The 7 Best Music Festival Cruises To Experience Before You Die

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Attending a music festival on a cruise ship is definitely something you must experience at least once in your life.  However, I should warn you, that after you spend a few days raving at sea, the idea of going back to camping festivals might not sound too great.  It’s honestly the most comfortable way to enjoy a festival, because it’s also an incredible vacation.  The destinations are always beautiful, the cruise amenities are top-notch, and the sunrises / sunsets you’ll witness while onboard the ship will leave you speechless.  If you’re looking for the best cruise music festivals, I strongly suggest you add these to your festival bucket list.


1 ) Groove Cruise

When:  October 7-9, 2017 (Los Angeles) — January Dates TBS (Miami)

Departing:  (January) Miami, and (October) Los Angeles

Destination:  Various locations.  Bahamas, Grand Turk, Mexico, etc…

Website:  https://www.groovecruise.com/

Groove Cruise is the OG festival at sea, and will definitely be one of the best experiences your life!  I’ve now attended two different Groove Cruises, and it’s simply unlike any other festival I’ve ever attended.  Check out my articles on why Groove Cruise is the Ultimate Festival Vacation & Groove Cruise Miami:  96 Hours of Atmospheric Bliss to get a better understanding why.  There are two separate editions every year, so start planning now and join the loving #GCFAM !


2 ) HOLY SHIP

When:  Every January (2 Weekends)

Departing:  Port Canaveral, Florida  

Destination:  Various locations:  Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas, etc.

Website:  http://www.holyship.com/

Having just successfully finished their 8th and 9th voyages, HOLY SHIP has made some major waves in the cruise festival scene.  Their line-ups are always stacked with an eclectic mix of bass / electro/ G-House artists, and the previous destinations they’ve sailed to are absolutely gorgeous.  The main reason I want to go on Holy Ship is to witness the legendary Destructo Sunrise Sermon Set!

Photo via Facebook

Party on the back of the boat! #SpiceH2O #HolyShip #ShipFam

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3 ) Shipsomnia

When:  June 14-18, 2017

Departing:  Barcelona, Spain

Destination:  Ibiza, Spain

Website:  http://www.shipsomnia.com/

Unoffficially nicknamed “Tomorrowland Of The Sea”, Shipsomnia is guaranteed to be a party you never forget.  It’s maiden voyage sailed from Singapore – Thailand, and was one of the best festivals in South-East Asia.  They are now preparing for it’s second edition leaving from Barcelona, and making it’s way to everyone’s favorite party island. This event is likely to sell-out rather quickly, so plan well in advance to ensure your spot on the “Tale of the Kraken”.


4 )  Inception At Sea

The world’s first ever floating spring break music festival!

When:  March 13-17, 2017  

Departing:  Miami, Florida

Destination:  CocoCay & Nassau, Bahamas

Website:  http://inceptioncruise.com/

“The second annual Inception at Sea Spring Break Cruise will be setting sail March 13-17, 2017 from Miami to multiple destinations in the Caribbean for a 4-night music festival experience, with 96+ straight hours of music and partying.”  I’m personally going on this festival in just a few weeks, and can’t wait to share my experience with everyone!

Photo via Website


5 ) Anchored By Unique Cruise

7 Days.  7 Events.  7 pool Parties.  2500 People!

When:  June 11-18, 2017  

Departing:  Rome, Italy   

Destination:  Santorini -> Mykonons -> Monte Carlo -> Cannes  

Website:  http://unique-cruise.com/

This week long voyage sounds almost too good to be true.  Sailing to four destinations, in three different countries, this will be a vacation of a lifetime  This is the first ever edition, so if you don’t have plans in mid-June, you should definitely check this out!  The line-up is looking amazing already, and I know this is going to be a full-week of nothing but groovy house and techno.

“A fresh and innovative cruise looking to combine some of the very best of the nightlife you would normally find in Ibiza along with all the glamour of yachting and cruising.  Our vision is to be an exclusive holiday choice for the influential and glamorous.”

Double tap if our line-up has got you buzzing to get #Anchored17 this year! Tag your shipmates!

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6 ) The Ark

When:  August 31 – September 3, 2017

Departing:  Barcelona, Spain

Destination:  Ibiza, Spain & Marseille, France

Website:  http://www.theark.cruises/en

ELROW ON A SHIP FOR FOUR DAYS!?  Is this real life…?  This cruise simply looks like it’s be the experience of a life.  Take a look browse through the website and check out all the incredible stages, trip packages, and information about the venue of “the Feedom Of the Seas“.  It honestly won’t take you much convincing to start planning your trip!

“Four days long the ship will cruise the Mediterranean Sea in a tropical setting making sure mankind would not only survive, but to be fruitful, joyful and most of all: for mankind to create. To create an atmosphere in which any animal would duplicate. To create an environment in which everybody is loved, accepted and musically connected. To create conversation where likeminded people share stories and discuss the strings of life.”


7 ) Mdrinity Cruise

The First 100% Underground Electronic Music Cruise

When: September 16-20, 2017

Departing:  Genova, Italy

Destination:  Barcelona -> Mallorca -> Ibiza  

Website:  http://www.mdrnty-cruise.com/

“Setting off from Genova, this wild 4-night Mediterranean voyage, with stopovers at Barcelona, Mallorca, and Ibiza, will soon be the exclusive settings for an unforgettable party experience!

Each of 5 stages, including the main dance floor which is located above deck, will have its own unique atmosphere and a befitting line-up to go with it, providing an insane 24h a day music offer!”

 


8)  It’s The Ship *BONUS*

When:  November (2017 Dates TBA)

Departing:  Singapore

Destination:  Langkawi, Malaysia

Website:  http://www.itstheship.com/

This is Asia’s largest festival at sea, and should absolutely be added to your travel / festival bucket list!  They’ve had two successful voyages in the past that both have had massive line-ups, and sailed to beautiful tropical destinations!  I spent almost two years traveling around South-East Asia, and one of my biggest regrets is not attending It’s The Ship!  While 2017 dates / information haven’t been released, you should definitely keep this in mind if you’re planning a trip out to South-East Asia!

Our Day 1 pictures from #ITSTHESHIP2016 are up on Facebook! Check it out shipmates! ⚓️ http://bit.ly/DAY1ITS

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Am I Missing Any Epic Cruise Festivals…?

LET ME KNOW!

THANKS FOR READING!!

FOLLOW MY ADVENTURES AROUND THE WORLD ON FACEBOOKINSTAGRAM, TWITTER & ADD ME ON SNAPCHAT: — JONESATW

Travels, Festivals, & Photography: 2016 In Review

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We’re now two weeks into 2017, and I’m just finally posting my annual round-up article.

Sorry for the delay, but the past couple months I’ve been traveling, festivaling, and photographing Australia — and I’ve barely had any time to slow down and catch up on work.

2016 was a huge year of growth for me — both personally and career wise.

From beginning the year living in Sydney, traveling through Sri Lanka & Europe, spending a couple months back home in California, and finally exploring Australia — this year has definitely been full of adventures.

Countries Visited:  13

Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, France, Belgium, Hungary, Serbia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, Greece, U.S.A       


Festivals Attended: 13

Field Day, Electric Gardens, Yacht Social Club, Return to Rio, Groovin The Moo, Voodoo Village, Balaton Sound, Brussels Summer Festival, CRSSD Festival, Dirtybird Campout, Groove Cruise, Return To Rio, and Lost Paradise

If you haven’t already, take a read through my Highlights of 26 Months of Travel post.  This goes into much more detail about the earlier months of 2016.

And if you want to stalk me a bit further, feel free to read my 2014 Annual Review & my 2015 year in Review


January – May  (Living in Sydney)

I started out the year finishing off my Working Holiday Visa in Australia, and to be honest — I wasn’t quite ready to leave Sydney.  As I discuss in my blog post about long-term travel and saying goodbye, this city has become much more than another stop in my nomadic life — it’s my second home.

The only reason I left the country was because of this “backpacker tax” that the Australian government decided they would enforce, which I even got interviewed about in the Australian Financial Review.  You can read that article here.  That was a really cool opportunity for me, and it opened up some doors for future travels (long story).


Everything happens for a reason though, because leaving Sydney ended up being a very important deciding factor for the rest of the year.  I had made enough money working full-time to fund my summer travels, and I was ready to hit the road again.


June in Sri Lanka + TBC Asia

This was my second trip to Sri Lanka, and was definitely one of the highlights of the year.


The main reason for it being so influential was it gave me the motivation to continue on with Jones Around The World.  

The truth is that travel-blogging takes a lot of damn time, and I had lost some of the original spark I had for this site.  I had a full-time job while in Sydney, and whenever I got home from work I just didn’t have the energy to write new content.

So attending TBC Asia and having the opportunity to network and travel with like-minded bloggers was exactly what I needed.  I learned quite a lot about the business side of blogging, and found some much needed inspiration.

Read all about my Sri Lanka adventures:

Beach life is the best. Especially when there is warm water, soft sand, and beautiful blue skies. I'm gonna miss these Sri Lankan beaches.

A photo posted by Dave ✈️ Jones Around the World (@jonesaroundtheworld) on


Two Months Traveling Europe (July-August)

At the beginning of June, I hit the 2-year mark of being away from California (the longest I have ever spent away from home).  I actually was meant to fly back to Los Angeles, and spend the summer in the States…but when I was selected to be apart of TBC Asia, that included a free-flight to Europe, so I couldn’t say no to that.

Where did I go?

Paris -> Brussels -> Budapest -> Balaton Sound (Music Festival) -> Belgrade -> Bosnia & Herzegovina -> Montenegro -> Albania -> Greece -> Brussels

These were two of the most-action packed months of travel.  I’ve already written extensively about how much I enjoyed Balaton Sound, but the real highlight had to be the Balkan road trip.

If you’re thinking of the best places to go in 2017, then I would strongly recommend visiting The Balkans in Eastern Europe!

I think I'm gonna move to the mountains in Montenegro, build a house, and adopt 12 dogs. Yeah…that sounds like a good plan.

A photo posted by Dave ✈️ Jones Around the World (@jonesaroundtheworld) on

Shoutout to Dan Flying Solo & Lili’s Travel Plans for an epic road-trip!  


UBERing, FESTIVALing, and EXPLORing CALIFORNIA (September – October)

First stop:  In-N-Out

I was back home in California for about 2.5 months, and they honestly flew by so quick.  I had one main goal:  save up as much money as possible.  I didn’t have time to get a “normal job” because of interviews, training, and putting in “two weeks notice” before embarking on my next travels — so I signed up to be an Uber & Lyft Driver in California.

I actually loved my time being a driver!

C-A-L-F-O-R-N-I-A Oh, how I've missed you….

A photo posted by Dave ✈️ Jones Around the World (@jonesaroundtheworld) on

I would honestly say that 95% of the people who got into my car were really great, and it was also a really fun way to tell people about my travels, and make some new friends!  Yes, I made friends with my passengers!

With Lyft — there was a $2,000 Sign-Up Bonus if you complete 500 Rides in the first 60 days, and I was completely committed to reaching that goal.

It was a lot of hours on the road, but I saved up enough money to buy a new iPhone, Nikon D750, 2 FX Lenses, and a Drone.

