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Archive for the ‘Beach’ Category

Why You Know Nothing About the Hawaiian Islands Until You Visit Them All

Why You Know Nothing About the Hawaiian Islands Until You Visit Them All.

The Minimalist Guide To Your Next Family Getaway

happy family playing with dog on beach

Ah, family vacations and the happiness and tribulations that come with them. As parents, we work extra hard the whole year round to provide for our families and of course, indulge in little luxuries. As much as we would like our family vacations to be entirely relaxing, we all know that it’s going to be a major effort doing that. Dealing with travel agents, figuring out which places have child friendly accommodation and trying to predict the weather can all take a toll on us. I asked several seasoned jet-setting parents and got some valuable traveling advice. Here they are.

On Packing

Parents tend to over think and in the process, over pack. You’re probably thinking, “But anything can happen! I think it’s a pretty good idea to bring along this and that.” Well, think of it this way. This and that can add up to a hefty extra luggage fee or an aching back.

  1. Bring travel-friendly gadgets along for entertainment. Kids generally get bored during a long road trip or flights. A tablet or an MP3 player can keep kids of all ages occupied. Make sure that you installed kid-oriented apps to keep them busy and stop them from asking, “Are we there yet?
  2. Pack a first-aid kit that can fit in your handbag. Use a flat plastic container to put essentials like adhesive bandages, adult and children’s paracetamol, antiseptic wipes, antibacterial ointment and sting reliever.
  3. Instead of lugging around a big nursery bag, pack a change of your child’s clothes in a large Ziploc bag and place it inside your handbag.
  4. Keep your activities in mind when packing clothes. If you’re planning for a farm stay in Barrington Tops, you won’t need your formal evening clothes obviously. Bring clothes you can easily wash too, especially if you plan to stay longer.
  5. Remember that carry-on bags are supposed to make travelling convenient and hassle-free, not filled with unnecessary things that you think you absolutely must bring.

With these tips in mind, get rid of those “what ifs” that can weigh you down significantly. Pack only what matters the most.

On Traveling and Planning Activities

Traveling in a group is never easy, so is planning and scheduling the activities for everyone. It’s going to be extra challenging if you have a multi-generation group (grandparents, you and the children), plus pets. How exactly are you going to do this? Read on and find out.

Pet Friendly Accommodation NSWPhoto source: Image author owned
  1. Search for a pet-friendly accommodation. Most hotels and resorts do not allow pets and it’s sad for pet owners who can’t leave their furry friends behind.
  2. Schedule free time. Anyone can do anything they want to do during that time and it’s an absolute must to keep your sanity, given the different levels of interests. However, it’s also necessary that no one should go off alone to be on the safe side.
  3. Do your homework. Unplanned trips are fun, but when you’re going on a trip with kids and pets, it’s going to be a disaster. Thanks to the Internet, you don’t have to search far for information on how to get to your destination or what to expect there.
  4. Just enjoy. Accept the fact that anything can happen and it’s usually out of our control. From heavy rains to delayed flights, those situations can certainly dampen our day. Cheer up! Most accommodations have DVDs and Wi-Fi. Watch a movie or brag on Facebook about your family getaway.


Family with kids on vacation

You planned a family vacation because you want to make memories, catch up with your grown kids or reconnect with your parents. If you feel that things are getting a little nasty, remind yourself to focus on your goals. If you have the right attitude (yes, I’m talking about letting go of negative thoughts), you’ll definitely be reaping the rewards.

Debraby Debra Wright who is a creative and innovative blogger and online marketing specialist. She uses her wordsmith skills to share her ideas, thoughts, and tips to other people about topics that fascinate her, such as giving tips when traveling with kids. Follow Debra on twitter @debrawrites

Why You Should Go To Nantucket For Vacation This Summer

Nantucket Vacation rental

Why Nantucket vacation rentals are so desirable

Nantucket is an area full of breath taking views, friendly neighbors and many activities to keep you and your loved ones busy. If you are thinking of getting a Nantucket Vacation Rental, here are some reasons why you should.

