So…..you like to Snorkel? You must go on a holiday to Sharm el Sheikh !

Guest travel article by Becky Hayes – TV and Radio Presenter and travel writer about her holiday to Sharm el Sheikh.

There is nothing quite like swimming in turquoise sea amongst beautiful bright coral with rainbow fish swirling around you. This is exactly the experience I had recently on a holiday to Sharm el Sheikh.

I’ve heard people say that Egypt is fab for snorkelling and diving before but I never really took much notice! I always thought it could never really compare to the likes of Thailand or The Maldives but I was wrong. Infact, the snorkelling we did in Sharm exceeded both of the latter….by a mile!

My husband and I stayed at The Reef Oasis Senses Resort in Sharm el Sheikh for a week.  It’s a chic, relaxing hotel in a quiet location. They have a private beach at the end of the resort with a pontoon jutting out into the sea just where the coral ends….the perfect spot for snorkelling.

You can buy or hire snorkelling and dive equipment in the hotel itself or pretty much anywhere in Egypt. We bought 2 snorkel masks from the hotel shop for £14 each (a bit overpriced but they have to make their money somehow!). It’s always worth a haggle even if they say it’s a fixed price – nothing is ever a fixed price in Egypt!

scuba diving in the Red Sea

Both myself and my husband have snorkelled lots before but for some reason it always takes me a while to get used to it! I don’t know if it’s the breathing through your mouth, my face being underwater or just being out in the open sea but I always need a few minutes to adjust! My husband on the other hand is completely at home in the water and is one of those show off’s who always dives down under the water to get a better look at the fish…whilst doing forward rolls.One morning we took some bread down from breakfast to feed the fish. I was already in the water, mask on, mouthpiece in trying to find my sea legs so to speak when my husband tried to give me the bread whilst he got in himself. I was still a bit apprehensive at this point and completely lost the plot!  I started shouting at him……..through my mouthpiece of course!. It was something along the lines of “I caaaan’t howld the bwead, I won’t be abwle to keep myself aflowt. I’ll sink and dwown…..” Slight exaggeration maybe.

Anyway, I finally got into my stride and set off along the coral. The best time to snorkel is early in the morning before the crowds and families all pile down to the beach. We got to the pontoon for around 8am and were often the only ones there which was pretty special. The sun was just coming up, the sea was calm and clear and the fish were aplenty! We saw the most amazing array of tropical fish, all shapes and sizes and so many bright colours. One particular morning, a cute little rainbow fish followed us along the coral and appeared to be trying to play with us! It was absolutely amazing!

The one thing that I was desperate to see was a turtle. Every morning I was carefully looking at rocks and coral to see if there were any hiding but it was not to be. I saw a huge one years ago whilst snorkelling in the Seychelles and it was an unforgettable experience so I was desperate to see one again. However I have not given up and will be returning to Egypt for more snorkelling and turtle spotting.

To stay at The Reef Oasis Senses Resort on Thursday 24th January for 7 nights, all inclusive, it’s £675 per person.

Watermelon cocktails on the 65th floor in Barcelona !

Our roving Travel TV Presenter, Becky Hayes, has just returned from another girls only short break to Barcelona. You might remember that Becky was recently impressing the locals in Prague. This time Becky and her girl friends hit Barcelona and here is her report of some of the best places to visit whilst in Barcelona.

Barcelona!
If you are looking for a cheap break or a weekend away, then Barcelona is the perfect option.  Just 2 hours away by plane and with extremely cheap deals to be had, you’d be mad not to book up.
It’s a mix of culture, history, arts, fantastic shopping, amazing nightlife and of course the beach.
I’ve just got back from a long weekend there with the girls but we honestly wanted to stay on longer.  We felt there was still so much we hadn’t seen or done.

 
We stayed in the TRYP Apolo Barcelonaright in the centre of the city and 15 minutes in a taxi from the airport. It’s a 5 minute walk to Las Ramblas and a 5 minute taxi ride to the Barri Gotic Quater so it’s very easy to get to everything. The hotel in itself was fantastic; we even got upgraded from a triple room to a top floor suite with 2 bedrooms! Although with 3 girls, 2 bathrooms may have come in handier! The staff were friendly and so helpful. Look out for Miguel (very white teeth and a dark set tan!) who can recommend restaurants, bars and tourist attractions.
A must is Las Ramblas. It’s a long main street heading down to the marina with so much to see. It has restaurants galore, animals, street entertainers and stalls selling niknaks. Do keep your bags close though; it’s notorious for pick pockets. Also the restaurants here can be fairly expensive so it’s worth venturing off down one of the many side streets and looking for a restaurant there.

 
Being with the girls, we wanted to get dressed up in the evening, enjoy a nice dinner then head out and experience the Barcelona nightlife. It did not disappoint! The food, especially tapas is fantastic and there are so many bars and clubs to choose from. My favourites are below:
Little Italy– This is in the Barri Gotic Quater and is set in the most gorgeous building. It’s a mixture of exposed beams and modern architecture. The food is delicious and very reasonably priced. Make sure you try a mango mojito. They also have a live jazz band on midweek and there are plenty of bars nearby to enjoy a cocktail in after.

