Why travelling to Tonga? The kingdom of the humpback whales

Amazing underwater adventure with humpback whales in Tonga
Amazing underwater adventures with humpback whales in Tonga

Imagine a world without traffic, advertisements, hotel chains and fast food restaurants…instead genuine people, breathtaking nature and infinite tranquility. “Wake up now, you are not dreaming”, says the flight attendant, “welcome to the Kingdom of Tonga”.

Day 1:

After 30 hours flying, 10 Hollywood movies and 5 times airplane food I was longing for finally setting foot on this exotic faraway land which called Tonga.

What does an average European know about Tonga, not much. “Is it close to Africa? “False. “Are people wearing Thong all year around?” False (but good one). Well, to be honest I did not know much about it either, but what I did know is that one of the most amazing encounter is waiting for me, let’s just say between 2 mammals, and one of them weight more than 40 tons.

I could not sleep that night, even though our “Robinson Crusoe” like beautiful beach bungalow did not leave any wishes open. Neither our great hosts who were waiting for us with local fresh organic food, what a relief after all the junk food you get on your journey across the world.

Day 2:

Finally the day has arrived, such an excitement. Fins (check), snorkel (check), mask (check), wet suit (check), cameras (check), sickness pill – after a long debate – (check). All on board, it is getting real now, it was so long on my bucket list and finally it is happening.

Our boat is cruising along picturesque tiny islands surrounded by white sandy beaches and coral reefs, but my eyes are fixated on the horizon. Holding myself on my GoPro instead of the boat (not very clever), when it happens. I can see from far a couple of meter high water jetting up from the surface and then a huge fin. It was the sign that we found them, the humpback whales are HERE.

“We all wish for friendly whales”, as our tour guide explains, the ones who do not mind the company of humans and might be even a bit curious. Well, I’m damn curious I know, fully geared up to jump into the water and start the encounter right here and right now, but it was not yet our time to go. Instead the whales started to deliver an amazing acrobatic show, full body splashes and incredible screw driver movements. Mother and her calf simultaneously jumping out of the water, and with the power of 40 tons landing on the surface over and over again. Can whales really do that? Well, they can and with the lightness of a feather, breathtaking.

Humpback whales breaching out of the water in Tonga

Days 3-5:

“Let the luck be with us and bring us a friendly whale” – become our mantra for the next days, and if the universe was listening to our request the miracle happened. We got the sign from the captain and within seconds we were in the water with our guide and 2 other guests, feeling very excited. After some paddling the shadow of a giant emerged in the deep blue right in front of our eyes. Did not take much to realise that there are not only 1 but 3 whales around, under, above us. Small hesitation and evaluation of the survival chances of being in a way of one of biggest animal in our planet, hoping my humble presence would hold them back being just to much jolly to launch their famous triple flip me on the top. But my instinct took over the control of my body and I was with full speed approaching the head of the mother whale. What a majestic animal. With its tiny eyes, one is fixated on her calf at all times and the other following my movements. I kept just enough distance to be able to observe her but respect her territory, I do not want her to be scared and swim away, I do not want this moment to end. My eyes start slowly to wander over to the calf, playful creature with no fear and full of energy. Balancing around its mother, if it would just learn right now how to become a real whale. I would love to play with it but I do not want to stress its mother, who knows what her motherly instinct would do to me. Instead I just enjoy this moment, take it all in…and I know this will not be the last time.

Every time we were in the water during the 3 days, it felt like the first time. Every day brought a new experience, a new whale, new discovery and great interaction both below and above the water. I’m very thankful that I was given the chance to see them in their natural habitat and swim side by side with these wonderful creatures.

Beach Food Series – nutritious avocado tartare

Fast and healthy avocado tartare which is extremely nutritious and delicious
Fast and healthy option for a beach vacation or nutritious alternative for a summer grill party

I have just returned from the wonderful island of Mykonos, so many beauty at one place and amazing healthy food options. If you are planning your holiday or just want to spice up the usual summer barbecue party with a really delicious and nutritious dish, this is a perfect recipe for you. It is not only very fast to prepare but you get all the health benefits of avocado, not surprisingly called this fruit a super food, and last but not least you can also keep your waistline under control.


