Monday, March 5, 2012

The Best Beaches in San Diego, California

No visit to San Diego is complete without taking the time to get your feet wet in the beautiful Pacific Ocean. San Diego County offers a rugged and beautiful coastline that runs from the Mexican border to Orange County. Along this stretch of ocean, you will find some of the best beaches in the world each with its own distinct personality.

One of the most legendary modern beaches in San Diego is Swami's in Encinitas. This beach is a popular surf spot and is located in a very modern beach town. However, there is limited parking at this beach so be prepared to hike a ways to get your feet wet. Although the hike is well worth the exercise for this beautiful beach spot. Another excellent beach to visit if you want to watch surfing is the Seacliff Roadside Park. Under the right conditions, you can expect to see some huge waves at this popular surf spot.

If you continue to travel south, you will find the beaches of Torrey Pines and La Jolla. The Torrey Pines beach gets its name from the rare Torrey Pine Tree, which is unique only to this stretch of coastline. This beach is a wild and beautiful location to enjoy the Pacific Ocean. Above the sandstone cliffs that line the beach, you will find the Torrey Pines State Reserve, which features over 2000 acres of beautiful bluffs and eight miles of scenic hiking trails. This beach is the ideal picnic spot.

If you continue heading south along the cliff side at Torrey Pines then you will arrived at Black's Beach, which is the only "clothing optional" beach in San Diego. This beach is also located directly below a popular hang glider bluff. However, nudity is very carefully monitored here and you should make sure you are doing it within the proper boundaries. While there is a staircase leading down to Black's Beach it is a better idea to access it through Torrey Pines Beach.

If you want to truly experience the beauty of the Pacific Ocean then you need to rent a kayak and head out of La Jolla Cove. This allows you to take in the amazing sight of the underwater ecological preserve of the La Jolla Ecological Preserve. Here you will find smooth water and beautiful forests of sea kelp below. Among the sights you will see include sea lions and many types of California state fish. There is no clearer water in southern California than this area and it is very popular with snorkelers and scuba divers.

For the typical San Diego beach experience, you want to head over to Mission Beach. Here you will get the complete California beach experience. There is a boardwalk full of bike riders, skaters, pedestrians, joggers and people from all walks of life. When you are done on the beach, the boardwalk gives you plenty of restaurant and bar options. There is even an amusement center with a trademark wooden roller coaster.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Reasons We Love Traveling To Florida & You Will Too!

I think that we have been to over a dozen beaches and cities in Florida. It seems to be the place we choose whenever we travel for a nulber of reasons. Maybe you have a certain destination you love, and like us, want to venture out and try new vacation spots.

So, without further ado, here are our reasons we love traveling to the best Florida beaches & you will too...

Florida has some of the best beaches in the world. You have an array of places to choose from that will provide you different activities, beauty, and fun each time you go. Whether you go to the Gulfcoast of Florida, the Atlantic Coast, or The Keys, you will get everything you want and need out of your trip. Plus, if you get bored or tired of one coast, which probably won't happen, try the other coast. The Keys are one vacation spot you must visit at least once.

Perfect for anyone. Whether you are a family taking your children, an older couple taking time together, a group traveling with friends, a student wanting to party on spring break, or a couple wanting to find romance, Florida will offer it all.

Orlando and Disney World. Who doesn't want to visit this magical place? With so many attractions to choose from and things to do in Orlando Florida, you can't go wrong. There is shopping, adventure, romance, great food, entertainment, and everything you can imagine from a Disney extravaganza.

Variety. Again, if you are looking for multiple vacation ideas, Florida is your spot. There are plenty of things to do in Florida. This ranges from relaxing on the beautiful beaches, sunsets, fishing from piers, driving down the A1A highway, visiting some of the most luxurious spots in the world (like Palm Beach), shopping that will have your heads and wallets spinning for weeks, boating, jet skis, other water activities, golfing, and more.

Enjoy great food, entertainment, nightlife, gorgeous architecture, history, people, and so much more.

The Weather. The weather is great. Yes, there are hurricanes and you should plan your vacation wisely. This is typically between August and October, however we have been seeing a string of hurricanes beginning earlier in the summer. Otherwise, you will receive weather that is awesome. Excellent fun and sun!

You have many options on where to stay and how to get there. Stay in a beachfront condo or home instead of a hotel. Venture off into the woods in one of Florida's great campgrounds or rent a houseboat for the week. Florida is fairly convenient for everyone for flying and perhaps even driving (depending on what part of country/world you live).

We always suggest, and do ourselves, fly down because you get there quicker, and rent a cool car for your vacation. You will have fun touring around town and exploring.

This leads us into our favorite reason...

