicelli noodles and fresh seasonal vegetables. No bookings, so get there early. Any wait, however long, is well and truly worth it. We promise.
Perla’s: for any meal – but we love the brunch here. Grab a seat out on the oak-shaded patio, with its little white lights and great views of the action on South Congress. If you’re brunching, order the lobster frittata.
Brunch at Hillside Farmacy: with vintage pharmacy charm, we love this cute east-side spot. With antique wooden display cases, tin ceiling and hex-tiled floor all intact, the pharmaceutical theme is played well here. Great farm-to-table food options. Finish off brunch with one of their seriously good ice cream sandwiches.
Walton’s Fancy and Staple: a cute spot for coffee and breakfast. This lovingly restored historic West 6th Street building now houses Walton’s bakery, café and sandwich bar, as well as a florist and interiors store.
Dinner at Uchiko: a sleek and contemporary Japanese, offering pretty extraordinary sushi. Uchi is also theirs (in another location)…but Uchiko is definitely the “Prince Harry of the pair”…the younger, hipper version.
Check out Fresa’s Chicken al Carbon: for drive through organic, charcoal chicken (by the same people behind Perla’s and Elizabeth Street)!
Justine’s Brasserie: cute upscale French bistro on the east-side, with a lovely outdoor terrace. Always busy. Consistently good food.
Pizza from Home Slice: when you want something quick and easy. Home Slice pizza is a great option. Thin base, great toppings. We love it here, especially late night (after the Continental Club).
Guero’s Taco Bar: for margaritas and tacos. Fun during festival times. Not the best Mexican you will ever eat, but definitely fun.
Franklin BBQ: for your first Texan BBQ experience, come here – but get in quick (by 2pm we hear), and join the queue outside this turquoise cinderblock building on a nondescript street corner. This place has such a good reputation that the whole restaurant will often sell out, and fast. During SXSW we have even heard of people paying $15 per hour for people to stand in line for them! Gotta love anyone so passionate about their brisket!
East Side King: located in East Austin – this was Paul Qui’s (Top Chef winner) first restaurant – come here for Asian fusion, with a second location having recently opened on South Lamar Blvd. Famous for their Thai Chicken Karaage and Beet Home Fries. Also try the Poor Qui Buns (steamed roasted pork belly buns) and Brussel Sprouts salad.
La Condesa: the perfect stop if you are craving some modern Mexican.
Josephine House: this bungalow-turned-lazy-lunching-destination has only 30 seats. A cute spot to kick back with a few afternoon cocktails.
Food Carts: Austin loves a Food Cart…trailer, cart, truck, Airstream, wagon…any way they come, they love them all…and they seem to be growing by the day. Set up in parking lots, on sidewalks, parked in groups, or set up solo, they really are everywhere.
3. To drink…
Easy Tiger Bake Shop & Beer Garden: at the quiet end of Sixth Street, this “very Austin” hipster hangout has a bakery on street level, and a downstairs, tree-shaded patio and beer garden scattered with ping-pong and picnic tables. We love this spot.
East Side Showroom: industrial-ish, prohibition-style drinking den serving flawless cocktails.
Rainey Street: cruise down Rainey Street for a real nightlife block party. A whole row of bars and restaurants operated out of cute, historic weatherboard homes. We like Lustre Pearl.
Stubbs: come here for live music and BBQ. On Red River Street, this huge bbq joint with a dusty stage out back is an Austin institution. Regularly snagging massive headliners – Lady Gaga will be on a pop-up stage here at SXSW this year.
Boot scoot at the Continental Club on South Congress: an Austin staple, especially on a Sunday night. This is the Granddaddy of all local music venues. Awesome live rockabilly tunes. Be sure to check out Dale Watson: a local and legendary honky tonk and country singer.
The White Horse: another Eastside favorite. This hipster / honky tonk hybrid bar draws a crows of tattoo-covered rockabillies, two-steppin’ retirees, as well as hipsters. Showcasing some of Austin’s finest new country talent, the energy here is fun and debaucherous, and is best mid-week.
Contigo: created as an extension of Contigo Ranch, the beautiful elm-tree covered deck here is so popular that you better be willing to wait (sometimes two hours on weekends). A beautiful spot for a drink.
Midnight Cowboy: this secretish speakeasy spot is located downtown. With no sign, just find the door, ring the buzzer (titled “Harry Craddock”) and you will be let into this former brothel-turned-bar.
Péché in the Warehouse District: another hidden treasure serving up pre-prohibition style cocktails, specializing in absinthe.
Whisler’s in East Austin: a relative newcomer to 6th Street, lots of outdoor seating if you are looking for somewhere on a sunny day.
The Gatsby: Scott Cook can be found behind the bar at this little 1920s speakeasy bar, with a pretty back patio. Great cocktails. Pop in after dinner at East Tiger.
Ginny's Little Longhorn Saloon in North Central: this institution is worth a visit…especially on a Sunday, to catch a live show by Austin legend, Dale Watson. Stay for Chicken Sh*t Bingo (and free chilli dogs)!
