Accommodations: Baha Mar Resorts
This Resort is brand new (as in built in the last 3 years) and there are three different areas on the property you can choose to stay at. The property is all connected, but it never felt overwhelming to me like Atlantis did (we have stayed there before, and I would never go back except for a day trip after this experience). You also have access to every single pool on the property, which I thought was amazing no matter what section you stayed at. There is a Casino on the ground floor. If I had to describe this place, I would say a mix of Vegas Cosmo feel with Miami/Nobu dining. Basically all my favorite things combined into one Resort. Needless to say, we will be back!
Here are your options at Baha Mar
1. Grand Hyatt Baha Mar– We stayed here, I felt like this was perfect & affordable for families. The rooms were all white & felt very luxury. I loved how low the beds were to the ground. The room came with your own iPad to show you the result property and let you choose activities for the kids or spa during your stay.
2. SLS Baha Mar– I would stay here without the kids, or even with older kids if you want luxury feel all around. Their lobby during Christmas was a beautiful site and their pool was my favorite. Every pool has a different menu, and SLS pool was the only one that had the EXOTIC fruit plate I was obsessed with. I probably had two a day :). They also serve a variety of popsicles for kids and adults, heaven!
3. Rosewood-We didn’t get a chance to really check this area out with so much to do in our lobbies. But their properties have direct beach access and I’m sure just as amazing as the others.
The Pools: There are 6 pools! Yes, 6 very different pools. It was like you were at a different resort every hour, amazing. Our favorite pool for food menu was the SLS pool. For exploring/fun- Dean’s Blue Hole, you could jump off the rocks into the pool & there was an underwater aquarium where you went under caves. We stayed at the hot-tubs right by that area a lot too. It was the closet pool to the beach.
The Beach: Beautiful as usual and not crowded at all. Comfortable lounge chairs waiting for guest use, and there was a local Cabana boy that sold Coconuts for $15, and after you drank it he would provide an alcoholic drink in it complimentary! They had water-sports equipment you could use, but we never made it down there enough to do it.(Dress PinkChickenNY)
The Sanctuary: This was an onsite interactive water area that grants guests access to feed the nurse sharks, stingrays and turtles! Kids 8+ older can participate, or enroll your child in the kids camp and they will take them there too! (I did this for Lainey and met her at the site & watched her feed the turtles & sharks!)
The Food: Ahhh, I’m already dreaming of going back for the food. There were amazing food trucks on every
corner of the resort, from hot-dogs to tacos to snow-cones/ice-cream you name it. Then the restaurants on site, hands down as good as Nobu chain which is our favorite restaurant. We made reservations at Cleo & Katsuya both nights. So good, Katsuya was my favorite. We also had breakfast at Cafe Madeleine, Avocado toast + their cappuccinos were amazing. Again, no complaints on any food which is rare because my husband owns an Italian restaurant and is always the biggest critic!
(Suit Minnow- Mine: Montce)
(Get the exotic fruit plate)
Service: Last but not least, the service at Baha Mar was 5 star!! I don’t think one single employee ever looked mad, or answered my question with any hesitation. Anything I asked for, they delivered happily. I felt like we were their number one propriety when there were so many other guests there too.
(two piece: Tiare Hawaii)
All & All, If you can’t tell from my review, this was an absolute new favorite resort of mine I am so glad we found. I plan to take many future family trips here. Thank you to the team at Baha Mar Resorts for being so amazing!
I have been visiting Blowing Rock, NC since I was little so this post might be all over the place! My parents have owned a Condo at Chetola Resort for 20+years, so its safe to say we have been to the area a lot. Most of my travel guides on here have been to places I’ve had to research nonstop beforehand and we hit up every single hot spot during a short period. Growing up visiting Blowing Rock, I find myself going to the same usual places we love and not exploring the city like we do other places. But isn’t that usually the case in your own home-town? I’ll tell you all our favorite spots below we hit up when in town, but you probably will find more on google too that I dont know about!
Accommodations: Chetola Resort Like I mentioned above, this is where we typically stay when in town because my family owns one of the condos. The entire property is decorated & lights up during the holidays, so we are always there after Thanksgiving. They also have big events in the summer for 4th of July, and Parades for both seasons. The grounds are beautiful- So many people get married on the lawn overlooking the pond. 3 Types of Accommodations to choose from on property:
1. The Chetola Lodge- Which is just like your standard hotel rooms
2. The Bob Timberlake Inn- a Bed & Breakfast with 8 rooms that connects to the Lodge, above the main restaurant.
3. Condominiums- Which is where we stay- great for families! They range from 1- 4 bedrooms!
Amenities on site:
Indoor Pool & Jacuzzi- My kids live here, so great during the winter months.
Explore Downtown Blowing Rock: go to the shops, park, tennis courts and basketball courts less than a mile from Chetola.
Visit The Blowing Rock– This is one of my favorite scenic spots that’s very close by.
