Swim with Whale Sharks in Western Australia

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Just when I think my experiences can’t get any more amazing, Australia tops herself.! On my most recent visit back to Australia, I had the fantastic opportunity of making it to Western Australia.  Given Australia is roughly the size of the United States, Western Australia often gets short changed by American travelers as it is an extra approximate 5 hour flight time to reach. However, I am here to tell you, it is so worth the extra time to visit Western Australia and my day with the Whale Sharks is one of the reasons.
Your swimming whale shark experience actually takes place in Exmouth, Ningaloo Reef. Ningaloo Reef is a World Heritage listed site along the north west coast of Western Australia lying on the East Indian Ocean, about one and half hour flight north of Perth.  It is the world’s largest fringing reef and offers a plethora of water and coastal activities for the active adventure traveler to experience.

One of the coolest experiences for you to take part in is a swim with the whale sharks.  Spend the day out in the ocean, in snorkel gear, popping on and off of your boat into the water to swim along these beautiful magnificent creatures.  Between your spotter and your group guide, you will be sure to have an up close and personal encounter you won’t soon forget.


To give you an idea of how your day with the whale sharks will go, let me share my day with Exmouth Diving Centre with you. I highly recommend using this the company with their expert trained staff.  You will even find a marine biologist among them to end your day with all the fascinating facts about the incredible sea creature you just swam with.

First, you will be picked up from your Exmouth hotel accommodations bright and early in the morning and then taken to where the boat is moored.  They will then bring a small boat over to take you on board.  Swimming with the whale sharks is limited to ten persons in the water at the time, so our boat had two groups of ten on board.   Once on board you will head out to the open waters.  While making your way out, you will be fitted with your wet suit, flippers and snorkel gear, followed by a briefing as to how the day will work including the safety precautions and rules of swimming with the whale sharks.

The first stop you make is actually a test swim.  It’s run just like there might be a whale for the group to see.  It all begins with Group One Ready. When you hear that call you slide onto your bottom to the back of the boat and wait for the Go! Go! Go! When you hear the cry, you then quickly get your rear in the water and start swimming.  The test run is to ensure several things, including how to enter the water, is your gear fitting, and can you do it.  I won’t lie, the activity is a bit more strenuous then you realize with getting in and out of the back of the boat. I was happy I had been preparing with daily workouts to increase my strength and endurance. But, no worries on keeping yourself afloat as the wet suits act as floatation devices and you can request one of those pool noodles as well.

Once the testing is over you get back on board and wait for them to announce a whale shark siting. They use a spotter plane above that finds the whales and then gives the captain the location. Once a whale is sighted the boat is off as fast as it can to the spot. Once there the drill and swim commences with “Group 1 Ready!”, “Spotter in!”, “Group 1 Go! Go! Go!”  Let me tell you the thrill and excitement have the adrenaline pumping!  I do have a bit of a fear of deep waters, but once in the water and seeing this incredible creature face to face, literally, my fears subsided and all that remained was pure joy for the opportunity.

Once group one has had their swim, they drop back and tread water until the boat circles round to pick them up, while group two repeats the process.  The dive companies goal is to get everyone at least three good swims.  We were very lucky the day we went out in June to swim with five whale sharks.  In addition to the whale sharks we also swam with a manta ray, saw whales breaching, dolphins mating and a rare siting of a dugong with her calf swimming along side our boat. We had the “big five” as they say similar to if you are safari in Africa.

The best time of year to see the whale sharks in Western Australia’s Ningaloo Reef is March to July. Despite that being fall and winter there,  you will find the temperatures in the north west of this region to be quite nice. Temperatures are in the mid to upper 70s meaning you will get plenty of sun exposure and quite possibly return with a tan.

For more information on booking your swimming with the whale sharks and other coastal experiences in the region, please contact me at 1-844-386-3600 or click here to schedule a planning session.

Photos are from my experience and courtesy of Exmouth Diving Centre.
#amazingaussieadventure #justanotherdayinwa #boomerangescapes

 


Lisa Rossmeissl is the owner of Boomerang Escapes, a home-based agency located in Old Bridge, New Jersey with agents in TN, MS, and WI. 

