Archive for category holidays
This article is the last in a three part series starting with a seven-day vacation in Rincon, Puerto Rico: Exloring the Area〈〈Click link. Exploring and touring the surfing town of Rincon, I enjoy uncovering the details of beaches, dining, and adventure. The second article called Click link〉〉Side trips from the Town of Rincon, Puerto Rico, shares information short drives to surrounding areas and attractions. It highlights the place I personally enjoyed the most.
La Cueva del Indio has caves and isolated beaches an hour and a half north of Rincon in the town of Arecibo. If you are a nature lover and like to do some intermediate hiking, this is the place for scenic picture taking and amusement. You know you are getting close when you catch a glimpse of the tallest sculpture in the US – the 360’ Christopher Columbus sculpture named “Birth of the New World”.
Take your hiking sandals or sneakers and a couple bottles of water. Most attractions in Puerto Rico are no charge, but it is five dollars to park so have cash on hand and leave early if you like to enjoy a sense of privacy. You will get some vague directions that turn out to be accurate as you head through some ruined buildings and toward the limestone cliffs in search of caves. As you walk, you will see holes down into caves that vary in size. The craggy and volcanic- looking limestone rock is treacherous and children should be watched very closely. There is one much larger opening that is marked and leads to a wooden ladder. The ladder goes down into the cave where there is plenty of light from the other natural “skylights” above.
Inside you will see petroglyph cave drawings, a sand covered floor surrounding large rocks that lead into other areas with pools of water. Blue crabs scurry around and hide as soon as they see you. Climb up some of the interior rocks and you will notice a bat or two flying around near the cave ceiling. When waves hit the exterior cliffs, there is a spot that bubbles up from the floor and forms a small stream. The rocks are a beautiful purple near the base and in the water.
Once out of the cave, continue along the ridge and look out at the ocean and across the neighboring cliff formations that create arches and bridges of stone etched by the tides. One of the coves here is the scene of a Pirates of the Caribbean movie and you can imagine a cast and crew navigating the rocks and water to get a shot that captures the more eerie and dangerous qualities of the film.
Find an orange cone that marks a hidden trail and hike through the tropical plants to find yet another rocky cliff leading to a view of two crescent beaches. Navigate the rocks until you get to the sand and remove your shoes. This beach has grainy waterlogged sand that you will sink into at the water’s edge by about 4 inches. The softer dry sand further from the water is still hard to walk in after hiking the cliffs.
Strip to a bathing suit and carry your clothes and shoes to continue comfortably. Enjoy the beach and tidal pools while noticing the tiny snail and hermit crab shells that cover everything. Watch the birds and listen to the waves hitting the rocks.
These beaches back up to another resort and picnic area accessed from the road and there is a private home on the end owned by the same individual as the La Cueva del Indio site. The land connects to a third beach that you can walk as well and you will see a few bulky beach tables and chairs cemented into the ground.
The trek back feels easier after enjoying the beach. Finish this day with a rum drink in hand and a view of the sunset!
The hiking takes you to areas that less adventurous people might miss. Always have shoes with a good tread, a change of clothes to keep dry, and extra water bottles when in more remote areas. The safety and security are lax, so plan ahead when it comes to personal items. Keep them in a backpack on your person or in the trunk of your car out of site.
This was my favorite experience of the entire seven-day trip, but I thoroughly enjoyed Puerto Rico’s range of activities: beaches, restaurants, shopping, and historical sites. I challenge myself to find photo opportunities beyond the usual vacation images. I was not disappointed while hiking through caves, then standing high on the cliffs with views of rock bridges and arches, and enjoying beaches with incredible scenery.
As a reminder, this article is the third in a series about my vacation to Rincon, Puerto Rico in November and day trips from the Rincon area (links provided in the first paragraph above). The privacy I experienced at this beach is partly seasonal and because I visited the area from 9am until noon. More tourists were arriving as I left.
