5 reasons why you should visit exmouth

Hi Loves!

In June, I was lucky enough to find this little hidden town tucked away in a far corner of Australia. Here's why you should make a trip out to Exmouth, Western Australia next time you're down under. 

1. Escape The Crowds

The view from my apartment at the gorgeous Novotel Ningaloo Resort

The view from my apartment at the gorgeous Novotel Ningaloo Resort

Every time I need to explain where exactly Exmouth is, I'm reminded of this fact: Exmouth is not a huge tourist destination, and most people don't even know it exists (yet). Exmouth has a local population of 2,000 which reaches 6,000 at the most during peak season.

Since it's on the west coast, it isn't as easily reached as the usual destinations of Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane (which makes it all the more worth the while!) Not many people get out to this part of the country, and the few people who do know about it tend to be Australian locals.

2. The Location

Shot from the plane flying into Exmouth from Perth

Shot from the plane flying into Exmouth from Perth

Exmouth is located about an hour and a half's flight north of Perth, on the west coast of Australia. The weather stays in a nice 80-90 degree Fahrenheit range during most of the year during the day, meaning that it's always nice enough to be outside on the beach and if it's a little cooler, to check out the Cape Range National Park.

Exmouth is a nature lover's paradise, since it's in this wonderful position of having canyons and this amazing park which reaches out right to the water, where the Ningaloo Reef is located. Ningaloo Reef is the largest fringe reef in the world, and it's like the lesser known cousin of Cairns' Great Barrier Reef. Although the corals itself are much less colourful than on the Great Barrier Reef, the marine life is incredible (more on that later!)

3. The Road Trip

In Coral Bay at the beach by the Coral Gardens reef formation

In Coral Bay at the beach by the Coral Gardens reef formation

Exmouth is about a two-hour drive from a cute town called Coral Bay, and the drive between the two takes you on a gorgeous trip through Cape Range National Park. Not only is the destination of Coral Bay a great little touristy area to spend a day or two in, the journey itself also lets you see some really neat things, like kangaroos, lots of sheep, and termite nests taller than you are (which can be enjoyed from a reasonable distance!)

On a side note, a couple of tips for this road trip: 

Tip #1: If you rent a car to do this drive, remember that they are not insured after 5pm due to kangaroo activity at dusk! 

Tip #2: If you take this side trip, it's a perfect opportunity to enter the Ningaloo Tourism Board's Photography Competition, where you can win up to $1000!

4. The Beaches

Clean, no crowds, cool sand, clear and warm water where you don't need a wetsuit, and calm lagoons created by Ningaloo Reef's fringing the coastline.

Shot in Coral Bay while free diving the Coral Gardens

Shot in Coral Bay while free diving the Coral Gardens

Need I say more? 

5. The Marine Life 

Taken on a GoPro Hero 3+ during my day with Three Islands

Taken on a GoPro Hero 3+ during my day with Three Islands

To be honest this was the entire reason I made the trek out to Western Australia. I took a whale shark trip with Three Islands and it just might have been the highlight of my life. The staff was so friendly and kept us entertained and well-fed in between shark swims. We were very well-informed of the marine park's regulations and our interactions with the sharks were not disruptive of the animals.

If you don't feel super confident snorkeling and swimming in open water, don't worry! There's a lagoon snorkel at the beginning of the day and they provide life jackets and noodles if you need them! I was lucky enough to see four whale sharks, as well as a hammerhead shark, dolphins, manta rays and a turtle the day I went out on the boat. 

Amazing marine life can be viewed year-round, with manta rays always in Coral Bay. Other large pelagics like whale sharks and mantas make an appearance in Exmouth during the winter, with humpbacks coming in the spring and turtles nesting in the summer and fall. Check out this nifty wildlife calendar for more information, but know that no matter when you go you're bound to be amazed!

 

Exmouth can be reached through flying to Perth and catching one of the two daily flights up to Learmonth Airport. If you have any questions about places to stay or things to do, please drop me a message on the "Contact" page! 

Much love!

-Nishaa

xoxo

mind the gap: things to think about before taking the year off

Hi Loves!

I know some of you are in that exciting time of year right now where you’re a senior in high school and considering what college to go to in the fall; and I know that decision is difficult enough on its own but I’m about to give you some insight on another option: a gap year.

A gap year is basically taking a year (or maybe just a semester) off between graduating high school and beginning college. Some people do it to take a breather because they’re feeling burnt out, some work, some do internships, some volunteer, and some travel. It’s the first time you have this much time to do anything you want to do, so the options are endless, and you don’t have to pick just one.