She has been a professional travel consultant since 2008 and specializes in Australia and the South Pacific. Australia, New Zealand, Tahiti, Fiji, and Cook Islands are among the specialist certificates she holds.  Her agency’s focus is on creating custom itineraries with their client’s wants, desires, and budgets in mind.  She and her planners believe in getting to know the traveler to ensure they have a vacation to remember.  With each planner specializing in a different market area, Boomerang Escapes can offer a wide variety of leisure vacation planning.

Lisa RossmeisslSwim with Whale Sharks in Western Australia
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Take a Day for Tulum

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Are you looking for more adventure in your vacation?  Do you enjoy hiking and exploring?  If you answered yes, then you defiantly need to take a trip to Tulum, Mexico and explore the Mayan ruins.   It is a perfect day trip from your resort for those who tire of idly lounging around the pool. Tulum is one of many resort towns on the Caribbean coast of Mexico south of Cancun.  The Mayan Tulum National Park overlooks the sea, and it incorporates the clifftop Castillo, which was built as a watchtower which makes for spectacular views when visiting.

Back in the day Tulum served as a major trading post, trading mainly in turquoise and jade.  It was a walled fortress.  The town served as a major gateway for connecting the Yucatan Peninsula and the Gulf of Mexico.  Tulum means “wall in Maya”, however, it is interesting to know that the original name was Zama, which translated means “Place of the dawning sun”.  The most prominent among the remaining structures is the Castillo, or castle, which is overlooking the Caribbean coast.   In front of the castle is the Temple of the Frescoes, one of the better-preserved buildings. Inside the temple there is a mural painted in three sections. The first level represents the Mayan world of the dead, the middle is that of the living, and the final, highest piece, is of the creator and rain gods.  Just north of the Castillo there is a pathway down to a sandy beach.  A walk along the beach provides ample opportunity for photographs. Taking this walk is an adventure all on its own.  It wraps around and under nooks and crannies carved out of the cliffs, with each turn brings a new, secluded stretch of the Caribbean into view.  This secluded stretch of beach is perfect for both swimming and reflecting on the ruins.

Although you can explore Tulum and the ruins on your own, it is best recommended to do so with one of the many tours that are offered.  A professional guided tour is highly recommended for best information and safety.   You can see just about everything in about two hours at the ruins, so it is very nice that with the guided tours you can combine them with additional other activities to round out the rest of the day, such as snorkeling with sea turtles or doing some zip-lining.  The guided tours in combination with the other activities are also very reasonably priced and make a nice change of pace and opportunity to experience culture while on your vacation.

So, if you have had enough with laying at the pool or walking the beach then consider taking in a little history and some adventure. Tulum is one of many such options. So, plan a day to set aside to visit the ruins.  These day excursions can also be pre-booked and include in your all-inclusive vacation experience making everything seamless once in destination.


Andrea Ward is an independent travel consultant of Boomerang Escapes, who is based in Wisconsin.

She has been planning vacation escapes for the company since 2013 and specializes in Caribbean Destinations. Her primary focus is on the all-inclusive vacation experience for adult or family getaways for individuals and small groups. Sandals and AMResorts are among the specialist certificates she holds.


Lisa Rossmeissl is the owner of Boomerang Escapes, a home-based agency located in Old Bridge, New Jersey with agents in TN, MS, and WI. 

She has been a professional travel consultant since 2008 and specializes in Australia and the South Pacific. Australia, New Zealand, Tahiti, Fiji, and Cook Islands are among the specialist certificates she holds.  Her agency’s focus is on creating custom itineraries with their client’s wants, desires, and budgets in mind.  She and her planners believe in getting to know the traveler to ensure they have a vacation to remember.  With each planner specializing in a different market area, Boomerang Escapes can offer a wide variety of leisure vacation planning.

Andrea WardTake a Day for Tulum
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Follow my #AmazingAussieAdventure to WA and SA

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I’m off again. Memorial day, I take off on my fourth Amazing Aussie Adventure with Travel2. You will be able to follow my adventures on my social media accounts. (@BoomerangEscapes @AustraliaTravelExpert) You can also search the following hashtags: #amazingaussieadventure, #myhappyplace, #Australia, #BoomerangEscapes, #AustraliaTravelExpert, and #returntoyourhappyplace. Similar to past trips, about 40 top agents from across the U.S. have been chosen to head Down Under to meet suppliers and experience the wonders the country has to offer. I am headed to Western Australia and South Australia this year.

