Every year my mom visits me during the beginning of summer which gives me an opportunity to travel and show her around America. I always try to pick a destination to travel and spend time with her while exploring a new place. Since my mom and aunt both love being around water and do water activities, this time I chose Catalina Island in California for our travel venture. Short yet sweet our trip turned out to be just perfect balance between touring the island and spending quality time with family.
We flew to Los Angeles, landed super late at night, got some rest and then spent our first day shopping in the Santa Monica neighborhood. It was a bright and sunny spring day with purple jacaranda’s and bright red bougenvillas blooming all over the streets. We enjoyed shopping all day and spent the day picnicking out with our delicious homemade food. The weather was perfect and it was so lovely to stroll around and explore Santa Monica with Aunt Monica. We ended our day at Venice beach where we savored our delicious dinner while watching sunset.
Next day we were all set to catch our ferry ride to Catalina Island. The ferry took us about two hours and as soon as we reached, I could spot California’s orange Garibaldi fish in the crystal clear water of the island. The palm trees all over the island looked very welcoming and we were all ready to explore it. We made our way to our resort which had an amazing garden view which had a lovely staircase to the swimming pool. After enjoying some cozy moments in the hotel relaxing and chatting which is our favorite thing to do, we made our way to explore the island. One of the enjoyable activities to do was snorkeling at the Lover’s cover which I got very excited about. We rented our snorkeling gears and headed towards the lover’s cove which is a marine life preserve area in the island. The beach was rocky and the water wavy but we still enjoyed snorkeling and looking all kinds of fishes in the Pacific ocean. We rented a buggie board and it was so fun to look through it underwater and see the colorful fishes. As it started to get darker, we made our way back to the hotel and relaxed at the Jacuzzi for a little bit since it was a pretty long day for us with all the travel and snorkeling.
It was unbelievable that our three nights were already coming to an end. Since we had such packed days, we decided to take it easy the last day and just chill by the pool and eventually checkout. We enjoyed our Mexican lunch and delicious icecreams in the island before we hoped on into the ferry back. The most amazing part about the island was it was a no car island, so the major means of transportation was by a golf cart which we managed to get into for a picture. As we headed to the airport, we were happy to have spent such great time together. Until we meet again.
Have you recently had good times with your family? If so where and when did you go. Please share , I would love to know.
Coronado island is a small coastal town with very rich culture and history. The pristine beaches and dramatic sunsets of the island are extra ordinary and stand out in various ways. It offers a small town atmosphere with old mansion villas, boutique shops and market. In the heart of Coronado stands the historic hotel Del Coronado which is a must visit. The serene island is just 2 miles from the hustle and bustle of Downtown San Diego. The bridge that connects the two has spectacular harbor views.
The two things that I enjoyed the most in the island was the surreal sunsets and the late morning beach combing. We stayed at Loews Coronado Bay resort which was at a walking distance from Silver Strand State beach. The hotel staff was very prompt with their golfs cart transportation to the beach and offered us towels as well as beach chairs. The sunset hues were just phenomenal. We spent lot of time there just enjoying the sunset and taking photo breaks in between. The colorful rays of the sun reflected back gorgeously through the crashing waves. It was such a joyful moment and I am happy we were able to capture it.
Sunset at the Silver Strand State beach
The best part about the beach was the fact that it was little farther out from the main area of the island. The white sand was covered with different kinds of shells which made it a great spot for beach combing. My favorite pick was the sand dollars which are species of extremely flattened, burrowing sea urchins belonging to the order Clypeasteroida. It is very important to make sure that the sea urchins are not alive while we pick them. Since they already lost their purple color and tiny spines, I could confirm the ones that I picked were actually from dead sea urchins. Picking these shells was such an enjoyable experience that I went to the beach two days in a row. The key is shells can be picked only during low tides when high tides have already done their job of bringing the shells to the beach. I would recommend the best time for collecting these shells would be late morning during low tides. I personally could spend hours and hours doing this but we had such limited time. The sand dollars are so fragile and need extreme care during travel so they don’t crack.
Old Fort Mansions
Overall, Coronado island offered us a lovely vacation and I brought back handpicked souvenir shells which I now use for home decor. Is there an activity you particularly enjoy during your trip? Please share I will be happy to read!
