Banff, Canada…All-year Wonderland

Banff is located in Alberta, which is in the Western part of Canada. It is known for its scenic lakes, winter activities, and picturesque hikes accessible to all travelers.

Before You Go…

As aforementioned, Banff is a place you can visit year-round. It is equally beautiful in the winter with the snow and winter sport excursions and summer months with boating and hiking. I went during Spring Break, around March, so it was quite cold. It was still such a lovely, unique experience, but I am tempted to go again in the summer months just to experience it in another way.

In terms of packing, it obviously depends on what time of year you decide to go. Regardless, be ready to be active. There will be a lot of walking, so bring good shoes and comfortable clothes to sweat in. If you are going in the winter months, bring snow clothes and lots of layers.

How to Get There…

By plane, you can arrive via the Calgary International Airport. From here, you can rent a car and drive to Banff. Don’t forget your passport!

Where to Stay…

We chose to stay in an AirBnb just outside of Banff National Park. All of the hikes are within an hour or two from Banff National Park.

Troll Falls

Transportation…

Because things are so spread out, it is essential to rent a car. Be sure to pay for the extra insurance. We went during the winters months, and saw many accidents along the side of the road. We were required to pay for extra insurance, because we were all under the age of 25.

Typically, you can find deals if you have certain credit cards with certain banks. Check will your bank before you go! You can also purchase travel insurance through your bank as well.

What to Do…

Hikes…

1. Bow Glacier Falls…5.4 miles return…This trail is located near Lake Louise and Bow Lake; it is a relatively flat hike with a waterfall along the way.
2. Emerald Lake…3.2 miles return…This is one of the most popular hikes in Yoho National Park.
3. Grassi Falls…2.5 miles return, about 1-2 hours…Waterfall hike along the river.
4. Grotto Canyon…2.6 miles return…This was my favorite hike, as it required walking on the icy river. The waterfall at the end had ice-climbers.
5. Iceberg Lake…6.8 miles return…This hike required some scrambling and cliff edge exposure.
6. Johnston Canyon…3.4 miles return…This is another ice walk with a frozen waterfall and gorge.
7. Troll Falls…This was another one of my favorite hikes (you may even find a hidden troll).

Hikes I did not get to but heard great things…Marble Canyon, Numa Falls, Lake Eiffel and Moraine Lake Shoreline, Peyto Lake and Falls, and Takakkaw Falls. Banff, and Canada in general, has endless hikes and all of them can be beautiful and enjoyable.

Other Points of Interest…

1. Canmore…A town in the Rocky Mountains, west of Calgary. It has several hikes, trails, and quaint town.
2. Lake Louise…This is the picturesque spot you see when you google Banff. It requires a short walk from the carpark.
3. Lake Minnewanka, Vermilion Lake, and Two Jack Lake…Another glacial lakes with turquoise blue water.
4. Kootenay National Park…I did not get the chance to go here, but it is known to have amazing campsites, day-hikes, cross-country skiing, mountain biking, fishing, hot springs, and wildlife.
5. Calgary…Since you flew into and out of here, this is quite a lively town. Even if just for a few hours, it is worth walking around, grabbing a bite to eat, or going through the drive-thru Beaver Tail.

What to Eat…

In CanmoreThe Wood Restaurant & Lounge bison burger and Mountain Mercato Farmhouse Panini and Black Truffle Chips

In CalgaryPalamino’s BBQ Cheesesteak

In the town of BanffBeaver’s Tail, Elk & Oarsman, and fun nightlife at Dancing Sasquatch

Give yourself permission to leave

If I could return to my teenage self and tell her one thing, I would say…I give you permission to leave.

I give you permission to leave the room, to leave the relationship, to leave the thoughts, to leave the expectations.

I lived in an abusive household growing up. The idea that “it could be worse” or “you just need to tough it out” disabled me from doing what I needed to do to get where I needed to be. The courage to leave was always drowned out by the “I can handle it” mentality. It is important that we acknowledge when a situation is not allowing us to live as our most authentic selves or is not aligned with our true selves and core values.

Reduce or release stress…

Media culture shouts at us to “reduce stress”, when all I heard was “pretend like the stress doesn’t exist”. Reducing stress was more of a dismissal than dealing with what was present. Ignoring the stress or pretending like it was not affecting me allowed me to stay in the situation that was causing a lot of pain.

