Glowed Up

The day-long tour has barely begun but already our guide Nilio, stinks.

Literally stinks. He’s diving deep into the turquoise waters of The Milky Way, a lagoon nestled in Babeldaob Island, Palau, and bringing up smelly mud from the bottom to pile high on a boogie board.

Babeldaob is one of UNESCO World Heritage Listed Rock Islands, a stunning archipelago of hundreds of small, forested limestone isles fringed by coral and teeming with fish and sealife. But, even amongst this overwhelmingly beautiful landscape, the Milky Way is special. From the entry to the lagoon, the change in the water colour is dramatic, turning from the aqua of the inner reef to the unique, opaque blue that earned the Milky Way its name. 

Nilio assures me this place is a natural spa and that the limestone sludge will make me look 10 years younger. He needs to sell it. It has the strong sulphur smell of the deep. I slather it on, waiting a few minutes for the heat of the day to cake it dry before washing it off with the bath warm water that is milky enough to do Cleopatra proud. 

I don’t have a mirror, but once I wash off the mud, my skin does feel silky smooth. I’m hoping he’s right about making me look younger because I fear our next dip —at Jellyfish Lake—could age me. 

The last time I swam with jellyfish it wasn’t planned and it didn’t end well. It involved searing pain and an unhygienic injection of pain medication from someone I hope was a doctor, so the idea of voluntarily plunging into a lake filled with jellyfish doesn’t immediately appeal. However, being a travel writer isn’t all massages and cocktails by the pool so, here I am, standing on a platform on the edge of a beautiful but very dark lake fringed by mangroves. A lake that is home, I’m told, to thousands of harmless jellyfish who have lost their sting after being isolated from the rest of the ocean—and predators— by an act of geology.  

It’s a trust game as I pull on my snorkel and flippers and edge out to the side of the platform and slide under the water. It’s dark. A strange, eerie kind of dark, interrupted by spears of sunlight that pierce the surface to play a flickering show.   

Immediately, despite the low visibility, I see multiple jellyfish. Not thousands — the numbers are down this year — but, somehow, that makes the sightings more impressive. They glide under and next to me like ghosts, the light making them glow as they pulse with life.  

I return to the platform, unscathed, and strap my snorkelling gear back onto my lifejacket to keep my hands free for the short, but strenuous, climb up and over the island back to our boat for our next stop. Ngermeaus Island.  

Ngermeaus is a caricature of a Pacific island. The sort of thing you’d draw as a child. Pristine white sand that slides into the translucent waters that gently lap the shore. Palm trees swaying in the slight breeze. You get the picture. It’s stunning. 

After a delicious lunch, I head back to the boat to get ready to switch swimming companions. Instead of jellyfish we’ll be sharing the water with the reef sharks I can already see circling the boat.  

Knowing reef sharks don’t usually eat people is one thing, believing it is another, but I’m amazed to discover I’m completely at ease. Wonder is the main emotion. They are incredible. Close enough to touch, the sharks weave their way around our party with two small thin fish, who take care of shark hygiene issues, clinging to their sides. It’s an amusing sight as they follow an invisible track through the water, as if they are on their own Tour de Palau with the sharks taking the lead as their domestique.  

More independent fish join the tour, with a strange heaving mass of fish forming a ball close to the sea floor. It’s fascinating and I don’t want to leave. None of us do. We all pretend not to hear Nilio calling us back to the boat.  

But it’s lucky he manages to finally round up my party or we would have missed Clam City, and the opportunity to eyeball the biggest clams I’ve ever seen. In fact, the biggest clams most people have seen and some of the largest of the region, weighing over 110 kilograms. Water distorts but some of the Tridacna clams look to be a metre long. They are like something out of a Pirates of the Caribbean set, with huge wavy mouths covered in green vegetation. The clams don’t look real until you see them open and shut. Just like in the movies. Incredible.   

Then, the final stop is upon us. Fantasy Reef. I drop into a world of coral teeming with fish in water so clear it’s like swimming in an aquarium. Zebra fish (okay, a type of Surgeonfish if you’re a tropical fish nerd) dart by, big fish, small fish, all different colours and shapes. And then we hit the mother lode — a colony of Nemos, their fluorescent striped clownfish collars glowing white against their orange and black bodies. 

