Remote Beach Clean-Ups

I love when travel works its way into your everyday life. For me one of those distinctive times was when my volunteer work with the Surfrider Foundation lead me to being sent to Ucluelet/Tofino to hike into a remote beach to clean up debris from a cargo ship spill.

Protecting the environment has become something that is deeply important to my heart. In these last few years the extent of my knowledge and personal growth for making changes to my daily life to help reduce my impact has been huge. Realizing the deep impact travel can have on the environment I have since altered the way I travel to be more eco-friendly.

(If you want to learn more on how to reduce your impact feel free to join my free Facebook group for Women to network and talk about how to reduce our impacts)

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The trip started off with an early 5:30 am start. Anyone who knows me well knows I don’t do early mornings unless it involves travel or adventure. My alarm went off and I woke up to darkness. As I walked along the sleeping city streets of Vancouver I smiled at the familiar sound of suitcase wheels rolling along the pavement.

It had been too long since hearing that lovely sound and knowing I was headed toward something new. I realized it was a sound so closely related with joy that I had missed dearly. Walking past the few commuters and street cleaners I remembered what it was like to see a city before it was awake.

The trip itself was out of my comfort zone. Being an avid and almost exclusively solo traveller I knew I would be pushed on this trip. Despite that I was excited for the adventures to come and relinquished control. I was looking forward to returning to such a beautiful area of British Columbia.


After a typical Pacific Northwest rainy and overcast drive through the mountains we came to settle in a wood cabin which backed onto a marsh area. Hammocks laid tucked away in the trees and an overgrown trail led to little hide aways for bonfires and a spot to sit with candles that was overrun with wax accumulated, I am sure, from many memories.

I explored the area while I could before the familiar coastal downpour of rain descended. I retired into the common area, relaxing into a seat to drink tea while admiring the lush greens through the water covered window. Eventually the rain cleared and the sun peaked out from the clouds just in time for an outdoor movie night hosted by the local area’s Surfrider Chapter.


The night’s events were held at the local botanical gardens which gave way to some post dinner beauty. We settled into our chairs bundled under heaters, holding warm drinks. There were many short films all filled with love and devotion to the ocean from all over the world (as well as some made by locals). It was a contrast of love and loss for our natural world.

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We met early the next morning to set off on our cleaning expedition. 13 volunteers (including me) headed off down back service roads to a location we were asked to keep secret. We hiked down paths and through bushes and down to the rocky rugged Pacific Rim coast and broke off into different sections to tackle as much debris as possible.


We balanced over the rocks as we headed to where we would clean. We watched the time knowing the path we had just crossed would be swallowed by the rising tide if we didn’t return in time. As we rounded the corner to our designated section of beach we were greeted by a cargo container on the shores torn apart. Styrofoam littered the beach reaching up into the forest line where the tide had pushed it.

We all broke off individually to different areas of the beach and started filling garbage bags. I worked along the side of the beach against a rock face and then into the forest area where the water line ended. I discovered a trove of plastic bottles and styrofoam debris. Eventually moving further down the beach knowing that any log you moved would reveal more.


This wreck was one they had been working to clean for quite awhile. It was a big undertaking that required a lot of effort and by far wasn’t the only remote beach or area littered with debris along the coast. We were told stories of different things they would find from their many clean ups through the years, including wreckage from the tsunami that happened in Japan 8 years earlier.

The 13 of us ended up filling 7 tonnes worth of debris into super sacs. Everyone worked together to manoeuvre what we had found into each sac. Once we had fit all of the debris into the bags we roped them all together to be picked up by helicopter and dropped to the proper sorting facility.


It was a successful clean up done by a lot of hard working individuals. Despite the continued hard work of the locals and our additional help for this clean up the area was still filled with micro plastic of the broken styrofoam that would require more cleaning in the future.

(If you want to learn more of the dangers of plastic and especially micro plastic to the ocean and animals watch the documentary A Plastic Ocean)

TofinoTrip-45After our hard work we all enjoyed a lunch together at a local favourite: Ukee Dogs. We ended our combined time and headed back to our accommodations to relax before our next adventures.

A failed hiking plan lead to us accompanying one of our group members as she went to go surfing before the sunset. The wicked waves splashed onto shore and against the ragged coastline rocks while surfers and kite surfers alike took advantage of the swell.