5. To shop…
By George: for great vintage…check out our favorite store on South Congress. Think Isabel Marant, Helmut Lang and others, plus local artisans as well.
JM Dry Goods: If you really want to embrace the Texan spirit jmdrygoods.com : an eclectic, Mexican-influenced boutique, for your very own pair of vintage cowboy boots.
Another favorite is the Spartan Shop on South Lamar…”a carefully edited collection of beautiful, practical objects, influenced by the changing seasons without staying far from our core inventory of reliable, classic items”. We could literally buy every single thing in this stunning store!
Uncommon Objects: our favorite antique store. A huge space, choc-a-block full of fascinating things hanging from walls and the ceiling.
Waterloo Records: on North Lamar, this is the ultimate record store. An Austin institution.
6. To sleep…
Hotel San Jose: this is undeniable one of our favorite hotels in the USA. The epitome of understated cool. Polished concrete floors, music posters adorning the walls, an urban oasis. Ideally located on South Congress, this legendary Austin boutique hotel has a cute bar, pool, and lounge, and their very own coffee shop – Jo’s Coffee – next door.
Saint Cecilia: for something a little more fancy, check out the San Jose’s sister property - the Saint Cecilia. A stunning, secluded estate just around the corner– tucked off the main drag, on manicured lawns, with a large swimming pool and gorgeous bar. Perfect for a big group or wedding party. You might find a piano in your suite, or a turntable, perhaps a real backyard.
7. To do…
Visit Barton Springs: a set of four natural hot water springs close to the city. Come here to seek respite from the often-scorching Texas heat. Cool off in the pool, or chill out under the trees. A great spot to cruise around on bikes.
Head to old-school bowling alley/karaoke bar/dance hall Highball for a nightcap and late-night round at the lanes (especially during their extended hours for SXSW).
Visit the original Wholefoods!! It might not be at the top of everyone’s list, but it certainly was for us! This is the Wholefoods mecca. The original. The best. Wine bar, vegan food bar, you name it – they have it. Our kind of heaven.
Out of town...
Roadtrip to Driftwood, Texas: home to the original and well-renowned Salt Lick BBQ – a BBQ fanatic’s paradise. This sprawling campus of BBQ has been smoking, searing and slow cooking meat over coals for years. Since 1967, in fact. A short, scenic drive from Austin, come here to experience a big, honking plate of some of the best of Texan bbq amongst rolling hills, beautiful oak trees and native flowers. It might take an hour to nab one of the picnic tables, but kick back and enjoy the live music and atmosphere with other BBQ enthusiasts. There is even an onsite vineyard producing some decent wines under the Salt Lick Cellars label. Given they attract 600,000 customers each year, we figure they must be doing something right.
Marfa: if you have time, hire a car and drive six hours west into the high desert of the Trans-Pecos in far West Texas, to Marfa. An unlikely art oasis in a dusty desert town. If you can, wait until July so to catch some of the Marfa Film Festival action.
Stay here at El Cosmico: an awesome part vintage trailer, safari tent and teepee hotel and campground – come hang out under the stars with hippies, hipsters and artists – surrounded by high desert, art installations, an amphitheater and greenhouse. This place is something special.
+ like what you see? we would love to help curate a personalized itinerary for your next trip to austin (or anywhere along the way). please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more info. happy adventuring +
Barcelona. Known for its great quality of life (almost year-round sunshine, beaches and mountains), this artistic and cultural hub, is full of beauty and inspiration. “Barcelona nourishes creativity”, said Ferran Adria, chef and “Barcelover”. And you can feel that energy here. A perfect mix of all our favorite things – the beach, good food, design and architecture (hello Gaudi), open and dynamic people, lots of beautiful green spaces (and awesome views from Parc Güell) and great music – this is the perfect place to hang out for a few days. With streets full of history, there is nothing better than getting lost in the little narrow laneways that make up the Barri Gòtic. Hang with locals in Gracia, or find cool stuff popping up out of converted warehouses in El Poblenou.
With so much to do, and so much to eat (but never enough time)…we have listed below just a few of our favorite things (from last summer) to get you started on a quick 2-day visit.
Over the past few years, specialty coffee has really taken off in Barcelona, and you will definitely be impressed by whats on offer. These are some of our favorites:
Coffee lab & shop by nomad productions: this is easily one of the most beautiful coffee corners we have found so far. Jordi Mestre found this stunning space, tucked away down Passatge Sert in El Born, after returning from life in London. He returned to Barcelona to do what he does best – coffee. You wont find any food here. No different kinds of milk. No sugar. Just straight up coffee. Jordi buys green beans, roasts them and turns them into delicious brews. It’s beautiful here.
Satan’s coffee corner: in a beautiful light and airy space, tucked down the end of a laneway in the Barri Gòtic – Carrer de l’Arc de Sant Ramon del Call – Satan’s young owner Marcos is doing great things in the world of coffee. Offering a great food menu as well, and even better, very friendly service (shout-out to Marcos’ hilarious brother), we love passing by here.
