Gently gliding along the water’s surface while viewing a magical underwater world beneath the waves is one of the most memorable experiences of a tropical vacation. In fact, spending the day at sea exploring super snorkeling spots while in destination is often a trip highlight for many travelers.
With about 71% of the planet covered by water, the only question is, “Where will you explore next?”
Many of the world’s most spectacular snorkel and dive sites are close to home in the United States and Caribbean, so the hottest spots for the coolest experiences are easily accessible during your next resort vacation or cruise.
Here are seven super snorkeling spots to seek out during your next vacation:
The waters off the island of Cozumel are so clear you can see up to 250 feet underwater, which provides a breathtaking view of this underwater kingdom. The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef surrounds the island, offering snorkelers and divers an array of marine life at a variety of snorkeling spots. Palancar Reef is the most popular because of its high visibility, deep waters, and many fish, but beginner snorkelers might prefer a shallower destination.
Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
Snorkeling sites abound in the Cayman Islands, but if evening snorkeling captures your imagination, book a tour to float around in Grand Cayman’s Bioluminescent Bay. Disruptions in the water cause plankton to emit light which creates colorful sparkles beneath the surface, an effect experienced in few places around the world. Shallow and calm waters, a setting sun, and the promise of viewing a bit of science magic make this snorkeling experience a must-do.
Peanut Island, Florida
When visiting West Palm Beach, spending time as a family on Peanut Island isn’t just about the incredible snorkeling: active families can paddle around in kayaks, go camping, or get a paddleboard workout. A snorkeling lagoon and artificial reef provide excellent locations for even novice snorkelers. Manatees are drawn to the warm waters around the lagoon during the cooler winter months, so keep your eyes peeled for these captivating creatures.
Bimini Islands, Bahamas
In the western Bahamas lies the tiny island of Bimini, which boasts stunning coral reefs and an abundance of wildlife drawn to its location in the warm currents of the Gulf Stream. Bimini offers snorkelers a glimpse into some intriguing underwater stories – Are the large stone monoliths that form a sort of road part of the city of Atlantis? Is the Healing Hole the Fountain of Youth? Explore for yourself and get lost in the mystery.
Isla Holbox, Mexico
Casually swimming alongside the massive but harmless whale sharks of the Caribbean is a travel bucket list item for many tourists who visit Mexico. By following a few simple rules under the watchful eye of a guide, snorkelers can admire these fascinating creatures remarkably close-up. The encounter is often defined as “magical” and one of life’s most amazing opportunities for getting close to wildlife.
Silver Bank, Dominican Republic
Humpback whales breed in the warm waters of the Dominican Republic, making Silver Bank one of the few locations in the world for snorkeling with humpback whales. Between 5000-7000 whales pass through the sanctuary each winter, giving visitors the truly moving experience of observing the whales above and below the ocean’s surface. The country has gone to great lengths to protect the animals, and tours are only available through three government-approved boats.
Molokini – Maui Nui, Hawaii
The iconic crater of Molokini, located about an hour away from Maui by boat, is a must-do activity when visiting the Hawaiian Islands. Spot majestic birds from your seat, then submerge yourself in the islet’s waters to observe reef sharks, moray eels, and assorted tropical fish. A Molokini snorkeling tour often includes a stop at Maluaka Beach's "Turtle Town," where the Hawaiian green sea turtles prefer to spend their time.
If you love underwater exploration, let's make plans to visit one of these super snorkeling spots during your next vacation!
Planning a family vacation that appeals to parents and children alike can be tricky, but with the amazing ships of the Royal Caribbean fleet, an incredible trip is just on the horizon!
Here are five reasons why Royal Caribbean is perfect for your family cruise:
With so many dining venues included in the cruise fare, families can sample food from around the ship without extra costs. Whether it’s satisfying a craving for noodles at the Noodle Bar, ordering a stuffed burrito from El Loco Fresh, or feasting on pizza at Sorrento’s while people watching on the Promenade, everyone can find food that pleases the palate.
PROGRAMS FOR CHILDREN
Children of all ages can enjoy the award-winning Adventure Ocean® youth programs onboard. The Aquanauts (ages 3-5), Explorers (ages 6-8), and Voyagers (ages 9-12) groups have dedicated crew members to engage the children in art projects, science experiments, and games.
