Okay so we may not have had the WORST winter on record this year but it’s always nice to get away and get some sun to break up the cold. I mean, I DO LOVE chipping ice off my windshield at 7am each morning before work, but I could definitely give that up for a beach towel and a margarita if ya know what I mean.
Through out the years, even before I started writing about my travels, I went away to a lot of the Caribbean islands and hot destinations down south and I never really had the chance to talk about them since. I figured since it is the week of Spring Break-no better time then ever to reminisce on the good times spent in the sun!
Aruba, Jamaica, ohhh I wanna take ya- if you haven’t been to the Florida Keys, book a flight to Miami STAT! After you arrive in Miami, rent a car and then head south for one of the most memorable drives you will ever do! Once you hit the end of the main land, continue along ONE road that takes you through all the Florida Keys (which I obviously stopped in all of them for photos!) In between the keys- you will drive across some of the longest bridges you will EVER see. At one point I looked ahead and couldn’t see land….then I looked behind and I couldn’t see land. I listened to “Kokamo” by The Beach Boys almost 2 times and was STILL cruising along the same bridge! Once you arrive in Key West- (the furthest south of the keys) you may be thirsty for a drink at Margaritaville! You may be hungry for some Key Lime Pie! OR you may want to stroll down Duval Street for some shopping!
DID YOU KNOW: Key West is only 90 miles from Cuba? It is HOT here, so plan to wear LOTS of sunscreen! I bought a hooded sweater to hide my poor shoulders from the rays! I loved EVERYTHING about this place- the colorful houses with wrap around porches & wooden shutters, the FOOD was great and the overall atmosphere was refreshing. I wouldn’t say that key West is a cheap place as far as accommodations go- so book ahead to score the best deal possible!
St. Maarten is one of the prettiest places I have gone- a true piece of paradise. Each beach you visit is seemingly more beautiful than the next. 2 ways you can see St. Maarten- staying at a resort OR visit by cruise. A lot of Caribbean cruises CRUISE through St. Maarten- so if you want to see this island without paying top dollar, it is a great option. (It isn’t the cheapest place to stay- prepare to pay at least $2,000 a person for the week at an all inclusive-if you can even find one!) Phillipsburg is a great place to stop in to get your shopping fix and a picture perfect photo spot: Maho Beach- this beach is basically attached to an airport landing strip and the perfect spot to get that “brush with death” photo you may have always wanted- your friends will think you’re a bad-ass!
If you are looking for an affordable all inclusive- look no further than Cuba. I had visited Varadero and stayed at the Breezes resort- if you want a great beach and week of relaxation- this is perfect. Cuba is a pretty safe country- so you are able to take the bus into town to find souvenirs and take a look at how the locals live. There is a bus that runs from town and all the way up through all the hotels, so you can even scope out some of the other resorts if you are looking to take a ride- I was eyeing the Laguna Azul, the next time I visit, that is where I would like to stay! There are numerous excursions you can take (if you are getting tired of all the rum punches ) such as catamaran tours, 4-wheeling, parasailing and even coffee plantation hopping! My favorite excursion was the day trip to Havana- this European style city is charming and has countless photo opps hidden within the cobble stone streets!
If I ever took up sailing, I would move straight to St. Thomas! Nestled within the Caribbean, St. Thomas is also a cruising hot spot- that is how I got acquainted with this adorable island! If you have one day here, be sure to head to Magens Bay- an awesome beach with an even awesomer look out- Drake’s Seat (awesomer is a word, right?) Other beaches you may be interested in: Honeymoon Beach, Lindquist beach, Sapphire Beach, Coki Beach-the list goes on! Beaches not your thing? There are a few hiking trails you may be interested in- one being 99 steps. A good workout with a rewarding view at the top! If cruising aint your thang, there are numerous resorts that look quite amazing- I plan to visit again & ditch the cruise ship for one of these hidden gems on the island!
Okay, Okay so I literally JUST got back from Oahu, but ill admit it- I’m obsessed! Hawaii is what dreams are made of, no wonder it is a honeymoon hotspot! From the bustling streets of Waikiki Beach to the 30-foot waves on the North Shore- there is something on this island for everyone- I dare you to find something bad to say! I will definitely add that if you want to be an adventurer- you should rent a car. A lot of the great hikes and secluded beaches are not within the touristy areas and some of them are hidden and require some research (good thing I did the research for ya- check out my Oahu post for details!) Waikiki is touristy, however it is a great place to make your home base. The daytime: venture out and explore. The evening: freshen up for a night on the town- the shopping, dining and luau’s await you! A money saving tip I will share is to visit during the off-season. My trip was mid January- rain season (as they say…) and did I see rain? Not a drop! My flight from Toronto round trip was $550. Not bad EH?
NEWPORT BEACH, CALIFORNIA
Ever since the OC, and watching Seth, Marissa, Ryan and Summer run the streets of Newport Beach- this place has always had a special place in my heart! I have family that live here, so luckily I have always had a place to stay during my yearly ventures to California. My cousins and I used to visit our uncle’s beach house on the boardwalk of Newport Beach-visiting Balboa Island by day and Sharky’s, our regular beach bar by night. The closest airport to Newport is Santa Ana, and from here, you can stay anywhere along the coast and have views of the ocean and hills & still be a less than hour drive to LA if you want to be all fancy for the day! I would recommend renting a car and driving to Laguna Beach or Huntington Beach-and if you are down in LA don’t forget to visit Venice Beach or Santa Monica! Our favorite places to shop are Fashion Island or the South Coast plaza, where you can rack up a pretty good credit card bill in less than an hour. You can visit SO-CAL at anytime of year and expect pretty good weather- but if you are looking for prime time beach season and a great party- plan your stay around the 4th of July!
Have you ever been in the little mermaids castle? Well, neither have I, but I have been to the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas, it it’s pretty damn close! Obviously my favorite color is pink, so it isn’t surprising that this resort would be at the top of my list. It is not the cheapest place to stay, however if you planned a visit to Nassau, you can buy a day pass to this resort to take advantage of the water park, the beautiful beach, the casino and everything else this wonderland has to offer! Around the resort there are a lot of places to shop, dine and take countless photos- because lets be honest that’s what I live for in life! I love how everyone gets around via water taxi in the Bahamas, and the people here are awesome! Like a lot of the Caribbean islands- there are not a lot of “all inclusive resorts” and you may need to pay for food/drinks separately. If you want a cheaper alternative than a week in a resort, look into cruising. I took a Norwegian Cruise for 3 days and got to visit Nassau AND a beautiful Private island within the Bahamas called “Great Stirrup Caye” for only $300! Now that I have conquered Nassau, the next location on my list is the Exumas! Word has it you can swim with pigs!
Yes, Florida is on the list twice, but who doesn’t love DISNEYWORLD! I went as a child and have returned twice as an adult and it just keeps getting better! The great thing about Disney is that it is always changing. You can always return years after your last trip and have new attractions to see, but the classics will always be there-including our good friends Mickey and Minnie! Orlando is inland, so it is often warmer then other parts of Florida-so when visiting in the winter you are almost guaranteed good weather. If you don’t want to break the bank at Disneyworld- there are TONS of other water parks (wet and wild!) miniature golf courses and outlet malls to fill your time. Want to make the most of your day at Disney? Check out my full post on Disney and how to visit all 4 parks in one day- talk about getting the most for your money! A day in Disney can run two people up to $350 but it IS the happiest place on earth- so who said money cant buy happiness!?