1. Ethical Sunscreen – Protect the ocean, protect your skin.
There are a few holiday essentials you probably wouldn’t dream of leaving home without – Passport, Bikini. Or if you’re anything like us then a surfboard.
No doubt if you are traveling somewhere hot then sunscreen is high up on your list. When you rush into the pharmacy to grab sunscreen before your trip what do you look for? Price, sun factor, perhaps a brand name you recognise?
When you’re shopping is “protect the ocean” high on your agenda? It should be, because it’s easier than it sounds.
People often don’t realise that the majority of sunscreens contain palm oil. If you don’t know about the horrors of palm oil then you probably haven’t watched Iceland’s (the supermarket not the countries) banned advert. Disclaimer get the tissues ready.
Iceland’s Banned TV Christmas Advert... Say hello to Rang-tan. #NoPalmOilChristmas - YouTube
It is possible however to find sun creams that don’t contain this destructive ingredient, check labels carefully or do you research.
Another nasty lurking in suncream is Oxybenzone, yep we didn’t know the technical word for this either. Basically this is the ingredient that protects your skin by absorbing the sun’s rays. Sounds harmless enough, however this ingredient when washed into the ocean can damage coral. Coral being a living organism is affected by the sunscreen, only with coral it prohibits its ability to defend itself against bleaching. Meaning the beautiful rainbow coral eventually becomes white and dies.
When buying a sunscreen we can’t stress how important it is to get one that protects you and protects the ocean. We are passionate about making choices that won’t harm the marine life. Being Australian – home to the great barrier reef, it’s no wonder we are a bit over protective about coral.
By the way don’t think you are immune if you are one of those crazy people (no offence) that prefer taking a dip in the swimming pool. Water treatment facilities do not filter oxybenzone out as part of their filtering process. Having a post sunbake shower is just as bad as swimming with the coral itself.
We aren’t out to convert you, but go vegan where possible. Tuck into a steak if you’re that way inclined, but if you’re not eating sunscreen does it hurt to pick a vegan one? People who buy cruelty free products also get laid more often, true story just do it.
After doing masses of research we have finally found a sunscreen that ticks all our boxes.
Not only do Sunbear Suncreen give 80% of their profits away to save the worlds smallest bear, but they also do a pretty good job of being an all round good sunscreen.
When the conditions are right you are going to want to be in the surf all day. Sunbear Sunscreen factor 50 will protect your skin and at the same time protect the ocean.
Palm oil free
Not tested on animals
PABA free (which can cause liver damage and skin allergies)
Made in Australia
Rainforest derivatives free
Produced using solar power
Comes in fully recyclable packaging
80% of profit goes to protecting the Sun Bears
2. Metal Straws
Plastic is often an unfortunate necessity when traveling, unless you fancy passing on the bottled water in exchange for gastro.
We don’t need to explain to you why plastic and the ocean don’t mix, unless you have been living at the bottom of the ocean yourself. If you need more persuading google “sea turtle straw in nose”.
You might not think about your straw while sipping your 4th cocktail, truth is we didn’t used to much either. One simple change you can make is to bring a metal straw with you, we carry ours wherever we go. Hotels are surprisingly willing to wash them for you, or you can always boil the hotel kettle if you are a particular germ-a-phobe. For us a quick rinse under the tap does the job.
We take our metal straws with us everywhere.
3. Reduce your carbon consumption
OK so you’re jumping on a jet plane 1000s of KMs, we aren’t about to pretend that that’s exactly good for the environment. But of course travel broadens the mind, makes people more culturally aware, and allows you to find some epic surf breaks.
However, there are some things you can do to offset your carbon footprint just a little. Firstly, opt for a ceiling fan and not A/C, i know, i know. Not only does a fan make a difference to the environment, its also heaps cheaper. We used to pay extra for rooms with an A/C. On our recent travels we have found that after a day of adventure and surfing, we head to our room late once its cooled down. We really see a hotel room as a place to store our things, nap and… stuff.
