Hurricane approaching

Tulum is an ancient walled city perched on the edge of a cliff in the Mexican Caribbean. A city of its kind in its era for it is the only archeological site close to the sea. Tulum is believed to have been a major trading and religious center between the 11th and 16th centuries. Goods like turquoise, jade, cotton, food, copper bells, axes, and cacao beans were traded here.

It is estimated that the population of Tulum was once 1,600 people and was one of the few Mayan cities that were still inhabited when the Spaniards invaded Mexico. Its population was, however, mainly wiped out by diseases brought by the Spanish and the rest killed by the intruders.

The word Tulum means “wall, trench or fence” in the Mayan language. A fitting name as the wall around the city is three to 5 meters (16 ft) in height, 8 m (26 ft) thick and 400 m (1,300 ft) long on western wall parallel to the sea. Though the original ancient name of the city is said to be Zama, meaning “dawn” or “sunrise”.

Mayans were superstitious and feared thunder and lightning but were amazing astronomers and scientists which meant they predicted astronomical manifestations with stunning precision. The wind temple in Tulum is said to whistle whenever a hurricane is coming.

Eventful history of a beach resort

Perched at the top of the Caribbean, around 23 kilometers of white sand beaches are the home of 700,000 residents and attract a few million of tourists every year. Cancun beaches are actually made of crushed coral, this the sand will generally feel cool underneath bare feet – despite the weather.

These white beaches and turquoise crystal clear waters see thousands of turtles return to their original home to lay eggs around May. The turtles nests are located right in the middle of the Hotel Zone in Cancún. Fortunately, the eggs are protected and safe from harm as residents, hotel owners and tourists alike are encouraged to participate in this labour.

Cancun’s history has been eventful. The development of the resort area for tourism began in January 1970. Before then, it is said that only 3 residents called this island a home. Then, in 2005, Hurricane Wilma hit Cancun and wrecked almost half of the beaches. Over $70million was invested into a restoration project, which dug up gallons of sand from the sea bed to rebuild the white beaches of Cancun.

Additionally, Cancun has been battling with sargassum seaweed for the past several years; especially this past year was a very difficult year for the tourism sector. Sargassum is a naturally occurring phenomenon in the summer, but it has increased over the last several years. Its increment is an indication of pollution and increased damage caused by human activity.

This rapid intensification of sargassum represents a latent threat for the destruction of reefs, the erosion of beaches, the tourist contraction and an impact on an important income of the national Gross Domestic Product for Mexico. Despite the allegations of Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador who does not consider the seaweed to be particularly problematic. Even after the government has contributed $2.6 million USD towards removal efforts.

It is not all gloom though. Sargassum has triggered research and experimentation for its uses and recycling. It recently has been used in the preparation of blocks or bricks to be used in construction, where it is ecologically more friendly and economically more profitable than its alternatives. Other uses for the sargassum are in the pharmaceutical and textile industries, or the seaweed has been converted into biofertilizer. 

With all its ups and downs, for now, Cancun remains a favourite holiday destination. Though beware of the season for it will define the type of fellow tourists you share these white sandy beaches with.

Working or worming

Three hours South of Sydney, Conjola Beach is within the Narrawallee Creek Nature Reserve. Golden sand beaches with striking blue waters that are backed by 10-20 m high foredunes; and nearby, a small community of Lake Conjola (population 350). The perfect setting and location for a holiday, or for a home if you are a beach worm.

Beach worming is one of the least known fishing activities yet one that can only be described as an art, or hard work. It takes the patience of a turtle and the speed, laser vision of Cyclops, and lightning hands of a ninja to snatch the worm from the sand. Pliers in one hand and a smelly fish in the other, the worms poke their heads up to feed, concealing the rest of their bodies. One must creep behind the V-shaped pattern in the wash the worm creates when it sticks its head above the sand for the smelly fish. Then, with another piece of stink bait held close to its head one must lure the worm out on the bait. Once the worm is biting the fish, one must close the pliers around its head and draw its thrashing form from the sand. That’s the idea, anyway. Surprisingly, some beach worms grow to be up to 2½ metres long, beneath the sand.

Selling for $1 to $1.50 each worm, it makes for an attractive business when there is no limit on bag sizes for licensed wormers and one might harvest up to 1000 a day. However, over-harvesting has caused the destruction of the pipi industry. And some fishermen say to have witnessed a depletion of worms on the mid-north coast of NSW. Hopefully the industry will be regulated so that this skillful hobby can be done in the years to come.

Meet the locals

Bendalong is the ideal south coast seaside weekend village. Just a few hours drive south from Sydney, Boat Harbour Beach, is one of several beaches in Bendalong. This is an area with awesome beaches and whilst many little Aussie coastal villages can boast a great beach or maybe two, Bendalong has seven of them.

“Boat Harbour” is a 320 m long beach with waves averaging 0.5 m right next to Washerwomans Beach. The beach faces north and is pretty sheltered meaning it’s a good place to stand-up paddle board, kayak, swim or snorkel.

Additionally, Boat Harbour beach boasts a boat ramp located toward the eastern end. Thanks to this ramp, the beach has become famous for the large local sting rays that come in close to shore to feed on the scraps thrown to them by the fishermen. You can stand in the shore and let the rays come near to gently pat them or venture for a snorkel with these magnificent creatures on a weekend away.

A honeymoon island

Located in Bacuit Bay, Miniloc is one of four properties of El Nido Resorts, and part of a group of sustainable resorts in Palawan. This 40 year old resort attempts to resemble a coastal Filipino village with a magnificent setting. The holiday paradise only occupies 1% of the island and is at the edge of a plentiful house reef. Snorkellers and divers alike can have close encounters with huge jack fish and a variety of marine species just at its house reef. Even a black tip reef shark if they rise early!

The Bacuit bay is said to have been discovered by Japanese divers in the 1970s when they had to anchor due to a fishing line getting caught up in their engine. Since then it has been popular amongst divers, snorkellers and tourists as in these islands marine life is abundant. In specific, Miniloc Island is also popular among tourists because of its Lagoons.

Local transportation

Filipino ingenuity and necessity for a mode of transportation gave birth to these tricycles. They originated from military trycicles left behind by the US military during WWII. This popular mode of transport is a motorbike with a roofed sidecar bolted to it to transport passengers and anything else through the narrow streets and small towns in the Philippines. The engines of the tricycles range from around 50-125cc which means they never go too fast; but the rides sure are bumpy!

In Hove, actually

Among the sand, on promenades, or in groups of tiny “villages”, are brightly coloured, shed-like structures that make the British coastline unique. It is estimated that there are at least 20,000 of these typical and iconic beach huts along England’s shores.

Local authorities usually stipulate colour schemes. Here in Hove, beach huts must be a specific iceplant green and dark cherry. Doors can be any single solid colour or vertically striped in multiple colours. Hut doors can now be constructed from either panelling or tongue and groove.

A licence fee for 2018/19 is £367.20 including VAT.

These huts are in not in Brighton but in Hove, actually. An important distinction between where is posh and where is not.

A natural swimming pool

A secluded cristal clear tranquil beach in Western Australia. Ideal for swimming if you are not too cold as the rocks shelter the pool keeping it calm all year around.

The large boulder granite rocks that surround it make it a stunning and interesting destination. Especially for adventures, but be warned some rocks are slippery and you might fall flat on your back!