Category Archives: Travel

Hawaiian Vacation: Paradise is Waiting

I’ve been thinking a lot about my vacation to Hawaii…. I miss it like crazy.  Even though its mid summer right now, I wanted to write a little piece on the beloved Hawaiian Paradise!

Hawaii is a dream vacation location for many people, especially those who crave tropical surroundings and a friendly atmosphere. When a Hawaiian getaway transitions from a wish to reality, an itinerary must be planned so that time on the islands is not wasted. Although for some, relaxing on a beach for the week would be enough to completely entertain, there are many more places to see, explore, and stay.

Waikiki in particular is a popular tourist spot. Located on Oahu, Waikiki is Hawaii’s main tourist center, and has some of the most famous travel spots of the island chain. The beaches are stunning, and the majority of hotel rooms are within walking distance to the sand and surf. For those looking for actual activities, Waikiki is home to a zoo, aquarium, and is not far from many historical locations – including Pearl Harbor. At night, the city comes alive with bars, restaurants, and gathering places that are ideal for travelers to interact with the locals and each other. Oahu’s nightlife is the most interesting of all the islands, as there are different areas to explore. From resort bars in Waikiki to “underground” lounges in Chinatown and mainland influenced clubs in Honolulu, this island is the place to be after dark.

Finding a place to stay in Hawaii is the least difficult task of planning a Hawaiian vacation itinerary. With everything from locally owned motels to resort-style names most are familiar with, Hawaii has it all. Each location’s staff is more than happy to assist travelers with any questions that they may have, including acting as guides to the best local activities, food, and shopping areas. Whether traveling alone, with a family, or with a significant other, Hawaii’s islands offer endless options for vacation activities, and more than likely, visitors will spend very little time in their hotels.

Hawaiian tourists need only to step outside and look around to find various things to do. From the quiet, laid back atmosphere of Hilo’s restaurants and shops to the whaling villages on Maui, children and adults alike can enjoy the beautiful island scenery in any way that they choose. Public transportation is provided on each island, so guests do not need to worry about getting from place to place, but car rentals are also available for convenience in reaching distant locations.

Whether traveling as a family, or simply looking to spend time with a special someone, Hawaii’s got a solution. Family friendly activities like Dolphin Quest, the Hawaiian Adventures Water Park, and BOB’s Hawaii Adventure are easily accessible to tourists, and at reasonable prices. For those traveling with a significant other or simply vacationing with friends, different activities may be more suitable. The “Garden Island” of Kauai is home to the Na Pali Coast and other beautiful scenery, and many locations offer helicopter rides that give visitors a bird’s eye view of the islands, as well as access to different, more secluded beaches.

When visiting Hawaii, travelers should be sure to choose some “must see” locations and “must do” activities beforehand, or the trip may seem rushed and unorganized. The website http://www.gohawaii.com/ is a great resource to help people plan out their trips before leaving their homes, and give vacationers a better idea of what is awaiting them in the beautiful Hawaiian islands.

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Guest Post: Thailand – Khao Lak and Earthquakes

I was asked if I would be willing to accept a guest post. I definitely am always open to the idea, but of course it has to be something that relates to my passions! I found this Thailand travel piece quite interesting and intriguing. A special guest has written a travel story about his improved warning systems through his experience with earthquakes in Khao Lak!  Here it is:

“I recently returned from a vacation with my family to Thailand. We wanted to escape the cold weather of Europe and I had some vacation time due me. We had never been to Thailand before, so we thought we would stick to the beaten path rather than try some far-flung destination.

We settled upon Khao Lak. I had read about it being near Phuket airport, but being more family-friendly and cheaper than Phuket. We took a flight from Bangkok to Phuket and then hired a taxi to take us the 60 km to the main town of Nang Thong in the Khao Lak. I thought the taxi was a bit expensive, but then I always seemed to get slightly ripped-off when I catch transport from an airport.

We got to Khao Lak Orchid Resort by mid-afternoon. It was a big resort with great facilities. I was surprised at how developed Nang Thong beach was. It seemed full its entire length with businesses. Out hotel was a bit away from the center, and half way to the next beach of Khuk Khak. The less people and the more beach and sea to enjoy uninterrupted is ideal in my opinion.

The hotel staff was helpful. They found us a cot for the baby and introduced us to a babysitter. Nobody spoke perfect English, but enough to make communication of most ideas simple.

The following day we had a relaxing time on the beach. The day after there was an earthquake. We were in the restaurant and could see the table cutlery shake.

It was then that I remembered about the Indian Ocean Tsunami. Hadn’t it hit, here in Khao Lak? My wife started to get worried even though the shaking soon subsided. My reaction was probably wrong. I went towards the beach. I wanted to see the water: a few waves; nothing out of the ordinary.

