Planning a Three Day Getaway to Fiji

Bula!

Cue the ukuleles and prepare the kava, I am taking you to Fiji. 

Home to crystal clear waters, vibrant wildlife and the nicest people in the world, Fiji is comprised of more than 330 islands.  We only made it to two during our three day Fiji getaway before traveling on to Australia, but I can safely say no matter which island you visit, you’ll leave with more than just a sunburn to remember it by.


Day One:

After the Fijian welcome complete with a live folk music performance at the airport and a taxi ride turned tour of the island, you’ll arrive at the hotel.  “Bula,” the doormen will exclaim as the country’s traditional welcome as you join the line of honeymooners and families waiting to check in.

We stayed at the Westin in Denarau — mainly because we’re slightly addicted to the Westin’s breakfast which is seriously unbeatable no matter where you are in the world.  However, there are several hotels scattered around Denarau including the Sheraton and Raddison Blu.  We walked around all three, so I feel confident saying that you’ll enjoy first class hospitality at all of them.

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Given our short trip, we choose to stay close to the airport in Denarau and take a day trip to the outer islands.  If we had more time, I would have definitely preferred to venture to a more secluded island and escape the tourist area.

Regardless of where you stay, you will likely want to dedicate the first day to relaxation and jet lag recovery.  Grab your book, a cold drink and prop up next to the pool while you overlook the Pacific Ocean and scope out the islands in the distance for the next day’s adventure.

I wasn’t kidding about that sunburn either.  Be sure to bring plenty of sunscreen and remember that the shade is your friend.  Being so close to the equator, it doesn’t take long to fry and ruin the rest of your vacation.  You can easily spot those who challenged the Fijian sun to a duel and lost in epic fashion.  Don’t be that person.

If you’re feeling up to it, you can rent a kayak or jet ski and explore the waters around your island. But don’t stay out too long. You’ll want to secure the perfect place to kick back with a Fiji Bitter and watch the sunset.

If you do stay in Denarau, I suggest the Sheraton’s Flying Fish.  From what feels like the eastern end of the earth, the day burns away as an intense orange and red sunset kisses the coast good night.

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Don’t forget to eat (a phase no one has ever had to utter to me).  Some of Denarau’s best restaurants are at the marina.  We enjoyed Nadina which serves traditional Fijian dishes and even offers Kava tasting ceremonies.  My fiancé jumped at the opportunity to try this popular local tea that is packed with Vitamin B and is known to for it’s relaxing effects.

After you feast, rest up because tomorrow you’re island hopping!


Day Two:

Ready to venture off the resort, day two is the perfect time to jump on a chartered boat and make your way to a private island.

We used Captain Cook Cruises which took us to Tivua Island.  Not more than a half mile wide by a half mile long, the island was only inhabited with the boat full of us that came over.

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The crew at Captain Cook keeps you thoroughly entertained on the hour and half long journey to the island.  They sing, they play instruments and even host a Kava tea ceremony (once again, bae was the first in line).

On the island, we had the choice of snorkeling, a glass-bottom boat ride, paddle boarding, kayaking and diving.  We jumped at the chance to snorkel along the coral and bae even saw a shark! (Don’t worry they were relatively harmless if unprovoked.)

Our tour guide on the glass bottom boat ride explained the devastating effect extreme weather and climate change is having out our coral reef. It was a stark reminder to never take our planet’s natural wonders for granted.

After a delicious cook out and some refreshing Fiji Bitters, we were on our way back to the hotel — just in time for another mind-blowing sunset.

Awesome dinner spot number two: Rhum Bar at the marina.


Day Three:

We dedicated our third day to mental and physical rejuvenation.   An early morning run along the coast and a couple’s massage at the Westin with our own private bath was the perfect balance.

Once you feel like you’ve reached the perfect level of zen, hit up the resort’s traditional Fijian show with music, dancing and fire walking!  The food is nothing to balk at either.   This little piece of Fijian culture is the perfect end to your island layover.

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Full disclosure, seeing only two of 330 islands left me urning for more so I’d suggest at least four days but these three will get you started!

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Why I Keep Coming Back to Block Island!

Something happens when you grow up going to the same place every summer. 

It starts to feel like home. The people there start to feel like family. The atmosphere starts to feel like a culture, and you start to feel like a piece of your soul stays there year round.