The Nobbies, Phillip Island, Victoria Australia

The Nobbies, Phillip Island, Victoria Australia

The Good

When you take a year off, you’re actually at an advantage in the competitive job market and college admissions. It can show self-motivation, a global awareness, and you quite literally have a full year to do nothing but build up your resume and fill your life with experiences to discuss with potential employers and to build networking connections. Lots of people come to college having never worked a job, and you have the opportunity to come in with job experience and it’s worth considering a domestic or international internship.

You can work on yourself and you get the chance to mature. I made a conscious effort to do the things I was afraid of and be more adventurous, became more independent, and grew as a person through having to be responsible for myself and the decisions I made while traveling. When you’re doing things like navigating a public transportation system in Australia and you can’t use Google Maps, suddenly the idea of going off to school isn’t so intimidating. And after taking the year off, it becomes much clearer what you’re looking for in both a career and a college experience, and you will be much more well informed in making your decisions.

If you decide to volunteer during your gap year, you can do good in the world. You can work locally by volunteering in homeless shelters, or even at your old elementary school. which is what I did when I wasn’t abroad. You can also go to another country and volunteer, which I’ll touch on more in a bit.

Pacific City, Oregon, United States

Pacific City, Oregon, United States

The Bad

The biggest problem with gap years happens when you have a lack of planning, which can lead to too much time on your hands. If you don’t make at least a few firm plans for your gap year, you can end up lounging around the house, sleeping until 2pm (which is totally okay every once in a while, don’t get me wrong!) and possibly even losing your motivation. There were definitely times last year where I would be super down, felt like an actual potato, and was worried about being able to go back into a school environment at all.

Which brings me to my next point, some aspects of starting college become more difficult. While you may be at an advantage, aspects of your social life may become harder. I just started my freshman year of college about a month and a half ago, and there are times where I can’t really connect to the people around me, because in taking the year off, I did a lot of the maturing and learning that people do during their first year of college (the crazy drinking? Not so appealing anymore!). I’ve found myself hanging out with a lot of upperclassmen even though I’m not technically older than my freshman class since I graduated at sixteen, and then took the time off, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing because upperclassmen are a fun time.

The Great Barrier Reef, Cairns, Queensland Australia

The Great Barrier Reef, Cairns, Queensland Australia


The Options

Working is a great option, and it’s what I did for a majority of my gap year. You can go into a mall and work retail, host or wait at a restaurant, work at a parent’s friend’s office, babysit, or nanny. When you don’t have to work around being in school, you have the chance to make WAY more money. When you’re going around from job interview to job interview, you learn about the best way to present yourself and what your strengths are, since you get asked ALL the time.

Interning is something interesting, which can be done locally or internationally. Personally, I decided to intern with a travel agency in my hometown, which allowed me to learn a lot more about the world, my own travel goals and also how to work efficiently with others. You can also intern abroad, which allows you to travel the world AND build your resume!

A Working Holiday does something similar to an internship abroad, and it’s not an option that a lot of people are familiar with. Australia and New Zealand have working holiday visas for U.S citizens between the ages of 18 and 30, where you get to work in the country for half the year, and then adventure and travel within the country with the money you made for half the year! Expect a lot more information about this since it’s my plan for after college.

Volunteering is also a great option, and so is Adventure Travel. You can do this through a tour group or company, like Rustic Pathways (which is the company I volunteered in Costa Rica through), or you can travel independently (which is what I did for Australia and New Zealand)! Rustic Pathways is super cool because they offer volunteer and adventure options for gap years, which can be found at http://gap.rusticpathways.com

Camaronal Wildlife Refuge, Costa Rica (photo by Andrew Jenkins, sign by yours truly and the Rustic Pathways crew)

Camaronal Wildlife Refuge, Costa Rica (photo by Andrew Jenkins, sign by yours truly and the Rustic Pathways crew)

Tips

Have a plan and goals before you take your year off! This can help to combat that potato-ness that tends to happen sometimes. Even if you don’t have your entire year planned out day by day, you at least have things to look forward to and work towards.

Mix it up! You don’t have to pick just one of the things I listed above. Personally, I volunteered in Costa Rica, worked/interned/volunteered locally, went to Canada, worked, and finished things out in New Zealand and Australia on a solo trip.

Know where you want to grow. Consider the areas where you want to grow as a person. Maybe you want to be more independent, more adventurous, or more outgoing. Have a couple of goals and make choices to help you work towards those goals..