One of the staff came up to our table in the empty dining room and explained that there had been an evacuation order.

We calmly got the kid and our day bag and got in the back of a taxi and started to drive in land. There was more activity on the streets, but there wasn’t a sense of panic.

We waited a few kilometers inland at a cafe for an hour. There were other people from our hotel waiting there. The general consensus was that the hotel had done a good job of getting everyone evacuated even though it was a false alarm.

I read on the internet the next day that the earthquake had hit in the same place as in 2004 with an intensity over 8, but the quake was shallow and not the type to cause a tsunami.

Over the next few days there were a few aftershocks. I didn’t get worried about these.

Other than the shaking ground I would recommend Khao Lak to anyone with children. The hotel where we stayed had plenty for the kid to enjoy. Moreover, the main town is good for restaurants and shops but doesn’t have a sleazy feel to it like other places in Thailand. My only warning is be aware that it is an earthquake prone area.”

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Orlando: Disney and Beyond

I’ve spent a lot of time lately reliving my Orlando vacation. It was an amazing trip! We stayed at the All-Star Resort and were pleasantly surprised with the low cost and beautiful rooms. It was such a fun place to stay!

We were also surprised at the ease of getting around Orlando. Shuttles run everywhere; from the hotels to the parks and even to downtown Orlando. I almost wished I hadn’t spent the money on a rental car, but it did come in handy on our trips to the beach and the Kennedy Space Center. The Park Hopper Pass allowed us to pay one low price for all the parks and we had a blast at every single one. Read on to learn more about my favorite vacation spot and why Orlando is amazing even for adults.

We had a late flight to Orlando so by the time we’d checked into the All-Star Resort the parks were just about to close. We decided to head for Downtown Disney. We had dinner at a quiet Italian restaurant called Portobello, and then danced the night away at Planet Hollywood.

The next day was reserved for Epcot and we had a great time wandering around experiencing a little something from every corner of the world. The details are so amazing. There were plenty of times we forgot we were in a theme park in Florida; it was almost like we were traveling the world one hour at a time. Bonus: Epcot sells alcohol along with all of the decedent food from each nationality.

I couldn’t wait to get to Disney’s Animal Kingdom and I was not disappointed. The Kilimanjaro Safari got us up close and personal with the animals and Expedition Everest combined wildlife viewing with a runaway roller coaster ride.

We decided to take a break from the parks for a while so we spent the next couple days wandering around the other attractions in the area. We parasailed in Daytona Beach, suntanned in Cocoa Beach and met an astronaut at Kennedy Space Center.

The weather was amazing so we decided to check out Typhoon Lagoon. It was great fun to watch all of the children play in the wave pool, while we sat at the tiki hut and had what is quite possibly the best Mai Tai in existence. It was the greatest!

We’d saved the Magic Kingdom for our last day. As soon as I walked through those gates I was a kid again. The Castle will always be my favorite attraction. We stayed all day and enjoyed the parade and fireworks show.  Absolutely beautiful.

Our Orlando vacation was outstanding. From the bars of Downtown Disney to the thrills of Animal Kingdom and beyond, Orlando is the perfect destination for adults and kids alike.

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Romantic, Luxurious, Tropical, Beach Vacations!

Lately I have been really stressed and just thinking about needing a vacation.  My best friends wedding is coming up, and I honestly have no time to myself.  I would love to just take a romantic vacation with my man- but by the time I will have a week to myself, it’s going to be Mid-May; and who wants to take a tropical vacation when the weather is just starting to get nice up in the North!  So here is a little fun piece on beach vacations that have been in my dreams for the last couple of weeks 🙂

If you’re looking for a warm, luxurious escape right before the summer, a tropical beach resort would make an ideal destination. But with so many beautiful beaches around the world, how can you decide which one to visit? Here’s our top five list of beach resorts to escape the cold this winter season.

Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea
For tropical breezes, exceptional service, and delicious cuisine that’s not too far from the west coast, head to Hawaii. There are many beach resorts to choose from, but Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea is in a class of its own. The white sandy beach with crystal-clear turquoise water provides the perfect winter respite, and there are a variety of activities the whole family will enjoy. There’s world-class scuba diving, snorkeling, whale watching, and fun water sports – including wind surfing. A pristine national park is right nearby for you to explore, featuring a dormant volcano.

The Tuscany in Providenciales, Turks and Caicos
The Tuscany Resort sits on one of the most beautiful beaches in the world: Grace Bay Beach on the island of Providenciales. This small resort has only 30 exclusive suites, and each one is located right on the beach with its own private patio. If you can possibly tire of looking at the picturesque landscape outside your door, consider a game of tennis, golf, go horseback riding, caving, fishing, or parasailing.