Parents can register the youngest passengers for Royal Babies and Tots to attend playtime sessions together. Tweens and teens will appreciate the independence of their own dedicated areas to make new friends, meet for music and dancing, or play video games.
PERFORMANCES THAT WOW
It’s no secret that Royal Caribbean is known throughout the cruise industry for its dazzling live entertainment. Attending Broadway stage productions, ice skating shows, and Aquatheater performances are highlights for many families during their cruise itinerary.
Royal Caribbean ships are designed for fun! Waterslides, bumper cars, rock climbing, laser tag, and ziplining are just a few of the adventurous options available onboard. Not a thrill-seeker? How about playing mini-golf, attending a Cupcake Class, singing karaoke, or competing in game shows with other passengers?
PERFECT DAY AT COCOCAY
The fun continues off the ship when passengers disembark on Royal Caribbean’s private island. The whole family will be busy swimming in the largest freshwater pool in The Bahamas, splashing down the slides in the waterpark, or taking to the sky in a helium balloon ride or a ziplining adventure. Renting a private floating cabana at the Coco Beach Club is a truly luxurious island experience that offers a peaceful space for relaxing together. Families can make reservations for excursions or spend the day independently exploring and enjoying this island paradise.
If you're looking for a family vacation that offers fun for all ages, Royal Caribbean has something for everyone!
Let's plan your next cruise vacation together! Contact me to get started!
With loved ones gathering again, it’s the perfect time for friends to plan a vacation together. Meeting in a special destination offers an escape from the day-to-day while experiencing a new destination and genuine quality time with one another. Sipping on coffee or wine. Chatting until long after the sun sets. Touring a new city together, popping in and out of boutiques. Relaxing side-by-side with an amazing view and catching up on life. Dancing into the wee hours of the morning.
The sky’s the limit when planning a getaway for groups of friends!
Here are five ideas for trips to take with friends:
Iceland for Adventure
Catching the sweeping beauty of the Northern Lights, bathing in geothermal waters, hiking rugged landscapes, and road-tripping The Golden Circle make for an awesome adventure in the Arctic Circle when friends travel together.
Montreal for Food
For trendy bars and a hot restaurant scene, foodie friends should make the journey to Montreal, Canada’s second most populated city. Second only to New York City for restaurants per capita in North America, options abound for whatever craving strikes.
Napa Valley for Wine
The heart of California’s wine country calls to groups of friends who long to chat over glasses of red or white, pedal to local wineries on a bike tour, make reservations for indulgent spa services, and dine al fresco with the lush green vineyards as a backdrop.
Nashville for Music
Quirky and friendly Nashville welcomes tourists to its small town in a big city vibe, complete with the strumming guitars and microphone checks of its toe-tapping music scene. Small venues, large venues, and everything in between host a variety of live music of all genres, and this bustling scene is the draw to Nashville. Top it off with some southern comfort food, icy beers, and perhaps a celebrity spotting or two.
Sedona for the Soul
The red rocks of Sedona provide the setting for luxurious boutique hotels, exquisite outdoor dining, and dazzling sunrises that soothe the soul. Known worldwide as an area for spiritualism, energy and soul work, restorative retreats, and metaphysical practitioners, Sedona is the perfect destination to find your Zen.
Where can I send you and your friends in 2022 or 2023? Let's chat about your options!
While flying isn’t quite as glamorous as it was during the golden age of air travel, you can still feel like a star upon arrival. Feel refreshed and in vacation mode when you follow some simple guidelines for etiquette and self-care during your flight.
The next time you fly:
Don’t sit for the entire flight.
Stand up, stretch, and walk a bit each hour of your flight to prevent blood clots and provide some relief to your back, legs, and muscles. A lumbar support pillow can also prevent a sore back upon arrival.
Don’t zone out during the safety briefing.
The information shared during a safety briefing doesn’t take much time, and in the event of an emergency, you will know what to expect and do. Turn off your device and lend an ear to the crew while they present procedures to passengers.
Don’t use the seat pocket.
