August 5, 2020

PhotographyBobby Bense

EditingHelen Janneson Bense

Where to stay – we found this perfect Airbnb called Surfside Getaway. It was a good halfway stop from Perth to Coral Bay to break up the long drive. A comfortable and immaculately clean stay on the beach with incredible sunset views. We’ll be checking out Ningaloo Bay Villas on our next trip.

LocationNingaloo Reef | Kalbarri | Hutt Lagoon – Western Australia

Please supportProtect Ningaloo

Outfit details – Spell Portobello Road Dress | Swim (similar)

Firstly today as I share this post, my heart is heavy for my fellow Victorians. For my family. For my friends. For the community. They have already been through so much with the bushfires and this second wave of Covid is just heartbreaking. I’m with you guys every day sending love. I know this will pass and how strong you all are.

It’s difficult to share the beauty and freedom we have here in WA, while all of this is happening here in our country, and around the world. Life does feel somewhat normal for us in our WA bubble, yet we know this could change in an instant. We’re not taking anything for granted and making the most of our freedom to explore nature and connect with one another. I’ve come to realise that Covid won’t be over for anyone until it’s over for everyone. We’re all in this together. And right now we need to stay well together and support one another.

I also think we all need a little hope right now, to see that it will get better and we will all get back to exploring the beauty of this world once again. Or simply being able to hug our loved ones again or get back to work to make a living and support our families. It is times like these I’ve never been more aware of my privilege in life. I know many are struggling to keep their business afloat, find enough food, a warm bed, or a safe space. If you are in a position to help, please find ways to share the love and help support others that are suffering right now. If you’re not doing ok, please reach out for help.

It was about a month ago now we decided to escape the cold and head north on a 13 hour road trip to our favourite snorkelling spot in Australia. It had been zero Covid cases for awhile here and the intrastate borders had just opened up. It was the first real venture out from our local bubble. We stayed walking distance to the ocean in Coral bay, where you can snorkel right from the beach. Ningaloo is a world heritage listed site and has the largest fringing reef in the world and an abundance of sea life; tropical fish, dolphins, turtles, rays, sharks, whales, dugongs, and the majestic whale sharks. We spent our days salty and sun drenched from sunrise to sunset in the water, stand up paddle boarding, kayaking and snorkelling. We brought along our own sup and kayak even though you can hire them by the hour from the beach. It allowed us to paddle anywhere anytime, and sunrise is the best time to go out.

To make this trip easier for me as a mum, I meticulously meal planned 10 days worth of incredible plant based cuisine. We brought a huge ice fridge with frozen meals and fresh produce. We ate likes kings and queens and it worked out so well I’ll definitely do that again. The kids were so happy playing in the ocean with us every day. It helps they are 14 and 11 and like doing the same things as us. We stayed at the Ningaloo Reef Resort and I’m not sure I would recommend this spot for everyone. Though it is perfectly located so close to the beach/reef, it is in dire need of refurbishment and our experience was very noisy. If you’re a light sleeper and need a lot of privacy it might not be the best option. Even our children couldn’t sleep well due to noisy neighbours. We’ve already booked Ningaloo again for next year and we’re going to try the Ningaloo bayside villas this time. Will keep you posted on how they are.

We learnt a lot about this beautiful place while we were there; how the Traditional Owners‘ cultural knowledge is crucial to maintaining the land. The Traditional Owners are the Yinigudura, the West Thalanyji People, who have lived sustainably on this land for over 30000 years. Evidence dating back 32000 years show their sophistication and specialised use of the resources of this coast. The Yinigudura name Ningaloo means ‘deep water’ or ‘promontory.’ When we holiday on this beautiful land we must respect, preserve and protect the natural environment and honour the history and culture of this sacred place.

Ningaloo is an untouched paradise that supports a lot of small businesses and sustainable tourism and we want to keep it that way. Protect Ningaloo work hard to stay on top of gas and oil companies and the government who have been trying to industrialise this area. This poses a huge risk to the entire Ningaloo area, the coral reefs, the marine life and to small businesses that rely on tourism and have already struggled due to Covid. Drilling anywhere around the reef would mean deafening underwater sounds to the marine life. The risk of an oil spill or rig blowout would damage this delicate ecosystem. Recently there has been has been yet another threat – Subsea 7 an international company wanting to build gas pipelines through the Exmouth Gulf, in a sanctuary area for dugongs, and where humpback whales nurse their calves. This is a vital area for nurseries and foraging grounds and why the World Heritage committee recommended Exmouth Gulf be included in the Ningaloo World Heritage area. There is a strong ecological link between the Ningaloo reef and the Gulf. To show your support and learn more please head HERE. A simple email to the WA government using the template form will take only a few minutes but will go a long way to help. Thank you as always for your support, caring for our environment, and protecting pristine places like this so we can enjoy them for future generations to come.