Six Senses Soneva Kiri on Kood Island, Thailand
Wintertime is the best time of year to visit the exotic Land of Smiles, and the best place to stay is Soneva Kiri. There are several styles of lavish suites and rooms to choose from with sweeping views of the bay, many with private infinity pools. Each booking includes the use of an electric cart with which to explore the island, where you’ll discover stunning remote waterfalls and an abundance of wildlife. The resort is also home to Six Senses Spa, voted Traveller’s World Magazine’s Best Spa (2011). Indulge yourself in a variety of massage and beauty treatments – you’ll forget that winter even exists.


Waldorf Astoria Maldives
This amazing resort is located on the northernmost island in the Maldives. If your dream of a winter escape includes views of the most beautiful ocean landscape imaginable, then Waldorf Astoria Maldives should be your destination. Luxurious water villas are built right over the sea, complete with private infinity pools, and glass floors so you can watch the tropical fish dancing beneath you. Swim from your room to the Great Barrier Reef, or go deep sea fishing. There’s also tennis, water sports, a Waldorf Astoria Kids’ Club, and even a bungee trampoline.

Hotel Splendido in Portofino, Italy
If you’re yearning for a trip to Europe, book a room at Hotel Splendido in Portofino this winter. Many of Europe’s wealthiest families flock to this resort on holiday, and it’s easy to see why. These beautiful villas offer picturesque views of the harbor filled with yachts, and you’ll find an array of shopping, bars, and nightclubs to keep you entertained until the wee hours. Originally a private palace, this estate is located within the city’s UNESCO World Heritage Site, making it the perfect luxury resort for melting away all your winter blues.

Live – Laugh – Love – Travel

AJ

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St. Pattys Day

Is everyone getting excited for St. Patty’s Day!?  I certainly am.  My boyfriend and I both come from a family of Irish, so I found it fitting that I would surprise him with a trip to Ireland for the holiday!  His father went a few years ago, and I went back in high school.  Before I met him, I actually stayed in County Mayo, the same place his entire family is from!  We will be heading over to Dublin to experience all of the festivities on  March 13th and returning to the U.S. on the 20th.  I am going to need a vacation after this vacation.  I wrote up a travel piece on experiencing St. Patty’s Day in Dublin.  I hope you enjoy it!

“Erin Go Bragh!” “The Wearing of the Green!” “The Luck of the Irish!”  The air will be filled with all these familiar expressions in the streets of New York, Chicago, Savannah and many other cities on March 17, when St. Patrick’s Day will be celebrated.  St. Patrick’s Day has not always revolved around celebrations.  It was only in 1970 that Ireland began having festivals and activities.  Before that time, St. Patrick’s Day was observed as a religious holiday to honor their patron saint.  However, times have changed, and no where in the world will the celebration be more exuberant than in Dublin, Ireland!  Dublin will be sure to provide its own unique flavor and overwhelming enthusiasm for St. Patrick.

Numerous activities take place in the whole of Ireland on this special day. The biggest annual event is the St. Patrick’s Festival, which takes place in Dublin.  It offers entertainment for people of all ages.  The festival began in November 1995 and now draws approximately 1.5 million people.  Parades, music, family carnivals, street art, dancing, and theater are just a few of the events taking place.  It lasts for four days.  The St. Patty’s Day Parade in Dublin, is the largest of them all.

Along with the reveling, many people take the opportunity to engage in the St. Patrick’s Pub Crawl.  This pub crawl involves going to several different spots for drinks.  Some of the favorite Irish drinks that could be consumed on this pub crawl are whiskey, cider, cream liquor, Irish coffee, wine, or the most famous, Guinness.  Other popular beers are Murphy’s Stout, Kikenny and Smithwick‘s.  Throughout the days of partying and celebrating, you must eat, or else you probably won’t make it!  The most popular is to just grab a bite from the street vendors; however, if you want a nice sit down meal there are many restaurants to choose from. The Pig’s Ear and Rustic Stone are popular restaurants where you can find fantastic Irish food.  The traditional foods are Irish stew, soda bread, corned beef with cabbage, Dublin coddle, champ, and apple cakes.

If you are still looking for something to do, additional activities to participate in are the Dublin University Boat Races, the 5K Road Race and a Walking Tour in St. Patrick’s foot steps.  This tour takes you through the origin and legacy of St. Patrick.  In the 21st century, Ireland has become as ethnically diverse as the 40 different shades of green that is believed to exist in its landscape.  All of Ireland and the entire world will take to the streets to jubilantly celebrate Ireland’s patron saint on St. Patrick’s Day.

Live – Laugh – Love – Travel

AJ

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