An Interview with Laura McWhinnie


We talk to Cocobella contributor Laura McWhinnie from This Island Life, about her stunning blog all about the sun, the ocean, bikinis and adventures.

COCOBELLA: Why did you start your blog?

LAURA: When I started my blog I was a fulltime writer at an advertising agency. I loved having a job where I could write all day and be creative, but I needed another outlet. I started THIS ISLAND LIFE out of my passion for summer travel and everything that goes with it – the sun, the ocean, the bikinis and the adventures. I never dreamed I would get to travel the world and share my experiences with island lovers from all over the globe. Being able to create a tropical hub that makes people happy and inspires them to enrich their lives through travel is truly inspiring. It’s my own happiness and inspiration coming back full circle.

COCOBELLA: What is it about summer that you love so much?

LAURA: I love everything and anything to do with summer! The quote on my blog sums it up pretty well:

“Summer is so much more than just bikinis, boardies and the beach. It’s a state of mind, a way of life. It’s that feeling you get when you wake up to the sound of the ocean on a perfect summer’s day. It’s the warm sun on your face, the wet sand between your toes and that good mood you just can’t shake.”

It’s that summer vibe that’s so hard to put into words. The carefree attitude and relaxed way of life that seems to roll in with the warm weather. I love those weekends when you head down to the beach in the morning in a bikini, denim cut-offs, a tank and thongs, and find yourself out at a bar or restaurant at 10pm still wearing your beach gear, covered in sand and salt water, and still no closer to going home.

For me, it’s also about the fashion – in particular, the swimwear. When I was a kid, I would always get a new swimsuit for Christmas – it became a summer tradition that up until a few years ago when my bikini collection surpassed the triple digit mark was still going strong.

COCOBELLA: Speaking of bikinis, what are some of your favourite swimwear brands?

LAURA: Cantik Swimwear, Triangl, N.L.P Women, Watson X Watson, Acacia, Mikoh, Vix Swimwear and Seafolly.

COCOBELLA: What’s most likely to trigger a post from you?

LAURA: I love this question because there is no definitive answer. Anything, nothing and everything can inspire a post! I was recently on a remote island in Tonga where I was swimming with humpback whales. One night, my boyfriend and I were walking home from dinner along a dirt road when we noticed the night sky above us was lit up by the glowing arch of the Milky Way. We raced home and grabbed our cameras and spent the next few hours shooting galaxies far away, which I later turned into a post.

I also don’t need to be on tour in an exotic destination to get inspired. I came home one morning from the gym and my boyfriend had made me pancakes for breakfast using healthy ingredients like almond milk, almond meal and coconut flour. I took a quick snap of it on my iPhone (the guy has some seriously good plating skills) and wasn’t planning on doing anything with it, but about two seconds in I realised they were the greatest pancakes I’d ever tasted so I popped the photo and the recipe up on the blog.

COCOBELLA: You’ve been island hopping all over the world. What are your top three islands and why?

LAURA: This is a really hard question!

  1. The Whitsundays in Far North Queensland. The water is crystal clear, the sand is blinding white and you can swim with turtles! I’ve stayed on Hayman and Hamilton Island, which were beautiful, but the highlight for me was flying in a helicopter over the islands and the Great Barrier Reef, oh and visiting Whitehaven Beach. There’s a new island with a resort opening up this year called Lizard Island ( that looks INCREDIBLE – it’s definitely going to be a hot spot for 2015.
  2. Fiji is another one of my favourite places. It’s hard to narrow it down to just one island, as they are all absolutely stunning and unique in their own right. I’d probably have to say Taveuni Island up north – it’s a lush tropical paradise that’s a bit more remote than some of the other island groups. There are huge waterfalls and to get to them you have to trek through the jungle across Indiana Jones style bridges. The island is also legendary for its abundance of sea life and is a good base if you want to dive the Great White Wall – a famous dive site that’s constantly rated one of the best in the world.
  3. The secret islands of Arraial do Cabo that are scattered off the coast a few hours outside the city Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. I visited in 2010 and it was when I was researching the trip that I came up with the idea to start THIS ISLAND LIFE. This part of Brazil is still relatively unknown, but the beaches of Arraial do Cabo are some of the best I have ever seen. It looks like the Caribbean, just with really, really skimpy swimwear.

COCOBELLA: How do you keep your summer state of mind when you’re in Australia over winter?

LAURA: I’m lucky – when it’s winter in Australia, I’m usually following the summer to the Northern Hemisphere. But before I started THIS ISLAND LIFE, I only travelled once or twice a year. I’d always bring back little knick knacks from my travels that were made by locals – like a fan woven from palm leaves, a necklace made by out of seeds collected from a river, a silver ring blessed by Buddhist monks. I’d wear and decorate my home with these sentimental treasures. It was what helped me remember my summer adventures to exotic lands, and it’s what kept me inspired and focused to save for my next tropical holiday.

COCOBELLA: And finally, if you were stranded on a deserted island and could only take three things, what would they be?

LAURA: Well, I’d take a coconut opener because even if I could whittle my own machete, it would only be a matter of time before I took a finger off; my favourite sunnies, which at the moment are a pair by Karen Walker; and my boyfriend, because he is the greatest home (island) chef ever.

Share this on: