Archive for February, 2011
How many more weeks until spring?!? This weather really sucks now. The warm weather can not come fast enough…
So, are you planning your Spring Break? You should consider going to Montego Bay, Jamaica! Everything about Jamaica is fantastic! The Jamaican way of life is very laid back and chill. It definitely beats the hectic lifestyle of a New Yorker, that’s for sure. One of the main reasons why we decided to visit Jamaica was to kick back and unwind. And if that’s a determining factor when picking your vacation, than you need to go here.
It’s no exaggeration: Come to Jamaica and feel alright! Jamaica, which is the largest English Speaking island in the Caribbean, also happens to be the third largest island in the Caribbean. While it is a small nation, Jamaica influences a huge global presence. Check out www.visitjamaica.com for more details.
Montego Bay, Jamaica
Hotel- Grand Palladium Jamaica Resort & Spa http://www.fiestahotelgroup.com
Montego Bay is a tourist destination complete with duty free shopping, cruise terminals, and stunning, unforgettable beaches! Christopher Columbus was the first to discover this amazing vacation destination. Mo-Bay (as locals tend to call it) is low key, relaxed and warm year round. Montego Bay houses the airport within its city, so staying in Montego Bay insures a quick ride to your destination.
Joey and Sandra’s Guide to Where to Go, What to See, & What to do in Montego Bay, Jamaica:
1) Tip: Stay at an all inclusive. It’s all you can drink, eat and do! We stood at the Grand Palladium Jamaica Resort and Spa. We were given a suite, complete with views of the beautiful waters of Montego Bay. Every morning we would wake up and see the water, and at night we would fall asleep to the sound of the waves crashing. The food is either influenced by the culture of the island or the talents of the chefs of the hotel. We enjoyed Indian food one night and tried goat and conch for the first time another (Joey- Food is important; I don’t care what anyone says. You really can’t go wrong with the endless choices of food at an all inclusive. ). Also, most of the time, premium liquor is served at all inclusive (Hell Yeah!). You’re on vacation, so enjoy your life! Check out tripadvisor.com for rates and reviews!
2) The Rum is good, but it can be your worse enemy. Go easy on the rum. Rum in Jamaica is DELICIOUS! It goes down smooth but it will knock you on your ass if you’re not careful. Rum comes from Sugar Cane, so its sweet, which makes for a serious hangover. Tip: Become friends with the bartenders. Not only did we make some awesome friends but we partied with some very experienced rum drinkers. There was one particular night where the Rum ran the party, and after doing 10 or so “Mother F*ckers” (a rainbow collection of rum infused shots. Most of the time, it was mixed with a concoction of liquors, that helped enhance the Rums taste. Purple Mother F*ckers are the strongest shot we ever took!) we were pretty much in a bad place (Sandra- I still never want to see Chicken Nuggets ever again…). Try Appleton Estate Jamaican Rum (http://www.appletonestate.com ) for authentic “off the island” rum.
3) Wear Sunscreen! Jamaica is located at the Caribbean belt. So therefore the sun is the strongest and most brutal. If you’re consuming alcohol and sunbathing, we strongly suggest you layer the sunscreen.
4) Enjoy Reggae and Dance. Reggae was born in this country and has inspired music and other genres for years (Sandra- AND Fashion. Look at Gwen Stefani.) One artist in particular comes to mind when we think of Jamaica. Tip: Listen to Bob Marley and dance like it’s your job. Bob Marley is ESSENTIAL in Jamaica, and his iconic face is every where, from key chains to rolling papers to beach towels. There is nothing like listening to “Jamming”, having a rum drink and hanging out with the locals. Till this day, if we hear Bob Marley it brings us right back to Jamaica. There is a ton of history in Bob Marley’s music, with songs like “Buffalo Soldier” and “I Shot the Sherriff.” To Purchase “Bob Marley’s Legend”, head over to www.itunes.com.