Mmerica. #California #PCH #RoadTrip PC- @danflyingsolo

A photo posted by Dave ✈️ Jones Around the World (@jonesaroundtheworld) on


I also had the opportunity to attend 3 incredible music festivals!  You can read the reviews of each of these by clicking the links:

CRSSD Music Festival

Dirtybird Campout

The Groove Cruise

When it comes to The Groove Cruise, this was honestly one of the best experiences of my entire life.  Not only was it one epic party, but it was when I discovered my passion for festival / event photography.

Check out my Groove Cruise Album on Facebook.  I think I got some pretty epic photos, and love that I was able to capture some beautiful moments on board that ship.

 I’m slowly starting to book some more work as a photographer, and can’t wait to improve my skills!


Finally Traveling Australia (November – December)

G’day Mate!  How ya going…?

If you’ve been reading my blog and following along on social-media for awhile, you probably already know that I was working my ass off my entire time while living in Sydney.  I moved to the country with basically zero money, and heaps of credit card debt.  Over the first few months in Sydney, I was able to pay off my debt, and slowly begin to build up my travel fund.  The plan was to travel the country during my working holiday visa, but I never got the chance.

So I emailed YHA Australia and asked if they’d be interested in partnering up and sponsoring me for Australia trip.

This was the first big sponsored trip I’ve done as a professional travel-blogger, and it really taught me a lot!

My trip along the east coast of Australia was truly incredible, and I’m completely in love with this country.  There really is so much to explore, and I met some really awesome people.

Read all about it:


What’s Next in 2017…?

If you asked me this a few months ago, I would have responded that I’d be moving to New Zealand…

"I don't know where I'm going from here…but I promise it won't be boring" — David Bowie

A photo posted by Dave ✈️ Jones Around the World (@jonesaroundtheworld) on

But now…I don’t think that’s happening just quite yet.

Since I’ve discovered that becoming an official festival / event photographer is something I want to pursue (as well as being a full-time travel blogger)…New Zealand just isn’t a place that is known for it’s mega festivals or vibrant nightlife scene.  So I’ve decided to put this idea on hold.

I’m planning on spending February – May in California.  I’ve been a traveling nomad for so long, and I’m ready to spend some time back in America.  I am hoping to do a couple mini trips to Colombia, Arizona, and maybe a couple countries in Central America.

During June & July, I’m hoping to fly over to Europe to check out a couple more different music festivals.  But we’ll see if that ends up happening, and if the USD is still relatively strong after Trump takes office, haha.

In August, I’m coming back to California, and will be trying to attend Burning Man.  I had tickets to go in 2016, but had to sell them due to being financially responsible.  I’m happy about that though, because in the past few months I’ve met a ton of inpsiring people that I’m planning on going with this year.

SYDNEY. One of the best cities in the world, especially for photography! Have you ever been?

A photo posted by Dave ✈️ Jones Around the World (@jonesaroundtheworld) on

September & October I have no plans, but in November I’m going to Mexico to shoot my first wedding!  Then I’m hoping in December I can return to Australia for another Christmas / New Years Eve festival?

With all that being said — my plans are constantly changing, and I highly doubt these plans will stay in tact.  I’m always open to new adventures and seizing opportunities when they arise. 


THANKS FOR READING!


FOLLOW MY ADVENTURES AROUND THE WORLD ON FACEBOOKINSTAGRAM, TWITTER & ADD ME ON SNAPCHAT: — JONESATW

The Highlights of 26 Months Traveling & Living Around The World

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I’m currently 40,000 feet above earth flying from Brussels to Philadelphia.

I’m about three glasses of red wine deep, and it’s bringing out some serious emotions.

HOLY SHIT…I’M GOING HOME…

For those who haven’t been following along for that long, I haven’t been in America since June 2014.  That’s right — it’s been over 26 months since I’ve been stateside.  While that may not be too long for some travel blogging nomads I know – it’s a very long time for this guy.   

It’s pretty crazy for me to think about everything that has happened in the past couple years, and all the fantastic people I’ve had the pleasure to spend time with.  

Not to be too cliche — but the past two years of travel and living abroad have shaped me into the man I am today.  I’ve learned so much about the world, and what I want for my future.  

I’ve established goals, discovered new passions, and have realized that ambition is key to a successful life.  

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While my future plans are still somewhat up in the air –  I have a much more clear idea about the type of life I want to live.

As one of my favorite travel quote says:

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.   – Mark Twain


I’ve pursed my dreams of traveling the world while I’m young….

I may not have a fancy car, a wardrobe full of designer clothes, or own any property…

But I’m filthy rich in life experience.


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So I’m going to utilize this flight to write down some of my most memorable travel highlights and achievements from the past 26 months of traveling, studying, working, and living abroad. 

I’m writing this post not only as a fun recap, but as a personal memoir to to reflect on these life-changing experiences.


To give you a general idea of where I’ve been, here’s the basic timeline:

June – August 2014 – Summer in Barcelona/ European Travels

September 2014-2015 – Full year backpacking around Asia

September 2015 – May 2016 – Life in Sydney

June 2016 – Singapore & Sri Lanka

July + August 2016 – Back to Europe / Balkans / Flight Home


So without further ado…let’s take a quick look and reminisce at the past couple years of my life…

#JONESAROUNDTHEWORLD


 Summertime in Barcelona

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Since I decided to complete my Master’s Degree online, it meant that I could choose to study anywhere in the world.  Well, when my backpacking trip to South America got cancelled, I immediately knew where I wanted to go.

On June 5th, 2014 — I flew on a one-way ticket to my favorite city in the world: Barcelona, Spain. 

This was the beginning of this epic 26 month adventure.  I spent 2.5 months in Barcelona, and had some of the craziest and most unforgettable moments of my life.  

Barcelona is known for it’s exceptional nightlife, so I was a tad bit worried about balancing my studies and my love for quality techno — but I managed to get straight A’s in my classes, and had the time of my life with some really awesome people. 

I’ve lived in Barcelona for two different summer seasons now (2012 & 2014), and I can confidently say it is the one of the best places in the world during this time of the year.  The amazing food, vibrant culture, and insane nightlife will always keep me coming back for more.

NOS VEMOS, BARCA


Sonus Music Festival

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After a very hectic “goodbye week” in Spain, I made my way over to Croatia to hit up one of the better music festivals I’ve ever attended.

SONUS exceeded all of my expectations.  The music was simply incomparable to any other festival I had experienced, the location on Pag island was stunning, and I spent the week with two of my best Dutch friends from Eindhoven (De Gekste!).    

Dank u wel Joost & Stijn.  Looking forward to our next reunion!    

Besides a lost iPhone and damaged liver – it was the perfect ending to my summer in Europe.


Launching This Website in Arugam Bay, Sri Lanka

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First off — I actually didn’t even really care to visit Sri Lanka.

The only reason I flew there was because I was maximizing my United Airlines miles I obtained through savvy “travel-hacking”.  But I’m so glad I did, because Sri Lanka has now become one of my favorite countries to travel through.

During this first trip to Sri Lanka, I spent about 10 full days in Arugam Bay, and it was the first time I truly felt like a long-term solo traveler.  I stayed at this place called The Beach Hut (an absolute must for anyone traveling to A-Bay), and this is where I launched Jones Around The World

I had been preparing to do so for awhile, and finally got around to it.  This was almost two years ago now, and I can’t believe how far this blog has come. 

I had no idea what I was doing when I started blogging, but starting this website marked the beginning of a completely separate journey. 


One Month Exploring Bali & The Gili Islands

Bali life is the good life. #potatohead #beachclub #seminyak #Indonesia

A photo posted by Dave ✈️ Jones Around the World (@jonesaroundtheworld) on

I made it back to South-East Asia — and the first stop was Bali, Indonesia. 

This month was seriously awesome.  Not only did I get the chance to meet-up with some family, but I had such a blast exploring new parts of Bali and Gili Trawangan.  

It was also great that one of my friends that I met in Vietnam decided to fly all the way out from Hawaii to travel with me for a few weeks!  Shoutout to Elaine!   

From the moto explorations of Bali, the booze cruises and sunsets on Gili Trawangan, and the awesome fellow backpackers I had the pleasure of meeting — this month in Indonesia definitely had to be included in my travel highlights. 

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Becoming an Honorary Kuala Lumpur Expat

During my first trip to South-East Asia, I had the pleasure of meeting an extremely friendly Kiwi girl named Danielle, and older Aussie bloke named Hutchy.  I met them while backpacking in Langkawi, and I had no idea that meeting them would have such a drastic impact on my future. 

Because of these random travel friendships — I was able to see a completely different side of Kuala Lumpur, and I got the opportunity to become friends with a solid group of expats from all over the world. 

In the past two years, I’ve spent quite a bit of time in Kuala Lumpur, and while I may have never had a full-time job there, I do feel like I became an honorary expat. 

To my KL / Regalia crew — thanks for all the good times, the poker games, and the mojito nights.

Water & Lights show at KLCC

Water & Lights show at KLCC


Wonderfruit Music Festival

Yoga Bass during the sunset during Wonderfruit day 2. What an awesome experience. Namaste.

A photo posted by Dave ✈️ Jones Around the World (@jonesaroundtheworld) on

I haven’t attended many music festivals in Asia, but I would defintely say that Wonderfruit is hands down one of the best parties you can find in the region. 

The vibe, the venue, the food, the people — everything was just perfect. 

Shoutout to Jesse & Scott for being absolute legends.  I’ll be seeing you lads out in Bangkok soon enough I’m sure!  

You can read my full Wonderfruit Review to get a better idea of what I experienced.


Christmas on Koh Tao

The idea of spending Christmas on a tropical island may sound a bit strange, but it was such an incredible experience.

The backpacking culture is very alive and vibrant on Koh Tao, and it was awesome to meet and party with some awesome people from all over the world, as well as be with one of my best friends Cathy on Christmas day!  If you ever get the chance to spend the holidays in Thailand, I would highly recommend it!

If I close my eyes, I can picture myself back there watching the sunset, with a beer in my hand and a santa hat on. 


NYE Full Moon Party & Jungle Rave Shenanigans on Koh Phangan

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Ohh, Koh Phangan – where do I even begin…?

I actually attended two different Full Moon Parties during my first trip to South-East Asia, so I definitely knew what I was getting myself into this time around. 

New Years Eve on Koh Phangan was absolutely mental, and while I wouldn’t necessarily recommend doing the NYE Full Moon Party – I am glad I experienced it for myself. 

This was one week full of neon colors, buckets of Thai whiskey, and dancing until the sun comes up with a global mix of friendly strangers.

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Purchasing My First DSLR 

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If you ask me now…when I really started being a travel blogger — I would tell you it was when I bought my first DSLR camera. 

niI spent a couple days researching the “best DSLR for beginners”, and the top result always seemed to come back to the Nikon D3300 

So I treated myself to an early birthday present — and shelled out close to $500 to purchase this bad boy.

I’ll be honest — I had no idea how to use this camera at first, but I knew that photography was something I wanted to get into, and did my best to learn how to use my new camera.

Looking back on my photos from my first few months of having it, I’m horrified about how truly awful I was.

Travel photography has become a passion of mine, and I’m looking forward to purchasing some advanced camera gear and improving my skills.  

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Chinese New Year in Hong Kong

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I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again — Hong Kong is one of the most vibrant cities in the entire world.

