Caribbean

A quick trip to Cabo

Sun, sand, stunning views and tacos…what’s not to love about Cabo? After years of taking planes full of bachelor parties, wedding groups and vacationers to this beautiful spot on the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja California peninsula, I finally got the chance to spend a couple of days enjoying the beaches here myself.

Playa El Médano, Cabo San Lucas

While I was mainly looking to unwind, hang out at the beach and of course stuff myself full of tacos and guac and chips, a trip to Cabo isn’t complete without taking a boat out to see the famous El Arco – The Arch of Cabo San Lucas. Rum punch in hand, we set off on our sunset booze cruise to see the arch and hopefully spot a whale or two.

El Arco de Cabo San Lucas – also known as ‘Lands End’ – marks the spot where the Pacific Ocean meets the Sea of Cortez. We sailed past Playa del Amor, or “Lover’s Beach,” a secluded beach surrounding the Arch. Sea lions and pelicans could be found lounging on the rocks around the beach.

We stopped for a photo near the Arch before rounding the corner into the rougher waters of the Pacific Ocean. On the other side, we found what our Captain said was “Divorce Beach,” with waves and wind crashing in – quite a contrast to the calm “Lover’s Beach.” Here, we also spotted the first of several Humpback whales breaching!!

As we watched the sun begin to set, a mother Humpback and her calf came by and the baby put on quite a show, leaping out of the water, playing away. What an incredible sight!

Another great spot to check out is Art Walk in San Jose del Cabo. It’s a colourful spot to wander around any day, but on Thursday evenings it becomes even more colourful. Art Walk was established by the Gallery District Association to encourage art lovers and tourists to step away from the Main Square and explore the artwork and galleries found along the cobblestone streets. This event runs each Thursday evening from 5-9pm between the months of November and June.

I enjoyed our time checking out a few beaches, but one of my favourites was Playa Palmilla in San Jose del Cabo, a much quieter beach than some found in Cabo San Lucas.

Kayaking at Playa Palmilla

Here, we took kayaks out into the waves for a cruise around, looking up at the huge houses on the hills, and a Humpback whale came by to say hello. Even though it didn’t come too close, it was still incredible to be out on the water with a whale!

View from our condo
View from our condo

What a beautiful place in Mexico. I can’t wait to come back and explore some more of what Cabo has to offer!

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Exploring Atlantis

The lost city of Atlantis may be the stuff of legends, but in Nassau, Bahamas, you can spend a day (or more) exploring their incredible Atlantis!

While staying there definitely looks like a fun option, if, like us, you find yourself staying at one of the neighbouring resorts, there are still lots of ways to enjoy Atlantis.

You can book day passes for various adventures in Atlantis, including the waterpark Aquaventure and Dolphin Cay. But there are other options to explore.

Atlantis Marina

You can wander through the shops and the marina at any time and eat at the restaurants found there. The Casino is also open to all if gambling is more your style. Through the Casino, you’ll find The Dig.

This beautiful aquarium features hundreds of sea creatures from tiny seahorses to huge grouper, lobsters to clownfish and gorgeous rays swimming around the mysterious ‘Lost City’ ruins. Day passes are required for non-guests, but if you go in the evening, you can wander around for free and enjoy all these amazing sea creatures.

I loved it so much, we went back a second evening and wandered around above ground, gazing down into the open air tanks and watching the fish and rays swimming below.

We also found the Hibiscus Lagoon filled with green sea turtles and Predator Lagoon, home to Hammerhead sharks, Caribbean Reef sharks, Barracuda and Smalltooth Sawfish swimming around the tunnel as you walk through.

Whether you want to go all out and participate in all Atlantis has to offer or simply wander around, it’s definitely a must-see spot in Nassau, Bahamas!

If, like me, you find watch fish swimming to be very relaxing, then enjoy a few clips I took while exploring Atlantis!