My adventure begins on Monday, May 28th, as I make my way from Newark to LA to catch my overnight flight on Air New Zealand.  We will arrive in Perth on Wednesday, May 30th and be off and running. Wednesday begins day one, yikes!

Day 1-No time to lose as we begin exploring Perth the afternoon we arrive. Once we have luggage in hand we will board our afternoon city driving tour.  We will go through Perth City and past some key locations, including Elizabeth Quay, the Bell Tower, Yagan Square, Kings Park and Perth Mint. After seeing the highlights we will arrive at our hotel the Crown Towers to freshen up before a dinner with some of Perth’s hoteliers.

Day 2-We will rise early for a trip to Rottnest Island.  I’m truly so excited for this and the opportunity to see the quokka up close.  This is the only placed you will find these guys in the wild. Our morning will also include biking, swimming and snorkeling. In the afternoon, we head to Fremantle for some free time to explore. Fremantle is renowned for its seafood and cosmopolitan live.  The day concludes with a 3 course hosted dinner in the award winning Chairman’s Villa.

Day 3-June 1st. With breakfast in a box in hand we head to the airport departing Perth for Exmouth. Once luggage dropped in Exmouth at Mantarays Ningaloo Beach Resort we head out with Ningaloo Safari Tours  for touring activities in Cape Range National Park.  We will be visiting Vlaming Head Lighthouse, Yardie Creek, Turquoise Bay and Sal Salis. We will have a picnic lunch at the creek and at the bay get in some swim and snorkel time.  Arriving back at our hotel late in the afternoon we enjoy dinner at and an evening at leisure.

Day 4-Another early day. And another amazing experience. Today we meet Exmouth Dive & Whalesharks Ningaloo and head out on the waters for an incredible opportunity to swim with the whale sharks.  The ride will include morning tea, refreshments and lunch. After our exciting day on the water the evening concludes with site inspection of Exmouth Escape Resort and dinner at Whalers Restaurant.

Day 5-This morning we will be joining Exmouth Adventure Co for a private kayaking tour. I’ll have the opportunity for a morning snorkel. After lunch we are headed to the airport to make our way to Adelaide.  Once in Adelaide we will have some time to explore and dine on our own.

Day 6-Training Day. Today we have one on one appointments with 40 preferred suppliers. After a day of education and relationship building we celebrate the evening with an Evening Gala Dinner at Adelaide Botanical Gardens. Networking ensues until we decide to retire for the evening.

Day 7-Time to explore Adelaide with a contemporary wine tour in Adelaide Hills/McLaren Vale: The Cube, Wirra Wirra, The Lane, and perhaps Mt Lofty Vineyards or Red Poles.  After a full day of tastings the night concludes with a closing event at the Playford Hotel Adelaide hosted by Tourism Tasmania (next on my list)

Day 8-There will be many sad faces as our adventure will come to an end, and it will be time to catch our flight back to the U.S. I will look forward to making another trip to my happy place, but until next time Australia.

*We will be trying a new app on this trip that is supposed to help with jet lag. I will be writing up a blog on my return to let you know how well it worked.

**Any or all activities that I participate in on my travels can be worked into your own itinerary. Call for a complimentary planning session to begin customizing your own #amazingaussieadventure.**

 


Lisa Rossmeissl is the owner of Boomerang Escapes, a home-based agency located in Old Bridge, New Jersey with agents in TN, MS, and WI. 

She has been a professional travel consultant since 2008 and specializes in Australia and the South Pacific. Australia, New Zealand, Tahiti, Fiji, and Cook Islands are among the specialist certificates she holds.  Her agency’s focus is on creating custom itineraries with their client’s wants, desires, and budgets in mind.  She and her planners believe in getting to know the traveler to ensure they have a vacation to remember.  With each planner specializing in a different market area, Boomerang Escapes can offer a wide variety of leisure vacation planning.

Lisa RossmeisslFollow my #AmazingAussieAdventure to WA and SA
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Hawaii’s Hiking Trails

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Whether you are a novice hiker or avid adventurist, the diverse landscapes and environments of the Hawaiian Islands make for the perfect escape into paradise. From breathtaking views from the top of Leahi (aka Diamond Head State Monument), one of Hawaii’s most iconic natural landmarks, to embarking on a journey through the majesty of Haleakala National Park, visitors to the Islands will uncover the Aloha State’s undeniable beauty and adventure wheriever they go.

On the island of Hawaii, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park offers more than 10 official hiking trails, ranging from easy to difficult.

