17 January 2020
Bored of the grey skies, rain and dreary British weather? Banish the winter blues with some bright blue skies and shimmering turquoise oceans. This Blue Monday we’re going to take you through our favourite splashes of blue found anywhere in the world, to bring a smile to you on this most miserable of days and inspire your next travel getaway.
Antarctica is the coldest, windiest and driest continent on earth, and with an average altitude of 7,382 feet, it is also the highest. Although it is one of the most inhospitable places on the planet, growing numbers of people are compelled to visit Antarctica, and it’s no surprise why.
The landscape is as harsh as it is magical; icebergs of indescribable beauty are carved and polished into fantastic shapes and sizes by the elements. Roughly scoured peaks of rock and ice are reflected in the serene waters of protected bays that are frequented by basking seals and inquisitive whales. The coastal shores and sub-Antarctic islands are home to hundreds of squawking penguins and seal colonies as well as nesting seabirds. The incessant commotion and comic antics of half a million tuxedo-styled forms is one of the most characteristic and endearing features of a trip to the Antarctic Peninsula.
Surrounded by Canada’s largest holiday ski resort, in the heart of the magnificent Banff National Park, Lake Louise is an awe-inspiring natural feature that will take your breath away. With spectacular scenery and pristine terrain, it is no surprise that Lake Louise has been dubbed the 'diamond in the wilderness' and is such a popular resort destination. Skiers and snowboarders of all abilities will also be in their element with a mixture of high, open slopes, low trials and graded slopes to take advantage of. This beautiful location is one that has to be seen to be truly appreciated.
"We hiked in Jasper and Banff National Parks, surrounded by the beautiful snow-capped Rocky Mountains, saw canyons, waterfalls, and stunning turquoise lakes. We enjoyed a delicious afternoon tea overlooking the crystal blue Lake Louise."
Beverley, Travel Counsellor
Head to the Platinum Coast of Barbados and drink in the sight of the azure water gently lapping at the golden sands. Try your hand at surfing in the Soup Bowl, located on the island's eastern coast. Get your snorkel gear out, and go explore sunken ships in the clear depths of the Caribbean Sea – and keep an eye out for turtles! Why not head to the central highlands area of the island, home to some interesting cultural sights including distilleries and plantations, picturesque villages as well as some amazing walking and hiking trails.
Leave the islands behind and venture north to the city of Chiang Rai where the fascinating Wat Rong Suea Ten temple awaits. Commonly referred to by tourists as the ‘Blue Temple’, this elaborate architectural masterpiece was only completed in 2016, meaning it hasn’t yet garnered the fame of its counterpart White Temple in Chiang Mai just yet - but is equally as impressive.
As you walk through the guard of imposing ornate Asian dragons you are greeted by the temple’s gorgeous sapphire blue walls laced with intricate golden pattern and a large white sitting Buddha. We’d recommend taking the time to carefully survey the interior walls to pick out the outlandish designs that adorn them.
The 29 islands, 661 cays, and 2,387 islets that make up the Bahamas constitute a paradise of hidden treasures for holidaymakers to explore. Learn some local history at the Bahamas Historical Museum and find out about swashbuckling brigands at the Pirate Museum in Nassau. Head to 'Pig Beach' and swim with adorable pigs, as the Bahamas is the Official Home of the Swimming Pigs! Afterwards, get your snorkel out and swim with tropical fish and sea turtles. Why not also head to the island of Great Inagua where the ratio of flamingos to people is 61 to 1!
"One thing I have always wanted to do was swim with the pigs. From this island I could! We caught a boat and after a 30-minute ride, we reached them and what a completely bizarre thing to see - pigs of all sizes swimming up to the boat! We all got in the sea and waded over to the island with the pigs swimming amongst us trying to eat the food we were giving and then they were on the island with us. It was such a wonderful thing to do."
Donna, Travel Counsellor
Head to the Maldives for pure bliss in the form of clean white-sand beaches, gorgeous turquoise waters and a cool sea breeze. Learn to surf or dive, or if you’re feeling more adventurous, head to Fuamulaku to hike in the jungle and explore the island’s biodiversity. Sample the local specialities including Bis keemiyaa (pastry filled with tuna and hardboiled egg), Garudiya (fish broth prepared using chillies, onion and lemon juice) and Dhonkeyo kajuru (Fried banana cake flavoured with rose water or vanilla). If you fancy an insight into everyday life in the Maldives, visit the bustling capital Malé to discover brightly-coloured buildings, markets and mosques.
Nestled against the Caribbean Sea, the breathtaking tropical waters surrounding Belize are bright blue and teeming with wildlife. Almost half of the country is preserved as nature parks and reserves, and the mainland is a riot of brilliant green forests and fascinating Mayan ruins.
This giant blue pool is actually an underwater sinkhole, the world's largest natural formation of its kind. Known as the 'Great Blue Hole,' this circular hole measures a huge 300 metres across (1000 feet) and 135 metres deep (450 feet). Inside the hole are inky waters with stalactites and sharks, making it a renowned destination for scuba divers.
Not a PADI-qualified diver? The bright white, sandy beaches and glorious turquoise waters will definitely delight, and as Belize has the world's second-longest barrier reef, you can pop on a snorkel, mask and flippers and explore the colourful fish from the water's surface instead.
With volcanoes, cloud forests, beaches, and incredible wildlife, Costa Rica is a stunning destination to discover nature. See a volcano in Arenal Volcano National Park. Walk through emerald green plants in the Monteverde Cloud Forest. Watch green sea turtles hatch and set out for the ocean in Tortuguero National Park. Snorkel the only coral reef in the Costa Rican Caribbean coastline in Cahuita National Park.
Tucked inside of Costa Rica's Tenorio Volcano National Park you'll find Rio Celeste, a magical, bright blue body of water. The incredible colour is a result of volcanic minerals and it looks spectacular against the vibrant green of the rainforest.
Argentina is a dazzling country of wine regions, cosmopolitan cities, sweeping pampas (plains) and majestic glaciers. In the southern region lies Patagonia, the captivating home of national parks and reserves, and an abundance of wildlife.
Perito Moreno Glacier, pictured above, is part of the Los Glaciares National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Austral Andes of Argentina, on the border with Chile.
"Puerto Natales is a fantastic base for a number of wonderful sights in Patagonia. Having completed the trek and celebrated with Patagonia’s very own Baguales beer, we thought it was high time to detour over to Argentina to take a look at one of their own biggest Patagonian draws – Perito Moreno Glacier. It’s a truly impressive sight and the sound when ice drops off is also pretty incredible!"
Liz, Travel Counsellor
If you're ready for a change from the miserable Monday blues. contact your Travel Counsellor today and you’ll benefit from full financial protection and a 24-hour duty office ready to assist you before, during and after your trip.