 
Shoko Beach Club – We went here out of season but it was still amazing! The staff were great and really looked after us putting us in VIP with a complimentary glass of champagne. Thanks to Juan for that! The DJ played a good mix of music and they had drinks deals on which all in all made it very reasonable. In the summer, it opens out onto the beach.
The Sutton Club– If you are looking for an exclusive, Ibiza- esq club then this is the place. Inside, the club is dominated by Moet and Grey Goose seating areas that curve around the dancefloor. When we went the theme was snow so there were beautiful girls in skimpy ski wear on stage, silver sprayed dancers and entertainers walking around, fake snow all over the floor and falling from the ceiling and pine trees! The club is open till 6am and is full of the in-crowd. Thanks to Kevin for sorting us out on the Guestlist

 
The W Hotel Cocktail Bar – If you’re looking for a cocktail with a view then head to the 65th floor of this plush hotel. The barmen are good looking and friendly and at 12 euros a cocktail, you’d hope so! From here you can see most of Barcelona and the coastline. The watermelon martinis are to die for!
For 3 nights in Barcelona Thursday-Sunday we paid £166 each. That included flights and a central hotel, great value! We went out of season and it was cold but there is still so much to see and do.

Ibiza – Is it the coolest place on the planet?

Becky Hayes, our roving Travel TV presenter has just returned from a short visit to Ibiza. Here she describes where the coolest places to visit are on the island of Ibiza.

There is one place that transforms like no other in the summer months and that is the white isle of Ibiza!

From May – Sep it hosts the best parties and club nights that you will probably ever see. Celebs and top name DJ’s flock here and there are amazing parties going on every night of the week.

I’ve been to Ibiza 3 times in total; once with the girls which was a proper party holiday and twice with the husband which was a bit more chilled out. The nice thing about Ibiza is that you can party as much as you want or just relax. I’ve just returned from a weekend there and I did a bit of both so here are my top places to go.

Café Mambo

This sums up Ibiza and everything that it’s about. It’s in San Antonio and the perfect place to watch the sun go down with a cocktail. They have top name DJ’s on the decks and Radio 1 regularly broadcast from their studios upstairs. In the evening hoards of people gather here to watch the sun go down over the med.  You can do this 1 of 2 ways; the expensive way or the cheap way! The expensive way is to grab a table for dinner with cocktails (I highly recommend the strawberry daiquiri as it’s the best I’ve ever tasted) or you can bring a takeaway pizza and pre bought bottle of wine and perch on the rocks in front of Café Mambo. Either way is great!

Blue Marlin

This place is one of the coolest places I have ever been! It is very expensive but worth it. Myself and my husband went here for dinner on our last night and had the best night we’ve ever had in Ibiza. It’s situated on Cala Jondal beach, about half an hour away from San Antonio and 15 minutes from Ibiza town. It is a luxury beach club, bar and restaurant.

For a cocktail you will pay a minimum of 15 euros and dinner is about £80 per person. The food is fantastic! We had the duck liver parfait and crab rolls followed by wok fried soy and ginger lobster which was to die for! It has a great atmosphere and is all open air. Whilst you eat, the coolest DJ’s play funky house and you can watch people dancing in the bar. If you have the money to spend then it really is the place to go. The only one thing is that it’s a nightmare getting a taxi afterwards. They won’t order them for you so you have to wait until one randomly pulls up which isn’t very often so I’d defiantly pre book a taxi next time or drive there yourself.

Formentera  

 If you are looking for white sandy beaches and crystal clear waters then this is the place to head to. You’ll need to get a boat trip here and it’ll take you about an hour to get there. The island is beautiful and pure relaxation. There are 2 restaurants on the island and both are quite expensive so if you don’t want to pay out then I’d take a packed lunch with you. Boat trips leave pretty regularly too.

David’s Pizzeria

 This is one of the most famous restaurants on the island, everybody knows Davids! It’s in San Antonio and is very reasonably priced but most importantly the food is always fantastic! You can have pretty much any pizza or pasta that you like and they also do some amazing salads like foie gras and breaded cheese salad. Here is a link to their website if you fancy checking out the full menu  – davids pizza Ibiza

Holiday Essentials – What to Take on Holiday

Holiday Essentials – Guest post by Becky Hayes

As I write this blog, I am myself packing like a crazy woman to go away on holiday to Thailand. I’m always in a mad rush and as we drive to the airport I have that dreaded feeling in my stomach that I’ve forgotten something.

Also when I am on holiday, I always get holiday essential envy i.e. “Ooooh she looks nice in that sarong. I wish I’d brought a nice beach cover up!” It then goes on my mental next years holiday list but then promptly gets forgotten.