5) Go to Ricks Café. It’s an excursion to Negril; however, it’s infamous for the sunsets and their cliff divers. Check them out and make it a point to go. http://rickscafejamaica.com
6) EAT JERK CHICKEN! This is one of Joey’s favorite foods. (Joey- I liked it so much that one of my friends at the resort gave me a bottle of their secret Jerk Sauce to bring home so Sandra and I can make it. Tip: Don’t be afraid to ask for a recipe.) So what’s our fondest memory of jerk chicken? It was when we went to the Jerk Hut one day for lunch, which our favorite bartender Cleon suggested. He said there was someone there that would literally make us do a double take (Joey- No, not a Victoria Secret’s Model…). So we went to the Jerk Hut and we swear we saw 50 Cent serving Jerk Chicken. This kid was shorter but he LOOKED EXACTLY LIKE HIM. Scar and all. In fact his nickname was 50. He wouldn’t take a picture but he was a complete doppelganger.
7) Visit Rose Hall Great House. Talk about a woman scorned. This house has a serious spooky reputation. Annie Palmer or better known to most as “The White Witch” supposedly helped with the deaths of three husbands and one plantation hand (her lover). Sound like a soap opera? If you’re into that sort of thing, than check this place out. http://www.rosehall.com/home.html You can stay here too…. Sorry, not into the whole “Ghost thing” lol but we hear this hotel is beautiful and a great experience. We know people who stayed there and loved it. But we don’t share vacations with the paranormal. We don’t like that shit.
8) Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville –Go here!! No really. Go here. It’s a party here everyday. http://www.margaritavillecaribbean.com/montegobay Its serious business when you have one on every island including Jamaica, but even more serious when there’s one in the airport! Tip: Its pretty obvious, order a margarita or a Land Shark.
9) The people of Jamaica are relaxed and nonchalant…so expect to take your time going places. Not like this is a bad thing, but being that we are New Yorkers, we tend to rush places and stress over everything. Tip: Be ready to slow down. Jamaicans enjoy life. They don’t stress; they laugh and live life to the fullest. (Joey- OK, I have to mention this story. The day we got there, we took the shuttle bus from the airport to the hotel, thinking that it was going to be a quick ride considering the hotel was less than 25 minutes from the airport; it took an hour! The bus driver seemed to be the town mayor. He stopped and spoke to everybody! And he did 5 miles an hour the whole time. It was kind of bugging me out because all I wanted to do was to start my vacation already. But I found it amusing that he literally knew EVERYONE. He was a good guy, just popular lol) However, you will adapt quickly to their pace. You really appreciate your life when you slow down and take it lightly. Their way of life is pretty amazing. If we can translate that to our everyday lives, we probably wouldn’t suffer heart attacks or other health issues so frequently.
10) Tip: You need to catch a sunset. Montego Bay is known for their sunsets. We caught one every night. It’s romantic. (Joey, Yes, I do romantic things with the wife. There’s nothing wrong with that).
Joey and Sandra’s Top 5 Things to DRINK and EAT in Montego Bay:
1) Conch (a shell fish that has distinguish taste and texture)
2) Goat (in our opinion, its a lot like lamb)
3) Rum (smooth yet strong)
4) Jerk Chicken (So good!)
5) A Purple Mother F*cker. (The mother of all Rum infused shots, it’s actually purple. If you can handle it, do it. However, you will be crawling back to your room)
For us, Montego Bay was a phenomenal vacation, where we were forced to slow down and take life NOT seriously. We made great friends, and we recommend the island constantly to friends and strangers alike. Jamaica made us appreciate our lives, and allowed us to experience a culture that is genuine and special. Check out Tripadvisor.com for more information. Next time, we’ll take you to the place where Joey actually kissed his freedom goodbye and proposed… Riviera Maya, Mexico
Not going to lie; we are friggin’ sick of the winter! Since when did NY become a wintery hell! The occasional snow storm was nice, but now we are on Snow storm 4 or 5 and it’s ridiculous! You look out the window and you feel claustrophobic! It probably won’t melt until at least April. Regardless, this is the perfect time for us to plan our vacation. What better way to motivate ourselves than snow. (Sandra- I just ordered my “inspirational bathing suit” to keep my ass going to the gym. Try my trick…it works. That swimsuit will motivate me daily lol). We LOVE to travel. Nothing beats gorgeous beaches, sun, and cultures other than your own. While we are looking to go away to a tropical island this year for our 1 year anniversary (Can’t believe June is 5 months away), we tend to reflect a little on the other wonderful places we have been to. By the way, if you have ever been to Aruba, Bahamas, St.Lucia, or St.Thomas, let us know where you stood and what you thought. Those are our top contenders right now.
