Kefalonia, Greece. With Eco Tan.

Wednesday, January 17th 2018

Its bold, wild beauty envelops you. Dramatic, powdery white cliffs that crumble into jewel seas. Sunsets so piercing their beauty stays with you, long after you leave.  Kefalonia is one of Greece’s largest and most breathtaking islands yet remains a hidden gem, devoid of tourists.

A few years ago, flying home after an island hop around the whitewashed towns of Santorini and vibrant party island of Mykonos, I overheard a woman sharing stories of her time in the Ionian Islands. Languid summers spent on secluded beaches, authentic greek food in rustic local villages, adventures to hidden coves accessible only by boat, that locals kept secret. Her eyes filled with a magic I knew I had to experience.

While the world (at least on social media) spent their summer dancing and throwing back ouzo at beach bars, wandering shoulder to shoulder with crowds through Mykonos town, a close friend and I thought we’d jump off the bandwagon and explore a different part of Greece. 

Booking last minute, we found one of the only Air B&B’s available, at the southern end of the island - a tiny little fishing village called Lourdata. Compared to Kefalonia’s famous beaches up north, Google Images and the scarce reviews of the area had us a little skeptical. But we figured it was just a place to sleep and we’d day trip to the better parts I’d mapped out over the island.

We arrived at the local airport, grabbed our overnight bags, jumped into our hire car and set off for Lourdata at sunrise. A 25 minute drive through pastel washed mediterranean towns, bougainvillea that exploded and collapsed over stone walls, and into blinding morning sunlight that crept over rolling mountains and illuminated farmland. 

A cascading road wound down through the local village of Lourdata and onto a long dirt road along the beach. At the very end was our Air B&B - a quaint stone house with one of the most magical beaches as its front yard. And no one around. Outside, the most vibrant, powdery blue water lapped onto white pebbles. To our right, a long stretch of beach dotted with colourful umbrellas and empty sun chairs. Rustic cafes draped in vine leaves and vibrant mismatched chairs faced the sea. The rest of the town was made up of tiny homes with giant yards and absolute beachfront vegetable gardens that anywhere else in the world would be demolished in a heartbeat to make way for luxury apartments. 

At 9am we wandered down the Main Street and took our pick of empty little cafes along the beach, advertising menus with locally grown ingredients from the gardens around us. We chose a little cafe and strolled inside looking around like the other two English travellers doing the same - trying to find someone who works here to make breakfast. We sat down to take in the view and 30 minutes later a local Greek man rolls in, laughing at our eagerness to eat breakfast before 10am. For 7 euro he whips up one of the best vegetable omelettes we’ve eaten, freshly squeezed orange juice, baked croissants and hot coffee.

I never planned to fall so hard for the little village that was just our base on the wrong end of the island. Swept up in it’s lazy, blissful simplicity, I wanted to stay there all week, just as much as I craved exploring the rest of the island. On day two we set off for Fiskardo, a little port on the northernmost tip of the Kefalonia dotted with colourful Venetian villas - the only place spared by the 1953 earthquake that devastated the entire island, and all of its beautiful old architecture intact.

Driving from one stretch of the island to the next are some of the most vivid memories I have of Kefalonia.  The heart in your throat moments - winding around enormous cliff edges on narrow roads, so scared to look down but too magnetized by the surreal landscape below. White knuckles on my steering while while mountain goat casually wander the almost vertical cliffs faces. Pulling over to the side of the road at night to watch a full moon illuminate every tiny ripple in an ocean that resembled a thick blanket scattered with diamonds. Sitting on the top of a cliff overlooking Myrtos beach watching the sunset one afternoon, while a stranger played her guitar on the hill next to us - music that captured what that view felt better than I could ever put into words. 

Every corner of Kefalonia was as shockingly beautiful and diverse at the next - living up to its name as the island of contrast. And while the drama of its famous beaches and vibrancy of postcard perfect little towns pulled us to every pocket of the island - there was something about returning to the tiny fishing village we booked to stay in. The silence when creeping along the dirt road at night, interrupted only by lapping waves. The local restaurant owners who knew us by name. Waking up in absolute seclusion and feeling at home. The neighbors who waved each morning, and invited us over for a traditional Greek lunch before we left. We were travellers here, not tourists.


