Top Things to Do in St. Lucia

St. Lucia’s stunning natural beauty, pristine beaches, challenging hikes, and varied underwater life make it the perfect destination for any traveler. I recently visited St. Lucia and stayed in one of the beautiful water’s edge cottages at Calabash Cove Resort & Spa.

Go on a Boat Tour

Rodney Bay Marina is just a short 15 minute car ride from Calabash Cove. From the marina, you can hire a boat for a private tour around the island. You can customize your tour to include snorkeling, cliff jumping, hiking, swimming, and taking a mud bath.img_3063

Take a Mud Bath in the Sulfur Springs

Known as the world’s only drive in volcano, the sulfur springs are the perfect place to spend a few hours soaking, covering yourself with mud, and soaking again. Your skin will thank you after. The mud is said to help with mosquito bites, sunburn, and eczema. My mosquito bites probably felt a little bit less itchy (or maybe that was just mental), but my skin was definitely a lot softer after!img_3085

Relax in the Warm Waters of Piton Waterfall

This secluded, warm waterfall is just a 4-5 minute hike from the parking lot. The waterfall is located in the middle of the rainforest, surrounded by vibrant greens everywhere you look. The water is warm but not hot, and it is a great place to spend a few hours relaxing and listening to the birds.

Spend the Day at Calabash Cove Resort & Spa

I think Calabash Cove deserves a day all to itself. Just look at how pretty the resort is! You can relax on the beach, at your cottage, or by the pool while sipping on delicious cocktails or beers from the bar. I also must mention that Calabash Cove has a vegetarian menu with vegan options labeled. As a vegan, I really appreciated this!dsc_4168

Climb the Pitons

I hiked Gros Piton on my first visit to St. Lucia, which was a few years ago. At the time, I remember paying a few dollars for the entrance fee and a guide. I wanted to hike it again on this trip, but after hearing that it now costs 90 USD, I decided it wasn’t worth it. If you do decide to hike the Pitons, here’s what you need to know. There are two Pitons – Gros Piton (easier hike) and Petit Piton (more of a scramble/climb). Most people hike Gros Piton and it is highly advisable to hire a guide for Petit Piton, as I understand it is easy to get lost on the mountain. If you ask around once you arrive to St. Lucia, there’s a good chance you’ll talk to someone who knows someone who guides Petit Piton hikes.

 

Top Five Things to to in Grenada

I knew virtually nothing about Grenada before I visited – aside from its convenient location between my first scheduled destination (Trinidad) and next scheduled destination (St. Lucia). A few hours on Google Flights and Skyscanner led me to the realization that Grenada would be a convenient place to stop for a few days between Trinidad and St. Lucia. To say I was pleasantly surprised would be an understatement. Grenada is a volcanic island that boasts lush rainforests, dramatic mountains, serene beaches, and a vibrant underwater world. Here are my top five recommendations of things to do in Grenada:

Seven Sisters Waterfall Hike

These stunning blue-green waterfalls are the perfect place to cool off in the hot, sticky rainforest. The trail is on private property and there is a $2 US entrance fee per person.

A short 2.2 mile round-trip hike will lead you to the first two waterfalls. The hike to the first two waterfalls is easy, with a tiny stream crossing and some stairs down on the way in and up on the way out. We didn’t go any farther because I’m still recovering from ankle surgery, but I’ve heard the trail gets more difficult. Car-to-car this hike took us two and a half hours, including a long stop to swim and take photos.

Warning – the waterfalls are a mosquito haven. I walked away with over 50 bites. Be smarter than me, and bring some  “>natural mosquito repellent.

Snorkel or Scuba Dive at the Underwater Sculpture Park

The underwater sculpture park was created in 2006 British sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor. The sculptures encourage coral growth by reducing the pH of the cement and applying a textured surface. Snorkel sites can look similar after the first 30 or so you’ve seen, but this is definitely unique and worth a visit no matter how many places you’ve snorkeled!

Relax at Grand Anse Beach

With its crystal blue water and white sands.”, Grand Anse beach is the prettiest beach I saw in Grenada. A couple of the dive shops are on the beach, so it’s a convenient place to hang out before or after going snorkeling or diving.

Buy Spices at the Spice Market

Grenada is known for its spices, specifically nutmeg, so be sure to pick some up before you leave!

Spend a Day Relaxing at a Resort

Grenada has some beautiful resorts to relax at. If it’s in your budget, stay at one for at least a night and relax by the pool, do yoga, or go to the spa.

Photo taken at Laluna.