Here, the snorkelling is incredibly easy. The saltwater is so buoyant there’s no need to kick. You can just zone out, and let the gentle waves push you to explore new parts of the lush coral and the fish that lurk in the deeper water where the reef suddenly drops away. Magic.  

Back in the boat and we head for a quick group pic at the Natural Arch where nature has sculpted a doorway to this water paradise and peppered it with Kur, a pretty white flowering plant that is only found in Palau. 

The trip back to town is an adventure of its own. The boat zooms over the waves, the hull thudding against the water, the swell cooling us with a refreshing spray. It’s a hell of a fun ride. Tired but exhilarated I disembark and walk down the wharf to a very conveniently located bar. We finish our day’s activities with a cold one, against the backdrop of a stunning limestone island, and toast the end of an incredible day’s adventuring with glowing skin and not a painkilling needle in sight. 

Diving in the deep end

I'm in a small dinghy off Kuata, a small island in the Yasawa Island group, north of the Fijian mainland. I’m about to dive into the Yakawe Reef where a shiver of roughly 10 hungry bull sharks are waiting. It’s my first dive... ehrm, ever. This is diving in the deep end.

Click play to WATCH

There are only a handful of places around the world that offer this experience, and Barefoot Kuata, on the tiny island of the same name in Northern Fiji’s Yasawa group, is the only place in the world you can dive with these sharks without being a PADI-certified diver.

Barefoot’s classroom is a blackboard on the beach, and the Pacific Ocean. After a brief, but thorough, education in the art of breathing underwater, we’re on our way in a dinghy.

Having your first dive with a species of shark that are “aggressive and unpredictable” according to a Google search beforehand actually removes at least one element of trepidation of this experience. I spend the time before the dive anxious about things like equalizing and maintaining pace of breath. When I sight my first bull shark, long and grey with darting eyes and an ominous snout, I forget the anxieties about breathing very quickly.

Click play to WATCH

Sharks. Jaws, Open Water. Hollywood and the mainstream media will have you believe these are ruthless killing machines. We sit on the ocean’s floor roughly 10 metres below the surface of the water, behind a natural coral wall which would be more symbolic than practical if push came to shove. There is no cage, nothing at all separating us from these beasts who glide around in the space that they own.

I’m not sure when, but an interesting thing happens; fear turns to awe. These creatures are beautiful. A giant, pregnant bull shark munches tuna heads like they’re going out of fashion. A tawny nurse shark drifts past ethereally, unlike any creature I have ever laid eyes on.

Like that grumpy neighbour that lives down the road in Home Alone, these sharks aren’t to be feared once you understand them.

They are extraordinary beasts, and critically important to the local marine ecosystem of the Yasawa Islands, according to Luisa Lewaqai, a marine biologist based on-site at Barefoot Kuata.

“When you have an apex predator in the food chain, it pushes the marine life, the smaller marine life to reproduce,” she explains.

“Having the bull sharks in there also controls and balances the fish population, because when there is more of the prey that the bull sharks feed on, they will feed on the reef fish, and when there’s less reef fish, there’s an imbalance between the coral and the algae, and you have the coral slowly decline.

“You can see it when you are there, the corals are thriving, and there’s so many fish.”

Luisa also explains how the economic benefits of tourism also benefit the reef.

“This area is a marine protected area. From the shark diving and tourism we have economic benefits which generate employment opportunities for the locals and also, the tourism has helped us establish educational programs for the kids in the area.

“We visit schools and educate them on the importance of protecting the reef.

“For islanders, the treasure is the ocean. They own that. Having this education around having a marine protected area makes sure that future generations will have this treasure too.”

Bull sharks are up to 3.5 metres long. The largest are the two pregnant sharks in our group, and easily the most determined at snapping up the snacks Barefoot’s dive crew are dishing out.

Luisa tells us how sharks have an extra sense that we don’t have, sensing organs called ampullae of Lorenzini. It means they can sense the electric current of nearby heartbeats in the water.

Here, I imagine the sharks being overloaded when divers like me initially descend to the coral wall, heart pumping, before the electrical impulses become quieter and quieter as we become more acclimatised to our friends.

It is not the season for Manta Rays, but we see a few anyway. Luisa takes us out to see reef sharks, who are much smaller, friendly and curious, mirroring the locals. At night we are treated to a fire show, and then dancing.