Showcasing everything from coastal views to lush rainforests and lava landscapes, the trails invite visitors to activate all their senses and indulge in the beauty of nature. This year, for the first time since 2013, an active lava flow from the park’s Kilauea volcano reached the ocean. Various activities partners on the island offer the rare opportunity to embark on a hike to the lava flow (called 61G) to witness its power firsthand. Though hikes to the flow are guided, they are strenuous. Interested participants are encouraged to check with a local tour operator prior to participating.

Visitors to Maui always acknowledge the beauty of Haleakala National Park. Home to numerous hiking trails with varying levels of difficulty, a visit to the park at sunrise or sunset offers endless photo opportunities and picture-perfect moments. Travelers in search of tropical indulgence are encouraged to check out the Iao Needle Lookout Trail, a paved walking trail meandering through an ethnobotanical garden with a scenic viewpoint of Kukaemoku (the towering natural lava remnant known as Iao Needle).l

Affectionately referred to as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific,” Waimea Canyon on the island of Kauai is a definite bucket list item for those visiting the island. Visitors are encouraged to explore the less-traveled vistas of Waimea Canyon State Park from the Kukui Trail (which descends 2,000 feet to the canyon floor) or the Iliau Nature Loop Trail.

Travelers looking for a casual hike are encouraged to trek the Diamond Head Summit Trail on the island of Oahu. With paved footing and handrails located throughout the trail, beginning hikers and clients seeking a more easygoing hike will enjoy their escape into nature and stunning views of the island’s south shore from the top of the natural landmark. Those up for the challenge of a moderately advanced trail should seek out the Waahila Ridge Trail, which rewards with views of native forest and birdlife.

No matter your fitness or hiking level, there is a path for you to find your adventure on in Hawaii.

Content/ photo credit: Hawaii Tourism
Want to read more on GREAT hiking places? Here is an article from Boot Bomb, https://bootbomb.com/info/hiking-trails/top-50-long-distance-hiking-trails-usa


Lisa Rossmeissl is the owner of Boomerang Escapes, a home-based agency located in Old Bridge, New Jersey with agents in TN, MS, and WI. 

She has been a professional travel consultant since 2008 and specializes in Australia and the South Pacific. Australia, New Zealand, Tahiti, Fiji, and Cook Islands are among the specialist certificates she holds.  Her agency’s focus is on creating custom itineraries with their client’s wants, desires, and budgets in mind.  She and her planners believe in getting to know the traveler to ensure they have a vacation to remember.  With each planner specializing in a different market area, Boomerang Escapes can offer a wide variety of leisure vacation planning.

Lisa RossmeisslHawaii’s Hiking Trails
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What’SUP?

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SUP, or otherwise known as Stand Up Paddling Boarding, is a fun, relaxing way to play on the water.

It’s easy enough for most levels of fitness and swimming when geared with a life jacket. SUP creates a great way to explore earth’s waters with the added benefit of exercise.

SUP requires little equipment and when traveling for leisure, the resorts will provide you with everything you need. SUP has become a great full-body workout and works well for a cross-training activity. For me, I love it because of the experience. Done from a standing position, you not only get to enjoy the beauty of the world below you, but the horizon as well.

SUP requires the board, paddle, life jacket (if required), proper climate clothing, and an adventurous you. And no need to worry, lessons are provided should you need them. My first experience was with my daughter in Cozumel. We were given lessons and had an instructor with our group the whole time we were out on the water. I was one of the oldest in the bunch and one of the first to get standing and stay standing. It probably helped that I am only 5 feet tall and have a low center of gravity. After our paddling up and down the shore, we ended our experience with feeding the tropical fish. It was spectacular.


I have since done SUP stateside, in St. Martin, and in French Polynesia. French Polynesia was a particular favorite on the blue waters of the lagoon at the Intercontinental Thalasso Resort on Bora Bora. My travel agent friend and I decided to take SUP to the next level and do yoga SUP. Trying to do yoga poses on a board that is floating on water takes incredible core strength and balance. We had a terrific time and more than once we toppled over and splashed into the clear water below.

I’ve seen now where they actually offer SUP Yoga as an option at some fitness centers for your workout. I’ve also seen several styles of board workouts via YouTube. For me, SUP gives me an opportunity to enjoy the destination, explore my surroundings, and stay fit all at once. While I certainly love hours laying upon a chair in the sand, my favorite when traveling is to immerse myself in the activities available to me.

