Journal Canteen Melbourne CBD Review

FeaturedMelbourne journal cafe

journal canteen melbourneBest for: Early mornings, solo coffee lovers, weekday brunch, sitting in, work friendly space 

I can’t believe that I’ve been in Melbourne for almost six weeks collectively and I’ve not done a cafe feature yet- believe me it’s not for lack of coffee drinking. Melbourne is an Australian city that’s famed for its coffee: supposedly there’s not a bad cup of coffee to be had here and so far I have to agree with that. As someone who has a severe caffeine addiction, I feel right at home in Melbourne and the irony is that I’ll look for food in the reduced section of the supermarket but will always splash out for a coffee or two.

Since arriving in Melbourne, having got myself a job and being busy with christmas and New Year, indulgent coffee dates with myself and lazy mornings have been a rarity. However today I had the day off work and made it my mission to wake up early and accomplish everything I wanted to- and that primarily included going somewhere nice for morning coffee.

Journal Canteen

Today I went to Journal Cafe which is located right in the heart of the hustle and bustle of the city in one of my favourite roads,  Flinders Lane. I though this cafe would be a good one to do a bit of a feature on as it’s about as Melbournian a cafe as you can get.

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The Decor

Journal canteen is not quite a cafe, not quite a restaurant, a description that is apt for a lot of Melbourne’s coffee shops. However unlike a lot of the eating and drinking establishments in the city centre, Journal has lots of room to sit in. It’s open plan decor means that it’s spacious, bright and best of all it’s not imposing if you’re just wanting to have a coffee by yourself.

The Menu and prices

Whether you’re just after a quick coffee, a cooked breakfast or a sit down meal, Journal’s simple but accommodating menu has something to offer for everyone. The cafe offers all of the usual options for breakfast and then a small selection of pasta dishes and roasts for lunch and dinner. The staff were really welcoming and the service was so efficient. Prices in the cafe are average for Melbourne, around $16 for mains and $5  for a coffee.

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I didn’t have anything that fancy this morning apart from a coffee and a croissant: obligatory despite having just had breakfast. The coffee was excellent and the croissant was warm and flaky. They have a handful of newspapers on the counter ready to read. All in all it’s a nice place to start the day off in the city.

Journal Canteen, 254 Flinders Lane, Melbourne, VIC, 3000

A 20 Something Travel Guide To Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a country that had been on my bucket-list for ages. Located at the bottom of Central America and repeatedly voted one of the happiest countries in the world, Costa Rica is known for its spectacular beaches, vast wildlife, yoga, surf culture and its ecotourism, so I just knew that I had to visit it.

However I knew very little about Costa Rica and I wasn’t sure how accommodating it was for younger backpackers like me which is why I ended up booking a group tour. I wasn’t sure how expensive it would be, how easy it would be to get around and more importantly, if it would be fun.

Doing a tour really eased me into the country but having spent a few weeks there I can vouch that Costa Rica is an ideal destination for younger travellers, and is a country that I’d feel very confident to travel in solo.

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Is Costa Rica safe?

Central America and South America often get a bad reputation for safety but tell your mum and dad not to worry, overall Costa Rica is a really safe country to travel in. The country is very popular with travellers and US expats meaning that its well accommodated for tourism. Because of the higher cost of living, its less prone to social problems than some of the poorer countries nearby and crime is rare.

I found that Costa Rica felt like the most civilised country in the region and it was very straightforward to travel in. English was widely spoken and because of the strong emphasis on being eco-friendly, it was a very clean and beautiful place to visit. The motto of Costa Rica is ‘Pura Vida‘ meaning pure life and I think that sums up the general ethos of the country. Inevitably there are some issues with drugs so just exercise a little caution, particularly when on a night out.Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

Is Costa Rica fun?

I know that personally one my concerns when I’m planning a trip to a new country is, will it be fun? I’m not by any means wanting massive clubs and the chance to get wasted everyday but having a fun environment with good hostels, young backpackers and places to have a drink at night is important -Travel isn’t all about sight-seeing you know. Well anyone visiting Costa Rica needn’t worry, it’s a really fun country to be a backpacker in, with fantastic hostels, yoga, surf spots, bars and beaches. Make sure to stop by Santa Theresa on the Pacific coast and Puerto Veijo on the Caribbean side and stay in the Selina hostels. I guarantee you’ll have new friends before you can say ‘pura vida’.

