When planning family trips, it's best to keep kids busy with activities from crafting and music lessons to hiking and swimming. (No one wants to hear, "Mom, I'm bored" while lounging beach side with a cocktail in hand.)
Travel is one of the most fun ways for a parent to share the cultures and natural wonders of the world. These destinations are safe for kiddos, catering to the picky eaters, adrenaline junkies, nature lovers, and beach bums too. Not only will kids be welcome, they'll find programs and excursions designed just for them on each of these global adventures.
While it may sound like a lazy beach vacay, this beautiful resort is on one of Hawaii's most exciting islands – and one of the world's top resorts for families. The resort offers tons of kid-friendly activities (think ukulele lessons and lei making) in-house. But families can also find breathtaking hikes, ziplines for the token daredevil, horseback riding and kayaking to name a few. For something more low key, splash in a two-tiered pool or the saltwater lagoon that meanders through the hotel's property. By nightfall, kids will definitely be ready to crash.
For the boy (and girl) scouts who are looking for a back-to-nature experience, this Thai getaway won't disappoint. Thailand is one of Asia's best destinations for kids. With a drive and boat ride to this hotel, they may start to feel a bit like Mowgli in The Jungle Book. Bamboo guest rooms float on top of the River Kwai and offer visitors a taste of Mon culture. It's a bit rustic (as in there are wick lamps instead of electricity. But don't worry, in-room bathrooms are a part of the deal). Kids love exploring the nearby jungles atop of a gentle elephant, or visiting natural wonders such as the Lawa Cave or the Sai Yok Waterfall. Get a few thrills without leaving River Kwai by river jumping or bamboo rafting — something to excite even the most adrenaline-seeking tweens.
Nicaragua makes for an affordable, and adventure-filled, Central American trip (and many parents are choosing it over the equally kid-friendly Costa Rica). Visitors won't see nearly as many expats and will get a great taste of the local culture, plus tons of hiking and swimming! In a bungalow at Morgan's Rock, guests are nestled in the treetops and have easy beach access. One of the more exciting excursions to make is to Ometepe Island, formed by two volcanoes, which can be reached by ferry. Explore ancient rock art and petroglyphs and brave the hike up the dormant Maderas Volcano. Parents will appreciate the beaches known for waves that are safe for first-time surfers, zip-line excursions, and an insider look at the lodge's sustainable farm where kids get to collect farm eggs and milk the cows for an awesome family breakfast!
A trip to the Great Barrier Reef is an incomparable adventure. While a flight to the Aussie coast may not be ideal for many faraway travelers with tiny tots, the experiences offered through resorts like One&Only can change a nervous parent's mind. If your bucket list includes snorkelling, sailing, kayaking, water skiing or a helicopter adventure above the reef (which is the largest living thing on Earth, mind you), then book a few tickets to Hayman Island. Of course One&Only also offers an entirely kid-centric program called KidsOnly full of excursions and meals from 9am to 6pm if parents need a break.
Camping and cruising may appeal to families that seek adventure on-the-go. Many of these trips welcome first-time campers and those who are especially interested in learning the lay of the land, whether that's in sunny California or rugged Maine. Nature lovers, budding botanists and eager explorers will get animal interactions, sparkling night skies and a new set of skills when signing up for one of these trips.
For North Easterners, this trip will make an exciting escape from the bustling city, but any visitors will be in awe of the natural beauty of the Appalachian Trail. Eager hikers can find programs like the Appalachian Mountain Club's Family Camps, which take families with kids as young as five years old around New Hampshire and Maine, near beautiful mountains and full of sleepaway camp-style fun. Expect canoeing, fishing, stream exploration and a classic campfire sing-a-long.
While this isn't exactly a family vacation, road trip style, there is so much kids can learn by a trip to this incredible archipelago. National Geographic is one of the few to organize a cruise to these islands near South America that is geared specifically at budding scientific minds. In the day, kids can snorkel in crystal blue waters and hike the shores among animals like giant tortoises and sea lions, all of which are completely unphased by the presence of humans. Parents will leave with zoologists and nature photographers on their hands.
