Posts Tagged ‘Islands’

Weekend Camping Trip to Texel

During the first weekend of August, we decided to visit the Dutch island Texel (one of my favorite places in the Netherlands! See here for example). And since we’re going camping in Australia this autumn, I thought it would be a good idea to test the tent and all other equipment at least once before flying to the other side of the world.

I normally prefer small campsites, but this time we went to a HUGE one called Kogerstrand, in De Koog. The reason I chose it, despite its size (and the rather high cost), is that it’s located right next to the beach in the dunes. Cars have to park at a parking lot, and tent spots are secluded spaces within the dunes. It was really nice! This was our little spot…

The great thing about this campsite is that we were literally 100 m from the beach. So when the sunset started to look rather nice, I grabbed my camera bag and went to the beach…

It was so beautiful, really a magical sunset. This little girl just ran in front of my camera while I was taking a photo and I love the result :)

The reflections in the sand almost looked like a painting…

The next day we rented bikes and we decided to cycle all around the island. Just outside De Koog we saw a lot of purple heather, so pretty! So we stopped for some photos…

Cars are allowed on Texel, but almost all tourists either bring their own bike or rent bikes. It makes for a really nice atmosphere I think, with lots of people cycling.

Panorama of the purple heather in the dunes…

We cycled to the north tip of the island, where the Eierland Lighthouse is located.

We walked the path up to the lighthouse…

You can see the huge beach on the left here.

I decided to climb the lighthouse for a better view. I had never done that before. It was so worth it! It was a beautiful day and the huge beach at the north tip of Texel looks really impressive from above.

We had lunch at the beach restaurant you can see on the far left in the photo above. That’s the ultimate holiday feeling for me: having a meal on the beach :)

The clouds were really pretty so I took lots of photos of the lighthouse with the clouds!

The lighthouse was built in 1863, but it suffered heavy damage during the Second World War. To repair the damages, they built another wall around the inner one.

Sorry, too many photos of the lighthouse ;)

We continued our bike trip, and started cycling south again. On Texel, it has become common to see Eurasian Spoonbills. They are such pretty bird and I still find them quite exotic!

Michiel checking out the spoonbill (lepelaar in Dutch)

Texel idylle: a bikepath, a bike, sheep and lots of flowers :)

We stopped for lunch in Oosterend, a really pretty village built around a church.

The church of Oosterend…

The harbour at Oudeschild…

The wind was strong that day, and we got really tired of cycling against the wind (especially me). Friends of Michiel were also staying on Texel with their children, so we met them at a beach restaurant and had a nice break in the sun.

In the evening we went for dinner at the beach restaurant next to our campsite. Some rain showers were passing and the sunset looked rather stormy…

During dinner I suddenly noticed beautiful light outside, so I excused myself and ran out with my camera. I couldn’t believe my luck: a sunset rainbow!

I managed to take a panorama of the rainbow over the row of beach huts :)

The light was really special that evening, it almost seemed unreal!

The beach restaurant where we had dinner…

The next day we decided to go for a walk in the southern part of Texel, quite close to the ferry that we were taking back to the mainland later that day. We walked through an area with lots of geese, and pretty lakes…

I loved the views and the clouds that day!

So many geese!

Here too we found purple flowering heather. A really pretty walk!

More geese, and pretty clouds :)

We stopped at another beach restaurant for lunch, and then walked back to the car through the dunes. One last photo of the pretty views….

We had a great time on Texel, and a successful testing of our camping equipment. It was fun to go just for the weekend, it really felt like a mini holiday :)

Zomerlicht @ Pampus

In an article about original places to have dinner in the Netherlands, I read about Zomerlicht (Summer Light): a pop up restaurant / event on the island of Pampus, just outside Amsterdam. I’ve always wanted to visit Pampus (I’m an island girl!) so this sounded like a really fun opportunity. We were told to meet up at 19:00 in the harbour of IJburg, from where partyboat Sailboa would take us to Pampus.

On board, we were all given a big key with a number, this was their way to keep track of drinks for each couple/group. Already on board, you could start your trip with a drink…

There was a nice holiday/adventure atmosphere on board. The crossing to Pampus took half an hour, and luckily it stayed dry. Well, from the sky that is – there were a couple of waves crashing onto the front of the boat ;) The crossing took half an hour. Here, we are nearing the island…

It had been a rainy day, but the clouds started to clear. I loved the views while coming in to the jetty at Pampus.

