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Image via Cape Hillsborough Resort

Captain Cook may not have been known as much of a wordsmith, but he did a pretty good job naming that part of the Queensland coast the locals affectionately call the “Whitsunnydays”. If ever there was a place that offered a million and one vantage points to capture the perfect sunrise, this is it.

There’s something about sunrises that makes climbing out of bed in the dark and fumbling for the iphone simply worth it. So peaceful, calm and removed from all those crowds that clamber to catch a sunset, perhaps the best thing about a sunrise is you generally have it all to yourself. Whether it involves hiking up a mountain top or just strolling out onto your balcony, there’s no better way to start the day than with those first sprays of pink light bursting from behind a mountain.

So where are the best Whitsunday spots to enjoy the ultimate communion with nature? At Botanica Weddings, here are our Top Five, in no particular order.

Image via Pinnacles

Your balcony at Pinnacles, Airlie Beach

Although it’s situated on Australia’s east coast, the lively tourist mecca known as Airlie Beach is a bit of an anomaly in that the town itself swings around to face north. So every day it offers up both a sunrise and a sunset. But what really sets it apart is its elevation. While it’s named after its beach, only the esplanade and main street occupy flat land. Most of the town climbs pretty quickly from there offering a huge range of accommodation that by and large all boast spectacular views. The panorama to the east is framed by the Conway Ranges and where ever you stay you can be assured of catching the sun popping over the mountains at any time of the year.

TIP : Best vantage point? The choices are endless but it’s hard to go past the aptly named Pinnacles. It’s a climb (so make sure you take their complimentary buggy) but worth every step once you get there.

Image via Botanica Weddings

Off the deck of your own catamaran

The tropical waters of the Whitsundays are well up on the short list of best cruising grounds anywhere. Justifiably so. Dramatically mountainous looking islands, clear skies and water with spectacular coral and fish. Daily glimpses of turtles, dugongs and the occasional whale and, if you look up, sea eagles and brahminy kites. But the other great instagram-worthy moment of course is the sunrise which can be enjoyed on any morning from just about any tranquil anchorage point.

TIP : Best time to catch it is during the drier months from April through to December when there’s less chance of it being shrouded in cloud.

Image by Paul Tadday Photography

Passage Peak, Hamilton Island

The Whitsundays is famous for its 74 islands, but most of those are uninhabited nature reserves, with the exception of a handful of island resorts, the best known being Hayman, South Molle, Daydream and Hamilton Island. So which one to experience the sunniest rise ? It would have to be Hamilton, or Hammo as the locals call it. And yes, you’ll probably want to rename your hamstrings, “hammo-strings” after the two and a half kilometre climb up Passage Peak but for the ultimate start-at-dark sunrise pilgramage! Yes, it’s a hike, but that’s exactly the point, you have to make an effort to enjoy the ultimate reward. And by conquering the highest vantage point on the island – 200 metres above sea level – you are guaranteeing yourself a moment that is definitely soul-stirring.

TIP : Make sure you’re wearing comfortable exercise shoes!

Image via Cape Hillsborough Resort

Cape Hillsborough Resort

An hour and a half drive from Airlie Beach but worth every minute of the detour is Cape Hillsborough, an affordable beachfront resort and the ultimate place for lovers of peace and tranquility. The sunrise experience here comes with the added bonus of a furry foreground in the form of very friendly skippies.

TIP : Bring your camera ! The local kangaroos don’t seem to mind you taking some happy snaps while they do their marsupial yoga on the beach.

Image via Cape Hillsborough Resort

The Sea Deck, Villa Botanica

The Sea Deck at our exquisite wedding venue is renowned for its sunset cocktails (anyone for a Blushing Bride martini ?) …but in truth, this east facing deck is even better situated to enjoy the ultimate sunrise. With a foreground framed by spikey succulents, and beyond that the dramatic black granite boulders fronting the calm waters of Pioneer Bay, the stage is set for an early morning show of nature at her magnificent best.

TIP : The only hitch is you have to get hitched here to enjoy it, but some would say that’s a small price to pay!

Image via Botanica Weddings

Ms Chinoiserie Says: I love the Whitsundays! Absolutely one of the most beautiful “picture postcard” places to watch the sunrise with your beloved….

About Botanica Weddings: Perched on the edge of the Coral Sea in the glorious Whitsundays, Villa Botanica’s superb gardens and architecture make for a destination wedding venue simply unmatched anywhere in Australia. Only minutes from Airlie Beach, yet totally private and exclusively yours for the day.

Polka Dot Honeymoons Directory Mid Banner

Windswept peninsulas, ancient forests, secluded bays and breathtaking vistas – the Great Southern region of Western Australia exudes wild romance.

Just a few hours drive south of Perth, this scenic region is the perfect place for loved up newlyweds to unplug and enjoy a few blissful days reconnecting with nature.

Book an Airbnb in the seaside towns of Albany or Denmark and set off to wine, dine and explore!

Discover

From the fury of a surging tide, to the mega power of the southern winds, Albany is all about natural wonders.