During our road trip we also stopped at a couple of places that I would definitely include on your adventure; Hutt Lagoon and Kalbarri. There are so many more spots too so check out my previous post ‘A Land Before Time‘ for a more in depth road trip journey of the Coral Coast. Hutt Lagoon is the pink lake you’ve probably seen all over instagram. The colours are always slightly different shades of pink each time we visit. The pink colour of the lake is caused by the presence of a beta carotene rich algae called Dunaliella salina. Close by to this beautiful pink lake is the town of Kalbarri. It is my favourite road trip stop because I always see whales here in July when we visit. The best viewing spot is the Natural Bridge. We watched 2 humpback calves splashing about for around 20 minutes so close to the cliffs. It was absolutely majestic! The entire coast is mesmerising with its red cliffs and turquoise water. Blue Holes is a great snorkelling spot and Murchison river gorge is ideal for hiking, kayaking and exploration. Nature’s window is a beautiful walk with incredible views.

After spending 10 days connecting with nature I realised the more time I spend in nature, the harder it is to return to city life. There is such a basic human need to get back to our natural state. Every cell in my body yearns for it. The healing gifts we receive when we spend time outdoors are immeasurable. The parts of me that need healing receive all the nourishment they need. In a time when our feelings of safety are more challenged than ever, when restrictions are in place to both protect us, yet also prevent us from experiencing nature, it is so crucial for self care and awareness. When you can and it’s safe to do so (masked up, social distancing depending on your location restrictions), take whatever small moments in nature you can get. Breathe it all in, know you are safe, and our world will heal. We will heal together when we care for one another and work together with compassion for all.

With love and gratitude, Helen x

Copyright images and text Helen Janneson Bense 2020

Love & Light Wellness Retreat

July 31, 2020

For FULL RETREAT DETAILS and to BOOK – Bare & Wilde – EARLY BIRD SPECIAL $100 off until August 2nd

When – September 17-20th 2020

Where – Smiths Beach Resort Yallingup

Hey beautiful tribe!

Firstly I’d like to acknowledge the Traditional Owners and Custodians of this sacred land, the Wadandi Noongar People. I recognise their continuing connection to land, waters and culture. I pay my respects to their Elders past, present and emerging.

I’m starting this weekend off by sending out a huge wave of love and light to you all. Because it’s been a year and we all need it!

I don’t think I’ve ever needed retreat as much as I do now. My self care rituals have been essential to stay on top of my well being this year. And even then, I’ve had some challenging times of just not being ok. It’s ok to feel this way. And it’s ok to say it. It’s in the surrender, and allowing our feelings to be, that we can truly find some self compassion, love, and healing. Our vulnerability becomes our greatest strength as we navigate our path with self love in our hearts each and every day.

With this in mind, I’m so happy to announce the much needed Love & Light Wellness Retreat, created in partnership with Bare & Wilde Retreats.

This ultimate beachside retreat will be hosted at our favourite spot Smiths Beach Resort in their magnificent beach houses, designed with an understated sophistication to make sure you relax and enjoy. The resort’s backyard is the gorgeous turquoise ocean, nestled amongst a National Park. You will have lots of time to connect with Mother Nature.

This retreat is all about embracing self-love, unleashing our inner child, finding joy and creative freedom. It’s going to be FUN! Bare & Wilde will take care of everything from start to finish, so you can genuinely unwind, reset and connect.

Together we have curated a retreat itinerary for the WA wellness community and we hope to be able to share this with the rest of Australia and wider community when it’s safe to do so. Our hearts are with you all through these difficult times.