I am happy to explain how Dreamtrips Travel Club has encouraged me to explore my world and share the experience with others. My blue “You Should Be Here Sign” is a club gift for joining. For information, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You may have missed the main article leading up to this one called Click link〉〉Rincon, Puerto Rico: Exploring the Area, this article is about day trips I took just outside of Rincon. After covering the best parts of town, I had to share the surrounding attractions in another travel piece. I will also remind anyone starting with this story that the trip was taken shortly after Thanksgiving, the peak season was over, and the weather hovering in the mid-80s…
Boating, Fishing, and Snorkeling in La Parguera
We headed out to La Parguera, about an hour away, to Gina @ Johnny’s boat rentals, where we rented two small open skiffs to ride to a nearby cove and snorkel and fish with friends who had done the same.
On the way, we passed small painted cottages on stilts with covered boat slips and grabbed our cameras. We passed a dock where iguanas came to beg for food from tourists, providing another photo opportunity.
After spending the day in water so clear you could see the color of the sand at your feet and the fish swimming by, we reluctantly left, but detoured through the mangrove forest over the water, in and out of other secluded fishing spots, through tropical tunnels of bird inhabited greenery and twisted tree limbs. If you book a tour in the evening, you can visit one of the islands bioluminescent bays. The best time to go is when there is a new moon for greater visibility.
Jobos Beach in Isabela
Another day was spent about a half hour north of Rincon at Jobos Beach to see the crashing waves on the rocks of a popular surfing beach in Isabela. Once a beach primarily accessible to those living in the area, it is now under construction, with new hotels and restaurants making parking a bit of a struggle. Park along the main road or pay $5 in a local resident’s lot.
You can trek the volcanic and plutonic rock to the top of a cliff and watch the ocean waves make contact and spray seafoam in the air. You are safe in a pair of flip flops, but bare feet would be ill-advised and seriously slow you down. The beach is the typically soft sand found on most of the area beaches and the water is easily accessed for swimming.
There are Spanish style eateries to visit along the beachfront here serving local fare. The construction will likely end up commercializing the area and taking some of the native feel away. New hotels mean new restaurants and activities, but there is a cost. Puerto Rico’s economy is not the best and additional tourism dollars can help. Keep an eye on this transitioning area and see what unfolds.
Playa Sucia in Cabo Rojo
Puerto Rico has salt flats near the beach in an 1800-acre reserve in Playa Sucia – La Playuela – in Cabo Rojo. The name means “dirty beach” but it is anything but unkempt. Heading south, it takes a little over an hour to get there. Then you will drive on a white sand and salt road riddled with potholes and pools of water through indigenous trees and brush for about a mile to reach a secluded beach area perfect for picnicking. The low-lying trees create a canopy to find shade from the sun. The sand is soft and white and the water is clear blue for miles.
This is where the Caribbean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean. On one end of the beach are trails to take you along the ridgeline of limestone cliffs until you reach a jetty of rock and natural bridges for some excellent views of the entire area including the lighthouse and observatory. You will see lizards on the path and big blue crabs climbing the rock formations near the water; a spectacular site as waves crash into the cliffs are viewed from above. An unusual number of butterflies gather here that are attracted by the salt and natural plant life.
Los Morillos Lighthouse on the other side of the beach is accessible by walking up the long gravel drive to the top of the cliffs or by shuttle bus. There is a tourist center where you can get water, read about the history of the reserve, salt crystals, and the lighthouse, and purchase local crafts made as you watch; items like jewelry, hammocks, and artwork. Outside, get as close as you dare to the edge of the cliffs to capture this dramatic view. There are no safety barriers. You would not be the first person to fall, be wary.
Gozalandia Falls in San Sebastian
With all the cliffs around the island of Puerto Rico, it makes sense to search for waterfalls like the Gozalandia Falls in San Sebastian about 45 minutes away. Be prepared, you will find steep dirt road access to the parking area and it gets even steeper when hiking on foot to the waterfall area. It used to be downright dangerous, but the park added cement steps with railings and walkways to viewing areas in 2010. Wear comfortable shoes and prepare to get wet. Hiking-style sandals with straps would be recommended for traction, to protect your feet, and dry quickly.