Sky coffee co (check their opening situation – we think they may have closed this summer (2015)): housed inside a big El Poblenou warehouse (which also plays home to an architecture firm), the Sky Coffee Co serve their delicious brews out of a cute 1972 Citroen HY. We love a good pop-up, and this little guy is no exception. Sky was the first to bring good coffee to the Catalan streets.
Le Pepita (Costega 343): for tapas in a can! We love this little corner bar. Fun, noisy, and not only packed full of visitors, locals too. Try to book, or put your name down and wait awhile. We love sitting at the bar. Famous for their namesake – Las Pepitas (a thin sandwich filled with all sorts of different fillings – we like the tuna one with avocado, mitzuna salad and a ginger/soy dressing). Also try their homemade tapa in a can. These little ‘tapalatas’ are great. Not very Spanish, but we like the hummus with beet salad, mint and cucumber. Fresh and full of flavor. The argentine beef skewer with chimichurri was incredible.
La Paradetta: this place is not fancy, but if you are looking for good fish and something casual, come here. Choose your catch and pay by weight. It’s all about the food.
Mercat de la Boqueria: yes, it’s in every guidebook, but for good reason. A beautiful, lively market in the heart of Barcelona with great little food stalls, and fresh produce. Another one to check out is the (very similar) Mercat de Poblenou in the much less touristy neighborhood of Poblenou. Equally as wonderful, this mercat has been keeping the Poblenou neighborhood well-fed since 1913.
Plaza del Sol: one of the loveliest plazas in Barcelona, in a very Catalan neighborhood, this is our favorite place to hang out on a sunny afternoon. With hippy vibes, this is where the locals come to drink when the sun comes out. Music from the surrounding bars fills the square, and people sit around drinking and eating tapas. Order tapas from Sol Soler – cheap, authentic and delicious. Drink at Sol de Nit (which also has good music).
Barcelona Pipa Club: most bars in Barcelona close at 2am…but one bar in Plaza Real found a way to get around that, and that is the Pipa Club. By claiming they are a “pipe association” they have a late-night license until 6am. Best to go after 1am or 2am. A really fun club. Ring the bell and go up to the second floor. Relaxed, old school bar with lots of dark wood.
Balius bar: in el poblenou. We stumbled across this beautiful corner bar by mistake. The colored mosaic tiles out the front luring us in. run by a friendly Scotsman and his Spanish wife, pioneers in the bar industry. They were responsible for introducing the G&T to this part of the world. Great cocktails, and a fantastic local and sustainable food menu.
Gang and the Wool: a little out of town, but absolutely worth a visit. There is something very magical about Manuela Sosa’s floristry and her very special little greenhouse.
Els Encants: the oldest flea-market in Barcelona. Originally called the “Old Charms” flea-market, this renovated open air complex near the Plaça de les Glòries Catalanes is where you can find all things trash and treasure. Antique furniture, door handles, old records, vintage clothes, postcards, posters and more.
Iriarte iriarte: check out Caroline Iriarte’s original and beautiful handcrafted leather bags.
Casa Gracia: the epitome of a boutique hostel. Perfectly located on Calle Gracia, right in the heart of Gracia, this big old building with vaulted ceilings, large picture windows, and a wonderful sunny terrace, has a chic and minimal aesthetic and is the perfect place to stay. If your days in a dorm are over (as ours are!), choose one of the private rooms with private bathroom. A friendly and in-the-know concierge will help you with any local recommendations you need. A simple breakfast is served on the terrace each morning, and a little sangria bar is set up in the same space by night. Always hosting fun music events, themed dinners and parties, this is a fun and lively place to stay. You can choose to get as involved, or not, as you like. With big plans to grow over the coming years, it’s an exciting time to visit Casa Gracia.
El Paulauet: for something more fancy (and expensive), you might be interested in these beautiful suites housed in a 1906 art noveau building. Also located on Calle Gracia, each suite is assigned with a personal assistant who will act as your dedicated concierge for your stay. A lovely sleeping option.
+ like what you see? we would love to help curate a personalized itinerary for your next trip to barcelona (or anywhere along the way). please email email@example.com for more info. happy adventuring +
there is a pleasure in the pathless woods;there is a rapture on the lonely shore; there is society, where none intrudes, by the deep sea, and music in its roar: i love not man less, but nature more.*
The isolated beauty of Big Sur is breathtaking. Nestled into the steep curves of the Santa Lucia Mountains, surrounded by remarkable redwoods and rocky beaches, there is magic in the air here. A long and windy journey north of Los Angeles, or south from San Francisco, the scenery along the Pacific Ocean is totally awe-inspiring. We were wowed by a pod of gray whales, on their migration north back to their summer feeding grounds in the North Pacific. These amazingly humble and beautiful creatures, perhaps ten of them, entertained us for what seemed like hours. Seals, dolphins, birds as well, as if on queue, on stage, showing off in their stunning surrounds. The air is clear, the nature wild and free, and the energy intoxicating…and as Henry Miller said, there is at once, an “eloquent silence” here. Just wait to be swept away by the magical energy.