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So how expensive is Costa Rica?

The one thing that surprised me about Costa Rica were the prices. Being in Central America, I assumed that prices would be next to nothing but actually the cost of living is quite high compared to nearby countries like Guatemala and Nicaragua.

Average prices:

  • Bed in a dorm: 10-15 USD a night
  • Meal in a soda: 3-5 USD
  • Meal in a restaurant: 10-15 USD
  • Local bus: 2 USD
  • Excursions: 20 USD with some adventure activities reaching 100 USD

How to save money in Costa Rica

You can drastically cut down your costs as a backpacker to maximise your time. Here’s some handy tips to save some cash.

  •  Workaway: Finding casual work abroad is the best way to save money while you travel. The easiest way to find this is by going on to workaway (www.workaway.info) and making an account. You can then find loads of jobs from hostels to conservation projects, usually exchanging a few hours work each day for free accommodation and food.
  • Stay in the Caribbean side: Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast is cheaper than the Pacific side so its worth basing yourself there if you want to save money. One of my favourite places was the beach town of Puerto Veijo.
  • Travel in the low season: Travelling out of season, (May to December), means accommodation prices are lower. This does mean there’s more likelihood of rain though.
  • Eat at Sodas: The sodas are cheap local restaurants that are all over Costa Rica. They are generally open for just breakfast and lunch and are half the price of other restaurants. The cheapest dish is casado, a plate of rice, beans, meat and vegetables.
  • Book dorms on Hostelworld: I usually book accommodation via Booking.com but Hostelworld seems to have the cheapest options in Costa Rica. Just book one nights accommodation as its usually cheaper to extend in person.

If I had endless money and endless time then I would have stayed in Costa Rica a lot longer. Although it wasn’t my favourite country in Central America, (Guatemala has taken that place in my heart), I had a fantastic and memorable experience backpacking there and came home with some amazing memories.

I hope that this post has cleared up any doubts and answered any questions about backpacking in Costa Rica. If you have anything else you want to ask then just drop me a line in the contact page.

Solo Travel In New York: What To Do In NYC

Featurednew york times square

A solo travel guide to New York City

Cities are often known as lonely places. Therefore, when I decided to go to New York spontaneously after my travels in Central America, I was worried about how I would find the city on my own. I’d been to New York with my family before which meant that it didn’t feel as daunting. However, after the low-key pace of life that I’d got used to in Costa Rica, I guessed it was going to be a bit of a culture shock.

I arrived in the city by overnight bus from Atlanta where I had been staying with my aunt. Sleepy but excited the bus pulled in at eight in the morning into a chaotic, distinctly New York part of downtown Manhattan. I grabbed my backpack and started walking.

The city won me over straight away. As I was on my own I noticed everything; smoke coming out of potholes, commuters running for subways, cafes opening, lost tourists and I realised I shouldn’t have worried about being in the city on my own: everyone in New York is busy writing their own story.

Here’s my guide of my favourite things to do on your own in New York City:

Scout Film Locations

There’s nothing better to do by yourself in New York than scout all the famous film locations. Whether you fancy taking a selfie outside the Friends building or posing for a snap outside Carrie’s House, there is an endless list of filming locations all over the city.

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Cheesecake at Juniors restaurant, 1515 Broadway, 45th St

New York Cheesecake

I’m not ashamed to say that the idea of sitting down and tucking into a slice of real New York Cheesecake was a huge driving force behind my decision to go to NYC. Being solo in NYC means that you’re entitled to eat as much cheesecake as humanly possible and what’s more, you don’t have to share it with anyone.

I went on a bit of a cheesecake pilgrimage and my tried and tested favourite was the original one at Juniors on Broadway. (I did reach that point where I felt like I couldn’t go on when I was about two-thirds through it but I’d left the best bit for last so I just had to push through).