As part of the retreat itinerary, join me for some creative fireside conversations whilst enjoying a Q&A boho picnic on the beach, themed around the creation of my blog, rediscovering self-love and how to ignite your creative dreams. The intention here is to have a relaxed conversation, in a beautiful setting, connecting and sharing openly and safely with one another, within a sacred shared space. It will be an opportunity to ask me any questions you have, but more importantly a safe space for you to share and be heard. A space for us to share our mutual knowledge and wisdom, and inspire and elevate one another towards the fulfilment of our creative dreams.

As you guys probably know I am vegan, and healthy, delicious plant based food is something I’m so passionate about. I’m so happy this retreat will be providing plant based premium private dining experiences each day prepared by in-house chefs Jessica Lowe and Valerie Gamer. There will be daily yoga, meditation, sound healing with the incredibly gifted Julian Silburn, abstract art workshop with local artist Sarah Malone (so excited for this!) and coastal beach walks/runs as well as hiking the Cape to Cape Walk Trail. This is one of my favourite walks ever! It’s so healing and stunningly beautiful!

While we may not be able to explore beyond WA at the moment, I am super grateful to be part of this wellness retreat experience like no other. Love & Light Wellness Retreat is the premium wellness getaway you have been waiting for in 2020. We want you leaving this getaway feeling nourished from the inside out and full of life, joy and creative energy. 

You can view the full premium retreat inclusions and book your ticket HERE. There are limited spots left and EARLY BIRD $100 off is available until 2 August 2020 or until sold out.  

I can’t wait to connect with you, share magical sunsets and enjoy some self care time on this beautiful wellness retreat. 

Love and Gratitude, Helen xx

Images and Text Copyright Helen Janneson Bense 2020

Looking for Rainbows

April 15, 2020

PhotographyBobby Bense

Styling/EditingHelen Janneson Bense

LocationSmiths Beach Resort

Outfit details

ClothingTiare Hawaii Brooklyn Dress | Spell Organic Ruched Skirt + Wild Love Robe | Astars Soiree Wide Leg Pants

Swim – Camilla Lunar Gazing one piece

Jewelry Spell Wild Love Gold Locket Necklace

Beach Picnic Setup and Styling Meekohontas | Vegan Grazing + CakesThe Art of Grazing + Simply Rawjus | Dried Flower installationsLush Petals Co

It’s been over a month since our family trip to Smiths Beach resort and wow how things have changed. In such uncertain times, I’ve found peace in knowing what is most important to me and being forever grateful for that. I’ve been focused on my day to day, being present with my family, while looking forward with a positive mindset, remembering there is always a rainbow after the storm.

Even though it was awhile ago now I wanted to share a little about our wonderful and much needed stay at the magnificent Smiths Beach resort. It’s safe to say we have picked favourites when it comes to traveling in the Margaret river region. Smiths stands out for location and luxury. It’s centrally located for the the surfer and the mermaid, the foodie and the wine connoisseur, the adventurer and those seeking retreat. The resort is just a stones throw from the most spectacular turquoise beach that carries it’s own special magic.

Located in Yallingup, Smiths is our family’s favourite place to stay. This was our fourth visit in just a few years and I can’t imagine it would be our last. Under a 3 hour drive from Perth, it’s the ideal getaway. It’s secluded, yet so close to all the wineries, breweries, restaurants and local art; you can pick and choose your culinary and artisan experiences. Or spend your day surfing, snorkelling or supping in these pristine waters. And end it with a sunset picnic on the beach and watch the sky turn all shades of the rainbow.

This trip in particular was so needed for our family. We started this year with tragedy as we watched helplessly as my parents home town was ravaged by bushfire and my parents lives were at risk. It was weeks of stress and worry that we didn’t even realise was taking a toll on our health. Soon after our daughter, Jade, became very ill and it’s been months of no sleep, doctor and hospital visits, and heart ache. She’s thankfully on the mend now but her road to recovery will take some time and she is still very vulnerable, particularly her lungs. Now as Covid-19 spreads through our world it’s more important than ever for us to focus on family, health and home. These changing and uncertain times have everyone on edge and the loss of lives and livelihoods around the world has been heartbreaking.

One thing I’ve realised is there is no right way for any of us to be feeling right now. We are experiencing a collective trauma. And it’s HUGE! It’s ok not to feel ok. You are allowed to feel sad, anxious, scared, depressed and you’re allowed to feel positive and be productive and motivated. Whatever your way of managing this situation is, it’s ok. We are not alone. We are all in this together. And everyones struggles matter and deserve empathy. Please reach out and ask for help if you are struggling.