Flight attendants remove rubbish from the seat pockets, but this part of the plane is never properly cleaned. When you consider some of the disgusting items passengers dispose of here, do you really want to store your bottled water or iPad there? No. You don’t.
Don’t turn off your air vent.
Airplanes can be quite cold, but instead of turning off your overhead vent, try adding layers of clothing to warm up. When you allow your air vent to work at a medium to high level, you help circulate cabin air and can prevent germs from hovering around your seat area.
Don’t put a bag overhead than can fit under the seat.
You might not want to give up the space for your feet, but if your bag can fit there and you’re storing it overhead, you’re being inconsiderate of other passengers. Plan your bags accordingly. Keep items you will want to access more often easy to grab.
Don’t order beverages made with water.
It’s no secret that water on airplanes can be quite gross – pipes and tanks only need mandatory cleaning four times per year, and your hot beverage water is coming from this tap. Skip the tea or coffee and bring along your own bottled water for drinking or mixing with baby formula.
Don’t skip the moisturizer.
The combination of low humidity, recycled air, and dry cabins can wreak havoc on your skin when you fly. Before flying, slather on lip balm and a moisturizer with SPF (those windows don’t protect against UV rays!) After landing, wash your face and apply moisturizer again to keep your skin clean and soft.
Don’t drink carbonated beverages or too much alcohol.
Ordering your beloved Diet Coke onboard might be tempting, but the carbonation could cause heartburn, gas, and bloating, leaving you uncomfortable for the duration of your flight and beyond. Alcohol can affect you more quickly in the air, worsen motion sickness, and prevent you from boarding your connecting flight if the gate agent deems you intoxicated. Stick with your bottled water to stay hydrated and comfortable.
Nestled among lush vegetation and the natural beachscapes of the Uvero Ulto district in Punta Cana, Live Aqua Beach Resort Puna Cana welcomes adults to a luxurious haven designed to captivate the mind, body, and spirit.
Live An Amazing Sensory Experience
See the smiling faces of the dedicated and friendly resort staff greet you upon arrival. Let your eyes sweep across the beautiful property, taking in the modern, clean lines and unpretentious luxury. From the comfort of a chaise lounge in the shade of your beach cabana, watch the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea caress the golden sandy shore. Take a dip in the pool and enjoy majestic sea views from a new perspective.
Listen to tropical birds call to one another from their perches atop the trees. Let the rustle of the palm fronds and the lapping waves lull you into a peaceful afternoon nap. Hear the tinkling of ice cubes as you sip from your handcrafted cocktail from The Strainer, the resort’s lobby bar, while people-watching or playing cards. Sway to the sounds of the evening’s musical entertainment and be carried away by Caribbean drumbeats.
Bury your toes in the soft sand. Feel the warmth of a sun-soaked towel as you drape it around your shoulders after a refreshing swim in one of the resort’s pristine pools. Allow your cares to melt away in the Feel Harmony by Spa Live Aqua when you treat yourself to a world-class massage. Visit one of the resort’s Zen sections and feel peace when you relax in a water hammock with the background soundtrack of waterfalls. Lie down to sleep at night after a fun-filled day with the silky softness of 400-thread-count sheets enveloping you in comfort.
The scents of a delicious dinner tempt you to the resort’s numerous restaurants. Take a deep breath and let the salt air calm your spirit. Inhale the intoxicating aroma of a freshly brewed cup of Nespresso coffee from the balcony of your lavish suite. Immerse yourself in your suite’s lavish tub and enjoy the scents of Molton Brown bath and body products.
From a sip of fine wine to the first bite of a sinfully scrumptious dessert, the tastes of the resort’s 7 themed restaurants are sure to delight. Whether feasting upon Italian, Asian, or local Dominican flavors, your taste buds will dance in response to exciting flavors.
If you're dreaming of a luxurious adult-only vacation to beautiful Punta Cana, contact me to begin planning today!
If you're a bibliophile like me, packing books for vacation can be a daunting task - particularly if you prefer traveling with print books instead of one of those flashy, newfangled e-readers. (I own one, and love it, but I still love a paperback by the pool.) Weight, size of books, number of books, and content are all things to consider when planning your vacation reading, especially if you're a packing hero traveling with a carry-on only. (This is something I will contend with on our upcoming vacation, and I am already stressed out about it.)
