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Surfing in Samoa – A Ride of a Lifetime

Have you ever risked injury to grasp that ride of a lifetime? If you try surfing in Samoa, then you will never forget stepping outside your comfort zone.

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Surfing in Samoa

The outboard motor coughed, spluttered then died as the anchor was thrown overboard. For 10 minutes we had motored along the shoreline as we searched for the perfect spot to go surfing in Samoa.

Surfing in Samoa

Silence descended around the small rubber boat as the first line of the swell marched in across the open expanse of water before our eyes.

From the deep blue trough the first wave began to rise. Slowly building in height as the swell met the shallow coral seabed. As the lip of the wave folded over to crash into a churning blue and white foam, a cheer from one of the guys was quickly swallowed by the deafening roar reaching our tiny boat floating in the safety of the channel.

Diving into the crystal clear blue water, still chilled from the night, I threw back my head and eyed up the surfing takeoff spot.

Samoa Surfing

Fresh surfboard wax clung to my torso as I paddled closer to the only spot you could launch from. My fingers felt as if they would scrape on the razor sharp shallow coral filled water below.

I was glad I was wearing my thick soled rubber surfing booties for when I would have to inevitably stand on those same jagged corals.

Surfing in Samoa coral reef

Squinting into the rising sun I tried to gaze through the glare. Every ripple danced across the ocean surface and glistened from the early morning sunshine.

As the first swell pushed underneath my shortboard, I could feel the power tugging at my legs beneath the surface. Each wave ready to throw itself against the coral seabed and dash its beautiful form into a churning mess.

Giving a surfer only a few seconds to pounce to their feet to grasp onto an unforgettable experience.

Pointing my surfboard back towards the beach I dipped my arms in. The swell reached my toes.

Once, twice, three times I stroked. My muscles coiled inside as my board became as light as a feather. It was now that I had to spring.

Planting my rubber covered feet and grabbing the outside rail of my surfboard I leaned against the rushing wall of water. The power of the wave threatening to tear me from my stance and throw me onto the coral reef just 2 feet below the surface.

A fall that would not leave me unscathed.

Broken Boards Surfing in Samoa

The surfboard bucked once as I found my balance. As the wave pitched higher I tried desperately to coax more speed out of the surfboard.

A shadow loomed up over my left shoulder before pitching down over my right. The barrel of the wave fitting perfectly over my hunched torso. My eyes fixed on the point of safety just a few short seconds away.

Bursting into the sunlight I ripped one last turn with a quick glance behind. A grin splitting my faces as I realised I had done it. I had pushed my limits and succeeded.

I was surfing in Samoa.

A ride of a lifetime.

Maninoa Surf Resort in Samoa

Extra Travel Information

We stayed at Maninoa Surf Camp (pictured above), for our surfing in Samoa trip. It is a dedicated surfing resort with beachfront fales and delicious food to keep you fueled.

You can fly direct to Samoa from New Zealand or Australia with a number of different airlines.

Surfing in Samoa is good all year round but the peak swell seasons are from April – November on the South Shore of Upolu Island. Not really recommended for beginners as the waves can be very fast and hollow for those who want a challenge.

If you want a slightly more relaxing experience then try snorkelling with turtles in Samoa.

Have you ever surfed before? What did it feel like?

Cole is one half of New Zealand's leading adventure travel blogging couple who have been wearing out their jandals around the world since 2009. He loves any adventure activities and anything to do with the water whether it is Surfing, Diving, Swimming, Snorkeling or just lounging nearby on the beach. You can follow Cole on Google+. Or consider following us via RSS Feed, Twitter, Facebook and subscribe to our Newsletter.

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55 Comments

55 Comments

  1. Peter Lee

    October 8, 2012 at 12:41 PM

    It’s an incredible feeling of being part of the ocean, really riding on top of the world. It’s easy to see why surfers love surfing so much as it gives the inner peace. There is only one place I get that feeling and it’s in the surf. Surfing is just an amazing activity something I don’t normally experience in a lot of other outdoor sports.