Block Island is that place for me.

I’ve traveled the world and still get a rush as I step off the ferry in Old Harbor, crave the smell of a killer donut, and long for the sound of the blender mixing me a banana mudslide.

A small island off the coast of Rhode Island, “the Block” as we regulars like to call it, has all the charm and allure of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, without all the pretentiousness. 

On the island, boaters, tourists and locals have a deep appreciation for the art of relaxation.  They’ve found the perfect composition of boat, beach and bar that all comes together to form the perfect tropical masterpiece. 

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Those lucky enough to stay for more than a weekend quickly find they’re on “island time,” which is code for no concept of time at all.  Who can blame them?  Its easy to lose yourself in the sun, sand and sunsets. 

If you’re looking for a family friendly destination where adults have just as much fun as the kids, Block Island is the place for you.  Here are some of my favorites on the island.


Where to Stay

Payne’s Dock – Payne’s Dock rests in the center of New Harbor, which is the quieter of the two main island harbors. This family owned and operated marina is an oasis for boating families.  Kids are able to go crabbing or swimming off their boats while the parents are able to enjoy the tiki bar, restaurant and sunsets from the dock.  I’ve spent two weeks of every summer since I was 3-years-old at Payne’s so I can say from experience that staying here is like staying with family. 

Payne’s Harbor View Inn – If you’re not a boater and prefer to sleep on solid ground, Payne’s Harbor View Inn is right up the road.  This quaint bed and breakfast offers a more low-key vibe — perfect for a romantic getaway. Try their sushi.  It’s fantastic.

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Spring House – A bit upscale, the Spring House is steps away from the center of town where you’ll find shopping, eating and entertainment. The hotel itself is offset on a rather secluded hill, where the views are second-to-none. Their restaurant is one of the best on the island but their martini night is probably their most popular attraction.  Check it out on a Thursday!

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Rent a house – If you’re traveling with a larger group there are plenty of houses all over the island for rent.  Be sure to plan early though as many rent out as early as January.


What to do

Scotch Beach – There’s about 17 miles of beach along Block Island’s coast, but my favorite by far is Scotch Beach.  It is about a ten minute walk from Town Beach and tends to be less crowded and touristy.  It boasts spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean with sand and surf that can’t be beat.

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Kayak/Paddle Board — If you’re looking a water activity without the sand, kayaking and paddle boarding is popular around the island. There are several rental shops but I’d suggest Pond and Beyond Kayak.  Renting from here, you can paddle around New Harbor, which tends to be sheltered — allowing for a much more enjoyable ride.

Bike — Want to avoid the water all together? Rent a bike and explore the island.  Only 7 miles long and 3 miles wide, you can see most of the island by bike in one day.  Just be careful of cars and be sure to hydrate — the terrain is not the most forgiving.

Mohegan Bluffs — While you’re biking your way around the island, be sure to pull off to explore the bluffs.  These beautiful clay cliffs tattoo the southern edge of the island.  If you can handle the hike, be sure to walk down the stairs and take in the view from the beach as well.

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North Lighthouse — On the other side of the island, the North Lighthouse is worth the journey off the beaten path to get there.  I personally feel it has much more character than the Southeast Lighthouse, but I would certainly suggest seeing both.


Where to party

Mahogany Shoals – Payne’s Dock makes the list again.  A cozy, pub like environment this it truly the bar you’ve been practicing for.  The music is great, the people are great and the drinks are great.  What’s not to love?

Trader Vic’s – At the end of the dock at Champlin’s Marina, Trader Vic’s sits along side some huge yachts.  Check them out while you sip on your banana mudslide.

Captain Nick’s — Two words: Regae night.

Ballards – A stones throw from the ferry in Old Harbor, on the weekends this is the ultimate beach party.  On week nights it’s a bit more low key, John Brazile plays almost every night.  He is one of the most talent musicians I’ve ever stumbled across. Don’t miss him while you’re on the Block.


So throw on some flip flops, grab your koozie and sail away on the Block Island Ferry — paradise awaits.