Visit Tweetsie Railroad– If your visiting BR more than twice and have kids, get the season pass. Its the same amount if you were to go twice, and you can go year round. They just started doing Tweetsie Christmas, so its pretty much open on weekends year round now too!
GrandFather Mountain– Its about a 30 minute drive, cross the high bridge and hike the trails to see all the animals onsite at the zoo.
Skiing/Snowboarding: For beginners, or a short drive- just go to Appalachian Mountain. For more advanced go to Beech or Sugar. My personal favorite is Sugar for snowboarding.
Hike a Waterfall: We’ve done Laurel Creek Falls, but follow the directions online to a tee. There are no signs.
Visit Rough Ridge for amazing views/pictures: We did our family pictures here last year, you will see them below- its a hike up and then you can stand on the rocks overlooking the mountains. Peak time is in October/November when its fall foliage!
Spa– for another beautiful spa off property, check out Westglow resort & Spa. Breathtaking! (This is the path to Rough Ridge where these photos were taken)
Bistro Roco– we make sure to always get a reservation here in advance during holidays! Favorite date night spot. It feels like you are in a cave/mountain kind of and I love there MacnCheese!
Mellow Mushroom– I know a chain, but its right in Downtown Blowing Rock and I crave their “esperanza” dipping pizza sauce.
Twigs– Go here for lunch on a nice day and sit outside, grab a draft beer.
Kilwins– Another chain, but go here for Ice cream & Lemonade when walking around Downtown 🙂
(Our dresses are from Ivy City Co)
(these photos were taken on the grounds of chetola)
*I love our tradition of getting family photos done during the holidays every year there! All photos were taken by the lovely- Sydney Gail, if you’re local to Blowing Rock area, and are looking for a photographer that knows the area well + takes amazing photos, book her here!
The beginning of our trip to Exuma, Bahamas was rough to say the least. We have traveled there before (you can read that blog post here) and we were dying to go back. From the East Coast, it typically is about a 5 hour travel day, a short two hour flight from Florida airport connections! Our plan was to take our daughter Lainey on a girls trip to meet my sister in Nassau, but my husband didn’t want to miss out and decided to join! By that point I had already arranged my son Roman to stay with my parents, but I regretted not bringing him the entire time. So if you have toddlers, this place is perfect for them! Pro Tip: Do not connect in ATL, or any big airport for that matter, with less than an hour layover. Expert tip: Wait a couple days after the weekend of thanksgiving to travel. The busiest travel day of the year is the Sunday after thanksgiving, we traveled on the Monday following and still saw the run over from the holiday by having our first flight delayed to Atlanta. Which then caused us to miss the one flight a day to Exuma from that airport (cue tears). We also were traveling with my four year old daughter, thankfully I didn’t have our son who is two that day during the chaos. We were able to get a flight over to Nassau a few hours later, then grab a connection from Nassau to Exuma. This is where it was hectic, that plane in Nassau had a 6 hour delay! :: This was Bahamas Air, who I don’t recommend flying in the future. Everyone we talked to said they were notorious for long delays. We finally landed in Exuma at midnight (left that morning at 5am). We were all beyond exhausted. This is where the vacation took an amazing turning point :). Read below on everything you need to know.
Accommodations: The entire resort includes Luxury Villas. They range from one to four bedrooms with multiple level floors. As soon as we arrived we were taken straight to our villa because it was midnight and the gate had our key ready. The second we walked in I was blown away. We had a two-bedroom, two level villa, with three total bathrooms. Traveling with kids and staying in hotels a lot can be rough, but when you stay in a Villa you have all the accommodations like home you need (full kitchen/Washer/dryer). This place was a slice of heaven.
Service: They have a full time team available at all times to help you with anything. I knew the service was going to be 5 star when I was in touch with their marketing team prior to arriving. Patricia Santos (GR Social Media Manager) connected me with Lori Beal, a travel specialist with Stenner Travel who made sure we even had food waiting for us after all our plane chaos. They both checked in on me non-stop from our delays at the airport, to us getting back home safely! You can never go wrong having a travel agent when traveling. They had their regular driver, Kevin, also waiting for us in an Escalade in the middle of the night. They made us feel like we were the only guests on the island & took so much stress off my shoulders as soon as we got there. I’ve never felt more special!
(Breakfast/lunch & dinner at their onsite restaurant by pool)
Location: Grand Isle Resort & Spa is located on a beautiful strip of Emerald Bay on Great Exuma. They have their own private beach steps down from the pool. It was a quick 10 minutes from the airport, and still felt secluded yet close to other areas of the island if you wanted to scoot around.
(Outdoor cabana bar by the beach)
Amenities: Okay, we have never stayed anywhere in the Caribbean that provided you your own golf-cart with your stay! That was my favorite thing about this place. You can take the golf-cart along the golf-course on the beach for a beautiful scenic ride or around the entire property at your own leisure. Their Restaurant on site was overlooking the pool, which overlooked the beach! The beach had kayaks, scuba gear, and sandcastle buckets for your own use too. Yeirdon & Lainey took the kayak out one day & they provided the life jackets.