    • Cole Burmester

      October 8, 2012 at 4:40 PM

      Totally agree with you there Peter! Cannot get enough of it 😉

  2. D.J. - The World of Deej

    October 8, 2012 at 12:55 PM

    Felt like I was on the board with you. Although, there’s no way I’d have tried it:)

    • Cole Burmester

      October 8, 2012 at 1:22 PM

      Probably not the best place to start as a beginner 😉

  3. Jennifer

    October 8, 2012 at 6:15 PM

    Fantastic writing — I could almost feel the salt water spray on my face.

    • Cole Burmester

      October 9, 2012 at 9:23 AM

      Thanks Jen 🙂 Was a fantastic experience. Can’t wait to head back down-under in a few weeks to get some more surfing in.

  4. Marlys

    October 8, 2012 at 6:35 PM

    Love that corals shot. *sigh* Miss my diving days. But I never tried surfing though.

    • Cole Burmester

      October 9, 2012 at 9:24 AM

      The coral is not so fun after you have taken a fall onto it from a surfboard! Luckily I only sliced my side up a little bit 😉

  5. Mariana Calleja / TravelThirst

    October 8, 2012 at 6:45 PM

    Passionate surfer from the heart here! Not that I am an expert but I try to keep practicing. Passion born in Costarican waves back in time a few years ago. Seems like Samoa deserves a sip!

    • Cole Burmester

      October 9, 2012 at 9:25 AM

      I have dreamed of surfing in Costa Rica since I saw the movie Endless Summer II. Such a beautiful spot and warm water!

  6. wandering educators

    October 8, 2012 at 11:06 PM

    gorgeous!! i’d do the snorkeling, just saying…

  7. Jeff Titelius

    October 9, 2012 at 12:44 AM

    So poetic my friend…such vivid expression of your experience on the water from the waves to the thrill coursing through your veins as the approaching wave drew nearer and nearer until you finally conquered its crest rode to glory. Wow, I loved every word of this post! Beautifully done my friend…you certainly have a new fan in me!

    • Cole Burmester

      October 9, 2012 at 9:27 AM

      Great to hear Jeff and thanks for your kind words!

  8. bronwen burmester

    October 9, 2012 at 12:57 AM

    Great description – and loved the photos.

    • Cole Burmester

      October 9, 2012 at 9:27 AM

      Was one of the best family holidays so far Mum 🙂

  9. Jade - Ouroyster.com

    October 9, 2012 at 2:06 AM

    I dont even like swimming near Coral – let alone surfing with coral around… im tooscared of getting cut up. Ill keep to snorkelling with turtles for now 🙂

    • Cole Burmester

      October 9, 2012 at 9:28 AM

      Snorkelling with the turtle is a good idea! They are so cute 🙂

  10. Terry at Overnight New York

    October 9, 2012 at 4:42 AM

    Loved your ride. And three cheers for surfing booties. That coral looks killer!

    • Cole Burmester

      October 9, 2012 at 9:29 AM

      You could still feel it when you stood up on the corals. So sharp! Would never surf without booties above coral reefs!

  11. Laurence

    October 9, 2012 at 5:20 PM

    I used to do a lot of canoe surfing on the reefs of Seychelles when I was growing up. All fun and games until you come off.. and either have a kilometre long swim to retrieve your canoe (none of that ankle strap stuff for me!) or do battle with the coral. We used to say it wasn’t a good day unless you got back to the beach bleeding. Ah.. youth 😉

    • Cole Burmester

      October 9, 2012 at 8:27 PM

      Oh just when you “lived in the Seychelles” aye ;). Would love to venture down that way sometime. We just grew up on beach breaks back home. No reefs for us.

    • Micki

      October 9, 2012 at 9:12 PM

      Honestly, I’m not too sure whom I’m more envious of right now – Laurence for growing up in the Seychelles or Cole for surfing in Samoa! 🙂

      Love this – made me want to rush out and book tickets for somewhere warm.

      • Cole Burmester

        October 10, 2012 at 10:24 AM

        Well our adventure was only for a week and we didn’t get to grow up there 😉

  12. Karen @ Trans-Americas Journey

    October 9, 2012 at 10:43 PM

    An adventure well done and compellingly re-told. And I don’t even surf!

