sunset

Christmas in Maui

Ask any Seattleite, there is absolutely nothing sexy about winter’s 50 shades of grey. It is straight up depressing. Say hello to darkness at 4:00pm everyone.

The most common remedy for the winter blues is drinking or flying somewhere sunny (or both). This year for Christmas, I choose sunshine.

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A 5-hour direct flight unloads a pale version of myself and my extended family on the shores of Maui. We are not alone. Snowbirds from all around the Pacific Northwest, Alaska and Western Canada scramble through the airport, all begging to be warm and see the sunshine again…. pleaseeeeee!

Maui does not disappoint. It is warm, sunny and has a laid back I-don’t-need-to-wear-shoes-vibe. It’s no coincidence that the only radio station in the US that plays reggae 24 hours a day is based here. Yeah man.

Still Maui resorts can seem like a lame Club Med for families with $15 lava flows and kitschy Hawaiian shirts. However the island is geographically beautiful with plenty of stuff to do for active travelers like:

Stand Up Paddle Boarding (SUP)

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Turns out there is a reason everyone is into stand up paddle boarding these days. It’s freakin’ fun. And perfect for spotting mossy sea turtles and lemon yellow fish in clear, warm tropical water. Fish just hang out and turtles move very, very slowly while sunshine ripples off their backs. Read More

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Enjoying Island Life in Koh Tao, Thailand

Every time I found myself stuck in on a bus in rush hour traffic in Buenos Aires, I would close my eyes and imagine myself diving into warm, aqua marine water on a tropical island far, far away.

This week, I found out that my happy place actually exists.

Koh Tao

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The runt of the Thai island litter, Koh Tao (aka Turtle Island) has amazing shallow and sandy bays and is famous for being one of the cheapest places in the world to go diving. The island is covered in plumeria, geckos and golden bearded dive-bums. This is the perfect place to RE-LAX, and go underwater to smile and wave at passing schools of fishes.

We got our fins wet by taking a full-day snorkel tour around the island, the highlight being swimming with black tipped sharks in Shark Bay. After that I decided it was time to dive.

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It had been 5 years since I completed my PADI Open Water course in Honduras, and therefore it was definitely time for a refresher course. My Argie Divemaster Pablo at Alvaro Diving Center was incredibly chill and patient, exactly what I needed after a few too many years above the sea.

While the whole concept of breathing underwater seems offensively unnatural to me, once I get there, I realize how insanely cool it is to watch fish just hang around and eat coral.

(So this is what you guys do all day, eh? Not too shabby.)

Total: Refresher course – 1500 Baht ($50) Fun Dive – 900 Baht ($30)

Where to Eat: Bizzaros. Javier, an Argentine who lived in Ibiza for 20 years, has opened an amazing tapas and BBQ place close to Chaluk Bay. Even if you are on a budget, splurge for the $6 BBQ squid and prawn plate.

Where to Drink: Babaloo. On the northern end of the bay, around a plank pier, make the pilgrimage to Babaloo. With candle light, hammocks and fire-dancers, you will never want to move again.

Where to Stay: We opted to stay in Chaluk Bay, away from the main pier, and spent our vast majority of the time here. JP Resort was our first home, with amazing views but more than enough stairs. Viewpoint Bungalows were definitely a better deal/locations.

Moral of the story: Go here. Although it was somewhat cloudy and rainy when we were here in mid-July, so if you are flying across the Pacific for a beach vacation, choose your season carefully.

Road Trippin’ in La Rocha, Uruguay

I’m in the backseat of FIAT when the Muay Thai fighter from Manchester begins to sing along to Aretha Franklin’s ‘Respect’.

The highway sets the traveler's stage

The highway sets the traveler’s stage

Because road trips are awesome. Read More