Here is a glance at all the amenities on property:
The Palapa Grill ( we ate here for all our meals, sooooo good!)
Poolside and beachfront food and drink service
Free-form infinity-edge pool and an expansive sundeck patio
Complimentary supervised children’s activities
Access to the Emerald Bay Golf Course, a Greg Norman-designed course
Pack n’ plays and high chairs (subject to availability)
Nanny service (fee)
Private chef (fee)
What to do on the island, Excursions:
Exuma Water Sports: We did the half-day Swimming with Pigs Tour. We were picked up by 8:30am and brought back to our resort by 1pm. If you had kids that still nap, I recommend this tour because the boat ride to all the action is not long. This company was very smooth to book & work with. They also had the nicest tour boat we have been on, with bench cushioned seats and fully covered underneath. If you don’t have kids and want to experience everything on one boat trip, I would do the full day tour with them (We did the full tour last year, blog post here on that).
Rent a boat from Minns Watersports, and explore the island yourself if you know how to drive a boat.
You can take it to Chat & Chill for lunch, see stingrays, and go scuba diving at your own pace!
Head to Tropic Of Cancer Beach. We heard it was amazing, but didn’t have time to check it out.
Spend an entire day there, grab some local lunch, and enjoy the beauty.
Its the longest beach on the island.
I was born & raised in North Carolina. I went to school in North Carolina (except for a semester in Hawaii), and I now live in North Carolina with my family! When it comes to traveling around the state, I find myself doing the same things I am so use to and grew up to know. I wanted to break out of the ordinary and start traveling my own state like I do other cities. These next couple months I am so excited to do several “Stay-Cations” in North Carolina and see some sides of these towns I haven’t before! We have some upcoming trips to the mountains (Blowing Rock & Asheville) over these winter months so keep an eye out for those travel guides.
In NC, fall/Winter blend together for the most part. I wanted to show you my basic travel packing list for the kids when going on short one night stays in the area! Here’s whats in their suitcase:
Jackets: These Merrimane Jackets have been a life saver, not too hot, not too cold, perfect over the clothes jacket that’s so soft. It also has a chic look too it, so we rock these jackets to church too :). * Fun Giveaway happening on my Instagram page, head over there for a chance to win a Merrimane Jacket!
Basic Tees/Leggings: My go to is H&M/ Carters for basic black/white tees for layering
Pajamas: Babybreez– I always try to put the kids in jammies when traveling for comfort.
Proximity: We chose this hotel due to its convenience to downtown and tons of restaurants within walking distance.
Kid Friendly: If you saw my stories on my Instagram, they didn’t do it justice. This hotel comes with a complete underground basement with a basketball court, Bowling Alley, Slide, ping pong tables, and so on. Anyone from kids to adults could spend hours in this area having a blast.
Pet Friendly: This hotel allows dogs. Its rare that I am at a nice hotel that also allows pets, so bring your fur babies!
Rooms: We stayed in a large king room, the showers were amazing with kids- double sided no fights!
Buffet Breakfast: Starts at 8am, I would have preferred earlier because my kids are early birds but nonetheless it was delicious and easy!
Amenities: Their Indoor Pool & Whirlpool was the hit of our stay with the kids. I love when a hotel has a pool indoors because you can keep the kids entertained no matter what time of year it is! The place was huge and stocked with towels.
Restaurant on site: Their new restaurant 88 Oaks was an easy choice for dinner & Breakfast.
Service: Everything was perfect from check in to check out, to getting us anything we needed quickly.
Rooms: We had a king bed room and the bed was very comfortable, I usually toss and turn not sleeping in my own bed and didn’t wake up at all here. The bed felt like a cloud.
Proximity: This location is within a mile from North Hills shopping, and we happened to stay the night of the Tree Lighting at North Hills! A lot of fun action happening around this area for kids to be entertained.
We went to the Christmas parade in downtown Raleigh yesterday and then scooted over to the North Hills Hilton! There seemed to be a ton of events going on. A tree lighting at North Hills Shopping center with a ton of vendors/events going on, and at the same time they had one in Lafayette Village we didn’t get a chance to check out.
The Kids are wearing their Merrimane Jackets in these pictures I mentioned above- giveaway happening on my instagram page!
Upcoming Events I am excited to check out and share with you, check them out if you’re in the area!
I just got back from New York this weekend and it made me miss California even more. It probably didn’t help NYC was cold & rainy. I am definitely a “cali” type of girl. I mean the beaches, vibe, and food in Santa Monica have us coming back multiple times a year! You can see our last trip to Cali & all we did on this blog post here. Not to mention my sister lives there, so its an easy excuse to travel over :). This trip, I am so glad we found Loews Hotel. We decided to stay here on a Saturday night, and spend the day hanging out at the beach and Pier. I knew this hotel was in prime location, but I was blown away the second we walked in. The hotel has huge glass walls that face all the action on the boardwalk, with a pool overlooking everything as well. With kids, I couldn’t ask for anything better to make our stay easier.