The falls empty into a swimming hole before continuing down the rocky river bed. A recent rain will make the 50’ falls even more amazing. The water in November, after some pretty heavy rains, was still comfortable for swimming. Even though the weather was mid-80s, it was a little cooler in the shade of the trees. We spotted a drone or two taking photos above our heads to get some crazy angles.
Crash Boat Beach in Aguadilla
We just had to see what the fuss was about at Crash Boat Beach in Aguadilla. A half hour north of Rincon, local fishermen paint their boats in bright colors, load up their gear, push their boats off the beach and into the ocean to fish for the day. On their return, there is no dock to tie up to so they get a running start and head full tilt to crash onto the beach as far as they can go before dragging the boat onto rollers and hauling it up further to unload their catch.
There is a long cement pier on one end with a strange bright yellow metal doorway to nowhere. You can walk through it and continue down the pier. You may see a man surrounded by pelicans. Some train them for taking pictures with tourists and it is probably the closest look you can get to a wild pelican.
Look for a rock wall with the national flag painted on it near a path up the rock face that has crumbled from weather. A vendor style food stand is located just off the parking lot. This is a watersport beach and considered a great spot for Scuba diving. The beach is wide for sunbathing, but not for swimming.
Each of these sites is a personal experience I will treasure. Puerto Rico is loaded with other activities, beaches, restaurants, shopping, and historical sites. They provided countless opportunities for extreme picture taking.
I have one more location to share that had so many things to see and explore, I put a third article together titled, Aricebo, Puerto Rico: The Caves of La Cuerva del Indio.〈〈Click link.
La Cueva del Indio is a hiking excursion through caves to see views of rock bridges and arches and find isolated beaches with incredible scenery. The tallest statue in the US is visible as you approach the town of Arecibo.
Dreamtrips Travel Club has encouraged me to plan more travel. I am expanding my mind, experiences, and culture everywhere I go; I am determined to work on my bucket list of destinations now, while I’m healthy. I would be happy to share information about it with you. Leave your contact information on the site or contact me by email at email@example.com.
If you are a true “newbie” to cruising vacations, you may want to get familiar with some nautical terms. The placement of your temporary abode is as important as choosing the right ship. Locations to choose from include the interior (no window), ocean view, balcony, upper and lower decks, midship, aft (back of the ship), forward (front of the ship), starboard (when facing the front of the ship is the left side) and port (right side). With these things in mind, consider the following:
- Take a look at the deck plans to get familiar with the locations. Ideally, you want to make sure you aren’t near high-traffic areas with elevators, buffet restaurants, or children’s activity centers.
- If it’s a one-way trip, find out which side of the ship will be facing land and be sure to get the view you want.
- Suites in the front of the ship have great views, but you will feel more of the movement of the waves in that location especially on higher decks.
- Cabins in the back can have larger balconies, but you will feel more vibration from the mechanics of the ship.
- Suites with outside or balcony views at bargain prices might have obstructed views. Ask about the view.
It is common to get automatic cabin upgrades, so ask about promotions especially with Carnival, MSC, Holland America or Norwegian. Even if you’ve already booked, check two to three months before departure for reduced fairs and upgrades.
Another money saving tip:
Traveling as a group is a great way to save money. Dreamtrips.com and WorldVentures.com have perfected the bulk buying process. Contact an agent at WorldVentures.com to discover any cruise deals they can offer your party.
Share the research and assign an itinerary for each person at different ports of call. Meet up pre-cruise to share activity options or hand the entire process off to the Dreamtrips.com concierge service and let them build the excitement of your upcoming adventures.
The larger cruise ships can be like floating cities, so it’s easy to lose each other. Be sure to pre-arrange meeting points and times to keep in touch with members of the group.
Remember your phone will be on airplane mode to avoid roaming charges and Wifi is expensive due to the use of satellites for service.
Please leave a comment if this article was helpful or you are looking for more information.
This year Christmas comes at the end of a very enterprising year. Many crucial decisions were made, and looking back, I am right where I need to be. The Christmas spirit has shown itself to me in a series of brief, but glowing moments. I’d like to share these flash miracles.