1. To sleep…
Sleeping options are somewhat limited…but there are definitely a couple of choices for every budget. If you are craving a little bit of luxe, and don’t mind spenny, then I would definitely recommend Post Ranch Inn or Ventana (where the “rustic charm of Ventana’s weathered cedar buildings belie the luxury within”). For something a little more affordable, try Deetjen’s: a charming bed and breakfast nestled into a lush and windy part of the coastal drive; or Glen Oaks: an updated 1950s motor lodge/turned cabins (I hear good things about their River View cabins. Or lastly, save your pennies altogether, and pitch a tent. There are countless campgrounds to choose from. Be one with nature - so many magical spots. We loved the look of the Andrew Molera State Park Trail Camp, perfectly located within walking distance of the Big Sur Rivermouth. Bordered on one side by the Big Sur River, this campground is in a grassy meadow dotted with large trees, and is just a short walk to the beach. None more perfect a place to set up camp.
2. To eat…
Eat at the Big Sur Bakery: breakfast, brunch, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner - or all of the above! A Big Sur staple. We love starting the day here, and then ending it here as well. Take home a copy of The Big Sur Bakery Cookbook: filled with Big Sur history, Big Sur personalities, and some seriously delicious recipes.
Deetjen’s: for the best eggs benedict in town (according to my beloved Big Sur aficionado – Skye Byrne). A charming, rustic and woody atmosphere, on the edge of the redwood forest in Big Sur.
2. To drink…
Our favorite place for a sunset drink is the Cliffside restaurant and bar at the Post Ranch Inn. We couldn't quite afford the $1500+ price-tag to stay the night, but figured a bottle of rose, watching the sun go down from the outside bar, was just as good. Clear skies, so many stars, pure magic.
Nepenthe: a great place to grab a drink or bite at sunset. Killer views over the Pacific as the sun goes down. If you have already eaten, or have dinner plans later, just pop in for a drink…and cosy up by the fire if it’s chilly outside.
Night cap at the Big Sur Village Pub: we had a very fun night at this quaint little pub, just meters down the hill from the Big Sur Bakery. Friendly service, live music [ryan dishen was playing the night we were there: so good, we took home a copy of his album, new windows. the kid can sing], and good brews. A perfect way to end the most perfect of days.
3. To do…
Hike: to the McWay Falls in the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park – a picturesque waterfall, which drops over jagged cliffs into the Pacific Ocean, just a short walk from Highway 1. Sadly, you can’t get down close to the waterfall, but this is a main feature of the park and definitely worth checking out. Just go early, as the crowds start to roll up pretty soon after breakfast.
Visit: the Big Sur River Mouth, through the Andrew Molera State Park - a lovely beach you can access by walking through a stunning meadow. We had the beach completely to ourselves when we visited shortly after sunrise.
Surf: exploring the rugged Big Sur coastline on a surfboard is an experience not to be missed.Jaw-dropping coastal scenery, empty lineups, and enough wilderness to get truly lost in! The ocean here demands respect. The Big Sur Rivermouth, for example, can sometimes have good waves, but beware of fast currents that can close out the waves, and the shallow sandbar.
Get nude: at the Esalen Institute’s Public Night Hot Springs (1am-3am). A spectacular setting – natural hot springs, which hug the cliff-side of the Pacific Ocean. Reservations essential. Relax, unwind and get naked. The famed (and famously private) Esalen Institute opens to the public for 2 hours each evening. A maximum of 20 visitors are allowed each night. The hot springs can reach temperatures of 115 °F (46 °C), but are cooled significantly by the coastal air. Total darkness keeps this sanctuary shrouded in secrecy.
Hikes: so many wonderful options, for all different levels. You can’t go wrong.
Whale Watching: watch these stunning creatures – gray whales – pass Big Sur in December and January, on their migration south to their breeding and calving grounds off the Baja California coast. In March and April, they can be seen returning north to their summer feeding grounds in the North Pacific.
A MUST: if you are very lucky, and you time it right, catch a live show at the Henry Miller Library. An unbelievably magical and hidden experience – a little stage tucked deep in the forest, among the big Reds, secluded and only for an audience of 300. Grizzly Bear, Beach House and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs all played in this mystical place last summer. Doesn’t get more radical than that.
+ like what you see? we would love to help curate a personalized itinerary for your next trip to big sur (or anywhere along the way). please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more info. happy adventuring +
There is something about the charm, authenticity and ever-present feeling of opportunity here, that makes Brooklyn a very special place. The Brooklyn Mag nails it when they describe this borough of New York as being the “darling of Hollywood-weary celebrities, avant-garde chefs, and independent-minded New Yorkers”. Made up of so many different pockets and neighborhoods, Brooklyn is so much bigger than at first thought. We have spent most of our days in Williamsburg (fast becoming known as “little Australia”) and Greenpoint, but we have also dabbled around in Brooklyn Heights, Dumbo, Boerum Hill, Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, Clinton Hill and Fort Greene –hoods that all seem to have a lot of goodness to offer. Get bikes and cruise around. More low-key than its big city NYC neighbor, we have highlighted some of our favorite things below.