Nantucket has beautiful homes available to rent with many of them close to or on the beach. Along with amazing seaside views, you will find homes that can accommodate both large and small families.

Many of the homes are in the Cape-Cod style, which is indicative of the area. You will find spacious interiors, with vibrant wall colors of light blues, yellows and greens. Moreover, some of the homes have crown molding and many windows for you to enjoy wonderful views of the area.

Along with design, the homes come equipped with everything you need to feel comfortable. The furnishings are plentiful, giving you ample seating to accommodate larger parties. The bedrooms have suites, which are perfect to provide privacy if you share your home with other friends or family. Best of all, there are top of the line appliances that you can use to make gourmet meals.

While the comforts of home are one big draw to getting a Nantucket vacation rental, the attractions are another big coup.

With it being a smaller area, you can find it easy to move around to find different attractions. Most importantly, you can discover things to do everyone in your family will enjoy.

To enjoy the natural beauty of Nantucket, you can have a lazy day on Surfside Beach. There, you can challenge your surfing skills on the waves or just enjoy the views.

Nantucket lighthouse is a must see attraction

Along with beaches, the Sankaty Head Lighthouse is another attraction to visit. Built in 1850, this historic lighthouse towers 90 feet above sea level. Further, it provides guest with a chance to explore inside and enjoy breathtaking views.

Additionally, there are many museums in the area to visit. The Nantucket Life-Saving Museum is a wonderful opportunity to learn about the brave men who risked their lives to find survivors of shipwrecks.

As you can see, there are many benefits to renting in this area. Whether it’s to enjoy breathtaking views, enjoy the charm of Cape-Cod homes or take in the natural surrounding at the beach, it’s likely you will find something to enjoy.

Travel tips for visiting Nantucket

If you are interested in rentals, here are a few tips to keep in mind.

The summer months are extremely busy with many tourists coming to town. This can make it difficult to book rentals on short notice. Conversely, the spring and autumn months are the shoulder seasons, where you will be able to find less expensive rentals. It’s also easier to drive around as there is less traffic and most attractions and restaurants remain open.

With this in mind, if you want to come during the summer months it’s imperative to book early as demand is high. It’s also important to give yourself more time as traffic is heavier.

Ultimately, vacationing in Nantucket can be awe-inspiring due to the wonderful views, the friendly people and the rich history of the area. You will find the rentals clean, fully- equipped and in great locations so you can go out and explore this historic area.

Mike is an avid traveler and has been to many popular vacation destinations throughout the years.

Less is More: Barefoot Luxury in Puerto Viejo, Caribbean coast of Costa Rica

Arrecife Beach Puerto Viejo Costa Rica

Arrecife Beach, Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

Off the beaten path travel story

So you’re dreaming of getting off the beaten path and forgetting all the trivialities of daily life… it’s time to leave the alarm clock at home along with your shoes, appointments and obligations.

You’re searching for a place where you can truly relax, leave your watch behind and call time your own. You need some natural beauty and wildlife, perhaps an adventure and you don’t want it manicured and presented on a plate.Barefoot Luxury Geckoes Lodge Puerto Viejo Costa Rica

Of course there’s myriad places to choose, with far too many websites promising you Paradise at a reasonable or even discounted price and you haven’t got the energy to trawl through and what’s more, are they selling what you’re looking for?

Is Puerto Viejo and its sister settlements of Cocles, Playa Chiquita, Punta Uva and Manzanillo on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica the place for you?


If a golf course, pool aerobics, room service, shopping malls, theatre, or an all inclusive resort is your idea of the perfect holiday then read no further.

But if you’re looking for a small eclectic beach town laid out along a strip of coast where the rainforest meets the ocean, with an atmosphere so laid back you have no option but to relax and where there’s loads to see and do but also a string of beautiful beaches to do absolutely nothing on, this may be the place for you.