I myself opted to explore the shores and take photographs. I wandered along the coast line and noticed a light house in the distance. My wonder for light houses and the low tide lead me to a rock island. A few secluded homes laid atop the rocks and I explored it’s surface to catch a better glimpse of what may lay beyond.


As I headed back toward my group a rainbow was laying over the beach and view of the landmass in front of me. By the time I returned to where we had left our gear the setting sun gave some stunning photographic opportunities. Our friend returned from her work out on the waves and we watched as the last light of the day coloured the sky with subtle pastel purples.


We briefly sat for hot chocolate and popcorn at the beachside home of the local chapter’s leader discussing what we all did beyond our volunteer work. As our visit ended we thought that our night was at an end as well until we received a message from fellow Surfriders we had met earlier. We were invited to one of the many beaches for a bonfire. Luckily because we are all outdoors lovers we had our packs and our headlamps ready to walk down the dark trail to the beach.


We followed the distant light of the fire and found familiar faces. Our eyes eventually adjusted to the dark and we stayed warm with the burning fire. The night was spent chatting and laughing. But being the artist I am I was more mesmerized by the stunning night sky, the sound of the crashing waves, and the rotating light from the light house in the distance.

I spent more time taking photographs than I did interacting. As I continued to take night shots (using the logs as my makeshift tripod) others from the group became curious to see my creations. I had asked a friend to help me so I could light paint and it ended up being a hilarious party trick I never knew I had. Once the others realized the end result of someone running around with a flashlight everyone wanted a chance to try.


We laughed hysterically as we yelled letters out and guided the painters to get the picture right. After a lot of tries I finally got the perfect shot I wanted showing the lights of the city in the distance and the city name painted above the beach. We left the beach that night having had great conversations and having gained some new local friends.


I woke up early the next morning knowing I didn’t have much time to enjoy the beauty of the area since I was on someone else’s schedule. I decided to head out again to the marsh area behind our accommodations and was greeted with the beautiful natural world already underway.

Steam rose from the ground as the frost was thawed by the rising sun. Birds chirped and flew over head while a heron stood on the waters edge looking for food. I followed the almost non-existent stream toward the open water and admired the sleeping boats and their mirror images. I felt so much joy experiencing the natural beauty and grabbing some beautiful shots.

While we didn’t do much extra exploring we did make one stop on our way to the ferry and that was to an amazing area that still holds some of the oldest trees in British Columbia. Some of these big beauties are bigger than the tower of Pisa and over 800 years old. It is one of the few areas with giant trees that thankfully remain untouched from the logging industry.


It was my second time there and I was glad to be able to appreciate the magnificence of these huge beauties again. It is so humbling feeling so small compared to their size and history. It’s a place despite being packed with tourists still feels relaxing and a place I was happy to return to.


We caught a later ferry and while some of the girls relaxed and tried to nap I was too captivated by the setting sun. I ran all over the upper deck of the ship to capture the lands edge and the colours painting the sky. While I am often afraid of boats I find most of my journeys on them are the most memorable and packed full of stunning photo opportunities.

I returned home with some amazing photographs, having made some new connections, and having learned a lot more than what I had known before. I am so grateful I had the opportunity to gain the experience of participating in a remote beach clean up. It definitely won’t be my last.


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To see more you can watch a video created from our journey from a fellow Surfrider and content creator Crystal Chan:

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I have absolutely loved the volunteer work I have done and through doing so I have gained great value in my life. My knowledge has grown so much, I’ve met like-minded people, I’ve gotten to be connected with more organizations I love, and have grown my resume significantly. I truly recommend volunteering within areas you’re passionate in.


Boating Around The Adriatic

I woke up early and headed out onto the barren early morning streets of Hvar – a stark contrast to the bustling crowded market streets later in the day and the partying streets by night. I had been told by a Scottish friend I met a few days earlier that I had to do “the blue and green cave tour”. Upon googling I found one that I thought would be great and a full 8 hours of adventures boating around the Adriatic and the islands of Vis and Biševo.

I boarded a little speed boat and made new friends with three other girls from North America. Even the view of Hvar as we left was stunning (the feature photo on the article). I knew the day would provide quite an amazing adventure and some beautiful photos. Despite the packed itinerary I really had no idea then just how amazing it would be. It ended up being one of the best days of my life and the happiest.


As we got further out from the harbour we came upon our first stop which was actually an unplanned surprise. We were greeted by a family of dolphins which our skipper told us were often around. It was the second time in my life seeing dolphins so close. They stayed around for awhile and we all sat and admired them. Once they had gone we sped off to Vis to see the Green Cave.



