In search of Mantas in the Maldives

Having a blast as a solo in a honeymooners paradise

As a solo traveller, the last thing you want is to find yourself stuck on a paradise island surrounded by honeymooners!  Looking back on my first trip to the Maldives three years ago, I avoided the crowds (and the honeymooners) by going slightly out of season and had the time of my life searching for mantas.

I have never arrived anywhere by seaplane before. It really was quite special. And after around 24 hours of travelling from London, I was about ready to see Reethi Beach Resort, my Maldivian home for the next 7 days.  I’m in The Maldives – or more precisely – Baa Atoll – for a week of diving and specifically a week of searching for the elusive manta. In all my years of diving holidays around the world, I have only ever seen them once and I am itching to see them again. I have even faced my extreme aversion to photographic advancements and bought a Go Pro just for this trip.

Read more

Does my bum bag look big in this?

How that first, scary solo trip can turn into the time of your life.

I’m not quite sure why I decided that I absolutely had to have a bum bag for my first ever solo trip. Not just any old bum bag and certainly nothing like the stylish, classy ones that are all over the high street at the moment. No, this was enormous, boringly brown and very practical. It had hundreds of slots and partitions into which I stashed all my travel documents, money, cards, passport, and lists of places to see; you name it, it was in there.

Certainly, when I travelled with my ex I didn’t see the need to have one but then this was my first holiday alone; no group just me, and as I sat nervously at Heathrow T3 waiting to board my flight I spent my time opening, checking and rechecking the contents hoping that it would in some way make me feel less anxious. It didn’t.

Prior to my divorce, I had booked a ‘must do’ trip for two to Borneo including a hop over to Sipadan Island, which is on every divers hot list. As there was no way that I was going to lose my deposit, I suddenly decided sod everything! I was absolutely going to go on the trip that I’d already planned, and I’d go by myself. I remember sitting at the airport feeling absolutely petrified, looking and feeling like a nervous wreck with my great, big bum bag, wondering why the hell I had thought it was such a good idea. I called a couple of friends and my sister and then I was off. Read more

Getting back into the swing of things

I don’t mind admitting that I’m feeling a bit flat at the moment. It’s been 3 weeks since arriving back from my trip to Brazil and I just can’t seem to get back into the swing of things.

It’s not helped by the fact that all eyes are currently on Rio for the Olympics Games. I know it’s difficult for anyone coming home after a significant time away, but I can’t help feeling that my particular situation is made worse by being able to see ‘my beach’ through the window of the Beeb’s TV studio on a daily basis: the very studios that I watched being built on the Copacabana whilst I was there. I recognise it all. The pedestrian crossing in front of the Irish bar, the Rio 2016 official merchandise store where I bought my T-shirts and Olympic Havaianas, the promenade that I walked up and down every day, the beach bar where I drank many a caipirinha, even the flags that flutter in the wind. They are all so familiar to me and they all make wish I was still there.

Read more

5 things I’ll miss the most about Rio (plus a few that I won’t)

I love large cities by the sea and, in my humble experience, Rio is the most beautiful one that I have visited (followed closely by Sydney and Cape Town). It lived up to my expectations in every way and despite many people telling me that I was crazy to go there, ‘Rio is so dangerous’, ‘You’ll get Zika’, ‘The country is broke and the government is corrupt, it will be depressing’,  I could not have asked for a better experience. It certainly has a bit of an edge about it but use common sense and leave your valuables at home and you’ll be fine.

There are many things that I’ll miss about Rio but here my top 5.

Read more