Be sure to visit ‘The Gap’, a rugged channel formed by the relentless power of the Southern Ocean. Venture out onto the cantilevered viewing platform and dare to look down to the waves roaring below! Don’t miss the ‘natural bridge’ a little further on – another spectacular ocean-carved artwork.

For fantastic walking trails and a truly eco experience, take a trip to the Albany Wind Farm. Arguably one of the world’s most picturesque power stations, you will soon discover the wind farm is perfectly positioned – so hold onto your hat! Poised around 80 metres above sea level, the twelve turbines have a commanding view of the Southern Ocean, and are particularly striking when viewed in the morning or at sunset. Grab your love’s hand and follow one of the scenic trails – you will be absolutely captivated by this jaw-dropping location!

A favourite with locals and blow-ins alike, Greens Pool is the emerald gem in Denmark’s crown. Punctuated with striking boulders and fringed by a sweeping headland, this protected swimming spot is ideal for sunbathing, beachcombing and snorkelling.

After a refreshing dip, wander over to the aptly named Elephant Rocks within Elephant Cove. This intimate cove is the perfect place to unwind and recharge with your love. Tuck into a beach novel and enjoy whiling away a few hours in your own piece of paradise.

The Valley of the Giants Treetop Walk is another must-do on your Great Southern sojourn. Hit the road early and journey to neighbouring town Walpole to walk through towering forests and see the trees from above. Once you’ve completed the 600 metre tree top walk, return to ground level and discover the Ancient Empire – a stunning forest trail of 400-year-old tingle trees.

Drink

With an ever growing inventory of distilleries, wineries, breweries and drinking holes, the Great Southern region is the perfect place to enjoy a celebratory beverage or two!

If you or your love is partial to a stiff drink, head to Limeburners distillery to sample an impressive line-up of hand crafted Australian whisky, vodka and gin, plus other spirits and liqueurs. While you’re here, be sure to try the Karri Honey Whisky Liqueur – a small batch malt whisky infused with luscious honey and aromatic spices. Even if you’re not normally a whisky drinker, you’re bound to love this intoxicating tipple.

For a leisurely afternoon in the sunshine, settle in at the Boston Brewing Co and order a tasting paddle to test the best of the brews. Here you can also sample Willoughby Park wines at the cellar door and graze on share plates, burgers, slow cooked meats and more!

Adventurous wine drinkers should put Yilgarnia Wines on the ‘to drink’ list – but be prepared to deviate off the beaten track to find it. This small family owned vineyard makes a variety of white and red wines, handcrafted ‘method champenoise’ sparkling red, white and pink wines, and the very first estate grown Denmark Port – a must try. Tucked off the side of a gravel road in the midst of the Denmark region, Yilgarnia Wines is a true hidden gem and you will find it difficult to depart without a few purchases!

For your honeymoon caffeine hit, stop by the Naked Bean Coffee Roasters and be wooed by that ‘just roasted’ aroma as soon as you enter the door! This Albany mainstay has been sourcing the best beans from around the globe for more than 15 years and roasting them onsite to create their own signature blends. While you’re here, pop into the adjoining store – a treasure trove of covetable gadgets and accessories for the caffeine connoisseur.

Dine

Garrison is a gorgeous all-day dining option perched on the crest of Mt Clarence, Albany. This café-bar-restaurant is located next to the outstanding National Anzac Centre (another must-do), and is furnished with a distinctive nod to Australian wartime history. Pop in for a leisurely brunch (don’t miss the maple bacon banana bread!), stop by for sunset drinks or enjoy an intimate dinner during the summer months.

Surrounded by sprawling gardens, The Lakehouse is a charming winery just a few minutes out of Denmark. After sampling the varieties at the cellar door, enjoy a leisurely ploughman’s style lunch on the lakeside deck or picnic rug! Choose from a menu of delicious platters brimming with local produce including house-made relishes, chutneys and pickles – the perfect alfresco fare.

All images by Anika Reynolds

Ms Chinoiserie Says: A swim at Elephant Rocks followed by a walk through the tree tops – what could be more romantic! 

About Anika: I’m a freelance writer with a love of weddings and creatively styled events. I have a penchant for pretty stationery and perfectly put together cheese plates, and a never-ending sense of wanderlust!

Honeymoons In Paradise - Where To Go In February

Image via Parque Nacional

A honeymoon in the month of Saint Valentine deserves to be an extra special one! Travelling in February has its own benefit: the crowds from school holidays have largely gone and you can reap the benefits of cheaper air fares and explore the destinations at the your own pace.

1. Marrakech, Morocco
Late February counts among one of the best times to visit Marrakech, with spring bringing a fresh burst of colour to the Red City. There’s lots of sunshine but not too warm, making it ideal conditions for exploration.

Where to Stay
Dar Seven in Marrakech feels like a chic and elegant home for royalty. Huge blond antique doors and a dining table in the open-air courtyard looks like the set of a glamorous interiors’ shoot. The rooms are exquisitely decorated in a soft and relaxing colour scheme with cream-coloured linen, contrasted against dark brown wooden furniture.

Image by Dar Seven Morocco

For couples looking to indulge in the rich traditional culture of Morocco, Riad 72 is laid out in traditional riad style, with a big rectangular central courtyard. The colour palette is earthy and rich, complete with banana leaves in the courtyard. Unwind after a day of exploring the city with a massage and hammam, the traditional Turkish bath.