    • Cole Burmester

      October 10, 2012 at 10:24 AM

      Thanks Karen. We love being able to write about the stuff we are really passionate about!

  13. bronwen burmester

    October 9, 2012 at 11:24 PM

    Working toward another family holiday – we gotta do the snorkelling/swimming with whales as a family, a sureal incredible moving lifetime experience. Cant wait to see you Cole B!!

  14. Meg from LandingStanding

    October 10, 2012 at 6:30 AM

    Great story! Tony and I just learned to Surf in Bali last week and we had a blast… Although, we learned on a nice sandy beach with baby waves-Your experience sounds MUCH more intense!

  15. Cam @ Traveling Canucks

    October 10, 2012 at 6:09 PM

    Awesome photos! I’d love to catch some waves in the South Pacific!

    • Cole Burmester

      October 11, 2012 at 9:49 AM

      Blog trip? 😉 I am keen to arrange it if we can haha

  16. Jeremy Branham

    October 11, 2012 at 1:50 PM

    I’ve lived in California for 11 years now and have never surfed. No real interest in it. I guess that comes from growing up on the east coast of the US where there isn’t much surfing. And then there’s that shark thing. However, I love the underwater photos in this post! 🙂

    • Cole Burmester

      October 11, 2012 at 4:48 PM

      Haha sharks are not going to get you 😉 Well, Adela doesn’t believe me either.

  17. Cipri@Travelocafe

    October 13, 2012 at 1:21 PM

    I have never surfed before. Although we live by the beach, it is by the Mediterranean Sea and the waves are not high enough for surfing. Maybe in one of our travels…

    • Cole Burmester

      October 14, 2012 at 11:23 AM

      Yea the Mediterranean isn’t a great surfing spot. Try it next time you head to a surf beach in Spain or France 🙂

  18. SandInMySuitcase

    October 13, 2012 at 7:51 PM

    Yes, we’ve tried surfing. On the wild and wet west of Vancouver Island. And San Jose del Cabo in Baja, Mexico. Not easy! We think we’ll stick to SUP – at least we can get up on those boards!

    • Cole Burmester

      October 14, 2012 at 11:25 AM

      Believe it or not, we have never been SUP! Really need to do that sometime. Would love to surf in Mexico or Vancouver Island. We didn’t make it there on our travels around North America unfortunately.

  19. Angela

    October 13, 2012 at 8:03 PM

    Wow gorgeous place, fantastic adventure you’ve had!

    • Cole Burmester

      October 14, 2012 at 11:26 AM

      Would love to spend a summer there working and just chilling out! Maybe that can be our next adventure.

  20. cheryl

    October 15, 2012 at 8:55 AM

    BEAUTIFUL photos. I’d love to try out surfing there! 🙂

    • Cole Burmester

      October 15, 2012 at 6:23 PM

      Cheers Cheryl 😉 Warm water, good waves and sunny weather. Can’t ask for much more when surfing!

  21. Mary @ Green Global Travel

    October 15, 2012 at 4:41 PM

    Sounds like you had an amazing time. Doesn’t falling on the coral damage the reef as well as your body?

    • Cole Burmester

      October 15, 2012 at 6:30 PM

      The coral is actually just rocky under where the waves break Mary, so while still sharp, they are not really the ones in the pictures 🙂 Don’t worry, we are huge believers in protecting the coral reef ecosystems when we are diving and surfing!!!

  22. Ali

    October 18, 2012 at 3:16 PM

    Surfing doesn’t really appeal to me, but it is pretty cool to watch people doing it. Sounds like an awesome experience! Great photos!

    • Cole Burmester

      October 19, 2012 at 10:02 AM

      Yea it isn’t for everyone to try. But when someone does try it, they are hooked 😉

  23. Reena @ Wanderplex

    November 6, 2012 at 8:08 PM

    I haven’t surfed since I have no upper body strength to speak off and I’m pretty sure I’d either injure myself or make a fool of myself (if not both!). However, the ocean there in Samoa looks positively inviting, so I’d definitely find some kind of water activity to make the most of it!