A gap year is amazing, but it isn’t the best option for everyone; make sure you feel that it is for you before you decide to do it!

And as always, if you need advice hit up that contact page!

Much love,

Nishaa

xoxo

 

the most amazing place you've never heard of

I felt the need to share this country with all of you as soon as possible, because with climate change and rising sea levels, it won't be around much longer.

Ever heard of The Maldives? 
Don't worry, most people haven't. In fact, it's not even on most maps.
 


Let's zoom in a little.
 

Here's Southeast Asia. The Maldives is a chain of islands located on the southwest coast of India, it should be in the bottom left corner of the above picture. See where all that ocean is? Yup, somewhere in there, that's The Maldives.

Even though it's not on a map, I think that everyone needs to visit this little treasure of a country. It's made up of about 1,200 islands, only one of which is inhabited by Maldives Islanders. There's 199 more that are home to resorts, and the other thousand are completely untouched. The bigger islands are bordered by rings of coral reef, creating beautiful dimensions of blue. When you're flying in from Europe or India, the beauty of The Maldives will take your breath away before your plane even lands at the airport on Male (pronounced Mah-lay).

 

#50shadesofblue

Once you arrive there's a pretty big selection of resorts ranging from about 300 to more than 800 dollars per night on the islands surrounding Male, as well as budget accommodations on the island capital. If you're staying on Male, it's important to remember that this is an Islamic country, and you should stay more covered to respect the locals and their beliefs. Indian rupees are also not allowed into the country, so make sure that you exchange them to US dollars (the currency used in The Maldives) before departing if you're coming in from India.

However, most people go for the resorts, reached by boat or seaplane, and opt for over-the-water bungalows or villas. When my family and I went in 2012, we decided to go for a "garden bungalow" at Kurumba, which was significantly less expensive. The best part? Even with this discounted room, it barely a minute to walk to the beach. 

The four days spent on Kurumba were pure bliss. 

This is the case with a few of the islands, but Kurumba is especially known for its shark population. Mother black tip reef sharks come to the calm lagoon surrounding the resort to give birth, meaning that there's a lot of baby sharks hanging out by the beach! Like this one, who we called Timothy, who had a brother named Jimothy (I know, super creative).

 

We also learned to stand-up paddle board while on the island, which cost about $30 per person including equipment rental for the day. However, the highlight of my time in The Maldives was the snorkel safari that my sister and I did (approximately $100 per person).

Snorkeling on the coral reefs that surrounded uninhabited islands was incredible. The water was crystal clear, and we were able to see the ocean floor. Clownfish, tangs, and sea anemones were abundant, and we were soon joined by turtles and three different species of sharks. Whenever I'd read about sharks being eight to ten feet, I never thought much of it. That seemed on the smaller side, especially compared to the sixteen and twenty feet great white and tiger sharks. Being in the water with these graceful, agile, powerful creatures that are twice your size is the most humbling experience, that I'll never be able to fully articulate. 

Growing up I was a huge nerd, especially when it came to the ocean. I've been dreaming of interacting with sharks in the wild ever since I was in kindergarten, and I'd always stood by the idea that sharks aren't vicious man-eaters. Not only was I able to live out my childhood dream on this trip, I've also been able to come back and talk to kids about the misconceptions about sharks. 

 

The Maldives sound pretty great, right? Well you'd better hurry and get down there since they won't be around much longer. 

This country is the world's lowest, with its highest point being seven feet and a majority of it sitting below sea level. As our climate changes and ocean levels rise, The Maldives are quickly sinking. It's estimated that this country will be completely underwater within the next fifteen years.

That seriously sucks. If you're like me and want to honeymoon here after getting married, you'd better put a ring on it really fast. Unless we seriously turn our actions around and combat the damage that we as humans have done to the environment, The Maldives won't be a place that our kids and grandchildren get to see. WE might not even be able to see it. It's easy to brush the idea of climate change under the rug, to think it's not a big deal, but we are drowning a beautiful and amazing country.

The Maldives are one of the last pristine, untouched places on earth where you can experience nature above and underwater first hand, and they hold a special place in my heart. I hope that every person who reads this is able to experience it. In the meantime, raise awareness! Talk to people about climate change and about The Maldives. 

 

If you'd like to get seriously involved, visit the "Making Waves" tab to learn more about my new campaign (more on that next time), and if you're planning a trip, feel free to get in touch with me for any questions!

Much love,

-Nishaa

xoxo