Find your favourite beach in the Gili Island
You cannot overstate the beauty of the Gili Islands; it regularly leaves you in awe as you slowly make your way around the islands. The main activity seems to be lazing about in one of the many hammocks during the day followed by one of the cosy bars at night. Throw in great diving, cheap bike hire and you have just enough activities to make this a holiday that will stay in the mind for a long time.
One great option for accommodation is the Blu d’Amare, which is a well located hotel, just far enough away from the bars but definitely close enough to feel part of the action. It also has a nice little beach just outside and the current Italian owners ensure the food and service are good. If you have a bit more budget then check out the Luce d’Alma Resort & Spa, which was the winner of a recent TripAdvisor Award.
Play Crusoe in Croatia
As the Rough Guide once stated – it’s ‘around three day you get it.’ and ‘time seems to loosen and days assume a delicious ease’. Croatia is a country blessed with a gorgeous coastline and a rugged authentic interior. And as a Not Just a Holiday team member excitedly exclaimed last year, it instantly become their favourite holiday destination of all time on a recent vist. Praise indeed. You’ll find a strong central European flavour in the baroque architecture of Zagreb, and Italian devotion to the good life percolates up from the coast, permeating Croatian food and style. Croatia also boasts over 1000 islands of varying size and appeal, whilst in the gorgeous city of Dubrovnik it has an iconic tourist attraction – our favourite thing to do was walk the Ancient City Walls and look around Old Town.
A great place to stay in Dubrovnik was Hotel More, a classy hotel which boasts lovely rooms, a large pool and a sumptious breakfast. We found a great deal on trivago of £155 for a 6 days in June. Great value for a luxury hotel.
Relive the 1970’s charm and sophistication of Capri
Instantly recognisable as an iconic Mediterranean island, it’s surrounded by stunning, crystal clear turquoise water. As you first set your eyes on the main harbour you know you have reached somewhere quite unique. Formed out of jagged limestone rocks, Capri’s inhabitants live within rows of white houses dotted around the island, which give it the feel of a classic, ruggedly beautiful holiday destination.
The perfect activity is pottering around the centre, strolling down to one of the small rocky beaches or taking advantage of one of the picturesque coffee shops. However, the main tourist event is still The Blue Grotto. The Grotto allows a small amount of sunlight to pass through an underwater cavity and thus creates a magical looking blue reflection that illuminates the cavern. The Not Just a Holiday team had the honour of a singing boatman and combined with a three hour boat trip around the island we had to agree it was the perfect way to round off our trip.
For accommodation don’t look any further than Hotel La Tosca – Ideal location, clean rooms, killer views on their terrace make this a great option at an affordable price.
Get back to nature in Costa Rica
Where to start? We have always been huge admirers of Costa Rica and we have come across another gem in this little pocket of paradise. The Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge is situated at the southeastern end of Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast. The stunning secluded beaches and coral reefs all make this a paradise for nature lovers and underwater enthusiasts. And yet somehow it has remained secluded and relatively unvisited. Except that is from animals – and lots of them. You can hear and see howler monkeys everywhere, toucans flying over your head and bright blue crabs scurring past your feet; the area is alive with some of Costa Rica’s most iconic wildlife. The marine life is no less raucous, from dolphins to devil rays, there is something to view and explore wherever you look.
We were not that impressed with the accommodation within Manzanillo and recommend you head into the nearby Puerto Viejo and book in at the La Costa de Papito, which offer cosy bungalows in a tranquil setting.
Discover Colombia in two weeks
As the Lonely Planet recently declared, Colombia is back. What was once a trickle of visitors is quickly becoming a whole lot more. And with good reason – years of political unrest and negative headlines have shielded this beautiful country from the tourists it deserves. Now a stunning coastline, friendly locals and dazzling nightlife welcome new open-mouthed tourists, backed up by cosmopolitan cities such as Bogota, Medellin and Cartagena, which are helping Colombia to emerge as one of South America’s hottest new destinations.
So what to do in two weeks? We (and a recent article in the New York Times) recommend you get out to Cartegena as soon as possible. It’s narrow medieval streets, packed with bars and restaurants give the city a unique charm. The whole city is beautifully preserved with perfectly restored houses and town building around every corner. The most popular activity seems to be spending time in one of Cartagena’s many open-air cafés, watching the parade of horse-drawn carriages and busy mixture of locals and tourists scuttling by.
As well as Cartagena, a two week itinerary in Colombia should also include a visit to the now prosperous and upbeat city of Medellin, as well as spending some time in the perfect temperatures and lush green valleys of Zona Cafeteria, two locations which perfectly demonstrate Colombia’s crecent hange in fortunes.
Our favourite hotel was easily the Casa El Carretero in Cartagena. Intimite, authentic and stylish.