North of Kuata is Nacula Island, where impossibly cute villas sit metres from the ocean at Oarsman’s Bay Lodge. I count 14 steps to the water from my front door – give or take a few steps here dependent on your proximity to 178cm.

Click play to WATCH

We rise at 5am and climb to a peak…and then another peak. Both of these are fake peaks, according to our new friend Ben. The ‘real’ peak offers majestic vistas of this island and the ones next door. We walk along the crest of the hilly island, which Ben says school kids take most days to get to class. Life in the Yasawas is spent outdoors – playing rugby, walking through jungles and of course, underwater.

It is easy to sit by the pool and drink cocktails when you go to Fiji, wake up with a hangover and do even less the next day. Instead, when you charge peaks at 5am and get out on the water on a paddleboard, or go diving, you end up in bed at night with that wonderful feeling of pleasant exhaustion so familiar with the best travelling. I prefer this.

Joka is a big, burly man, with an impossibly high-pitched giggle for his size. He sports a relaxed, jovial demeanour as he takes us around Nacula Village, where about 150 people live in traditional thatched-roof bures. People eat fruit and shout to each other from their doorways; Joka slaps handshakes and throws banter, giggling all the time, until he suddenly becomes serious.

“Brother, you need to take off your hat,” he says firmly, although still relaxed. It is 28 degrees and sunny. I oblige and he breaks back into a big smile.

“Thank you brother. In Nacula, we have a rule that only the chief wears a hat,” he explains.

“You’re not the chief.”

The village is all coconut trees and pandanus plants, the latter used to weave baskets, bracelets, and kava mats, among other things, and historically important to the economy of the village. Casawa, bananas, jackfruit, papaya grows along the path we take, which leads us around from the village, to the mountain-flanked school, and back out to the gorgeous beach we arrived at.

Mantaray Island Resort on Nanuya Balavu Island is in the southern part of the archipelago, not far from Kuata. It is famed as one of the premier places to dive with manta rays in Fiji. A gentle current offers an easy way to float gently from part of the island to the next, where solid diving exists right off the shore.

We catch dinghies from island to island, the captains always the same; mixing ridiculously laidback with assured competency. It is glassy most of the time, but on the day we charge to Nanuya, it is a windy day, and the water is choppy. In between skilfully navigating the boat over the waves, our man is pretending to be a jockey, riding the waves like they are a horse, and cackling.

The Yasawa Flyer is also a sound choice (and the most popular) for island-to-island transportation, a high-speed catamaran going to and from Port Denaru and most islands in the archipelago.

Hearty laughter follows us everywhere, from the boat to the bure, in the bar and on the water. Even underwater I’m pretty sure I can see the divers cracking jokes to each other.

We take off from Nanuya back to the mainland on a chopper, affording a birds eye view of this archipelago kissed by the Gods. The rotor blades roar into life and we lift off from the beach, and I can see the locals waving goodbye, and laughing. Obviously.

Shit Whisky in the North

I had been living in Reykjavík for three months, which means I knew pretty much all the bartenders by first name.

So it came to a surprise when they told me about a local liquor I had never tried before…

Click play to WATCH

“Yes. Brennivín. Everyone here has drunk Brennivín,” says Birna, the blond, brassy bartender at Bastard sounding both like a gift and an insult in that typically Icelandic way.

The very next day I found myself pedalling south on a bike along the sea to Garðabær (no idea, before you ask) to see if I could wrap my lips around this mythical elixir that was, if nothing else, purely Icelandic.

Eimverk Distillery sits quietly beyond a round-a-bout, and a low-key facade from the outside, giving away no hint that you’re outside one of the northernmost distilleries in the world. It’s only when you move inside that you start to feel its magical power from the ancient Viking symbols which grace the walls and which are burnt deep into locally made barrels. As an alcohol anthropologist this was like discovering a newly contacted civilization.

Click play to WATCH

Brennivín is considered Icelandic’s signature distilled beverage. The original bottle (produced by the Government) displayed a white skull on a black label warning against consumption, and was sometimes referred to as ‘svarti dauði’ (black death). This rather grim marketing was designed to be visually unappealing, therefore limiting demand. It didn’t work. For decades, Brennivín became the drink of choice for Icelanders, and a must-try for travellers.