What’SUP?

Have you tried SUP? Share with us in the comments below.


Lisa Rossmeissl is the owner of Boomerang Escapes, a home-based agency located in Old Bridge, New Jersey with agents in TN, MS, and WI. 

She has been a professional travel consultant since 2008 and specializes in Australia and the South Pacific. Australia, New Zealand, Tahiti, Fiji, and Cook Islands are among the specialist certificates she holds.  Her agency’s focus is on creating custom itineraries with their client’s wants, desires, and budgets in mind.  She and her planners believe in getting to know the traveler to ensure they have a vacation to remember.  With each planner specializing in a different market area, Boomerang Escapes can offer a wide variety of leisure vacation planning.

Lisa RossmeisslWhat’SUP?
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Master Bridge Climbing

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Another year, another trip, another Amazing Aussie Adventure with another Harbour Bridge Climb. Yes, I can officially call myself a master bridge climber now.

A bit easier and actually even more exciting than the last, but still a test of fear as I push myself to the heights above the Sydney Harbour. Each time I travel to Australia, or even another destination, I take chances to step outside my comfort zone. The feeling of accomplishment makes it well worth the discomfort as much as seeing and experiencing all the world has to offer.
The sights from the bridge are well worth facing any fears you may have to experience Sydney from this vantage point. There are three hundred and sixty degrees of pure beauty as you scan across the city and the harbour. On a clear day like we had, you can see the Blue Mountain ridge in the distance. Each climb presents a different experience than the last.

With varying guides, climbs, and times of climbs, you are sure to have a new experience each time you make your way up onto the bridge. There is a climb for every client and those with fears. As you make your way along your metal path, your guide will fill you in on the history of how the bridge came to be. It is a tale of absolute wonder, considering they did not have the modern building conveniences today. Learn how brave these men had to be up there, putting in the pegs that connect this and all with ultimate precision and alignment. Discover how brave you are as you rise above the city to see the most spectacular sight.

The climb runs all year and just about all weather. My last climb was a wicked windy day, but we prevailed. The wind actually made for an incredibly clear view seeing well beyond the reaches of the harbour. The center provides all gear. All items are securely attached to your blue and grey jumpsuit as you are securely attached to the bridge itself. You only need to bring a do it attitude and closed-toe shoes. Indeed you have your knees knocking by the end of your adventure (mine always are), but the exhilaration of completing this climb will bring you back for more adventure.

 


Lisa Rossmeissl is the owner of Boomerang Escapes, a home-based agency located in Old Bridge, New Jersey with agents in TN, MS, and WI. 

She has been a professional travel consultant since 2008 and specializes in Australia and the South Pacific. Australia, New Zealand, Tahiti, Fiji, and Cook Islands are among the specialist certificates she holds.  Her agency’s focus is on creating custom itineraries with their client’s wants, desires, and budgets in mind.  She and her planners believe in getting to know the traveler to ensure they have a vacation to remember.  With each planner specializing in a different market area, Boomerang Escapes can offer a wide variety of leisure vacation planning.

Lisa RossmeisslMaster Bridge Climbing
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Darling Girl, When All Else Fails…Join the Circus

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Why am I hanging upside down on these red silk ribbons? I’ve run away to the circus, of course.

LOL. I wish, but I did get to live a bit of a childhood fantasy this past week at the Club Med Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. The Club Med Punta Cana has a unique one of a kind experience, Creactive. Club Med has created that in conjunction with Cirque du Soleil. It is located smack in the middle of the resort where you can be the acrobat for a day or every day of your trip. The staff operating, demonstrating, and teaching the skills to vacationers are Cirque du Soleil, either past or present members.


The various apparatuses and skills are available throughout the day at different times. Children are typically scheduled in the morning hours. For us, a group of travel agents that were game for a go at the “big tent” stunts, we had a 3 pm appointment our Thursday afternoon there. I was able to try three of the main big items available in Creactive: the silk ribbons, the wall, and the trapeze.

What little girl hasn’t had dreams of being a dancer, let alone one who can swing and dangle from the air?