  24. Muhammad Talha

    November 15, 2012 at 6:16 AM

    I found it relaxing… 🙂

  25. Jaryd Krause

    March 10, 2013 at 10:31 AM

    Awww I am well Jealous! Samoa looks amazing and as they say “only a surfer knows the feeling”. Surfing is definitely my favorite sport and a huge part of why I travel. If you both liked Samoa, not far from there or NZ is Tonga, I stayed at a surf camp there right by the waters edge but protected by the tropical jungle. A very nice a quiet place to relax and surf, worth checking out.

    Cheers, I hope you keep on surfing 🙂

    • Cole Burmester

      March 11, 2013 at 2:35 PM

      Definitely keen to lock in Tonga for a surfing trip. Would love to tie it in with swimming with the Whales there.

  26. John R

    March 27, 2013 at 2:50 AM

    Very Amazing. I love surfing, done it in Hawaii and Australia, hope to visit Samoa one day.
    Thanks
    John

    • Cole Burmester

      March 27, 2013 at 10:24 AM

      Thanks John! I haven’t had the chance to go surfing in Hawaii yet but it is on my list 😉

  27. True Nomads

    April 19, 2013 at 10:50 PM

    I don’t have to be into surfing to appreciate this post and the pictures. I want to get to Samoa bad. And Palau, and Micronesia, and Tonga and and and…. Keep up the good work!

    • Cole Burmester

      April 19, 2013 at 11:30 PM

      If you go to all those places can I come too 😉

  28. northierthanthou

    May 31, 2013 at 8:41 PM

    Gorgeous pics.

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Adventure Travel

Tips for Planning Your Uluru Tour

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Located in the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, the magnificent sandstone of Ayers Rock or Uluru stands tall at 1,142 feet above ground. The natural formation is widely known for being one of the most sacred places to the indigineous peoples in Australia. At the same time, it is also popular for attracting tourists from all over the world to the land down under.

If you want to visit Uluru in order to pay tribute to this wonder of nature, then doing so through the right tour is in your best interest. It’s not only because Uluru is located at least a few hours from civilization, but it also because such a tour allows you to enjoy the picturesque sights that come along the way within the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.

So what sights are there to see along the way and what other general tours suggestions you should keep in mind while visiting Uluru? To help you answer these and some other important questions, here are 5 top tips to keep in mind while visiting Uluru.

Don’t Climb the Monolith

First things first, while it is legal to climb atop Uluru, it is recommended that you do not attempt such an action in order to show your respect to the indigenous peoples.

It is a pretty easy rule to follow when you pay attention to the emotions of the indigenous tribes who have recommended time and again for people to not climb Uluru.

But that doesn’t mean that you cannot enjoy the natural beauty that Uluru has to offer. In fact, you are encouraged to visit the sandstone and take in its natural glory by standing right beside the formation. That’s why 4WD tour is highly recommended. The tour guides would be able to tell you what you can and can not do.

Visit During Sunset

Ask anyone who has visited Uluru about the best time to see the formation, and you will instantly get the answer as “sunset.”

It’s because Uluru is not an ordinary monolith, but one that is formed through arkosic sandstone. This allows the rock to actually change its color according to the position of the sun. As a result, you can expect the formation to sport a different color depending upon what time of day you reach it.

At sunset, Uluru projects an amber glow that is surreal to take in, especially when you are seeing the formation in person for the very first time. That’s why, it is recommended that you time your trip in a way that allows you to experience this magnificent sight.

3. Take Your Time to Plan the Trip

Perhaps the best way to visit Uluru is through the nearby town of Alice Springs, which has various amenities and accommodation options for tourists who are making their way to the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.

The drive from Alice Springs to Uluru can take around 5 hours, which is why it is recommended that you arrive at least a day before you are planning to tour Uluru.

This way, you can reach the national park while feeling fresh and rested. This also gives you time to plan longer trips to the park in order to enjoy all that it has to offer.

4. Take in the Sight of the Rock Art

Uluru is not just a wonder to look at by itself, but it also holds several little pieces of wonderful art within it.

The caves at the bottom of the formation hold several pieces of rock art that can only be found at Uluru. If you love learning about other cultures through their art, then this will be a must visit.

Just make sure that you take the time to learn about this art through a local tour guide or via the information provided within these exhibits. This ensures that you have an immersive and informative experience which you can remember for a long time.