Cost. Traveling to Florida is quite inexpensive. It can be as luxurious as you want, but if you are looking for an affordable vacation, Florida provides that too. If you are like us and on a budget, taking a vacation is something you must plan ahead and save for. Plus, you want to be able to enjoy and do everything possible. If you worry about money the whole time, your vacation becomes less relaxing and stressful. Don't let that happen. If you can't afford to visit an exotic island this year, don't fret, go to Florida and have a wonderful time!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Sarangani: Sun, Blue Sky and Beaches

"Our memories of the ocean will linger on, long after our footprints in the sand are gone." -Anonymous

I have known the road like I lived there. Just don't let me drive to prove my point, ok? After several years, not much has changed in the General Santos City to Sarangani route - which makes things just perfect. I loved the way it is and a deep wish is to keep it on hold for the longest time.

The scenes along the way are breathtaking in their simplicity - friendly locals on motorbikes loaded with farm produce from Malapatan and nearby towns, rusting bridges with interesting characters of their own (there was heavy rain the night before we traveled so the rivers were still noisily flowing), the combined blue and green landscapes interspersed with mountains on one side and a dazzling sea on the other.

Enterprising farmers sell tuba (native coconut wine) along the road, making me remember how our father Eling (a fierce tuba fan and an expert on making it) would climb several trees with his bamboo tube firmly strung on his back every afternoon to collect it straight from the top. Our car was loaded with the entire family and food in containers to last for a week (we stayed only for a night but the food was gone all the same) but that did not hamper our delight for the attractions past our car's tinted windows.

Located at the tip of the Philippines' southern part of Mindanao, Sarangani is a gem awaiting full discovery. If not for travel advisories hounding interested travelers, its long stretch of beaches will give Boracay a run for its money in no time (forecast my own). I bet many would agree! Glan has become a favorite destination because of its Gumasa beaches courtesy of Sarangani Bay. White sand. Pristine. Unadulterated.

Sorry no 5-star hotels here but you don't need one when you have the natural amenities for free. Locals should enjoy this while it lasts. This is also part of boxing great Manny Pacquiao's turf now as a newly-elected congressman. All these pluses and more, the beaches are stand-out winners.

Our first stop was a small resort that looked good on the web. After few phone calls, the reservation was set. When we got there, we decided to check first before we give it a go. Thumbs up we did. It was a downer. Let's not name the poor place that looked like it was trying to get by. Next stop was White Haven Resort.

We haven't heard rave reviews about it but after analyzing (yes, even going to beaches on an overnight stay needs serious analysis) that the next resort is still quite a distance, wd decided to stay put. It was a make or a break. Mentally, I was prepared for another downer - there goes my brief holiday. It you always get perfect vibes on trips - how can that end up exciting?

After waiting for at least over an hour, the receptionist was kind enough to let us stay temporarily at an open cottage where we ate lunch - and feasted on the smelly but mouth-watering durian. The occupants of our assigned house were supposed to leave after an hour but seemed planning to change their minds. We paid the bill and decided not to give in if it happens. Good for them they didn't.

For around US$60, we have the jolly little cottage with a grill, a cooking range, a veranda overlooking the beach and all its wide-expanse, a large bamboo table with long wooden benches that can double as beds when you do not feel like soiling the bed sheets. One of the rooms is air-conditioned and it was good to have a choice when it got warm at night.

So, White Haven lived up to its name. Perfectly. I am no beach bum but it was one of the very few times in my life (Phuket, Mombasa and Bali included) when I stayed on the water up to midnight, strong waves (and biting jellyfish) notwithstanding. This doesn't make other beaches less enticing but being a Mindanao native makes the heart more biased.

Sarangani's sunset was a glorious sight! My 83-year old mom happily concurred - you have to take it seriously. She does not agree easily - it took a lot of calculated spins to market the family holiday on her - and take her off her rocking chair at home.

Sunrise was heavenly. I mean almost literally - with soft clouds dotting the skies. We uncomfortably laid down on our backs and tried our niece's way of looking at the sky - it was surreal, like having your bedroom ceiling in soft blue and white - only on this one, sky is the limit (pun intended). I do not know how these two sights found one place for an open exhibition. But they did.

Then came the local vendors where we bought fish for breakfast. - Straight from the sea goes the newly-caught to our waiting charcoal grill. I cannot also imagine (poor in Math that I am) how all the food crowding in the car got lost in seven tummies - not counting the ones we bought along the way and those from the vendors. That is a mystery that better remained as one, I guess.

This is what we did two summers ago - just the beach and us. But it will always remind me of one good reason why I need to go home to the Philippines every time there is a chance - even at the smallest of excuses. After several years of traveling - 19 countries and counting - certainly no place like home.