Travel light, Millie and I usually take one bag between the two of us. I’m pretty sure it’s just because she wants me to carry all her sh*t, but it works for us. On a serious note, we have been making an effort to declutter our lives in general and not purchase unnecessary stuff that will eventually end up in landfill. The same applies to holiday souvenirs, i’m sure that penis shaped bottle opener seemed fun 10 bintang’s deep… but its likely to end up on next months council clean up.
4. Eat local, make sustainable seafood choices
The more local you eat, generally the more sustainable you are. This means tucking into the local cuisine and not opting for items that are likely to be shipped / flown in. This is a great way to not only immerse yourself in the local culture, but to try new things.
Being vegan we tend to plan in advance and visit countries where we will be catered for well locally. I sit writing this in Sri Lanka, where the surf is phenomenal and so are the local dishes of string hoppers and dahl, vegetable curries and plenty of fruit grown the garden of our hotel.
If you are partial to fish, which trust me we were (no judgement) then try to eat the “catch of the day” where you can. This not only guarantees that the fish is probably fresh, but it also implies that they have an abundance of it.
Vegan breakfast: Yellow lentil dahl, string hoppers, coconut pol sambol, black coffee & fresh local fruit.
5. Take your s**t with you and leave everything else there
If you’re got this far in this post, the chances are you are pretty serious about trying to protect the ocean. Well done, the world needs more of you. I don’t want to preach to the converted, but I just need to say one last thing…
Don’t leave anything behind when you visit the beach. Yeah plastic bottles are one thing, but im talking cigarette butts, bottle tops, anything.
Less obviously leave everything else where it is, this is especially the case when it comes to anything living e.g coral, sea creatures etc. Don’t even entertain the idea of purchasing products that contribute to harming marine life. You do not need to try shark fin soup to say you have, nor do you need a trashy trinket made from a turtle shell.
OK look I am the first to admit that Millie is like a small child when it comes to visiting the beach. I turn around and she’s bent over picking up handfuls of shells and shiney rocks. She even bought a dead sheep’s skull home from a camping trip once… don’t ask.
We have a new compromise however, that she is allowed to bring home one shell from each trip, one. Its become a fun game of trades and upgrades, where she compares her days find to the previous days chosen item and much like a card game decides whether to stick or twist.
We aren’t perfect, but we make small compromises and changes that we hope will make a difference and protect the ocean. If you can’t change the world, change the tiny Sri Lankan fishing village we are currently calling home.
Read our review of the best fun waves around the globe here
Are you on the search for the best fun waves? Have you googled “best places to surf around the world” and all your search result returns is the “top 5 biggest waves around the world”. Waves that break bigger than you’ll ever be ready for. Waves that are so famous that you’ll be lucky if you sneak onto a single wave in a session, that is if you can manage to paddle through crowd without pissing someone off.
Well to answer our own question – we have googled it all.
“Best small reef breaks, fun waves, best places to surf for intermediate surfers, quiet places to surf”…. Still we get sent to Uluwatu, Pipeline or Cloud-Break… Beautiful places but not really what we are looking for. Don’t get us wrong, we have surfed them all. But sometimes you just want a break from the crowds and an easy ride.
We decided to take it upon ourselves to do some fun wave research, and by research I mean we decided to go on more holidays then we can afford. What we discovered was worth every penny. Even worth cutting back on the $20 prosecco and committing to surviving on rice and veggies for a while.
Fun waves in Fiji – Natadola
If fresh seafood, friendly locals, quiet beaches, and 2-3 ft glassy peelers is what you’re looking for then this is the beach for you.
We stayed for 8 days at the beautiful Yatule resort and spa for under $400 USD. This included food, cocktails and all. If you’re on a tighter budget than we were, we found that the beautiful locals at the beachfront market will take you into town (to buy booze and crisps in our case) for about a third of the price. The same goes for airport transfers.
The food is limited. Only the two beach hotels having restaurants so stocking up on fruit, snacks and don’t forget bottled water while in town is a must!