This is a fabulous spot to dive into the world of camping as a family for the first time. Whether you're interested in nesting up in an unassuming lodge or setting up a tent under the stars, a trip to this natural Cali beauty guarantees great views and swimming. Several programs like Orange Torpedo and Oars set up multi-day whitewater rafting ventures, but there are hikes to take and plenty of beach lounging to be done as well. On Orange Torpedo's Klamath River Wild and Scenic trip, kids will get to swim in warm water and calm side creeks (the rapid on this trip is exciting, but never dangerous) and the guides will introduce anyone from five years old to the basics of both rafting and camping. These trips can also be as short as two or three days, ideal for any locals or those not wanting to commit to any extensive travel with kids.
This post was originally published on Hipmunk's Tailwind blog by The Hipmunk on July 19th.
Located on a four-mile long sand peninsula, Puntarenas is a coastal fishing town that also supports a lot of tourism. While there we happened to stumble upon this magnificent mansion turned hostel on the northern shore, the Perla del Pacifico, my most highly recommended lodging option in all of Costa Rica. This place will shock and amaze you, instantly transporting you to a tranquil environment far from Central America -- you have to see it to believe it, there is no other way to put it.
As Puntarenas is lacking in both hostels and hotels, Perla del Pacifico is the only one you will find without having to taxi it back 30 minutes further deep into the mainland. Even more conveniently, it is located on the same block as the Calypso Cruises office and dock. Right after we came back from Tortuga Island we were able to walk 60 feet and be at our new home.
Walking through the front doors you are greeted by a beautiful marble staircase that leads you either to the main level with the jacuzzi and outside courtyard, amongst other things, or upstairs to the kitchen and dining room, two guest rooms, and wrap-around balcony.
As if the house itself was not exquisite enough, it is stocked full of artwork and collectibles from all corners of the globe. This is undoubtedly due to the the owners, Michael and Elisabeth, connoisseurs of the world. Be it canvases of Audrey Hepburn, old Asian artwork, rare drawings, original pictures of Salvador Dali and his wife, or any one of a thousand other exquisite -- yet perfectly placed -- collectible pieces of artwork and sculpture, everything seems like it is in just the right spot.
Sound good? Well, it gets better. How do you become world connoisseurs? By traveling the world. And that is exactly what Michael and Elisabeth have done. From the minute we walked in the door the conversation just flowed endlessly! Michael has some of the most fantastic stories to tell, Jared and I frequently got lost in the most random yet intricate conversations with him and his wife. Regardless of whether you are a first-time traveler or cultural enthusiast, travel blogger or gap year adventurer, you will feel instantly at home here, I guarantee it. Make sure to view the many pictures below.
From the owners, Michael and Elizabeth
We - French/German artist couple - just finished restoring a historical mansion - national patrimony - that has been build in 1920 and graciously combines Venetian & Caribbean architecture. To support the project, we rent two exquisitely furnished bed rooms, each containing a modern bath room. You are going to have free use of our kitchen, dining room, salon, jacuzzi, a lovely garden with grill-pavilion and petanque-court and many other amenities of our palace.
Noteworthy I cannot stress enough how highly we recommend this place. If you are a fellow world traveler and you should find yourself in Costa Rica, I urge you to make a stop by Puntarenas, even if solely to swing by Perla del Pacifico and meet Michael and Elizabeth. The conversations alone are worth swinging out of your way to Puntarenas, we promise. You will not regret it, I assure you. I stake my name and reputation on it. Tell them Derek @ the HoliDaze sent you and you may even get a li'l extra loving ;)
Also, if you are going to be in the neighborhood, read about our trip to Tortuga Island with Calypso Cruises. Their dock is located one building down from Pearla del Pacifico and its a great way to kill two birds with one stone.
Recently discovered the White Owl Brewery in Mumbai, a warehouse-like brewery bistro located in Lower Parel at Indiabulls Center. The White Owl was conceptualized by two young entrepreneurs with fancy business degress from the USA who returned to India to set up the “Owl”. Their commitment to detail is evident by their teaming up with Obataimu Design Studio to engineer a rather unique creative concept. Right from the interior design to the menu, everything is beautifully crafted to suit the tastes of the young professional, bright-eyed entrepreneur and anyone with a free spirit.