Lourdata: A rustic fishing village on the southern part of the Island for a quiet getaway and great place to venture from if you're up for the drive.

Fiskardo: A port on the northernmost tip of the island and the only town that has retained its old architecture after the 1958 earthquake that devastated Kefalonia. Dine, sip cocktails and laze around in hammocks at Panormos Restaurant.

Assos Village: A tiny and charming harbour village built on a small peninsula which we added onto the end of our trip for the last 2 nights. We loved the little rustic backstreets here as much as the picturesque pastel waterfront and beautiful beaches. One of the more touristy parts but definitely worth visiting. Drink wine at the beachfront restaurants to take in their magical views... but head to Plantanos Traditional Restaurant for dinner. 

Myrtos Beach: One of the most surreal beaches we've ever visited, engulfed by steep limestone cliffs that crumble into the ocean.  Perfect for a sunset swim if you want to visit without too many people around. 

Petani Beach: A great place for an afternoon cocktail to watch the sunset, from one of its vibrant colourful beach chairs and umbrellas.

Fteri Beach: We regrettably didn't make it here having only discovered this online toward the end of the trip... After an atempt to access it from land - a little bit of a cross country hike down from the top of the hill to be met with a herd of mountain goat that didn't seem too happy to have us walking through their territory, we learned that walking access is now closed and it's only accessible by boat. A beach not many of the locals themselves have heard of when we had asked, but it looks absolutely stunning so plan ahead and make sure you do it!


If you book in advance, there are so many beautful little Air BnB's spread over the island to give you an authentic experience of Kefalonia. We also indulged in a few nights at F Zeen Retreat in Lourdata


We traveled with Eco Tan's collection of Certified Organic products -  some of our tried and tested favorites and a few new additions that we sampled. Our top picks...

Pink Himalayan Salt Scrub A beautiful blend of organic lemongrass, coconut oil and pink Himalayan salts that leaves you with smooth, glowing skin.

Cacao Tanning Mousse and Face Tan Water We've tried and tested many tanning products, this one gives the most natural color and is completely free of any synthetic ingredients that harm your skin and congest pores. 

Coconut Body Milk A rich, decadent body moisturiser blended with organic aloe, coconut oil, jojoba and macadamia that deeply highdrates. 

Natural Rose Hip Sunscreen For those looking for a completely natural sunscreen product this is one of our faves, which is zinc based... and rubs in clear!

Shop the full collection via the Eco Tan Website

Dolphin Island, Fiji.

Monday, September 25th 2017

You sense it the moment your plane descends. There's a pulse, you can feel. A heartbeat that exists in its landscape, its way of life, and its people.  A beauty that hits you hard when you arrive. Even harder when you leave. 

Of all the places I've been lucky enough to experience, Fiji has always held a special place.  There’s a rare, honest beauty that pulls you back, again, and again. It’s in the way Fiji refuses to be anything but real, in a commercial world that bends to meet every need of paying tourists, and changes the magic that drew us there in the first place.  Fiji will give you high end luxury to rival the most exquisite destinations in the world - but it will do it its own way. You’ll come lured by hypnotic azure seas and secluded beaches, but Fiji’s exterior beauty won’t scratch the surface of the deeper magic it will leave you with. 

After a short 4 hour flight from Sydney, I found myself once again enveloped by its beauty. As we land, an abstract painting moves below - gradients of deep indigos melting through iridescent turquoise, interrupted with patches of reef blotched like ink. This is my seventh trip back to the Fijian Islands, and we're headed to a part we hadn’t explored on the Northern tip of Vitu Levu - Dolphin Island. (the sister property to Huka Lodge, New Zealand)

Stepping out of the airport, the air is thick with humidity. We throw our overnight bags in the car packed with a few essentials - summer dresses, bikinis, sunscreen and books.  We’re handed Fiji water and chilled face towels soaked in sweet floral scents, before driving through the island’s rustic villages at dusk. Outside our windows whirl a haze of pastel homes, lush palms and bold mountains.  Our driver takes a call and then hands us his Motorola flip phone, “Dawn wants to speak to you.” he says.  A loud, excited voice is on the other end. “Bula! Welcome to Fiji, Darlings! What do you want for dinner?” We forget for a moment that we’re heading to a secluded island with no other guests, no set menu or routine that mirrors the experience of any visitor before you.