It was such great fun to learn three basic beginner skills on the silks. Surprisingly, you will find these ribbons are not silky and are quite uncomfortable to the foot. The tricks require putting your weight into the ribbon leg and pushing through, keeping it strong. One of the poses we did remind us of a lady on a ship’s bow, and the last one was just pure fun. We learned how to tip ourselves upside down. Given more time, I would have gladly stayed to learn more. I understand the silks have taken to the gym in some areas, and I am seeking out a class on my agenda for the upcoming year.

The second apparatus was what they called the wall. It reminds me of how they pull off stunts in movies where people look like they are fighting in the air or walking on walls. What looked so easy turned out to be the core workout of a lifetime. Who knew? I did learn the basic push, a turn and then tried my hand at walking sideways along the wall. I was amazed at how fast this wore me out and raised my cardio. Again, great fun, and I would have continued with more time.

The last event we went to was the trapeze. Here, I buried my fears of height. However, my shakes were a dead give away that I was still scared to death. I think the climb up was worse than the actual swing on the bar. I have to give kudos to the instructors, who were my spotters and safety net. They talked me through my fear, and I swung from the skies. After my last two, I must admit my strength had piddled, and I couldn’t completely pull off my trick, but I pushed through the fear and was flying high. I would definitely give this another go. I met one of the resort guests in line who had been coming every day. As he accomplished skills, they continued to teach him more difficult tricks. It was fun to watch him perform a flip in the air after a release from the bar.

Right now, Club Med Punta Cana is the only place you can get this amazing Creactive experience. The Sandpiper in Florida does have some circus stuff, but it is not to the same scale or with the unique touches that Cirque du Soleil brings. Club Med does have plans for expanding this experience among a few of its other resorts. The rumor is the next resort will be their one in France. They are a worldwide all-inclusive product. While they are not a resort for everyone, this might be the new experience you are looking to check off.


Lisa Rossmeissl is the owner of Boomerang Escapes, a home-based agency located in Old Bridge, New Jersey with agents in TN, MS, and WI. 

She has been a professional travel consultant since 2008 and specializes in Australia and the South Pacific. Australia, New Zealand, Tahiti, Fiji, and Cook Islands are among the specialist certificates she holds.  Her agency’s focus is on creating custom itineraries with their client’s wants, desires, and budgets in mind.  She and her planners believe in getting to know the traveler to ensure they have a vacation to remember.  With each planner specializing in a different market area, Boomerang Escapes can offer a wide variety of leisure vacation planning.

Lisa RossmeisslDarling Girl, When All Else Fails…Join the Circus
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My Waitomo Glowworm Cave Experience

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New Zealand is a land of majestic beauty and mystery. It is no wonder so many fantasy films have been filmed in this country. Its landscape is breathtaking and unusual. My eyes never get tired of looking at this land.

Upon a recent visit to the north island with my son, I couldn’t help but include one of the most wondrous and beautiful sites this place has to offer. We took an afternoon to walk and then glide through the Waitomo Caves. It is a truly spectacular spot of tranquil beauty located in northern King Country.

The word “Waitomo” comes from the Maori, the local indigenous people. It translates into two parts, “Wai,” meaning water, and “tomo” meaning hole, and is translated as the “stream which flows into the hole in the ground.” While a stream does indeed flow through a hole in the ground here, it lives inside the cave that draws visitors each year.

Upon arriving by our tour bus at the visitor center, which is a piece of architectural beauty, we lined up with our group to do a photo before entering the walk into the caves. The walk to the cave entrance lets you look down over into the gorge where the stream runs. Everything there is so lush and green. Once inside the caves, we followed a dim-lit path down into the multiple levels that make up the caves. Low lighting exists for the protection of the stone and worms. Several well-known formations were pointed out (the Catacombs, the Pipe Organ, the Banquet Chamber, and the Cathedral) before making our descent to the lowest level where the stream passes through the Glowworm Grotto. An interesting viewing stop was in the Cathedral, where the acoustics made for the sweetest sounds. Our guide asked if one of the people on our tour would sing something while the lights were out to demonstrate the acoustics. This was a very cool experience because famous singers and choirs sing there.

Our favorite part, though, was getting to the lower level where we would get to really see the beauty of the glowworms. At the very bottom, where the lighting was quite dim, we were loaded into boats. I almost felt as if I had stepped into an old scene with pirates as we seated ourselves in the boat. They seated us about 4-6 passengers aboard depending on size. Once everyone was seated, we drifted along the stream through the grotto. It was the most beautiful starry night I’ve ever seen. There were worms a glow in the beautiful blackness of the cave. The quiet lapping of the stream against the boat, the moist air, and the glimmer of the worms was ethereal. Mother Nature’s beauty at it’s best!