Emotionally I’ve had to draw upon many tools to manage my anxiety. One of the most important steps has been identifying and embracing my emotions as they arise. I’m giving myself time and compassion to feel. I’m being easy on myself, observing and letting go of my inner judgements. I’ve witnessed my own past personal traumas surrounding “feeling unsafe” triggered once more. I’ve been practising mindfulness each day to stay in the present. I’m easing my mind accepting ‘what is’ rather than entering into a lot of ‘what if’ scenarios that generate more anxiety and fear. I’m finding gratitude for all that I have, rather than what I don’t.

Right now we can show our gratitude for those risking their lives to save ours by staying home, socially distancing and practicing proper hygiene. I feel incredibly blessed to have a safe home, to be in ISO with my family, to have my health, nutritious food, and to have found solace in creating art and music. We have health care warriors risking their lives every single day so we can be safe. There are homeless people, those who have lost everything, their livelihood, their purpose, their loved ones. Those who suffer violence in their home and have no safe space. This is a serious tragedy. One we are all a part of. Our main collective task right now is to STAY HOME and it’s ok if that is all we can do. Many will struggle deeply with the loss of life our world is experiencing. Not everyone will be able to turn their stay at home experience into a positive or productive one. Be easy, be kind, and be loving to your self during this time. Let go of the inner judgements. If all you can do is stay home, please know that is enough. If you can, try and focus on a few simple joys each day. Some ideas might be implementing a daily self care routine, playing dress ups and board games, music and dancing, painting and cooking, taking a neighbourhood nature walk (if allowed) and listening to bird song, looking at the clouds form shapes and the twinkling, starry night sky. Our family started a new tradition of picnics on the lawn where we say 3 things we are grateful for each day, which inevitably opened the discussion for more gratitude and those 3 things quickly turned into 20.

In the meantime let’s also remember the small businesses that are struggling, and try and support them where we can. Order from small businesses online and order produce from your local green grocer. Many are doing deliveries during this time and need our support. And when this has passed let’s book that trip and visit all the places we’ve dreamt of during ISO. I know Smiths beach will always be top of our list along with visiting my parents. Where in the world are you dreaming of when this is over?

For now take great CARE, stay WELL, and so much LOVE,

Helen xx

All text and images copyright © Helen Janneson Bense 2020

I left my ♡ in SA

February 21, 2020

PhotographyBobby Bense & Helen Janneson Bense

Editing/Styling/Creative Direction/ModelHelen Janneson Bense

LocationsSouth AustraliaPort Lincoln, Eyre Peninsula Tanonga Eco Lodge, Line and Label, Greenly Beach, Mikkira Station, Almonta Beach, Tumby Bay, Port Lincoln Hotel, Memory Cove, Seawall Apartments, Glenelg Beach, Moseley Beach Club, L’Anse Tumby Bay Cafe, Rogue & Rascal, Del Giorno’s

Please note that all drone imagery at Memory Cove and Almonta Beach was obtained with permission by the Department for Environment and Water.

Outfit Details

Dresses – Arnhem Island Sun Dress + Maxi Dress (Similar) | Tiare Hawaii Brooklyn Dress + Eyelet Hollie Dress| ASTARS Swing Cami + Soiree Wide Leg Pants | ASTARS Capitola Embroidered Skirt + Capitola Off Shoulder Top

Swim – Camilla Lace Front V Neck One piece

It was a journey into the unknown. Into the wild, raw and beautiful South Australian wilderness. We literally had no idea of what was in store. That we would be feasting on some of the freshest locally grown produce crafted by culinary experts. That we would be so deeply immersed in nature, connecting with the land and wildlife. That the coastal views and multitude of turquoise rock pools would completely take our breath away. And that all of this would be ours to enjoy with barely another soul in sight.

Our journey to Eyre Peninsula began in Adelaide. From here it’s a short under 1 hour flight to Port Lincoln. A great place for food and some local shopping, situated right on the beautiful Boston Bay. We stayed at the Tanonga Eco Lodge, 20 minutes from Port Lincoln. It’s a sustainably built lodge that sits high upon the ridge overlooking the ocean. I loved waking up here to the sound of birds and the golden glow of the sunrise each morning. Also the perfect spot to end a long day of exploring as the sunset sky creates a 360 degree panorama for you to feast upon each night. It had all the luxuries one could want, in a modern light filled space, that won’t cost the earth. Just some of the inspired sustainable design elements include an in ground slab for thermal mass, double glazing with attention to window orientation and size, a stand alone power supply primarily from solar energy, rainwater, organic worm treatment for all waste water, along with locally sourced produce. Tanonga was such a great base of comfort, luxury and some the best sleep I’ve had in awhile.

