Category - Off the beaten track

Go off the beaten track with Purple Travel and have the most incredible holiday experience.

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Off the beaten track: Coral Reefs, the rainforests of the oceans
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Off the beaten track: Romantic holidays on Τavarua island!
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Purple 10: Best Summer Festivals
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Off the beaten track: Top Greek Caves
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Learn about Mexico’s cenotes
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Off the beaten track: Patagonia, land at the end of the world
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At the dive in: poolside outdoor cinemas
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Off the beaten track: Enagron Ecotourism Village in Crete
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Purple Tips: Craziest Adventure Holidays
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Off the beaten track: Ferrari World

Off the beaten track: Coral Reefs, the rainforests of the oceans

Stop for a moment to consider the fairytale ‘Finding Nemo’ world of coral reefs. With an astonishing variety of branching, leafy forms and intriguing, unusual sea life, they also play a hugely important role in preserving biodiversity as the home to many cute and amazing sea creatures like fish, jellyfish, anemones and soft corals. Most reefs are formed in long, narrow strips along the edge between shallow and deep water. They aren’t spread across huge areas in the same way rainforests are.

Here at PurpleTravel.co.uk, we’ve found the most impressive coral creations for your eyes only…

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  Coral reef scenery with Black-backed butteflyfish (Chaetodon melannotus), gorgonian and Red Sea dwarf sweepers (Parapriacanthus guentheri), Red Sea, Egypt

Find out more about amazing places around the world, in our Off the Beaten Track series.

Off the beaten track: Romantic holidays on Τavarua island!

Romantic holidays Tavarua island

Small but perfectly formed, you could call Tavarua Island the best place on earth for romantic holidays. In the shape of a heart, in a paradise like location just to the west coast of exotic Fiji, it’ll make your desert island dreams come true.

Romantic holidays on Tavarua island

The heart-shaped island has an area of 29 acres and is close to the main Fijian island, Viti Levu. Tavarua, part of the Mamanuca islands, is home to perfect, white powder sand beaches, completely clear tropical waters, lush greenery and coral reefs. For such a tiny island there’s also a surprising amount of activity there, if you can drag yourself away from the beaches. Guests can the island can choose from surfing, scuba diving, sport fishing, snorkelling and kayaking. Shell hunting is also popular choice, and trips to the famous Cloudbreak (a surfing haven) or simply chilling in a sunny spot in your hammock are a must. However, the top choice has to be a Fijian massage. We’re serious, don’t even think about operating heavy machinery after one of those! As for cuisine, it might surprise you to learn that as well as seafood, the islands cuisine also includes some Indian dishes that were introduced to the island by Indian labourers. A popular dish is called Kokoda, which is similar to ceviche, consisting of raw fish marinated in lemon juice and coconut milk, sometimes accompanied by pepper onion and tomato.  Of course there’ll be plenty of fresh tropical fruit on offer too.

Tavarua, with perfectly-formed beaches, warm climate and relaxing atmosphere make for the ultimate in romantic honeymoon holidays.

Romantic holidays on Tavarua island

Romantic holidays, Tavarua island

romantic holidays on Tavarua island

Romantic holidays on Tavarua island

Purple 10: Best Summer Festivals

It’s hard to choose, but we’ve picked our top 10 best summer festivals. Any we’ve missed, add in the comments below.

Poster for festivals

1. Coachella April 12-14/April 19-21, Califronia, USA. Tickets around $349 for a three day pass. Where the beautiful people of rock, pop and movies go to see and be seen. Run over two weekends, this years lineup is UK heavy, with the Stone Roses, the XX, New Order and Johnny Marr joining the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Modest Mouse and Sigur Ros amongst others. The festival in the dessert is all about sunshine and surprises: last year Tupac Shakur appeared in hologram form to perform with Dr Dre.

2. Primavera Sound Music Festival 22-26 May, Barcelona, Spain. Tickets €145 for a festival pass. This is one for serious musos. My Bloody Valentine are riding the coattails of their surprise album release with a string of dates and will headline Primavera along with Blur, Nick Cave, Tinariwen and Wu-Tang Clan.