The Green Cave seemed like a popular spot.DCIM101GOPROG0741892. Despite it being earlier in the morning there were still quite a few boats around waiting their turn to head inside. Once we got into the cave we learned more about it and got the chance to jump in and explore. Our skipper offered some goggles but I definitely recommend bringing your own snorkelling gear to be able to really see these caves for all of their beauty without worrying to wait your turn.

We were a bit early for the full green cave glow – which happens from the sun hitting the bottom of the cave and illuminating the colour of the ocean floor below. But as you can see from the picture here it would be quite a sight to behold when it’s fully lit up.

The task of getting back into the boat itself was hilarious and provided many laughs for the group itself. At times the skipper had to help lift people back in. Putting one leg and the opposite arm on the side of the boat we had to try to lift our body weight up and in. After a few tries of it you start to get the handle of it.

We all got back in safely and headed on our way to our next stop. We weaved our way through many different geologically fascinating places while being told the history of the area. He pointed out holes in the mountain side which were from World War II and told us about the intricate tunnel system that was created through the island. We learned about the local vegetation that thrives in the area and about the Croatian culture on the islands we were experiencing.


Our education part of our tour led us to our second stop at the edge of a cliff where we were shown sun pools. If you’ve never seen these or heard of them they are little naturally occurring round pool spots where the ocean waves wash up into them. When the tide is low it gives the sun time to warm them up. When we stopped here we were given the time to explore and relax in the pools or we could also do some small cliff jumping. I love cliff jumping and although this wasn’t anything huge I thought it was a great addition. It is a safe jump and one that is easier and more welcoming for a beginner.

After we had our fun in the sun we went into our second cave of the day which was a giant vertical slit in the side of the island. It was a dark one, with light only streaming in from the opening. It offered a huge contrast to the rest of the caves we would get to experience that day. Not just from the lighting and the shape but also because of the experience inside. It was easy to notice how the temperature changed much cooler in it’s dark depths. This was just one example of the many caves that lay along the islands on the coast and are waiting to be explored responsibily.

Next we were taken out to a piece of rock that comes so close to the surface that you can take pictures as if you’re walking on water. For mine I didn’t get exactly onto the spot

adriatic-7closest to the surface. But if you do it looks like your feet are standing on the surface of water. This was an awesome unexpected addition to the day. It was great to be able to be in what looks like the middle of the ocean and to be standing like you’re on the shore. This part was slippery and provided entertainment for everyone as we watched people try to catch their balance. Many of us, including me fell over a few times trying to stand up. Water shoes would definitely help you with this one as it definitely was tricky.adriatic-8 You also have to dodge the sea urchins (as you’ll become aware swimming anywhere along the Croatian coast). These are black spiky sea creatures and I was forewarned by an Aussie friend that it hurts a lot to step on one.

Surprisingly as little effort as the adventures seemed, when it was announced we were headed for lunch I was excited and starving! Our skipper told us we were going to Biševo, an island with a population of 8 people, with a small local restaurant on its shores. I was so excited to experience this small communities way of connecting with those wanting to visit their beautiful shores. It was fascinating to imagine what life is like for the local people running the restaurant. And I am sure they meet many amazing people with interesting travel stories stopping in for a bite to eat while off on their explorations.

I smiled as we docked the boat and walked along the path toward the little wooden “Restoran” sign. Me and my new friends took a seat to relax at the restaurant. I ended up ordering their special for the day which was calamari. I had been so use to the deep fried cut up pieces at home I was slightly surprised when two full squids were on the plate in front of me. But I am always up for experiencing different things and it ended up being delicious.

I enjoyed my wine and meal, with some chats with my new friends, and then I went off to admire the beach and to see the surrounding area. This beach was the clearest water I had seen anywhere and I spent quite awhile admiring it. I also spent some time taking in the small community they had built in this part of the island. I day dreamed about hiking to different areas of the island and wondered what it looked like beyond the hills. I have to admit I could have relaxed there all day. When I return to Croatia I would love to come back here with a book and just relax in the sun or go hiking on the island.


It was one of those places where although there were lots of tourists it didn’t feel packed or overwhelming. Everyone was off doing their own thing. Some were enjoying their meals with a view and others were out in the water or on it’s shores. The stop helped to recuperate at just the right time. I think we were all feeling we needed it because it gave us the energy boost for our next stop – the main event which I think most people book the tour for: the Blue Cave.