Day 1 – On our day of arrival we headed to Tumby bay for lunch at L’Anse Tumby cafe, a super cute French inspired cafe and worth a visit. We explored all the street art, including the incredible Silo art you’ll find just as you turn off to Tumby Bay. We settled in at Tangonga and then off for more incredible plant based cuisine. We found everyone so accommodating about our food preferences and it was super easy to travel through this region. Dinner was on the waters edge in Port Lincoln at Del Giorno’s and it was so delicious with such wonderful, welcoming service.

Day 2 – Swimming with Sea Lions with Adventure bay Charters. Hands down the best thing I’ve ever done in my entire life. I can’t recommend this enough. From the moment you arrive to the beautiful turquoise cove you can see these adorable sea puppies swimming excitedly towards the boat to greet you and play. They are such social creatures and absolutely loved swimming with us. I’ve never felt such a deep connection like this. And they are so cute! On the boat trip back to Port Lincoln we stopped offshore at Memory Cove to take in the pure pristine wilderness. We learnt about how endangered these beautiful beings are and that we must be aware of our part to play in their decline. If you choose to eat seafood, please ensure it is sustainably caught. Fishing nets are the biggest contributor to plastic pollution in the ocean and cause countless deaths of marine life each year, including dolphins, whales and turtles too.

After our adventure packed morning we enjoyed a delicious plant based lunch at Rogue and Rascal and then decided to take the wild and long 4WD journey down to Memory Cove Wilderness Protection Area in Lincoln National Park. This incredible blue lagoon is about a 4 hour 4WD round trip from Port Lincoln. You’ll need to a key from the Visitor Centre to enter as they only allow 15 vehicles in per day. You’ll need to pack all your essentials too – water, sunscreen, food, first aid etc. as there are no facilities once you’re there. Just pure wilderness. You’ll see so many emus and kangaroos on your drive in. And many rare species that find a safe refuge here including Rosenberg’s goanna, echidnas, western whipbird, malleefowl and hooded plover. And if you’re lucky you’ll see the endangered white bellied sea eagle, which is the second largest bird of prey in Australia. We were able to spot one from our earlier boat trip with Adventure Bay Charters. Just look for the white belly.

Day 3 – We had a little sleep in after our mammoth first day and headed to explore Greenly beach. We had a lot organised for the day, but we honestly got so caught up exploring this one stretch of coastline which is just pure magic! We found a beautiful turquoise rock pool filled with starfish and decided to enjoy lunch here and soak up some sunshine. It was great to adopt a slower pace today and really breathe in the beauty of our surrounds. If you would like exact map details to help you locate this rockpool pictured in this post, please send me an email or comment on this post.

We ended the day with a wonderful dinner at Sarin’s at the Port Lincoln Hotel. They have the most amazing set up and sunset view with twinkling lights and all the ambience you could envision. They created a bespoke plant based menu for us and it was one of the best dishes I’ve had in a long time. I was completely overstuffed by the end because it was just so good I couldn’t stop myself from eating more. I highly recommend this spot for dinner while you’re traveling through this region.

Day 4 – We started our day with an incredible sunrise at Tanonga and our staple avo on toast and a cup of tea. A beautiful day of exploring lay ahead and we were all a buzz with excitement. First up we ventured out with eco-accredited tour Xplore Eyre to Coffin Bay national park. Our first stop was Almonta beach, stopping along the way to say hello to the many emus and kangaroos that you will see in this region. Again we were so shocked to have this entire beach to ourselves. There were breathtaking cliffs and pure white sand beach for as far as the eye can see. And we were lucky enough to be greeted by a pod of dolphins swimming in these beautiful turquoise waters.