What I wanted was to release the stress. I wanted to express my stress to people and talk about what was happening in my life. I did not want to ignore it and pretend that it didn’t exist. Because the further I suppressed the stress, the more overwhelming it became when I was forced to be present with it. Stress is an indicator of the areas where we need to acknowledge what is not in alignment and release.

Trust myself and trust others…

Now, I have learned that in healthy relationships you can trust- this includes the relationship that I have with myself. Recently, I have done a lot of self-healing work such as confronting the unexpressed emotions from my childhood. The process has been hard and disheartening at times, with the occasional breakthrough. The unleashing and expression of these newfound emotions such as anger, frustration, love, vitality, and sadness has required passionate and ferocious trust in myself.

Trusting myself is a unique listening. It involves a lot of intentional listening, mistaking intuition for fear, and subsequently more intentional listening. This cycle of listening and acting on the response builds trust in my body, mind, and spirit.

After discovering what it feels, looks, sounds, tastes, and smells like to trust myself, I can reflect that to other close relationships. I find myself allowing others the freedom to choose and make mistakes and take responsibility for their own healing. It has been a joy to watch and cheer on the people in my inner circle really commit to their own inner work and have their breakthroughs. It is inspiring to me, because it has nothing to do with me. I can leave them in their greatness!

Visible and vital…

Visibility does not mean safety.

Alok Vaid-Menon

Living in true authenticity requires courage and a constant commitment to discovering what that looks like. It requires assessing and reassessing my WHY and the life I want to create. It asks me to get real about the hard questions and to get clear about what I want.

Most importantly, living authentically has required me to give myself the permission to leave the room when it no longer serves me. I don’t have to wait until someone gives me a reason, makes fun of me, kicks me out, or asks me to leave. At any point in time, I can get up and walk out if I have determined that being in that room no longer aligns with who I am and is not allowing me to live in my fullest expression.

So if you needed to hear this today, I give you permission to leave.

Isolation during a global pandemic may have catalyzed the awareness around some of the unhealthy dynamics. Some may be experiencing domestic violence or abuse, which makes leaving more complicated. If you are experiencing any sort of domestic violence or are feeling unsafe in your home, please call the police. You can report on previous instances of violence or abuse, and they can supply you with resources to transition into a safety.

Young and Old Montreal

Montreal is a vibrant city, bustling and young. I visited Montreal in the dead cold of winter, but the city was still alive with day festivals and nightlife every day of the week. My best friend attended one of the major universities in the city, which attracts a lot of young people.

The official language in Montreal is French, but do not let this discourage you from visiting. Most residents speak English, as well, especially at restaurants and tourist areas.

Plateau Area

Before You Go…

Flying…

Not only did I go with United Airlines who is known for their terrible customer service, but I also did not buy a direct flight. After many delays, cancellations, and poor customer service, it took me over 24 hours to get from Atlanta to Montreal. In hindsight, I wish I had just paid the extra money to fly direct and with a better airline such as Delta or Canada Air.

YUL (Montreal Pierre Elliot Trudeau) is the name of the Montreal airport. It has wifi, and a convenient bus route that takes you directly into the city.

Yes, you do need a visa. Americans do need to bring their passport, but can retrieve a free visa upon arrival.

Driving…

Driving into Montreal is also a great option; some of my friends based in New York made the trip over via car. Upstate New York has beautiful views but can be icy. There are no tolls. If you do drive into Montreal, note that driving in the city can be disastrous with construction and traffic.

Plateau Area

How to Get Around…

Again, I would not recommend driving in the city- its a disaster with construction. It is much faster to walk around or use the award-winning subway system. To navigate the metro, you can use Google Maps or download the metro app.

Where to Stay…

If you choose to stay in the city, I would recommend staying in the Old Port. It’s historical architecture is exquisite, everything is within walking distance, and there are various restaurants just around the corner.

Old Port

Points of Interest…

Walk up Mount Royal for the best view of the city. This is a free “hike”- we even hiked up it in the snow. Afterwards, walk around the Plateau Area to view the colorful houses and artwork.