When we arrived at the island, we were welcomed by the host of the evening, who took us into the fort, through very colourful corridors. We were served a welcome drink (gin & tonic) in a very pink room. After that, they served delicious sweet potato and coconut soup, and then left us to explore the fort and the island by ourselves.

Pampus is an artificial island, built on a sandbank. This sandbank used to stop ships from coming in to the harbour of Amsterdam until the tide was high enough to pass. There’s a famous Dutch saying “Voor Pampus liggen” or “Laying for Pampus” which means lying down knocked out, which stems from the ships having to wait. They started building the island and the fort in 1887, and although there were 200 soldiers stationed on the island during World War I, it never saw any action. When the Afsluitdijk (Closure Dike) cut off the IJsselmeer from the open sea, Pampus lost its strategic position and it was abandoned soon after.

Especially for Zomerlicht, the fort was lit beautifully. It was a lot of fun to walk around the corridors while they kept changing colours, and exploring all the rooms.

Such pretty lighting…

And the colours really changed to all colours of the rainbow…

Outside the fort, but inside the outer walls, was a photo exhibition of all the other forts in the defence line of Amsterdam.

We climbed on the wall surrounding the fort, to get a good overview of the building:

Then we walked around the shore of the island and enjoyed the views in all directions…

Until our stomachs told us to go to the restaurant area. Here they had set up food stands where you could get different dishes – here the mussel spaghetti. Michiel had a very nice selection of different fish. There was bread and dips, and cheese plates to go with it.

This was our view during dinner, I just had to walk outside and take a quick photo of the sunset. A group of volunteers were camping next to this house, they were staying there for a week and were working on renovation of the island.

After finishing our first course, we went for a sunset walk. This almost looks like it was taken from a tropical island instead of a fort island outside Amsterdam ;)

It was a beautiful evening as the sun was setting in the direction of Amsterdam’s skyline…

Peaceful views from the jetty…

A panorama showing the jetty, with on the right the Sailboa and behind it the restaurant where the dinner took place.

When it got dark, we saw all the city lights of Amsterdam on the horizon: a pretty sight!

They lit a couple of campfires and the atmosphere was really nice. There were lots of different places to sit and enjoy your meal. We had another course of meat and potatoes, which was really tasty. The only downside was that the organization was slightly chaotic and at times there were long lines for the food. Luckily the food was worth the wait!

The view from the top of the island – a magical evening! Around 22:00, dessert was served, as well as tea and coffee with really good chocolate.

At 23:00 we all boarded the Sailboa for the journey back to IJburg. What a wonderful night!

Zomerlicht is taking place each Thursday, Friday and Saturday until 02 September, and there are still tickets available for most nights. Much recommended! Tickets costs €57.50 and include the boat transfer, dinner and a welcome drink. Check the website of Zomerlicht (only in Dutch…) for more information and tickets.

If you just want to visit the island of Pampus, it’s open daily except mondays until the end of October. For regular visits, the boat leaves from Muiden, and a return ticket plus entrance to the island costs €17.50. For more information, check their website. If you’d rather leave from Amsterdam, you can do so by using Amsterdam Tourist Ferry which leaves daily at 11, and a return plus entrance to the island costs €20. This is the same company that runs the Sailboa ferry that we took to Zomerlicht.

Lundy Island

Years ago I read a book called “Attention All Shipping: A Journey Round the Shipping Forecast” (highly recommended!) and this is where I first heard about Lundy Island – and I’ve been wanting to visit it ever since :) It’s 11 miles off the coast of North Devon (2 hours by ferry from Ilfracombe), about 5 km long and 1-1.5 km wide. It’s an amazing place where you really get away from it all: no cars, no wifi, no tv’s, hardly any mobile signal (and you get fined if you use your mobile in the pub). There is one village (populated mostly by Landmark Trust wardens) with a shop and a tavern, where they let you run a tab :) People are really friendly. There are no signposts, explanations or warning signs and you don’t even have to stay on the paths – you are encouraged to explore the island with your own common sense. I love this attitude, and I totally fell in love with Lundy Island!