Next up we headed to Mikkira Station, home to a wild koala colony. Never have I ever seen koalas in the wild like this. I must have seen a koala in almost every tree. It was cuteness overload. We checked out the historical Mikkira homestead, set up a little picnic and enjoyed some healthy fresh treats amongst the gum trees and koalas. This protected haven is private property, so you will require a permit from the visitor centre to visit, or you can book a private tour via Xplore Eyre.

To end this incredible day we went to Line and Label for dinner. We had no idea what we were in for. And what a treat! And what a way to end our time on the Eyre peninsula. It’s a stunning venue built amongst the Peter Tinkle vineyards. You’re surrounded by organic gardens filled with vital foods used in all their dishes. I don’t think I’ve ever been welcomed so beautifully to any restaurant like this before. I felt like family, like I was at home, in this immaculately designed restaurant. All the design details reflect consideration, to ensure a welcoming, comfortable experience. And the food, well I can’t say enough great things about the food. They created an incredible plant based menu for us. 5 courses of pure deliciousness. I’ve never felt so spoilt in my life! Line and Label is more than a culinary experience. It’s a place to enjoy an entire afternoon or evening amongst the vineyards, watch the sunset, listen to music, enjoy the delightful ambience and decor, and explore the gardens. It’s an absolute must visit for the Eyre Peninsula.

Day 5 – Time to say goodbye to our wilderness and head back to Adelaide. Honestly there is still so much more to do here. Check out Talia caves, Whaler’s way and many more rock pool locations along this magnificent coast. We decided to save this for our next trip ;)

Straight off the plane we headed to the historical beachfront Seawall Apartments in Glenelg. Probably one of my favourites places to stay in Adelaide due to the close proximity to the beach, main shopping, beach club and cafes. We stayed in the gorgeous Beach house, which has maintained it’s beautiful historic charm in the design details, with modern, fresh beach themed decor. We absolutely loved this spot and would definitely book this for future family holidays to Adelaide.

First stop was Moseley Beach Club for some family fun in the sun and lunch. This is the most unique beach club located right on the sand by the jetty, just metres from the water. It’s super laid back with daybeds and beanbags and the perfect spot to enjoy a cocktail. We had an awesome, super fresh, plant based meal here of tofu, rice and veg, salad and sweet potato fries. Perfect seaside food :) From here you can ride the giant ferris wheel, walk down the Glenelg jetty, the kids can enjoy the massive play space, and you can shop your heart out along Jetty road.

After enjoying a magical sunset right in front of our beach house at Seawall we ventured into town for a unique dining experience at Parwana. A bustling local spot of home cooked style Afghan food. We enjoyed some dhal and chickpea curry and some of their homemade soda. We were thoroughly stuffed and ready for a good nights sleep at beautiful Seawall. Though with all the fun and action of Glenelg we decided on a night time walk to watch some live music at the jetty. You are guaranteed there is always so much going on here.

Day 6 – Starting the day fresh with acai bowls at Bomdia. This is our second time to Adelaide and we love this cute spot. It’s just off Jetty road, walking distance from Seawall. Next stop Henley beach for a lazy beach day with the family, throwing the football, swimming and long beach walks.

We ended this beautiful day with a huge spread at Secrets by the Sea. Traditionally a seafood restaurant they created a plant based feast for us all. Everything was so beautifully presented with a fabulous sunset view from this stunning historic building.

It’s safe to say I left my heart in South Australia. What a trip! I highly recommend it. If you have more time I could suggest a million more things to do! Honestly there is so much! But hopefully this is a good start to help you plan your own adventure.

With love and gratitude,

Helen xx

All text and images copyright © Helen Janneson Bense 2020

A Christmas Wish

December 10, 2019

PhotographyBobby Bense

Creative Direction/EditingHelen Janneson Bense

LocationFeld + Co


DecorationsLight up Christmas tree | LED battery Lights | Mini Wooden Pegs | Sea Tribe Throw + Cushions

CameraInstax Mini Link Printer | Instax Confetti Film | Instax LiPLay Camera

Outfit Tiare Hawaii Eyelet Hollie Dress | Ananda Soul Jewelry

This Christmas my greatest wish was to be with my whole family. It’s pretty much my wish every year. So since we all couldn’t be together, I decided to bring my family to me…well sort of ;)

I’m a big fan of DIY projects so this year I created a little Christmas tree and added my favourite instax moments of all my family. It’s a daily reminder that no matter how far apart we are, we are always connected. It’s been making me smile every day this week, so I’m definitely going to keep this tradition going for the years we can’t all be together.