 


Lisa Rossmeissl is the owner of Boomerang Escapes, a home-based agency located in Old Bridge, New Jersey with agents in TN, MS, and WI. 

She has been a professional travel consultant since 2008 and specializes in Australia and the South Pacific. Australia, New Zealand, Tahiti, Fiji, and Cook Islands are among the specialist certificates she holds.  Her agency’s focus is on creating custom itineraries with their client’s wants, desires, and budgets in mind.  She and her planners believe in getting to know the traveler to ensure they have a vacation to remember.  With each planner specializing in a different market area, Boomerang Escapes can offer a wide variety of leisure vacation planning.

Lisa RossmeisslMy Waitomo Glowworm Cave Experience
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Cleland Wildlife Park-An Adelaide Animal Experience

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Many of you may have realized koalas are my favorite. But, it is not just the koala. I am wild about wildlife. I have been since a child. Koalas, along with the other amazing Australian wildlife, have been my inspiration for years. It is no wonder that Australia’s animals rank high for traveler’s top reasons to visit, and Australia does not disappoint with nearly every imaginable encounter you can think of.

Truly, no matter which state or territory you decide to visit, you will be able to include a wildlife experience in your itinerary.


Upon my most recent visit Down Under to Adelaide, I enjoyed introducing my son to my love of Australian wildlife. Adelaide is the capital of South Australia, which is “wildly” know for its wildlife experiences. With this visit, I made sure that our first full day in the state would be filled with an experience he wouldn’t forget.

We were staying in the heart of Adelaide near Cleland Wildlife Park.

Being close to the city center, the park can be reached by public transport or even a cab. We decided to opt for having the hotel desk call us a cab. A note to the wise, be sure your cab driver actually knows his own city before leaving the hotel. Our ride over to the park was a bit like an episode from “The Amazing Race,” where the driver says, “Yes, I know where that is.”, and then you find yourself pulling up to the wrong park. After that, you find the clearly has no clue where he is going. Fortunately, I kept a global data plan on my phone and was able to call up maps and guide the cab driver to our destination.

The park is open daily from 9:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m. (except for Christmas). What makes the wildlife parks in Australia a bit more unique than the familiar American zoo is the close and personal encounters you get to have with the wildlife. Imagine yourself in a giant kid zoo. Different educational and close encounters are scheduled throughout the day. The park has an eatery and gift shop as well. When buying your ticket (which runs about AUD 22), you can pick up a map along with food for the animals.

Our first stop was to head to the kangaroos. We were there during spring and got to see so many little joeys in their mom’s pouches. My son was amazed at how close you could get with them. You could even lay or sit beside them. It was like pulling teeth to have him move onto the next area where the wallabies were because he was so intrigued by all the little joeys popping their heads out. He had great fun taking selfies and making videos on the Go-Pro. Nearby the wallabies were the wombats. Now, these guys you could not feed, but the enclosures still made for great viewing. They even had white ones.

After a good hour or more feeding the kangaroos and wallabies, we finally moved on to explore the rest of the park with birds galore, reptiles, and the koalas as the main attraction. South Australia is one of Australia’s remaining states that still allows a “cuddle with a koala.” Of course, I couldn’t wait. I could never get enough koala cuddles in my lifetime. What was really the best for me was to see my son’s delight and watch him fall in love with my passion as well. The cuddle was a grand experience as we got to hold an adult male. Having only cuddled young ones of 1-3 yrs, this guy was a hefty fellow but loved it all the same.

We worked our way back through the park and stopped for some lunch before heading back to the kangaroos, which proved to be one of my son’s favorites. With still one bag of food left, we couldn’t let it go to waste. We spent nearly six hours at the park that day. With souvenirs for his friends in hand, we had the ladies at the entry call us a cab for the ride back to the hotel. Luckily, it was a much shorter trip this time. If you ask either of us, we would definitely recommend a day trip from Adelaide to this wonderful nature reserve.

 


Lisa Rossmeissl is the owner of Boomerang Escapes, a home-based agency located in Old Bridge, New Jersey with agents in TN, MS, and WI. 