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Inside New York Public Library

Spend some time reading in the New York Public Library

I have always wanted to bring a book and my journal and spend a couple of hours in the beautiful and iconic New York Public Library. (Speaking of film locations earlier, anyone who’s watched Sex and the City will know this from Carrie’s wedding scene). The library is free to enter and it’s just the ideal place to escape from the chaos of the city. As a book lover I could have probably spent my entire trip in here reading and writing. (Make sure to stop by Bryant Park after, just over the road, for a coffee).

Relax in Central Park

Central Park is the centre of the city and regardless of whether you’re visiting New York in summer or winter, it’s the ideal place to take yourself off to for a few hours. If you’re lucky enough to be visiting in the warmer months then you don’t need to do much else than bring a picnic or grab a pretzel and enjoy the sun. If it’s a little cooler then just spend some time walking or rent a city bike around the park.  If you’re looking for a break then there are lots of museums on fifth avenue (east side of Central Park) such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art (make sure to check out its roof garden) and the Guggenheim museum.

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Culture espresso, 72 W,  38th St, New York

Grab a coffee

Going for coffee is the ultimate solo activity and New York has no shortage of quirky independent cafes to spend your cash in.  There are plenty in midtown Manhattan such as Culture espresso (where these fantastic cookies pictured above are made) however my favourite area is Greenwich village. It’s quieter and more residential then midtown and going for coffee feels like you’re living your own version of a Friends episode. I’m in my element cafe hopping and blogging, plus its the best way to actually mix with the real New Yorkers.

Walk the Brooklyn Bridge 

For the best views of Manhattan’s skyline, you have to walk the Brooklyn bridge. Personally, I love a walk (because it means you can eat more) and the Brooklyn Bridge is one of the best. It’s free to walk across and be sure to explore Brooklyn once you reach the other side. Just be sure to pack a camera and good walking shoes!

Late night shopping: Broadway and Times Square

I wish shops at home in Brighton were open as late as they are in cities like New York as you don’t have to waste your days in the shops and particularly for solo travellers, you don’t have to spend your evenings sat in a bar by yourself. Most shops in Broadway and Times Square are open until late so explore the city by day and then get your shopping done after dinner. Be sure to stop by Macy’s!

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Broadway at night

Walk along the High Line

Walking along one of New Yorks newest attractions, the High Line park is one of the best ways to spend a few hours. This elevated park is located on an abandoned railway, running from Hudson Yards to Chelsea and is decorated with greenery and modern art, all with fantastic views of the city below. It’s also completely free to visit.

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Grab food in the deli buffets

I sometimes find the idea of eating in proper restaurants a little daunting when I travel solo but that’s not something I had to worry about in New York thanks to the delis. New York delicatessens are mini markets offering buffets of hot and cold foods and I literally lived off these in the city.  They work by filling up a box with whatever you want and then paying by weight (So watch the heavy veg). Not only are the deli’s cheaper than a sit-down meal but you can choose your portion size and they generally have loads of healthy vegan and vegetarian options. Most deli’s that have buffets also offer seating meaning that there the best option for eating if you’re on your own.

I hope this post has given you some ideas of things to do on your own in New York. It may not be the kind of place that springs to mind when you think ‘solo travel‘ but I had a fantastic few days exploring the city before I headed home and as much as I can’t wait to go back with my friends and family, it was nice not to have to share the city (or my cheesecake) with anyone else.

What to do if you want to travel but have no one to travel with

Stop waiting for others: Here’s why being alone doesn’t need to stop you from travelling

You’ve got the money, you’ve got the time and you’re all ready to jet off and travel the world.  There’s only one problem, you’ve got no one to go with.

Going travelling is one of the most exciting experiences ever so it can seem crazy that’s it’s often hard to rustle up people who are willing to do it. The reality is that travelling takes time, money and a lot of effort and most people can’t just give up everything and go off for a few months the second they feel like it, which can be so frustrating if you’re ready to do just that.

However having no one to go with is really no issue so, whether you’re on your gap year, planning summer travels or taking a break from work, here’s what to do if you want to travel but have no-one to travel with.E4A988B2-63FF-4890-88B0-1B30D9485847.JPG

Go solo

If you’ve never travelled by yourself before then the idea of heading off to another country or countries on your own can seem really daunting but solo travel is one of the most liberating and rewarding experiences ever and just because you’re travelling solo, it doesn’t mean you have to be alone.