But I’m getting ahead of myself now, let’s start from the beginning. It took me 6 hours to reach Ilfracombe from Reading, where I had been for a course at ECMWF. The next morning I went to the harbour to check in for the ferry. They give you colour coded labels for your luggage, which is loaded on the boat in crates. Ilfracombe is a pretty village, but (like many others) I had mixed feelings about the enourmous Damien Hirst sculpture in the harbour – it seems quite out of place there.

View over the harbour of Ilfracombe, with the Verity sculture by Damien Hirst From the other side the sculture is quite erm, cruel I think! Would look impressive in front of the Tate Modern or something, but it looks a bit out of place in this small harbour town - it's over 20 m tall!

It was cloudy with a bit of rain in Ilfracombe, but it cleared up during the two hour trip to Lundy. The MS Oldenburg rolls quite a lot though, and several people were getting seasick. I was just having fun :) it was very exciting to see the island come into view. From the jetty, everybody has to climb the hill to the top of the island (they do take some people up in a Landrover), but luckily you don’t have to carry your luggage – they deliver it to your cottage :) People were either visiting for the day (4 hours on the island), or for 2 or more days. I would have loved to stay for a whole week ;) but I had to get back to work so I stayed for 2 nights.

The MS Oldenburg on the jetty at Lundy Island Climbing up to the top of the island

The Landmark Trust has lots of holiday rentals on the island, and they all look amazing. Millcombe House (below) sleeps 12 and is actually quite cheap if you share the cost with 12. I went to reception, where they told me my cottage was ready. I was more keen to just start hiking though, so I bought some chocolate biscuits (what’s a girl to do if the bread hasn’t arrived yet? ;) ), rented binoculars and started walking. The sun was shining, it was going to be a beautiful day!

Millcombe House on Lundy, also a holiday rental! The tractor road that goes south to north on the island

There was flowering gorse, very pretty against the blue sky. I visited the ruins of some cottages that I think belonged to an old quarry.

Flowering gorse against the gorgeous blue sky! Ruins of cottages which I think belonged to the quarry

The view to the south was really nice :)

Daffodils & the view south Ruins seen from the other side

I continued my way north, alternating between walking on top of the cliffs or following some path lower down. The island is full of funny names, an easy way to keep track how far you’ve come are the walls that cross the island: quarter wall, halfway wall, and threequarter wall :)

Impressive rock formations! The threequarter wall - it's easy to know how far you've come on your hike :)

The views were amazing the whole way.

Panorama looking south - you can see there's several paths to follow, either on top of the cliffs or further down Nice views

The cottage is in the photo below is called Tibbetts – another holiday rental. It’s built on the highest point of the island, quite far from the village and it doesn’t have electricity, but what a view! It was originally built as a signal and watch station, in use until 1926. Would love to stay there once!

Tibbetts, which you can rent as well! It's a long way from the village and it doesn't have electricity, but what an amazing place to stay!!

Finally I reached my destionation: the north tip of Lundy Island. There is a lighthouse there, simple called the North Lighthouse (you can guess what the lighthouse at the south tip is called). A beautiful wild place, and I happened to catch the MS Oldenburg passing on its round-the-island trip. The lighthouse was built in 1897, and automated in 1985.

The North Lighthouse The MS Oldenburg was doing a tour of the island, before going back to the mainland, and I managed to catch it passing the north tip :)

The MS Oldenburg on its way around the island I loved the lighthouse :)

I spent quite some time around the lighthouse, before starting my way south again. I came across these Japanese Sika deer, they are so cute! They are indigenous to South East Asia, and were introduced to Lundy in 1927. They are supposed to be shy and hard to spot, but I saw quite a lot of them. They won’t let you come very close though.

Old railway to where provisions used to arrive - it's an automated lighthouse now Japanese Sika deer - very cute!

I walked back along the west side of the island, the wilder, Atlantic side, with spectacular cliffs…

The impressive wild cliffs on the west side of Lundy

Lundy also has wild sheep, a flock of Soay sheep originally from the Hebridean Islands, introduced to Lundy in 1944. They are adorable! The Highland cow was a lot less adorable, he started stamping at me when I tried to pass…

Lambs of the wild Soay sheep - aren't they adorable?? This one wasn't quite so adorable, he was stamping around and I got scared enough to take the long way round, through a swamp...