Mount Royal

La Grande Roue de Montréal is located along the St. Lawrence River. During my visit, they had a free fair with a ferris wheel and zip line. They always have something happening, so be sure to check out this spot while exploring Old Port. Old Port is loaded with shops, restaurants, and architecture. It is also home to Norte Dame Basillica, an exquisite church with impeccable architecture.

Although a bit out of the way, climbing the steps at St. Joseph Oratory is magnificent. This is not something I was able to do on this trip, but will definitely plan for next time.

The nightlife in Montreal cannot be missed. Le Warehouse is a hipster restaurant with $5 meals and great drink deals. It has a lively, young atmosphere.

Ferris Wheel

What to Eat…

Montreal’s signature dish is poutine– a dish consisted of fries, cheese, and gravy. A restaurant with great poutine is La Belle et La Boeuf – also great hamburgers and mac n’ cheese. There are also great restaurants with poutine in Old Port, along the water.

Schwartz Deli

Schwartz Deli is so famous that there is even a musical about it! The best deli sandwich and smoked meat I have ever had- it’s worth the long line.

St. Viateur has inexplicably superb bagels. Now, they supply their products to a lot of restaurants, so you can order their bagels from most breakfast and brunch spots. Simply, ask if they carry St. Viateur bagels to take your meal to a whole other level.

If you’re interested…

Montreal reminded me a lot of Europe. Check out more travel inspiration…

Anxiety … Now what?

Sometimes the fear is worse than the worst case scenario.

path of anxiety
Grampians National Park, Victoria, Australia

Self-isolation has been an awakening

…to say the least. I have been confronted by the practice of slowing down and being still. What has come up has not been so pretty- mostly anxiety about the unknown future (read more about my visa journey here) and discontentment with the present moment. I want to “have it all together” with the “perfect” job, family, future, bank account, body, and relationships. I strive to always BE better and DO better. This has resulted in a constant longing and lack of acknowledge in the COMPLETE-NESS of the present.

now what
Grampians National Park, Victoria, Australia

I am faced with a choice…

The choice: be with and get curious about the anxiety or fuel the anxiety by neglecting it. I spoke with my host parent, who is an ICU doctor, about COVID and dealing with the influx of patients. I could not imagine being at the coal-face during a global pandemic and working with patients and their families. It would be extremely important to rule out the worst case scenarios, but that is not always feasible.

Sometimes life is crap. Sometimes things go wrong. Sometimes the prognosis is bad. Sometimes we get hurt. Sometimes people leave. Sometimes we get sick. Sometimes people die. Sometimes we cry. Sometimes we worry. Sometimes we fail. But we get through it…

The human species is extremely resilient. If COVID has uncovered anything about mankind, it has illuminated the collective, cooperative, and ingenious nature of humanity. So, how do we deal with this looming dark cloud hovering over all of us called anxiety?

anxiety never-ending
Grampians National Park, Victoria, Australia

NOW WHAT?

Asking “Now what?” can help us get to our worst case scenario. Once we get there, we may come to realize that our fear really is worse than our worst case scenario. In my experience, anxiety is quite unproductive. I find my thoughts spinning in circles like a tornado feeding itself and destroying any logic in its way.

Rather than ignoring or suppressing the anxiety, I want to get curious about it. Just like going on a first date– you know their name, you stalked them on Facebook, you probably have a few things in common, but you still have a lot to learn. You come in open but have your reservations, rightfully so.

Let’s go through an example of mine…
Anxious thought: I do not get to extend my visa.
Now what?
I have to move back to America.
Now what?
I have to figure out a place to live and a new job. I will have to transfer money from my Australian account to pay for it but will lose out in the conversion. I will have a long distance relationship with my boyfriend.
Now what?
It will be difficult to find a job in the current economic climate. I may have to move in with a family member or friend to support myself.
Now what?
Oh, wait…that does not actually sound so bad. In fact, I acknowledge how privileged I am do have a solid support system in a country where I can work hard. I am thankful for my tertiary education and work experience. I am grateful for the time I have spent in Australia. I will be okay…even in the worst case scenario. The fear really is worse than the worst case scenario.

