Archive for the ‘Beaches’ Category

BOGO Lodging to Celebrate National Parks Week

Thursday, April 8th, 2010

Let’s go BOGO. Who doesn’t love a buy one get one free lodging bargain? When it’s combined with free entrance to a U.S. National Park during the week of April 17- 25, your spring vacation is a budgetary winner. Sure, you could camp at Shenandoah or Yellowstone, but look at these bargains:


Far View Lodge

At Mesa Verde National Park in southwestern Colorado, explore the ancient cliff dwellings of a UNESCO World Heritage site. Visits to Cliff Palace, Balcony House and Long House require a ticket on a ranger-led tour. Be sure to save some time for hiking one of the many trails or visiting the Chapin Mesa Archaeological Museum. From your room at Far View Lodge, high on the mesa’s shoulder, the view encompasses three states and all the stars you can count in the dark, night sky. Rooms are priced at $99 with a consecutive night free. This offer is valid from April 22 – 30, 2010. And, entrance to Mesa Verde National Park is free through the end of April.

Experience Virginia’s beautiful spring with a stay at Skyland Resort in Shenandoah National Park. The historic resort, built in 1886, offers inspiring views of the Shenandoah Valley. But don’t spend all of your time looking out the window from the highest point on Skyline Drive — take a hike, go biking or visit one of the local wineries. Book one night for $125 and receive the second consecutive night free. Offer valid from April 18 – 29, 2010.


Kalaloch Lodge

Olympic National Park in Washington encompasses rain forests, rugged beaches and mountain splendor. Confused about what to see first? Why not split your visit into two Olympic experiences? First take in the rugged Pacific coastline from your accommodations at Kalaloch Lodge. The bird-watching paradise includes hiking, biking and beach-combing opportunities. Next, head 12 miles into the heart of Olympic National Forest for a stay at Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort. Soak away tired muscles after an invigorating hike through an old growth rainforest. Both Kalaloch Lodge and Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort are offering accommodations priced at $157 with a second consecutive night free. This offer is valid from April 17 – 25, 2010.

Shenandoah, Mesa Verde, Olympic — I’m having a hard time deciding which National Park BOGO lodging adventure to choose. How about you?

Photos courtesy ARAMARK Parks and Destinations.

Review by Donna L. Hull, My Itchy Travel Feet.

Miles of Sand, Sun, and Surf at Pescadero Beach in Baja California, Mexico

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

On the Pacific side of Mexico’s Baja California, in the tiny fishing village of Pescadero, a virtually undiscovered beach stretches for mile after mile. Fifteen minutes north lies the town of Todos Santos. Once a sleepy village, this artists enclave and its lovely beaches have long since been “discovered.” To the south are Cerritos and Cabo San Lucas, both overbuilt and overrun with tourists. But Pescadero is still just a handful of homes scattered across the high dunes behind the beach, many owned by U.S. and Canadian citizens. Aside from those residents, savvy local fishermen, and in-the-know surfers, this gorgeous strip of pristine sand is known to few.

Miles of beach sweep toward the northern point, a favorite surf break

Pescadero is not particularly welcoming to swimmers. The currents run strong on the Pacific side of Baja. But it offers up bounty for fishermen, whether surf casting or taking a boat offshore, and the northern point creates the kind of waves that surfers dream about. Much of the land is owned by one family, and they are in the process of building a palapa restaurant at the point, so the beach is bound to become more well known. But with the enormous expanse of sand that stretches from the southern end to the northern point, it will be many years before this beach is overrun or even the least bit crowded.

Surf fishing is popular with in-the-know locals

Day trips are great, but should you want to stick around for an extended time and drink in the serenity, there are numerous accommodation choices, ranging from a couple of upscale resorts to basic surf-shack-grab-a-hammock hostel operations. Pescadero is easily reached by car over good roads, or by bus from either La Paz or Cabo San Lucas.

Photo Credit: Barbara Weibel
Article by Barbara Weibel of Hole In The Donut Travels

Lover’s Beach and Divorce Beach Lie Back-to-Back at Land’s End in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

At the tip of Mexico’s Baja Peninsula a narrow breach in the sheer rock walls shelter two delightful beaches, Lover’s Beach and Divorce Beach. Lying back-to-back on this narrow isthmus, Lover’s Beach faces the Sea of Cortez and Divorce Beach faces the Pacific Ocean. The only way to visit these two gems is by boat, but fortunately this is no problem, since dozens of glass-bottom boat captains at Darsena Marina are only too happy to whisk you across the harbor for a fee of $5-6 per person.