I found a $42 flight from KL – HK, and couldn’t wait to visit a new city during their biggest holiday of the year.  

It might have been ridiculously expensive week, but I think it was worth every penny.  The firework show was quite impressive, the Hong Kong Pub Crawl was a blast, and crossing off Hong Kong Disneyland (being from Anaheim) needed to be done.

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Backpacking The Philippines.  The best month of my life…? 

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I spent one month in the Philippines, and I have nothing but the fondest memories of those 30 days.  I really do think it’s the most beautiful country in South-East Asia, and the entire trip just went so perfectly. 

My Philippines Itinerary article is one of my most read blog posts, and it’s been amazing to help people plan their travels throughout the country.  I regularly receive comments, emails, and messages from people who are about to embark on a trip there, and I’m so glad that information that I have written has made a difference in their travels.

From the amazing island hopping experiences in Palawan, swimming with whale sharks in Cebu, and partying it up in Boracay – this was a month that I will never forget.

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Master’s Degree = Completed

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Most people thought I was crazy to travel the world while simultaneously studying for my Master’s Degree — but I realized is that all you need is a little bit of time management and responsibility, and handling the workload was completely possible.

After about 1.5 years — I finally finished my Master’s Degree in Business Management & Leadership.

I can’t even begin to explain how good of a feeling that was.  I submitted my final assignment in El Nido, Palawan — and celebrated by partying on a private island in the middle of this gorgeous archipelago. 

Don’t know how many other people can say they’ve experienced something like that before…


Loving Life in L-A-O-S

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When I think back on all of my travels through South-East Asia — Laos was easily the most surprising country of them all.

I have no idea why it took me so long to travel through Laos, but the experiences I had in this country were some of the most memorable.  

From relaxing on the 4000 Islands, waterfall explorations through the Bolaven Plateau, and the tubing madness in Vang Vieng — backpacking Laos was almost too much fun.

I also had the pleasure of traveling the country with two really amazing English girls!  Shoutout to Meg & Eliza for an incredible time!  Can’t wait to see you guys again sometime…


One Month in Chiang Mai & Songkran Water Festival

In the travel-blogging / digital nomad community, renting an apartment in Chiang Mai is extremely popular — and I wanted to experience what everyone else was talking about. 

So I found myself a nice studio apartment on AirBNB for $280 U.S.D for the month, and decided to slow down my travels a bit.  I had been on-the-go for quite awhile at this point, and was in desperate need of some rest & relaxation.

It started off with one of my all-time favorite travel experiences: SONGKRAN water festival.  This was just 3-days of epic madness running through the streets of Chiang Mai armed with a water gun.  Check out my Songkran Video below, to get a better understanding. 


Moto Ride from Chiang Mai – Pai

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While most people opt to take the $5 bus through the winding mountains of Northern Thailand, I knew renting a moto was going to be the best way to get to Pai.

Thanks to the power of Facebook, I met an awesome Aussie bloke to make this journey with, and even picked up a fellow backpacker on the road.  Shoutout to Damo & Ilona!  🙂

Everyone loves to talk about how amazing Pai is, and I finally understood what all the hype was about.  There’s tons of incredible things to do in Pai, the food is delicious (and cheap), and the nightlife is surprisingly hectic! 

It’s one of those destinations where you plan on staying two days, and end up staying two months.  I could easily see myself moving to Pai sometime in the future. 


The Paradise Lifestyle on Gili Trawangan

My favorite island in the world…

After a quick return visit to Bali with a friend from California, I decided that living on Gili Trawangan was something I desperately wanted to experience.

So I managed to land a job at the main party hostel on the island called Gili Backpackers.  This place is actually now called Gili Castle, as the island government made the decision to ban all hostels.  

I fell in love with the paradise lifestyle on Gili T.  I was constantly surrounded by wonderful people from around the world, going on epic booze cruises, and showing people around the nightlife hotspots. 

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My days were filled with swimming alongside turtles in perfectly blue waters, and my nights were filled with pub crawls and Joss shots. 

I even got a job offer to stay and work as a bar promoter as well as sell tickets for the booze cruise, but the time had come for me to leave.  I definitely wasn’t ready to go, but my time living on Gili Trawangan was absolutely perfect.  

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Sailing Through Komodo National Park

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This four day trip sailing from Lombok to Flores was easily one of my favorite things I’ve done in South-East Asia. 

The trip was jam-packed with idyllic islands, unbelievable snorkeling, and gorgeous sunsets.  I was also very lucky to share this experience with a stellar group of people from a dozen different countries.

If you ever get a chance to visit Indonesia — exploring Komodo National Park should be a top priority!

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Malaysian Island Adventures

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After returning back to Kuala Lumpur from an epic 2 months in Indonesia — it was time for me to actually explore more of Malaysia.

I spent almost two full months exploring the Perhentian Islands, Pulau Kapas, Tioman Island, and Langkawi.

This was when I truly fell in love with Malaysia.  I was constantly left stunned by it’s natural beauty, the delicious food, friendly culture, and budget travel options.  

I really do think Malaysia is the most underrated country in the South-East Asia.  

During this time was also when I decided to buy my Working Holiday Visa for Australia – probably the most influential decision of my life…

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Paradise…


California Visits

When two of my friends from high-school messaged me on Facebook asking to join me out in South-East Asia, I was so stoked to travel with them for a bit.

I spent two weeks with Rashad in Bali and the Gili Islands, and spent about one week with Gina in Kuala Lumpur & Langkawi.  It had been a long time since I had seen both of these awesome individuals, and we have some pretty epic travel stories together now.

Thanks for the visit guys.  We’ll definitely have to make traveling together a bigger priority!  I know that neither of you guys like long-haul flights, but I promise i’ll make it worth it.

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Moving to Australia & Getting Settled in Sydney

Cheers!

Cheers mate!

To be honest — my life was kind of a mess when I initially moved to Sydney.

I had been traveling for so long at this point, finances were running extremely low, and I was just a bit of a wreck.  I didn’t have any decent clothes, was nervous about finding work, and made this huge life decision to move to another country.

I tried not to let it show, but I was dealing with quite a bit of stress.  It really took me awhile to get settled in Sydney, but I think that’s normal for anyone who just spent over a  year backpacking around Asia.

If it weren’t for the generosity of my mate Ed, and the Ferguson family, who let me stay at their house for the first 5 weeks I was in Sydney — I honestly don’t know what I would have done.

I started making decent money, found an affordable house to live in, and finally felt settled in Sydney.  I paid off my debt, was able to save money by utilizing websites like OZCodes, and started to feel like I was getting my life together…

I was no longer a backpacking nomad.  I found a home.  While my plans to move back to Sydney have been unexpectedly postponed, I know I’ll find myself living there again in the near future.

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There’s no place like home…


Halloween Forest Raving

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Being American — Halloween is a pretty big deal to me.  

Fortunately, the Sydney squad all rallied together, and we made the journey to a secret location for one epic party called The Afterlife.  

It was the first music event I attended in Australia, and was also the start of a beautiful festival squad.  We were missing a few key members, but we definitely made up for it at future events.  

Read my full Afterlife Event Review for a better idea of what this experience was like.    

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My First Press Trip as a Travel Blogger — INDONESIA

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I had been blogging for a little bit over a year and hadn’t really made too much money or gotten anything in return for all my hard work…

This website was started purely for hobby purposes, but it’s been really cool to see Jones Around The World grow into something much bigger. 

This was an all-expenses paid trip to Bali, Lombok, and Komodo National Park.  The trip was hectic to say the least, but it was such a solid experience with a wonderful group of fellow travel bloggers.  

If you guys are reading this — thanks for an epic trip everyone!  Was a pleasure traveling with you, and looking forward to our next press trip together! 

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New Years Eve Celebrations in Sydney

Since it was my first New Years Eve in Sydney, I knew that I had to check out the legendary firework display over Sydney Harbour.

So I joined my friends Ellie & Kenny (who were visiting from KL), and cruised out to the park at Mrs. Macquaries Chair.  It was a long day of eating, drinking, and taking photos.

We were all a bit surprised they packed in so many people into this small area to watch the fireworks, and didn’t really provide any entertainment.  But I will say that the firework display was the best I have ever seen.

Field Day

There’s no better way to start the year off right then to hit up an outdoor music festival in downtown Sydney.

We got the whole squad, looking good in our tye dye, and had one epic day dancing to Golden Features, Boys Noize, and Disclosure.

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The House of Shifting Sands

Rent prices in Sydney can get pretty ridiculous at times, so when I was offered a room in a house in Randwick for only 180 per week — I quickly accepted.  When I initially moved in, I was actually only supposed to stay for 3-4 weeks, but the tenant who was supposed to take the room no longer could.

Living in this house was one of the best aspects of my life in Sydney.  It was affordable, it was comfortable, and the house had such an amazing vibe.

But the only way to describe this house is — Organized Chaos

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Why?  Well, because we had a total of 9 people living in that one house.  We had 7 people sleeping in rooms, and 2 extras who used the house but slept in a tent outside, and a car in the driveway.  While it may have been slightly inconvenient, messy, and chaotic at times — it worked for us.

Everyone in the house got along really well, and had a few really epic family parties.  🙂

It was called the “House of Shifting Sands”, because there are always people coming and going, and moving out / moving in.  I’m sad to share that this house is no longer being leased by old my roommates, but I was so glad I got to share that house with them all.

Special shoutout to Tim, Kylie, Niels, Aidan, Rene, Daphne, Jarrod, Giorgia, Ben, Alistair, and Dennis!


The Yacht Social Club

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“Sydney Harbour Is Our Playground”

When it comes to last-minute decisions I made while in Sydney, this might have been the absolute best one.  The location, the music, and the atmosphere is unlike any other party in city.

But that should be expected, right?

Yacht Party in Sydney Harbour?  Yeah…count me in.

Read my full review of The Yacht Social Club, and I guarantee you’ll be adding it to your bucket list.


Buy Tickets for the 2016 / 2017 Season


Joining the GoPro Family

When you grab the attention of a company as big as GoPro, you know you’re doing something right.  I was so stoked to receive the invitation to join the GoPro family.  Having just recently attended their Launch event for the Hero5 and GoPro Karma, I’m excited to continue to use their amazing products are produce some stellar content.  #BeAHero

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Return to Rio

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Looking back on my time living in Sydney, I would have to say that my weekend of camping and dancing at Return to Rio was hands down my favorite weekend in Australia.

Not only did I hear some of the best music I’ve ever heard (DIXON crushed it), but I met some of the coolest people there.  The atmosphere at Return to Rio is hard to explain…I guess you just have to experience it for yourself.

The next Return to Rio is happening in November 11-13, and I’m seriously contemplating flying all the way back to Sydney just so I don’t miss it.  It was THAT much fun.  I’ll be rocking my Zebra Onesie when I get back…

Read my full Return to Rio review to get a better understanding.


#TuneSquad at Groovin The Moo

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This was the last music festival I attended while living in Sydney, and it was definitely good fun.

While there were a lot of aspects of Groovin The Moo I didn’t really enjoy – our squad totally crushed it with our festival gear.

Amazing day of dancing with good friends to quality tunes.  Safia, Golden Features, and Alison Wonderland played incredible sets.