Pareos for sale in Puerto Viejo

Traditional pareos for sale at the beach in Puerto Viejo

Puerto Viejo is not for everyone… there’s a lot of things that it doesn’t have… like the ubiquitous chain restaurants and shops, theatre, cinema, ancient sites and all inclusive resorts.

You may have seen the traditional description of this area with photos of picture postcard beaches of white sand and leaning palm trees, houses in rainbow colours, Afro Caribbean cuisine, restaurants catering to every taste, howler monkeys hanging around in the trees and a sloth casually crossing the road.

Sloth looks comfy at Puerto Viejo

And possibly you’ve checked out the smorgasbord of activities and trips on offer from the popular zip-lining through the rainforest canopy to surfing, white water rafting, diving, snorkeling  fishing and dolphin watching to organic chocolate tours, Caribbean cooking classes, jungle or beach horseback riding to indigenous tribal visits and so the list goes on.

Zipline at Puerto Viejo Costa Rica

All in all it paints a pretty attractive picture especially when you add the wonderful wildlife spotting of laying leather-back turtles, huge iridescent blue Morpho butterflies, disguised iguanas, technicolor toucans, neon dart frogs, speedy agoutis and fishing pelicans alongside the famous smiling sloths and swinging monkeys.

Howler monkey resting on a tree at Puerto Viejo Geckoe Lodge

So is it ‘just’ this Caribbean menu that brings visitors back again and again, even those that have sworn to never revisit the same place twice because their Bucket List awaits?

Black-green poison dart frog


But maybe it’s all of the above plus something less tangible. After all there are other places in the world that also offer the visitor a menu of entertaining diversions,  a glimpse into another way of life and a chance to indulge a Caribbean fantasy.

Puerto Viejo and the surrounding area offer something more that resonates not only with locals and the 46 nationalities that call here home, but also with the most casual of visitors.

Crop of Baby Hummingbirds in Geckoes Garden, Geckoes Lodge, Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

Perhaps we could call that ‘extra something’ the sophistication of simplicity.

Imagine a place where many of the superficial pretentious trappings of modern life are stripped away:  Where the type of car you drive, the fancy clothing, the type of phone, the size of your house or TV screen or the title you hold at work becomes totally irrelevant.

Where you are simply you.

Where nature is not something you go and visit, but something you live within and are part of. Remember looking up at a sky full of stars and feeling infinitesimal in comparison? In that moment we are aware of the power of nature and our place within it.

Oxen at the beach, Geckoes Lodge Cocles Puerto Viejo Costa Rica

But the 24/7 world dampens that perception by assigning a place for nature and controlling it, which is probably why so many of us take every chance to escape the frenetic complications of modern life to something simpler, something natural, something that isn’t man made but real.


So is Puerto Viejo all about getting back to nature and relinquishing all your worldly goods?

No, it’s about remembering what it is to derive pleasure from simplicity which affects us all on a deeper level than the often superficial, fleeting pleasure of packaged entertainment. It’s the difference between the thrill of surprise at coming across a troupe of Howler Monkeys as you walk along the beach as opposed to seeing them in a zoo.

Monkey party at Geckoes Lodge in Puerto Viejo

It’s going to sleep to the sound of cicadas rather than traffic. It’s lying on pale sand with a fish taco whilst watching pelicans swooping and diving for their fish lunch.

Pelicans fishing at Gandoca

It’s sometimes not being able to get everything you want but having to make do and in so doing finding satisfaction in the same.

Less is more

We are creative creatures: the more we have delivered without effort, the more entitled we feel and the more bored and demanding we can become. We derive satisfaction from effort and the more developed our world becomes the more we seek the simple pleasures and the rewards they bring.

In that simplicity is the sophistication of perspective. It’s simple wisdom that Puerto Viejo and its sister settlements have in spades: essentially that those quasi sophisticated possessions and preoccupations are nigh meaningless in a natural habitat.