At The White Owl, old world objects iconic of Bombay in the 1950's come together in unexpected ways. The space is an amalgamation of industrial elements with basic rudiments like antique smoked-mirror table tops and metal chairs combined with patent leather upholstery, creating a grunge yet chic atmosphere. The attentive staffs seem as though they have walked in from a '50s English movie. The music is modern and lively. As such, it is the remarkably eclectic vibe at The White Owl that sets it apart from the other restaurants and bistros in Mumbai.
Firstly, we liked the ambience of this joint. We like the fine combination of bistro and a micro-brewery like this, which was new to Mumbai. Chef Kshama is at the helm of White Owl’s kitchen which has char-grill as the main concept behind their menu. They bake their own breads, make their own dips and would start brewing their own beer, as soon as they get their license.
For starters we had the Assorted Dips with House Lavash, Pesto Chicken Skewer, Beef Paprika and Cottage Cheese Chilli-Verde. The dips (carrot and cumin paste, labneh and hummus) were really good.
The Kingfish Chimmichuri was made well where olive pil enhanced the flavour, and the Pesto Chicken Skewer, being one of their signature dishes, was indeed sumptuous dish. The Beef Paprikawas way over-cooked, chewy and could have been better. The cottage cheese was cooked well, but the would have been better with more sauce would have given it better flavour.
Next up was the Classic Grilled Chicken Salad which had chicken cuts and filling lettuce, followed by a Cranberry & Chevre salad, which is another one of their signature dishes -- and that was amazing. The combination of cranberry, goat cheese and parsley worked pretty well together and it was the best dish till then. Only one note though, the salad portions could have been slightly more.
We moved on to the main course which started with the Gourmet Potato Gratin which was pretty amazing. The caramelized onions along with blue cheese & chives is brilliant and adds a lot of depth to the dish. This was followed by the Gingerale Chicken & Asparagus which was another interesting concept. We really loved both the concept and the taste of the sauce but the chicken could have been cooked better. It was really dry inside instead of the moist, succulent chicken that we were expecting. The portions of all the mains were pretty good.
Next up was the Pepper-Crusted Rawas which in our mind was the best dish to come out from the kitchen that evening. It was perfect. The fish was cooked to perfection, the sauce was amazing, everything on the dish went well together as well as on its own and hence, we would call it a perfect dish. If you are visiting White Owl and had to try just one dish then this would be it!
Grilled Green Apple & Raisin Pie and Blueberry Cheesecake were the deserts for the day. The pie was really nicely done. The crust was baked to perfection and the green apple and raisin filling went really went with it. It wasn’t too dry or soggy. It was just right. It tasted really good even without the scoop of ice-cream it was served with. The blueberry cheesecake… hmm. Let’s just say that you should skip that and go straight for the pie.
We would say that White Owl is a nice place to chill-out and get a couple of drinks with friends and hop on to some great fish there. The starters could have been better and we recommend waiting for them to get their micro-brewery license. However we would return only to have their Grilled Green Apple & Raisin Pie or the Pepper-Crusted Rawas.
(Yes, that would be a shameless reference to the Village People song.) The west I am referring to is however WEST Brewery in Glasgow. It’s the only brewery in the UK to produce its beer according to the Reinheitsgebot - the German Purity Law that demands only water, barley and hops be used in the making of the beer. Using an intimate fusion of German traditions, modern technology and the finest ingredients (throw in a lot of tender loving care) and the result is some of the finest beers I have EVER tasted – even rivalling Munich’s Augustiner (my favourite of Munich's breweries) for that coveted special place in my heart.
I discovered WEST by sheer accident, shortly after my summer interning in Germany. Serendipity had it that after staying at a friend’s place in Ayrshire, I hitched a lift back to Glasgow with her parents and was dropped off literally around the corner. With it being a very rare sunny day, I decided to walk into the city centre, cutting through Glasgow Green (one of Glasgow’s many parks). As I wandered past the striking Templeton Building I saw the word “brewery” outside and was sold. The faint aroma of brewing hit me only afterwards. I salivated: this was somewhere I must visit.
The Templeton Building on Glasgow Green - it certainly caught my eye!
The next week I made an excuse to take my friends. We got dressed up and made the short walk from the city centre to the Green. Walking in that first time felt just like walking into the living room on Christmas Day – a kind of giddy excitement that still remains when I visit to this day. The smell and taste in the air is indescribable. There is always the cosy sound of friendly conversation. The atmosphere is always welcoming – a sense of homeliness. The use of the space, décor and lighting lends itself to a kind of pleasant intimacy without it feeling crowded. There is even a beer garden looking out onto the Green and the People’s Palace if you are lucky to visit on a sunny day.