“Hey, Dad. Can I ask you a question?”
“Yes, Frank, but make it quick and good. I have a lot of work to do, and it’s way past your bedtime.”
“What do you think is more deadly: fear or COVID?”
“That’s a great question; what do you think, Frank?”
“Hmm…I think fear. Because you can’t self-isolate from fear”

A close family relative to my host family & his 10 year-old son, Frank

The Hype behind Coronavirus…

Where I am coming from…

Usually when I am feeling extremely emotional, I tend to begin to blame things outside myself, including the moon, mercury retrograde, the weather, my hormones, or the person who cut me off in traffic. On the other hand, I have been learning lately that triggers such as these are simply a mirror that reflects back something within ourselves to notice.

Triggers are magnifying glasses held up to something that always existed but has entered our awareness. It simply looks or feels bigger.

Unfortunately, I chose to withdrawal from my graduate coursework at the University of Melbourne due to the hoops that international students (specifically US students) are required to jump through that was costing me an overwhelming amount of stress, time, and money. Now, I am trying to figure out other visa avenues in order to stay in my new, beloved city of Melbourne.

The visa process is tedious and confusing. If I think about it long enough, I will get this urge to throw in the towel and go home, but even that thought is not viable. If I went back to the US, it would be the same battle of finding a place to live and a job. It would feel like starting over, when I have created such a beautiful life that I love here. The past week and a half has been jam-packed with applying for jobs, looking at visas, and networking with other Americans who have made the move to Melbourne. I began to feel overwhelmed and tired. I felt defeated. I felt hopeless. I felt disconnected in my relationships. I began pulling away from my support system as a self-sabotage. It was a quick and steep downward spiral.

Luckily, I chose to lean back against the urge to withdrawal from my support system and met up with my boyfriend for dinner and an evening walk around our favorite park in the city. I began talking about my fears and worries in relation to visas and moving back home, etc. Throughout the conversation, I came to the realization that this visa process is really just a trigger or a magnifying glass up to my fear surrounding abandonment.

Throughout my life, I have struggled with abandonment. Specifically, I have made the actions of others, whether it be neglect or physically abandonment, mean something about me. I would be extremely devoted and all-in in my relationships, assumed it was reciprocated, then found myself alone and confused at the end of the day. This confusion led to me creating stories about the result such that it was my fault. I would reflect and see where I went wrong then try to do better next time.

Giving up the story that someone abandoning me has anything to do with me gave me access to moving forward without self-inflicted shame and guilt.

When moving to Melbourne, I was intentional to create a life that was engaging, energizing, and fulfilling. I chose to surround myself with things that brought me joy and vitality. I also chose to put down roots and feel extremely grounded. Now, I feel devoted and all-in, which I guess means it is a great time to feel challenged (and triggered) so that growth may occur. Sorting through visas is the trigger or the magnifying glass that I currently have “held up” to the life I love and want to keep in Melbourne. It is intensifying this fear of losing it all or having to abandon it all. That fear has always existed within me and has been reestablished several times throughout my life, but this current situation is magnifying it as an access to stepping in front of it!

So…what about the Coronavirus…

The other day, I heard a teacher at the primary school say they received an email from a parent that said, “I am going to self-isolate my child until Coronavirus goes away”. PSA: viruses don’t go away. Coronavirus will be a part of human existence for several hundreds of years AT LEAST. It may change or mutate, but it is inevitable that all of us will encounter the virus at some point in our lives. What public health professionals, doctors, and governmental organizations are attempting to do is to slow down the rate at which people are encountering the virus. This buys time for people to build up antibodies, similar to how a vaccination acts.

The Coronavirus has been around for centuries. Prevention looks like good hygiene (washing hands, etc.). Symptoms are similar to the common cold.

Disclaimer: I am not attempting to diminish, belittle, or mock the gravity of Coronavirus. I acknowledge that this is a serious illness, and my heart breaks for those impacted by this virus, whether directly or indirectly. The intention of this post is to learn what fear looks like for me in different contexts and how I can acknowledge it in order to move forward more equipped.

So, if I use the analogy of the Coronavirus being a trigger or a magnifying glass, what is it intensifying? The virus has already existed, hygiene has always been critical, and the symptoms are familiar. On a larger scale, maybe it is highlighting the fragility of globalization, the need for more funding in preventative health, etc. On an individual level, maybe it is highlighting our need for more awareness in hygiene. Maybe in self-isolating, one may realize the need to clean their top cupboards. Maybe it is highlighting the lack of trust in political leaders and their agenda.

