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Category Archives: Travel Planning

Adventures by Disney – Italy

Do you have Bucket List travel dreams? I sure do – and I was able to check a big one off my list after experiencing Italy with Adventures by Disney.

Any time you travel outside of the country, it can be a bit intimidating. Disney takes that fear away, as they meet you right outside of Customs at the airport. They even had my luggage ready for me!

We were whisked away to our 5-star hotel, The Gran Melia in Rome, where we met our 2 Adventure Guides. Every Adventures by Disney Tour includes 2 Adventures Guides – a local expert, and an American guide. Together they make the entire experience seamless.

Our tour started right away, with special backstage passes at the Coliseum. We were allowed onto the actual stage where the gladiators fought. It was incredible!

All along the way, you are given backstage, front-of-the-line, VIP passes everywhere you go. The highlight of Rome for me was getting a special after-hours, private tour of the Vatican Museum, which concluded with a private tour of the Sistine Chapel. And Shhhhhh don’t tell anyone, but they even let us take pictures (normally this is forbidden!).

After Rome, we took off for Tuscany, which is the most beautiful place I’ve ever been. Don’t get freaked out by being on a bus – it is an AWESOME bus, and the Guides do a great job of keeping everyone entertained on the longer stretches. Although, there are hardly any long rides. Everything is always broken up with more Adventures. For example, on our drive to Tuscany, we stopped for lunch at the medieval town of Orvietto and had a beautiful lunch on the top of the countryside.

Checking in to our Tuscan Hotel was a dream. They had a private courtyard waiting for us, with delicious food and prosecco. We all nibbled on cheese and enjoyed our wine while our Adventure Guides got us checked in to the hotel.

The highlight of my entire Tuscan Adventure was the day spent at Sara’s Farm. We received a special tour, met some of Sara’s lovely family members, enjoyed a private pasta-making class with Sara, and wined and dined outdoors while enjoying a delicious lunch and wine tasting, all while overlooking the rolling hills of Tuscany. It was just delightful!

Venice began with a Gondola ride, which was made even more special with the addition of a singer and accordion player, who were right in my Gondola. It was so beautiful!

If you want to feel completely immersed in the culture, and experience everything like a VIP rock star – Adventures by Disney is the best!

My Last Minute Adventure

We all have bucket lists right? Or at least we have some grand ideas of things we want to do in our heads but yet to write them down. I have a little bit of both! I have my list of things I would like to do by myself, another list of things to do with my husband and then there is the list of things to do with friends. Regardless of the list, there is one item I have on all of them and I was able to check one of those off this month! What is it? Well, my dream has always been to have the resources enough to at the drop of a hat ( or within days) to say I want to go ……. And then just do it! Yep – last minute travel to somewhere!

Last week I checked off that by planning a very very last minute trip to Jamaica with a friend, who too is a travel planner with our company. We have traveled many times together and we just know what we both like to do, what we like to eat, when to work and when to relax. You might say we are perfect travel companions in that respect. Our trip came up because I have been caring for my dear mom whose terminally ill and is at home. We don’t have a large family as it is just my brother and myself along with our dad. My brother is out of state but has come in to help as much as he can, but for the most part, I am the closest caregiver. My Aunt wanted to visit from another state and help out so I could get some rest time so when my friend asked if I could get away it seemed like a perfect time. 4 nights in the Caribbean fit the bill.

Last minute travel proved to be exhilarating! That may seem like an odd way to put it, but it was! From the moment we said let’s do it and got the ok from our spouses, we searched the resort and booked it, checked out flights and booked those, finished up some household chores, and packed a carry-on of only the essentials and took off! 3 days and we were off! We selected an All- Inclusive, Sandals, Royal Caribbean, as our destination because we didn’t want to worry about where to dine, and what to do. It was all there! Now typically, Sandals isn’t a “girlfriend” getaway, as it is for couples, but we wanted to see it and made it work. With free wi-fi, we were able to keep up with our work and stay in contact with my parents.

Packing for this trip was the easiest thing I ever did. It maybe took me 30 minutes! I threw in a few bathing suits since that would be the main activity, a few sundresses, two pairs of shoes, minimum makeup and toiletries, and my computer! That was it. I was sooo proud of myself for having done that as everyone laughs at me because I typically need one suitcase for my shoes and jewels! So since packing was so easy – so was unpacking when I got home!