More pretty views…

Looking north And looking south. Wow :)

Walking towards The Old Light. Nearly 200 years old, this lighthouse was built for a lot of money but never worked well. It’s modern new flashing light actually caused a ship disaster in 1828, and in foggy conditions the lighthouse was too high up and lost in the fog. Finally it was abandoned in 1897 and replaced by the two lighthouses at the north and south tip.

On the way to the Old Light - can you guess the dominant wind direction? :) The Old Light

I was now nearing the southern part of the island again – time to finally go and visit my cottage: Hanmers. Hanmers was built by a fisherman on the path from the beach to the castle, and it has the most amazing views! I fell in love with this cottage, perhaps the prettiest place I ever stayed!

The Old Light Hanmers cottage, where I was lucky enough to spend 2 nights - perhaps the prettiest place I've ever stayed??

Here’s an impression of the cottage: two living rooms…

The living room of my cottage Another living room with books and games

The incredible view from the windows…

View from the window And view from the window looking south, you can see all along the island, so pretty!

One of the bedrooms (the other has a bunk bed), and the kitchen…

One of the bedrooms (it sleeps 4, there's another room with a bunk bed) The kitchen

St Helen’s church in the evening, and sunset at Hanmers…

St Helen's church in the evening Hanmers Cottage at sunset :)

The view to the village in the evening, I love the golden lights :) and the view towards the mainland. In the evening I had dinner in the tavern, a very nice and social place.

View towards the village in the evening - love all the yellow lights :) the building with most lights on is the tavern ;) Night view towards the mainland, you could just about see the lights over there. The long exposure makes the sea glassy smooth, but it actually was very calm then

It had been a long day and I fell asleep early. After a couple of hours I woke up from a lot of noise: the wind had changed direction and got stronger, and the cottage was creaking like crazy in the wind. There were also other strange noises right behind my bed, which I tried to ignore ;) The next day I found out those noises had come from a pygmy shrew that happily walked around the cottage, checking out the bins… (it’s a tiny mouse, but don’t say that on Lundy as THEY DON’T HAVE MICE :P ).

It was a very windy and rainy morning, so after breakfast at the tavern, I just had tea and biscuits and read books and looked at the view :) until the rain stopped and I decided to go for a walk. I met some goats, and climbed to the top of the Old Light (which is always open) and sat in the deck chairs with an amazing view :)

Three goats, and if you look carefully on the left: two angry birds :D The deck chairs at the Old Light - what a great idea!

Climbing the Old Light The Old Light seen from the graveyard 'next door'

After that I visited the Battery, which I had skipped the day before. It’s another chapter in the ‘we need a lighthouse’ story. With the Old Light being problematic, they installed two cannons at the bottom of the cliff which they fired every 10 minutes (blank shots, which I assume means there’s no cannonball in there?? :P ) This was also abandoned when the North & South Lighthouses were built. I also visited the sculpture by Antony Gormley (famous from the Angel of the North) that was erected the day before. There was a group of people on the ferry with someone filming – I realised later it was Antony Gormley and his wife and I assume two journalists. One of them wrote this beautiful article about their visit and about his work.

Going down to the Battery, impressed by all the plants growing on the old wall This sculpture by Antony Gormley had been erected the day before, I actually walked past right afterwards but didn't want to disturb their ceremony

Just below the sculpture is the Devil’s Limekiln, a natural pit more than a 100 m deep. ‘Approach with care’ is all it says in the brochure – there seems to be a path around the edge. I took one look at that and decided against it – especially being on my own ;)

The Devil's Limekiln, a natural pit that's more than 100 m deep

That evening in the tavern was even more social as two women joined me – always very nice when you’re travelling alone! And later on I started talking to a man who was there to ring birds, and ended up being invited to join them to the bottom of a cliff to wait for Manx Shearwaters to fly into a net. It was such an amazing experience, it just shows that sometimes it’s totally fine to follow some strangers down a cliff in the dark ;) They caught a couple, ringed them, and I got to release one of them :) Andrew Cleave was kind enough to send me this photo, you can see from my grin how much I’m enjoying it!

Me holding  a Manx Shearwater

Walking back it was nearing midnight, and that’s when they turn off the electricity. It made me smile when all they could think off was getting to their cottage in time to put the kettle on for ‘one last cuppa’ – oh so British! :D

The next day the MS Oldenburg was supposed to leave late in the afternoon, but we were told to come to the pub at 09:30 for ‘an announcement’. I was hoping we’d go back by helicopter, that’s an often used alternative when the weather is bad. But no, they decided to cancel the daytrippers and send the MS Oldenburg back as soon as it got there. So after breakfast I just went for a short walk around the village to take some last photos. This is the shop…

The shop

The tavern, and another cottage in front of the church.