Best Places to Travel to in 2020

  1. French Polynesia: I always thought French Polynesia was an expensive honeymoon destination. And it can be. But it can also be a great place to go on adventures with friends! The islands are filled with more waterfalls than you can count, great diving/snorkeling, and hiking. United has direct flights from SFO (anddddd they aren’t red eyes 🙌🏼)
  2. Cuba: Cuba is, in a certain sense, stopped in time. Cars from the 1950s line the streets of Old Havana. Buildings haven’t been repaired in ages. WiFi is close to nonexistent. It’s now fairly easy to go from the United States. Go see it now before things change.
  3. New Zealand: New Zealand is at the top of everyone’s bucket list lately – and for good reason! The nature and hiking is unbeatable.
  4. The Balkans: Everyone loves a summer Eurotrip. But not everyone’s wallet does. Want to experience the cute city charm and wild nature of Europe without breaking the bank? Head to the Balkans. Still relatively un-touristy compared to Western Europe, the Balkans offer a similar experience without breaking the bank…and with a few less tourists around.
  5. The Maldives: You may not have much more time to visit the Maldives, with some scientists expecting that it will be completely submerged in 30 years. Visit this beautiful paradise while you still can. (Also, do your part to help slow climate change so things like this don’t happen).
  6. Central America: Mexico has been a popular destination for years now, but the rest of Central America is beautiful too. Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala aren’t too crowded and are filled with jungles, volcanoes, bland sand beaches, and hot springs.

El Salvador – Safety, Logistics, and Top Places to Visit

When I told people I was planning on traveling to El Salvador for the weekend, reactions ranged from “What the hell is there to do in El Salvador?” to “ARE YOU CRAZY?! El Salvador is so dangerous! What about the drug cartels!” After visiting, I can confidently say that there is A LOT to do in El Salvador and I felt safe taking reasonable precautions.

Safety

I am not an expert on safety and you should always do your research and/or consult with knowledgable people before planning a trip. I can speak for my own experience traveling to El Salvador, and say that I felt safe taking reasonable precautions. I traveled with a man and another woman, and I felt safer having a man there. We did rent a car and drove, but we mostly stuck to busy roads and didn’t drive at night. We didn’t go on any long hikes (because of my ankle injury), but would have hired a guide if we had. We did end up getting lost on a bumpy dirt road in the middle of nowhere, and we paid a local boy $4 to show us the way back to the main road. I didn’t feel unsafe during this experience, but I was very glad it happened around midday, and we had plenty of time to get ourselves out before dark.

In general, before I travel somewhere I may be concerned about, I search the location on Google and check out the “News” tab for recent information on what’s been going on there. I also always check the State Department travel advisories and Wikitravel.

Things to Know

  • Language: Not many people in El Salvador speak English fluently. It is helpful to have at least basic Spanish skills, and use a cell phone app or Google Translate when necessary.
  • Cell phone service: I always like to get local SIM cards when I travel. I paid about $10 for 10 gigabytes of data from Claro at the Multiplaza in El Salvador. The service was reliable and I had service at most of the places we visited.
  • Car rental: If you want to see a lot of places, it’s helpful to have a car. I highly recommend a high clearance vehicle. We rented a low clearance car and almost got stuck a few times. A few of the towns have tuk tuks available to take you to and from waterfalls and other attractions where the roads might be too bumpy to drive. We took them twice and thought it was a fun experience, but relatively expensive for El Salvador (usually $6-$10 per person round trip).
  • Roads: Roads seem to close without warning. We found that we could be following the directions from our GPS, and all of a sudden see a huge pile of rocks from construction sitting in the middle of the road, blocking passage. I’m not sure there’s any way to check for these issues, but be prepared to need to try a different route, so give yourself extra time.

Places to Go

  • San Salvador: San Salvador is a great place to start your roadtrip and is a busy city with good amenities so you can get ready.
  • Lago de Coatepeque: This is a gorgeous lake that is on the way to Salto de Malacatiupan. Head to one of the lakefront bars, have a drink, and do some Watersport activities if you have time!
  • Salto de Malacatiupan: A hotspring waterfall located between Ataca and Santa Ana is a must-see in El Salvador. The water is pleasantly warm and the waterfalls are gorgeous. This place gets crowded, but it’s mostly locals (we actually didn’t see any other tourists).
  • Chorros De La Calera: Located outside of Juayúa, these cascading falls lead to crystal-clear pools. The water is cold but refreshing. Just make sure you check the hours before you go in! On the day we went, the waterfalls closed at 3 and when we came up at 3:15, we were locked in. Someone came up and let us out within 15 minutes, but I was temporarily worried that we would be stuck.
  • La Libertad: This black sand beach is located about an hour from the San Salvador airport and is a great place to surf or catch some sun on your way back.

Thank you so much to @knot_kristin for sharing her itinerary with me. I found a couple of the stops above thanks to her!