Location, Location, Location! Prime spot right on Santa Monica Beach. You can walk right out of the hotel, and be on the beach, playing on the playground, or walking to the pier/restaurants. There are so many rental companies right there too, you can reserve everything with your room number to the hotel. We decided to go rollerblading on the boardwalk. Roman ended up loving it more than lainey!
The Pool/Hot Tub: Both are situated on 4th floor of the hotel, outside and overlooking the incredible view of the ocean. They have complimentary towels and chairs set up for you. We were there on a Saturday and it felt like the perfect amount of people without being overcrowded.
Restaurants on site: They have staff on site at the pool to wait on you, and also have dining options outdoor by the pool too. All our service was 5 Star. We ended up having breakfast outside in the morning as well because the weather and views are just too good.
Rooms: We had two queen beds, both very comfortable. The rooms also came with sound machines (this was genius for traveling with kids)
Service: From check in to check out everything was quick and smooth. The Loews Team sent us wine, cookies, and milk for the kids with a personalized card (they spelled everyone’s name right: yeirdon, lainey, roman. very impressed). I thought that was so sweet, sometimes with big hotel chains you get lost in the mix with all the people. Loews made us feel like we were there number one priority, and it definitely felt special!
Loyal Customers– We spent a lot of time in the hot tub and we met so many locals that were members with the hotel for over a decade! They all new each other and only spoke highly of the hotel. Apparently you can join and pay a yearly fee if you live in the area and use all their facilities. If I lived there, this would be on the top of my list.Here are some images from our stay with them, PS they have several other locations. Book your stay with them here!
Now to our Restaurant Hit List:
Elephante: I do a ton of research online and on instagram before we plan to visit a city (so you don’t have to!). This restaurant kept popping up as “new to the scene” and the “hottest new restaurant in Santa Monica.” I saw several of my favorite celebs/bloggers dine here online. It didn’t disappoint, you NEED to make reservations here 30 days in advance if you’re going to get in. It has a club like feel, their are two bars and the tables are laid back vibe. I wouldn’t bring kids here (the music is loud)- this is a good night out with friends or date spot. Get the “whipped eggplant” hummus. I am still thinking about it!
Scopa Italian Roots: THIS PLACE FOR DESSERT! (they shake donuts in a bag of powdered sugar in front of you). Melt in your mouth. I’d go here once a week if I lived in town, and I’d be broke too. Besides the dessert, each dish was tapa style and just as good!
Nobu, Malibu: About 30 minutes from SM, but if you’re a seafood/sushi lover its the best. Prepare to be dining among the best (John Snow from Game of Thrones sat at the table next to us, and Sheryl Crow was dining another time when we went). You need to call 30 days in advance to reserve here too.
MEAT (Venice): This place is the sister restaurant to WATER Grill (which we’ve dined several times and wanted to try a new place). I vote Water grill over Meat. This place was really big and didn’t have that intimate feel I like. The staff was slower than normal too, and with kids I cant handle eating out with slow service for their sake and mine.
Tocaya Mexican- Chain, we rode our “Bird/Lime scooters” Over to the Venice location one afternoon here. It is a unique twist on mexican and all the drinks/sauces are so good! Why can’t we have chains like this in NC :(. (The kids loved skating on the pier, their skates are from playwheels Order them here)
(We visited a few pumpkin patches that were just up for the season, one we loved the best was hosted at the platform by Mila & Emma. I hope they continue to do this every year because it was the cutest set up!)I linked all my outfits here
I had been eyeing this Airstream in Malibu for years now. I first saw one of my favorite bloggers (Amber Fillerup) visit it and blog about it here! I then started seeing it pop up all over social media after Taylor Swift did a shoot for Vogue and Kortney Kardashian did a stay-cation with her boyfriend! We decided to bring the kids, and all our friends met at the top to watch the sunset with appetizers & Wine. Luckily my sister and dad were with us, so they took the kids at bedtime back to Santa Monica and let us enjoy the place to ourselves! There is only one bed, so its best suited for a couple. We did have some of our friends come camp out on the mountain right behind us though- so that could be an option for a big group!
But let me tell you, it is worth the hype (and hike!). We chose to do one night and Yeirdon wished we had stayed their the entire time (I mean he is a doomsday-prepper and all haha). If you’re into “glamping” with a once in a lifetime view, stay here. I was happy we just did one night, I like to be social and explore area (eat out nonstop) when we visit cities. We did go to Nobu the night we stayed at the airstream, and I immediately regretted leaving and have to drive back in the pitch black up the 5 mile dirt road back to the airstream. (minor anxiety attack). Other than that, waking up to the sunrise on the side of the mountain at 6am with no one else around but animals was surreal.
Here’s what you need to know:
You need an SUV to get to the airstream, I don’t think any Ubers/taxis will take you there (its off a beaten path)
The sun sets on the airstream side, so if your going to enjoy it and get your pictures in do it at sunset!
