Just an hour west of Auckland, you’ll find the beautiful, black-sand Bethells Beach. Bethells Beach is a bit north of the popular Piha Beach on the west coast of New Zealand’s North Island. The west coast is uber popular with surfers, due to the big waves. The drive from Auckland is windy, beautiful, and remote. Fill up your gas tank before heading out, as you won’t find many once you get out past the city.
Bethells Beach: A Photo Diary
I visited Bethells Beach in late December, and it was super windy. We brought a lunch of wraps and chopped vegetables, but when we sat down to eat, sand kept blowing into our sandwiches. I would recommend eating before you arrive, or hiding out in the little cave to eat your lunch.
The beach is stunning. The black sand looks like glitter and is warm on your feet, and the water stretches for miles. The ocean water is cold, but could be refreshing on a hot New Zealand day.
There is a little cafe just by the car park, where you can purchase coffee and pastries.
If you’re in the area, you must make a stop at Bethells Beach for some epic scenery and waves. If you’re a surfer, you probably already know of this surfers paradise.
There are loads of holiday homes surrounding Bethells Beach – check one out if you’re looking for an escape into nature. For those of you who are fans of beautiful beaches, relaxing holidays, or surf breaks, add this beach to your bucket list and hit the road.
I visited Quito, Ecuador with my brother in April, 2016. We arrived via a 24 hour bus from Cali, Colombia. It was a quick trip in Quito, we were more passing through rather than fully experiencing the country (I’ll definitely be back!). Nonetheless, we were able to see a bit of the beautiful, sprawling city of Quito, Ecuador.
changing of the guards
We started off with a fascinating changing of the guards ceremony in the city center. We were lucky enough to be in Quito, Ecuador on a Monday morning at 11 am, just in time for the ceremony. It typically happens once a week, every Monday at 11am.
The ceremony lasted about an hour. After that, we walked around the city center, checking out the tourists and the tourist shops. We felt a little restless, so decided to venture outside of the city center for a hike up the hill.
Quito, Ecuador: Walk through the city
We walked up the hill to the Virgin of Quito madonna statue – it’s on a 200-meter-high hill in between Central and Southern Quito. The hill is named El Panecillo, and it originated from a volcano. It was a tough hike up loads of stairs, but the views in the end made up for it.
We may have even made a friend on the way up…
I wish I could have kept him!
At last, we made it to the top.
The statue at the top is a Madonna, made out of aluminium. It’s beautiful, and even more striking in person.
I decided that after such exertion, we deserved a reward. We headed down to the shop I had my eye set on – the chocolate shop.
I paid an embarrassing amount of money for a bar of high quality chocolate and some dark chocolate covered bananas. Pro tip: if you ever find chocolate covered bananas, GET THEM. These are incredible, and I have to admit, they didn’t last long (and I refused to share… #sorrynotsorry).
Though our trip to Quito was short, I very much enjoyed what I saw of Ecuador and hope to go back soon. The city is beautiful, and what I saw of the countryside on the way in was even more stunning.
Ecuador suffered a massive earthquake of a 7.8 magnitude the day before we arrived. It was devastating to see the effects of the earthquake. Buildings had crumbled into the streets and a lot of people were injured. The earthquake hit the strongest in a sparsely populated part of the country, but still over 600 people were killed, and over 16,000 people injured.
When I visited Quito, the country was in a state of emergency. It was heartwarming to see all of the volunteers coming together to donate and set off to help. I wish I could have helped, but I already had onward travel planned. This is one of the reasons I recommend not planning ahead while traveling.
We stayed at the Secret Garden. I definitely recommend it – it’s quiet, has a great rooftop, and I took my first hot shower in months here. They have another hostel in Cotopaxi which won top 1% of hostels worldwide, but I haven’t been. 🙂
Food in Ecuador is super cheap. Expect to pay about $1.50-$2 USD for a meal from a local restaurant.