Watching the fish and rays swim around the ruins at The Dig
Exploring Hibiscus & Predator Lagoons
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Birthday in Bahamas

To me, birthdays are best spent on the beach, and this year was no exception. It’s been a month now since I celebrated my 35th birthday in Nassau, Bahamas. Even though it’s so close, it’s an island I had never been to, and I thoroughly enjoyed spending a few days relaxing in the warm sunshine (a big difference from freezing cold Ontario), heading into downtown Nassau, and exploring parts of Atlantis – which just happened to be located next door to our resort! (More on that in a later post).

From Paradise Island, you have a few options for heading across to Nassau. You can take a taxi, a ferry boat or walk across the huge bridge. Since we’d been enjoying the buffets, we opted for the walk into town, enjoying the sights along the way. As Nassau is a busy cruise ship port, there are tons of shops and restaurants located in the downtown core. As avid craft beer drinkers, we found Pirate Republic Brewing Company down near the docks and stopped in to enjoy a birthday flight!

After wandering around all afternoon, we took the ferry boat back, with a very entertaining skipper pointing out sights and giving us some history along the way. 

With so much to do on the various islands of the Bahamas (over 700 islands!) we only scratched the surface, but it was sure a great place to turn another year older! CHEERS!

*Paradise Island Ferry leaves approx every 30 mins. $4 one way or $8 return. On the Paradise Island side it leaves from the docks near the bridge. On the Nassau side it leaves right from the downtown docks.

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35

Turning a year older used to really stress me out. I always felt that with each passing year I was running out of time to accomplish everything I wanted to. While I still feel this way at times and have no idea how so many years have already passed by, I’m realizing that each passing year is a gift and a chance for more adventures.
And besides, how can you be bummed with you are celebrating your birthday on the beach!
So…35 here we go!

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Watching Sunsets around the World

Watching sunsets around the world is boring-2

I am obsessed with sunsets and love to catch beautiful ones on my travels around the world. While any colourful sunset is beautiful, I especially love watching them set over the ocean, like this one in Negril, Jamaica!

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Watching the sunset at Rick’s Cafe

Rick's Cafe

Voted one of the top 10 beach bars in the world, Rick’s Cafe in Negril has become one of the most popular tourist spots in Jamaica. However, when the cliffside bar and restaurant first opened in April 1974, Negril was a sleepy fishing village with very little development. It soon became known as one of the best spots in Jamaica to watch the sunsets, and the crowds never stopped coming.

Rick’s Cafe was destroyed by hurricanes in both 1988 and 2004, but each time was rebuilt better than before.

Today, the 1.5-acre property hosts a gift shop, bar, restaurant, pool and live entertainment as well as lots of seating options.

You can also go swimming or try cliff diving, if you dare, off three different levels: 10ft, 25ft or 35ft cliffs, landing into 15ft deep turquoise waters below.

I didn’t get the nerve up to jump in, but watching others was great, especially when some of the locals started jumping off the highest platform, 80ft or so up.

Terrifying, but they make it look so easy! (Only locals are allowed to jump from up there. The highest platform the tourists can jump from is 35ft.)

Be sure to secure your spot early if you want a gorgeous sunset photo free of other people’s heads and cameras. It becomes very crowded around the edge as soon as the sun starts to dip. The live Jamaican music gets started around this time, too, adding to the atmosphere.

From up on the 35ft cliffs, looking down over the sea, the colourful sunset really is remarkable.

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Unfortunately, we had some clouds covering the last little bit of our sunset, but overall, it was still worth it!

 

Info:

-Open every day (365 days a year) from 12pm to 10PM

-Admission is FREE

-Many hotels offer tour and/or shuttle options to get to Rick’s Cafe

-Cliff diving is strictly at your own risk

Bring:

-Camera (or phone) – fully charged

-Bathing suit if you plan on swimming or cliff jumping

-Sunscreen

-Money if you wish to purchase food, drinks or souvenirs

 Visit rickscafejamaica for more info
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Playas del Este- Havana’s beautiful beaches

While most people travel to Havana to spend their time exploring the beautiful old city, just east of all the glorious old architecture is a series of white-sand beaches, known as the Playas del Este.On a recent trip, we decided to stay in the beach area and have the best of both worlds as our resort provided a free shuttle into Old Havana.The string of beaches stretches 24 kms along the north coast.  While the beaches here are a gorgeous white sand, palm tree-lined, turquoise water heaven, the accompanying resorts aren’t exactly luxurious. Many of them have a worn down appearance as most are over 50 years old, but for those wishing to spend their time in the city or enjoying the beaches, they are just fine.

