Tag Archives: Surf

Sunshine Of Your Love.

Cape May, NJ.  (Photo credit: destination360.com)

Cape May, NJ. (Photo credit: destination360.com)

Like a lunch hour, this Memorial Day weekend is a good time to take a break, hook up with friends, or just pause to think about what you’d like to do this summer.  Maybe you’ll pack a bag and hit the high road in search of a life-changing experience, or hightail it out-of-town for some rest and relaxation.  Whatever you’re in search of, don’t discount discovering it in destinations a little closer to home or on the East Coast.  The areas that took a beating from Hurricane Sandy are ready to throw their arms wide open to visitors.

From Cape May to Montauk, Atlantic shorelines and state parks are working fast and furiously to welcome beach goers this weekend.  For those of us who live in the region, these towns and beaches are paradise after a long and dreary winter.   No car?  No worries!  Depending on your point of interest, you can easily hop a train, bus or ferry to visit.  The New Jersey Shore is open for business—that’s the rallying cry up and down their coastline—and southern shore towns are absorbing visitors that traditionally travel to areas further north, where it’s taking a bit longer to recover from the storm’s damage.  Long Island beaches and state parks will re-open this weekend with limited access in some areas.  In the borough of Staten Island, new, modular units made in Pennsylvania will be transported to the beaches to replace the comfort stations destroyed by Sandy.   They look pretty cool and New York City has invested a nice chunk of change for these units, which will pop up this summer in Coney Island and the Rockaways as well.  This is all good news.  These beaches may not all be 100% perfect but the point is, they’re working hard to make sure they’re ready for you.

The famous Rockaway boardwalk is gone, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the seashore.  The damaged concession stands are being rebuilt but in their absence NYC food trucks will be out to serve the good grub they’ve become known for on the city’s streets.  Sandy wiped out Rockaway Taco‘s boardwalk café, but fingers crossed, they’ll be up and running soon because these folks dish out some of the tastiest Mexican food this side of the Yucatán, especially their fish tacos.  For anyone with plans to visit the area this weekend—or over the summer—you might want to check out their main location inland, until their beach site is back in service.

Surfing in Rockaway with New York Surf School.  (Photo credit:  New York Surf School)

Surfing in Rockaway with New York Surf School. (Photo credit: New York Surf School)

The surf’s been up with weekend lessons at the Rockaway Beach Surf Club, which welcomes all age groups.  If you start now by the end of June they’ll be able to help plant you on a board any day of the week.  Where there’s surfing, there’s yoga on the beach and nothing feels better than a seaside downward dog.  If you’ve got it in your head to transform yourself, check out the Surf Club’s combined retreat.  “A” train subway service to the Rockaways starts back up on May 30, which makes getting there a breeze.

Fort Defiance cocktails.  (Photo credit:  maurice-pundit)

Fort Defiance cocktails. (Photo credit: maurice-pundit)

And then there’s Red Hook, a Brooklyn neighborhood that took a massive hit by Sandy, but true to its tough reputation, is pretty much back in business.  If you’re in NYC this weekend, or you’re a local without plans to get away, here are a few suggestions for a visit to that part of town.  First, start out early.   It’s a funky, waterfront neighborhood that gets great light.  If you fancy a killer cocktail, pay a visit to Fort Defiance, a cafe-bar where owner St. John Frizell will shake up something special for you.  If you can tear yourself away, head across the road to Dry Dock and grab a chilled bottle of whatever white wine wets your whistle, then bop over a few blocks to the Red Hook Lobster Pound for the plumpest and tastiest lobster rolls outside of Maine.  This urban lobster shack is BYOB, so there’s no reason not to run there.  For a more upscale dining experience, book a reservation at The Good Fork, where you’ll enjoy standout food and excellent drinks in a welcoming atmosphere.  If you still have any steam left in you, shimmy on over to Hope & Anchor.  This local diner serves up a few twists on a traditional menu and has a full bar, but it’s the weekend karaoke that has this place pulsing and will get you to unleash your inner rock star.

