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I have so much to tell you about Luquillo, Puerto Rico.  While planning a warm winter getaway, we looked at tons of places, including Panama (still  a dream trip for me), Anguilla, Antigua, and many others. Puerto Rico kept popping up as a good option because of the direct flight from Boston to San Juan and our JetBlue points.

After our very exciting safari travel adventure last year, this year I wanted a quiet, relaxed beach vacation. When someone on Twitter mentioned that Luquillo was a “sleepy beach town” I started looking into it, and I was sold. Not only did it look beautiful and affordable, it was a 45 minute drive from San Juan, about a 15 minute drive from all of the boat and island excursions to Icacos, Culebra, and Vieques, and about 10 minutes to the El Yunque National Forest. The more I read about Luquillo, especially about its kioskos (more to come on this stretch of 50+ restaurants and food stalls) the more I wanted to BE THERE RIGHT NOW.

Luquillo, Puerto Rico

So that’s where we went. Our flight from Boston to San Juan was easy; typically it takes about four hours, but due to the winds we got in over half an hour early and were in our rental car with the windows down and the music pumping before we knew it. I LOVED the music in Puerto Rico.

The drive to Luquillo was super easy and took maybe 35 minutes. When we are traveling for more than a night or two, we tend to like houses or apartments as opposed to hotels. We’ve gone with Flipkey in the past for a Sonoma rental (which was AMAZING) and this time we decided to try Air BnB and after lots of research went with a condo in Bello Mar Apartamentos in Luquillo. If you’re traveling to Puerto Rico, I would be happy to share the name of the owner and the details.

The owner kindly met us with the keys and the remote for the gate to park, and then she drove ahead of us to show us where the grocery store was. She texted us tons of restaurant recommendations and also had a binder in the apartment with all of the information we could need.

The apartment was beautiful; the cleaning person was finishing as we arrived, and it was immaculate. It had two bedrooms and two bathrooms, along with a kitchen, sitting room, washer/dryer, and a to-die-for deck.

Luquillo condo rental  Luquillo Condo Rental Air B n B in Puerto Rico Luquillo condo bathroom The apartment was also stocked with everything you could ever need: beach umbrellas, beach chairs, plenty of beach towels, DVDs, books, magazines, coffee, oil, sugar, all of the cooking basics, etc. We were amazed at how much was there.

Since we had an apartment, we bought groceries to have breakfast and cocktail hour on our balcony every day. It’s a great way to save money when traveling but also to relax and keep a chill pace. Our schedule would be to have a leisurely breakfast of tropical fruit and vanilla yogurt, avocado dressed with fresh lime juice, and extra strong coffee on the balcony, then head out to the beach or for an excursion.

Also, we had passionfruit mimosas every day. Vacation.

ocean views Luquillo Puerto Rico vacation At night, after plenty of time seeing the sights or swimming, we returned to the condo for sunset and sundowners, as we started calling drinks on safari. We made up plates of cheese and crackers and enjoyed local beers and Capri Sun like pouches of rum punch until the sun went down, then headed out for the night.

rum punchPuerto Rico sunsetPuerto Rico sunsetmoon over the ocean, Luquillo

When we returned home from dinner, we usually spent time sitting on the balcony listening to the roar of the waves. One night we watched a movie, but mostly talking and staring out to sea was how we spent our time.

Luquillo itself has some areas that look basically like anytown USA, with a WalMart, KFC, etc. But once you are off the main route and onto the side streets, you find some gorgeous beaches, including our favorite, Playa Azul.

Playa Azul Luquillo

Parking was free, and the beach was not at all crowded. It had a great surf for riding waves and a man who sold rum in coconuts. rum in a coconut

coconut flesh Playa Azul palm tree grove Slathered in sunscreen, wearing hats, and occasionally draping ourselves in towels, we also found a perfect grove of palm trees to retreat under when the sun felt too hot. Every day was around 89 degrees, and we definitely felt it!

 

Playa Azul Luquillo swimming

Besides sitting on the beach, we did tons of swimming and floating and riding waves. Being a Jersey Shore girl, I love big waves and a strong current. Luquillo definitely had that. The only regret I have is not taking surfing lessons. . . but I was just too busy relaxing with my rum-filled coconut.

Luquillo is a dreamy getaway, if you are looking for something a little off the beaten path and not super fancy. It does have a couple of resorts, but for me, when I am at the beach, I like to be a little sandy and salty and dressed as down as possible. Luquillo was the perfect place to let out that beach bum that resides in me.

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Tags: beach, islands, Luquillo, Travel, travel blog, travel blogger, Travel Tuesday. Puerto Rico, vacation

Sun Sets on Summer

I have a very, very hard time saying goodbye to my favorite season. When everyone starts talking about boots and sweaters and pumpkin everything in August, I am almost outraged. I don’t want to rush those hot days, lush gardens, and long sunsets, not one bit. Summer for me is rarely a slow time at work; for me it’s often fall that slows down a bit, so I can’t even say I love summer for the pace. I just love everything else about it. As I mentioned in a recent post, this summer has been different. We spent far more time away than we have in the past, and far less time on boats, which was difficult, as boating is a favorite hobby, a place to relax, and a social outlet. Still, I think we did a good job of enjoying the season.

Even before summer officially started, we were eager to take advantage of the beauty of New England when it’s not covered in snow. We had the perfect coastal New England day in May, which set the tone for seeing as many sunsets and eating as many lobster rolls as possible.