The tavern, entrance on the left, and the reception on the right A cottage in front of the church

After paying my tabs at the shop and tavern, I made my way down the hill (your luggage gets picked up from the cottage again, a real luxury!).

Church & Gorse Back at the landing place...

I watched the MS Oldenburg arrive – it looked choppy!

The MS Oldenburg arriving with new visitors Arrival of the MS Oldenburg

And then it was time to leave…

Queueing for our choppy trip back to the mainland

The way back was so different from the way there. The weather was very different obviously, but one nice difference was that on the way back I knew a lot of people on board and I had a very social trip back. What a great trip :) I fell in love with Lundy and hope I can come back again!

Brazil part 1: Ilha Grande

In November/December I decided to escape the dark time in Tromsø and catch some summer sun in the southern hemisphere: I spent 4 weeks in Brazil! I flew from Tromsø to London and from there direct to Rio de Janeiro. I was visiting friends there, but I only spent about 12 hours with them before I left for a 5 day adventure to Ilha Grande (I came back to Rio afterwards, but more on that later). I used a company called EasyTransfer to get there: they picked me up from my door, and with a minibus full of excited backpackers we drove to Conceição de Jacare (about 2 hours from Rio), from where we caught a boat ride to Vila Abraão on Ilha Grande (about 45 minutes). See below for a map of the journey…

The journey from Rio de Janeiro to Ilha Grande: 2 hours by car and 45 minutes by boat Walking to our boat at Conceição de Jacare

The trip there is a great way of meeting people, and I was lucky enough to meet a really fun group of French people (part of a samba band from Paris :D ) with whom I spent most of my time on the island. It took me a while to locate my pousada (Brazilian guesthouse) but I didn’t mind walking through the sandy streets of Vila Abraão. The island is car free (no proper roads either!) and has a very relaxed atmosphere. I stayed at Aratinga Inn, a wonderful place. A super friendly owner, beautiful rooms, a hammock and an afternoon tea with wayyy too many cakes to try – who could ask for more? :D

My guesthouse Relaxing in my hammock :)

The next day I joined the French group for a day of hiking, to Lopes Mendes, a famous beach on the south side of the island.

The hike from Vila Abraão to Lopes Mendes - crossing a hill in the jungle, followed by beach hopping. On the way back we took a water taxi

We started from the beach, then climbed up through the jungle. At some point we had a nice view back to the village…

The beach at Vila Abraão Vila Abraão

We walked through Atlantic rainforest, which was so exotic to me :)

Marie walking through the jungle Reaching an open area near the top

Lots of critters everywhere, and very lush vegetation.

Giant ants! Intertwined :) The only butterfly I managed to capture - there were some huge fluorescent blue ones flying around, but they never sat down!

Then imagine, after a sweaty uphill hike through the jungly, the path finally descends until you reach this view… Palmas beach :)

Amazing moment when you come out of the jungly and see THIS! With Ivo, Marie and Karim. Photo borrowed from Karim :)

Time for a coconut and a refreshing dip in the sea!

Beautiful Palmas Beach Enjoying a coconut with Marie

We didn’t rest for for too long though, we were only halfway through our hike here…

Island life :) Photo borrowed from Karim. Oh Isla Grande, you are a dream! Driftwood artwork

But I couldn’t help slowing down for lots and lots of photos along the way…

A booby on the doorstep :D Bye bye beautiful Palmas beach! Arriving at the next beach: Pouso

Not long after Palmas beach we reached the next beautiful beach: Pouso.

Pouso beach P A R A D I S E !!!

Another paradise, postcard-perfect beach!

Giant shadow of a palm tree :) A very pretty boat. The taxi we took back was the one to the right though :D

We didn’t stop for a swim though, as we were close to our final destination now. We did stop to negotiate a water taxi back from this beach as late as possible (at 18:30), so we could enjoy Lopes Mendes to the fullest (you can’t take boats from Lopes Mendes as the waves are too big there).