I have always looked into my birthday as gratitude for another year of being alive, and this time I am super excited to have completed 30 years in this beautiful world. We planned our trip to Key West which was a warm weather getaway from Chicago during the month of December. Just as we imagined, it was surreal to celebrate my day in Key West. We flew to Fort Lauterdale and drove down south to the island of Key West. On our way we stopped at Islamorada to enjoy some delicious sushi from Saki Sushi for lunch.
Once we reached our destination, we checked in into the Casa Marina resort which was an absolute bliss. The back of the resort directly opened to the beach and our room was just perfect with not just view of the beach but also a lanai that connected us to go directly into the beach. I couldn’t ask for more for my special day. We enjoyed most of our meals at the resort by the beach at their restaurant Sun Sun.
White Sand Beach by the resort
Coconut tree backdrop
Writing my gratitude journal
The beach of the resort was very unique. It was a white sand beach with hammocks, beach chairs and string lights with backdrop of giant coconut trees. It was as tropical as it could get. Although the hammock was occupied at most times, we did get to enjoy it a couple of times. I could clearly hear the birds chirping, roosters crowing and the waves crashing at the shore while I relaxed by the hammock. Wild roosters are historical heritage of the island and it was amazing to see them wander freely in the island. We spent a lot of time by the resort beach and it was so enjoyable.
Sunset at the resort
Sunset and me
We also wanted to explore the other areas of the island hence we walked towards the main street of the island – Duval Street which was about 15 mins of a walk from our resort. What a lively city we found Key West to be when we reached Duval Street. We discovered that not only it offered us tropical beach life but also a vibrant night life. We enjoyed delicious tacos at Sinz and loved watching the island hustling with visitors. We also visited the southernmost point where we waited in lines for about 30-40 mins to get a picture clicked which was well worth it. Fresh coconut water in the island is a must, it was absolutely perfect to keep hydrated in the warm weather.
The Shell Warehouse
Duval Street Market
Mallory Square Market
Inside the Shell warehouse
As we walked towards the end of Duval Street, we reached Mallory square which was a waterfront main area of the island where sunset is celebrated every evening. What a beautiful way to celebrate the day. I fell in love with the shell warehouse shop in Mallory square and ended up buying a conch shell for home decor. Key West is also known as Conch Republic and is famous for its conch shells. Since we heard so much about the sunsets in Keywest, we decided to experience it on a sunset cruise. The day was partly cloudy yet we could see the yellow red beams of the sun setting. The ocean was calm and the night was beautiful. The air was chilly yet cozy. The shades of the sun setting are still vivid in my memory.
Back drop of sail boats
Our last day in Key West was my birthday. I started my day with practicing yoga at the beach which was really special. It was a great way to remind myself to be in the present and enjoy the moment. I also enjoyed writing my gratitude journal by the beach. After the breakfast at the resort, I also experienced a massage by the ocean which I wanted to gift myself for a very long time now. It felt just right and I really enjoyed every moment of that one hour massage by staying in the present and not letting my mind wander. I am very grateful for living another year of life and ending it beautifully. I am so ready to make this coming year worthwhile and the best year so far.
What are you grateful for? Do share! I would love to read!
For all those who are planning a trip to south Italy, Capri is a destination that just cannot be missed. It is a picturesque island on the Gulf of Naples located south of Italy. Capri is accessible from the Marina piccolo port of Sorrento via ferry which takes about 30 minutes. It is beautiful island surrounded by blue green emerald water bordering the rugged surfaces. One can spend a perfect day relaxing, swimming and exploring the island in and out. Here are few things you could do in Capri!
Beach- Beach- Beach –
The crystal clear beach of Capri right by the Marina Grande bay covered with pebbles is probably the first thing to spot as you walk through the island after hopping off from the ferry. Simply relax by the beach or take a dip!
Funicular up to the Piazzetta
Piazetta is the heart of Capri and provides an panoramic view of the spectacular island. There is a cable car that takes you from the bay area up to the Piazetta which takes about five minutes. The lines are long but they move fast. Once you are in the top, the wide view of Capri is just spectacular with water surrounding the island from all sides. The sight of the blue bell flowers and lemon trees all over the hills is just outstanding.
Swim the Green Grotto –
The best way to explore the island of Capri is by boat. There are different sight seeing tours offered by tour companies that do both group and private tours in the water. We rented a private traditional gozzo boat for three hours to go around the island. Our sailor took us to all the prominent sights of the island including the blue grotto, green grotto, natural arch and Faraglioni.
We also stopped by the green grotto to take a quick dip in the turquoise green water. The waves of sea being pretty strong didn’t let us swim for a long time, but we still enjoyed our short swim.