So to help you out here is my list of holiday essentials:

Transparent Plastic Bag – I always keep these bags from my last holiday and reuse them. At the airport they charge you for these and they are essential as you can’t go through customs without one if you are carrying liquids under 100ml. I have lip gloss, moisturiser, hand cream, etc in my handbag and before a flight any liquid must be put into the separate see through bag as you go through customs. Or you could use a sealable sandwich bag.

Facial Water Spray – This is great for the plane and when you are on holiday. You can buy some mist spray or just get a spray bottle and fill it with water. It keeps your skin from going dry and cools you down.

Holiday Document Wallet – It’s a horrible feeling when you are scrambling around in your bag looking for your passport and your holiday documents. It is so much easier if you buy a wallet/holder to put everything in, then you know that you passport, tickets and parking details are all in one secure place. They sell them at the airport or you can get cheap ones from www.ifsogo.com for £7.98.

Comfy plane socks – I think it’s always nice to get a pair of really comfy socks for the plane, whether it’s a short or long flight. It just makes it a bit more enjoyable and feels as if you are sat on your sofa at home watching a good film! You can get some really cheap fluffy ones from Primark from £2.

A good beach bag – Whilst on holiday you will probably use this everyday so it is well worth investing in one. So many times in the past I’ve gone away with no beach bag and either one of two things happen 1. I end up trying to carry books, sun cream, magazines, the room key and a hat whilst walking to the beach and dropping it all or 2. I grab a spare carrier bag, shove it all in and feel very un-chic as I pass all of the other nice beach bags en route to the sun loungers! H&M do some great ones and they are only £10 or so.

Dry Shampoo – This is a holiday must have for men and women. If you can’t be bothered to wash your hair before you hit the beach then no problem, just spray some dry shampoo up top and voila, your greasy roots will be instantly refreshed and volumised. The best I have found is the Batiste range which can be bought from Boots or Superdrug for £2.99.

About the author – Becky Hayes is a TV and Radio presenter and writes travel articles for online travel agent Global Holidays

Related articles on travel advice

How to Save Money on Mobile Phone Charges on Holiday

Where to go on holiday for cheap beer

Duty Free – How to Save Money at the Airport

How to Avoid Pickpockets on Holiday

How to Apply Fake Tan

How to Pack a Suitcase

TV Presenter finds bliss on the Cape Verde Islands

 When the TV and Radio presenter, Becky Hayes, wanted a cheap holiday she never imagined that she would end up in the Cape Verde Islands in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. When she arrived on the islands she was amazed at how unspoilt they were and she can’t wait to go back. This is her account of her holiday on the Cape Verde Islands written for Global Holidays.

Just off the western cost of Africa is where you’ll find these little gems. The name alone sounds exotic and you’re not wrong.  If white sandy beaches, turquoise sea and relaxation is your thing then the Cape Verde Islands are for you. With an African, Portuguese flair you are in for a truly alluring experience.

“No stress” is the motto here and you’ll be sure to hear the locals saying it as they try to sell you trinkets and hand carved gifts. The locals are friendly but can be persistent when trying to get you to buy things.

I like to think of the Cape Verde islands as the Caribbean of the Atlantic Ocean. They have a really exotic feel and I don’t know anywhere else that you can fly to in 6 hours and be able to see your feet in the sea!

There are 10 islands in total, Sal being the biggest and the capital. Whilst there you must check out Santa Maria, the main town. Life centres around the beach and pier, where every day at 11am the local fishermen bring in the catch’s of the day. Expect to see giant tuna, marlin and maybe even the odd shark. The pier becomes a hive of activity with boats, fisherman and sellers.

You can also do trips to the other islands. Boa Vista is worth seeing if you are into history. On the Praai de Santa Maria beach stands the shipwreck of the Santa Maria which ran aground there in 1968. It has a very eerie feel but if you’re not put off by shipwrecks maybe you could try a dive to explore it further. In total there are more than 70 shipwrecks in the waters around the Cape Verde Islands.

The islands are still pretty un- commercialised. There aren’t that many hotels and the shops are pretty basic. You can’t even get a decent phone signal here! If you like lively nightlife and neon lights then these islands are not for you. Be prepared to totally get away from it all. There is building work happening there now to build a shopping centre and a promenade. I’d recommend going now to see its natural charm that has barely been touched by the western world.

In winter months you can expect a good 6 hours of sunbathing sunshine a day. The evenings stay warm too. Flying time to The Cape Verde Islands is 6 hours.

I loved Cape Verde and will definitely be returning. It was great to go somewhere that not a lot of people have been to and great to see somewhere virtually untouched by commercialism. It’s a place to stay horizontal all day with a good book and if you’re feeling particularly adventuress perhaps do the odd fishing trip!

Call Global Holidays FREE on 0800 433 2300 to enquire about a holiday to the Cape Verde Islands

Related articles about Portugal

A holiday on Madeira