Lover's Beach, tucked around the corner from the famous rock arch

While it is simple to arrange for passage, it is more difficult to actually set foot on these beaches. The waves here are often high and strong, and there is no dock. Captains bring their launches as close to shore as possible at Lover’s Beach, but passengers must ultimately jump out into the water, so it is advisable to wear swimwear and not bring a lot of gear. When the waves are not rough, it is possible to swim and even snorkel a bit at Lover’s Beach, as long as you do not round the point. Currents on the Pacific side are so strong that it is not advisable to get into the water at all; the rough seas here are perhaps the reason it was named Divorce Beach.

Lover's Beach on the Sea of Cortez side at Land's End

Once on the beach, the scenery is astounding: soft creamy pink sand with aquamarine water, all surrounded by towering rock spires painted black, ochre, and brown. Shake out your beach towel and enjoy a cerveza (beer) from one of the vendors who haul drinks to the beaches in coolers every morning. Or search the rock nooks and crannies for pirate graffiti. In the 1940’s, John Steinbeck wrote about Lover’s Beach, which was then called Playa Doña Chepa:

The tip of the Cape at San Lucas, with the huge gray Friars standing up on the end, has behind the rocks a little beach which is a small boy’s dream of pirates . . . and this little beach must so have appealed to earlier men, for the names of pirates are still in the rock, and the pirate ships did dart out of here and did come back.

After a few hours (or at whatever time you have pre-arranged) your captain will return to pick you up. Unless the seas are extremely calm on the day you visit, getting back into the boat can be a challenge, necessitating wading out into the water and timing your jump with the trough of a wave. But despite the challenges, a visit to Lover’s and Divorce Beaches is definitely worth the trouble.

Photo Credit: Top: el vaquero; bottom: naz66
Article by Barbara Weibel of Hole In The Donut Travels

Sipadan, Malaysia’s Sole Oceanic Island

Sunday, March 28th, 2010

Sipadan Island

Sipadan Island, Malaysia by Flickr user tclee9300y

Sipadan is a limestone island. That is really about it. There is nothing to do on the actual island itself, no amusement parks, big resorts with casinos, mini golf or entertainment centers. The magic of Sipadan lies underwater where scuba divers are provided with amazing wall dives where the drop off reaches 2,800 feet into the blue. Snorkelers of all levels will be amazed at what they are able to find within twenty feet off the beach. This is the result of over a thousand years of coral development atop a volcanic cone.

Over 3,000 species of fish and coral life have been classified on Sipadan alone and the sea turtle population on Sipadan is known to be one of the largest in the world, underscoring the perfect conditions for marine life. In fact, the marine life is so amazing and so impressive that Jacques Cousteau himself said it is a rare treat calling it “…an untouched piece of art.” It is no wonder that Sipadan is considered one of the top 10 dive sites in the world.

Once common around the world, islands like Sipadan are becoming increasingly rare having been developed and over dived. Sipadan, like many places, is not immune to such development and the increasing presence of less rustic bungalows are the telltale signs of development. One thing hindering development on the island, are the islamic extremists from the island of Mindanao, Philippines who have kidnapped tourists in the past. Today the Malaysian military has a clear presence on the island doing its best to protect tourists. I would say proceed with caution if you plan on going but then again, wouldn’t you always proceed with caution anyway to go somewhere remote? I believe so. Although, if you really want to stay safe, I guess there is always the local aquarium option.

So is it really worth going? Well, here is the full quote from Mr. Cousteau “I have seen other places like Sipadan, 45 years ago, but now, no more. Now, we have found again an untouched piece of art…”

Sebastien Tobler

Colliding Continents

Barbuda’s Pink Sand Beaches

Friday, March 26th, 2010

A rosey swath on Barbuda

As a beach lover, I’ve had the pleasure  of  enjoying  many beautiful shorelines, in many countries. I love pristine white sand beaches and I adore exotic black sand beaches but hands down, the most drop-dead gorgeous beaches I have ever gazed upon were on the tiny island of Barbuda.  An unspoiled, sparsely inhabited sister island to Antigua, Barbuda offers the most beautiful and serene beaches in North America.

Stretching for 11 miles nonstop, with hardly a beach towel or chair to mar its rosy glory, Barbuda’s beaches recall  true paradise.  There are lots of beaches on the island and some reveal pearly white sands but more with names like centerpiece and pink sand, present mounds of deeply hued blush-colored sand. I’m not talking slightly pink or almost pink ,like you find on Bermuda or Harbour Island. I mean true,cotton candy pink.  The color comes from crushed coral and tiny pink shells.  I keep bowls and bottles of it around my house to remind me of Barbuda’s pink sand loveliness. You can’t buy land in Barbuda, it’s all owned in common by Barbudians so the closest you can get to permanently capturing the idyllic beaches is by scooping up some of the pink sand and taking it with you.