An act of kindness
My daughter came to visit me recently when I was working on a big writing project. She is a technical writer and talking to her about the article I was writing was refreshing and helpful. It is not her general practice to hang out late, but time went by, and she stayed for dinner. She told me a story about her boyfriend taking her to breakfast at a diner uptown. They overheard the couple in a booth behind them attempting to pay for breakfast with an Amex card that the establishment did not accept. It was an ordeal as the other couple discussed who would go to the ATM for cash while the other stayed behind to wait.
My daughter’s boyfriend turned around and told the couple he would like to buy them breakfast. The couple was happily surprised and so was the worried waitress who way politely trying to resolve the issue. When my daughter and her boyfriend got ready to pay their tab and leave, a nearby couple said they wanted to pay for their breakfast because of their previous act of kindness.
I went to the post office to mail a Christmas card to my sister along with a bill. I needed 2 stamps and brought $2 with me thinking it would be a quick trip in and out the door. I got to the post office and the parking lot was backed up out the entrance and onto the road. The holiday season was in full swing. No problem, I parked across the street and walked over. The line of people was out the door so I thought I’d go to the machine for stamps, but realized it only took a card, not cash. I walked back over to the double doors going into the service side of the post office to wait in line.
I helped the woman behind me find a place to set her packages down as I heard the post office personnel announced starting another line just for people who needed stamps…but again, only if they had a card. I laughed at the irony and made a joke about needing 2 stamps. A woman ahead in the line said, “I have 2 stamps if you need them”. I looked and smiled, making a remark about Christmas and handed her a dollar. She said, “You don’t need to pay me for them”. I insisted and wished her a heartfelt Merry Christmas.
A Fortunate Turn of Events
A couple days ago I took on a new client I had been working on getting a contract with for over a month. They are very busy and need lots of writing done in the coming months. The topics for the articles are especially enjoyable for me and have allowed me to complete some extra Christmas shopping. I’ve also met some really great people lately while attending some networking functions as well. I can’t remember the last time I felt community support, friendship, and satisfaction at work all at once and to this extent. I am thoroughly grateful for the gift because it is not often that something like this comes together at the same time.
This past weekend I had several articles due, but had planned to be an extra in a movie and then go hiking in the mountains. I had researched the articles already and packed my laptop. Off I went on a three hour drive to the mountains with coffee in hand. My first background scene opened as hunters arrived in a camouflage decaled truck. I began to video my acting family as they celebrated a hunting trophy; a 6 point buck hanging outside of the hunting lodge. Josh Brolin and Danny McBride were on the set and the movie extras endured several takes in a typical winter climate, searching for patches of sun in between filming to find temporary warmth. I had a decent catered lunch before pretending to have a buffet dinner in the lodge with 110 other extras for 4 hours while the stars of the movie did take after take. When all was done, it was a unique experience for sure. Having left Charlotte at 6:15am, we wrapped up around 10:45pm, and I made my way to a hotel. I was tired, but felt accomplished.
I slept like a rock after Friday’s filming, but woke up at 7:30am and wrote 2 short articles before heading for a hike to Glen Falls in Highlands, NC. It was about 3pm when after the hike and I happened on one of the best lunches I’ve ever had: a truly amazing bowl of tomato basil soup and a chicken, avocado, and bacon sandwich with chipotle mayonnaise. I ordered a glass of wine to celebrate the successful hike. There was plenty of amazing photographic proof of the experience including photos of icicles hanging from moss covered rocks, rushing waters descending rapidly from staggering heights and recent rainfall, translucent rainbows forming in the spray, a crystal clear blue sky peeking between dark spikes of naked tree branches; nature thriving in the cold, crisp fresh air.
A Perfect End to 2015
Christmas day will be spent with both of my incredible daughters with their dates, my mother and her significant other, and my boyfriend who joined me on my weekend excursion and took all the remarkable photos. We will be dining on a traditional Christmas brunch of ham and quiche with mimosas, after opening stocking gifts over coffee and cookies. Dysfunctional or not, family is the best company when reflecting on life and another passing year’s trials and triumphs. Cheers!