Crane Beach Sunset

{Crane Beach sunset}

sunset over the Claddagh, Galway Ireland Despite a rainy forecast, Ireland put on quite the show for us when we visited, allowing us plenty of outdoor time and gorgeous sunsets like the above, over the Claddagh.

sun setting in Hull

We got to spend a lot of time with friends and saw sunsets in Hull during impromptu beach trips where swimming in dresses was the right thing to do on a perfect summer evening.

And there were sunsets over Boston, viewed from boats filled with our favorite people, good bubbly, and great food.

sunset over Boston

Rodney Strong Vineyards This summer also brought for me two separate trips to Sonoma County, where you can guarantee I watched the sun set over vineyards every chance I got.

In addition to sunsets, we took in plenty of other beautiful sights. Following an April visit to Mystic, Connecticut, we decided to visit again, this time meeting my family. Mystic is an ideal spot for family travel, with the aquarium, boat rides, and some fun shops.

 

Saltwater Farm Vineyard We took a quick trip to Saltwater Farm Vineyard to pick up more of their delicious wine and to check on the progress of the vines.

boating in Mystic

And we had a perfect day on the Argia, a beautiful sailing vessel out of Mystic, which the whole family loved. Dark skies at dock gave way to a beautiful Long Island Sound.

boating on Long Island Sound For the adults, it’s complete relaxation; you can even bring your favorite wine or beer along for the trip. Snacks and lemonade are provided, and guests can get in on the sailing, as my niece and nephew did in the photo below.

Argia, Mystic, CT We enjoyed shopping throughout Mystic, especially the kids’ section of Bank Square Books. I loved that these little ones still love books, despite all of the technology in their lives. Shopping for books was a nice, relaxing, and cool break from the hot summer day.

Mystic, CT family travel

 

In addition to travel, obsessing over sunsets, and family, my summer was, as always, focused on all things growing. I truly feel something magical when out in nature, and while my garden wasn’t perfect, it brought me peace and joy daily. Every weekend chance I got, I went to fields of flowers, beaches, or farms, feeling the energy of the earth coming through my feet, soaking up those moments where everything felt so vibrant.

squash blossom

summer in Westport, MA

 

I’m sad to see summer go but grateful that here in New England, local produce and beautiful weather stick around for a couple more months. New work projects, travel to Chicago and Myrtle Beach, and travel planning for a warm winter getaway will also help us get through the summer withdrawal.

Are you excited about the change of seasons or, like me, do you really mourn the loss of summer?

 

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Tags: beach, coastal living, family, favorite things, mystic, outdoors, Sonoma, summer, Travel, travel blogging, wine

Sigh. Monday already? Did you have a good weekend? Ours was pretty fantastic, starting with Chefs in Shorts and dinner at Citizen Public House, followed by some boat time, a gloriously early Saturday night (which unfortunately got ruined by work calls), and a day of errands on Sunday. It certainly wasn’t too bad.

Summer Mondays, are always a little more difficult than the rest of the year. This week marks the Summer Solstice, the opening day for our yacht club, and a an exciting new career adventure for me.

What better way to kick off the summer season than to talk about one of Massachusetts’ greatest gifts, Cape Cod?

To kick off your week, I bring you 10 reasons why I love Cape Cod, along with some random pics of my Cape Cod girls’ weekend. Feel free to share your own, add in what you love about your favorite summer place, or let me know what you are most looking forward to this week.

Truro beach

Beaches – This one’s a no-brainer.Cape Cod offers 559.6 miles of coast line, according to the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce. From the calm, warm waters of Centerville to the swells at Race Point, there is a beach for every age and need. You could spend a lifetime discovering beaches on Cape Cod and falling in love with the shore.

Nature – Beaches definitely fall into this category, but Cape Cod offers so much more. Activities in the great outdoors abound. There are dune tours, oyster farm tours, whale watchesseal tours, and so much more. The Cape is (obviously) a great place to get out on the water. You can rent kayaks, motor boats, paddle boards, or take a sunset sail.

beach grass

Food – Yes, Cape Cod has amazing local seafood like lobsters and Wellfleet oysters, and clams, and quahogs. . . and I am hungry now! But there are lots of other types of restaurants, food producers, even wineries. Cultural influences from around the world have made for a great foodie scene on the Cape; local ingredients and skilled chefs make it world-class. There are still so many Cape Cod restaurants I am dying to try, places like Pain D’Avignon, Beach House Grill at the heavenly Chatham Bars Inn, Central House, and the Naked OysterTruro Beach

Fried seafood – it deserves its own category, separate from food. I don’t think I have had better fried seafood in the world than on Cape Cod. Sorry, Ireland, but the Cape’s fish and chips might even have you beat. Oysters, clams, scallops, haddock, even fried lobster, make for an indulgent seaside treat. It just tastes like the beach.

beach in Truro

Beach in Truro

seafood shack Art and architecture – Have you heard about the Cape Cod arts trail? There are a ton of artists and artisans along the Cape, and you can use the app to plan your journey. As far as architecture goes, there are the classic gray shingled homes, whitewashed town halls and churches, old captain’s homes; the Cape really captures our region’s history in a way that makes it seem alive and well, and makes living in Massachusetts such a unique and wonderful thing.

Provincetown at night

Provincetown sunset

Provincetown sunset

There are a million more things I love about Cape Cod; I could go on for many blog posts, and in time, likely will. I’ve been going to the Cape since I was a child, and there are so many special things that keep us coming back.

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Tags: beach, boating, Cape Cod, Food, Massachusetts, summer, Travel

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