She has been a professional travel consultant since 2008 and specializes in Australia and the South Pacific. Australia, New Zealand, Tahiti, Fiji, and Cook Islands are among the specialist certificates she holds.  Her agency’s focus is on creating custom itineraries with their client’s wants, desires, and budgets in mind.  She and her planners believe in getting to know the traveler to ensure they have a vacation to remember.  With each planner specializing in a different market area, Boomerang Escapes can offer a wide variety of leisure vacation planning.

Lisa RossmeisslCleland Wildlife Park-An Adelaide Animal Experience
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Living on the Edge

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It was a beautiful warm winter’s day in Auckland, New Zealand. My son and I were now about halfway through our Australia/New Zealand adventure. I had been fortunate at the end of 2014 to win a trip from my regular attendance of Down Under Answers webinars. I was the lucky name picked from the draw that December and had decided I would take my son on the adventure of a lifetime as a combination present for his 18th birthday and upcoming high school graduation for May 2016. We planned throughout the first months of 2015 as to what he wanted to do. His big request was for adventure.

He said, “Mom, you can pick some things you like in Australia, but I get to pick what we do in New Zealand.” One of his big dreams was to try Bungy Jumping. He had recently seen a YouTube video of Ian Swain II from Swain Destinations Travel that I had shared on my business Facebook page. As we watched the video, my heart was already in panic mode as I had a major anxiety attack. Heights has been a long time fear. Then there was Cullen, so psyched for this opportunity. In the end, based on time, where we were visiting, and my fear, we compromised to do the AJ Hackett Bungy jump off the Auckland Bridge. Yes, that is right, I said: “we.”

The Auckland Bridge Jump seemed like a suitable jump for me to scare the living crap out of myself. It wasn’t nearly the height of the one we watched Ian do, and it was still over water. It is amazing the things a parent will commit to and do for the love of their child.

So, here we were on this spectacular day preparing for our jump. I kept breakfast that morning to the bare minimum. We had a taxi take us to the bridge office and signed over our lives. The staff was wonderful in hooking us up with our gear and preparing us for what we were about to embark upon. We followed our guide across the street, through a door, and onto the bridge’s metal girdle. Tethered to the bridge by our safety link, we made our way to the waiting platform while waiting for the group ahead of us to finish their jumps. The screams from the current jumpers only added to my already weak knees and sick to the stomach self as I looked over the edge. Then, it was our turn to ascend the stairs to the jumping platform.


Again, the staff was amazing. Coaxing me through all the ins and outs and latching us into our safety gear. Cullen, my son, would leap first. I was more than happy to let him go but nearly died when he went off the platform. The fear of him not returning from his plunge was almost too much for a mother to bear. But, there he was being pulled up, head soaked, beaming a smile as wide as a mile across his face. He had opted for the water plunge with his jump. Me, I was going to keep it simple and go for the basic jump.

There I was, legs bound, taking my baby shuffle to the edge of the platform. I believe I was literally shaking hard enough to move the bridge. I began to curse Cullen and cry out that I could not do it. Then the jump operator said, “You have this!” “Look up and smile and then just go.” I looked up, said my prayers, gave a waning smile, and then over the edge I went. A blood-curdling scream released from me, and then it stopped. Everything stopped. I was there frozen in time, looking at the beautiful blue water. It was the most surreal moment I have ever experienced. Next was a bounce followed by a swing, and my heart went wild. I made an early release from the leg restraints to bring myself upright and look up to see bridge climbers waving at me. I looked around. I was alive! Still terrified, but I had done it! I had gone off the edge. I experienced one of the most magical moments of my life. Will I do it again? Probably not…well, unless, of course, one of my children asks me to. There isn’t anything in this world that I wouldn’t do for one of them.

And that, my friends, is living on the edge.

 


Lisa Rossmeissl is the owner of Boomerang Escapes, a home-based agency located in Old Bridge, New Jersey with agents in TN, MS, and WI. 

She has been a professional travel consultant since 2008 and specializes in Australia and the South Pacific. Australia, New Zealand, Tahiti, Fiji, and Cook Islands are among the specialist certificates she holds.  Her agency’s focus is on creating custom itineraries with their client’s wants, desires, and budgets in mind.  She and her planners believe in getting to know the traveler to ensure they have a vacation to remember.  With each planner specializing in a different market area, Boomerang Escapes can offer a wide variety of leisure vacation planning.

Lisa RossmeisslLiving on the Edge
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