So close to the city (just a stop or two on the L-train), this hip little hang-out offers so much. We love it here.
Toby’s Estate: yes, they are Australian (and we might therefore be slightly biased), but this open, airy space is so beautiful, the staff friendly (albeit hipster to the holt), and the coffee is good. Damn good. The pastries are also amazing…and you can get some awesome Aussie favorites like vegemite or avo on toast. Not to be missed. (Note: if they are still doing the caramel dipped macaroons, it would be a crime not to try one. The start of something good).
Blue Bottle: An awesome brick building on Berry Street that was once filled with glass blowers, and metal smiths, and barrel makers…but now houses Blue Bottle’s coffee roaster and café. It’s a great space, and very good (serious) coffee.
Café Colette: another Berry Street favorite of ours, we adore this cute little French corner spot. Grab a seat at the bar, or a cosy corner booth. Brunch is amazing, but anytime of day will do. This little local haunt will impress, always.
Café Mogador: Moroccan deliciousness on Wythe Ave. Come here for the eggs. Brunch here is awesome. Packed full of Moroccan spices, or poached in a za’atar pita, so many delicious flavors, it’s crazy. Queues can be long.
Egg: good for brunch or casual lunch. Light, airy, good vibes.
Walter Foods: another great brunch spot, and raw bar as well. We are told not to miss the French dip at dinnertime. Can’t say we have tried it yet though.
Saltie: for sandwiches in a super cute little storefront.
Brooklyn Whole Foods Market: the most exciting new addition to the Williamsburg scene (we love a good Whole Foods!). It’s beautiful here. We challenge you to find another whole foods store that has a record store inside it…?! Doesn’t get more Brooklyn than that !
Marlow & Sons: an old favorite. This cute spot has been tucked away under the Williamsburg bridge for almost ten years now. Cosy, always busy, American goodness. We love the back bar. Great food, try the brick chicken. A romantic little dinner option.
Diner: we came here to this 1920s-restored dining car restaurant on our first ever trip to New York in the year 2000. Armed with a hitlist of recommendations, we quickly tried to tick this one off, and it quickly became one of our Brooklyn favorites. American Nouveu food and good vibes. Brunch also good.
Fette Sau: this is the place to come for meat. Good ol’ fashioned no-frills meat. Ribs, steak, pork belly…the choice is yours. Busy and fun. You pay by the pound.
Dotory: Korean is the flavor of the month for us right now, and Dotory is just the place to fix that hankering.
Reynard: within the beautifully-restored Wythe Hotel warehouse building, come here for seasonal deliciousness in a gorgeous environment.
Wythe Hotel Rooftop: our #1. This is our favorite place for a sunset drink in all of New York. The views from the bar and rooftop are spectacular. Nothing screams New York City more, than looking back over the East River to Manhattan as the sun goes down over the Manhattan skyline. Great cocktails, delicious wines, good vibes.
Hotel Delmano: we love cocktails here before or after a fun dinner in the hood. Grab one of the leather banquettes or sit up at the long marble bar for some seriously tasty drinks.
Vine Wine: when you are feeling like a night in, or a few wines by the riverfront, grab a bottle from our favorite neighborhood wine store. A great range of wines…and always a bunch in the “under $15” section that are super affordable and really delicious.
Pete’s Candy Store: don’t be fooled by the name, you wont find candy here – rather, a music venues / bar / club.
Brooklyn Bowl: according to Rolling Stone magazine, this is “one of the most incredible places on earth”! This is a bowling alley that not only acts an awesome performance space, but also serves high-quality, delicious food care of Blue Ribbon, bars offering local brews, as well as 16 bowling lanes. Located in the former Hecla Iron Works (built 1882), this is definitely worth checking out.
The Red Bull Music Academy: an awesome concept. The Red Bull Music Academy is a world-traveling series of music workshops and festivals. Two groups of 30 participants have been chosen – producers, singers, djs, etc from around the world – to come together in a new city each year for two weeks worth of recording sessions, lectures, collabs and performances around town. A platform for those who make a difference in today’s musical landscape. The Academy began back in 1998, and was set-up in Williamsburg last year. Now in 2014, the Academy will be held in Tokyo, Japan.
Wythe Hotel: our favorite hotel in New York. This is the only place to stay, in our opinion. Unbeatable views, beautiful design, the best rooftop bar New York has to offer, our favorite and most perfectly well-curated mini bar (on par with the ACE anyway), and a great restaurant downstairs. Oh and super friendly staff. It doesn’t get any better.
If you’re not on a hotel budget, there are some really awesome rental apartments to be found on Airbnb.