We travel every year for the sake of our sanity. New York is a great state to live in; you can go to Manhattan, the Hamptons, beaches galore etc, but this fast pace atmosphere can really beat you up a little bit. So when planning a vacation, we put it all out there. And we travel to places that interest us. We love beaches, sun, heat, culture, and endless amounts of fun.
We plan our next vacation like clock work after New Years. We have been to some seriously amazing places, and the experiences we’ve had were unbelievable. Over the next few weeks, we are showcasing some of our top picks for Vacation Destinations, especially for couples. (Joey-So you know Sandra tends to really educate herself on her surroundings, so look for tidbits of history and facts about all of these locations within this blog.) We think this will help you when you’re planning your next vacation or honeymoon. We’ll even share candid photos and videos with you! Speaking of honeymoon, we decided that the best way to start is with the best trip of our lives… Hawaii.
Hawaii is the newest of the 50 states, having joined us in 1959. What makes this state so unique is that it is made up of several Islands, with its capital in Honolulu. We traveled to only 2 out of the handful; Maui and Kauai. We hear Oahu is really great too, but for this trip, we had 2 weeks and after researching, decided Maui and Kauai were the islands we really wanted to visit. Check out http://www.gohawaii.com/ for more information (this website was very helpful when we planned our honeymoon.)Week 1: Kaanapali Beach, Maui
Hotel- Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa http://maui.hyatt.com Maui (or the magical isle) is the second largest Island in Hawaii, with its lush rainforest, waterfalls and really amazing craters caused by Volcanoes. In fact they have a famous volcano on the Island, Haleakalā, which experts say is dormant for now. The weather in Maui is pretty much in the high 80’s to 90’s for the most part, with the night’s cooler due to the ocean breeze.
Joey and Sandra’s Guide to Where to Go, What to See, & What to do in Maui
1) You must try Butter Fish. It is the most incredible thing you will ever taste. Imagine something as savory as a fine piece of steak combined with the succulence of a truly amazing piece of king crab. That’s butter fish. It melts off your tongue and you can not get it anywhere but Hawaii. Unless it’s imported from there but it won’t be the same. The best butterfish we had was at Sansei’s Seafood Restaurant in Kaanapali. Try it once, and you will be ordering more than one. Oh yeah, thank you, Guy Fereti, for that recommendation.
2) Sushi in Hawaii is amazing. Maui and Kauai both had its fair share of amazing sushi. We are connoisseurs of sushi; we eat it once a week. The best sushi we had, once again, was at Sansei’s Seafood Restaurant. Insert the “Oh My God” here. The fish was fresh, and since we had a fantastic waiter, we were able to really sample what the locals considered their favorites. Tuna is abundant in Hawaii. Toro, which is the belly of the Tuna, is DELICIOUS. TIP: When going to Sansei’s or any restaurant, make it a point to ask the staff what they like. Chances are it will be pretty tasty. http://www.sanseihawaii.com
3) Shaved Ice is very popular in Hawaii. It’s a snow cone. But since it’s hot, shaved ice is very refreshing.