5. Don’t Forget the Natural Attractions Around the Rock

Enjoying the breathtaking sight of Uluru sounds rewarding enough for a trip to the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. But it’s not all that you can do during a tour of Uluru.

From seeing the red kangaroos and other marsupials to spending some time with the camels, and from seeing the one of a kind formations of Kata Tjuta to taking a walk by the Valley of the Winds, there’s so much to see and do around Uluru.

That is why, it is recommended that you take your time at the park and put aside at least two days to enjoy all of the unique activities that the area has to offer. It would give you a well-deserved break from the hustle and bustle of daily life while also allowing you to make the most out of your long journey to the sandstone.

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Adventure Travel

Best Time to Visit Panama and Costa Rica

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The fact that Costa Rica and Panama are close makes both countries perfect for visiting. During your holiday there, it’s easy to travel back and forth between the two countries and enjoy all the wonders they have to offer. Keep in mind that the timing of your holiday will influence what sorts of sites you can visit and what activities you can make part of your plans. By understanding a little about what to expect, it’s easy to determine the best time of year to visit both countries, based on what you would like to do.

Learning More About the Dry and Rainy Seasons

If you’re the type who prefers the hustle and bustle that comes with holidays during the tourist season, plan on being in Costa Rica and Panama during what’s known as the dry season. Expect plenty of sunshine and warm weather during this part of the year. Many of your activities will be outdoors, although you will find a number of indoor sites that you will want to include in your plans.

The dry seasons in both countries overlap. The dry weather for both typically arrives during the first to the middle part of December. In Costa Rica, the dry season usually lingers until sometime in April. Panama enjoys a slightly shorter dry season, with it usually ending sometime in March.

Keep in mind that since this dry period is the height of the tourist season, the cost of visiting from December to April will be higher than at other times of the year. Even so, if your plans include spending a lot of time exploring the rain forests or soaking in the rays on one or more of the beautiful beaches, the dry season is the only time to consider.

Making the Most of the Dry Seasons

During the dry season in both nations, do expect the weather to be more humid and the day temperatures to be a little higher. There is some variance depending on which regions you plan on visiting. As a general rule, locations nearer the coast will include warmer weather and higher levels of humidity. By contrast, the more mountainous areas will offer slightly cooler temperatures and lower humidity levels.

During this time, do plan on enjoying the lush greenery found in the rain forests. During much of the dry season, the abundance of rain from what’s known as the rainy or green season ensures that the forests are at their best. Consider adding some variety to your holiday by spending time at the beach, soaking in the nightlife along the coast, and doing some shopping at many of the open air districts. This is also the perfect timing to enjoy some of the local cuisine while dining outside.

There are special events to celebrate during the dry season. President’s Day in Costa Rica occurs during this period. Along with locals, you can enjoy a number of celebrations, open-air festivals, and just about any type of entertainment that one can imagine.

Since the dry season does attract more tourists, it pays to book your lodgings in advance. Along with President’s Day, there’s also spring break and the Easter Season to consider. While you could look at different hotels and other properties near beaches, there are also hostels that make perfect places to sleep. After all, how much time do you plan on spending indoors when there’s so much to do?

Things to Do During the Rainy Seasons

In spite of the name, it isn’t always raining during the rainy or green season. Most days, there will be brief periods of sunshine that do allow you to spend some time at the beach and other outdoor venues. Do expect the evenings to be cooler. At times, the temperature may make wearing long sleeves or possibly a sweater a good idea.

Even if you’re out and about while it’s raining, there are plenty of things to see. Towns and cities in both nations offer indoor concerts, a number of restaurants catering to all sorts of tastes, and clubs and other settings for entertainment. You will find museums that will tell you more about the history of indigenous peoples and the complexity of their cultures.

What are some of the activities you can enjoy during this time of year? Both Costa Rica and Panama offer options to go horseback riding. Generally, this will happen during the morning when the sun is most likely to be out. Walking tours are also a great way to learn more about the culture and possibly find some interesting places that you will want to return to a little later. Don’t overlook the opportunity to get in some fishing when there’s a sunny morning coming your way. There are changes to engage in freshwater fishing as well as charter boats that will take you to some of the better places to enjoy salt-water fishing.