3. Electric Daisy Carnival New York 17-19 May NYC, USA. Tickets $159. No lineup announced yet, no official updates on the website either, but we’re pretty sure the annual electro dance fest is one to watch. 2012 saw Armin van Buuren, Afrojack, Avicii and Steve Angello headline.

4. Roskilde Music Festival 29 June-7 July, Denmark. Tickets DKR 1810.00. One of the biggest and best festivals in Europe, Roskilde actually does it all for charity. All profits go to a different chosen charity every year. So, not only will you have a good time watching Slipknot or, eh, Rihanna but you can enjoy the fact it’s for a good cause too.

5. Electric Elephant 11-15 July, Tisno, Croatia. Tickets TBA. Set in a natural amphitheatre, on a white sandy beach, surrounded by warm, crystal clear waters, Electric Elephant is about as far away from mudbath Glastonbury as you would imagine. We don’t know much about the lineup apart from Mr Scruff, but we do know, there’ll be boat parties, sunshine and handy apartments on site.

6. Positivus Festival 19-21 July, Salcgrava Latvia. Tickets LVL 39.00. A pretty good option for a cheap festival circuit experience, this has an eclectic mix of acts and a great atmosphere among its 20,000 + revellers. Sigur Ros are already confirmed to headline with more TBC in the next few weeks.

7. Sziget Festival 5-12 August, Obuda Island, Hungary. Tickets €229. A good option for non muddy camping, usually the weather is perfect for 7 days of nonstop partying, 60 venues, 200 acts daily, and lots of non music acts like a circus. Hadouken! Boys Noize, Azealia Banks, Blur and Triggerfinger have already been announced for Hungary’s finest festival.

8. Pinkpop Festival 14-16 June, Ladgraaf, the Netherlands. Tickets €165. Going into its 41st year, the Dutch have gotten this festival down to a fine art. The festival has sold out 20 times in its four decade history, so better get booking soon. An average of 60,000 head to the site each year and this year looks like it’s no different with Green Day, the Script and Ben Howard already announced.

9. Iceland Airwaves Music Festival 30 October-3 November, Reykjavik, Iceland. Tickets KR 18.500. Any festival in Iceland is going to be a bit different; they did give us Bjork after all! Already on the bill are Gold Panda, Goat, Fatima Al Qadiri and church organ magician Anna Von Hasswolff are set to play at the festival, where, by 4am, “You’ve been to five cool clubs, seen ten great bands, made fifteen new friends and fallen in love twenty times. You’re tired. You’re wired. You’re ready to find a bed. You’re ready to find the after-party. You can’t believe you’re here. You’re already making plans to come back next year. And guess what? It’s still Day One.”

10. Super Bock Super Rock 18-20 July, Sesimbra, Portugal. Tickets €48-80. Arctic Monkeys, QOTSA, and the Killers are headlining the huge rock fest that started in 1994; it’s since become one of the most kick-ass gigs in the country, drawing huge crowds and big names.

For the best prices on flights and accommodation for all kinds of festivals, call one of our travel experts now on 0207 993 9228.

Off the beaten track: Top Greek Caves

Off the beaten track: Top Greek Caves

Explore, dream, discover, There’s never been a better time to holiday in Greece and on top of the beaches and sunshine, there is plenty to discover. Go home with a tale to tell after visiting one of the huge cave complexes dotted throughout the mainland and the islands.

Cave of Melissani: Found in the beautiful island of Kefalonia, this is an underground masterpiece. Shaped like a ‘B’ a small tunnel brings small tour boats inside the cave where the sun’s rays transform it into a heavenly light show. (Image via @ NikitasPhoto)

Melissani cave in Kefalonia via Purple Travel

Cavern of Perama: Just 5km away from Ioannina city centre in Western Greece, the Cavern of Perama, discovered in the 40s is a real treat. A tour around the imaginatively lightened caves, and awe-inspiring ancient stalactites and stalagmites is well worth the trip.