TUNESQUAD–ASSMEBLE


Love & Loss in Sydney

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When it comes to dating – traveling had always kind of inhibited any type of long-term relationship.  But since I was living and working full-time in Sydney, I was able to start seeing someone.  While this relationship had turned into something quite serious, it has recently ended in a rather unexpected, immature, and shocking fashion.  These things happen though, and I’ve learned the hard way that people aren’t always what they seem to be.

As the saying goes…

“Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”

But sometimes I’m not too sure about that…


Sydney Going Away Party

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Was a bloody ripper mate…

I’ve always enjoyed throwing house parties, and my going away function in Sydney was one hell of a party.  It was great to get all my Sydney mates together in one place, and spend one final evening of debauchery with some of my favorite people in the world.

I hate goodbyes…but I’m already looking forward to my “welcome back” party.  🙂


Singapore in Style

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The first stop on my summer travels was the beautiful city / country of Singapore.

I had visited a couple times before, but this was the first Singapore visit with my DSLR — so I spent 3 whole days running around the city taking pictures of absolutely everything.

I gotta say– I think I got some pretty epic shots.

I was also hosted by the amazing Westin Singapore hotel during my stay, and lived it up in pure luxury.

Was the perfect beginning to my summer travels…

I also bought a new MacBook Pro at the Singapore Airport – which was desperately needed.

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June in Sri Lanka + #TBCAsia

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Sri Lanka was the first country I ever felt like a true “solo traveler”, and as previously mentioned, was where I launched Jones Around The World.

So when I got invited to be a hosted blogger for TBC Asia, I could not have been more stoked to return to where it all began.

I spent the entire month of June traveling around this stunning country, and I feel like I could have easily stayed another month or two.

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Read all about my Sri Lanka adventures:

Attending my first Travel Blogging Conference was definitely the highlight of this month though.  It was incredible to meet and travel with some awesome fellow bloggers!  I learned quite a bit, and left the country feeling inspired to achieve much more when it comes to this site.

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Photographing Paris

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Paris is a city I have visited on numerous occasions during my time working as a European travel guide, but I was excited to get back for a repeat visit to take photos of absolutely everything.

Paris is one of the most visited cities in the world, and there’s a reason for that.  It really is a gorgeous place, and I had a solid 3-day stay running around the city.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have the best weather when I was there, but I still managed to get some cool shots.

I stayed at an amazing hostel called Les Piaules, and enjoyed a nightly glass of wine on the rooftop terrace overlooking the city.

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Balaton Sound

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If you haven’t already, make sure you check out my article on why I think Balaton Sound is the best music festival I’ve ever attended.

I only went because I knew I needed to get out to Eastern Europe, and found a flight to Budapest for 40 euro the day the festival began.  So I applied for the press accreditation (after the deadline has passed), and received the amazing news that my application had been approved.  This last-minute trip was slowly coming together.

The issue then was that I had no friends to go party with, and no where to stay – but thanks to the power of Facebook, I got lucky and found an open spot with some truly incredible people.  They welcomed me into their little rave family with open arms, and we had such a solid time partying it up at the beautiful Lake Balaton.

Shoutout to Baywatch Crew!

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Exploring Budapest + Belgrade

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After an intense week of partying at Balaton Sound, I was looking forward to a bit of relaxation — but there is little down-time in the life of a travel blogger.  I spent the week re-discovering my love for Budapest, and then taking a night-bus down to Serbia.

Budapest – It definitely is one of my favorite cities in the world.  There’s so much to explore, delicious food (and beer), and it’s very cheap.

Belgrade

 I wasn’t too happy about my time spent in Belgrade.  I had awful weather the entire time I was there (mid-July), and the city just felt a little bleehhhh.  I did find some delicious food, and learned a bit about the city – but I do think I need to head back to the city again.  I had heard so many great things about this city, and I’m not quite sure what I missed.

Apparently Belgrade has some of the best nightlife in the Balkans, but I was still detoxing from the epic bender that was Balaton Sound.

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Three Week Balkan Road Trip

I honestly don’t even know where to begin…

The Balkans has been a region I’ve been dying to travel through for years now, and this road trip completely exceeded all my expectations.

I joined forces with two other travel bloggers, the devilishly handsome Dan Flying Solo and the ridiciously fun Lili’s Travel Plans, and we hit the road traveling through Bosnia & Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, and Greece.

Randomly enough, I had actually never even met them before this trip.  I think we all took a gamble to embark on this three-week road trip with strangers met through the internet, but it ended up working out perfectly, and I couldn’t have asked for better company.

The entire trip was jam-packed with beautiful sights, friendly people, and scenic drives.  I fell in love with the Balkans, and can’t wait to explore more of the area in the future.  🙂


BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA

Beautiful bridges, winding roads, and stunning landscape were three of the highlights of this amazing country.  Road tripping through Sarajevo, Konjic, various lakes and viewpoints, and Mostar.  This country was constantly surprising me.

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MONTENEGRO

This was definitely the country I was looking forward to the most.

Before visiting Montenegro, I had only really heard about the Bay of Kotor though, so everything else we saw was an added bonus.

Durmitor National Park was hands down my favorite aspect of traveling through Montenegro.

We got our car sorted all thanks to AutoEurope  and was left speechless while we drove through and marveled at the natural mountainous beauty.

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ALBANIA

I’ll be honest – the main reason I was looking forward to traveling through Albania was because I had heard it is one of the cheapest countries in Europe.

Albania completely blew me away.

We spent around 9-10 days going through Albania.  The highlights were Lake Komani, Berat, and driving along the entire coast of the Albanian Riviera.

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CORFU, GREECE

We all made our way down to Corfu because the flights were so much cheaper leaving from Greece.  I wasn’t even planning on exploring the island, because I had been to Corfu a couple times before…but WOW.

Corfu is absolutely gorgeous.  It’s a pretty massive island, and me and Lili spent two full days driving around the island checking out the best beaches and view points.

Oh…and the food.  I could easily live off of Greek food for the rest of my life.

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Flying Back Home

Over 2 Years and 2 Months.

Total:  805 Days…

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That’s me overlooking my hometown of Yorba Linda

The time had finally come to make my way back to Southern-California (where I’m currently writing the end of this blog post).  I’ll admit that it felt a bit strange at first, but now I’m thoroughly enjoying my time catching up with friends and family, eating In-N-Out, and saving up money for whatever adventures come next.

I’ve got some really exciting options for the next year or two, so I guess I’m just currently waiting to see how a few opportunities work out.


So to wrap up this massive 5000+ word blog post, I just want to give a massive shoutout to everyone I had the pleasure of spending time with these past couple years abroad.  You’ve all had an impact on my life in one way or another, and I’ll never forget all the incredible adventures we’ve shared.

Traveling is truly about the people you meet while on the road, and I’ve been fortunate to forge friendships with some fantastic people from all over the world.

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Love you guys!


THANKS FOR READING!


Follow my adventures Around The World on FacebookInstagram, Twitter 

& Add Me On Snapchat: — JonesATW

The Ultimate Guide to Arugam Bay

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WELCOME TO ARUGAM BAY

This popular surfing destination on the east coast of Sri Lanka is truly a hidden gem, and you need to get here as soon as possible.  It still holds it’s small town charm, but looking at the growth of Sri Lanakan tourism over the past few years — it’s safe to say that some big changes will eventually happen in Arugam Bay.

I’ve visited Arugam Bay on two separate occasions now, and it’s my favorite place in all of Sri Lanka.  That’s really saying something to, because Sri Lanka is truly a beautiful country.

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As you can see, Arugam Bay is on the east coast, and you might notice that it isn’t really close to any of the other main destinations people travel to in Arugam Bay.

It can be a bit difficult to get to A-Bay, as is traveling to anywhere really in Sri Lanka, but the journey is well worth your time.

How To Get To Arugam Bay

Most people who come to Arugam Bay are traveling around Sri Lanka, so it all just depends where you are coming from.

But if you fly in to Sri Lanka simply for the surfing, and you come straight from airport, these are your options from Colombo – Pottuvil.

The main and cheapest option is going to be the daily 8 P.M departure.  It’s an air-conditioned bus that leaves from Maradana Zahira College car park and arrives at Pottuvil around 4 in the morning.

Price:  1500 Rupees

 

If you’re not heading to Colombo, just ask your hotel / guesthouse how to get to Pottuvil Bus Station.  Soemtimes you have to transfer in Monaragala.

If possible, try and ask other travelers if you want to split the cost of a taxi, because it will be worth it.

The Sri Lankan buses are very cheap, but they can also be a miserable experience.  There isn’t much legroom if your tall, they are rather cramped, and for some reason they love to play this Sri Lankan pop music very loud.


Best Things To Do in Arugam Bay

Arugam Bay is known for it’s world class surfing, but there is still plenty of other activities to keep you entertained during your visit.

  • Surfing spots: Main Point, Whiskey Point, Elephant Rock, and Peanut Farm
  • Daily yoga sessions happen regularly around town.
  • Panama Tank & Kumana National Park explorations.
  • Rent a scooter or a Tuk-Tuk and explore the hidden beaches
  • Beach days filled with swimming, volleyball, and working on your tan
  • Hammock and chill.  Just do nothing at all and relax

For more information, check out my post on the Top 10 Amazing Things to do in Arugam Bay

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Best Places to Eat in Arugam Bay

Arugam Bay has one street that is full of delicious eateries and restaurants to choose from.  I obviously didn’t get my chance to try them all, but here are my recommendations to get started with.

The Beach Hut

This is my favorite place to stay in Arugam Bay, and one of the reasons for that is because the food is delicious.  Every night they have a dinner special which costs only $3-4, and it’s big, filling, and tasty.  It’s also a great place to go for the family atmosphere.  Everyone that stays there heads to dinner and eats together.

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Why Not

I walked past this place one day and was in the mood for some rice & curry, and I’m so glad I stopped in.  The one chicken curry dish I had there was incredible, and I’ve been telling people to eat there ever since.  I’ve heard they also have fantastic Roti if you are looking for something a bit cheaper and smaller.

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Hideaway Resort

This place is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a quality breakfast and decent cup of coffee.  There are tons of different options, and everything I saw / tried was delicious.  It’s also just a really cool outdoor cafe, and there were tons of people just sitting back, relaxing, and enjoying their morning.

They don’t include taxes & service in the price, so it is kind of expensive compared to other places in Sri Lanka, but it’s definitely worth it for one meal.

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Break Point

One Word.  HUMMUS.  I’m obsessed with it, and this is the only place I found in Arugam Bay that served it.  It’s a bit expensive at 700 rupees, but comes with two massive pitas, and is really great hummus.  They also have falafel which pairs really well with hummus.

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Tandoori Indian Cuisine

This place is a must-try if you’re looking for a great Indian meal.  I tried the Chicken Tikka Masala, and I think it might have been one of the best meals I had during my time in A-Bay.

Oh, and they also have the fastest wifi in Arugam Bay for anyone who works online.  It’s amazing.

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Fruit Stands 

Check out the local fruit stand shops for great fruit and nutritious fresh coconut water.

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Best Parties in Arugam Bay

Sri Lanka is not really known as a popular “party destination”, but Arugam Bay can actually provide some really crazy nights out.

  • Whiskey Points on Friday Nights
  • Saturday Night Beach Party at Mambo’s
  • Hipster Bar on various nights of the week
  • Pre-Game at The Beach Hut (tons of other travelers, drinking games, and good conversation)

Tip:  Alcohol tends to be pretty expensive in Sri Lanka, so definitely pre-drink a bit before heading to any of these events.  Try the local Arrack (coconut rum) and mix it with some coke, and it’ll be the perfect way to start your night.