Where to Stay

  • San Salvador: Sheraton Presidente San Salvador Hotel – $100/night for a standard room with two double beds. The hotel hosts a lot of events and gets quite loud, but it is clean and has a nice pool.
  • Ataco: Hotel & Restaurant Fleur de Lis – $150/night for a large room with two double beds, a twin bed, and two bathrooms. There is a cute garden.
  • La Libertad: Boca Olas Resort & Villas – $160/night for a large room with two double beds, a loft with a twin bed, and a kitchen area. This hotel has nice pools and is a five minute walk to the black sand beach.

Where to Eat

If you’re in San Salvador check out Soy-green and Soya Nutribar. Both have healthy and vegan options! Food from Soya Nutribar below:

7 Stops That Need to Be on Your Balkans Roadtrip Itinerary

If you’re looking for an incredible nature-focused roadtrip through the Balkans, here are seven places you can’t miss:

1: Mount Jason Observatory, North Macedonia

With stunning view of Kozjak Lake and a few easy hiking trails, this viewpoint is one of the best in North Macedonia.

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2: Hotel Sharri, Kosovo

Stay at this hotel for its location, price, and gorgeous pool with tall glass walls overlooking the mountains.

3: Kotor’s City Walls, Montenegro

An early morning walk up these steps is well worth the views.

4. Trnovačko Lake, Bosnia and Herzegovina / Montenegro

A heart shaped lake…need I say more?

5. Uvac River Meanders, Serbia

Though somewhat difficult to find, the Uvac River Meanders is one of the most interesting natural landscapes I’ve ever seen. A blog post on how to visit this spectacular location is here.

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6. Drina River House, Serbia

Famous after its appearance in National Geographic, this solitary house in the middle of the Drina River was built by a group of swimmers in 1968 and has been destroyed and rebuilt several times since.

7. Seven Rila Lakes, Bulgaria

The trail is located in Rila National Park. Take a lift or Jeep for 20 lev to get to the trailhead. It’s still pretty snowy in early summer, so I recommend going in mid to late summer.

Top Five Things to Do in the Maldives

Before going to the Maldives, I was warned that I might get bored. My mom had read several blogs and was convinced I would want to leave after a day or two because I would run out of things to do. She’s right that I wouldn’t have wanted to stay in the Maldives very long, but four days was the perfect amount of time and even on a remote island with nothing but a resort, you can still find a few things to do. Here are my top 5 recommendations for things to do in the Maldives:

  1. Stay in an overwater villa: This was my first time staying in an overwater villa and I loved it. There’s just something about being able to get out of bed and go straight into the ocean. The sound of the waves was soothing at night .
  2. Scuba dive: The water is clear and warm and it feels good to occasionally be active in such a relaxing place.
  3. Go for a sunrise walk: Sunrises and sunsets in the Maldives are gorgeous. And if you happen to be from the US like I am, waking up for sunrise won’t be too difficult thanks to jet lag 😉
  4. Go swimming/snorkeling: The water is a nice temperature and many hotels will provide snorkeling equipment with your stay.
  5. Take photos: Whatever you do, don’t forget your camera! The Maldives are incredible and you’ll definitely want to spend some time taking pictures.

Best Hikes in Sedona

  1. Devils Bridge: A 4.2 mile out and back trail that features a stunning natural bridge. I recommend visiting at sunrise or sunset.
  2. Cathedral Rock: A 1.2 mile out and back hike that includes some scrambling. Cathedral Rock is a Vortex, which means it is thought to be a swirling center of energy that is conducive to healing, meditation, and self-exploration. I recommend visiting at sunset.
  3. Birthing Cave: A 3 mile out and back hike. Start on Long Canyon Trail and continue for about .6 miles until you see a small section of wooden and wire fence on your left. Take the path to the left of the fence and hike for a few minutes until you see a depression in the wall to your right – that is the cave. Once you see the depression take the path on the right and hike up to the cave.

The How-To Guide on Solo Travel for Women

Solo travelling has soared over the last few years. A study undertaken by Phocuswork found that 7 out of 10 travellers in the US in 2016 were solo travellers. The rise in the number of solo travellers is due to a number of factors, the most important being that travelling alone can be incredibly rewarding and allows you to be much more flexible than if you were with another person or group. The other reason is that, despite the label, solo travel does not necessarily mean you’ll be alone. In fact, you have the freedom to decide how alone you want to be. Of course you’ll start off on your own, which can be daunting if it’s your first time, but within the first 24 hours you’ve probably already made a friend.

However even with all the advice in the world, the best way of travelling is figuring out what works best for you and what makes you feel safe, which always takes a bit of time. I, for instance, soon realised that hopping from city to city every other day was not the right way for me to travel. But I met plenty of people who found that ideal. Figuring out your own way of travelling is part of the “travelling experience”. Nevertheless, there are still a few measures you can that make things easier while you’re figuring it out.