4) Go to Whalers Village. It has a ton of shopping and restaurants in Maui, and is surrounded by resorts like the Hyatt, Westin, and Marriot etc. Whalers Village is actually the prime location for whale watching supposedly, and they have exquisite sunsets. However it is very active with shops and restaurants. Tip from Sandra: Ladies, they have a kiosk there that sells the most beautiful sarongs, so stop by and take a look. I purchased a black and white one and wore it everyday over my swimsuits. They show you a ton of ways to wear it and it was worth every penny. http://www.whalersvillage.com 5) Be ready to spend money in Maui. It’s commercialized. For example, the first thing you see when entering Whalers Village is Louis Vuitton. Tourism is one of the major industries for Hawaii (agriculture is the other), especially in Maui. All Inclusive resorts are non existent in the United States, so expect to spend money on food and drinks. The best thing to do is bring a box of granola bars for snacks and stop at a convenience store for bottle water.
6) SPF is needed in Hawaii. You will burn. You have been warned. (We never burn and Joey blistered.)
7) Maui is the place to catch an authentic Luau. “Drums of the Pacific” is the best one on the island of Maui. Packed with culture, drinks (all included in your price) and Polynesian food, you really can’t go wrong. http://drumsofthepacific.com/ The feast includes a roasted pig, (Joey- When they pulled it from the ground, the pig is a little concaved, and as they passed us, Sandra couldn’t look at it. It made her gag lol), traditional Polynesian food, like Poi (we’ll get to that in a minute), fresh fish (like mahi mahi), amazing fresh fruit, poke (yum!) and so much more. Traditional songs and dances entertain you for the remainder of your evening. TIP from Joey-Try to get seating closer to the stage. It’s worth it. You are served first and you interact more with the performers. If you’re not the type to be the center of attention, than try not to make to much eye contact with the “warriors”. I learned that the hard way…lol.8) Do take a helicopter tour to check out the Rainforest, Waterfalls and the Road to Hana. The Road to Hana is a friggin’ long drive and unless you enjoy wasting a day driving on a windy road, we suggest the helicopter tour instead. Helicopters are very different than planes (Sandra- in my opinion, I think they are worse than planes…I hate flying…) so be ready for nose dives and hovering. BUT get your cameras ready for the most amazing rainforest, waterfalls and volcanic craters you will ever see. It’s insane to go through clouds and see rain in one area and sun in another. Or reach the highest elevations of the mountains. You develop a new appreciation towards nature. It’s really quite beautiful and breathe taking.
9) TIP: You will need rental cars for both islands. We made the mistake of getting a convertible Mustang rental in Maui. It made us stand out, like the obvious Tourist mobile. Want our opinion? Don’t rent a mustang. Get the Jeep instead. There are penguins in Hawaii! Did you know that penguins don’t necessarily need it to be cold to survive? Just a diet of fish. And they do waddle. Sandra almost kidnapped one of them.
10) Ladies- do wear a flower in your hair. TIP: Wear a flower on the Left side to show you are married or taken, or wear it on the right side to indicate you are single. Look for gardenias, plumerias or a hibiscus to wear.
11) Poi does not taste very good. Grant it, Poi is the staple for the Polynesian diet, made up of Corn and Taro Plant, and it looks interesting… like yogurt…but its sour. However, be open to new things and try it. Believe it or not, in the Polynesian culture, it’s sacred. So respectably try it and move on.
Joey and Sandra’s Top Restaurants and Lounges in Maui:
1) Sansei’s Seafood Restaurant- Kapalua Resort (808)669-6286 http://www.sanseihawaii.com – Sushi, Butter Fish
2) Cane and Taro- Whaler’s Village (808) 662-0668 http://www.caneandtaro.com – Sushi, especially Tuna
3) Hula Grill- Whaler’s Village (808) 667-6636 – http://www.hulagrillkaanapali.com/ - Drinks and snacks
4) Son’z Maui Wine Cellar (808) 667-4506 http://www.hyattregencymaui.com/lounges-bars – Steak, ask for wine list too
5) ‘Ūmalu (808) 661-1234 http://www.hyattregencymaui.com/lounges-bars – Fish Taco! Pineapple Mojitos
Week 2: Koloa, Kauai
Hotel- Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa- http://kauai.hyatt.com
Kauai is the oldest and most romantic of the Hawaiian Islands. It is the home of the Na Pali Coast, which is a cinematic threshold of movie history, providing vivid backgrounds for films like Jurassic Park, Tropic Thunder, The King Kong remake, Pirates of the Caribbean, to name a few. Kauai also has some of the roughest yet captivating waters we have ever encountered. But we tell everyone… Kauai was by the far the BEST Island we have ever been too. And we would go back tomorrow if we could. It’s worth the 10 hour plane ride! This is the number one Honeymoon Location in the world. Kauai is paradise. If you can afford only to do one island for your honeymoon, than do Kauai.