“We make wonderful gin and aquavit here, but I think we are most remembered for our whisky, Flóki. Well, remembered if you don’t drink too much of it,” says Erik with a straight face as he lined up several drams of various handcrafted delights. Eimverk Distillery, like most of Iceland, takes extreme pride in their craft, and sources pretty much everything locally. This includes their winter barley, which grows during an extremely short summer season — making this some of the rarest small batch whisky in the world.

“Most Icelandic people have a still in their house. We have just taken what we all do at home, and do it on a larger scale. Did you ever think you would drink shit and like it?”

I was on either my fifth or fifteenth tasting dram, and thought I perhaps misheard my host, but no, he was asking me if I enjoyed the taste of faeces.

“You see we have no peat on Iceland. So in order to flavour our whisky we use sheep dung… it’s traditional. ”

Again, straight face. What has already been tasted cannot be untasted, but fortunately this century-old technique actually yields a surprisingly smooth, floral and even a little earthy whiskey, that is nothing else is unlike anything I’ve tasted before.

“We named the whisky after the Viking that discovered Iceland in 868. He was named Hrafna-Flóki because three ravens were said to lead him to Iceland.” (NOTE: Hrafna-Flóki Google translated to ‘Raven Complex’. We think something has been lost here, but it makes the raven stuff make sense).

Like Flóki I have been led somewhere; to a new favourite whisky, a millennia later, and I don’t think I will be the last person to discover this amazing distillery any time soon.

Try Flóki at Eimverk Distillery by heading to Lyngás 13, 210 Garðabær, Iceland. Check their website book a tour, and try their shit.

 

Solomon Islands ban all single use plastic

The Solomon Islands have taken matters into their own hands, banning all single use plastics in order to preserve their beautiful country.

After a six-month grace period, the country this week moved to make illegal the use of single use plastics, which focused on plastic bags, plates, cutlery, cups and drink bottles, while encompassing many more.

CLICK HERE FOR SIX OF THE BEST IN THE SOLOMON ISLANDS

The stunning South Pacific Island nation is famed for its water sports, being home to stunning beaches, incredible diving, fishing, snorkelling and surfing. Coral reefs teem with life, providing sustenance and income to many of the 994 islands, with some of the most biodiverse marine ecosystems on the planet. Idyllic stretches of sand and dense tropical rainforest still remain somewhat of a hidden gem off the radar of a lot of travellers.

However, plastic-filled beaches has started to become more of a concern. The country begun to take action in the lead up to 2023’s hosting of the Pacific Games, following concerns plastics were threatening marine life.

Marine animals like sea turtles, whales, and seabirds will mistake plastics for food, at their peril, with entanglement and grave digestion issues a serious cause for concern.

In order to preserve the extraordinary natural beauty here, the step of banning plastics is a progressive one, and follows other South Pacific nations.

In 2017 Palau became the very first country in the world to change its immigration laws for the cause of environmental protection.

Visitors are required to sign a passport pledge to act in an ecologically responsible way in the archipelago.

Fiji meanwhile has turned to underwater sculptures to restore its bleached reefs.

Click here to read our recent feature on Fiji’s Yasawa Islands, and hear about the marine life preservation taking. 

Turkish Airlines begin Australia flights

If you’re in Australia and you’re thinking about a Euro trip this summer, or if you like kebabs, we’ve got some good news for you.

Turkish Airlines have entered the market as now flying to Australia, marking 130th country that airline flies to.

There’s a pretty good chance the additional competition will put pressure on other airlines, leading to cheaper flights into Europe.

The airline will fly Boeing 777s via a short stopover in Singapore initially, but plans to fly directly into Melbourne in 2025.

Turkey is an extraordinary destination; the meeting point of Asia and Europe. You could spend a couple of weeks in Istanbul only; cruising around narrow streets that open up to extraordinary feats of architecture like the Aya Sofya, Topkapi Palace and Sultan Ahmed Mosque (known by most as the Blue Mosque).

Here’s our top five in Istanbul, to mark the Melbourne to Istanbul route:

1. Cop an absolute beating

Have your body scrubbed raw at a traditional hammam. This one is no secret – it’s about as Turkish as it gets.

For pure opulence, the Kılıç Ali Paşa Hamam is tough to beat.

2. Go to the Bank

What do you reckon The Bank Hotel, which is part of the Design Hotels group, used to be before it was transformed into a mouthwateringly stunning hotel?