Enjoy a Sunday Supper: a communal cooking center in Williamsburg. Shared meals, communal cooking, and seasonally, market-fresh food. The founder used to host these suppers in their home, but the dinners have evolved and are now housed in a beautiful space documenting food, travel and life. A great supper last year offered produce sourced from local North Brooklyn Farms, in a stunning location in Havemeyer Park with a view of the Williamsburg Bridge and a summer sunset behind the Manhattan skyline. For only $45, you were presented with a delicious seasonal menus by notable local chefs, and cocktails from Sailor Jerry.
Brooklyn Grange Farm: we came to this – the world’s largest rooftop soil farm (located on two roofs in New York City) – for a communal rooftop dinner party last September. Crazy sunset views from our Long Island location back over Manhattan. Quite spectacular. On what we thought would be a warm evening though, we freezed our little bottoms off as the winds set in!! Nevertheless, the setting was breathtaking…and if more prepared, with some winter woolies, we would have been toastie and much more content. An interesting food offering, paired with local Brooklyn craft brews. This is a space where 50,000lbs of organically-cultivated produce is grown each year. Brooklyn Grange also provides urban farming and green roof consulting and installation services to clients worldwide, as well as partnering with numerous non-profit organizations throughout New York to promote healthy and strong local communities.
Eagle Street Rooftop Farm: the chickens in the coop here on this impressive rooftop urban farm in Greenpoint, have the best views of Manhattan we have seen. Three stories up, on the banks of the East River and with a sweeping view of the Manhattan skyline, Eagle Street Rooftop Farm is a 6,000 square foot green roof organic vegetable farm located atop a warehouse rooftop. During growing season, a farmers market is held here on the roof, and the farm also supplies local restaurants with produce. As well as that, the farm also hosts a range of farm-based educational and volunteer programs. Open to the public, during growing season, on Sundays between 1pm-4pm.
MoMA PS1: we stop here at least once on visit to the city. A branch of MoMA, this is one of the oldest and largest nonprofit contemporary art institutions in the US. An exhibition space with a constant rotation of super interesting and thought-provoking experimental art on display. “A catalyst and an advocate for new ideas, discourses, and trends in contemporary art, MoMA PS1 actively pursues emerging artists, new genres, and adventurous new work by recognized artists in an effort to support innovation in contemporary art”. This is a unique artistic environment, and we also love the cute school-style café downstairs that has a great little menu for after-art downtime.
Definitely check out the Domino Sugar Refinery. An abandoned old building in Williamsburg – once a processing plant – is currently filled with a sugar-coated (literally) 75 ft. long, lily-white mammy in the shape of a sphinx, by artist Kara Walker. On display only until July 6.
Cheese, cheese and more cheese from the Bedford Cheese Shop: a visit here is essential. An old-fashioned cheese shop, you will find some amazing cheeses in here, from all across the world.
Van Leeuwen Ice Cream: this is what ice cream is (and should always be) about. Made from scratch, locally in Greenpoint, there is nothing artificial in this creamy goodness. Using only fresh hormone and antibiotic free milk and cream, cane sugar, egg yolks and the best fruits, chocolates, spices and nuts from small producers locally and around the world. Van Leeuwen celebrates ingredients perfected by nature, not science. Starting out with just two Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream scoop trucks in the Spring of 2008, they now have six trucks and three stores around Brooklyn and Manhattan serving their seriously delicious and quality ice creams, fresh pastries and Toby's Estate Coffee. We love the fresh mint. Wow.
Mast Brothers Chocolate: handcrafted, locally-made, quality single estate and single origin chocolate. This space is amazing and definitely worth checking out.
Baggu: we love their colorful leather coin purses, and fun plastic make up and travel bags.
Catbird: our favorite jewelry spot in New York. Dainty little rings, and other beautiful pieces.
Mocium: we love this light-filled, airy store in North Williamsburg. Come here for gorgeous, delicate handcrafted ceramics, textiles and jewelry.
Brooklyn Flea (held in Fort Greene on Saturdays and Williamsburg on Sundays): a classic Brooklyn experience. So many awesome vintage and antique vendors, local food stalls, and an incredible location smack bang on the East River with views back to the city. It stays open through winter, but moves to the former Williamsburg Savings Bank.
Vintage shopping: what Brooklyn is known for. So many places to check out. We always hit up Artists & Fleas (for a rotating selection of vendors, in an old warehouse building); and Beacons Closet (a “cavernous temple of cheap clothes”, for second-hand and vintage clothes and accessories).
Kinfolk: the new Kinfolk studios in Williamsburg are housed in a beautiful lofty warehouse space. At this stage, dedicated entirely to menswear – this building is super impressive and there are big plans for an event space in the future.
Main Drag Music: check out the wide range of music here, all handpicked by musicians themselves.
SOME OF OUR OTHER BROOKLYN FAVORITES…
After Williamsburg, this is where we have spent most of our BK time. We love the strong and happy sense of community here. A hive of creativity. Everyone seems to be doing something different, interesting and inspiring, and often for the benefit of the community as well. A dining destination in its own right, there are some amazing eating options here (and the odd Lena Dunham-fan cruising around on Girls sightseeing tours!).