That Less is More.


Someone who has never been here recently asked me,

“So, I’m confused, is Puerto Viejo developed or under developed?”

The answer Vadim, is both.

Under-developed in gaudy consumerism, pretensions, entitlement and predictability.

Highly Developed in simple pleasures, which I would argue is the ultimate in sophistication.

Less is More. But don’t take my word for it:

Come and see for yourself

Gandoca Lagoon Talamanca

A week in paradise – The Island of Rarotonga

I don’t know about you, but during the winter all I can think about is sunshine, beaches and warm weather. It’s been especially bad this winter. Hailing from a sub-tropical climate I can honestly say I have never been as cold in my life as I have been this winter. Therefore, my thoughts have been firmly placed on tropical islands. Rarotonga to be exact. This little island defines paradise.
The Cook Islands is a collection of 15 small islands located in the South Pacific Ocean. Rarotonga has the largest population of the 15 islands and houses both the international airport and the Cook Islands’ Parliament buildings. Typical temperatures in Rarotonga range from a balmy 64°F (18°C) – 86°F (30°C) making it a very popular tourist destination, particularly with New Zealander’s and Australian’s
Our decision to go to Rarotonga happened very quickly. The idea was formed and 48 hours later our flights and accommodation were booked. My family and I decided to opt for a two bedroom vacation rental for our stay rather than booking a hotel or resort. I found vacation rental at Muri Beach – known as the best beach in Rarotonga, right on the lagoon, with a pool right outside the door. We couldn’t have asked for anything better! We had a full kitchen, immediate access to the beach and walking distance to a number of great restaurants.

This option proved to be much more cost effective than renting a room in one of the many Rarotongan resorts saving over $150 per night! During our planning phase we stayed in close contact with the home owner who provided us with all the help and advice we could possibly need. Through the homeowner we were able to organize an airport transfer through Tiare Transport. Our driver from Tiare Transport was there to meet us at the airport and drive us around the island. Half way through the drive he pulled over and walked into the bushes, coming back with a handful of passionfruit he had just picked fresh off the tree for us! There is truly nothing like fresh passionfruit! At the end of our stay the driver returned to our vacation rental to collect us and drop us at the airport in time for our flight. It couldn’t have been any easier!
Rarotonga has a ‘small town community’ feel about it. Most people who arrive in Rarotonga want to get around by car or scooter. There is a bus that goes around the circumference which is only 20 miles (32km) and takes approximately an hour to circle the island. In order to rent a vehicle in Rarotonga, you will need a Cook Island driver’s license. This can be purchased from the police station in the main township, Avarua, for $20. You must have a driver’s license from another country to do this. To drive a scooter, the process is much the same if you already have a motorbike license. If you don’t then you must take a short test ($5) to demonstrate your ability to control a bike. 
My parents already had motorbike licenses (from some past life I know nothing of), so they were able to easily get their Rarotongan license and hire a scooter. My sister and I needed to sit the test.  Jessica decided she didn’t want to manage the heavy scooters, but I obtained my license easily. With our new mode of transport we were able to explore the island more freely. We split our time walking along the beach, swimming in the lagoon and exploring the area.
Muri Beach itself is a great location for families as the water is shallow, warm and smooth in the lagoon and the sand is soft and golden. The lagoon here is the broadest on the island and has three smaller islands within swimming and canoeing distance. There are plenty of water activities you can par-take in. Situated right on Muri Beach at Sails (a delicious restaurant well worth a try) is Nautica. Nautica hires catamarans, kayaks and windsurfers. If you’re travelling with children, it’s easy to hire a double kayak for $10 an hour and paddle around the coral reef where you can see all kinds of fish and sea life!
Other popular island activities include snorkeling around the reefs, scuba diving, horseback riding, deep-sea fishing, hiking, flights over the island and boat tours. There are many boat tours on the island but I would recommend Captain Tama’s Lagoon Cruise where you visit a marine reserve for a snorkel, visit the small island of Motu and enjoy a fresh fish open fire BBQ lunch. If you don’t suffer from sea sickness, check out the Raro Reef Sub – you may even get to see a turtle on this trip!
If you find yourself around Muri Beach make sure you check out Te Vara Nui Village where you can learn all about the history of this Polynesian community and watch an amazing night show over a traditional Cook Island dinner. As part of the night show you will be treated to traditional hip-shaking Rarotongan dancing. Many resorts and restaurants around the island also perform traditional dance shows and feasts for their guests so make sure you head along to one of these performances for a fun, carefree night out.