Ingredients for 2:

  • 1 medium avocado, peeled and diced
  • 1 tbs red onion, minced
  • 1/2 red paprika, minced
  • 1 tbs chopped parsley
  • 1 tbs chopped mint leaves, keep some for decoration
  • 1 tbs chives, keep some for decoration
  • 1 ts Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbs fresh lime or lemon juice
  • 2 drops of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • sour cream or Greek yoghurt for the top
  • salt and pepper

Directions:

Take a medium bowl and stir olive oil, onion, mustard, lime juice, parsley, mint leaves and chives together. Add the paprika and Worcestershire sauce and season with salt and pepper. Carefully add the avocado to the mix. Chill it down shortly. Before serving form cubes and place the sour cream or Greek yoghurt on the top. Decorate it with mint leaves and chopped chives.

Enjoy!

 

5 simple tips to stay fit during holidays

5 simple ways to stay fit during holidays
If you want to stay fit during your holiday follow these 5 easy steps

You have done so well lately and now the holiday season is right around the corner. What I find personally difficult is to go and enjoy the well deserved holiday without jeopardising all the hard work I put in to get fit. Usually end of the holiday I go home with couple of extra kilograms not even fitting into my nice holiday pants. Do not understand me wrong holidays are there to enjoy, let out the steam, relax and not to worry about diet. However with a small effort the after holiday frustration can be avoided.

I put together this bucket list which I take with me for my next holiday just to remind myself that small things can lead to a big change to make sure you stay fit:

  1. Keep hydrated but avoid any sweetened drinks: so much better option to tap into the great variety of fruits which is available for a quick shake. You need only crashed ice, fresh fruits and a blender. In case you do not trust the ice (in some holiday destinations could be a problem) you can do wonder with simply putting some lime and mint leaves into ice cold water. Do not forget, many times you are really just thirsty and not hungry, so before you reach for food DRINK.
  2. Do not completely give up your exercise plans: exercises can be easily added into your holiday plans, you just have to WANT it. Be creative even if you do not have a gym, you can do so much with your own body weight. It also prevents you from eating too much. What works really good for me is an early morning run before the sun comes up and gets really humid and hot. It does not have to be very long, just add some lunges and sprint at the end and you are fully refreshed and ready for the day. I also noticed that I’m much better avoiding temptation at the breakfast buffet after the exercise, I do not crave for food that much.
  3. Try out new activities for an active holiday: the best thing to avoid unnecessary eating and drinking is to keep yourself busy with fun and interesting activities. Holidays are good opportunities to try out new things. If you spend your holidays close to the water, do not be shy to go for some water activities. Stand-up paddling, kayaking, surfing or diving are really fun and great work-out options.
  4. Watch the portion: what I keep telling myself is just because I’m in holidays I do not need to eat double the portion than at home. I’m surviving pretty well at home without breakfast buffet or three course menu for each dinner. So why I’m doing it during the holidays? The variety of choices, this must be it. Why do you need to try everything in the breakfast buffet, you will have the same choices tomorrow. Rule of the thumb, starter must go. The main course is perfectly fine to satisfy your appetite, starters just added calorie. You can also go wrong with healthy choices like salad if you take it with a dressing which is a calorie bomb. The simplest to ask your waiter for olive oil and vinegar. Deserts, either share it or skip it. No compromise.
  5. Get the right combination: you love steak, no problem go for it but drop those potatoes. You have a great grilled fish do not spoil your appetite with fries, reach for the fresh salad. Finish up with a good glass of vine, sugary cocktails just add to much calories.
Do these workouts during your holiday to stay fit
Easy no gym exercises using your own body weight or be creative and find a substitute… like a coconut. Morning jogging at the beach is unbeatable.

I would be very interested to hear whether you find the list useful. Share with us what is your trick to keep fit during holidays!

Most importantly, enjoy your holiday! You deserve it!