In the midst of the uncertainty and unknown, I invite you (and myself) to lean in. Lean in to what is possible during this time. Where can you get curious? What is the virus triggering and magnifying within you or the system? Can we channel the hype to create positive change for the future?

“Wine” A Little…Yarra Valley, Australia

The Yarra Valley is inundated with exceptional wineries; its pristine rolling hills and moderate climate makes for great grapes, great wine, and great fun! The Yarra Valley is located just a few kilometers north of Melbourne (the world’s most livable city and my favorite city maybe ever), Australia.

Transportation…

First, you must sort out how to get around the Yarra Valley, particularly if you decide to do a few wine tastings. One wine tasting is enough to put you over the limit for driving- particularly because the wine tastings are generous, and at some, you are able to taste up to 15 wines. So, be sure to plan ahead, which will save you the headache of deciding if you have had too much.

Taking a tour bus is not ideal, because they only take you to the larger wineries that are suitable to fit larger amounts of people. The smaller wineries are where the gems are. If you have a large enough group, you may be able to hire your own driver to take you to your desired locations. Although, that can also be problematic at the smaller wineries that are not able to accommodate large numbers.

Driving is ideal, but you need a designated driver, who will not participate in more than one wine tasting. This way you can go where you’d like, stay as long as you’d like, and pack a picnic!

Wineries…

Most wine tastings are $15, and you can try anywhere from 5 – 15 wines, from white to rosé to sparkling to red to dessert. Most wineries also offer snacks, but I enjoyed a picnic in the grass.

Here is a list of my favorite wineries and the wines that were my favorite…

  • Domaine Chandon
  • Punt Road … Pinot Gris and Chardonnay
  • Yerring Station
  • Medhurst … Frances dessert wine
  • Soumah
  • Moet Chandon
  • Pimpernel
  • Mac Forbes
  • Giant Steps

Most establishments close by 5 pm, so be sure to get an early start, or make a weekend out of it! There are plenty of spots to AirBnb or

More than wine…

If you are the designated driver, not into wine, or just wanting to mix things up, try out these cool places…

Apps to Consider…

My friend works in the wine industry and uses an app called Vivino. This is where you can take a photo of a wine bottle and save it to your favorites or read reviews from professionals.

Traveling with a group? TriCount is an app where you can organize expenses among a group of people. You can input all expenses of every individual and it splits the cost at the end. So, if one person pays for one wine tasting (most wineries do not let you split) and another person pays for gas and another pays for cheese, you can input it into the app and see who owes what at the end.

While you are “Down Unda”, check out these places…

While you are in the Oceania region, check out…

Next Two Steps to my “Healthy”

After writing my first blog post on my health journey, it felt incomplete. But it was important for me to share in order to understand what the next steps were. So here is the culmination of the steps I have taken to get to where I am, which is the healthiest I have ever been. (And maybe more to come?)

Two Steps on How I Got “Healthy”

The idea of “health” is a curated image reflecting social norms, plagued by inequality, and undermines the human experience.

February 22 marks the five year anniversary of my mom’s death, which also signifies the beginning of a tough health battle. Today marks a milestone in my journey of uncovering the wholeness within.

Grief is weird. My mom’s death brought me a lot of peace- it had been a long battle for her with mental illness and addiction. I no longer had to worry about her well-being, her whereabouts, and her safety. This triggered a massive shift in my health; I was finally released from fight-or-flight, abuse, and uncertainty and transported into the unknown of slowing down, taking care of myself, and learning about who I was outside of being my mom’s caregiver.

February 22, 2015 was the day I lost my mom, but the loss was far from over. It was the months thereafter where I experienced immense brokenness and emptiness. In just one year, I lost 30 pounds, and I lost my menstrual cycle. I began overexercising and under-eating. I was taking anti-depressants and birth control just trying to keep everything together. But from the outside, I looked okay. I ran a marathon, graduated from undergraduate studies with honors, and got certified to teach yoga. I was eating all the healthy foods, doing yoga daily, going to a counselor once per week, volunteering in my local community, and attending church regularly. Despite all the accolades and accomplishments I attained, I knew there was something I had put on along the way that was hindering me from moving forward into my fullest expression.