Along with the beautiful beaches, Rarotonga has some amazing lush greenery, mountain treks and waterfalls to be explored. Most of these can only be reached on foot, but it’s worth it! The freedom of having transportation allowed us to explore many areas of the island, and discover many gems! One such gem was the Maire Nui Cafe & Gardens. This beautiful Polynesian style café is set amongst the tropical gardens of Rarotonga.

We stumbled upon this place by accident. We were taking a ‘scooter rest’ break in the parking lot of this café. Once we decided to carry on our way, I jumped back on my scooter – I had become reasonably confident on the beast by now – and turned the motor on. Unfortunately I forgot the handle bars also doubled as the accelerator and the scooter was off and running before I had time to realize what was going on. It was almost something of a cartoon; me hanging off the handle bars with the motorbike driving around with a life of its own. The bike skidded on the gravel, I fell off, the bike landed on me and together we were dragged across the stones.

Needless to say I was in quite a lot of pain, covered in dirt and displaying some pretty impressive gashes and bruises all down my side.  I was later told they’re called “Scooter Scars” and are quite common in Rarotonga. Before I knew it I was bundled off in the Rarotongan ambulance and taken to the hospital. While I don’t recommend going to the hospital in Rarotonga, the view from that place was pretty spectacular! 
Once I had been cleaned up by the hospital, I hobbled off on my way assisted by the friendly island police. A few weeks later I was put on crutches with ligament damage and promised myself not to try motorized two-wheelers anytime soon, but for the rest of the trip I was content with the hobbling.
We returned to Maire Nui Cafe & Gardens a few days later (I traveled via bus…) as I needed to thank the staff who had helped me. (In fact they had carried me to a staff property across the road and started cleaning me up before the ambulance arrived). It was only then that we realized the beauty of this place. Acres of beautiful plants, trees and flowers! Right in the middle stood a gorgeous little café. I ordered a banana split. Before this day I wasn’t a huge banana split fan. That all changed. The ice cream was made locally and the banana I assume had been picked from a nearby tree. The grated coconut on the top had been freshly grated. I never had and have never since tasted coconut that good. It was exquisite. Another recommended eatery is the beautiful Tamarind House in between Tupapa and Avarua. The restaurant is situated right on the water’s edge with an incredible view over the sea; this is also a perfect place to watch the sunset. The food at the Tamarind House is divine and they go out of their way to accommodate all their guests, including those with food allergies.

On our last day in Rarotonga, just around the corner from our vacation rental, we discovered a black pearl shop. While you do have to be careful with authenticity when buying pearls, this shop was excellent, and they’re a true souvenir of the Cook Islands. My sister, my mother and I left the shop carrying new black pearl pendants, all slightly different, yet symbolic of our amazing holiday. To this day all three of us still treasure these pendants.
We stayed in Rarotonga for just over a week, and had a magical time. Before I’d even left the island I was planning my return to the Cook Islands. The people, the atmosphere, the sunshine and the golden sand all equal perfection. As I said, Rarotonga defines paradise

Have you ever been to Rarotonga or are planning to go?
Ra Manea! (Have a nice day – Cook Island Maori)

Where the sun always shines – Australia’s Sunshine Coast

I don’t know why we ignored it for so long. My family and I were told repeatedly how amazing the Sunshine Coast was, how beautiful and relaxing the area is and how it has “something for everyone”. Finally we decided we’d give it a go, and it quickly became one of our favorite places on earth.