Photo by Rosalind Cummings-Yeates

Misquamicut State Beach, Rhode Island

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

Misquamicut Beach

Rhode Island isn’t the first place I think of when a beach is mentioned, but Misquamicut State Beach is a gem in that regard.  The beach’s history page even goes so far as to say, “A popular surf beach with Rhode Island residents, Misquamicut is also affectionately known as ‘Rhode Island’s best known and most popular’ beach by many non-residents, mainly from Connecticut.”  Yes, Rhode Island can be well-known for its beaches.

Misquamicut State Beach

Famous for: Nearly a half-mile of beachfront, and being very popular with residents and non-residents alike.

Admission: Varies from $3.50 to $15.00 per vehicle, depending on residency, senior citizen status, and day of the week.

Travelers will like: All of the traditional beach activities–wading, swimming, sunbathing, surfing.

Best months to visit for weather: The beach is only open from May through Labor Day.

Best times to visit for crowds: Weekdays or before Memorial Day.  The beach often fills to capacity on summer weekends.

Nearest major cities: Providence, Rhode Island, about 50 miles away.

More info: The Misquamicut Beach website.

Related posts: Holidays in Newport, Rhode Island; Rhode Island Sunset.

Photo courtesy of: Amy the Nurse on flickr.

Post written by: Linda (minnemom) of Travels with Children.

Fort Worden State Park on Washington’s Puget Sound

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

Fort Worden State Park lighthouse

Fort Worden State Park (and Conference Center!) is a historic 19th century military fort in Washington State. The park (and conference center!) sits on 434-acres with over two miles of Puget Sound shoreline.  Many of the original buildings from the fort still remain.

There are over 80 campsites and discounts are available for large RV groups. There is a lot to do at this beautiful state park (and conference center!).

Famous for: Being an ex-military fort and the view! Also, conference center!

Admission: Varies by accommodation selected/type of rental

Families with young kids will like: crabbing, beachcombing, bird watching, museums, hiking and biking trails

Families with teenagers will like: baseball, fire circles, kayak and bike rentals, two tennis courts, water skiing, mountain biking

Other travelers will like: Madrona MindBody Institute’s many drop-in well-being and moving arts classes featuring Nia, yoga, belly dance, pilates and more

Accommodations:  There are 35 housing units (also, barracks and dormitories) available for renting year-round. Reservations are available one year in advance. Houses range from single to six-bedroom units with living rooms, dining rooms and kitchens. All houses have fully-equipped kitchens and linen service.

Best campground in the park: Both the Beach (50 sites) and Upper (30 sites) Campgrounds are popular.  The Beach Campground offers a breathtaking view of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, which sounds nice.

Best months to visit for weather: June – September

Best months to visit to avoid crowds: the park is popular year-round

Nearest major cities: Seattle, Tacoma, Olympia

More info can be found at the Washington State Parks website.

Related posts:

Bellingham, Washington Inns

The Beaches of Olympic National Park

Photo courtesy of: Up to Camp Washington

Fisherman’s Beach – A Different Kind of Beach in Mazatlan, Mexico

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

At the bottom of the long fishhook shaped bay that makes up Puerto Viejo Bay in Mazatlan, Mexico lies a different kind of beach. This is not a beach for swimming. Nor is it for sunbathing. In fact, with its hard cobbled sand, grey water, and algae covered rocks, Fisherman’s Beach is not even a particularly pretty beach. Yet is is a beach that’s worth a visit when in Mazatlan, for it is here that fishermen gather before dawn each morning and drag their their brightly painted traditional wooden boats across the sand and into the bay.

Relaxing after a hard day at sea on Pescadero Beach

By noon the fishermen have returned but their work is far from done. Once the boats have been hauled out of the water, nets must be mended, fishing lines untangled, and gear cleaned. This is a self-sufficient, industrious community; it is not uncommon to see fishermen tearing apart huge outboard engines or painting boat bottoms right on the beach. Some take on the duties of fishmonger, cleaning and gutting the day’s catch and laying it out on rough wooden benches for sale to the public. Even the pelicans are eager. They’ve learned the returning fleet means fish guts and other treats, and they boldly congregate around the fishermen, jockeying aggressively for their share of the booty.

Choose what you like from the day's catch

Unlike the rest of Mazatlan’s beaches, Fisherman’s does not have beautiful white sand and clear turquoise water, but it has one distinct advantage over those other picture-book perfect beaches: it offers up the freshest fish in town for astonishingly low prices, and the cultural experience is thrown in for free.