Maybe it was an attempt to fill the void. I aspired and achieved but had the debilitating fear that if I allowed the dust to settle by slowing down, what would rise to the surface would be ugly. Once I saw the ugliness- even worse, once others saw the ugliness- I would be irreparably broken, incapable of connection, and destined for failure. So, I kept caking on accomplishments and activity to my schedule, despite my bodies deterioration, heaviness, and suffering.

I experienced severe fatigue and crippling stomach pain. I had no period, low red blood cells, anemia, low platelet counts, and low white blood cells. I saw all the doctors and got all the tests. I got diagnosed with depression, stomach ulcers, gluten intolerance, and one doctor suspected I had leukemia. I read all the articles and took all the vitamins.

I was trying to effort my way to healing when healing was available so long that I slowed down to receive it.

Healing is not easy, but it is ease-ful. Healing came when I sat with myself and listened.

Disclaimer: This is my journey. I acknowledge that everyone’s journey is unique. I acknowledge my privilege in being a cis-gendered, white, female growing up in the US having access to tertiary education and a roof over my head. I am not offering a one-size-fits-all plan. I am also not saying that my journey is over- I continue to learn and grow everyday.

Step One…Get Help

Make the doctor’s appointment. See the counselor. Send the text. Do the thing. Don’t wait another 6 months, when you had wished you had started sooner. Don’t wait for the power to do it or something to tip you over the edge- you will receive the power to do it by doing it.

Do the thing, and you will have the power.

Ruby Chandler

It was crucial in my healing journey to surround myself with people who want what is best for me, and that includes healing, sitting with the hard emotions, listening without judgment, and loving me unconditionally. It was critical that the people around me were empowering and uplifting, especially when things felt hopeless.

Help can sometimes be quite an investment. I went to a naturopath, several specialist doctors, counselors, dietitians, acupuncturist, and finally a hormone coach. This was important to give up control and allow people to guide me. I already had a lot on my plate and surrendering set me up to slow down to get in tune with myself. That’s why I think my hormone coach was most effective; she was constantly pointing me back to my intuition.

Step Two…Listen to Your Hell Yeah

All of the people around me, including my family, friends, and doctors, told me things I did or didn’t want to hear. Both of which could at times be hindering to my progress. What was most important to my healing was listening to myself.

This began by, believe it or not, ordering food at restaurants. Rather than picking the healthiest option or ordering what everyone else was ordering, I sat with myself to decipher what I wanted. I didn’t always get it right; sometimes I ordered gross foods or my stomach would still hurt afterwards. This gave me the opportunity to extend myself grace, say “how human of me”, and try again next time.

This intuition exercise began transferring to other decision like planning trips, choosing a city to move to after graduation, and applying for jobs. Sometimes I even place one hand on my belly and one hand on my heart. I stop and listen; then, I don’t question it. I call this my “hell yeah” (thanks to Heidi). I look at all of my options, get still, wait until I have all of the information necessary to make a decision, then immediately follow my intuition. It becomes easier and easier each time that I do it.

Healing and being healthy after loss

It began by ordering food at a restaurant then having tough conversations that set boundaries then applying for my visa to move to Australia then signing up for a hormone coach. With a lot of other “hell yeah”s in between.

End of the Story…for now

After slowing down, surrendering control, and listening to my intuition, I am proud to say that I have reclaimed my period, can go through the day without having a nap, applied for a Masters of Public Health at the University of Melbourne, and started my dream job at a yoga studio in an artsy suburb of the greatest city on earth which I get to call home. My journey is not over, but my body continues to give me the tools necessary to care for myself. So here is to my body and to more hell yeah’s in my future!

Pocketful of Sunshine Coast Australia

Australia is known for many things including the Great Barrier Reef and the outback. Australia is also home to some of the best surfing beaches in the world. Even if you are not keen for a surf, the beaches are breathtaking and worth a visit.

The Sunshine Coast stretches from Brisbane to Noosa and encompasses resorts, surf spots, cafes, and National Parks- frankly, what else do you need?

Transportation…

The Sunshine Coast does have its own airport, but it is more-often-than-not cheaper to fly into Brisbane. From Brisbane, you can rent a car to head north up the Sunshine Coast. Another common mode of transportation is a camper van or trailer. Because of the plethora of national parks and other attractions, there are plenty of holiday parks for vans and trailers. These fill up rather quickly, especially during the holidays. Be sure to book in advance, because most car parks do not allow vans to stay overnight.