Boat ride to the Blue Grotto –
The Capri Island is known for the Blue grotto. The blue grotto is an illuminated cavern in the Mediterranean Sea which reflects azure blue light when the sun shines on the surface of the water. It is just indescribable and a must experience during the visit to Capri. The tickets are 13 euros per person and the Italian serenade music in the background sung by local gondola boat riders makes it all the more beautiful. Usually the wait time is long since it’s a very touristy thing to see, but we got lucky since it wasn’t very busy in the middle of a Wednesday afternoon 🙂
The spectacular rock formations eroded by the ocean over time stand by the island of Capri. Our boat went under this rugged formations and it was a splendid view to watch those huge standing rocks in the middle of the ocean . We also spotted red pastel corals in the coral island and enjoyed the sight of natural rock formations that resembled faces and bodies of different animals.
Are there any islands that are close to your heart and you would recommend for travel? Please share, I would love to read!
I must admit that my trip to Florida during this winter was one of the best things I did to myself. The warm weather there throughout the year makes it such a go to destination. I have visited Florida in both summer and winter and I will definitely recommend winter time as it is so much more pleasant. We luckily escaped the downpour, it did not rain all 3 days we stayed there.
We arrived at Miami during evening and I was so excited to explore the Ocean Ave which is also called Miami strip right by the South Beach. Full of restaurants, bars, clubs and music, Miami offers a fabulous night life right by the beach. The holiday season being so close, everything was beautifully decorated with lights. Even the coconut tree trunks were wrapped around with glorious little light strings. After enjoying the night, early next morning, we walked along the 17th street beach walk which was right behind the hotel that we stayed. We came across a guy who was selling fresh coconut water that was the highlight of my trip, I always wanted to drink fresh coconut water in an exotic location. Warm weather, coconut water and beach felt just perfect. We also drove through the villas in Star Island and I was amazed to see private houses of people which looked like palaces. Lucky them.
We then drove to Fort Lauterdale and made our first stop at Las Olas Blvd which is the art center of the city full of art shops and restaurants. We also stopped by the Farmer’s market which to my surprise also had some Indian food stalls. We enjoyed the delicious spinach samosas and then made our way to the Fort Lauderdale beach. The Fort Lauterdale strip by the beach was quite similar to the Miami strip but more laid back and less crowded. Out of the two, I liked the Fort Lauterdale strip better just because I loved its laid back atmosphere. We enjoyed our early dinner by the beach and watched the lovely sunset.
Overall I fell in love with both Miami and Fort Lauterdale and already missing it now that I am back in Chicago.
My trip to Mackinac Island over the Labor Day weekend was so exquisite that given a chance, I would go back to the Island and experience it all over again. The Island is located in Michigan and is accessible by a ferry from Mackinaw city that takes a few minutes to get to the Island. It is surrounded by Lake Michigan and Lake Huron which is cut across by the magnificent Mackinaw bridge. The moment I got out of the ferry, I could see tourists touring around the island in bicycles. The Island is just lovely and reminded me of the old days when there were no cars and the means of transport for everything including luggage/posts were carriages. The downtown of this little island was very extraordinary with horse carriages and bikes in both lanes, even the police was riding a bike. I was amazed to see the cute little Island which has a population of just 500 lucky people.
We headed towards the Mackinac Fort to learn more about the historical significance of this old town and enjoyed watching canyon and rifle firing with short description of how people survived during the wars. We then rented a bike to go around the Island that was a stretch of 8 miles surrounded by beautiful turquoise blue water on one end and forest on the other. I rode a tandem bike for the first time in my life and it was such an enjoyable experience. At a distance of about 2 miles, we parked our bikes to climb up and catch a sight of the arch rock. The view of the water from the arch rock was just breath-taking. We then continued to bike along the lake shore for 8 miles, the pleasant breeze and perfect weather made our ride very enjoyable.
We then reached back to downtown and started to explore the Island on foot. I enjoyed looking through shops with souvenir art shops and beautiful flower arrangements along the streets. The houses by the streets resembled farm houses with beautiful flower gardens and stables. We then walked towards the Grand Hotel which is the most famous hotel in the Island. We then made our way back to the market to enjoy some delicacies of the Island, delicious fudge and Mexican food. Over all I just loved my short one day visit to the Mackinac island and I would recommend it to all the travelers who are looking for an offbeat travel destination.