Diros Cavern: One of the most beautiful lake made caverns in the world, together with Padirac Chasm in Southern France and Jeita in Beirut. Diros Cavern in the Peloponnese is 14.5 km long, featuring underwater and overland routes.

Cave of the Lakes: In the village of Kastria in Achaia lies the famous Cave of the Lakes, a rare natural creation. Apart from its labyrinth of corridors, its mysterious galleries and its strange stalactite formations, this cave has something exclusively unique that does not exist in other infamous caves. Inside visitors will find a string of cascading lakes forming three different levels that establish its uniqueness in the world.

Cavern of Aggitis River (Maaras): The cave of the springs of the Aggitis River in Drama-Northern Greece features colourful and varied forms of stalactites reflected in the still waters of the underground river. It’s the perfect choice for budding biologists; unique fish species has been found in this cavern, such as Barbus Barbus, Squalius Orpheus and a rare kind of semi-transparent stone crayfish.

Alistrati’s Cave: According to the Greek Mythology, Pluto, master of Hades kidnapped Persephone, daughter of the Goddess Demeter. He led her to what was called the Gates of the Underworld at a ravine. The specific area which is mentioned in these Greek Myths is the same one near Alistratis’ Cave. The cavern lies in a place called Petroto, where Mother Nature decided to demonstrate its power by creating medusa-like shapes. However, what fascinates the most is the huge stalactites forming pure white curtains along the walls.

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Cave of the Elephants: The Cave of the Elephants in Chania, Crete is a refuge for the protected species of Mediterranean Seal, one of the most endangered mammals of Europe. Diving in this cavern is a truly magnificent experience as visitors can admire the beautiful décor of stalactites and stalagmites (underwater and above the water surface) and see fossilized bones, which are embedded in the rocks of the cave.

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Dragon’s Cave: Sshhh! Located in Kastoria-Northern Greece, this impressive cave with underground lakes was once believed to be a gold mine guarded by a sleepless dragon.

Σπηλιά Δράκου

Find out more about amazing places around the world, in our Off the Beaten Track series.

Learn about Mexico’s cenotes

Heading to Mexico? Get your homework done first with this video on the famous cenotes that you’ll find there.

Off the beaten track: Patagonia, land at the end of the world

When you arrive in Patagonia, you will soon realise that your travelling experiences are over, as you’ve already reached the end of the world.

The South Pole is just a stone’s throw away and the wild landscapes, along with the (sometimes) unnerving isolation of the Patagonian land really will make you feel like you are somewhere completely different. Shared by Argentina and Chile, it is a place like no other, where rivers rage, glaciers drift and the coastline snakes the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.

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It is an endless landscape: a mainly flat area of 1,000,000 km² on the very southern edge of the American continent.

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Absolute uniqueness: Patagonia is a by-word for one of the last virgin areas on the planet, with utterly stunning scenery that creates a peaceful and quiet atmosphere.

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image by bibliojojo

Absolutely off the beaten track: We don’t like to put it too bluntly, but this really is the place to go to escape form civilisation. It’s one of the most sparsely inhabited places on earth, and home to only 1.9 people/km².

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Total freedom: that’s the prevailing feeling when travelling in this remote piece of earth.

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Find out more about amazing places around the world, in our Off the Beaten Track series.

At the dive in: poolside outdoor cinemas

We like to keep our finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the travel world, but even we didn’t see this one coming: dive in cinemas. Whether you’re into rom-coms or action flicks, adventure or cartoons, hotels and beyond across the world are tempting guests with poolside outdoor cinemas. So grab your bikini and head for our top 8.

Archipelago Cinema Thailand from PurpleTravel

The Westin St John Resort and Villas, US Virgin Islands The only thing that could make a holiday in the Caribbean better, is probably the opportunity to soak up the sunset in the pool as a movie flickers to life on a big screen with maybe a cocktail or two delivered right to your hand.