Follow the fall itinerary below the provided us, make sure to grab wine/groceries (they have a mini kitchen on site)
The bathrooms are open air
Bring bug spray, tennis shoes
Stay on the lookout for wild animals!
Bring “on the go chargers” for all your electronics, there is no service there!
This is the Itinerary we used for one day with them:
Assuming you have the entire day off, go to malibu EARLY and either spend the day at the beach or go hike one of the many great hikes in the area (google Malibu best hikes). Finish the hike by noon, go grocery shopping in point dume or Trancas market so you can then check in by 2pm at the latest at the airstream and enjoy an amazing afternoon at the property. You can do a small hike up there if you want but odds are you will not want to leave!
If for any reason you run out of wine, Neptune’s net restaurant sells some and is only 8 minute drive down.
* Make sure to bring an iPhone cable to plug into the battery or stereo for your music and have an “offline” playlist ready as there is no reception for Spotify.
Don’t hesitate to do this if you’re in the area, I had to reserve it for one night months in advance! If you click this linkyou can get $40 off your first time booking airbnb! (this isn’t sponsored by airbnb, I paid for our stay. They give each user a coupon code to give people and that is mine).
I am officially Disney’d out (maybe for at least a year). My husband is a Disney fanatic, so for some reason we have been to Disney (Land & World) 4 combined times now in the last 4 years with toddlers! It definitely gets better/easier every time, but boy I can’t wait for the next age when they are older and calmer (no tantrums/no naps). See my first blog post on Disneyland & DisneyWorld here.
We decided to do Disneyland for one day since we were visiting my sister (who lives in LA) this month. We have never done Disney for Halloween season, so it was special in that way too. We went on an off day (thursday) that wasn’t “Mickeys Halloween Party” and the crowds seemed pretty low! Maybe when they are older we will do the trick-or-treating event one night.
We also chose to stay with Ayres Hotel Anaheim due to the convenience to the parks, and needing to have a break for toddler naps! It is ranked as #5 hotel in Anaheim, you can see the reviews here.
Here’s what we loved about Ayres Hotel:
Location- This is the main reason we chose this hotel (It is within minutes to disneyland & the Honda Center-across the street) The hotel provides shuttles to and from Disneyland for your convenience via transit as well. Beds- Very comfortable and black out curtains (for the kids). We came back during mid-day for nap-time, everyone slept 3+hours, the rooms cooled down instantly and were very clean. Amenities- They have a pool onsite if you have the time to use it, we didn’t! Service- This is key, since my husband is in the service industry. Everyone was very nice and responded to any of our needs quickly!
Here is Our Halloween DisneyLand Itinerary for One day: (Book your tickets through the app prior to arriving for sake of time, and make sure to chose MAXPASS!) 7am- do extra magic hours if staying on property.
8am- Arrive if no magic hours, We ate at Plaza Inn (make this reservation 90 days out!) With toddlers, this was the quickest and a sure way to have a good meal while seeing all their characters! (Minnie, Mickey, Pooh, etc).
Then We followed this by Touring Plans (one day with small children guide). With the MAXPASS at disneyland, you can reserve “fast pass” as soon as you enter the park every hour (ex. 9-10am one, 10am-11am another etc). We got fast passes for Haunted Mansion, It’s a small world & Buzz Lightyear.
Peter Pan’s Flight
Dumbo the Flying Elephant
Alice in Wonderland
King Arthur Carrousel
Casey Jr. Circus Train
Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride
Mad Tea Party
Storybook Land Canal Boats
Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin
Gadget’s Go Coaster
Mickey’s House and Meet Mickey
Eat lunch In this step, set the time at which you’d like to eat lunch.
it’s a small world
Mickey and the Magical Map
Meet Disney Princesses at Royal Hall
Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters
Walt Disney‘s Enchanted Tiki Room
Pirates of the Caribbean
Mickey’s Soundsational Parade
Or whichever parade is being performed on the day of your visit.
*Key things to note for Halloween Season:
-Haunted Mansion is decorated differently only this time of year! So that ride is a must.
-Take the famous Pumpkin picture as soon as you arrive if you want it, lines get long (we waited about 15 minutes to take ours).
-Grab the pumpkin Mickey Shapes beignets right by Haunted Mansion (Mint Julep Bar)! Only seasonal and so good!
I know it’s exciting visiting somewhere for the first time you’ve been dying to go to. That’s how I felt about Turks & Caicos 5 years ago, and we’ve been back 5 times since. This time was nothing short of exciting, for a few reasons. I did my first social media Instagram takeover with Villa Renaissance (where we stayed). We also got to bring my dad for his first time ever with us & one of our friends Nick traveled down too. There’s nothing better than traveling with friends and family! But here’s a secret I’ve learned from traveling so much. Vacationing to a place you love for a second, third, fourth time and so on, only gets better every single time. We created this same pic above of the kids napping on our last trip to Turks-Roman really was asleep the first time! (You can read my first blog post I did on Turks & Caicos Here) You can also see live videos from both our stays on my instagram, under my story highlights here.