For our November 2013 cruise on Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas, I knew we would be relaxing by the pool quite a bit, so I tossed two library books into my suitcase. I plowed through Where'd You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple (lots of fun) and then started The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb (too depressing to read while listening to steel drums). Wally Lamb tells good stories, but after a couple of his books on vacation, I know I won't be packing another one in the future.
On our recent visit to an all-inclusive in Riviera Maya, Mexico I packed the first book in the Game of Thrones series, thinking I would become completely engulfed by the fantasy world of George R.R. Martin before beginning the critically-acclaimed HBO television series with my husband. Nope. While the book is incredibly well written, I spent most of that vacation staring at the Caribbean Sea trying to decompress from months of working long hours. This was our first vacation together with substantial time spent relaxing, and I probably would have read much more if I had packed something a tad lighter. I plan on finishing this one at home...eventually. Okay, what I mean is that I plan on watching the tv series soon.
My husband reads only occasionally but had his nose buried in a book for most of our stay at Dreams Riviera Cancun, so consider this is an honest-to-goodness book endorsement. A couple of years ago, I wrote out a list of books for my husband that I thought he would enjoy, so he has been working his way through both fiction and nonfiction slowly but surely.
On this trip, he went completely rogue and packed a book my mom had purchased for him as a Christmas gift - Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell. He could not wait to get to the pool to read each morning, and he spent most of our rainy resort day burrowed in the resort lobby, alternating between beers and coffee drinks from the CoCo Cafe.
My reading life since becoming a mom hasn't taken too much of a hit, but I do love the extended reading sessions I am rewarded with when my husband and I travel. During a course of six days, I plowed through four books, all of the page-turner variety.
While cruise ship libraries often feature less-than-desirable passenger cast-offs, the Grand Princess library, "Leaves", offered readers several shelves of purchased books including an area dedicated to the classics and the Princess Book Club. I could have easily pulled twenty books from the cases to take to my stateroom, but I grabbed The Roanoke Girls. I used a couple of my internet minutes to check its rating on Goodreads, saw the positive rating and review my friend Amy gave it (she never lets me down), and I immediately started it with a latte in one hand. While the subject matter of this book is extremely dark (major trigger warnings here), the author tends to it delicately while wrapping it in a completely engrossing family saga. What a read. This was a five-star for me.
Throughout the cruise, we really enjoyed spending time in the Leaves library. We played Scrabble from the board game collection, tried out some of the daily puzzle sheets left out for passengers, and of course, read our books. Because of the very cool temperatures of this trip, we spent more time indoors than we normally do.
Inadvertently, the last two books I read on the cruise both centered around California serial killers, one fictional and the other not.
I'll Be Gone in the Dark is the literary culmination of one writer's twenty-year obsession to uncover the man who terrorized California over a span of several years in the 1970s and 1980s. While McNamara passed away before the completion of her book, those who best knew her and the case finished a few of the chapters. Interestingly enough, while I was reading this, the Golden State Killer was finally arrested after about forty years of police evasion. Five stars.
Unsub, which I recently learned has been optioned for television, tells the story of a creepy killer (nicknamed "The Prophet") in the Bay Area who presents his victims in horrifying tableau. The case haunts both detective father and detective daughter, who must rexamine the case when similar murders resume twenty years after the case nearly destroyed her father. I read this book in one day - I could not put it down. I am not usually a fan of series, but as soon as I realized there was a second book, I put it on hold. Very dark, and could keep you up at night! Five stars.
My husband, who is normally only a vacation reader, finally started a book I have been encouraging him to read since I finished it over the course of two days in February. I became obsessed with Scott Kelly's memoir when I read it, and even signed up for and attended some local space talks, made my husband watch a Soyuz landing with me live on NASA TV, and bought a NASA t shirt. The book covers his early life with astronaut twin Mark Kelly, journey to becoming an astronaut, and full coverage of his year living at the International Space Station. Everyone I have recommended this book to has become completely engrossed and fascinated by him and his story as well. Five stars.