There’s plenty of other little reggae parties and smaller bars to relax at and chill.

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Where to Stay in Arugam Bay

There’s a wide variety of places to stay in Arugam Bay.  They can range from budget accommodation for backpackers, mid-range hotels, to luxury resorts.

Budget Accommodation: The Beach Hut

Mid-Range Hotel:  Stardust Hotel, Mambo’s,

Luxury Hotel:  Kottukal Beach House

Check out my post about The 5 Best Hotels & Places to Stay in Arugam Bay

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Where to Next?

 South Coast:  If you’re leaving Arugam Bay but aren’t quite done with surfing in Sri Lanka, then you got to head down to the south.  Places like Unuwatuna, Galle, Hikkaduwa, Mirissa, & Weligama are excellent destinations and worth a visit.  Check out my destination guide for Midigama & Weligama and learning to surf in Sri Lanka.  

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Head Up the East Coast:  Probably the most common decision among travelers in Sri Lanka is to head up and explore the beautiful beaches on the East Coast.  Places like Batticoloa, Passikudah, and Trincomalee are gorgeous, and I’d highly recommend stopping by.    

Ella & Kandy:  Go get some culture, fresh mountain air, and drink delicious tea.  Ella is only a 5 hour journey, and a really popular stop for people making their way back to Colombo.  The train ride between Ella & Kandy is also highly recommended!  

Habarana:  This will probably be a spot a little bit later on in your travels, but spending a weekend in Habarana will definitely be a highlight for your travels in Sri Lanka.  You’ve got to visit Sigiriya Rock Fotress, Minneriya National Park, nearby temples, and the colorful lagoon.

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There you have it.  Hope you learned a thing or two about Arugam Bay, and are really excited to get there for yourself sometime soon!

 

 


READ:  35 Photos That WIll Inspire You To Visit Sri Lanka


Have any questions?  Feel free to shoot me an email, or drop a comment down below and I’d be happy to answer them for you.  Safe travels!

Thanks for reading!

Follow my adventures Around The World on FacebookInstagram, Twitter 

& Add Me On Snapchat: — JonesATW

Top 10 Amazing Things To Do in Arugam Bay

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Arugam Bay is hands down my favorite place in all of Sri Lanka.  

During my first visit to the country, I ended up staying here for 10 days, and fell in love with the laid-back atmosphere.  It’s a small town with just one main street of shops, restaurants, and surfboard rentals, but that is what makes it so charming.  People come for the surfing and the legendary beach parties, but they stay for the amazing A-Bay vibe.

I just finished my second visit there, and had an amazing time — and these are my top 10 amazing things to do in Arugam Bay.

 Just be careful, if you’re heading that way, you might find yourself staying there much longer than expected.

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1 )Surfing

Alright, let’s start with the really obvious one.  Arugam Bay is one of the world’s top surfing destinations, so if you go all the way out there and don’t at least try to go surfing — then you’ve made a huge mistake.

There are three main surfing spots to choose from:

Main Point:  this is the surf spot actually located in Arugam Bay.  Every morning you’ll see dozens of surfers out there catching some quality waves.  This is recommended more for intermediate to advanced surfers.

Whiskey Point:  About a 15 minute drive from Arugam Bay is this famous surf spot.  It’s a really beautiful beach as well, and can provide some excellent waves for beginner surfers.  You’ll also notice heaps of people on surfing lessons.

Peanut Farm:  About 25 minutes from Arugam Bay is this awesome tucked away beach / surf spot.  Very popular, and highly recommend.

Tuk-Tuk rides are around 500 rupees one-way to Whiskey Point & Peanut Farm.  I’d look into renting your own tuk-tuk, and splittng the cost with people.  It’ll be cheaper and more fun.

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2 ) Yoga

I feel like surfing destinations always seem to be yoga destinations as well, and Arugam Bay is no exception.  When you’re walking up and down the main street, you’ll see that there are tons of yoga places.  It’s a great way to start the day, get some exercise, and relax a bit.

I joined a couple classes at the Stardust Beach Hotel my first visit, and had a great session.  Definitely worth checking out, and it’s also a nice place to stay if you’re looking for accommodation.

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3 ) Rent a Moto

This is one of my favorite things to do while traveling around Asia.  I love the feeling you get when you’re exploring on a scooter.  The roads around Arugam Bay are excellent, and there’s some really beautiful stuff to see.  My advice would just be to drive down Panama & Kumana National Park.

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4 ) Beach Days

Arugam Bay is a beautiful and long beach that is perfect just to chill at all day.  Grab a book, a fresh coconut, and a towel — you’re not going to want to move.  Take a dip in the ocean, play some beach volleyball, or just work on your tan.

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5 ) Panama Tank

Driving through the Panama Tank on a moto is an absolute must.  It’s a short 15-20 minute ride from Arugam Bay, and there’s basically just one path to drive along and explore.  The landscape is stunning and perfect for taking photos, and you’ll probably see a few crocodiles.

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6 ) Kumana National Park

You’ll see signs all over Arugam Bay for booking a Kumana safari.  This is in Yala East, so it’s definitely recommended if you haven’t done any safaris in Sri Lanka.  You’ll see heaps of elephants, and if you’re lucky can spot a leopard.  Sri Lankan is known for having beautiful and great safari experiences, so definitely look into it.  Should cost around $30-$35 U.S.D

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7 ) Whiskey Point Friday Nights

Arugam Bay is also the main party destination in Sri Lanka, and Friday nights at Whiskey Point should not be missed.  Beautiful people at a beautiful location, great music, and lots of dancing.  Once the arrack starts pouring, you’ll be glad you went.

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8 ) Mambo’s Saturday Nights

The legendary weekly beach party at Mambos’ is an absolute must for anyone visiting Arugam Bay.  It’s honestly so much fun, and was one of the highlight’s of my time in the country.  I’ve been three different times now, and each time was a solid night.

The music basically doesn’t stop until everyone leaves, and the hard-core party people always make it to the sunrise!  The music is really groovy deep / tech-house, and the party is always bumping.

Mambo's Beach Party Crew

Mambo’s Beach Party Crew

9 ) Dinners at Beach Hut

The Beach Hut is hands down my favorite place to stay in Arugam Bay, but if you’re not sleeping there — at least pop on over for the daily dinner specials.  They are delicious and extremely cheap.  I’m talking around $3-4 for a decent sized meal.  If you’re there for a fish-BBQ night, then definitely do it.

It’s also a great place to meet people, as everyone who is staying there pretty much has dinner together.

Cheaper option available for vegetarians.

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10 )  Nothing

Alright, so I probably shouldn’t list this a thing to do, because it’s exact opposite.

But Arugam Bay is the perfect destination to lose track of time, and fall into the traveling mentality.  Lie in a hammock, read, take naps on the beach, and enjoy the simplicity of A-Bay.

Days turn into weeks in Arugam Bay.  Seriously.  It can be really hard to leave.

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Well there you have it.  Those are my top things to do in Arugam Bay.  It’s an amazing and beautiful destination in Sri Lanka, and definitely should not be missed!

Have any questions?  Feel free to shoot me an email, or drop a comment down below and I’d be happy to answer them for you.  Safe travels!

Thanks for reading!

Follow my adventures Around The World on FacebookInstagram, Twitter 

& Add Me On Snapchat: — JonesATW

Midigama & Weligama: Learning to Surf in Sri Lanka

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When people normally discuss the south coast of Sri Lanka— the main highlights always seem to be Galle, Mirissa, Hikkaduwa, and Unawatuna.  While all those places are amazing, you’d be foolish to miss out on the two neighboring towns of Midigama & Weligama.  Especially if you’re looking for the best surfing in Sri Lanka for beginners.

 I had actually never even heard of these before places before, so I’m glad some friends invited me along for some surfing after spending a weekend in Habarana.

I spent a full week in Midigama & Weligama, and it was definitely one of the highlights during my month in Sri Lanka.

If you’re making your way out here, plan ahead and get your Sri Lankan Visa.

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How to Get to Midigama & Weligama

These neighboring small surfing towns are located about 25 KM’s south of Galle.  From Colombo, all you need to do is take the train to the Ahangama, Midigama, or Weligama railway stations.  Ask for help at the train stations, and make sure you board the correct trains (they can be quite confusing at times). 

The train ride is stunning, and I highly recommend it.  The whole journey will also only cost 210 Rupees, which is only about $1.50 U.S.D.

You could also easily take one of the many bus routes that stop along the south coast.

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When To Go

I went during the “low-season”, which starts around June, and I honestly don’t even know why it is considered to be the low-season.  Yeah, it did rain a day or two, but most of the time the weather was beautiful, and there were still great waves for surfers.

So I do think this could be a year-round destination for surfers.

For beginners — it’s almost better to visit Midigama & Weligama during low season because there are less people, and it’s most certainly a better place to learn rather than the overcrowded surf spots in Arugam Bay.

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What To-Do in Midigama & Weligama

Surfing

If you come all the way down to either of these destinations and don’t go surfing — than you’ve made a huge mistake.  The waves here are absolutely perfect for beginners, but if you paddle further out there are some bigger waves for the more advanced surfers.  There are plenty of places to rent surfboards from, but normally the place you’re staying will help sort that out for you.

I’m from California, and have probably only attempted to surf 2-3 times prior in my life.  I’m stoked that I decided to give surfing another shot, because I had an absolute blast and caught some pretty decent waves during my days down there.

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Rent a Moto

Driving along the south coast of Sri Lanka is an experience I would recommend to everyone.  I’m a big fan of driving scooters, and have done it all over South-East Asia.

The roads are well-maintained, and they aren’t too busy at all.  If you take it nice and slow, and hug the left side of the road — you won’t have any problems.

I drove all the way from Mirissa – Galle, and was always stopping to photograph the beautiful beaches and coastline views.

What makes this super easy is that it’s just one road driving along the beach.  Easy, beautiful, and fun.

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Sunset Views

Hands down the best sunset I saw in Sri Lanka was during my week down in Midigama & Weligama.

There is this 5* Resort called Cape Weligama.  We didn’t stay there, but fortunately they allowed us to enter the premises to watch the sunset. 

The sunsets over this cliff in the distance, and provided us with a gorgeous view and photograph opportunities.

We might have gotten lucky with them letting us in, but they seemed really friendly about it.  The Sri Lankan hospitality is outstanding, and I really think they just want tourists to enjoy their holidays as much as possible.

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Best Place To Stay in Midigama

Ebb & Flow Jungalows

Out of all the places I’ve stayed in Sri Lanka, this might just be my absolute favorite.  The idea of Ebb & Flow Jungalows is basically a “home away from home”.  It’s a laid-back luxury villa ideally suited for a group of friends on a weekend trip or week of surfing and relaxing.
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The owners of the  property are amazing, friendly, and will make sure you enjoy your time in Midigama.  They took us out surfing, gave us tons of helpful information, and always made sure we were happy.

From the minute we checked-in, I realized that this place has a fantastic vibe.  Drinking beers by the pool, relaxing in the hammock, or soaking up some wifi-fi — this place was exactly what I needed.