Caloundra…

This is technically where the Sunshine Coast begins just north of Brisbane. Here, I am going to include the adjacent beaches including Kings Beach, Moffat Beach, Dicky Beach, and Currimundi. All of these beaches are connected and within walking distance of each other. This area is where I would recommend staying while visiting the Sunshine Coast. The vibes are friendly, low-key, and slow. You are also a day trip away from Noosa which is far more expensive.

Kings Beach

Things to Do…

A biking/walking path weaves through the city along the water. You can even bike up to Mooloolaba to the lighthouse, eat at the Fish Market, and delight in some Gelatissimo along the beach.

Fish Market

Farther inland is Mary Cairncross Park with a great lookout to Glass House Mountains and the quaint town of Montville. Stop by The Edge restaurant for another angle view of the Glass House Mountains.

Hire a surfboard. If it is your first time surfing, check out Caloundra Surf School. I only had to use them for one day before I was out there by myself. Hire a surfboard at Surfware Australia at Kings Beach; John, the owner, is so kind and very reasonable with his prices. I was able to hire a surfboard for the week for only $100AUS.

Caloundra has a market every weekend selling local, handmade products.

There are several spots along the water with parks that are equipped with grills. Bring some sausages and a loaf of bread!

Yoga in Moffat Beach park, hosted by NRG. They have an app or you can sign up online.

Currimundi Lake

Currimundi Lake is a nice break from the ocean if you are looking to switch things up. You can hire stand-up paddle boards or kayaks on the beach.

Where to Eat…

  • Happy Turtle Cafe. A foodtruck cafe located at Happy Valley- a great surf spot.
  • Lamkin Lane for a coffee.
  • Coffee Cat on Kings Beach for a coffee and breakfast.
  • Between the Flags for a coffee at Dicky Beach. They sell amazing take-away coffee cups made out of recycled coffee beans (brand: Huskee). This is a great gift idea!
  • Something Out of the Blue at Currimundi Lake for lunch.

Noosa…

The Coral Beach Resort, consisting of condominiums and a pool in the center, is perfectly located along the river. It is a great location to cafes, the park, and a bus ride away from Hastings Street.

Noosa Main Beach

Hastings Street is the main street of Noosa where you can find nightlife, restaurants, cafes, high-end shopping, main beach, surf hire, and the National Park entrance. There is also a free bus to Eumundi Markets, which is a massive market with endless handmade, local products.

The National Park is a must-see. It is a 4-kilometer walk from the entrance to Hell’s Gate. Along the way, you can see koalas, incredible surf, and spectacular beaches.

Hell’s Gate

Where to Eat…

  • Bistro C. Great spot for breakfast along the main beachfront and Hasting Street. It is a bit pricey but that is expected in that area.
  • Blended Health Bar for a great coffee and acai bowl after a day surfing or lying in the sun or a hike in the national park.
  • Noosa Marina. This is a great place for a casual dining experience with kids. There are shops, ice cream parlors, and a couple of restaurants in the marina adjacent to a park and skating park.
Lone Pine Sanctuary

Brisbane…

Brisbane is a large city along the east coast- full of shops and restaurants (similar to most other cities). I recommend the Astor Metropole Hotel due to its location in the city and to the airport.

Not far from Brisbane is the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, where you can pet kangaroos and hold a koala. They are ethical in the way they treat the animals and educate thousands of visitors on the preservation of the native and endemic species.

While you are DOWN UNDER…

Check out these other destinations close by…

Follow the Sun… The Great Ocean Road

The Great Ocean Road is an icon of Australia, marked by the world-class surf and endless views. This one road takes you through rainforest, national parks, farms, beaches carved out of limestone, and seaside towns.

This road trip can take anywhere from one day to three days, depending on how many stops you make along the way, how many detours you choose to indulge, and the rate at which you can maneuver through each stop. There are many tour companies that take you along this route; many start early in the morning, and you are obviously limited to the stops they choose. Another option would be to rent a car and go at your own rate- maybe even spend a night at a quaint town along the way. The advantage to doing it at your own rate is going to the less touristy spots and arriving at the touristy spots before the tour buses come through.