Here’s why it gets better for me: 1. The first time traveling somewhere new, I get exhausted from researching nonstop because the area is brand new to me. I want to know where to eat, what excursions to do, what are the happening places. I specifically research on google now “Blog” and input city (for example turks) when looking for things online in a new city because I know most bloggers probably have similar taste to me. (SN thank god for instagram/bloggers who did travel guides and document everything, It saves people like myself so much time planning a trip! ) The second time you visit the same place, you no longer have to research or plan ahead, you know where to go and what to see. (Grace Bay Beach- Villa Renaissance!) 2. By the third time and so on, you now can hit up all your favorite spots + try new places without having anxiety you are missing something special. You can try new accommodations, new restaurants, and discover even more areas you didn’t discover when researching. (We ventured out next door to Seven restaurant & it turned out to be our favorite meal on this trip!) 3. You know what to pack. (SN: Bring water wings/floats for kids to Turks, no hotels or stores sell puddle jumpers!) 4. You probably know the best time to visit. (Turks- September for us has always been lucky weather) 5. If you’re lucky, you’ve made friends and can catch up (We love Johnny from TCI Flyboard!) Instagram here.
So if you read all that, you know this trip exceeded all our expectations :)! Below is my ultimate travel guide to have the perfect family vacation in Turks & Caicos:
(Boardwalk Villa Renaissance, wearing Lspace & Vici dolls)
*Accommodations: Villa Renaissance (Find them on Instagram here)- Go stalk all their beautiful pics like I do and get major vacay envy:)
This time around we wanted to try a new place. I knew we wanted to stay on Grace Bay Beach still (one of the top beaches in the world) and we were traveling with the kids again (lainey’s 3rd trip, Romans 2nd). We were mainly looking for our own Villa with home style necessities (kitchen/washer/dryer) that was at a more affordable price. Some accommodations on Grace Bay can break the bank, and its very hard to find luxury stays with the kids in a normal price range. Luckily we discovered Villa Renaissance and we are so glad we ending up booking a Villa with their resort. I tend to do a ton of research before confirming anything, and you can see all the reviews on where we stayed here and here. And You can book our exact room here: (Villa 603!)
Things we loved about Villa Renaissance:
-Since we went in the fall (hurricane season) we pretty much had the resort to ourselves. It felt like we had our own mansion on the island.
-Pool & Whirl Pool are in the center of the hotel, so you can sit on your balcony and overlook the pool if you’re on the second level. (I enjoyed doing this when Roman would nap, but lainey was still swimming with my dad or yeirdon)
-Bar/Food you can order for on site (We ordered a pizza from across the street and ate it at the pool one day, so good!)
-Tennis/workout center on site
-Shops/restaurants all within walking distance (most breakfast spots we went were right across the street)
-On Grace Bay Beach (voted top beach in the world)
-Sandcastle storage at the beach & several comfortable lounge chairs
–Villa 603– one bedroom suite, with a pull out couch for the kids! The king bed was very comfortable. (Specifically Villa 603 Owner Nicola was amazing, we were emailed an entire island itinerary/things to do before we arrived that was very helpful)
(Tennis Courts at VR: another bikini from Pearl Street Swim)
(View from our balcony at VR overlooking pool, outfit: Little trend setter)
(Sandcastle fun out front of the hotel, they provide everything)
(View from flyboarding, lainey wearing minnow swim)
–TCI Flyboard: Third time doing this! Gets easier every time. We love Jonathan from TCI Fly-board. He is very responsive when scheduling and is such a help when trying to figure out how to “stand up” on the Fly-board (its a jet-pack under your feet, tip: keep your legs straight!). You can tell Jonathan takes pride in his company and is a genuine good person. It takes a great instructor for a first timer when trying to fly-board (see pics), He gets on the jet-ski connected to you and instructs you the entire time. He usually sets up in front of Blue Haven resort, so anyone watching can stand in the gazebo at the end with an excellent view to snap pics. My dad ( who is 62 years old) did this and got up a few times! Typically you “fly-board” for 15 minutes but can go longer if you want. Book this excursion here.
(The kids loved watching everyone go, except me haha, roman was ready to nap by the time I went and over it, so all the videos of me he is screaming bloody murder, poor thing)
(Our friend Nick, his first time!)
–Island Vibes Tour– We always do the half morning tour. They pick you up out front on the beach (if you’re staying on grace bay) at 9am and bring you back around 1pm! The guys on that tour are so fun, I always see other boat tours jammed packed with people, and its never like that on island vibes! They stop at the prettiest beach for an hour and let you explore, and then take you snorkeling & wrap up the day by jumping off their diving board in the middle of the ocean. This is all while serving endless rum punch :). Book this excursion here.