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One really cool  aspect about the Eb & Flow experience was the food.  Breakfast is always included, but if you wanted your other meals taken care you can pick a few dishes from the menu, and then you only pay for the cost of the groceries.  Each day the friendly chef would come by, ask if you wanted to order anything, and which time you’d like to eat.  You could even go grocery shopping with him if you needed to pick up anything else from the store.

Every meal we had was simply delicious, and also very cost efficient.

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Important — due to liquor laws, there is no alcohol sold at Ebb & Flow Jungalows.  This is not a hotel or resort.  Howeverit’s definitely encouraged to stock up on some booze to enhance your Jungalow experience.

Oh.  AND THE WI-FI.  Blazingly fast.  I was there with fellow travel bloggers, and we were all pretty stoked about how much work we were able to catch up on.

Price vary depending on the time of the year, but head over to the Ebb & Flow website for more information.


Best Place To Stay in Weligama

Hangtime Hostel

I’ve been backpacking for quite awhile, and I always love when I find an awesome new hostel to recommend to people.  There actually aren’t that many hostels in Sri Lanka anyway, so this place is a no-brainer.  I stayed here for four days, and really loved my time here.

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The owner is actually an Australian who just followed his dream of quitting his job and opening up a hostel.

The accommodation is clean, the food is delicious, and it’s right across the street from the beach.  You’re guaranteed to meet some great fellow travelers, surf some waves, and might just find yourself extending your stay.

With prices as low as 1200 Rupees per night for the 6-bed mixed dorm, this hostel is ideal for the solo traveler, budget backpackers, or anyone else looking for a great vibe.  This place does sell-out during high-season, so head over to their website to reserve a spot.  You can also book on Hostelworld but it looks like prices are a bit more expensive than if you book directly.

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Where To Next…?  

Galle / Hikkaduwa / Unuwatuna:  You’re not too far away from these south coast cities, and they are definitely all worth a visit.  Galle is one of the must-visits in Sri Lanka, and the surfing / nightlife in Hikkaduwa & Unatuna is supposed to be great during peak season    

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Yala National Park:  The countries most famous national park is only a few short hours away.  I got the opportunity to go on a safari there, and had a really great time.  I unfortunately we didn’t see any leopards that day, but maybe you’ll get luckier than me.

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Udawalawe National Park:  This can also be done as a day-trip, but it is a pretty far drive so I’d just recommend heading there before / after you’re finished exploring the south.  This place is prime for elephant spottings.  In my opinion, I’d recommend Yala over Udawalawe, because the costs of the safari’s can add up, and Yala was truly amazing.  But if you can’t make it to Yala this trip, then definitely check out this park.

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Have any questions?  Feel free to shoot me an email, or drop a comment down below and I’d be happy to answer them for you.  Safe travels!

Thanks for reading!

Follow my adventures Around The World on FacebookInstagram, Twitter 

& Add Me On Snapchat: — JonesATW

Quit Your Job, Move Abroad, and Open a Hostel: The Hangtime Story

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It’s crossed every traveler’s mind.

It’s the classic “backpacker dream” to move to a faraway land, open up a hostel, and escape the “normal life” routine.  I’ve thought about it quite a lot myself, and I do think this is a business venture that I’ll eventually find myself doing.

So when I discovered that this Australian backpacker followed his dreams, moved to Sri Lanka, and successfully opened up his own hostel — I couldn’t wait to interview him about the experience.

I’ve gotta say that I had a solid time while staying at The Hangtime Hostel.  If you’re planning a trip to Sri Lanka, then a visit to the south coast is an absolute must, and I can’t recommend this place more.

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They’ve got daily yoga sessions, surfboard rentals, comfortable facilities, quick wi-fi, an amazing rooftop restaurant, weekly events, and much more.

Check out the interview below!  It’s a great and inspirational story!


So for starters, Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I am Niall, a 28 year old male who grew up in Sydney, Australia. I studied Property Economics at university which gave me a great chance to travel, as you are essentially only studying 50% of the year.

I moved to Sri Lanka with my girlfriend Maggi about 1.5 years ago with a dream to open a hostel.

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When was your first visit to Sri Lanka?  Is that when you realized that you could live here and open your own business?  

My first visit to Sri Lanka was with Maggi in 2013. It had only been 4 years since the Civil War had ended and the country had really opened up to tourism. Our first impressions was this was a beautiful place with smiley and friendly people. The beaches were close to the best we had ever seen and there was very little development at that stage. It was an ideal place to open a hostel due to the laid back beach lifestyle along the Coast and there were only a couple of hostels which meant we didn’t get the opportunity to meet as many other travellers as we had hoped. 

We thought it could be a great place to open a hostel, however we weren’t sure about legislation etc that we would need to jump through.

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Now, Let’s Discuss Hangtime — How long was the planning process for you?

Hangtime was pretty much developed like every other traveller who dreams of opening a hostel. When travelling there is always the same conversation, ‘how good would it be to drop your other life and open a hostel on the beach’. So the first thoughts were on a big trip in 2010 when my mate Jayden and I travelled through Central and South America and stayed at some awesome hostels. Real life commenced in 2011, as I started a full time office job and within a year I knew this wasn’t what I wanted for the rest of my life. 

2012 and 2013 Maggi and I started a scrap book for dreams in the hostel, stealing other peoples cool ideas from around the world. In 2014 we became a little more technological and got Pinterest which made things pretty easy. Mid 2014 we decided that we would head over to Sri Lanka in March 2015 for a holiday with the intention to stay on and look to open a place.

In the first 3 months we looked at about 200 properties and there was always something wrong. The road was too close, the land was too expensive, the land had a cometary on it, the land was not actually this person’s to sell, the land in fact was not for sale. At this stage a 3rd party ‘Nik’ came on board to the business which was great to have another shoulder to cry on each time the land wasn’t ‘right’.

We had a dream of buying some land in a small tropical rainforest near a beach and we ended up directly opposite the best learn to surf beach in Sri Lanka, in a larger 4 bedroom concrete building. Things changed.

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When did Hangtime officially open?

Hangtime officially opened on December 5th 2015 at 6.14am. Maggi, Nik and I went to a Buddhist horoscope guy and he told us the exact time and date to get good luck. We had the Buddhist Ceremony and that day we started taking guests.

What were the most important factors for you when thinking about your vision in opening up Hangtime?

Surfing and Yoga were a huge factor to incorporate and making sure the hostel made you feel like you were in Sri Lanka. This included artworks, locally built furniture, natural coconut leaf roof, recycled fishing nets and old Sri Lankan boats for beds.

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Do you ever offer free accommodation & food in exchange for backpackers looking to stay in Sri Lanka?  

Not willing to answer this question as ‘volunteering’ in Sri Lanka is against regulations.

What’s the worst experience you’ve had with backpackers so far?  

One Russian restaurant guest was slightly bitten by our disabled puppy and she called the next day saying she had ‘rabies’. Luckily we had all the right injections and certifications which showed ‘Tiny’ was not infected with any virus. It was a little scary at the time though.

How many people are involved in the Hangtime Hostel project?  Are you the sole-owner?  

There are 3 owners- Maggi, Nik and I. We all are really good mates, so it is fun to work with each other.

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What would you say has been the hardest part about opening up your own hostel?

The Sri Lankan culture is very different and sometimes it has been difficult with other local hotels. We are trying to do our best for the local community to alleviate these issues. We source all of our products for the restaurant locally, we have 9 local employees, we use local drivers, local tour guides and send our guests to eat local made cuisine (when they aren’t eating in our Western style restaurant). We also are providing English books to the local school and have just contributed funds for the floods.

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What were the hardest barriers to overcome when it came to opening a business abroad in Sri Lanka?

– Different Culture and different way of business to most Western countries
– Difficult to find information on foreign investment
– Localism
– Finding a good Lawyer
– ‘Clear Land’- It is not just as simple as finding the land and agreeing terms. Historical searches have to be made and many people in a family may need to sign off on the land. Some beach front properties also lost their deeds in the tsunami, so often rulings have to be made in the court system.
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Do you see a lot of growth coming in the Hangtime Hostel brand?  Maybe adding more locations overtime in Sri Lanka? 

At the moment, this one is enough work however there are many opportunities everywhere in Sri Lanka. We would loved to do other projects at some stage.  

Last but not least — do you have any advice for fellow travelers who have dreamed about doing something similar?

If you are young, just do it and have a crack. What is the worst thing that can happen; We can all go back home and get into our jobs we were in prior. At least we can say, we gave it a go.

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Pretty Amazing, Yeah?

Thanks for the interview Niall.  Was an absolute pleasure.

Follow Hangtime:  Facebook |  Instagram |  YouTube

Congratulations to Niall, Maggi, and Nik for doing a sucha fantastic job with Hangtime Hostel.  I had an awesome four night stay, and it’s really great to see people follow their dreams and have it work out so well.

I’ll definitely be back for more surfing and yoga my next visit to Sri Lanka.


Follow my adventures Around The World on FacebookInstagram, Twitter 

& Add Me On Snapchat: — JonesATW

A Weekend in Habarana: Elephants, Temples, and Massive Rocks

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When I first got selected to be a hosted blogger for TBC Asia, I knew I wanted to stay in Sri Lanka for at least a week or two after the conference ended.

But I really had only one idea — head straight to Arugam Bay.  During my first visit to this beautiful country, I really fell in love with the relaxed vibe & atmosphere at this place called The Beach Hut.

However, my plans quickly changed when I met some awesome travel bloggers who invited me up to Habarana for 3 days.  Sometimes you’ve gotta go with the flow, and seize opportunities when they arise.

After checking into the Cinnamon Lodge Habarana, I quickly realized that I had made the right choice.  The property is absolutely gorgeous, and a little bit of rest & relaxation was exactly what I needed.

So what did I get up to during my weekend in Habarana?

1 )  Minneriya Wildlife Safari

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After experiencing the wildlife safari in Yala National Park, I was stoked to get the chance to do another excursion in a different park in Sri Lanka.  This country is known for it’s elephant population, and I’m definitely beginning to understand why.

Minneriya National Park is just a short 20-30 minute drive Habarana, and it’s a gorgeous area to drive around and explore even if there was no elephants or animals to see.  We hopped into the back our jeep, entered the park around 4:45 P.M to avoid the extreme heat during the day, and began our hunt for elephants.

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Within the first 10-15 minutes, we spotted 3 in the distance.  We took some pictures, but quickly moved on to see if we can find some a bit closer.  After driving through the scenic park, we eventually hit the jackpot.  A couple of other jeeps were already parked around the area were at least 12-15 elephants were chilling.  We were so close it was incredible.

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I’m also really glad we did an afternoon excursion, because we got to watch the sunset from this really great look-out point in the national park.  It wasn’t the greatest sunset, but was a fantastic end to our wildlife safari.

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On our way back to the main road, we actually saw a few more elephants, which one momma elephant wasn’t too happy we were close to her baby so she chased after us for a bit.  Was pretty great to see, but came with a brief moment of fear, lol.

2 )  Pidurangala Rock, Sigirya

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During my first trip to Sri Lanka, I paid the exorbitant $30 U.S.D fee to enter the Sigiriya Rock Fortress.  I actually wrote about how it was completely worth it, but I wasn’t willing to pay that amount again.