1. Hostels

It probably doesn’t even need saying, but hostels are the traveller hubs. Most people, (or specifically those travelling alone) are usually open to meeting new people and spending the day with a stranger. In my experience, the cheaper hostels were the most sociable. The Hostelworld app is a great way to find the one with the best value for money. Depending on the city, most hostels have spare beds the day before which gives you ample time and flexibility. If you’re not comfortable sharing mixed dorms, almost every hostel has women-only rooms – however it’s best to be a bit more organised when booking those because they tend to be the first to go.

  • 2. Take a ‘free’ walking tour
  • I use the word ‘free’ delicately, because a tip at the end is almost assumed. You might prefer to go wandering off by yourself (which is definitely worth doing anyway) but if you find yourself in a historical landmark, a walking tour is the perfect combination of meeting new people and learning about the history of the land.

    If you’re looking for a good tour company, ask the hostel or hotel you’re staying at who tend to partner up with some of the smaller more independent touring companies that tailor to specific destinations. It’s always a good idea to check out reviews before you choose – it can also give you an idea of the type of people who go on the tours – whether young travellers or families.

  • 3. Airbnb Experiences
  • Everyone is talking about Experience. Artificial Intelligence started it, Marketing and Sales have picked up on it, and now Airbnb are taking the idea to expand their business. Whether it’s trendy or not, these are great ways of branching out and trying something random. It provides everything from classes, to local activities, to pub-crawls, and offers a unique way of linking up with fellow travellers. If you’re worried about that feeling of inauthenticity from regular tours, Airbnb Experiences provide smaller gems of experiences and can sometimes take you off the beaten track if you look carefully. When it was first introduced, it instantly became a popular feature and is now used all over the world.

  • 4. Go Couchsurfing
  • I had some of the most rewarding experiences through Couchsurfing; the people you meet are often the friendliest and most inviting people – some of whom I’m still in touch with today. Living (even briefly) with someone who knows the city well gives more insight and depth into local culture than any other ‘experience’. After hearing about a few negative Couchsurfing experiences from other women I met, I always made sure to stay with people who had really good reviews, from a mix of both men and women. I tended to stay with more women simply because I felt more comfortable doing so – but that remains entirely subjective.

  • 5. Wear the right clothing
  • As the famous explorer and motivational speaker Sir Ranulph Fiennes said “there is no bad weather, only inappropriate clothing”, you need to dress the part. While Ranulph was referring to the physical conditions of a place, I think this also applies culturally. It’s important to respect a culture by wearing appropriate clothing and adapting to different standards of dress code. Don’t simply copy what other travellers wear because they might not necessarily know. Read up on a place before you go and make sure you have the right clothing. Also, invest in a great pair of shoes.

     

    Written by Flora Meadmore

    Instagram Accounts that Will Feature Your Outdoor Canada Photos

    These accounts will feature your photos from all over Canada:

    1. @canada
    2. @parks.canada
    3. @imagesofcanada 
    4. @tourcanada 
    5. @enjoycanada 
    6. @explorecanada 

    The following are region-specific accounts:

    1. @hellobc -British Columbia
    2. @travelalberta – Alberta
    3. @tourismsask – Saskatchewan
    4. @TravelManitoba – Manitoba
    5. @ontariotravel – Ontario
    6. @tourismequebec – Quebec
    7. @destinationnb – New Brunswick
    8. @visitnovascotia – Nova Scotia
    9. @newfoundlandlabrador – Newfoundland Labrador
    10. @tourismpei – Prince Edward Island
    11. @travelyukon – Yukon
    12. @spectacularnwt – Northwest Territories

    23 Instagram Accounts that Will Feature Your Arizona Travel Photos

    If you’re looking to get exposure on Instagram by having your Arizona photos shared, check out the following Arizona feature accounts. You can tag them in your photos on Instagram and use their hashtags for a chance to be featured.

    1. @ilov3az #iloveaz
    2. @capturearizona #capturearizona
    3. @arizona_hiking.co
    4. @only_in_arizona #onlyinaz2019
    5. @instagramaz #ig_arizona
    6. @arizonaisgorgeous #arizonaisgorgeous
    7. @conquerarizona #conquerarizona
    8. @arizonasfamily #azfamily
    9. @arizonahikersguide #arizonahikersguide
    10. @sunsets.arizona #sunsets_arizona
    11. @arizonadaytrip #arizonadaytrip
    12. @visit_arizona #visitarizona
    13. @natural_arizona #naturalarizona
    14. @see_arizona #see_arizona
    15. @visit.arizona
    16. @arizonatourisme #visitarizona
    17. @igsouthwest
    18. @lifeisgoodarizona #lifeisgoodarizona
    19. @hikearizona #hikeaz #hikearizona
    20. @abc15arizona #abc15
    21. @12newsaz #beon12
    22. @weownthenight_az #weownthenight_az
    23. @arizona_hiking #arizonahiking