Coffee and rum tours are also something to consider during the rainy season. These tours allow you the opportunity to see different facilities and how they produce their products. As a bonus, you get to enjoy some taste-testing at many of the places that you visit along the tour. Some of the sites will also have bistros or restaurants included, allowing you to enjoy a nice meal or snack with your coffee or rum.

In terms of museums to visit, San Jose offers some of the most interesting museums in Costa Rica. Many of them are located in or adjacent to what’s known as the Central Market. It’s a great way to enjoy time indoors during the rainy afternoons and early evenings.

In Panama, check out the Panama Canal Museum in Casco Viejo. You can make use of headphones that offer the guided tour in multiple languages. If you happen to be proficient in Spanish, feel free to check out each exhibit on your own. You can also check out the Biodiversity Museum, which features exhibits on the over 1,000 species of animals and plants that are found in the country. Make the most of the discounts offered on Sundays. Retirees also get to enjoy discounts when visiting these museums.

Which season is the best time to visit Costa Rica and Panama? It’s really up to you. For those who prefer a slower pace and don’t mind rain during the afternoons and evenings, the raining season is ideal. Those who thrive on activity, sunshine, and plenty of tourist activities will enjoy going during the dry season. Whatever your choice, plan on coming back a second time. It’s rare for anyone to see everything they want to see during a single holiday.

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Adventure Travel

Most Underrated Travel Destinations

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Everyone knows about Paris and Rome and London but there are so many other beautiful travel destinations that are amazingly underrated. The fact that so many beautiful countries go unexplored by travelers is a tragedy. Not only because so many people are missing out on rich cultures and picturesque views, but also because a lot of these destinations tend to be a lot cheaper to travel to than popular cities. 

A majority of Americans, when asked about traveling abroad, will likely shake their head and say they can’t afford such trips. Many people deal with multiple monthly bills, such as mortgage or rent, student loans, and title loans, which are all stress inducing. 

But what a lot of people don’t know is that there are gorgeous, underrated foreign cities one can visit for a fraction of the price of touristy European cities. Forbes recently published a collection of the ten most underrated destinations you should consider visiting. 

Here are a few of them:

Yerevan, Armenia

Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, is known for its magnificent sights of Mount Ararat, historical monasteries, and its many striking temple ruins. Armenian cuisine is other worldly with classic dishes like rabbit stew, sautéed eggplant rolls, and lamb tartare. 

Telč, Czechia

Telč is a colorful town with Italian influences in Czechia. It boasts of Baroque-Renaissance architecture and has a castle of its own with exciting tunnels and passageways that you can explore underneath the town.

Santiago, Chile

Santiago is the capital of Chile and features gorgeous architecture from the neoclassical era. There are towering cathedrals and, of course, plenty of quality Chilean wine. Plus, the city of Santiago is a great place to kick off your exploration of Chile’s wine country. 

Rotterdam, the Netherlands

Rotterdam is often ignored due to the popular neighboring city of Amsterdam, but it is a bastion of underground music and street art. The architecture is strikingly modern since the city was heavily bombed during World War II and thus had to be rebuilt from the ground up. The city is filled to the brim with amazing cuisine and museums.

Lagos, Nigeria

If you are looking for a big city destination, Lagos is a metropolis that has plenty to see and do so that you’ll never be bored. And whenever you need a break from the urban marketplaces, private beaches are just a short drive away.

Con Dao, Vietnam

Con Dao is a Southeast Asian island that makes an excellent beach destination with two resorts and tons of fascinating history. Once host to a brutal French prison, the island is also home to the tomb of the Vietnamese martyr Vo Thi Sau. 

Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay

This is one of the oldest cities in Uruguay dating back to the 17th century. The city has a vibrantly decorated historic quarter and a three-century-old convent. It’s also only a short trip away from the bigger city of Montevideo.

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Meet Cole and Adela

Cole and AdelaWe have been wearing out our jandals (Kiwi for flip-flops) on our travel adventures around the world since 2009. We think our blog is thought provoking and a little witty. But we have been proven wrong before. Find out more about us here...

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