Fortunately, for those who are looking to travel Sri Lanka on a budget — you have the option o
f hiking up the adjacent Pidurangala Rock, which provides stunning views of Sigiriya, for a fraction of the price, only 500 Rupees!

The hike is really easy, and only took me about 20 minutes to get to the top.

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When you get up there, you will be left speechless with 360 degree views of gorgeous Sri Lankan landscape.

*Cue Lion King Theme Song*

I’d highly recommend heading up here for sunset, because it will give you some magnificent views and photographs.

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3 )  The Golden Temple

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Just a short 25-30 minute drive from Habarana is the small town of Dambulla, Sri Lanka.  Now, I’ve now visited this place twice, and there isn’t much to do besides explore the Golden Buddah, but it definitely still worth a visit.

The colorful temple down at the bottom of the hill is really cool, and the buddhism museum is interesting as well.

But the highlight of this is hiking 20-minutes past loads of monkeys to the temple that’s built inside of this hill.  There’s 4-5 different rooms filled with so many buddahs, you won’t even know where to begin.

It’s free entry which is nice, and you’ll leave with some quality photographs of the temples, monkeys, and landscape.

4 )  Pool Time

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If there’s one thing I love about Cinnamon Hotels (besides the delicious buffets), is that each location has had amazing pools to relax and unwind by.

The Cinnamon Lodge in Habarana is probably my favorite place I’ve stayed so far in Sri Lanka.

The entire property is green, spacious, and just simply relaxing.  When we weren’t off exploring temples, hiking rocks, or snapping photos of elephants — we were enjoying our down time in our beautiful rooms or by the pool.

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The only thing I’m regretting not doing during our weekend in Habarana, was taking a peaceful boat ride on Habarana lake.  I didn’t really know about it until after I left, but I guess that just gives me another reason to go back for another relaxing visit.


Also Read:  35 Photos That Will Inspire you to Visit Sri Lanka

Have you been to Sri Lanka before?  Did you make it up to Habarana? Let me know!  


PIN ME!

A Weekend in Habara-

THANKS FOR READING

Follow my adventures Around The World on FacebookInstagram, Twitter 

& Add Me On Snapchat: — JonesATW

35 Photos That Will Inspire You To Visit Sri Lanka

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During the first week of June, 60+ bloggers, photographers, and travel influencers ascended upon Sri Lanka for the second Cinnamon Travel Bloggers Conference & Awards.  #TBCAsia

Every hosted attendee had a choice of four different pre-conference tours of Sri Lanka to choose from:  North, South, East, or West.

I was on the “Discover South” tour, but I was definitely stalking my fellow bloggers on their different trips to see what type of incredible sights they were exploring.

Everyone had such stunning pictures to share from their various trips, so I wanted to put a post together showcasing a few my favorites.

Check out these 35 Instagram posts from attendees of #TBCAsia, and start planning your own Sri Lankan adventure.


1)  Cotton Candy Sigiriya Sky

Kiersten from The Blonde Abroad completely knocked this one out of the park.  This sunset shot taken of Sigiriya Rock Fortess is completely breathtaking.  What a capture!  Congratulations to Kiersten for co-winning the title of Best Travel Blog at this year!


2)  Snorkel Time

Hannah & Adam from Getting Stamped, who won Best Travel Photography Blog this year, captured this excellent over-under shot that will definitely get you keen for your next snorkeling trip.  Pigeon Island, off the coast of Trincomalee, has some of the best biodiversity in the country!


3)  Bath Time in Yala National Park

Sebastian from Off The Path perfectly captured this elephant having a bit of fun during bath time.  I was actually in the same jeep during this safari, and this little guy was definitely a cutie.  One of the many elephants we saw during our time in Yala National Park.


4)  Oh hey, what’s up?

Marta from In A Faraway Land got this stellar shot which perfectly encapsulates a standard train ride experience in Sri Lanka.  Congrats to Marta for winning the Best Up-and-Coming travel blog this year!

Flirting Sri Lankan style. Train rides in here are so much fun #tbcasia #cinnamonhotels #iflysrilankan #cvisitsrilanka

A photo posted by Marta Kulesza (@infarawayland) on


5) Hanging Out

Nicola from Polkadot Passport shared this gorgeous view of Knuckles Mountain Range and made it known that she is certainly isn’t afraid of heights.

Feeling on top of the world today as we explored the stunning Knuckles Mountain Range ? —- #TBCasia #CinnamonHotels #CVisitSriLanka

A photo posted by Nicola Easterby ??✈️ (@polkadotpassport) on


6)  Accidentally Awesome

Kristin from Be My Travel Muse unknowingly poses as Backpacker Steve grabs some insane drone footage of this old stoupa in the middle of jungle in Kumani National Park.  What an incredible view!


7)  Bird’s Eye View

Backpacker Steve absolutely nails it again with drone footage of this gorgeous Arugam Bay sunset.  Huge props to Steve for his quality work, as well as an amazing speaking presentation on videography at TBC Asia.

Surf's up and sun's down! #tbcasia #sunset

A photo posted by Steve Hänisch (@backpackersteve) on


8)  Lily Pad Perfection

Liz from Young Adventuress proves that Sri Lanka is a place where dreams are made of.  I definitely wouldn’t mind going to sleep if it brought me here.

Paddling through the lily pads – what dreams are made of! @cinnamonhotels #tbcasia

A photo posted by Liz Carlson (@youngadventuress) on


9)  Elephants Need Alone Time Too

Dave & Deb from The Planet D shared this amazing capture they took during the previous trip to Sri Lanka in preparation for heading back as speakers for TBC Asia.  What a shot!  Congrats to Dave & Deb for co-winning the title of Best Travel Blog this year!


10)  Galle Explorations

Hey, that’s my photo!  Taken from our amazing afternoon checking out the highlights of the old Dutch fort city of Galle.  Easily one of the highlights of my time on the Discover South tour.


11)  Arugam Sunsets

Raphael from Journey Wonders shows us how beautiful the sunsets can be around Arugam Bay.  A wonderful shot from the “man of wonders”.


12)  Sunset Serenity

Janet from Journalist On The Run captured this marvelous sunset picture from the top of Pidurangala Rock.  Definitely worth the 25 minute hike, wouldn’t you agree…?


13)  East Coast Beach Paradise

Paul & Karen from Global Help Swap share with us this superb view of Sri Lankan’s east coast beaches.  Not a bad place for a swim, yeah?


14)  Getting Air

Jenna & Jordan from Stoked For Saturday got this amazing jumping photo at the top of Sigiriya rock.   Congratulations to both of them for winning the Best Travel Video Blog this year!


15)  Wildlife Safari Ready

Turkish blogging power couple Murat & Tugce from Gezimanya show off how much fun they’re having on their Yala National park safari.  This is definitely a must for anyone making their way to Sri Lanka!


16)  Lake Life

Annika from Midnight Blue Elephant shows us the beautiful and peaceful lagoon in Habanara.  Not a bad place to relax for a bit.


17)  Breakfast

Food blogging pro Emma from My Darling Lemon Thyme gives us just a taste of how amazing the Sri Lankan food is at the Cinnamon Hotel breakfast buffets.  Every meal on the tour was absolutely delicious.  I’m sure I’m not the only one who will be leaving Sri Lanka a bit heavier.

String hoppers + all the sambols for breakfast ?? #tbcasia #srilanka #cinnamonhotels

A photo posted by Emma Galloway (@mydarlinglemonthyme) on


18) Train Ride Scenery

Eric from TravelBabbo captured this epic shot of the Kandy – Nuwara Eliya train ride scenery.  Make sure you grab a window seat for this one.


19)  Vacation Ready

Regitse from The Copenhagen Traveler shares with us this perfect view proving Sri Lankan is an ideal vacation destination.  Grab a book and a cocktail, and forget about your worries.

Paradise island? | www.thecopenhagentraveler.com |

A photo posted by Regitse Cecillie Rosenvinge✈ (@the_copenhagen_traveler) on

20)  Surfer’s Paradise

Mridula from Travel Tales From India reminds us that Sri Lanka is home to some of the world’s top surfing destinations.  She captured this guy in the beautiful surfing hub of Arugam Bay.

The ocean is his playground! #srilanka

A photo posted by Mridula Dwivedi (@mridulablog) on


21)  It’s Bath Time Again

Laurence from Finding the Universe shares this captivating Sri Lankan landscape complete with an elephant bathing.

Elephant taking a bath, as seen on our drive up into Sri Lanka’s hill count.

A photo posted by Laurence: Finding the Universe (@lozula) on


22)  Green Explosion

Gregory Snell who was representing Travel Dudes snagged this gorgeous view showing the lush and green landscape in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka Views. #asia #island #travel #travelawesome ??☺️???

A photo posted by Greg Snell (@gregorsnell) on


23)  Buddhism Introduction

XpatMatt shows us this top-notch photo of monks at the Thuparamaya stupa, where Buddhism was first introduced in Sri Lanka.  Shoutout to Matt for doing an excellent job in his role as President of the PTBA and helping oversee the success of this event.

We visited the stupa where Buddhism was first introduced to #SriLanka today. #TBCAsia #CinnamonHotels

A photo posted by Matt Gibson (@xpatmatt) on


24)  Rest & Relaxation

Jayney from Girl Tweets World shared this terrific shot of her floating in the pool after a long wildlife safari.  We all need a little downtime!  Congrats to Jayney for winning the Best Luxury Travel Blog this year!


25)  Beach Bliss

Matt from The Expeditioner shares this quality view overlooking Unawatuna Beach.  Definitely a place I wouldn’t mind spending a few days.

Beach views from Unawatuna Beach, Sri Lanka.

A photo posted by Matt Stabile (@theexpeditioner) on


26)  Citadel of Sigiriya

Sankara from Be On The Road shows us a different side of Sigiriya Rock Fortress.


27) Traditional Dancing

Kylia from Stylistic shares with us this photo of the traditional dancing performed at the TBC Asia pre-conference dinner.


28)  Good Looking Group of People

Shiran grabbed this shot of all the attendees dressed up in the local swag we were given thanks to Uptown Kandy.

Sri Lanka's night… ?????? #cinnammonhotel #visitsrilanka #TBCasia #colombo #blogers

A photo posted by shiranphoto (@shiranphoto) on


29) But First…

Josh from Go Travel Your Way takes a stellar selfie showing off the beautiful landscape of Kumana National Park.


30)  Sigiriya Sunrise

Famous Youtuber Krzysztof Gonciarz proves that Sigirya is definitely one of the main reasons to visit Sri Lanka.  Truly a sight you must see for yourself.

Epic sunrise in Sri Lanka #kgonciarz #cvisitsrilanka #cinnamonhotels #tbcasia

A photo posted by Krzysztof Gonciarz (@kgonciarz) on


31)  Don’t Forget the Dolphins

Janicke from Norskereiseblogger shows off her perfect timing skills by capturing this shot during a dolphin safari off the coast of Trincomalee.

Dolphin #safari outside the coast of #trinkomalee #srilanka #tbcasia #cinnamonhotels #cvisitsrilanka #flysrilankan

A photo posted by Janicke Hansen (@norskereiseblogger) on


32)  #NoFilter…?

JK.  Although it would be pretty cool if life did look this shot that TBC Asia speaker Halona Padiachy posted!