Dawn and her team want to know if we prefer the fresh fish, or lobster, that they caught out front of the island this morning. Or both. We laugh at the absurdity of whether or not lobster will suffice. Dawn tells us she can’t wait until we’re “home”. We tell her we’re moving in - to which she errupts in deep, loud, unselfconscious laughter. And so concludes the check in process. Any preconceived expectations, or luxury hotel formalities stop right there. Fiji is easy luxury, without the pretentiousness. 

We arrive, and step into a tiny wooden boat with our luggage. It’s night. Complete darkness surrounds us pierced by the most extraordinary canopy of stars above, and we sail toward the lights illuminating Dolphin Island infant of us. It’s pure magic. The simplicity. The silence. The calm serenity. Life in complete sync with nature. 

Moving through the wildness of the sea under a night sky, throws your senses into overdrive. It forces a presence that we deprive ourselves of, glued to iPhone screens. This is real. Right here. The contrast of both worlds is jolting. It makes me think about the complexities that we choose to entangle ourselves in back home. They make no sense here, in this moment. The freedom of this, feels innate. It feels like coming home, somehow. 

We’re greeted at shore by Dawn, who places leis of perfumed frangipanis around our necks. Our luggage is taken to our ocean facing rooms in wheelbarrows, and we walk up to our private residence. Cascading stairs dotted with lanterns lead to an open plan, Fijian Bure - a wooden structure inked with Polynesian motifs, wrapped in braided palm leaves, a lounge room filled with piles of eclectic books, a wooden deck that opens onto an infinity edge pool that spills out to the sea. “Welcome home!” Dawn says. We look around, awestruck, and struggling to comprehend that we’re the only guests on this island. A line on repeat, at dinner every night until we left. It’s a rarity that’s confusing at first, because it doesn’t feel like a private home we’ve rented. It feels like we’ve extravagantly indulged in booking out an entire resort for two people. Intuitively aware of the same confusion every guest feels before you, Dawn reminds us incessantly to treat this as our own home. 

Whether you want to fill your day with the myriad of activities Dolphin Island offers - snorkelling, sand bank picnics, surfing or like the rare leisurely days off we get to spend in our own homes, nothing at all – your experience here is completely shaped by how you feel, at any given moment. Anything goes. Dine at 6pm, or midnight, if you wish. Sleep in your garden bure one night, and move to an ocean front, thatched roof hut, perched on the peak of the island the next. Dolphin island is your blank canvas and the perfect location for languid vacations, romantic honeymoons or wedding anniversaries. 

We’re shown to our rooms - beautiful all-white bures that beg for you to surrender to the pace of life here. Oversized walk in robes separate the ocean facing master bedrooms with a bathroom of equal size. In the centre, a deep, freestanding bath spills with coconut infused body products, and glass bi-fold doors reveal an open-aired outdoor shower and courtyard.

At the main bure, Dawn has set up a poolside feast of fresh freshly cooked lobster, whole baked fish, coconut marinated ceviche and chilled wine. The kind of fine dining experience you’d pay extravagantly for in any city, that makes most ocean/farm to table restaurants feel gimmicky. It’s simply a way of life here. Slow living. Home cooked meals, made with soul. Authentic luxury, in every sense of the word. 

Days here melt into one another. Time somehow slips by and lingers at the same time. Poetry spills from the little things you we realise are the bigger things - skies stained in magenta pink, clusters of lanterns on a rustic trailer, wheeled around at dusk to dot throughout the property, beach bonfires under a crescent moon. Fiji is raw, wild beauty that feels unlike anywhere in the world. It changes you. And when we step back onto that boat again and wave goodbye, we realise we’re homesick for a place that resembles nothing about our familiar world. 

Karissa x

Visit the Dolphin Island website for more infomation. Direct transfers are also offered via helicopter from Nadi airport. 

Dress 1: Lee Mathews / Dress 2: Sir The Label / Hat: Lack of Color


Thursday, August 3rd 2017

Pulled by distant dreams, allured by other landscapes, romanced by foreign cultures, travel has always had a way of getting under our skin. It sparks something inextinguishable in us. A magic that stays with us long after we return home. 

Creatively, travel is what we’re fuelled by. The inspiration we extract from journeys abroad spill into every crevice of our work; fashion editorials set on wildly exotic shores, wedding styling drawn from a location’s abstract cues; darkly decadent textures that mirror volcanic surrounds, folds of fabric evocative of desert sand illuminated by morning light.