The reef itself is quite hard but on the mid / high tide you will barely touch it. Just pack reef boots to be safe! It’s primarily full of beautiful tropical fish. You will see these during the afternoon fish feeding ceremony (which is super dope). It is also home to some poisonous sea snakes, these beautiful black and white creatures will leave you alone as they are after much small meals. Just don’t wear black and white swimmers like I did…. They followed me around like I was the mother of all deadly sea snakes.
Indonesia is known for crazy parties, big wave chasers and a little bit of chaos. We’ve however mastered the art of the perfect relaxing surf-cation. Our advice is book yourselves into somewhere just outside Kuta itself.
Bakang beach is a 30 minute walk to the main strip and depending on where you stay a few hundred metres from the beach huts. Here you can either paddle out or pay the hut keepers 50,000 rp (which is basically $5 AUD) to drop you out to the reef and pick you up.
While this reef can get pretty big the beauty of it is the channels. You’ll always be able to sit on the shoulder and pick off the smaller waves until you feel comfortable to work your way over to the peak.
The Locals are pretty cool, just make sure you look before you paddle. No one likes to be dropped in on. Kuta reef breaks left and slightly smaller than its two neighbouring waves middles and airport rights. But if Kuta reef is looking flat ask the locals to take you to check the other two breaks. Kuta Beach is also an option if it gets too big on the reef just ask the board hire dudes where the best spot to head out is.
Portugal – Praia Da Parede
On a recent trip to the UK we managed to sneak in a couple of cheeky days in beautiful Portugal. Typically Portugal is famous for big waves and over populated beaches. We put our hunting skills to good use and ended up finding the perfect little hideout. Only half an hour from Lisbon airport, Praia da Parede has a beautiful coastline.
The reef is very rocky and even in the middle of summer the water had a little nip to it. It’s another perfect wave when surfed on the mid to high tide. Be sure to take your own boards as it was almost impossible to source a rental without paying for lessons.
Everything you need is within walking distance and it was super affordable except for the ocean front restaurants. Don’t get us wrong they were amazing, but probably best saved for a special occasion.
Sri Lanka – Jungle beach
This place has to be one of Sri Lanka’s best kept secrets, with only a handful of surfers out in peak season and a beautiful slow breaking left over a deep reef it just doesn’t get any better. To be honest, we nearly left it off the list because we don’t want to encourage the crowds.
Only 5 minutes in a tuk tuk from Weligama this hidden gem is well worth the international travel. Probably a break for a more intermediate/advanced surfer. However, if you get it on a 2-3 foot day or you sit on the shoulder you won’t have any trouble. The wave breaks beside a channel so the paddle out is basically flat, although it is a long way out to the reef. If you happen to get there and think its too big, there is a hut that rents out snorkels and the water is full of life. If you’re lucky enough you might even get a cheeky swim with a sea turtle or two.
Palm beach – Australia – AKA “Summer bay”
While most people step of the plane and head straight for the over rated and crazily overpopulated bondi, if your heading to the place we call home and we have a few suggestions.
If one of sydney’s world famous beaches is what you’re after but your feeling out of your element we suggest you start at one of the most friendly beaches we know, palm beach… With locals welcoming tourists all year round and the safety of “kiddies corner” the protected south end even on a 6ft ripper of a day kiddies should only bring in a 1-2 footer.
The beauty of the northern beaches is that it’s not just Palmy that it has to offer but back to back beaches from start to finish. If palmy isn’t going, just take your pick!
Think about all the greatest love stories, what do they all have in common? Love obviously, duh. Often however, what makes for a great love story is ‘forbidden love’ or when the couple have to overcome some kind of obstacle. Whether this is differences between class, race, culture, gender, sexuality or something else. Perhaps it’s a fight against family, who don’t believe your partner is good enough. Or a fight against society, because the love story goes against traditional stereotypes.