The Cosmopolitan, Las Vegas, USA Not content with just regular old movies, the Cosmopolitan’s BLVD social club blasts films on a colossal screen, that’s perfect for Hollywood favourites. This year alone feature the Wizard of Oz, Karate Kid, Social Network and Father of the Bride.

Archipelago, Thailand You might have seen those pictures floating (pun intended) around the internet of a huge floating screen in the middle of the sea. Well, it’s part of Thailand’s Film on the Rocks Festival. A huge floating raft was launched with the screening anchored a little way from the seats. The screen is touring, after which it’s set to be donated to the local community.

Spring Hill, Brisbane, Australia We’re not quite sure if this is an inspired idea or just simply mad. As part of the Brisbane International Film Festival the director decided to show an in-pool screening of Jaws. And why not include films with a little bite.

The Fairmont Hotel, Dallas, USA During the day, the pool on the third floor of this hotel offers sweeping views of the Dallas skyline, while at night; anyone can come and watch a free movie. Pull up an inflatable raft, sit back and relax with a cocktail for this lovely experience.

The Pearl, San Diego, USA offers a free weekly cinema social. Dive into their eclectic film choices, some food and drinks and get settled in for classics, blockbusters or independents. There’s certainly something in The Pearl’s library to suit every taste.

Hot Tub Cinema, London Grab your nearest and dearest, hop into your swimming cozzy and head for the latest London trend, Jacuzzi cinemas. The simple idea has exploded in popularity in the last few months and the Hackney rooftop is the place to be. Shows are continually sold out for the champagne fuelled movie nights.

CenterParcs, Park Zandvoort near Amsterdam At its Aqua Mundo you can swim, bring the kids, soak up the sunshine and best of all, finish the day and take a well earned break watching a film on the massive screen in the comfort of your own inflatable rubber ring!

You should read… the best water slides ever!

Off the beaten track: Enagron Ecotourism Village in Crete

If you’re looking for a holiday that’s totally “off the beaten track” and disconnected from your usual hustle and bustle, you’d be pushed to find a nicer experience than at the Enagron Ecotourism Village in beautiful Crete.general_view4

High up on a mountain, slap, bang in the middle of the island, you’ll find a throwback to a simpler life, where olive trees grow and the air is filled with the scent of herbs and plants. Not exactly a hotel, but more a place to really get in touch with nature, Enagron is a working farm, where you can do as little or as much as you like.

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If you’re on a foodie adventure, you couldn’t ask for a better voyage of discovery, it’s a great opportunity to head to the kitchen and find out the tricks for preparing the best in Cretan dishes like dolmades, or the difference between kefalotiri or graviera. (They are cheeses!) Our favourite part is to try a flaky bougatsa pastry in the morning as we soak up the sunshine.

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If you’re feeling a bit more energetic, there are plenty of events and day trips to try out, from nature walks to sightseeing, either on foot or by donkey. Of course there’s always a ‘driver’ on hand to keep you on the straight and narrow around the Psiloritis mountain, and take you to the stone houses, where you can try out cheese making and indulge in a ‘herder’s meal.’

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Something a little more laidback tickles your fancy? Then there are a whole heap of chilled out options; like reading on the terrace, snoozing under a tree, grabbing an chilled coffee, or lounging in the pool, with the company of the birds and the wind.

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image by NH53

And it being a traditional Greek getaway, there’s always room for a little bit of letting your hair down. The owners are renowned for their raki dixies, or raki nights, with love music and dancing until the wee small hours.

Purple Tips: Craziest Adventure Holidays

We were well impressed with Felix Baumgartner’s jump, where the Austrian hurled himself out of a space capsule a whopping 24 miles up in the air. Well, when we saw Fearless Felix, we thought we’d like to have a go at it, here’s our run down of some crazy adventure holidays… If that’s what you’re into! Enjoy!

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Wife Carrying this is not strictly for husbands and wives, but each male competitor must carry a female teammate across a special obstacle track as quickly as possible. There are various techniques including piggyback, fireman’s carry or our personal favourite, Estonian style, where the wife hangs upside down, holding onto her husband’s waist with her legs over his shoulders. It started in Finland but is growing in popularity in the USA.

