Monthly Archives: October 2015

Hocus Pocus Tour of Salem


My favourite time of year is upon us. Time for spooky decorations, pumpkin beer, carving pumpkins, gorging on candy and dressing up in fabulous costumes! The time of year when ghost stories come to life and witches take over the silver screen.

Over twenty years have gone by since one of the greatest Halloween movies, and my personal favourite, premiered. My yearly Halloween celebrations aren’t complete without watching Hocus Pocus at least once.  This year, I decided to take this celebration one step further and set out for Salem, where the film is set.

If you haven’t seen this movie starring Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Nijimy, you should stop what you are doing and go watch it….immediately.


Hocus Pocus tells the story of the Sanderson sisters, three witches who are hanged during the Salem witch trials. After 300 years, the spell the witches cast the night they were hung resurrects them when Max decides Halloween is all a bunch of hocus pocus, and lights the black flame candle on Halloween night.


Now it’s up to Max, his sister Dani and his crush Allison, along with an immortal cat named Binx to put an end to the Sanderson sisters once and for all.

While most of the filming took place in Los Angeles, some sites in Salem and neighbouring towns made an appearance.

Being such a huge fan of both Halloween and this movie, there was no way I was leaving Salem without tracking down as many of the film sites as I could.

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1.  Max & Dani Dennison’s House– 8 Ocean Ave.  In the film, the Dennisons recently moved to Salem from L.A. into  this amazing house at the end of Ocean Ave overlooking the water.  Today, it’s a private residence, but still looks exactly as it did in the movie when the witches burst out of the amazing rooftop tower.


2. Old Town Hall– 32 Derby Square- This is the spot where the Sanderson Sisters ‘put a spell on you’ as the adults spent the night dancing away at the town Halloween party. Today, the Salem Museum is located on the first floor of the building. It also hosts the plays Cry Innocent and History Alive.

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3.  Allison’s Mansion – 318 Essex St – The gorgeous house where Max’s crush, Allison, lives is the historic Ropes Mansion, which was built in the 1720s. Today, the mansion is operated by the Peabody Essex Museum and is open to the public. (The film only used the exterior of the house.)

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4.  Sanderson Sister’s Cottage/ Thackery Binx’s home – Salem Pioneer Village/ Salem Forest River Park- The pioneer village is the first living history museum. The “1630 Pioneer Village’ is open to the public from from mid-April to  September 30th – just watch out for black flame candles!

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5. Jacob Bailey High School – Salem Commons- The school Max Dennison attends with Allison.  The exterior of the former Phillips Elementary School made an appearance in the movie when Max, Dani and Allison trick the witches into the furnace to burn them.


6.  Park outside the school – Salem Common- the scene where Max tries to trick Allison into taking his phone number after school takes place here. Like most New England settlements, Salem had a plot of land where residents could graze their livestock. In 1850, the city enclosed the Common with the wrought iron fence and renovated its structures.

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7. The Graveyard-Old Burial Hill, Marblehead– The daytime shots of the graveyard, where Max is bullied by Jay and Ernie and where Max, Dani, Allison and Binx, hide from the Sanderson Sisters, is located in neighbouring Marblehead. The Old Burial Hill cemetery was established in 1638 and is one of the oldest cemeteries in New England. (Night filming took place in Los Angeles.)  Sadly, we didn’t make it out to this one…guess I’ll just have to make another trip!


So next Halloween season, if you’re looking to chase down some fun and celebrate one of the greatest Halloween films ever, sail into the Sanderson Sisters’ witching ground and take your own walking tour of these Hocus Pocus filming locations!

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Scootering around Cozumel


Beautiful Cozumel is the largest island in Mexico and a major cruise port. While it’s easy to explore the only town on the island, San Miguel de Cozumel on foot, to get around the rest of the island, measuring 53km by 14km, you’re going to require some wheels.


Taxis here can be expensive, but jeeps, cars, golf carts and scooters are available to rent all over the island for reasonable daily rates.

For larger groups, you’re going to need a car, but for one or two people a scooter is the easiest (and most fun!) way to get around. Here, scooters cost around 250 Mexican pesos to rent for the day.

The western shoreline, where most of the rental places are located, has the ferry dock and the cruise ship ports as well as most of the island’s hotels and dive sites. This side of the island is a bustling port town, filled with souvenir and duty-free shops, traffic and tourists everywhere you look. To escape the crowds and constant  requests to visit each shop, drive your scooter across the island to the eastern shoreline.


Here, you’ll find beautiful seascapes and nature reserves, broken up periodically by a beach bar.

With a day to use your scooter, a drive around the entire island is possible. It also gives you the freedom to check out some tourist spots along the way, like the Mayan Ruins of San Gervasio. You can park your scooter and hop in for a refreshing swim along the rocky western shore with the locals, or stop for lunch on the Eastern side at one of the funky beach bars – like “Coconuts.”


Just keep in mind that while scooters are a great way to get around the island, they can also be dangerous. With lots of traffic, tourists and huge speed bumps to dodge, be sure to don a helmet for your adventure. Make sure the scooter is in good condition before setting out, and obey all traffic signs and keep your eyes open while on the road.

Next time you’re in Cozumel, grab a scooter, put your helmet on, and head out to explore all the island has to offer.

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Snorkeling the Reefs in Cozumel, Mexico

If you’re only going to do one thing while in Cozumel, Mexico, let it be snorkeling.  This island, a short ferry ride from Playa del Carmen, has some incredible reefs to get out and explore.  On a recent visit, I set out hoping to find some sea turtles on the famous Palancar and Colombia reefs.

Check out the video to see all the incredible creatures I found in the warm waters off the coast of Cozumel.

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Flirting with Life


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