Omg you got it! It used to be a bank, but now it’s position is perfect to explore the trendy Karaköy district – nearby to bars and great eateries.

3. Throw down some boogs at Klein Garten.

This is a city known for its rooftop terraces, so it was hard to pick just one. But this is get lost – we’re not going to send you some soulless place with a great view, just because everyone else forks out a fortune to be there. We recommend Klein Garten –rotating DJs, affordable drinks, an incredible view and an incredible vibe. Boog the night away.

4. Go to a truly lit (think flares) football match

ideally the intercontinental derby between eternal enemies Fenerbahçe and Galatasaray, which separates one side of the Bosporus from the other.

Image credit Lardo Balsamico.

5. Munch an Islak Burger

Yeh sure, there’ll be plenty of time to eat gozleme and kebabs, but get lost recommends the ‘Wet Burger of Taksim’.

Head to the lively Taksim district, and on your way home, crush one of these strange fast foods which have garnered a cult-like following in this area – burgers doused in a rich garlic and tomato sauce, and then steamed, and served with meat and other stuff. Allegedly excellent for hangovers.

 

 

 

WINNER WINNER LONELY PLANET DINNER

What makes a good beach?

To reach an epic beach is one of the key elements of travelling.

Some like big waves and some like a peaceful bay. Some prefer crystal-clear white sand while others froth the black or even rare pink sand beaches. Some think it’s when there’s a buzzing vibe and big crowd of people wearing not much, while others like beaches that are completely deserted.

Best Beaches: 100 of the world’s most incredible beaches, is Lonely Planet’s guide to the very best beaches from around the world. It’s a beautiful coffee table chic showcasing beaches with elephants, beaches with caves, beaches with epic surf and sprawling coastlines.

Deputy Editor Sarah-Maree Cameron nominated the golden sand and rocky headlands of Avoca Beach, New South Wales.

Me? I (Editor Tim McGlone) love Dunes Beach in Exmouth, Western Australia.

A small, non-commercial wooden hut is based a little way up the beach, a social hub where barefooted people look out over the gentle left and right hand reef breaks, turtles intermittently popping their head up to say g’day.

But there can be only one winner of our Best Beaches competition, and that winner is…

Drumroll please.

Alix Campbell

“I can see it from our green-framed kitchen window. Mighty waves slap the steep limestone cliff on the left and roll onto the wide stretch of sand, which eventually forms dunes that make it seem like you’re trekking through the desert in the dead of summer. This is Bordeira Beach in Carrapateira, Portugal.”

We liked Alix’s descriptive language, which transported us right to this dramatic, south-western post of Europe (pictured above).

Congratulations Alix! We’ll be in touch.

Lonely Planet’s Best Beaches is available for $49.95 RRP from all bookstores around Australia, as well as online.

WHY OUTSIDE IS SEATTLE & WASHINGTON’S BEST SIDE

 

10. HAVE ZERO QUALMS at Snoqualmie Falls

It is borderline ridiculous that a place like Snoqualmie Falls can exist within a half-hour’s drive from downtown Seattle. From the city’s famous Space Needle, take the Homer M. Hadley Memorial Bridge and drive east for hardly any time at all before reaching the exquisite 82-metre waterfall, which the local Snoqualmie people have designated as the place where First Woman and First Man were created by Moon the Transformer.

This is one of the best city day trips you’ll ever find and it’s not the only one you can do in Seattle—Bainbridge Island and Leavenworth are a couple of other epic adventures you can squeeze into a day from Seattle. 

 

 

9. SHRED GNAR at Methow Trails

Methow Trails in the North Cascade Mountains is North America’s largest cross-country ski area, with over 200km of perfectly groomed, skiable terrain. Within this 200km, there are long-distance town-to-town and lodge-to-lodge ski options and heart-pumping climbs and descents that will challenge the most seasoned mountain men and women. 

All this space is good news—more room for you, more area to explore, more extraordinary landscapes to drink in. It also means you’ve got A LOT of skiing ahead of you.

 

10. HAVE ZERO QUALMS at Snoqualmie Falls

It is borderline ridiculous that a place like Snoqualmie Falls can exist within a half-hour’s drive from downtown Seattle. From the city’s famous Space Needle, take the Homer M. Hadley Memorial Bridge and drive east for hardly any time at all before reaching the exquisite 82-metre waterfall, which the local Snoqualmie people have designated as the place where First Woman and First Man were created by Moon the Transformer.