And I’ve not even got on to the beer – Oh! The beer! There are the regulars like my favourites; the crisp, I think in some ways almost fruity, St Mungo lager and the rich, aromatic Munich Red. It is almost a ritual for me to have a pint of each, starting with the latter, before a half pint of something different – usually one of the seasonal beers, like Oktoberfest and Weihnachtsbier. If peckish, I go for a warm, freshly baked pretzel on the side (unsalted is my preferred choice).
Nowhere else is such a delight for the senses. WEST has become one of my favourite places in Glasgow, and the beer ranked so highly in my books that I endeavour to drag every German I know there. If you are ever in Glasgow I strongly recommend you give it a visit – if you don’t then you truly have missed out!
My first year of trips back and forth to the Phils to be with my [then] girlfriend I always stayed at Mango's Resort in Subic Bay. I did this for two reasons: 1) my friend Tom is the owner and I always get a discount on my room; and 2) my ex is the boss of the morn/early afternoon shift.
For you however, I would recommend (depending on the length of your stay) either a hostel or a furnished apartment. A hostel will run you less than $10/night but an apartment will only set you back $200-$250 a month, tops. But because of what I mentioned before, I am afraid I am not able to give my usual nice listing with pics/reviews. Except for Mango's, of course.
Mango's is a small establishment with only three guest rooms which are located directly over the restaurant/bar portion of the resort. The lower floor is popular with the locals (both native and ex-military) and they hold pool tournaments twice a week. But the best part is the food is fantastic and the drinks are cheap!
There is also an attached disco at the front of the resort, Rock Lobster. At eleven/midnight when the kitchen and bar closes, you are forced to get your drinks from the disco if you want to keep the night going. It's not a bad little disco, but it is small. There are several better ones within just a couple blocks.
The rooms themselves are very well done. They come with a kitchen area including mini fridge (which does come stocked with beer, soda, and water), closet, safe, and as you can see from the picture, a small living room with coffee table, extra chairs, a desk, and a large television.
Out back is a balcony that runs the whole width of the building and can be accessed via sliding doors in each guest room. There are tables and chairs there too, which make it a great li'l place to look out onto the bay or smoke a couple bowls and relax.
Jared's Thoughts On Mango's: "If you're looking for a quaint bar and hotel this is the place for you- limited rooms so book early. Since there are not scores of guests the wonderful staff spends all its time making sure you have a great stay."
[ UPDATE ] As of my last trip back in 2014, my old friend Tom has partially retired and sold several of his properties, including Mango's. While the name remains the same, the attached Rock Lobster disco has been turned into a more adult-themed "Bunny Ranch" and several new suites have been built. There is also a new beachside bar.
When I was invited to come on a press visit by Borgobianco Resort & Spa, a luxurious hotel in Puglia, I couldn’t believe my luck! While I’d been on numerous photographic assignments this would be my first freelance trip. What a treat!
And so when the day came I packed my camera kit, pen and note-book and flew off to Bari airport via Milan feeling excited and, ssh… don’t tell anyone, just a little nervous.
At Bari I met up with Sage Russell from Food Pilgrimage and we were greeted by the driver from the hotel. Soon we were on our way and once outside Bari’s conurbation we were passing fields of ancient, twisted and gnarled olive trees, interspersed with blossoming almond trees rising from a carpet of vivid orange and yellow wild flowers. Every now and again, partly hidden by the trees, we’d spot a tumbled-down trulli, the traditional cone-shaped buildings unique to Puglia; a beautiful part of Italy, yet to be discovered by mass tourism.
Pretty country lanes lead to the hotel which is a few miles inland from the lovely seaside town of Polignano a Mare. The fields of wild flowers and olive groves make an enchanting setting for the grand, white-stone hotel that nestles comfortably within its surroundings. You would never guess that it was built just 4 years ago as it was designed with the local architectural traditions and building materials in mind, in the style of the local masseria, the rather grand farm houses of the area.
On arrival we receive a warm greeting from Laure who arranged the press trip. Originally from France, she came to Polignano for a two week holiday. She felt so at home here she decided to stay!