Serenity in Hikkadua #tbcasia #cinnamonhotels

A photo posted by Halona P (@piripirisauce) on


33) Perfectly Blue

Lifestyle blogger Mélo Limparfaite captured the amazing colors of the ocean you’ll find in Sri Lanka.  Who could resist a swim?

So many shades of blue #SriLanka #pigeonisland #beach #TBCasia #blusky #travelbloggers #melolimparfaite #landscape

A photo posted by Mélo Limparfaite (@melolimparfaite) on

34 ) Train Station Vibes

Anneka representing Travelettes shared this stunning shot from Colombo train station.  You haven’t truly traveled around Sri Lanka unless you’ve taken one scenic train ride.


35 ) THANKS TBC ASIA ! ! !

One epic week with some amazingly talented bloggers, photographers, and travel influencers.


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THANKS FOR READING

Follow my adventures Around The World on FacebookInstagram, Twitter 

& Add Me On Snapchat: — JonesATW

A Week Exploring Southern Sri Lanka: The Cinnamon Experience

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Sometime towards the end of 2015, I saw an application to become a finalist for a Travel Blogging Conference in Sri Lanka.  I quickly filled out the online form, entered in my blog & social-media details, and pressed submit.

It quickly moved to the back of my brain, and I forgot all about.  That was until I checked my email one glorious day, and found out I was selected as a hosted blogger.  Out of 700+ total applicants, I was in the top 60.  Not too shabby.

I had already been to Sri Lanka, and visited a lot of the North, Central, and Eastern country highlights.  So when I was browsing through the tour options, the “Discover South” tour was the perfect fit.

I’m very happy with my decision ,because our tour was a damn good time  We saw some really cool parts of the country, ate some delicious food, and had a solid group of fellow travel bloggers.  Shoutout to the Discover South crew!  We the best!  *DJ KHALED Voice*

Highlights from the Tour 


Turtle Sanctuary:

The trip’s first highlight was the stop at the turtle sanctuary in Bentota.  We stayed for about one hour and learned all about how they protect and help the turtle population in Australia.  They’ve got heaps of cute baby turtles that had recently hatched.  They keep there for a brief period, before releasing them into the ocean.  They also take care of injured turtles that wouldn’t be to survive in the ocean.  It’s a really great project, and they’re doing some quality work.


Cinnamon Bey Sunset & Gastronomical Experience:  

Staying at the Cinnamon Bey was definitely a highlight for me.  The coastline is gorgeous, there were two separate pools, and the accommodation was really comfortable.  We arrived with a special welcome dance, a refreshing cold mojito, and warm smiles from the staff.

My sunset photos also came out really well.

It was our first night on the tour, so they had a pretty amazing cocktail & appetizer meeting, followed by a delicious 9-course meal.  I actually reviewed it on the Cinnamon Hotel Facebook page for a contest and won a free 30-minute massage.

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Cinnamon Trail Experience:

We made a quick drive to this picturesque lagoon and boarded small canoes to begin our journey to an island in the middle of the lagoon.  Here we learned how they make the legendary Cinnamon spice.  It was an extremely hot day, and we all came out a little sunburnt, but was definitely a solid activity.  Check out more about the Cinnamon Trail in Dodandoowa.


Exploring Galle:

The aforementioned boat ride took a little bit longer than expected, and unfortunately that caused our time to Galle to be rather rushed — but still managed to see some pretty beautiful sights.  I had heard nothing but great things about this old Dutch fort city, and I’m definitely hoping I can make it back there again soon.  I don’t know too much about the history, but thanks to the internet, I’ll be reading all about it.


Sunset Competition:

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know I’m pretty keen on taking sunset photos.  Well, the folks at Cinnamon Hotels offered up another free massage for the best captures.

I’ll admit I was pretty worried.  The fellow bloggers on the trip had some pretty stellar photography equipment, and I wasn’t sure how I’d manage.  So I decided to throw in the “cheese factor”, meaning using the #TBCAsia to win me some brownie points.

I love how my photo turned out — and it was good enough for a victory 🙂


Hikka Tranz Downtime & Massage:

After a busy couple of days jam packed with stuff to do, all  bloggers all enjoyed a decent amount of free-time to catch up on work, and for the winners to claim their free massages.  Cinnamon Hikka Tranz was beautiful, and laying by the pool was pretty great.

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Dining with Crocodiles:

This was hands down my favorite aspect of our tour.  After a rather long and exhausting bus ride to Cinnamon Yala, we were welcomed by having a delicious buffet in a rather strange location — out by this lagoon which was filled with crocodiles.  It was pretty damn awesome.  You can actually see them in a couple photos, but none of my shots came out that great.

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Yala National Park Wildlife Safari

I had never really been on a safari before, so this was such an epic experience for me.  While we didn’t manage to spot any leopards or sloth bears — we did see heaps of elephants, spotter deer, monkeys, wild boar, peacocks, and heaps of different birds.

The entire national park is just absolutely gorgeous landscape and scenery.  We spent about 6 hours driving around in a jeep, and I easily could have done the same thing for a couple more days.  I’ll be heading back someday in search of that leopard.

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Amazing Buffets For Every Meal

I honestly can’t even begin to explain the quality of meals we were eating.  I’ve been living in Australia where food is very expensive, and I’ve also been saving up money for more travel.  My diet in Sydney primarily consisted of hummus…

So when for pretty much every single meal having a delicious buffet — I was in paradise.

Actually — the food was easily my favorite aspect of this.

Cinnamon Hotels — I blame you for my 4 KG weight gain. WORTH IT.

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While the tour might have felt a little rushed at times, it was still an absolute blast.  I’m so happy that I was selected to be a hosted blogger for TBC Asia.  I met some amazing people, ate & slept like a king, and had a fantastic tour of a beautiful country.


Special thanks to the people at Cinnamon Hotels for providing amazing accommodation throughout the tour, Sri Lankan Airlines for flying all of the particpants, and the Professional Travel Blogging Association for organizing this event.  It was massively successful, and I’m glad I was there to be apart of it.  


THANKS FOR READING

Follow my adventures Around The World on FacebookInstagram, Twitter 

& Add Me On Snapchat: — JonesATW

The 5 Best Hotels & Places To Stay in Arugam Bay

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Arugam Bay is a must-visit for anyone planning a trip to Sri Lanka.  It’s easily my favorite place in the entire country, and have spent around 3 weeks in total chilling, surfing, and partying in Arugam Bay.  If you’re looking at going to Arugam Bay, take a look at these top 5 hotels, guesthouses, and places to stay in Arugam Bay.

1 )  The Beach Hut

**Best Budget Accommodation in Arugam Bay**    

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If you’re backpacking Sri Lanka, a long-term traveler, or just on a tight budget — than you absolutely have to stay at The Beach Hut.

The atmosphere there is truly something special, and you’re guaranteed to meet some amazing people from all over the world.  Everyone comes together every night around 7:30 P.M for the dinner specials, drinks some beer, and enjoys some quality conversation.

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You can choose between a room up in the main area, or down in the beach bungalows.  I always stay down by the beach, because well — it’s nice to hear the ocean as you fall asleep.  There’s also comfortable hammocks, and a slack line to practice your balancing skills.

You can’t make a reservation for this place online, so you’ll just have to rock up.  Prices vary for the different rooms, but you’re looking at around $6-$10 per night!  It’s very basic accommodations, but you stay for the vibe.

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2 ) Stardust Beach Hotel

**Best Mid-Range Hotel**

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If you’re looking for excellent accommodation on a budget, than this is definitely a solid option for you.  The property is simply beautiful with the beach just footsteps away, the food is delicious, and they have their own yoga classes which is one of the best things to do in Sri Lanka.

The place is located on the quiet end of the beach, just a few places down from the Beach hut.

The beds are comfy, the wi-fi works decently well, and the staff are all extremely friendly.

Prices are around 70 U.S.D per night.  Make sure you book on Booking.com because they’ve normally got great discounts or specials.

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3 )  Kottukal Beach House

**Best Luxury Accommodation**

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This is defintiely the nicest and best place to stay in the area.  While it might not technically be in Arugam Bay, it’s located just a short 10-15 minute drive in Pottuvil.

The property was just finished pretty recently, and it’s absolutely gorgeous.

When it comes to the accommodations, the bed is one of the most comfortable beds I’ve slept in while traveling through Sri Lanka.  The air-conditioning works like a charm (which feels amazing), the bathrooms are clean, and the room is pretty spacious.

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You can spend your days lounging by the pool, head down to the private beach, or rent a Tuk-Tuk and explore the surrounding areas.  They also have two hotel dogs that are extremely friendly and fun to play with.

For only $120 U.S.D per night, this place is perfect for people looking for a luxury hotel in Arugam Bay.

This place does sell-out pretty quickly, so you’ll want to make a booking well in advance.

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4 )  Mambo’s Arugam Bay Hotel

**Best Located Hotel in Arugam Bay**

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When it comes to location, it’s not going to get any better than staying at Mambo’s.  Not only is this place to home to the legendary Saturday night beach party, but it’s also right by the best surfing in the entire country.

The food is delicious, the staff are all helpful and friendly, and the rooms are comfortable.

It’s not the cheapest place to stay with rooms starting around $100 per night, but it’s definitely a solid choice for accommodation in Arugam Bay.


5 )  Hideaway Resort

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Renting a villa at Hideaway Resort is definitely a solid choice when it comes to booking accommodation in Arugam Bay.  This place is located just right across the street from the beach just minutes walking from Main Point, and is right in the middle of all the action in A-Bay.

They’ve got great yoga sessions, a great restaurant / outdoor cafe, and the best place to grab a coffee in Arugam Bay.

If you don’t stay here, at least swing by for a meal, a fresh coconut, or a flat white cappucino.

Check out their website for rates and booking.

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There’s plenty more options to choose from, but if you stay at one of these places, you’re definitely going to enjoy your time.

Arugam Bay really is amazing!  Enjoy!


Check out these 35 Photos That Will Inspire you to Visit Sri Lanka.


Have any questions?  Feel free to shoot me an email, or drop a comment down below and I’d be happy to answer them for you.  Safe travels!

Thanks for reading!

Follow my adventures Around The World on FacebookInstagram, Twitter 

& Add Me On Snapchat: — JonesATW

17 Incredible Photos of Hong Kong

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Back in February I went to Hong Kong to celebrate the Chinese New Year.  To be completely honest, it was never really too high up on my list of places I was dying to visit.  But when I found a cheap flight on AirAsia, I figured it was a great time to visit.  I instantly fell in love with the city, and had one amazing week there.  It was also one of the first trips I had taken with my new Nikon D3300.  Here are 17 of my favorite shots during my week!

1.  Victoria Peak View Point
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2.  The Skyline at Night
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3.  Chinese New Year Firework Show
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4.  The Intercontinental Pool View
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5.  Getting off the Ferry from Kowloon – Hong Kong Island
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6.  Exploring Kowloon at Night
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7.  Kowloon Park
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8.  The Streets Aren’t Always Busy
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9.  The Colors of Hong Kong
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10.  The Bay
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11. Gambling at the Horse Races
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12.  View From the Tian Tia Buddha
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13.  Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car
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14.  Just walking around.

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15.  Signs on Signs on Signs

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16.  Purple Sky

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17.  The Chinese Sure Do Love Fireworks

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These were 17 of my favorite shots during my visit of Hong Kong.  Which one is your favorite!?

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