IMG_3906This stop took up a chunk of time because we had to dock, line up and get tickets, and board another boat that was with a specific cave tour (I don’t believe they allow outside boats inside). This cave was spectacular and unlike anything I had ever seen before but the boat went through it so fast you didn’t really get time to enjoy it.

If you go to this particular one (yes there are more than one of these caves in the world), remember that it goes by quickly so forget about taking photos – your phone or camera won’t focus properly anyway. Sit and enjoy the amazing natural feature of the deep blue glow in the pitch black cave.

To be honest, as amazing as the Blue Cave was, it was probably my least favourite of all the stops. It took out a big chunk of the day due to switching boats that could have been better used elsewhere and I think it would have been more spectacular to swim within it versus doing a quick float through. That being said our skipper did get us there at a quiet time so there were no line ups. But I personally would have rather have just taken a boat to see the cave on a different day or saved the experience for another one of these caves in the world where I could swim.

Afterward we continued on and got shown some more interesting geological features of the type of rock style in the surrounding area. While this type of thing may be boring for some people it was immensely fascinating to me. I think even people with no interest would find it unlike anything they’ve seen before. The whole coastal scenery was stunning. He educated us on the natural processes at play and got us to interact by guessing what we thought was natural or manmade.


Our next stop was getting to see the harbour city of Komiža on the island of Vis. Just like Hvar, I was blown away by it’s beauty as we came in. A little church stood out from all of it sitting higher up from the rest of the buildings on the side of the island. I could have sworn I took pictures of this but when I looked back I couldn’t find any which shows me that it was so beautiful I was too busy admiring it to remember to pick up my camera.


We only had 45 minutes here which I felt wasn’t enough time. It was a small community but there was still so much that I wanted to explore and I would have loved to go see the small church at the top of the hill. Most of us used this as a rest stop because of the shorter span of time. Per the skippers recommendation I went to a restaurant and tried their local island wine called “Vugava”. I loved that the day contained so many opportunities to experience island culture. And before getting back on the boat we cooled off with some gelato.

After departing this beautiful small community we headed off to see our last cave of the day which we were told was one that no other tour does as they don’t know where it is. Sure enough there were no other boats in sight and we had this awesome place to ourselves. Our skipper took our boat close to the island rock face and most of us were confused as to where the cave was. He then explained that to get into the cave we need to swim under the water, through an opening subtly hidden by the height of the water. When he told us this all my adventure senses were tingling.

I didn’t have goggles with me and others were using the few the boat had to offer. So with one hand plugging my nose and the other hand above me to feel the top of the cave opening I closed my eyes, dunked down, and swam fast. When I no longer felt rock on my hand I popped into this beautiful little cave which I feel was the true “green cave” of the trip.



I think this little cave stop was a overall favourite of the day – which is hard to say since it was all so much fun. There is so much I love about Croatia and it’s coastal scenery. These experiences were unparalleled to anything else in my life. Even just being able to swim in such clear and beautiful water was an experience I cherished. The adventurer and earth science nerd in me absolutely adored what we got to see and experience.

When we left the cave all of us swam around in the ocean for a little while just enjoying the beautiful area and trading off goggles so we could all take a look around. But even without them the water is so clear you can see pretty well anyway. This area would be a divers paradise.

After this we were exhausted despite the time we got to rest while visiting Komiža. We knew we only had one stop left which was Stiniva Beach; voted the best beach in the world for 2016. It’s exclusivity is what brings a draw. No motored boats are allowed in past that rocky edges protecting this beach. You’re only option is to anchor and swim (or paddle a smaller boat) in or to hike from the other side. Those of us who wanted to decided to swim in. I would love to return some day to hike into it as the pictures looking down to the beach are stunning.


The beach was a great end to the adventures for the day. I didn’t check out the cafe there on the beach but I think if you were to hike in it would be a great area to relax for the day. We just sat on the shores, took pictures, and chatted with our skipper. We ended up learning that he learned how to speak English (which was very well spoken) simply from watching shows and movies in English until he knew the language. It is quite amazing story to hear and all of us were extremely impressed. Once the sun no longer touched the area we swam or were paddled back in a little boat.