It didn’t take long to reach Lopes Mendes from there, a HUGE white beach with sand so fine it squeaks under your feet :D

The entrance to Lopes Mendes Lopes Mendes

We found a very Brazilian photo opportunity that we couldn’t resist…

The whole group on the beach. Photo borrowed from Karim. Lopes Mendes

And then we swam (well, more like: played in the big waves until they got too big for my liking), and had lunch, and relaxed, and went for walks, and took lots of photos… :)

A coconut on the beach Fun on the beach Ivo who we nicknamed 'the king of selfies' ;)

Until it was time to catch our water taxi back to Vila Abraão. A caipirinha on the beach at sunset, followed by a big dinner. Followed by SLEEP – I was totally exhausted, but it had been a perfect day :)

Sunset Caipirinha time! Photo by Etienne. Followed by a great dinner. Photo borrowed from Karim.

The water taxi guy had convinced us to book his boat for the whole next day, to enjoy more beaches and to go snorkelling. Here we discovered the not-so-paradise side of the island: huge container ships passing and a snorkelling place that was very crowded with quite a lot of rubbish floating around. Our next stop was an idyllic beach though, where we had lunch and swam and read in the shade. The highlight of the day though, was stopping at a floating bar where we drank caipirinhas…

The floating bar Relaxing at the bar

… but best of all, where we snorkelled with TURTLES. Oh this was pure magic! Owls are associated with wisdom, but I think it should be sea turtles instead. They look so wise and old, and swim calmly. It was a dream and a feeling of total freedom to be able to snorkel next to these amazing creatures…

A sea turtle!! And a sea turtle photographed with an underwater camera

There were lots of turtles and we couldn’t get enough of taking photos of them…

Papparazzi stalking a turtle Thomas and the turtle... :)

We stopped for more snorkelling at the Blue Lagoon…

Pretty fishes :) Very long skinny fish... the guy from the boat told me the name but I forgot!

Our final stop was at a beach where we walked to a nice waterfall.

Marie at the waterfall Nice views during the hike

We saw monkeys during the hike, including a baby one! I didn’t get any good photos of them, but it was an amazing experience. We got back to the beach at sunset, time to go back…

Jackfruit Back at the beach at sunset Boarding 'our' boat for the last time

Most of the French group was leaving the next day, so we went for a very nice dinner on the beach…

Last dinner on the beach... Photo borrowed from Karim.

The next day some people were planning to climb Pico do Papagaio, a spectacular 982 m high mountain shaped as a parrot’s beak. I REALLY wanted to climb it, but I had burnt my back pretty badly during the day on the boat and I was very tired. So instead I had a very lazy day, reading in my hammock and going for a short walk. At the pousada, a roadrunner type bird ran into my bathroom :D

Some sort of roadrunner bird ran into my room! Just before it escaped and ran away like a meep-meep

I took some photos around the village as well. The amazing VERY blue church…

The blue church that we often used as a meeting point There was a bird in the cage next to the blue church!

At the waterfront :)

Vila Abraão waterfront Very tall palm trees! Watch out for falling coconuts... yeah I imagine if they fall from those high trees they hit you HARD

And some more village views…

Typical sandy street in Vila Abraã Church in the centre

The lush vegetation always amazed me :)

A tree with red flowers Plants growing all over a tree

And on my short walk I encountered the vultures that are souring in the sky over the island all day long, another pretty beach, and an old aqueduct built in 1893 with stones and whale oil :D (and it’s still in use!).

Vulture on the beach Another pretty beach Aqueduct built with stones and whale oil in 1893, and still in use!

In the evening I met up with the exhausted Pico do Papagaio climbers, who were joined by two Englishmen who turned out to be members of Norwich Samba Band – the world is a small place :D I was very envious of the amazing photos they came back with, but judging by the exhaustion of these much-fitter people I was convinced that I had taken the right decision. The next day it was time to say goodbye to Paradise Island, and head back to noisy Rio de Janeiro… One last look, and in this photo you can clearly see Pico do Papagaio.

Cocktails and BBQ at the beach. Photo by Etienne. One last look at Ilha Grande, and here you can clearly recognize Pico do Papagaio!

Ilha Grande was truly a dream, such a laid-back, beautiful, exotic island. Go there if you have the chance! I can’t even capture it all in my photos, as the incredible sounds of the jungle (especially at night), the music playing everywhere, and the fantastic sea food and other dishes are a large part of the experience!