We especially love Franklin Street. Some great little spots to stumble across here.
Five Leaves: our #1 favorite brunch spot in all of Brooklyn, on a Bedford Ave corner. Australian/American owned, come here for seriously good food at any time of day. For brunch, it’s always a toss up between the Mushroom Toast (with sautéed kale and poached egg), or the Moroccan Scramble (with chickpeas, crushed avo and sourdough)…or go the burger. Oh and truffle fries. They are a must. Be prepared to wait, especially on weekends. It is absolutely worth it though.
Selamat Pagi: our favorite Balinese resto outside Bali itself. A super cute, warm, welcoming, cosy neighborhood feel-good number. Fresh, seasonal, traditional and inspired dishes from Bali. We have tried everything on the menu, and can safely recommend it all. You can’t go wrong. A cute little bar as well. Pale woods and creams. Good tunes. Happy vibes. It’s beautiful here.
Paulie Gees: a beautiful old warehouse space dishing up seriously good pizza (be prepared to wait – but wait you can, at the craft brewery next door). Our pick – the Greenpointer: white base, Fior di Latte, Arugula (rocket to us Australians!), Olive Oil, Fresh Lemon Juice and Shaved Parmigiano Reggiano on top. Also famous for their pizzas with hot honey on top.
Calexio: for tacos and margaritas. Lots of locations, a mix of restaurants and food carts.
Alameda: this beautiful neighborhood bistro is a perfect option for your daily hang. They do a mean burger.
Acapulco: come here for old-school Mexican action, this is part-taqueria, part-American diner. Authentic, and cheap. Think sombreros on the walls and colored Mexican rugs as tablecloths. Order the homemade guac, and try their chorizo tacos.
Broken Land Bar: a cosy neighborhood bar, run by locals. Hand-crafted cocktails, beers, fine wines. Oh and a lovely back courtyard.
Dandelion Wine (aka Dandy): a cute boutique wine shop, with a stack of carefully curated and hand-picked little gems. Large selection, many organic or biodynamic, and seriously well priced.
Spina: a super cute combination flower and coffee shop…serving Blue Bottle coffee and Dough donuts, together with flowers, plants and lots of local BK designer goods.
Bklyn Curated: this cute interiors store on Franklin Street immediately caught our eye. A gorgeous fit out, and cute back yard, there are heaps of vintage and antique Americana goodies to be found.
Dinner at Vinegar Hill House: a long-time favorite of ours. We love the aesthetic here…somewhat reminiscent of Freemans (where the VHH owners met), more vintage though, but similarly cosy, warm and candle-lit. Seasonal American-style food, flavorsome and delicious. A fun, cosy, winter spot to hang…and brunch good as well.
Pop in and support the artists at LAND Gallery. We were introduced to the LAND studio and gallery a few years ago, which features the work of artists with neurological diversities. We were lucky enough to have a piece commissioned by artist Michael Pellew, who dreams up vignettes of celebrities of his own preference, staged together in any random combination. For me, Michael created a picture of “President Obama, Michael Jackson, Georgia Hopkins, Britney Spears, Angelina Jolie, Mayor Bloomberg, Mr.T and Lady Gaga, and don’t forget Georgia Hopkins”. Pellew’s pop culture drawings have become so popular hey are now available as greeting cards, and sell-out items, at stores like Opening Ceremony. The ACE even hosted a special exhibition for LAND’s artist’s last October. Worth checking out for sure.
Also, if you happen to be in DUMBO in September, check out Photoville: an awesome photographic event held in the Brooklyn Bridge Park– housed in old shipping containers, overlooking Manhattan.
Visit Brooklyn Bridge Park: a beautiful green park, on the banks of the East River, in the shadows of the Brooklyn Bridge. Great views back over Manhattan, and check out the beautiful Jane’s Carousel.
Shop at (or at least swoon-over) ZOE: high-end designer stuff: somewhat rare for this side of the river - in a beautiful space.
Sleep here…at the 3B boutique bed and breakfast coop. Run by 8 young creatives (artists, singers, writers and designers) out of their original home, this is a great little taste for Brooklyn-style communal living. We stayed here in 2012 and loved the warm and welcoming vibe, and beautifully renovated space, in an awesome location in Downtown Brooklyn. Interesting conversation around the cute and charming kitchen table, you will be cooked a delicious, home-made breakfast each morning.
We love Fort Greene. A neighborhood that is filled with classic brownstones, lots of trees, good restaurants and a strong arts community. Filmmakers, musicians, writers, and dancers now call Fort Greene home. We love its old-school, laid-back feel.
A SMOOCH weekend brunch (or any day breakfast actually) is essential. Owned by a super friendly Australian legend – you will be so happy you found this little beauty. Great organic coffee, food and wine. Cosy, laid-back atmosphere. Cute bench seating on the pretty tree-lined street. Some awesome Aussie-named menu options as well. We love it here. Say hi to Basquali !!