What to Do
The minaret of the Koutoubia Mosque is Marrakech’s most famous symbol, making it a must-visit site for tourists. Built in a traditional Almohad style and topped with four copper globes, the magnificent Mosque is visible from near and far. After that, wander around the seemingly endless maze of markets and souks in Medina. The fibrous network of souks showcase alleyway upon alleyway of tiny retail cubicles selling trinkets, clothing, carpets, spices and even magic supplies.

2. Alexandria, Egypt
One of the best times to visit Egypt is no doubt in February, when the temperatures are at their most pleasant and the crowds from the holiday season have died down. This is the time when iconic sites like the Pyramids of Giza are less crowded too.

Where to Stay
At the very edge of the Mediterranean Bay in Alexandria stands the Four Seasons Alexandria, the glamorous but intimate enclave within the stately Grand Plaza shopping. The guest rooms are elegantly decorated and terraced restaurants provide the perfect setting for alfresco dining.

Image via Four Seasons Alexandria

What to Do
The Pyramids of Giza are a must-see for the most obvious reasons. But the old capital of Egypt also offers many fascinating sights. The Pillar of Pompey and the Sphinx are located close to each other and could easily make up for a half-day trip. If you are feeling adventurous, visit Cleopatra’s Palace, which is now underwater due to an earthquake more than 1,400 years ago.

3. Mactan Island, Philippines
Located in Cebu, Philippines, February is the best time to soak up the sun due to the dry season. The weather is relatively moderate albeit tropical, but the dry season ensures that you get to enjoy the sun, sea and the best of Cebu.

Where to Stay
The little island of Mactan, just off the coast of Cebu, is unbeatable as Philippine’s best diving, snorkelling, sailing and cultural adventures. The beach-side Crimson Resort and Spa Mactan is the place to be for a tropical island escape. Guest rooms have balconies overlooking manicured gardens, while the exclusive villas boast four-poster beds and outdoor private plunge pools.

Image via Crimson Resort and Spa Mactan

For honeymooners looking to splurge, Abaca Resort is the exclusive tropical hideaway with its private deluxe suites set in a lush tropical oceanfront surrounds. The resort also has a full luxury spa and restaurant so you will not have to leave the premises at all!

What to Do
Simply unwind and enjoy each other’s company in magical post-wedding bliss, with the glorious scenery that Mactan Island has to offer. There are plenty of water sports to enjoy for the adventurous. For couples looking to explore the town, the Mactan Shrine and Magellan monument consists of an obelisk to commemorate the Battle of Mactan.

4. Patagonia, Chile
February is the best time to enjoy Patagonia: the weather is mild and there are simply fewer crowds. The fierce Chilean winds are year-round, so pack layers and a sturdy windbreaker for the trip.

Where to Stay
The Singular Patagonia is a restoration of an old cattle processing plant that takes the idea of industrial chic to dizzying new heights, though none are more impactful than the guest rooms’ enormous floor-to-ceiling windows. Feast your eyes on Patagonia’s rugged landscape. If you are in need of some physical comforts, the rooms first-rate fixtures and furnishings should do the trick. But don’t miss out on the 3,000 square-foot spa complex.

The Explora Patagonia is a boxy modernist lodge just a stone’s throw away from the Salto Chico waterfall, with the peaks of the Paine massif looming just behind. The rugged landscape can feel a bit barren, so the fifty rooms and suites are simply cozy and inviting.

Image via Explora Patagonia

What to Do
The rugged beauty of the Torres del Paine National Park is guaranteed to leave you in awe. Known for its soaring mountains and bright blue icebergs, hiking through the national park is definitely an experience not to be missed. Explore Patagonia’s Atlantic coast where lucky visitors are sometimes treated to the sight of the gigantic southern right whale off the coast.

5. Miami, USA
While the rest of America shivers in chilly wintry weather, Miami is warming up, but not too much. The gorgeous spring weather settles in making ideal conditions for vacation.

Where to Stay
The Betsy on South Beach is one of the last Georgian-style hotels to be built on Ocean Drive, although it is by no means old-fashioned. The interiors are contemporary but still classic, with golden yellow and soft lavender contrasting with the ever-present Miami white.

One the other end of the scale, there is the Como Metropolitan where the reconstructed hotel from the 1930’s has kept much of its Art Deco bones. Acres of white space make the most out of plentiful Miami sunlight, but pastel tones and metallic surfaces make the Metropolitan a set out of Miami Vice.

Image via Como Metropolitan

What to Do
A trip to Miami is incomplete without a stroll down Ocean Drive. One of the most famous boulevards in the city, Ocean Drive is characterised by its distinct art deco buildings, glittering hotel and club fronts. Spend the day enjoying the sun at South Beach. The popular Miami hang-out spot welcomes anyone looking for pristine sand and amazing food. Get pampered at an opulent spa or simply stroll along the boardwalk.

 

Ms Chinoiserie Says: The rich diversity of Morocco and Chile have always fascinated me; February is the perfect time to visit!