An Ode to Costa Rica’s Arenas Del Mar

Having traveled to more than 10 countries and countless U.S. states together, bae and I have visited many memorable hotels.  We’ve been lucky enough to have stayed everywhere from luxurious Ritz Carlton suites to private spice garden hideaways in India.  Through it all, we’re yet to find a resort that captured our hearts quite like Arenas Del Mar

Chalk it up to the frozen sangrias or the pura vida lifestyle but our trip to Arenal and Manuel Antonio four years ago was pure magic.

We zip lined down the side of an active volcano.  We lounged in natural hot baths. We hiked through the jungle.  But nothing beat our time at Arenas Del Mar resort.

Set between pristine sandy beaches and the Costa Rican jungle, Arenas Del Mar is not just a resort.  It is an experience. 

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Here’s why we’re still longing to return.

(FYI: I truly just love this resort — no partnership or sponsorship.  I only wish!)


The Authenticity

Staying at Arenas Del Mar truly feels like staying at a luxury treehouse in the jungle.

They’ve done such a good job embracing their surroundings that it’s almost as if the resort was always there. In fact, you’re so enveloped by nature that you often share your porch with monkeys (side note: the monkeys have sticky fingers — so be sure to deadlock all the doors and keep your valuables close by).

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The Exclusivity

Being so secluded, the resort features a private beach and roads only trafficked by their fleet of golf carts.

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The beaches are so private, they offer oceanside massages.  Bae surprised me with our first couples massage here.  There’s nothing more relaxing than hearing the waves crashing as all the tension from endless desk days is worked away.


The Hospitality

Everyone you meet at Arenas Del Mar takes hospitality to another level. 

The moment you walk onto the grounds, you’re greeted by a concierge who hands you pressed juice to sip on as she describes the amenities.  From there on your encounters only get friendlier, from the server who brings you the most delicious breakfast you’ve ever eaten to the worker who offers you a coconut fresh from the tree, everyone is committed to making sure you find your bliss.

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Not surprisingly, my favorite encounter was with the bartender at happy hour each night.  Yes, they have happy hour!  Try the frozen sangria.  I still dream about it.


Until the next time, Arenas Del Mar.  Because trust me — there will be a next time.

Baecation Days, Newport, RI

How to Make the Most of a Rainy Day in Newport, R.I.

Let’s just say bae’s birthday weekend in Newport didn’t go quite as planned.  It was supposed to be a romantic trip to one of our favorite New England islands with a brisk fall stroll by the wharf and maybe even a beer on an outdoor deck for the last time this season. But…

Mother nature had other plans.

Our brisk fall day turned into torrential downpours and powerful winds, but we were determined to enjoy our day and take it on as our next adventure.

In reality, the rain forced us to explore some parts of Newport we’d never seen before!

So, here are my top three suggestions for how to make the most of a rainy day in Newport, R.I.


Enjoy a rum or beer tasting at Newport Storm Brewery 

About a 10 minute ride from the main tourist area, this small brewery is a great place to warm up and try some local craft brews.

Newport Storm Brewery, Newport RI

The brewery, which now also distills rum, was the brainchild of four college friends that has grown to distribute throughout Rhode Island and Pennsylvania.

They offer free self guided tours all day long and a guided tour every day at 3PM.   Beer tastings, which are $9 each, include four samples and a souvenir glass.

We’re already planning to return for the rum tasting, which is $10 for three samples and a souvenir glass.


Check out classic cars at the Audrain Auto Museum 

This museum is small but mighty.  With about 15 to 20 cars on display at a time, you really have time to learn the history and story behind each vehicle at the Audrain Auto Museum.

Audrain Auto Museum, Newport RI

It costs less than $15 a person and the volunteers who work the floor are true enthusiasts.  Bae could have talked to them all day!

The greatest part? They change out their exhibition theme every few months so you can explore a new set of vehicles from their arsenal of over 200 with each visit.


Chow down on some seafood at Midtown Oyster Bar 

Relatively new to the Newport scene, Midtown Oyster Bar was a huge hit with bae.

Midtown Oyster Bar, Newport, R.I.

Whether you’re just in the mood for a good vibe while enjoying a beer at the bar or in for a full on feast, they’ve got what you’re looking for.

We went all in on the seafood but they have everything from salads to steaks if crustaceans aren’t your friend.

Personally, I am still dreaming about the mussels frites and fried oyster tacos.


Though I won’t be wishing for rain any time soon, it turned out that bae’s birthday was not a total wash!