Travelling offers more opportunities to meet people than any other time in your life, particularly in popular backing countries like Thailand and Indonesia. If you’re worried about meeting people then book yourself into a sociable hostel, (look for party hostels) and really put yourself out there. If you’re willing and open to meet people then you’ll barely have a second alone. When people ask me if I’m going solo travelling? I say ‘no, I’m travelling with friends I just haven’t met yet’. 4124246F-81B1-45E7-84C7-B7E8174F3614.JPG

Book a group tour 

Gone are the days that a group tour meant boring. Thanks to adventure travel companies like Busabout, Contiki and G Adventures, there are so many young, fun, active and largely inexpensive tours out there all across the world. These are a great option to ease you into travel if you’re worried about going solo as you’ll be travelling as part of a group. These tours will usually arrange all your accommodation and transportation, and some even include meals. You could always leave some time at the end of your tour for some more travelling, as people in your tour will probably be staying on and you’ll most likely feel more confident as a traveller at that point anyway.

If you want a compromise between a group tour and solo travel then you could consider travelling with a hop on- hop off bus pass. These passes include your transport and some activities but allow you to travel independently at your own pace and without a tour guide. This can be less stressful than travelling fully solo but less structured than a tour. You’ll also have a member of staff that you can contact if you have any issues. A good company for these hop on-hop off passes is Bamba (bambaexperience.com), as they have passes all over the world.

Couch Surfing 

Couch surfing is a really unique way to travel abroad. It works by matching travellers with locals in the area who will let you stay in their home for free. This allows you to experience places like a local and it means that you arrive at least knowing someone. It’s also a really good way to save money. Granted this isn’t going to be for everyone but its worth taking a look online either way. (www.coachsurfing.com)

Work abroad

Sometimes having some structure when you’re away can make the idea of travelling by yourself so much less daunting. There are limitless opportunities to find work all over the globe, which not only means guaranteed structure and company but it’s also a culturally enriching experience and it allows you to save money and travel for longer. Just a few of the very many work abroad options include; Working visa in Australia, New Zealand or Canada, Doing a ski season, Tefl, Scuba instructor/ training in Thailand, Hostel or conservation work (Lots of these listed on Workaday.info), Camp America, Kibbutz in Israel, Au pair jobs, ashram in india).

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Volunteer

Volunteer programs are another fantastic way to spend some time abroad if you have no one to travel with. Volunteering is also a great option as it can be really rewarding and may be beneficial to your future career goals or interests. There are a few different types of volunteering that you can do abroad.

  • Volunteer programs

These can be run by tour companies like Frontier, Intrepid and GVI, or by charities and these tend to cost some money. However they are generally cheaper and longer than just booking on to a group tour to travel. These programs also usually include accommodation and food. You can do any thing from marine and wildlife conservation projects, to construction or teaching. Loads of companies also offer really career specific volunteer projects which can give you credits that go towards a uni application. Just make sure that any volunteering you do is with a reputable company as some volunteer programs can do more harm than good.

  • Free labour

Another great way to find more informal and cheaper volunteer projects is on sites like workaway.info and goabroad.com which have a range of listings from conservation work to construction projects and often exchange voluntary work for food and accommodation.

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Study abroad and internships

Studying abroad is a fantastic decision if you want to spend some time away but maybe don’t feel confident to just go off alone. It also means that you’re gaining an education while experiencing the world too. There are endless ways and endless options for places and subjects to study abroad.

  • Internships

Firstly some travel companies like frontier offer study abroad programs. They have loads of options from wildlife conservation internships to journalism internships. Another idea is doing a TEFL internship which combines studying for your TEFL certification to teach english in another country and then usually incorporates a work placement after.

  • Language schools

If you’re interested in leaning another language then why not enrol at a language school. Central/ South America and Europe are all great places to do these. You may also want to look at doing a language course with Education First which have lots of language schools all over the world and offer a very social experience.