(Roman, Yeirdon and myself all got sea sick on the tour 🙁 This has never happened before (we’ve done this excursion 4 times too) but the waves were a little choppy, so Ro got sick first all over me, prompting me to feel bad, then yeirdon seeing it all got sick too! All while lainey remained calm. That was the one glitch on this trip, but we quickly got over it once we got to the beaches)
(It started down pouring for 10 minutes when we arrived at the island so we all snuggled up under the boat and watched the rain storm, this was a cool experience, but a little chilly!)
(Diving board off top of boat)
(The best seat on the boat, you can ride up here the entire time if you want amazing views)
(All these images are from the private beach the tour takes you to, My dad did come in handy :))
-If you want to just stay at the resort, you can always go paddle-boarding or kayaking out front on grace bay beach.
(Breakfast view grace bay club, traveling clutch from justmadra)
–For breakfast, we love eating at Grace Bay Club, especially with kids you can overlook the beach in the morning while they play in the sand. We also walked to Shay Cafe & Lounge one morning, they had really good crepes! -Every Thursday there is a local fish fry, you can grab local cuisine for half the price at restaurants and listen to live music bordering the pier/beach. If you’re looking for a true island experience with locals, head here.
–Somerset Beach BBQ- We did this one year when Lainey was just with us and she danced the night away while we ate 🙂 They set a buffet out right on the beach in front of the somerset resort and set all the tables are on the sand. They have live music too, and its so beautiful to watch the sunset go down! They only do this once a week (Tuesdays).
–Seven- We went here for the first time and were blown away by food and presentation. I would sit outside if I came back, I just hate eating inside on tropical vacations when you could be anywhere in the world- I’d like to eat with a view.
(I got the pumpkin ravioli, it was so good we ordered another round)
-This is a pretty calm island, I would only come here for a chill vacation with friends, family or honeymoon. If you’re looking to rage on a bachelor/bachelorette this wouldnt be the place. They have some casinos, but I’ve never been to a club here (I know there are some though).
*Plane/Travel Packing List: (All images from pictures above/feed)
My looks: You can also shop my looks directly on the @liketoknowit app here.
One of our friends has been visiting Belize since he was little and has a place on the island, so we decided to take a trip out there to see what all the “Fish” was about :). If you love snorkeling or spear fishing, this is the place for you. If you are looking for white sandy beaches, and ability to walk right into the ocean from your resort, Belize is NOT the place for you! We like to visit places without the kids the first go-round to check out the island before dragging toddlers to a place that wouldn’t be fun for them (or the parents for that matter). This is one of the places I wouldn’t necessarily bring the kids back to at a young age because they simply cant swim in the ocean or play at the beach like normal. Belize is surrounded by reef and to get safely into the water you need to be at the end of a dock or on a boat. That being said, below are our trip details. We spent one day exploring the entire island and checking out each individual resort, so you will see our picks there! You can see my live videos on my instagram story highlights here: *Keep in mind the entire island mainly drives around on golfcarts. You need to fly into Belize City, then take a hopper flight (about 20 minutes) with Tropic Air over to Ambergris Caye/San Pedro. I would have a company lined up to be waiting for you with golf carts as soon as you arrive!
Accommodations: Sunset Beach Resort– This is where we stayed our entire trip! I love staying in Villas because you have the accommodations of being at home with a kitchen, and in Belize you can catch your seafood and cook it immediately on a grill! (My husband is a chef, so this was his dream scenario). Sunset Beach has its own pool shared between villas, and is on the south end of the island. The Boats we rented for the day would pick us up right on the dock. They also had cleaning people that can come daily if you request it.
Our Resort Top Pics after spending time at each one day (we pool/bar hopped) Las Terrazas: For the pool/view and ultimate relaxation I would chose this place. The drinks were amazing, and the atmosphere at the pool seemed very high end.
(Las Terrazas pool: Wearing Lspace)
Mahogany Bay Resort: This resort is brand new, but they are building it up so much with cute little buildings with coffee & ice cream shops all around the property. It actually kind of reminds me of the Disney resorts, where each area has its own store/section. This is on the opposite side of the island, so you don’t get the smell of the grass that some seasons on the island are affected by. They also have their own private island that resort guests can take a boat too and its supposed to be amazing. We unfortunately didn’t have time to visit the private beach, but the pictures looked amazing with your own Cabana over the water.
Matachica– For the best dock/over water relaxing pods I would stay here. But make sure to bring Bug spray! Their pool is gorgeous but situated in the middle of the jungle/Forrest, so we got bit by mosquitoes as soon as we walked up. They had cool private huts for all their guests facing the ocean with individual hammocks on the porch that would be fun to stay in.
-Thanks to social media, a follower suggested the Truck Stop! That was probably the best food/drink experience I had on the island! I got the frozen coconut Mojito, and the Japanese noodle bowl. At the truck stop, you can hang out all day, play games (cornhole etc) or get in their pool. -Kevins BBQ: a small hut on the side of the road, near southend/ before Mahogany. Best Guac, Salsa and Banana Chips I have ever had! I still am craving it. They also at Sliced Watermelon and Pitaya juice i would get for the entire day too! Just ask a local where to find it, because nothing comes up when I google it.