I don't like to brag, but I have become a sort of well-oiled machine in advance of my travels with my husband. A list-making, organized, well-prepared traveler I am, but all of that is going out the window as we count down the days until our first family vacation.
I don't feel like travel agent, seasoned traveler, or champion packer. I just feel like an overwhelmed mom of a preschooler who is joining us on her first vacation. In one of my many (MANY) texts to a frequent-client-and-fellow-mom-turned-friend, I confessed that I don't even feel like I do this for a living. I was looking to her for advice. We had a good laugh over that, and I am hoping she still trusts me with her travel arrangements. (Kidding!)
I started packing about a month in advance (I normally pack about 2 days before travel), started shopping about three weeks in advance for small necessities, made about 15 lists, and then hounded my husband to just get done too (he normally is packing 8 hours before departure). I was a ball of stress, basically.
Part of this is because we booked our DIsney cruise about six weeks from departure, and it was a whirlwind from then on - between planning for and making Fish Extenders and FE gifts (that will be a whole 'nother post), buying new wardrobes for everyone in the house (next size up for the 3yo, clothing that isn't from my husband's high school days, and a few sizes down for this weightloss mama), procuring all of the little odds and ends needed for travel, and dealing with the multiple components of this vacation (transfers, airfare, baggage, the cruise, Port Adventures, our night post-cruise) it has been a real juggling act.
We are checking luggage (2 bags) for this vacation. We are normally carry-on travelers, even for 8 night vacations like this one. We pack lighter and do laundry on the ship halfway through, which is always our preference. BUT, checked bags cost less with our carrier than carry-on bags, and we need a whole section of a bag for nighttime Pull-Ups, so larger luggage it is. Even the needs of a little tiny 3yo take up real estate, and we're not even packing formal gear or costumes.
I have picked up some "vacation surprises" for our daughter. Dollar Tree trips have been in the rotation in the days leading up to departure, and I have found so many fun surprises for our daughter - between goodies for her airplane backpack and throughout the cruise, I was able to indulge on extra magical touches without spending much money. Some of my favorite finds? A magnetic drawing board, Fancy Nancy markers, a Doc McStuffins magic towel, Mickey Mouse bathtime color-changing tablets, glow bracelets, and Disney-themed workbooks.
An entire medicine cabinet is coming along. I normally pack an abundance of medicines and first aid items when we travel, but now with our daughter coming along, I need to make sure she also has anything she might need. This includes Tylenol, Ibuprofen, Zarbee's, and Dramamine. (She has never shown signs of motion sickness, but she has also never been on a ship, so I am being cautious here.)
We are staying one night in Orlando post-cruise. Yes, I love the idea of getting home and having both Saturday and Sunday to grocery shop, unpack, do laundry, and decompress; however, there are no flights that work for our family on this day. We need a late enough flight to allow us time to travel from Port Canaveral to Orlando International Airport (and allow plenty of time for security!), and nonstop flights are always our preference, especially from Florida. We searched for a hotel with an included airport shuttle to make this easier on our family.
I am trying to keep my expectations in check. My husband and I have anxiously awaited traveling with our daughter for the first time, and we have long desired to make travel an important part of our family...but we waited until she was 3.5 to start taking her along with us so she can really begin to enjoy our time away.
That being said, going into this I have some concerns about our 3yo - she tends to be on the quieter side and is sometimes cautious about joining in, she likes routine, she prefers organized activities to just running amok and making her own fun, we are facing an extremely long travel and embarkation day, and overall I just fear she will get overwhelmed. I plan on taking each day in stride, and will try to keep her meal times, rest time, and bedtime on a similar schedule to her regular day-to-day.
Fast Facts for Travelers
~ The island is 37 square miles and can be easily navigated by rental car. One main road runs the perimeter of the island and there is no official border or border crossing.
~The island is shared by two countries and is divided into two distinct "sides":
~ St. Maarten (Dutch) capital: Philipsburg
Features many beaches, shopping, restaurants, chain hotels, and casinos. Cruise ships dock at Philipsburg and passengers take a ferry to the capital from the pier. The international airport (SXM) is located on this side of the island, and is approximately four hours from NYC.