Romeo & Juliet, Edward & Bella, Enis & Jack Twist, Tony & Maria, Rose and Jack…
You get the picture. These might be fictional tales, but this is an unfortunate reality for many LGBT couples whose families don’t support them, or where homosexuality or marriage equality is not legal in their country.
OK look, our story isn’t dramatic. We also know we won’t go down in history as one of the greatest love stories ever told. Nevertheless, we do think its a story worth telling…
“Love Story” – How we met
I will start by saying this… We are the lucky ones, we have always had the unquestionable love and support of both our families. Australia now has equal marriage laws and it’s not illegal to be gay.
When we first met however marriage equality was not legal in Australia. Being born in the uk, I honestly thought this was terrible. In the UK civil ceremonies have been legal since i was at school and full marriage equality since 2013. However, I really hadn’t considered much how it would affect me personally. We were both not the types of girls that dreamt of white dresses at the age of 8, we were too busy failing out of trees. OK i was falling out of trees, Jessi is agile AF. The point i’m trying to make is, it’s not until you meet the person you are going to marry that it suddenly dawns on you that you might not be able to.
The day after I met Jessi, I told my friends I had met the girl I was going to marry. I had never been so sure about anything. I know this sounds like a cliche, and perhaps it is, but as they say – when you know, you know.
Like so many people, we first met down the local pub. I overheard Mils order a drink and said “You sound like you’re from London” She turned round, sarcastically smiled at me and said “Oh my god, you’re literally the first person to ever say that to me!?” She turned back to the bartender, and changed her order from one “dark and stormy” to two. By the way i despise dark rum, i just went along with it because she was really pretty.
We saw a sign to a comedy night upstairs, so decided to give it a go. It was legit the worst comedy gig known to man. After a few politically incorrect jokes, we decided it was best to find the darkest corner of the pub. We talked all night and as we left the pub at closing time it was absolutely pouring with rain. We had our first kiss, in the pouring rain. It wasn’t quite as romantic as the notebook though, because I then slipped and fell over in a puddle.
We spent the next couple of months smiling at our phones like complete idiots. Spending all our spare time together and wasting thousands of our employers dollars texting each other every waking second. We then did what any other desperately in love couple do, we moved in together.
“End Game” – Getting engaged
Almost immediately, im talking a couple of weeks not months I decided I wanted to propose. I also knew diamonds are expensive as sh*t and I had a bit of saving to do. Secondly, I needed to wait for a socially acceptable time to pop the question. In straight relationships, that’s about 3-4 years, but luckily in lesbian relationships anything after a year is legit.
So we spent about a year just soaking up how f**king cute we are. Living together in our adorable cottage (OK it’s actually a shed, more about that in another post).
As the year mark passed, I knew it was time. I planned a surprise trip to Fiji for Millie’s birthday, to drink cocktails, surf and ask her a very important question. Keeping the trip a secret lasted for about 3 minutes. I was way too excited and besides i’m rubbish at keeping secrets.
Somehow managing to keep the proposal a secret. The whole family involved with help picking a ring during the months prior. I knew I had to arrange a proposal that was “us” and not super cheesy or traditional. Its illegal to be gay in Fiji, so I knew whatever I planned would have to be indoors. Finally I settled on the idea of making a t-shirt and surprising Millie with it.
Look guys, its safe to say I nailed it. She said yes. Well actually she burst out laughing and said “Aren’t you even going to get down on one knee?” to which i replied “Bi*ch I made you a t-shirt”
“The Story of us” – Our fight for Australian Marriage Equality
A few months after our engagement, it was announced that the marriage equality postal vote would happen that year. Jessi and I were excited, but also seriously apprehensive having seen the Irish marriage equality referendum the previous year. It was time to prepare ourselves for a sh*t fight.
Jessi shared our engagement photo a few weeks later and tagged Australian Marriage Equality. AME responded by asking if we were interested in being filmed for one of their upcoming advertisements. Honestly, we didn’t jump at the chance. We had always previously been quite private about our relationship. Eventually though, we decided that if we could make a difference, even in the smallest way it was worth doing.