This is one of the best city day trips you’ll ever find and it’s not the only one you can do in Seattle—Bainbridge Island and Leavenworth are a couple of other epic adventures you can squeeze into a day from Seattle. 

 

 

8. KICK BACK at a Mariners game

The SoDo district of Seattle plays host to a number of pro sports teams. The Seattle Mariners are one of those, playing their home games at T-Mobile Park, a modern stadium with a retractable roof that also stages the occasional concert. 

Get a hot dog and a beer, and sing Take Me Out to the Ball Game while taking in ‘America’s pastime’. 

 

9. SHRED GNAR at Methow Trails

Methow Trails in the North Cascade Mountains is North America’s largest cross-country ski area, with over 200km of perfectly groomed, skiable terrain. Within this 200km, there are long-distance town-to-town and lodge-to-lodge ski options and heart-pumping climbs and descents that will challenge the most seasoned mountain men and women. 

All this space is good news—more room for you, more area to explore, more extraordinary landscapes to drink in. It also means you’ve got A LOT of skiing ahead of you.

 

10. HAVE ZERO QUALMS at Snoqualmie Falls

It is borderline ridiculous that a place like Snoqualmie Falls can exist within a half-hour’s drive from downtown Seattle. From the city’s famous Space Needle, take the Homer M. Hadley Memorial Bridge and drive east for hardly any time at all before reaching the exquisite 82-metre waterfall, which the local Snoqualmie people have designated as the place where First Woman and First Man were created by Moon the Transformer.

This is one of the best city day trips you’ll ever find and it’s not the only one you can do in Seattle—Bainbridge Island and Leavenworth are a couple of other epic adventures you can squeeze into a day from Seattle. 

 

 

7. DROP A LINE* at the Edgewater Hotel

The Edgewater Hotel in downtown Seattle is where the epic meets historic. It’s described as waterfront, and that’s putting it mildly—the Edgewater is so waterfront The Beatles fished out of their hotel room window when they stayed here. The lobby and restaurants are something to behold, situated right on the water, and with a blazing fire and epic bar to keep you warm in Seattle’s fresh winters. 

*We’re not sure if you’re allowed to fish out of your window—it’s probably more of a Beatles thing. If you’re reading, Paul or Ringo, go right ahead lads. 

 

8. KICK BACK at a Mariners game

The SoDo district of Seattle plays host to a number of pro sports teams. The Seattle Mariners are one of those, playing their home games at T-Mobile Park, a modern stadium with a retractable roof that also stages the occasional concert. 

Get a hot dog and a beer, and sing Take Me Out to the Ball Game while taking in ‘America’s pastime’. 

 

9. SHRED GNAR at Methow Trails

Methow Trails in the North Cascade Mountains is North America’s largest cross-country ski area, with over 200km of perfectly groomed, skiable terrain. Within this 200km, there are long-distance town-to-town and lodge-to-lodge ski options and heart-pumping climbs and descents that will challenge the most seasoned mountain men and women. 

All this space is good news—more room for you, more area to explore, more extraordinary landscapes to drink in. It also means you’ve got A LOT of skiing ahead of you.

 

10. HAVE ZERO QUALMS at Snoqualmie Falls

It is borderline ridiculous that a place like Snoqualmie Falls can exist within a half-hour’s drive from downtown Seattle. From the city’s famous Space Needle, take the Homer M. Hadley Memorial Bridge and drive east for hardly any time at all before reaching the exquisite 82-metre waterfall, which the local Snoqualmie people have designated as the place where First Woman and First Man were created by Moon the Transformer.

This is one of the best city day trips you’ll ever find and it’s not the only one you can do in Seattle—Bainbridge Island and Leavenworth are a couple of other epic adventures you can squeeze into a day from Seattle. 

 

 

6. GET TUBED in the surf at Westport

This is the West Coast, after all. 

While further south grabs all the attention, Westport, Washington, has quietly made a name for itself as a place to get pitted, with spots suiting both the kooks and the Kellys. Westport has three main spots: The Jetty, a consistent beach break, The Groins—a left-handed point break subject to monster tides; and The Cove, a feared shore break that bears the full brunt of the roaring North Pacific Ocean. All three are easily accessed. 