Joey and Sandra’s Guide to Where to Go, What to See, & What to do in Kauai:
1) Stay at the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa. This is the best hotel on the island, let alone any island we have been too. Not only is the service impeccable, but the sites are astounding. They have their own Salt water lagoon within the resort, and twisting, winding pool. We tell people all the time that this resort is by far worth the investment. They cater more to Honeymooners than you can ever imagine. We were upgraded upon arriving to an Ocean view suite; they gave us a big bottle of champagne, chocolates every night, a special honeymoon dinner, the works really. The staff is friendly and knowledgeable of the island. You need to stay here. It was that wonderful.
2) Precede this next tip with a little caution. Remember when we said the waters were the roughest we have ever seen? Well, believe it. The ocean here produces the most powerful waves we have ever encountered (and there wasn’t even a storm at sea). We literally starred at the ocean and couldn’t get over the force it had. Red flags are constantly up, but that doesn’t stop people…including us. We had to see for ourselves how powerful these waves were. Sure enough, it beat us at our own game, bullied us, and we decided to just watch it instead. We strongly suggest that you do not swim in these waters, especially when the red flag is up. Joey- Don’t believe it? Well, I thought it would be fun to go into these crazy waters, but learned real quickly that it was a mistake. Yet it was extremely fun, considering I had a few drinks before lol. Once you started walking out, the waves would crash into you, knocking you back towards the beach and than the undertow sucked you right back out in to the water. This was constant; as soon as you got up, it hit you again. After the fifth time of this happening, and hitting a few underwater rocks, we decided to get out but as I was trying to get up for the last time, I couldn’t help noticing the crashing waves pulled down Sandra’s top to her bathing suit. Lucky for us, at that time, we were the only idiots in the water. Very funny, wish I had a camera…
3) However, there is only one way to really enjoy and take in the Na Pali Coast, and yes, it’s by sea. Take a catamaran along the coast, and enjoy the view. TIP: The water is very choppy so make it a point NOT to hang out in the boat’s cabin and put yourself out on the deck of boat. If you stay in the cabin, expect to get sick and throw up. There is nothing worse for you than that. We took a sunset boat ride, which lasted 5 hours, and the views were unforgettable. And the best part was the Dolphins! They come right up to the boat and swim along side, almost as if they are posing for pictures! They are 100% wild, but are known to be the most human friendly creatures in the wilderness.
4) Art is very popular, it seems, in Kauai. We visited numerous art galleries in the Poipu Shopping Village. We came very close to purchasing 2 rather enticing paintings, but once it dawned on us how expensive it was to actually send these painting across the country, we declined. The best part is most of the paintings are done by local artist.
5) Do enjoy the seafood and fresh produce from the land. We found a few great restaurants, like Josselin’s Tapas Bar and Grill that really capture this essence. They harvest all of their goods from farms located around them. And it’s organic. We went here based on a recommendation from one of the bartenders at our resort, and he said to make sure we sample their sangria, which is brought to you on a push cart with several varieties -Sandra- you have no idea how GOOD it was until you sit there and sample each combination…http://josselins.com/
6) Now, there is one thing you should know, that little gecko lizards are very common here. Don’t get disgusted with them. To be honest with you, they are harmless and quite comical. (Joey-For instance, while dining at a restaurant at the Kukuiula Village, we noticed that there was a rather chubby one chilling on the beams of the outdoor restaurant’s ceiling. Sandra was in mid-conversation with the waiter when “splat”, the little chub-ster fell off and landed by Sandra’s feet. He got up, looked at us, and as if he were embarrassed, took off like a bolt of lightning. I can honestly say Sandra didn’t squirm or budge. Or the best was when we were coming back from breakfast one morning, and of course I zero in on 2 of them getting it on in the hallway. Whatever they must have been on their honeymoon too.)