Our advert finally aired in the lead up to the voting deadline, the Yes v No debate was already in full force. Suddenly, people felt it important to share their opinion on a daily basis. It’s a very surreal experience to have the whole country debating your basic human rights in such a matter of fact way. Tick a box – Yes or No.
Even so, nothing prepared us for the feedback that we received. Thankfully most of it was positive. Understandably though it was the negative comments that really affected us. Australian Marriage equality swiftly deleted most of the hate filled comments. Some of pearls of wisdom bestowed upon us…
“Bad Blood” – A brief encounter with a stalker
Public comments paled into insignificance though, compared to the direct messages we received. The phrase “sliding into our DMs” really took on a twisted new meaning. Hate messages, death threats, rape threats, highly sexulised messages.
One guy in particular was relentless. Every few hours a new message from him would pop up, honestly I can’t bring myself to write down in words the content of his messages. But they were savage, next level sh*t. Eventually, after a couple of days and against my better judgement I accepted the messages and told him to f*ck off.
Before blocking him, I took a quick screen shot of the worst of the messages and a look at his profile. Just in case I told myself, genuinely believing that would be the end of it. The man in the profile picture was grinning. Stood next to his wife, holding what I assumed to be his daughter in a christening gown. A blue and pink “Its ok to vote No” sticker plastered across the bottom of his profile picture. I searched the name of the place he lived, and where he currently worked as a local member of parliament. I know right?! Out west near Parramatta, thankfully no where near us.
The next day working from home, I received an email and a facebook notification simultaneously. “We have noticed a suspicious login on your facebook – location: The same small town near Parramatta. Immediately, I called Australian Marriage equality. After sending over screenshots and more information, they would make some calls.
Five minutes later the phone rang it was the police, wanting to know if our address or telephone number anywhere on facebook. Immediately thinking about the party we were planning for the following week. Our address clearly part of the invite as well as the last thing shared to my page. “Yes” I confirmed, honestly a tiny embarrassed.
“Get out of the house now, don’t pack any belongings, just leave” was not exactly the expected response.
Visits to the police station, nights sleeping at friends followed for a week or so while the police investigated further. Eventually deemed a “passive threat”, “not an active danger” and “safe” to return home.
Knowing what he had said, coupled with the fact he almost certainly knew our address didn’t make for an easy return home. We slept with an array of makeshift weapons littered around the house – golf club, baseball bat, kitchen knife. As time went by things started to return to normal. The Australian government passed marriage equality on December 7th 2017.
“Reputation” – How we came to share our lives so publicly
In the wake of everything that happened, we had mixed emotions. A nagging feeling that more should be done to normalise same sex relationships. Around this time we entered a competition to celebrate marriage equality and win a wedding. Following the competition instructions, we shared the post and to our surprise won! (More about our wedding planning in another post…)
Thinking about how to thank the amazing vendors that were giving away their services and their time. Jessi came up with the idea of starting an instagram account, showcasing the vendors and celebrating our wedding. We thought it could be a good chance to document our wedding planning and keep a record of our lives together too.
Our expectation was a few followers and a bit of fun. We started to form friendships and connections with other couples and individuals, something we never dreamed of doing online before. Recently we have developed a strong case of “baby fever” seeing all the same sex families really inspired us.
Soon messages started coming in from teenagers all over the world struggling with their identity, or their parents reactions to them coming out. A stark contrast to the messages received from the no campaign haters, maybe here was an opportunity to do some good? Some of the messages we received were from people in Russia, India and other areas of the world where their struggle continues on a daily basis. We made an effort to reply to everyone individually, something we still take very seriously now.
We had always held the belief that instagram was for pretty pictures and photos of avocado on toast. Never once thinking that for some vulnerable groups of people it can actually be a lifeline. So here we are 9 months after we started our instagram, now writing this blog. Hopeful that maybe, just maybe, we can make a small difference to someone who is struggling.