A Happy New to all! Some of our best bits of 2018…
Malta’s quiet and rural sister is just a 25 minute ferry from the main island and yet it seems like a different world. With a population of around 90% less than Malta, it’s easy to find some peace and quiet and enjoy the spectacular views. Gozo was famed for the Azure Window at Dwejra, which unfortunately collapsed in 2017 after heavy storms, so we set out to see what else this small rock could offer.
The tiny dots of land that make up Malta can be easily overlooked. This small Mediterranean archipelago between Sicily and Northern Africa is steeped in fascinating history and full of natural sights. More than just sand, sun and sea it’s capital city Valletta is a cosmopolitan centre lined with old narrow streets and baroque architecture. This year, the city gears itself up as the European Capital of Culture – with a multitude of shows and art events planned. There has never been a better time to visit Malta and experience it’s unique culture and stunning landscapes.
Filled with a multicultural history, Penang stood between the trade routes of the West and East. Its capital, George Town is a vibrant city and a UNESCO World Heritage site preserving many of its old, quaint buildings. Penang provides one of the best food destinations in Malaysia; with Chinese, Malay and Indian cuisines on offer. Combined with its cheap affordability – the island is popular with many visitors that come to sample these delights.
Everything that Bali can offer is here to make your stay pleasant and enjoyable. Being the most developed island, the landscape is completely diverse with lush green rice paddies, a volcano and beaches. We discovered it was easy to escape the crowds and the scenery here still makes it worthwhile to go.
Our final stop on the island was Labuan Bajo; a coastal town with a harbour now popular with tourists to visit the nearby islands that make up the Komodo National Park. The main draw here is to see the world’s largest lizards – the Komodo Dragon. Labuan Bajo town is quiet large, with more expensive hotels taking the prime positions and a variety of restaurants and tour operators that line its busy main street. After 330 miles travelling from Maumere, over a two week trip through windy mountain roads – it was nice to arrive.
Following from Part 1 of our Flores adventure, Part 2 covers our journey from central Flores to the West. We visit traditional villages scattered across volcanic plains and dense forests. We see amazing rice fields grown in a spider web pattern and we get an unexpected tour offered by local school students.
Beyond Bali and Lombok towards the east lies Flores, a long island named by the Portuguese colonists who arrived here in 16th Century. The island is an adventure playground; filled with active volcanoes, stunning lakes and hidden beaches. Dotted with traditional villages, interesting cultures and the mysterious Komodo Dragons to the far west, Flores offers you an alternative Indonesian escape with fewer tourists.
Sharing the same name as it’s Bali counterpart, Kuta in Lombok is the complete opposite. A long stretch of rugged coastline in the south of the island – with numerous beaches and coves to explore. Kuta is becoming a popular destination for surfers, with some of the best surf breaks in Indonesia. The beaches here are beautiful, uncrowded, and it feels undiscovered and low key – with none of the tacky beachside shops or resorts to spoil the natural splendour of this part of Lombok.