Brooklyn Flea at Fort Greene: on Saturdays (as above). It might not be along the waterfront, but we love the laid-back feel of this neighborhood market – same vendors, different vibe.
Dinner at Roman's: good vibes resonate from this great Italian bistro-style spot, courtesy of the same people behind Marlow & Sons in Williamsburg. Come here for delicious, reasonably-priced pastas and other Italian goodness.
Smoke Joint: for low-key BBQ hang out time. We once read that the “Smoke Joint feels likes the Fort Greene version of Cafe Gitane. Less models, more Baby Back Rib Sauce.” Couldn’t agree more. Come here for ribs and good times.
Franks Cocktail Lounge: this place has a totally local vibe. ‘80s in style, R&B jukebox, always good tunes – think rap, R&B, house, reggae – sometimes djs, sometimes live music. Fun times.
Feliz: this cute store on DeKalb Avenue is full of well curated bits and pieces. Cards and jewelry and homewares and cute baby stuff. It’s a lovely spot to check out after brunch at Smooch, just around the corner.
Dossier: what started out as a twice-yearly fashion magazine called Dossier Journal, has now evolved into this cute little boutique. Books, jewelry and vintage finds.
Boerum Hill is another BK neighborhood we love, known for its independent boutiques, restaurants and brownstone-filled streets. Many artists end up here, and there are galleries galore. Arts and culture thrive here in abundance – we came here for a music festival at BAM, but it is also well-known for The Invisible Dog Art Center, Roulette and Issue Project Room, the thriving Smith Street restaurant row and Atlantic Avenue Design district.
BAM: the Brooklyn Academy of Music has been a BK staple for more than 150 years. BAM is home to artists, audiences and ideas. Theatre, dance, music, opera, film and so much more. We were spoiled to catch the Crossing Brooklyn Ferry back in May 2012, witnessing Brooklyn-locals The Walkmen kill it on stage, as well as another fav, Sharon Van Etten.
We loved dinner at this cute and rustic Boerum Hill favorite, Rucola. Inspired by the slow food movement in Piedmont Italy, the menu here is seasonal and constantly changing. Cosy, warm and very inviting, this is a great choice for dinner before or after a show (and just walking distance from BAM).
Sun in Bloom: BK neighborhood favorite for all things gluten-free, vegan and raw! They do amazing cold-pressed juices, coffee with fair-trade, organic beans, and hot drinks using cashew and almond milks. There sweet stuff is amazing as well. We love it here.
You’ve got to visit Roberta’s. You will literally wait hours. But the wood-fired pizza is definitely worth the wait (and the extra few stops on the L train). If it’s warm, grab a table outside. On second thoughts, just take whatever table you can get. It will be so busy, you wont have a choice! We love the fact that most of their ingredients come from their very own co-op garden outside.
Try Bunna for fresh and delicious Ethiopian food.We love this story. Friends threw a launch party in June 2011 to celebrate the launch of their new project – Bunna Café. Having only met months earlier, they both shared a desire to promote Ethiopian food, coffee and culture. After hosting a series of popups, dinner parties, appearing at street fairs, fundraisers, music fests, flea markets, and so on…they then raised funds on Indiegogo to open their first permanent location, here on Flushing Ave in Bushwick. These guys feel that Ethiopia has so much to offer the rest of the world, and hope to change the common perception that it is a country in need. Amazing good and really lovely vibes. Check it out for sure.
Brunch at Northeast Kingdom: we love brunch here. The husband-wife team behind Northeast Kingdom offer a contemporary-American menu emphasizing the seasonality of the Northeast. They have their own farm in Ghent NY, and grow vegetables, raise hens and bees, press apples and make beer. A great little spot.
Franny’s: a Brooklyn institution, Franny’s has been churning out some of the best pizza and locally-sourced food in Brooklyn for almost 10 years. Having recently moved to a new (and bigger) location – just five-minutes walk from the previous one – you will queue. And queue. And queue. But it’s worth it. Like Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse in San Francisco, Franny’s was one of the early adopters when it came to introducing sustainable and seasonable food to the New York food scene. And it still remains the flagship.
Weather Up: chilled vibes, good tunes, friendly service. Come here for a drink. If you are hungry, grab dinner across the street at The Vanderbilt. Tribeca (and Austin TX) location as well.
Pok Pok: this Portland-favorite headed East, and people here in BK are going just as crazy for it. Fresh takes on Thai classics. Try their yummy Thai-inspired cocktails as well.
OTHER BK RANDOM…
Make your way to Lefferts Gardens in Prospect Park to witness “Drummer’s Grove”. Established in 1968, these Congo Square Drummers come here every Sunday from April to October from 2pm to dusk. Grab a drum and get involved, or just watch and hang out.
+ like what you see? we would love to help curate a personalized itinerary for your next trip to brookyln (or anywhere along the way). please email email@example.com for more info. happy adventuring +