The Sunshine Coast is situated south of Brisbane on the East coast of Australia. This location was perfect for everyone in my family. It has warmth and sunshine, beautiful beaches, amazing surrounds and attractions, cool restaurants, cafes, bars and shops and is perfect for children. My family and I chose Caloundra, which is only an hour’s drive from Brisbane airport, to spend our holiday.

We hired two cars to get out to Caloundra and easily navigated our way from the airport. We stayed on the beautiful Kings Beach which is the main beach of Caloundra. The beach is patrolled year round by the Surf Life Saving Club and is a great spot to catch some waves. We purchased some cheap body boards from a local shop and spent many afternoons catching the waves into the beach with the kids.

We were also lucky enough to find accommodation right on the beach with a beautiful pool which was great for the kids. There are a number of restaurants along the waterfront in Caloundra and most evenings we’d walk along the boardwalk that runs beside the beach throughout Caloundra and find a new restaurant to try each night. There is also a small township with many eateries, numerous shops and a market every Sunday.

After our first few days in Caloundra we decided to explore some of the other areas on the Sunshine Coast. One day when the sun was high we packed a picnic, our swimsuits and some sunblock and headed to Currimundi Lakes. This is a hidden gem on the Sunshine Coast and was only a ten minute drive from Kings Beach. Currimundi Lakes is a great place for kids as the lake is very calm and shallow, particularly when the tide goes out. We were joined at the lake by our extended family so we had five children ranging in age from eleven months to eight years old. The older children had a blast running and swimming between the sandbanks, and the younger children enjoyed splashing in the shallow water. There were a few cafes in the area as well as a fish and chip and ice cream place right beside the playground.

Although the Sunshine Coast’s beaches are incredible, that’s not all there is to do in this magical part of Australia. One of the most popular attractions is of course the Australian Zoo made famous by Steve Irwin aka The Crocodile Hunter who was killed by a stingray in 2006. Australian Zoo offers guests the chance to cuddle with koalas, hand feed the elephants, meet the tigers and watch a crocodile show. Underwater World in Mooloolaba is also a great day out. You can watch sharks being fed, touch stingrays and starfish, check out tropical Australian reef fish, enjoy the seal show and even receive a kiss from one of the seals! Mooloolaba is also a great town to check out. It has some incredible restaurants and some very trendy shops. It’s the epitome of a beach town and even has some chic bars which my sister and I checked out.

One event to put in your vacation calendar is the Eumundi Market which is held every Wednesday and Saturday. This market is one of my favorite parts of any trip to the Sunshine Coast. The market is Australia’s biggest art, craft and produces market and sells everything from clothing, toys, jewelry, artwork, fresh fruit and vegetables, hot food and Australian souvenirs. Once I even got to ride a camel at this market…. Just saying!

Also worth checking out when you’re exploring the Sunshine Coast is The Ginger Factory, particularly for the ginger shop and their cordial mixes! They also have a great bee show and honey tasting tour and their ice cream (which is made in their on-site creamery) is divine! Sunshine Plaza in Maroochydore is great for a spot of shopping and the canals that run through the middle give it an extra special touch. Aussie World isn’t too bad as far as theme parks go and the Ettamogah Pub is well worth a visit if you’re in the area. If you are a nature lover, have a wander through the Noosa National Park or the popular Glasshouse Mountains. Make sure you take your camera to capture some breathtakingly beautiful images.

I have a lot of love for the Sunshine Coast. I’ve been there twice now, and both times have been drawn back to Kings Beach in Caloundra. It’s a truly beautiful area of Australia and there is so much to do for the young and the old. It is definitely one part of the world I would recommend to anyone for a dream vacation.

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