If you’re not a surfer, no matter; Washington State is full of epic beaches for all kinds of beachgoers—click here for more info.

 

7. DROP A LINE* at the Edgewater Hotel

The Edgewater Hotel in downtown Seattle is where the epic meets historic. It’s described as waterfront, and that’s putting it mildly—the Edgewater is so waterfront The Beatles fished out of their hotel room window when they stayed here. The lobby and restaurants are something to behold, situated right on the water, and with a blazing fire and epic bar to keep you warm in Seattle’s fresh winters. 

*We’re not sure if you’re allowed to fish out of your window—it’s probably more of a Beatles thing. If you’re reading, Paul or Ringo, go right ahead lads. 

 

8. KICK BACK at a Mariners game

The SoDo district of Seattle plays host to a number of pro sports teams. The Seattle Mariners are one of those, playing their home games at T-Mobile Park, a modern stadium with a retractable roof that also stages the occasional concert. 

Get a hot dog and a beer, and sing Take Me Out to the Ball Game while taking in ‘America’s pastime’. 

 

9. SHRED GNAR at Methow Trails

Methow Trails in the North Cascade Mountains is North America’s largest cross-country ski area, with over 200km of perfectly groomed, skiable terrain. Within this 200km, there are long-distance town-to-town and lodge-to-lodge ski options and heart-pumping climbs and descents that will challenge the most seasoned mountain men and women. 

All this space is good news—more room for you, more area to explore, more extraordinary landscapes to drink in. It also means you’ve got A LOT of skiing ahead of you.

 

10. HAVE ZERO QUALMS at Snoqualmie Falls

It is borderline ridiculous that a place like Snoqualmie Falls can exist within a half-hour’s drive from downtown Seattle. From the city’s famous Space Needle, take the Homer M. Hadley Memorial Bridge and drive east for hardly any time at all before reaching the exquisite 82-metre waterfall, which the local Snoqualmie people have designated as the place where First Woman and First Man were created by Moon the Transformer.

This is one of the best city day trips you’ll ever find and it’s not the only one you can do in Seattle—Bainbridge Island and Leavenworth are a couple of other epic adventures you can squeeze into a day from Seattle. 

 

 

5. GET FISHY at Pike Place Market

The large, red, neon-lit sign that adorns the entrance to the 117-year-old Pike Place Market is gorgeous, and it might just stop the Instagram crowd in their tracks. While they’re taking selfies, venture deeper into the market to find more time-honoured Seattle things—like fish throwing.  Fishmongers and fishermen yelling, chanting, shovelling ice and hurling fish at customers and each other. It’s genuine chaos, and we love it.  

The market is full of fresh food and classic Seattle dishes—like fresh oysters at Emmett Watson’s Oyster Bar

 

6. GET TUBED in the surf at Westport

This is the West Coast, after all. 

While further south grabs all the attention, Westport, Washington, has quietly made a name for itself as a place to get pitted, with spots suiting both the kooks and the Kellys. Westport has three main spots: The Jetty, a consistent beach break, The Groins—a left-handed point break subject to monster tides; and The Cove, a feared shore break that bears the full brunt of the roaring North Pacific Ocean. All three are easily accessed. 

If you’re not a surfer, no matter; Washington State is full of epic beaches for all kinds of beachgoers—click here for more info.

 

7. DROP A LINE* at the Edgewater Hotel

The Edgewater Hotel in downtown Seattle is where the epic meets historic. It’s described as waterfront, and that’s putting it mildly—the Edgewater is so waterfront The Beatles fished out of their hotel room window when they stayed here. The lobby and restaurants are something to behold, situated right on the water, and with a blazing fire and epic bar to keep you warm in Seattle’s fresh winters. 

*We’re not sure if you’re allowed to fish out of your window—it’s probably more of a Beatles thing. If you’re reading, Paul or Ringo, go right ahead lads. 

 

8. KICK BACK at a Mariners game

The SoDo district of Seattle plays host to a number of pro sports teams. The Seattle Mariners are one of those, playing their home games at T-Mobile Park, a modern stadium with a retractable roof that also stages the occasional concert. 

Get a hot dog and a beer, and sing Take Me Out to the Ball Game while taking in ‘America’s pastime’.