Hope & Anchor.  (Photo credit: gwenthysfullbrew.com)

Hope & Anchor. (Photo credit: gwenthysfullbrew.com)

The communities affected by Hurricane Sandy last Fall want you to know the welcome mat is out this summer. Memorial Day is about honoring our veterans but we can also take this time to acknowledge all the volunteers—both local and visiting—who dedicated their blood, sweat and tears, to help get these areas back on their feet.  They’ve added new meaning to “summer of love.”

Whether you’re planning a stay-cation or vacation—relax, kick back, appreciate your surroundings and enjoy yourself.  Happy trails!

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Small Town Pleasures in Nicaragua

San Juan del Sur

San Juan del Sur (Photo credit: Daniel Fajardo Valenti)

The Pacific coastline region of Nicaragua around San Juan del Sur seems to be on every list of best places to go in 2013.   Recently, I had the chance to visit and found a destination whose chill-out factor suited me just fine.  I wasn’t sure what to expect from a country listed as the second poorest in the Western hemisphere, but I was pleasantly surprised.  Nicaraguans are friendly, hospitable and mellow, and while their country may have attracted unwanted attention in the 1980s during the Iran-Contra affair, it’s now being noticed for all of the right reasons.  As one of the few places left to visit that won’t break your bank account, it’s easy to see why so many Americans and Canadians retire here.  San Juan del Sur is a tranquil fishing village that surrounds a crescent-shaped stretch of beach dotted with small bars and cafes. The town is simple to navigate and offers lots of options for eating, drinking and booking activities.  Taxis are plentiful, making it easy to check out the other lovely and uncrowded beaches up and down the coast. But if you’re looking for a bit more than soaking up the sun, here are some ideas to help plan your trip.

Five Cool Things to Do In & Around San Juan del Sur

1. Catch the Surf
Surfers helped put this area on the map and this town’s been operating as a hub for them ever since.  If you’re not ready to plant your feet on a board just yet, pitch a blanket and watch the experts.  Otherwise, no matter your age, you won’t be at a loss to find a surf camp that’ll suit you up.  Ladies, for the adventurer in you, check out CHICABRAVA—an all girls surf camp whose motto is – Get Stoked…In Style!  Founded in 2003 by 6-time Nicaraguan National surf champ, Ashley Blaylock, this retreat style camp will both challenge and pamper you.

An intermediate student gets stoked.  (Photo credit:  CHICABRAVA)

A CHICABRAVA intermediate student gets stoked. (Photo credit: CHICABRAVA)

2. Grab a Horse and Giddy-up
There are a handful of outfits around San Juan del Sur that run horseback tours for much less than what it costs to ride in the U.S.  Rancho Chilamate, an eco-friendly ranch owned and operated by an ex-pat Canadian couple, guide half-day tours at sunrise or sunset, depending on the tides.  They’ll suit and saddle you up, and include a photography tour of your ride.  In addition, a portion of the ride revenue goes back to the local community to help with healthcare and education costs, as well as other types of assistance projects.

Sunset ride on the beach.  (Photo credit:  Rancho Chilamate)

Sunset ride on the beach. (Photo credit: Rancho Chilamate)

3. Learn Spanish
If you’re looking to immerse yourself in the culture and improve your high-school Spanish, then consider adding some lessons to your itinerary. There are several language schools in and around San Juan del Sur that can easily fit into your budget, and your new skills will have you chatting with the locals in no time!

4. Grab a Mat and Get Centered
When you start your morning doing sun salutations on the beach, the day only continues to get better.  From teacher-training camps to retreats to community classes, there are several top-notch yoga schools and studios to help you “be here now.”  Several of the surf camps also offer yoga.

Bondi Beach Yoga

(Photo credit: tarotastic)

5. Get Your Munchies In the Jungle
Pizza is definitely on my desert island list of foods and as a Brooklynite, I think I can vouch for the good stuff.  Munchies Blues Cafe is a Monday night, reservation-only experience in the jungle out by Playa Marsella. They serve Roman-style pizza that rivals some of the best stuff in my own neighborhood.

This list barely scratches the surface of activities you can enjoy in Nicaragua.   Tourism is rising but there’s still time to enjoy its simple pleasures.  With a landscape made of volcanoes, jungles, lakes, lagoons, rivers, beaches and lush rainforests, this country seems to offer something for everyone.   So the next time you’re wondering where you should go, think about discovering the beauty, tranquility and people of Nicaragua.