Depending on your hobbies, there are so many ways to study absolutely anything abroad so get inventive. There are plenty of sports programs out there, international art schools or cooking schools so whatever you want to do, there’s a way to incorporate it with travelling.

Combining university and travel

If you’re wanting to travel in the future then you may want to consider a year abroad. A  lot of universities offer year abroad in second or third year and these are usually listed on the university’s website so, if you’re thinking about a degree then finding a course which has this option could be ideal.

I hope this post has shown you that not having anyone to go with you doesn’t have to mean that you can’t go travelling. There are so many ways to get out there and see the world, even if you don’t quite feel ready to tackle solo travel.

Sometimes when you’re at home deciding to do what next, the amount of options out there can seem overwhelming but don’t let it get you down too much. Follow your heart and pick something and somewhere that appeals to you. One thing I’ve learnt is that when it comes to travel, there are no wrong choices.

Do you have any more thoughts on this topic? If so drop me a line or leave a comment below!

Dealing with anxiety as a solo traveller

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IMG_6145.JPGIf you think your anxiety means that you can’t go solo travelling, think again. Anxiety is more common and less of a taboo than ever before and its a topic that came up in conversation as much among other travellers, as it did with friends back home.

Everyone thinks that to go travelling alone you have to be an overly confident, self-assured and adventurous person. It’s just not true. If you have anxiety, it may be harder to make yourself go, but you have so much more to gain from your travels than anyone else.

Anxiety is more prevalent than it ever has been. It may be because we’re more aware of it,  because of increasing social pressures and competition, or as an effect of social media. Either way, Anxiety can leave you feeling lost, isolated, nervous and a little angry. Making the decision to go travelling can seem massive but my advice is to just do it. If you’re really worried, book a small trip or a group tour, but I can’t stress enough the benefits of going solo. Either way, just that process of putting yourself out of your comfort zone means that you’re one step closer to tackling this illness.

When I was away I met so many people who had come through or were still suffering mental health disorders. There were those who’d had eating disorders, those who’d had breakdowns, those who had come through anxiety or who still suffered from it.  I’m not saying go travelling is the cure-all to all problems. I’m not saying you won’t get anxiety attacks while you’re away. But sometimes all you need is to put yourself out of your comfort zone, challenge yourself, meet new people and discover new places. Don’t let mental illness control your life, you might find travel is the best form of therapy you’ve ever been prescribed.

Five ways to deal with anxiety when you travel

Be organised

Sometimes, feeling out of control can make your anxiety seem worse. Being prepared can give you that extra boost of confidence that you need. Pre-plan an itinerary, have a list of accommodation options available and have a folder with all of your important documents in it.

Be open to meeting people

Anxiety can play havoc with your self-confidence but forcing yourself to meet people is what travel is about. Having new people to talk to and do things with can make you feel ten times more confident.

Look after yourself

Remember that you’ve really put yourself out of your comfort zone by going travelling in the first place, so don’t be too hard on yourself. If something is really worrying you, then listen to yourself, even if it mean paying a little more. If you feel like you need some alone time, book yourself into a nice hotel, or if you’re worried about visiting a place by yourself, book a group tour for a few days.

Bring snacks

Sometimes, something as simple as having low blood sugar can trigger an anxiety attack. Keep a plentiful supply of snacks with you at all times so that you’re never caught off guard. It’s one less thing to worry about also.

Don’t think about it

Worrying about your anxiety can be enough to trigger it. Luckily travelling offers a world of distractions. If you feel an anxiety attack coming on try distracting yourself by listening to some music, going to chat with others in a hostel common room, sitting out in the sunlight and even having a few motivational phrases that you can go over in your head.

Anxiety may be a part of your life, but there’s not need for it to stop you living it. The hardest thing about travelling with anxiety is making yourself go in the first place,  but just think about all the amazing experiences that you’re going to have. You might find that you’re so busy moving forward, your anxiety just won’t be able to catch up.