I also got a little creative with gift tags this year too. I used the Instax Mini Link and printed some of my favourite memories to stick onto each gift. It’s a little keepsake and a gift in itself. It feels so personal and a heartwarming reminder to each of my beloved family members how much they mean to me.

This year we are focused on sharing quality moments together. We have some small gifts from the heart for our family, but our main focus and gift really is time. Nothing can replace time and connection. We’ll be heading off soon to my parents family home in rural Victoria for some slowing down and relaxation. We’ll be switching off from wifi, and connecting in with one another. Even though the whole clan won’t be with us, they’ll all be in our hearts.

What are your holiday plans this year? And what do you love most about the holiday season?

With love and gratitude,

Helen xx

All text and images copyright © Helen Janneson Bense 2020


November 29, 2019

PhotographyBobby Bense

Model/Styling/EditingHelen Janneson Bense

LocationAyada Maldives

Outfit Details

DressesBrooklyn Grange | Pitusa Multi Flared | Arnhem Poeme Mini

SwimwearKoleha Pistachio Botanic One piece | Camilla one piece (similar)

Jade wearsArnhem Belle Littles Top

JewelryAnanda Soul Divine Guidance Mala | Wanderlust + Co Zodiac Necklace | Ananda Soul Om Namah Shivah Ring | Heather Gardner Crystal Earrings

Ayada truly is the epitome of pure luxury, and it was the perfect place for us to enjoy at the end of our wonderful Maldives family holiday. Off the beaten path, nestled in it’s own remote paradise, we experienced the ultimate in service and luxury. Everything was handled with such care and attention to detail, from the moment we met our representative at the airport, to our departure. It took a plane and boat ride to get there, and it was worth every minute of the trek.

Upon our arrival we were greeted with a wonderful festival atmosphere. It was good vibes, lots of laughs and games for all ages. Bobby and I played giant connect 4 while the kids jumped on the trampoline and attempted to do the limbo. The kids quickly found their favourite spot on the island at Ayclub playing endless games of foosball, pool and table tennis. It was a short bike ride from our incredible Sunset Ocean family suite which made it loads of fun, and super safe for them to explore on their own. Our overwater villa was breathtaking. We watched reef sharks (which are super safe to swim with) and eagle rays swimming by from our pool during the day and magical sunset skies at night.

We spent our days snorkelling the house reef and we took a dream snorkelling and dolphin sighting trip that will forever be etched in my memory. I’ve never seen so many dolphins at once. They playfully swam around us with their beautiful, joyful energy. This tour was the biggest highlight of our entire Maldives trip. And to top this off we had the most intimate encounter with a turtle right after this. As we swam alongside this majestic being it turned around multiple times and simply stared at us for what felt like an eternity. This experience was beyond what I could ever have imagined.

The food, the chefs, the restaurants, all went above and beyond to create the most exquisite plant based foods for our family. Every meal was a dream and culinary delight for our senses. We had a special dinner at Kai restaurant and this was an absolute stand out. I remember saying it was the best meal of my life! And it really was. I’ll be dreaming about that dinner for a long time.

Our last day was spent enjoying the most decadent plant based floating breakfast in the Royal Ocean Suite. The villa itself was so beautifully designed with all those Turkish inspired colours and details. We enjoyed all of our favourite foods and a slow, relaxing day of pure luxury that we’ll never forget.

If you guys are planning a trip and need any tips please feel free to message me. If you’re island hopping like us, then you need to plan it out and that will vary for each person’s preferences on where you want to stay. I do find that each resort we stay at are so helpful in organising most of the details for you. It makes traveling a breeze. And the plane views are always just stunning so it feels more like a tour.

I use this resource here to check the distances between each island and Male (island where most international flights land) and it helps me to work out if I can reach an island by speedboat or seaplane. It’s always best to organise a stay overnight in Male if you’re arriving late at night and plan to take a seaplane to your first spot. Or organise to first stay somewhere within speedboat distance as some will run late at night.

I feel so grateful for this family trip to the Maldives. It definitely takes a lot of work and time to organise all the logistical details when traveling to the islands, and it can get quite costly, but it always is my absolute favourite place to relax and explore with my family. We always leave inspired, knowing anything is possible.

Happy travels and so much love,

Helen xx

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