Passing a spacious courtyard with a shaded seating area and a tinkling fountain, I am shown to my delightful room with doors leading out to my own terrace overlooking the gardens. It is decorated all in white, as is the entire hotel, creating a cool and relaxing atmosphere throughout. With indoor and outdoor swimming pools (with heated hydro massage pool), spa with sauna, steam room and gym, 48 rooms and suites, 2 meeting rooms and free Wi-Fi this beautiful hotel really has a lot to offer.
After un-packing I have a couple of hours to relax. My room is perfect with a spacious wardrobe, desk, comfy chair, flat screened TV and mini-bar. In the en-suite bathroom, everything I could possibly need is provided including a pretty matching set of body wash, moisturiser, shampoo and conditioner. The heated towel rail keeps the fluffy white towels and robe continually warm and dry. There is even a pair of slippers in the wardrobe.
We are offered an aperitif before dinner. Cosimo, our bartender and an expert at creating the most delicious cocktails with a unique flair and charm, readily suggests one of his favourites for me to try. My Aperol sour really hits the spot.
Upstairs in the restaurant the hotel’s head chef, Leonardo, has selected a special 6 course dinner to show off the best of all that the hotel and the region has to offer. Red mullet, scampi risotto and ‘slowly cooked’ shi drum (a fish, previously unknown to me) are on the menu, followed by two desserts! Cosimo, who is our waiter for the evening, recommends a Tormaresca Chardonnay, to compliment our meal. I can see that the next few days are going to be a serious set back for my diet. Never mind. Needs must!
My stay at Borgobianco is just for a few days but I have a massage in the hotel’s spa booked and a tour of Polignano to look forward to. Plus we’ll be visiting the beautiful Alberobello, with its famous trulli lined streets, the little harbour at San Vito, the medieval town of Ostuni (known as The White City), and the stunning cave system at Castellana Grote.
And the weather, although a little chilly in the evenings, is a sunny 20 degrees plus during the day – perfect for exploring Puglia. What more could I ask for?
The last few days I have been staying at Badladz Adventure Resort and Badladz Beach Resort in Puerto Galera, Philippines. Owners Sean and Mylene Cooney have put together two great locations for travelers to Puerto Galera that cater to both the diving crowd and those that just want to get away and relax.
Puerto Galera Resorts normally cater to the diving crowd with most facilities in Sabang but Badladz has made it easy for you to step off the ferry at Muelle Pier in Puerto Galera turn left and walk 50 meters to their Adventure Resort which offers PADI certification, fun dives, open water dives and more. Puerto Galera has long been known as one of the finest diving spots anywhere and Badladz Adventure Resort is known as one of the best places for divers to go.
After a day exploring underwater caves and wrecks you can relax at the Restaurant and Bar for a nice cold beer. The Restaurant offers great Mexican food along with traditional Filipino dishes, Sandwiches, Burgers and Breakfast. The Combination Mexican Plate is really good I can attest to that. Badladz Adventure Resort offers 13 rooms from single to double occupancy and has a great view of Puerto Galera Bay. The rooms offer comfortable and affordable accommodations and the staff is attentive to guests needs.
After spending 2 days at Badladz Adventure Resort I moved over to the Beach resort. Recently finished in December 2011, the Beach resort is tucked away on a semi private beach a short drive from the Adventure Resort and has 9 rooms. Badladz Beach Resort is still expanding and construction is underway for some larger double rooms since more and more people are finding their way here and enjoying the hospitality.
If you are looking to get away from the crowds and tourist attractions this is the place to go. The Beach resort offers the same menu at their Restaurant along with the same friendly and attentive staff. Here you can dine at the restaurant and look out onto Varadero Bay, relax in the beach chairs under the coconut trees or have a BBQ. When you are ready, head out onto the beach and have a swim in the bay. When I went the water was clean, cool and the waves were just right so as not to get a face full of salt water.
Whether you stay at the Beach Resort or the Adventure Resort there is a Van that will provide transportation between the two and also Sabang and White Beach along with other various attractions such as the waterfalls.
After checking in and dropping off my bags I went down for a cold beer and was greeted by name and since that time the experience at both the Adventure Resort and the Beach Resort have been fantastic with the owners and staff making sure all the guests were attended to and satisfied.