For us, the travel images left imprinted never resemble the tourist cliches that lured us there in the first place. The poetry of a destination always lies in its pockets. The moments etched on our minds are never the ones we anticipated, they’re the authentic, intangible ones, that unfold in between bigger plans. They’re the deep rambling conversations, morning light, the impossible perfection of nature, the languid afternoons that turn into midnight revelry. The freedom of living wildly. Weightlessly. 

The more we travel, the more we realise that you can’t control how or when the moments that truly move you, take shape. But your travel plans and decisions made alchemise the perfect set of circumstances for that magic to unfold. Drawing on our experiences, lessons and discoveries made on our travels and most recently a spontaneous escape to Bali with Visa, we’ve put together 3 of the key elements for a magical travel experience….

1. Travel Light

An overseas adventure is the chance to give yourself the complete juxtaposition to your every day - a feeling of weightlessness and complete freedom. When we look back, the best memories are always the spontaneous, unplanned adventures, so we travel in a way that allows us to jump at opportunities on a whim, without being bound by excess luggage, needing to return to your hotel to collect cash, or spending time packing and unpacking between locations. It’s always great to have a starting point but complete flexibility to be guided by what feels right, and let go of set plans when you uncover a location’s little gems along the way.

We also want to forget that our stay is temporary, we want to slip into life authentically to get the richest experience possible. We’re romanced by the idea of being permanently part of an unfamiliar world, flirting with that possibility for a moment and forgetting reality by limiting the luggage we carry around that hint that we’re traveling as a tourist.

Similarly, when it comes to decor purchases and payments for all the artisanal finds we love, we look for ease. Rather than carrying around cash, worrying about juggling different accounts or whether different cards are even accepted, we’ve always used Visa for both store purchases or cash withdrawn nearby in any destination from Morocco, Iceland, to Cuba, or Bali (since Visa is accepted at over 2 million ATMs worldwide) for all of our travel, as if we’re at home. When our trips are usually fleeting, or our minds are already consumed with production on overseas editorials, it means less to worry about, less time spent lining up at a bank or exchanging cash at the airport, that can be better spent on experiencing a destination.

2. The Local’s List:

What we search for in travel is an immersive, authentic experience where we feel part of the destination, it’s landscapes, the culture; a complete escape from our reality. Nothing dulls the romance of travel than feeling like you’re replicating the exact experience as every other tourist. We despise cookie cutter travel packages and bucket list cliches. We want our path throughout a new destination to be forged organically. To feel our way through experiences, and uncover a place’s layers, like we would in the city we call home. 

Every time we travel, we make sure we have a local’s list. Whether it’s a friend, or reach out to someone with a similar outlook, inspired by the same creative experiences that we are - nothing beats having someone you trust to do the filtering for you. Someone who has fallen in love with a destination, and can speed you through the process of discovery, pointing you to the things that will make your heart beat harder than any gimmicky tourist spot or over exposed destination. We want to see the location through the eyes of someone who lives there, moving through creatively inspiring spaces, tasting local cuisine, finding little hole in the wall places that offer pure magic. 

3. Travel Smart:

It goes without saying that to completely enjoy yourself and really let go, you need to feel secure. Whether it's a luxurious stay or a cultural experience in a third world country, there’s always room for things to go wrong that can’t be helped, but better planning will help avoid the things that you can control. A few tips we’ve learned along the way:

- Use Visa instead of cash. You don’t want to worry about losing cash or having cash stolen. And know you have immediate access to a 24/7 help line if you need it, as well as being protected by Visa's Zero Liability promise.

- Don’t waste unnecessary money on bank fees when exchanging cash. Visa ensures you can lock in an exchange rate each day, and removes any currency conversion fees that come with exchanging cash. This applies to both ATM withdrawals and payments made in store.

- When it comes to styling, the best things are always found when you’re not looking for them. You never know when you’ll stumble across something inimitable - treasures that you won’t ever come across and want to purchase for your home or wedding. You want the option of being able to use Visa for those must-have pieces you can’t possibly leave behind, without the limit of cash you can withdraw each day. 

Film: Sam Vincent for The LANE Creative Agency

Location: The Ungasan, Bali

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