Stop One…Melbourne

The Great Ocean Road begins in the lovely city of Melbourne, which is worth sticking around for a few days before beginning your journey along the coast.

I began my journey as I do all of my other journeys…with exercise. It is important for me to stretch my legs and exhaust some energy before I am sitting for extended periods of time. Next crucial part of my trip is starting with a hearty breakfast, so I checked out a new spot in Melbourne, Short Straw. The key was to start early to miss the crowds and not feel rushed.

Stop Two…Torquay

Torquay beach, Great Ocean Road, Australia
Torquay

Although you could stop in Geelong, I recommend beginning in Torquay (pronounced TOR-KEY), because it is smaller, less industrialized, and more beautiful. Points of interest includes the Surf Museum which opens at 9 am. There is a cafe directly next door called Sticks and Stones, if you wanted to grab an extra coffee or second brekkie. Torquay’s note-worthy beach is called Bells Beach.

Bells beach Great Ocean Road, Australia
Bells Beach

Stop Three…Anglesea

First stop in Anglesea is the golf club where you can see hundreds of kangaroos. The only downside is you must either play a round of golf or take a guided tour. You are not allowed to walk around on your own. Tours begin at 10 am costing $12.50 per adult, $5 per kid, or $30 per family.

I was able to come back here a few weeks later and spend an entire weekend in this lovely town. Here are some other spots I recommend…
4 Kings Coffee & Food – GREAT cup of coffee and pastries
Lorne-Queensclith Coastal Walk – great walk, any time of day
Captain Moonlite – fancy dinner spot, but also has another fish n chip shop down the street called Fish by Moonlite
– On your way into town from Torquay, stop by Common Grounds Project for yummy chips and a cup of coffee. Common Grounds is a cafe with farm-fresh food from their garden on site.

Another point of interest is the Split Point Lighthouse in Aireys Inlet. It is approximately a 15-minute walk from the parking lot to the lighthouse but well worth it.

Split Point lighthouse in Aireys inlet Great Ocean Road, Australia
Split Point Lighthouse, Aireys Inlet

Stop Four…Lorne

Welcoming you to Lorne is the Swing Bridge Cafe & Boathouse. Even if you are still full from breakfast, this is a great spot to stretch your legs. The quaint cafe is tucked away right where the Erskine River connects to the bay. You can choose to walk along the beach, or go to another lookout point called Teddy’s Lookout.

Swing Bridge Cafe Lorne Great Ocean Road, Australia
Swing Bridge Cafe
Teddy's Lookout Lorne Great Ocean Road, Australia
Teddy’s Lookout

After the beach, head inland to Erskine Falls. This is a quick but steep hike consisting of mostly stairs.

Erskine Falls Lorne Great Ocean Road, Australia
Erskine Falls

Stop Five…Kennett River

Kennett River is where you can see koalas! The best place to do this is at the Kennett River Caravan Park.

Stop Six…Great Otways State Park

After driving along the coast, it is time to head inland through the forest. Points of interest along the way include the Redwoods Otways, Triplet Falls, Melba Gully State Park, and Johanna’s Beach.

Johanna is a lovely town, great area to grab an AirBnb for the night! At this point, you are halfway done, and this puts you in a great spot to reach Port Campbell for sunrise.

Stop Seven…Port Campbell National Park

Port Campbell is, by far, the most touristy spot along the Great Ocean Road. Points of interest include Gibson Steps, Twelve Apostles, Loch Ard Gorge, Thunder Cave, The Arch, London Bridge, The Grotto, Bay of Martyrs, and Bay of Islands.

Most of these iconic spots require a short walk (5-15 minutes), and many of them are saturated with tourists. All for good reason!

Stop Eight…Warrnambool and Port Fairy

Although many end their trek at Port Campbell, I found Port Fairy to be my favorite spot! It is also a great place to spend a night at an AirBnb. Port Fairy is famous for its annual folk festival at the beginning of March.

But before I get ahead of myself, Warrnambool is home to Logan’s Beach Whale Watching Platform. Whale season is May through October. Just a stone’s throw from Warrnambool is Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve and Killarney Beach.

Logan's beach warrnambool Great Ocean Road, Australia
Logan’s Beach

Port Fairy is also a good base for Grampians National Park day trips!

Port Fairy Great Ocean Road, Australia
Port Fairy

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