7) Sample the Beer of Hawaii! Joey had the chance to sample Hawaii’s beers, and here is a list to get you started: Primo is one of Hawaii’s top Beers and you can expect to see that on the mainland soon. Long Board Island Lager comes in 4 flavors, with similarities to Blue Moon. Lets not forget Bikini Blonde and CoCoNut Porter (Joey’s least favorite). You just have to love the names lol
8) While in Kauai, we spoke to a local who told us that their secret to deep tans was a little product called Maui Babe. What’s ironic is we purchased and used Maui Babe only in Kauai. With its coffee bean scent, we were a little skeptical. It’s not very pleasant smelling going on. But after lying out for a whole day, we were dark; Darker than usual. Now, we swear by it. TIP: Like in Maui, wear sunscreen! You can layer your sunscreen with this product. We should take stock in this product…http://www.mauibabe.com/
9) Enjoy the Wildlife-We came across a lot of exotic animals, primarily birds, but the most entertaining was the Surfing Bird! Watch the video; we don’t need to explain. The Hawaiin Surfing Bird…when your tipsy, the strangest things will amuse you…
10) Hawaii is home to tons of amazing food and goodies. When you go, try to bring home their coffee (smooth and dark, yet with a nutty undertone), Mauna Loa macadamia nuts, Lava Salt, etc. TIP: Foods that you don’t have home are always reminiscent of vacations, and if you are bringing home gifts for your family, share food rather than a statue or book. They will appreciate it better.
11) We had the opportunity to stumble upon The Red Dirt Company (Mike Rowe from Dirty Jobs paid a visit here too) while traveling to our catamaran ride. This place is actually really interesting. This company took a negative (a hurricane in 1992 caused damage to their silk screen shop) and created a positive (red dirt and water ruined their white shirts, but behold… a new way to dye shirts! They took the shirts and printed on them sayings and Hawaiian prints. They became a hit with tourist and locals alike!). How’s that for inspiration? You can purchase shirts dyed with rich iron fortified Red Dirt soil of Kauai, and they come in an array of colors. Check them out http://www.dirtshirt.com
12) TIP: Make friends with everyone and take their recommendations. You more than likely will have fun. We were able to go to 25th Annual Koloa Plantation Days festival while in Kauai. We spoke to a few locals who told us to check it out. We speak to locals as often as possible when we are away. By speaking to them we were able to enjoy the festivities with everyone.
Joey and Sandra’s Top Restaurants and Lounges in Kauai:
1) Merriman’s Kauai at the Kukuiula Village (808) 742-8385 http://merrimanshawaii.com - Organic Farm Goods
2) Josselin’s Tapas Bar and Grill at the Kukuiula Village (808) 742-7117 http://josselins.com/ Sangria, Tuna Tartar, Poke
3) Lappert’s Ice Cream & Coffee at the Kukuiula Village (808) 742-1272 http://www.lappertshawaii.com/ – Ice cream &coffee
4) Tidepools at the Grand Hyatt (808-240-6456) http://kauai.hyatt.com/hyatt/hotels/entertainment/restaurants – Prime Rib
5) Stevenson’s Library at the Grand Hyatt http://kauai.hyatt.com/hyatt/hotels/entertainment/lounges – Sushi & Cocktails
There is so much to do on the islands that we couldn’t write all of it. However, we suggest that you visit Tripadvisor.com for additional comments and tips from travelers that have been to these islands. If you plan on going and want more information, write to us. We will be more than happy to help you plan accordingly. Next time, we break down Montego Bay, Jamaica.