 

 

Dropping Out Of Uni And Starting Fresh: 2017 Reflections

IMG_5745.JPGThis time last year I made the huge decision to drop out of my first year at university. I had been studying up in London and had come home feeling lost, confused and underwhelmed. My course and my University hadn’t been what I’d expected. I’d found myself feeling lonely in London, with little money to do anything and way too much time to myself. To put it straight, I’d lost my enthusiasm.

Going to university had always been a given for me. I knew that I wanted to be a journalist and I loved London. I’d envisioned three years up in my favourite city, loving every minute of it, so it was a massive surprise when it turned out that I didn’t.  I’d applied while in Sixth Form and differed my place, taking a year out to do some travelling. It wasn’t until I moved up to London that I started to realise, perhaps University wasn’t for me.

In the UK, there’s a lot of pressure to follow a certain path. Our Sixth Form didn’t give much guidance for those not wanting to go university. The options were pretty much, go to university or go and work. The thing is, If you follow your dreams, there are limitless opportunities and paths to get you where you want in life.

For me, I was lucky because I found another shorter course that suited me. In England, we have a thing called an NCTJ diploma in Journalism. This short course is significantly cheaper than one year of University. It was full-time, so it could be completed in three months, it would give me experience writing and being published and would provide me with qualifications and practical experience as a journalist. I could also study this back in my hometown. So last January, I moved back to Brighton, got a cafe job for the weekend, studied like crazy in the week, got my diploma, got published, got work experience and then emerged with a good set of skills, the freedom to do whatever I wanted and a renewed enthusiasm for life.

What I’m trying to say is that there is a world of opportunities out there. At any time in life, but especially when you’re young, you should be trying everything. Every idea of an idea, follow it. If you want to travel, go. If you want to learn a language, learn it. If you’re not sure what you want to do in life, then go and try everything and wait to be inspired. There are no time limits. Who says you can’t go to university when you’re 23? Who says that you ever have to have an office job? Who says that you can’t be your own boss?

As 2017 comes to an end, I’m excited for what the new year has to hold. At times, life, since leaving university, has been pretty uncertain, but I’m learning to see this uncertainty as a challenge, not a threat. At the moment, I’ve just come back from a solo backpacking trip around Asia and my plans are to see much more of the world this year, while continuing to blog, write, photograph, laugh and follow my heart.

Checking into paradise: The One Resort

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If you’re walking down the white sand beach of Saracen Bay, Koh Rong Sanloem, Cambodia, then there’s one resort that will catch your eye. Right on the beachfront, overlooking the ocean, is a stylishly unimposing resort with an air of superiority to it. What strikes you first is the infinity pool. Turquoise blue, facing out into the horizon of the empty sea and looking so inviting you’d do anything to be one of those people hanging on to its edge, cocktail in hand, gazing out at the ocean.

The One Resort is one of the most exclusive hotels on the tiny paradise that is Koh Rong Sanloem, a serene and relatively untouched Cambodian island on the gulf of Thailand. With it’s pool, luxury beach bungalows, exceptional service and gourmet food,  it’s not hard to see why The One Resort is the premier hotel on the bay.

Complimentary welcome drink in hand, we’re walked to our luxury bungalow where we’ll spend the night. The room is spacious and elevated off the sand, giving it a sense of grandeur. It’s in keeping with the island enough that you can kid yourself you’re a beach bum, but it has enough luxuries and comforts to make sure you don’t look like one.

Back in the main building, there’s never a chance to forget that you’re on an island. Whatever you do, it is always accompanied by views of the ocean. The in house restaurant is one of the best on the island, serving up a wide range of freshly made dishes, from local Cambodian cuisine to handmade artisan pizzas, all served with panoramic ocean views. The cocktail menu is exquisite, but by no means purse friendly.

Don’t visit The One Resort for a productive sightseeing day. Don’t visit the island for a productive day really. Koh Rong Sanloem is a place to enjoy pure and utter isolation and escape from every day life, and what better place to do that than in the confines of the most luxurious resort on the island?

On windy days, expect a long walk back to catch your ferry. The resort has it’s own boat but this will not operate if the sea is rough. The long walk is the price to have to pay for the isolation that comes from staying at the far end of the beach.

Fancy your own trip to paradise?

Rooms start from 85 USD per night:  http://theone-resort.com/en/home/