We headed back on the speed boat to Hvar exhausted in the best way possible. We were all silent admiring the beauty and I knew that it was one of the most epic days of my life. There was so much packed into those 8 hours that were unbelievable and just trying to explain the day doesn’t do it justice. The tour itself was an amazing combination of information, rest spots, and adventure and all of it was optional whether you got off the boat or simply enjoyed the views. I usually don’t like to take tours but as tours go this is by far my favourite that I’ve done and so well worth the cheap price! (And this isn’t sponsored – I am saying this because I was genuinely given one of the best days)

Since this visit and my time spent on the coast the Adriatic Sea is now my favourite body of water in the world and Croatia is my favourite country. Spending the day jetting around the Dalmatian Coast, experiencing Vis and Biševo, was such an amazing gift. Something spontaneous that I happened upon but which became of the best days of my life. I am so glad that my friend had recommended it and that I had chosen the specific tour that I did. I will absolutely never forget this day. It was the perfect mix of everything I love and the experiences I had were ones I would have never had the chance to do otherwise.

I know that I will be back to experience some of the same places in a different way in the future. Some of it will be spending a day on the shores relaxing, to fully exploring Komiža and hiking into Stiniva. I also can’t wait to explore more of the islands along Croatia’s coast. It’s called the Dalmatian Coast for a reason because of the spots created by the various islands. I would recommend Croatia to anyone because of the enormously friendly people, the amazing natural and architectural beauty, and the safety!

Bonus Travel Tips

Want to do this same tour? Support this local Croatian company (which you can find near the main market in Hvar if you’d rather book in person).

• You can also do the same tour from Split – just plan for a longer day. And it looks like they offer many other island tours as well. It’s totally worth giving yourself a few days in Hvar which is a cheap ferry ride away from Split and you save yourself some time while also getting to experience another amazing place in Croatia.

• If you’ve got any sort of back issues I highly recommend boarding the boat first and sitting in the very back. The back has a full bench to sit on where as the other seats need to be straddled like riding a horse which can be painful on the lower back when you’re doing it for a full day.

• I highly recommend bringing snorkel gear. You can buy this anywhere at the little market stands in Hvar (as I am sure you can also do so in Split). It’s cheap and well worth it to be able to really see the ocean floor and sea life! After this trip I learned my lesson and got myself a pair of goggles.

• Swimming shoes are also a great option to help yourself grip climbing up the rocky sides and also to protect your feet from sea urchins.

• Almost all of these stops require cash! Although most travellers don’t like to carry cash Croatia is one of those places (especially in the smaller communities) where cash comes in handy!


The 5 Towns of the Cinque Terre

The Cinque Terre is a must add to your bucket list. These five stunning towns are tucked in the mountainside along the Italian Riviera. Dripping with beauty they each offering their own unique views, lifestyle, and experiences. While they all still carry the amazing Italian food and dolce far niente mindset!

You can visit these cities through a quick train ride (that runs every 30 minutes) that stops at all the towns. But if you’re more of a nature lover and exercise addict like me the area also offers the unique experience to hike between the towns. Each trail offering out of this world views, varying difficulties and great photo advantages.


My visit to the Cinque Terre came at a time when I was exhausted, behind on my work, and feeling displaced. It was a new experience for me, different from the homesickness you can feel, where I was missing staying in one place for a longer period of time. Part of that was also because I was traveling with back injuries and hauling a heavy suitcase in and out of fast moving trains.

I was staying in a neighbouring city called La Spezia, in a house that gave me an amazing view of the city. I rested and recuperated there and waited until I felt energized enough to tackle the Cinque Terre and make the most of it. I fell in love with the area and it’s non stop beauty.

Because each town is unique I will tell you about them separately in the order you would arrive to them by train heading north from La Spezia. However I did not visit them in this order – I headed to Monterosso first to hike and did a bit of a shuffle between them all. But the one thing I will say, I agree with my fellow bloggers, you can’t choose just one town –  you have to see all five.


This is probably the smallest of them all and the first one you will arrive at if you’re heading in from the neighbouring city of La Spezia (which is also stunning and worth exploring). When you get off the train you will walk down a long tunnel covered in art and mosaics and find yourself surfacing onto the main street. It isn’t long before you’ve past all the small shops and just arrive at houses and turn around.

If you’re not paying attention you’ll miss the staircase at the beginning of the main street leading down to the boat launch and harbour. Once at the harbour, if you make the effort to walk up the paved trail to the left hand side, you will look back and get the stunning view (you see in the picture above) – of the town itself and of the rolling mountainsides hiding the other four towns (as you see in the picture below).


