Tag Archives: surfing

Howl or Stare, It’s The Time of the Season.

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Full tilt at the Full Moon party in Koh Phangan.

Full tilt at the Full Moon party in Koh Phangan.

I am not the same having seen the moon shine on another part of the world.
–Mary Ann Radmacher Hershey

Sunrise. Sunset. These two daily occurrences loom large for travelers no matter their budget. Wherever you may go, these natural—and free—gifts often feature in photos as the main event or as a backdrop to our travel experiences. Depending on the destination, travelers often set their day by that bright and brilliant starburst but there’s another player with a different kind of pull. The moon.

Some travelers plan their trips around this great big ball in the sky. You know who you are. It might seem nutty but knowing when the moon is full is a major bonus to your journey. While some folks might not be able to alter their travel plans based on the lunar calendar, travel advisors who keep this little gem in mind might just add a unique experience to a customer’s trip. Knowing this bit of info may earn you a bit of star status in their book.

Cruising by the light of the moon.  (Photo credit: Carnival Sunshine.)

Cruising by the light of the moon. (Photo credit: Carnival Sunshine.)

A full moon is beguiling, romantic, and hypnotic. Whether you’re on a beach or on the deck of a cruise ship, it lights up the ocean like a Hollywood movie set. Lakeside or hillside, a full moon is a major gift when you’re camping. Road trippers take advantage of the added value of its silvery light, and surfers love it. A full moon safari walk is magical. Yosemite under its light is otherworldly. Moonlight kayak tours are peaceful and meditative. And while I’ve never been, I hear the infamous Full Moon Party at Koh Phangan in Thailand is off the planetary chart. I’m sure there’s a lot more than howling going on there.

An Arizona Harvest Moon.

An Arizona Harvest Moon.

Where are you or your customers this week? There’s a lot happening in the heavens right now. Especially if you’re outside the scope of city lights. Wherever you are, look up.

Talk about celestial seasonings, Venus and Saturn joined forces on Monday and will stick around for the week. They ride low after sunset but anyone with access to a telescope, whether you’re on a ship or in your backyard, will be able to glimpse Saturn’s rings. The star attraction, the full Harvest Moon peaks tonight. I stopped and stared at its near perfect formation last night on my way home, while the sun set behind me. Uranus will cozy up with the moon on Thursday, September 19. Otherwise known as the “green giant,” it’ll come so close that their combined wattage will equal 8 full moons side by side. Get out those binoculars, shoot for the moon and you’ll easily pick out that planet.  I’ve got no  idea what Pisces has to do with this picture but something’s fishy.

It'll be a starry, starry night this week.  (Image credit: Starry Night Software/ A.Fazekas.)

It’ll be a starry, starry night this week. (Image credit: Starry Night Software/ A.Fazekas.)

Lastly, for those of us in the northern hemisphere, I guess it’s time to say goodbye to the summer as autumn enters center stage on Sunday. Bittersweet, yet, but thankfully fall graces us with foliage rich with jewel tones and with more reasons to travel.

If you can work in the full moon on October 18… all the better.

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.