Hotel Atlantico from the water

Our resort was located on Playa Santa Maria del Mar, one of the most popular beaches, where many of the international resorts are located.

Weekends can get very busy with locals heading out to relax and parking lots soon fill up with vintage cars and mopeds.

The crystal clear turquoise waters are perfect for swimming and snorkelling to check out a variety of fish.

But the best part was the incredible sunsets!

Getting there:  The beach area is about 20 kms away from Old Havana.

You can take the Habana Bus Tour tourist bus Line 3, which runs from Old Havana to the beaches at Cojímar, Bacuranao and Santa Maria del Mar daily from 9am-6pm for 5 CUC.

A taxi will cost around 15 CUC each way. Be sure to set the price before leaving.

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Havana- Classic meets Colourful

I just can’t get enough of the classic cars and colourful, and sometimes crumbling, architecture found in Havana. Even the gloomy, grey day seemed a little brighter with all the colours!

So here’s a gallery of some of my favourites!

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Taking a break from Cristal: Havana Craft Beer

fullsizeoutput_7eaSeeking out new craft breweries in foreign cities seems to have become a normal part of my travels these days, and Havana didn’t disappoint.

On a recent trip, we found two craft breweries to check out.fullsizeoutput_7fbThe first one, Factoria Plaza Vieja, is located in a bright yellow building in the corner of Plaza Vieja, one of the four major plazas in Old Havana.

 

Here they serve three different beers: Clara, Oscura and Negra.  You have a choice between a 500ml glass or a 3L tower to enjoy your beer in. A 500ml glass of beer costs 2CUC and the tower costs 12CUC.

As it’s located in one of the major plazas, this brewery is a popular spot for tourists. They have a food menu with a variety of options to enjoy along with your beer. fullsizeoutput_7fa

fullsizeoutput_8d1The second brewery we hit was Cerveceria Antiguo Almacén de la Madera y El Tabaco.  This one is located down by the water in an old tobacco factory, near the Mecardo de Artesania San José, a great market for crafts and souvenirs.  This brewery is huge and has lots of seating both inside and out on the patio.  fullsizeoutput_8d9Again, there were three different beers: light, medium and dark, and you had a choice of a 500ml glass or a tower. Pricing was the same.fullsizeoutput_8dc

While it wasn’t like a typical North American craft brewery, it was a nice break from Cristal and Bucanero and a great way to try a new brew!

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Beach Bum Birthday

Every year on January 12th,  I struggle a little (and sometimes more than a little…) with the fact that I’m getting another year older.  I know the saying goes, “Do not regret growing older, it’s a privilege denied to many.”  This I totally agree with. It’s not the getting older part that bothers me, it’s the fact that with every year that goes by I feel like I’m running out of time to do all the things I want to do.  (This list is massive to begin with and seems to grow by the day….)

Most of the time, I can push this feeling away and just continue to cross things off my life “to-do” list.  But then January comes around again- a new year and only 11 days until I get older. As that feeling becomes more overwhelming, I start looking for ways to slow the rising panic. Travel tends to be my remedy for all life’s stresses and birthday trips definitely ease the panicky state.

While any kind of trip is great, the beach always has a calming effect on me. So, I decided to take a short getaway to Montego Bay, Jamaica to spend my day on the beach with sun, sand and slushy drinks.

This year, I learned that birthdays are definitely better on the beach and when the sky paints you a stunningly colourful sunset, you can almost forget you are now a year older.

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