I didn’t spend much time in Riomaggiore but I have a suspicion that if you do some exploring and wandering where no one else goes you will find some hidden gems. And of course for swimming you will find less crowds. I wish I had spent more time in this city but I was feeling strained for time.

For the outdoor adventure/active people – as you walk to the harbour you will find a shop that has cheap kayak or snorkelling rentals. In summer 2016 when I was there the prices were: 7 euros for a single kayak rental for one hour, 12 euros for a double for one hour, with every additional hour being 12 euros. For snorkelling equipment all day it is 12 euros. It also looked like there were tours and boat rentals as options.



One of the most pictured and stunning of the five, you’ve most likely seen a picture of it at one point or another in your life whether you knew where it was or not. When you arrive you are in the heart of the town you have many options of where you go. The streets are lined with shops, restaurants and flowers.

manarola-5.jpgThere were the shops with swim gear, with beautiful women’s flowing dresses, and Cinque Terre gear. But I am not one of those travellers that browses shops much. I go try to soak in the culture and save my money for experiences. So I found beauty through the streets and the people laughing and enjoying wine on patios.

You can head up through the city or down. I picked down because I knew that is where the views, the water, and connection to the trail would be.

You’ll come out to a wide harbour as usual, with swimmers lining the rocks like seals drying in the sun. If you’re willing to do some exploring you can find your own less busy coves and places to cliff jump. For the iconic view of the city turn right at the harbour and follow the red and white lines (symbols of the trail). Here you will also find some much needed shade from the strong sun.

It was here in Manarola that I found peace and calm in my scrambled day of exploring. I happened to this area by happenstance and thought it was perfect for how I was feeling. I had reached a point where I was quite tired and I only had one last town to see so I took the time to wade in the warm ocean and just relax.



A lot of people bypass Corniglia simply because of the 300 stairs you climb to get to the top and the lack of that iconic city-in-the-mountainside picture. I have to admit even I was hesitant. It was my last stop and I
corniglia-9wasn’t sure I had enough energy to make it up those stairs but I knew I would regret it if I didn’t see all five.

I am so glad I made the effort to climb those stairs as Corniglia is quiet with a lot of tucked away beauty and secrets ready for you to discover. As you climb the steps you’re greeted with views of flowers and a vineyard.

You come to the top
corniglia-5surrounded by houses versus the city centre itself. I simply followed the few other people I saw and came out to little shops selling fruit and a basilica. It’s streets wind, giving you glimpses out over the sea and mountainside.

If you do some exploring you can find stunning patios along the mountainside, people relaxing on basilica steps and secret gardens. I got there for sunset, and despite things being closed it is definitely the perfect location to enjoy a bottle of wine and watch the sun set over the mountains in the distance.

Corniglia is perfect place for someone to stay who wants the Cinque Terre experience but somewhere quieter to spend their evenings. This town feels like the more genuine Italian cultural experience – less geared toward the tourists but a quaint town tucked in the mountains with residents who make the most out of the stunning area.




This is one of the most popular and busy of the five – for good reason, doesn’t that picture just make your heart jump? I think a lot of people gravitate there because of the picture opportunities but the town is much more than it’s beautiful exterior.


I hiked into Vernazza from Monterosso, catching the beautiful views of the city from the high vantage point. The trail was beautiful the whole way through but as you descended into Vernazza it offered stunning turn after another. It was worth all the work.

You’re greeted with purple flowers and the view of the sunning aqua harbour. But my first mission when I got there was to find food. With hiking in the Italian heat you burn a lot of calories.

I went to a little restaurant right on the harbour where I sat under tons of multicoloured umbrellas. I had calamari to start and spaghetti bolognese for lunch. (Although if you’ve been to Italy you’d know they don’t view spaghetti as an entree but rather a starter – which is why I learned enough to order something else or ask for a entree portion).

Despite its busy nature it still holds beautiful streets filled with unique shops, swimming spots through a hole in the mountain, and delicious restaurants. There are places to discover for more views if you’re willing to do some tower climbing or some more walking to the opposite side of the city.


Although I only enjoyed a short while in this city it really does capture your heart and your need to take non stop photos of it’s never ending colours and beauty. It is a common misbelief that cruise ships dock here. I think it comes simply from the sheer number of people in this city. They dock in La Spezia instead so people come into the towns from there. Prepare for crowds here as it is by far the busiest one.