Zorbing Hop into an inflatable orb, (usually) made of plastic and you’ll be pushed down a nice gentle slope. Not really extreme, but included in this list for its level of unusualness. The first zorbing site was in New Zealand, but it’s spread globally (possible after its use in Gladiators!) and is a hit in Spain, Portugal, Czech Republic and Greece.

Chess Boxing A kind of hybrid sport, chess boxing was invented by a Dutch artist this is one of the craziest ‘adventure holidays’ you could ask for. It’s made up of eleven rounds – six of chess, each lasting four minutes and five rounds of boxing, each three minutes long. Participants have to be as good at boxing as they are at chess. It’s very popular in Berlin and London and growing in places like Los Angeles and Tokyo.

Cheese rolling

Image via @ Mike Warren

Cheese Rolling Take one massive wheel of cheese, throw it down Cooper’s Hill in the Cotswolds, and watch as competitors break arms, legs or teeth trying to catch it. As soon as the cheese is thrown a group of twenty or so participants leap down the steep hill and the first one to cross the finish line wins. The intensity of their injuries is a badge of honour in this case.

Extreme Ironing Not two words you would normally put together, extreme ironing combines the satisfaction of a well pressed shirt, with the white knuckle thrills of extreme outdoor activity. Thrill seekers attempt to iron on tiny mountain tops, in the middle of the M1, while skiing or snowboarding, and even while bungee jumping. From the Florida Quays, to the Netherlands to Australia, this is one sport you’ll be never get board of (wah wah.)

Limbo Skating One for the flexible only, we’re told this is the latest rage in India, where riders wear rollerskates and stretch eye wateringly low to pass under cars. This requires some serious strength and balance.

Volcano Surfing Yes, this is a thing. It is a fairly new sport having just been discovered/invented and sees surfers use a thin layer of plywood or a metal board to travel down a recently erupted volcano. Riders hike to the top and sit, slide or (attempt) to stand on the board all the way down. So far, we’ve only found evidence of this new sport in Nicaragua.

Camel Wrestling If you’re on holidays in Bodrum in Turkey, you have to check this out. After a camel beauty pageant, entrants (the camels) are set on each other to fight it out over a female. It’s actually strictly controlled to protect the animals taking part.

Bog Snorkelling Every year in Wales, crowds gather to watch competitions swim up a 133 metre stretch of bog water, filled with weeds and muck. ‘Nuff said.

Crocodile Bungee Jumping If you’re a bit bored of regular old bungee jumping then this will spice things up a bit. Already a bit of a hit in Oz, croco-bungee sees jumpers hop into water which is home to the snappy animals.

Cliff Diving

Image via @ JohnONolan

Cliff Diving Championed by Felix’s buddies at Red Bull, cliff diving is becoming more and more popular all around the world. Not for the faint hearted, this takes a lot of effort, training and dedication. Spectacular to watch, it’s one of our favourites. In the past few years alone there have been huge competitions in places like the Azores, Yucatan Mexico, the Aran Islands off Ireland, Athens, Greece and plenty more beyond.

Off the beaten track: Ferrari World

Fast, furious, thrills and spills, if there is one park that is the epitome of thrill seeking then it has to be Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi. The first of its kind in the world, it tells the story of Ferrari on a series of exhilaration rides and educational journeys.

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Image via @ Ferrari World

The iconic red roofed park houses over 30 vintage and modern Ferraris, the world’s fastest roller coaster, the Formula Rossa, which hits speeds of 240 kmph and its own G-Force experience that blasts you to a height of 62 metres. Not for the faint hearted that one.

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Image via @ Ferrari World

For kids there is the chance to get behind the wheel of a scaled down 430 GT Spider as well as Speed of Magic, a 4-D adventure through jungles and volcanoes. Definitely a must see on any holiday in Abu Dhabi.

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Image via @ Aziz J.Hayat

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