Dinner/restaurants -Hidden Treasure: The whole set up here is cool, treehouse feel with lights surrounding the property and two open levels. I got the lobster and keylime pie. Both very good, but it seemed the service took forever. We ended up being there over 3 hours. That wouldn’t fly with kids! -Casa Picasso: Appetizers and desserts were amazing here, so stick to that, it is somewhat tapas style. The main entrees were decent but not something I would go back for. The atmosphere is also a back room with no views or outdoor scenary whatsoever. If I’m on a tropical vacation, I want to have amazing views, not feel like I could be in any restaurant sitting in north carolina, ya know?
On Caye Caulker:
–Crepes and Dreams I had heard such good things about this place and I love crepes, so I knew as soon as we got to Caye Caulker I was heading straight to this place. The restaurant is only open from 7am-1pm, and we didn’t arrive on the island till 12:45 so I did a full on sprint and hopped on a golfcart to arrive 2 mins before 1pm. The owners were about to shut down and reopened the kitchen for us because we came sprinting in! It was like we had our own private dining experience. Best crepes I’ve ever had. We ordered these three (and they were gone in 2 mins with all of us splitting it): Eggs Benny, La Periogi, & Nutella Banana adding strawberries :).
Excursions: -Boat ride to Hol Chan Marine Reserve: We reserved local guys every day to do boat tours. I think this is the way to do it, its usually $100 a person for a full day and they take you anywhere you want to go. We hit up two snorkleing spots, but the best one was Hol Chan. You’ll pay $10 at the marina beforehand to visit this place and shark ray alley, right beside it. We have been to several islands to snorkel, and this is the clearest and prettiest place I’ve ever seen! We took our Akaso underwater camera and got several cool shots below. I also wore these shoes from Aleader footwear on all our boating adventures.
-Day trip to Cay Caulker- This is an island about 30 minute boat ride away. You can walk the entire island in about 30 minutes. There were some cool spots to have a drink, and chill at “the split” with live music/DJs and volleyball tournaments going on. The accomodations on this island are very cheap and so is the city. I would recommend just staying on San pedro, unless you’re into backpacking/roughing it a few nights!
-Spear Fish/Snorkel anywhere- The guys rented spearfishing and snorkeling gear from the marina the first day we arrived and used all of it whenever we were near the water! They were able to catch so many things in knee deep water.
My Travel Packlist below; pictured in photos: (also linked on liketoknowit app & instagram)
I am not going to lie, I was pretty nervous to go to Aruba even a decade later after all the drama the island has received. Plus, this was my first time flying out of the country alone to meet my girlfriends for a bachelorette trip. One of the things I did before this trip was to get Global Entry TSA. That was a game changer for flying. I had read aruba had really long wait times at their airport on the weekends, but by having precheck, you can skip all of that and save about an hour. I am all about savoring my island time! So I filled out all the paperwork, did my fingerprints, and BOOM within a couple weeks I was cleared for global entry! I also suggest using the app on your iphone: “Find my friends” it made me feel 100% more safer knowing they all had my location at all times.
The Island was definitely crowded with tourism, and it seems to be a favorite spot to vacation for the retirees too :). The food was very good, and actually relatively inexpensive. I flew in on a Friday and flew out on a sunday, so I didn’t get to experience the island as much as I would have wanted to.
Below are the highlights from our trip and things I wish I would have known beforehand!
I Loved the whole set up here. Huge property with pools and beach. Rooms were nice, ground floor ones Id request next time. The bar had firepits at night and played live music. We ate dinner here one night overlooking the pools, make sure to sit outside!
We stayed here one night strictly to have beach access for two days at Flamingo Beach. I would only stay at this hotel if on a family vacation and request the beach view side. More details on flamingo beach below!
Breakfast: Linda’s Dutch Pancakes– SO GOOD! get there early. Smaller place, and we waited about 30 minutes. Acai Bowls: Eduardo’s Beach Shack– I never made it here and was so bummed, the reviews and locals said it is amazing. And If you know me, I would eat an acai bowl daily the rest of my life if I could! Dinner:Papiemento– Beautiful outdoor set up! The entire place is the outside of an old house, the seating is around the pool and there are trees everywhere. The food was great and lobster was in season!
Things to do: –Visit Flamingo Beach! – Spend the entire day or your entire vacation here in my opinion! You have to either be staying at the resort, or get their early to buy a day pass for access to flamingo beach. A ferry shuttles people over every 15 minutes during the day from the hotel. Apparently they only sell a select amount a day for the island, so make sure to get there early. They have a bar and food on the island.
*Know before you go: BOOK BUNGALOWS for the day! Call the Renaissance Hotel to reserve. They are booked months in advance. They are the coolest spot overlooking the beach where you can relax on your own hammock over the water! Also bring quarters to buy food for the flamingos.