Monterosso al Mare (Monterosso)


You get off the train and look out to a long beach lined with reclining chairs and umbrellas. I think most tourists actually turn around confused that there is not city there. And some simply go no further than the beach in front of them as for most people it’s often their last stop and they are ready for relaxation.

But if you keep walking toward what looks like an old castle tower and past that you come out to see the town itself hidden away. There are more reclining chairs and umbrellas but there is also a lot of city to see. I believe this is actually the biggest of all five of the cities but also the most deceiving.


What can seem like a sleepy city for those who simply want to lay at the beach its has many hidden treasures. it boasts areas to cliff jump and swim away from the crowds and a lot of unique beauty to explore. My Italian host at my accommodations told me that she really loved her time spent in Monterosso as a music teacher and that there was a lot more to the city than the beaches.


I didn’t spend too long there as I was determined to start my hiking with the plan to loop back there to relax for a swim after doing all the hiking. But I forgot about my need to explore and wander and how much time that can take as you find beauty in all these amazing places. Which is why I highly recommend giving yourself multiple days here. Honestly I recommend one for each town to truly take each one in.

Hiking the Cinque Terre

The trails itself are all different, for which I wont go into much detail. There are so many other great blogs online that offer great detail specifically to the trails. Instead I will share with you my experience between Monterosso and Vernazza and the views from this section.

trail-0Although I was prepared with my hiking gear and shoes I was thankful to find that the beginning of the trails from the cities are paved, they then turn to stone work paths, from there it slowly fades away into a simple earth trail.

For people that don’t hike often this is the best type of trail you can hope for as there are not many roots or big rocks that you could trip over. As the trail climbs at parts they have built stairs that lead you up.

Sometimes the trail becomes skinny and you have to wait for others to pass but everyone I met had great trail etiquette and each person went their own pace, taking breaks when needed.

They are very easy to follow and there is never any confusion as to where to go. However if you’re looking for the start in a city I recommend going toward the harbour and looking for the red and white painted lines that symbolize a trail.

I loved that the trails weaved in beside the vineyards giving you views of the grapes, and the views of the coast as the Liguarian Sea hugs the mountainsides and boats speed off to their adventures.


You pass by little creeks and tons of plant life despite the region giving a more desert look. At one point there was even a local Italian who had set up a table of hand made jewellery. Even if you just do one portion of the trail I recommend it for anyone who is physical fit. It will give you a much different perspective to your travel.

Want to know the technical side of it?

I recommend going to the Cinque Terre website to read up on prices and getting any answers to questions you may have. Currently only the trail between Monterosso and Vernazza is open (as of July 2017) but you can check their website for updated information on which trails are open.

Unfortunately with so much traffic from tourists and with the trails being on the cliff sides lots of damage happens as the earth becomes unstable. The famous Via dell’Amore (commonly known to tourists as the Lovers Walk) has been closed for at least 5 years. So unfortunately despite what you may have read a lot of the hiking isn’t available or open. Keep that in mind while planning your travels.

If you’d like to get a hiking card you can buy one at any train station (including La Spezia). This will also include your train travel between the towns.


Travel Tips:

• Allow yourself multiple days to truly explore each city. It is possible to do it in one day but believe me you don’t want to limit yourself on experiencing this beauty to one day.

• For the best views and photos of each city you will need to do a bit of uphill walking/hiking. The view you get from pictures are always further away from the town and not the view you see getting out of the train.

• I’ve heard from tourists they were disappointed when they saw the towns because the buildings weren’t actually as colourful as the pictures had lead them to believe. Remember most photographers will boost the colouring to make the picture look better. Most of the colours will be a faded pastel not bright vibrant colours.

• Also keep in mind that millions of tourists visit the Cinque Terre every year. The summer will be especially packed. If you don’t like crowds but still want nice weather I recommend going in the Spring or Fall. Or stay in Corniglia and keep in mind Vernazza and Manarola are the busiest and visit them on the off times (early in the morning). But definitely don’t miss them.


Coming Soon

Hang tight, some awesome travel guides, tips, and experiences will be coming your way soon!

Articles you can look forward to:
• Why Hvar Needs To Be On Your Travel List
• Road Trips Along The Oregon Coast
• The Side To Extended Travel No One Talks About
• Visiting Vancouver
• How To Feel At Home In New Destinations
• Driving In The Canadian Rocky Mountains
• Boating Around The Dalmatian Coast
• The 5 Cities Of The Cinque Terre
• Visit London Like A Local

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Thank you for your patience!