~ St. Martin (French) capital: Marigot
Features many beaches, upscale shopping and restaurants, boutique and smaller hotels. The French side of the island has a smaller airport that primarily caters to small planes arriving from and departing to other islands in the Caribbean.
~ US Dollars are widely accepted.
~ No converters or adapters are required for electronics.
~ Ferry service from two main points on the island is available to Anguilla, St. Barths, Saba, and St. Eustacius.
St. Maarten shares the island with French St. Martin (both are pronounced the same), which makes up 21 square miles and is home to 39,000 people. The island has the unique distinction of being the world's smallest landmass to be shared by two countries (France and Holland).
We'll focus here on the Dutch side of St. Maarten.
St. Maarten by land and sea...
The average water temperature around the island is 81 degrees F.
~ Many guests to the island enjoy shallow diving to depths of 60 feet or less. The most famous wreck site on the island is the Proselyte Wreck and Reef on the south side, which features the frigate HMS Proselyte that sank here in 1801.
~ Water sports include sailing, kayaking, glass bottom canoeing, windsurfing, paddleboarding, and fishing.
~ For an extra special vacation experience, participate in the "12 Meter Challenge"and crew on one of five sailboats from the 1987 America's Cup.
~ Many reputable tour companies offer fantastic experiences around the island - check with your hotel or cruise line for details.
Landlubbers can also find many fun activities to occupy their days in St. Maarten. Contact Harley Davidson island tours and choose from a variety of themed options, including an eco ride, a biker's ride, or a champagne ride. Rent bicycles and explore the island while getting some exercise in the sunshine. Explore the 20 miles of hiking trails and climb to Pic Paradis, the highest point on the island at 1391 feet. Visit Seaside Nature Park for horseback riding, the discovery farm and garden, team building activities, and fun on the water. If you're in need of an adrenaline rush, visit Loterie Farm for ziplining through the tree tops.
Accommodations and Activities
~ Very few hotel chains exist on the island, so most are independently owned and operated. There are some all-inclusive resorts, but not many. Travelers are sure to find accommodations to match their desired amenities, style, and budget. Working with a knowledgeable travel agent will ensure this.
~ Choose from 14 casinos to test your luck.
~ Dine at one of 350 restaurants...St. Maarten is known as the Gastronomic Capital of the Caribbean.
- Shop until you drop...tax and duty free!
If you're thinking about visiting St. Maarten for your next Caribbean getaway (whether as a cruise port or destination in itself) contact me to get started with your vacation plans. We can create custom packages together, tailored to your wishes and budget, for a special and memorable vacation.
All photos are my own.
Summer is our family's favorite season of the year: it's weekends spent at Cedar Point, picnics on the beach, trips to the West Side Market, visiting the Cleveland Flea, countless festivals in our city, and Saturday morning walks for coffee and vegan donuts. We make a Summer Bucket List in May and check off items as we go.
This summer looks completely different than what we are used to and what we love to do as a family. As the number of Covid-19 cases steadily increase around the country, our family will continue to shelter in place at home. We have been home since mid-March,and feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to work from home. In four months, literally the ONLY place I have been is inside a UPS store for approximately 30 seconds to ship a package that couldn't wait any longer. We go for drives and have had a picnic at a local park. We have done grocery delivery and curbside pickup only. We have necessities sent through Amazon (we joined Prime last month specifically for Whole Foods pickup), Target, and Walmart.
Is this fun for us? No. Do we enjoy staying home constantly? No. Do I miss family and friends, and the summer activities we love so much? Yes. But for health and safety, we feel that remaining at home is important right now.
We have a four year old who has been home with us since mid-March, and we have gotten creative with our strategy for providing her special memories and simultaneously keeping ourselves sane. (In the beginning, cake helped, but then I gained 10 lbs and started Weight Watchers.) Lucky for us, she is one of the most easygoing kids I have ever known, and is quite happy spending hours a day making crafts and drawing. She's definitely watching more television than we'd prefer, but with mom and dad both working (I am part-time) it's temporary and fine.
I wanted to give you a list of specific ways we are finding the joy each day, even when it feels like joy is just out of grasp.
Some days, I have to work at it harder than others.