Photo credit: Barbara Weibel

Article by Barbara Weibel of Hole In The Donut Travels

A Basic Guide to Na Pali Coast State Park in Hawaii

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

Na Pali Coast State Park has some of the most dramatic scenery on the entire Hawaiian island of Kaua’i, with its tall sea cliffs.

It also remote and hard to get to. The only land access is via the 11-mile long Kalalau Trail, which only the truly experienced should attempt to hike all the way. It takes most hikers two or more days to do the complete trek, and covers not only uneven terrain but in some areas, it borders along the sheer drops of the sea cliffs with only a few feet of land as a buffer zone. To hike the full trail requires a permit.

Sea kayaking or boat tours are a popular way to see the coastline and cliffs of the park. One may also encounter pods of dolphins or humpback whales that like to swim near the park’s remote coves.

For a splurge, take a helicopter tour for an aerial view you will never forget.

Kalalau Trail in Na Pali State Park on Kaua'i

Located on the Island of: Kaua’i

Nearest major city: Princeville (15 miles east)

Famous for: The dramatic sea cliffs that make park access difficult.

Admission: Free

Families with children will like: There’s not much here for the younger members of the family, though teens may like the short four mile roundtrip hike from Ke’e Beach in the neighboring Ha’ena State Park to Hanakapiai Valley in this park. Permits are not required for this first part of the Kalalau Trail.

Other travelers will like: Hanakapiai Falls at the back of Hanakapiai Valley feeds a pool that is calm enough to swim in. It is a four mile detour hike from the main trail.

Easy sightseeing: Helicopter tours are available for additional fees from independent companies. They are based out of the Lihue airport. There are also commercial boat tours that can be booked for a sea view of the cliffs. These depart from Port Allen on the island’s southwest coast.

Camping information: Na Pali State Park only offers backcountry camping and a permit is required to do so. This must be obtained in advance otherwise it is illegal to camp there. Due to the high demand for permits for this park, reservations are accepted up to one year in advance. Fees are $20/person per night.

There are three areas to camp, none of which have running water and only offer composting toilets. Kalalau Beach at the end of the trail tends to draw campers for a few nights (the legal limit is 5 nights max). Hanakoa Valley, at about the halfway mark on the trail, tends to draw the short-term one or two night stays. Miloli’i Beach is the most isolated and only accessible by sea kayak or boat,

Other nearby lodging: Due to the remoteness of this park, those who don’t utilize the backcountry campsites will have to seek lodging well outside the park, and not attempt to walk the Kalalau Trail.

Best months to visit for weather: Winter months have the best weather, but aim for April/May or September to November. There may be occasional rain, but less crowds.

Best months to visit to avoid crowds: Peak tourist season is mid-December until the end of April. To avoid the worst of the crowds and high prices, visit during May or during the fall months.

Getting here:

  • Flying – Lihue is the major airport on the island of Kaua’i

More info can be found at:

Related posts:

[Photo courtesy of]

Cape Henlopen State Park, Delaware

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010
Watch tower at Cape Henlopen State Park

Watch tower at Cape Henlopen State Park

Cape Henlopen is where Delaware Bay meets the Atlantic, with Cape Henlopen State Park located just north of Rehoboth Beach in Lewes, Delaware.

There’s a lot more to do here than just beach fun, since the pier is good for surf fishing and the park allows seasonal hunting. Also, the park houses Fort Miles -an old military base.

Famous for: Walking Dunes

Admission: $8 for out of state vehicles from May 1 – Oct 31 (admission is free off-season)

Families with young kids will like: For starters, the 17 mile Cape May-Lewes Ferry crossing is itself an enjoyable trip. Secondly, dogs are allowed on the beaches. The Fort Miles barracks, the howitzers, WWII observation deck and the short climb up to the bunker all offer good fun for the kids. 

Families with teenagers will like: Surfing and driving on the beach, surf fishing on the pier, and a hike on the Walking Dune trail.

Other travelers will like: A visit to the Seaside Nature Center and Gordon’s Pond (hunting is allowed in some areas of the park in winter), an 18-hole disc golf course, horseback riding on the beach and biking on the park’s four trails.

Easy site seeing: Rent a bike and poke around the Rehoboth Boardwalk, Lewes Historical Society, Cannonball House, Marine Museum, and the Peninsula Gallery.

Best lodging: Inn at Canal Square

Best campground in the park: There are 139 family camp sites spread over the pine covered dunes. And 17 more campsites without water hookups, which you might want to avoid. Other than that, there’s not much to differentiate.

Best months to visit for weather: May-Sept 

Best months to visit to avoid crowds: Dec- Feb (no camping allowed)

Best Hotel: Heritage Inn & Golf Club

Nearest major cities: Rehoboth

More info can be found on the Delaware Parks website:

Photo by Steve Snodgrass

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