Let Bikini Alchemy be your guide with our insight on some of the world's best beaches and idyllic getaways! Here are our insider tips on where to go, where to stay, and what to do!
If you’ve fallen in love with Bali and you’re up for a more adventurous trip, you should consider the Mentawai Islands. Located off the west coast of Sumatra Indonesia, getting to the Mentawai Islands is not an easy feat. It involves several flights, taxis, a 3-4 hour ferry ride into the middle of the Indian Ocean, and then a canoe ride to the island of your choice. With that being said, the islands are absolute paradise. The water is crystal clear and warm year round and the white sand beaches are pristine. Finding a quiet spot on the beach will never be a problem and every photo you take will look like a postcard.
Still covered mostly in tropical rainforest, many islands are untouched by anyone but the indigenous Mentawai people who live largely off the land. The people are very friendly towards travelers, but Westerners have not influenced their religion and local traditions. Try to visit one of the local villages to see this ancient culture.
Although you can find a few yoga retreats and honeymooners, the majority of people visit the Mentawai Islands for the world-class surf. However, surfing here is not exactly for beginners. With sharp reefs and massive swells, these breaks are for experienced surfers. For serious surfers there are surf charters that can take you from wave to wave. With vast coral reefs surrounding the Mentawai Islands, they are also an ideal area for snorkeling and diving.
Togat Nusa literally translated to “Baby Island” is a little slice of heaven. Owned and operated by surf couple John and Ainsley Ocean, the entire island can be walked in a circle in about 30 minutes and sits in front of the famous wave break, “Scarecrows.”
The island hosts about 8 guests at a time in beautifully crafted drift wood bungalows. It has a real feeling of being dropped on an island in the middle of nowhere but still has the comforts of home. Whether you want to surf, snorkel, lie in a hammock all day, or play with the resident monkey, Beaker, you will find this one of the most relaxing places you’ve ever been.
- With no shopping in sight, make sure to pack your own toiletries, sunblock, bug spray, and medications.
- As much of your travel will involve boats, consider investing in a large dry sack.
- Be prepared to have little or no cell and Internet service and pack a flashlight, as you will find yourself walking through the dark at times.
- Research Mentawai Fast ferry schedules from Padang before you book as it only operates certain days of the week. I recommend spending a night in Padang coming and going to break up the travel.
- Travelers insurance is a must whenever planning a trip to a secluded location.
- Bring a high SPF sunblock as the sun is much stronger this close to the equator.
- Leave valuables and designer goods at home. All you need here is a bikini, a sarong, and a smile:)
By: Lyndsay Hugues
You may have heard negative things about the Philippines. “It’s dangerous.” “It’s not safe for Americans.” Like most places, if you look for trouble, trouble will find you. While there are dangerous areas of the Philippines, much like other countries, there are also generally safe areas full of tourists. If the journey doesn’t deter you, Boracay Island boasts crystal clear, turquoise water and one of the softest white sand beaches you’ll ever step foot on.
If you want to be lazy and get pampered you can relax on the beach, get massages, and drink frozen drinks all day. If adventure is more your thing, there are also a ton of options. Water sports are everywhere with paddle boarding, scuba diving, snorkeling, parasailing, and kite surfing. Another must is chartering a sailboat and island hopping. Nearby islands that are popular include Puka Beach, Crocodile Beach, and Tambisaan Beach, which are known for cliff jumping, snorkeling and cave exploring.
Boracay beach is lined with reggae bars, fire dancers, and cheap seafood restaurants. D Mall and Talipapa Market are the best shopping for souvenirs and you can also get henna or your hair braided for only a few dollars. No matter how many days you spend in Boracay, the one thing you don’t want to miss each day is the stunning sunsets. They are some of the most beautiful you will ever see.
Boracay Island is rather small and anywhere is nice to stay but it is divided into three sections: Station 1, Station 2, and Station 3. Station 1 has the nicest hotels, Station 2 is the most crowded, and Station 3 is the quietest. It is easy to get from one area to another in a tuk-tuk (cart pulled by a scooter). This is the typical mode of transportation and their version of a taxi. You can also always walk the beach which is safe both day and night.
Getting There And Away:
There are no direct flights to Boracay so getting there is a process. You will most likely fly into Manila, where I do not recommend staying. Although the city has an amazing history, today it is dangerous and there isn’t much to see. From Manila, fly to Kalibo where you can transfer to Boracay. Make sure you give yourself plenty of time between flights as Manila airport has several terminals which are so far apart they require a taxi or shuttle between them.
Southwest Tours (not to be confused with the airline) offers a great full service transfer from Kalibo Airport straight to your hotel in Boracay. You can book ahead at http://www.southwesttoursboracay.com. The bus, which is a comfortable tour bus and plays reggae music, takes you on a scenic 2-hour drive through the city of Kalibo and rice paddies. Once you arrive at the ferry the same company transfers you on a 15-minute ferry ride to Boracay Island and then drives you to your hotel of choice. The same company takes you back from your hotel to the airport and it costs $30 round-trip.
- Don’t buy souvenirs or day tours from the first person who approaches you. Ask around for prices and you will find you will get a much better deal.
- Expect to get tourist prices for everything. Even though $10 for a T-shirt may not seem like a lot to you, bargaining is expected. You could probably get that shirt for $4 if you haggle.
- Try to go during low season (June-September). It is still beautiful but prices are cheaper and the beaches are less crowded.
- If you are feeling harassed by people trying to sell you stuff just politely say, “no thank you” and keep walking. Being overly friendly and stopping for a conversation will often end in purchasing a bunch of junk you have to drag home.
- Drink bottled water, as the tap water is not safe. Pack mosquito repellant and make sure to wear extra sunscreen. Sunburn happens very quickly here.
- Leave valuables at home and watch out for pickpockets.
By: Lyndsay Hugues