We took advantage of the entertainment provided by Sandals, which was excellent! There was something going on every night and since there are a few Sandals properties in the Montego Bay area, you have privileges to utilize all the amenities at each of them so that made it more fun. Our room was in the most perfect location. Just about 20 steps out our patio door was a beautiful pool right on the beach. We had the best of both worlds. I felt a little guilty but I hogged the float for the entire 4 days! I only got off to go running to the bathroom, because our favorite person to see was Clarissa who just handed us our tropical delights right in the pool! Can I say amazing! Our food was prepared and brought to us if we didn’t want to head to the restaurant, and there was such a variety that we felt like we were also on a culinary journey.

I have also always wanted to crash a wedding, and even though we didn’t officially “crash” a wedding, we did stroll by several that took place at the resort while we were there. It was hard to resist photobombing, but we remained respectful!! LOL. Destination weddings are very popular and Sandals does know how to make them special. In fact, romance is a fragrance that is all over a Sandals property. Candlelight dinners, photo shoot opportunities, couples celebrating makes for the perfect backdrop. So you see when I say we made it work, we simply enjoyed the resort and meeting all the people. Relaxation was our motive!!

I am so looking forward to doing this again someday. It was one of the best getaways I have ever been on and yes it was so exhilarating!

Paradise couldn’t be better–Sandals and Beaches All Inclusive Getaways!

Gorgeous white sand beaches, savory dining experiences, opulent accommodations, unlimited refreshing beverages, exciting watersport and more!  Sandals are adult only resorts while Beaches are for families.

Sandals and Beaches is a privately owned and their resorts are hand-picked by the owner Gordan  Stewart. Their own In-House design team is responsible for every aspect of the design incorporating some of the most cutting-edge design developments.  They work with local experts selecting a theme for all of the Landscapes and gardens that reflect the local attributes, they have custom-designed dive boats, and some of the most extravagant and creatively designed suites in the Caribbean!

Sandals and Beaches offer more quality inclusions than any other all-inclusive destination.  Award-winning service, the most pristine beaches, unlimited scuba diving, quality land sports, state of the art fitness centers, unlimited golf at select locations, free weddings, more unique suites, more discovery dining, more entertainment and more island adventures.  Exclusive to Beaches resorts, Sesame Street Characters, Very Important Kids Camps, X=Box and Kinect and water parks.

Everyone loves unique dining experiences and Sandals and Beaches resorts have it all.  Menus are well thought out including regional Italian specialties, Signature dishes, and wonderful themed buffet experiences.  Premium Liquor and Fine wine are a trademark, ranging from Appleton rums at all resorts and Beringer Stone Cellars top quality pouring wines.  Not to mention their authentic beer selections from around the world.

Sandals and Beaches are also one of the top Destination Wedding locations in the world!  Their exclusive WeddingMoon packages are– Your Wedding and Your style. Such things as special suites, romantic private dining, Red Lane Spa’s and Snap Shots photography make your wedding perfect!  Your Wedding Designer will work closely with you and your travel agent to ensure you have everything you need to make this one of the most memorable days of your lives.

My personal favorite is the Personal Butler Services offered with some of the top-tier categories.  This is an only Sandals, Butlers trained by the guild of professional English Butlers. Your Butler wants you to expect the unexpected – prepared to be wowed with this awesome experience.  

Make your next vacation a Sandals or Beaches vacation!  There are many destinations in the Caribbean. Rooms sell out fast so plan ahead.  Call Your Must Love Travel Planner today!

How Can I Get the Least Expensive Airfare?

That is a loaded question! Everyone thinks they have the latest tips and tricks to purchasing airfare and although there may be some trends airfare is a line item on your budget that needs a healthy amount to cover you for your vacation.

As travel planners, we are familiar with the standard air prices from some of the most traveled cities and can give you a good idea of what you should budget for airfare for your next trip. There are a few tips that do help such as purchasing airfare around the 50 days prior to departure time, planning to travel the middle of the week and sometimes purchasing airfare on Tuesdays around 3 or after that may hold true to getting you a great price.

Here are a few guidelines that we have found helpful when looking for airfare for our clients.

  1. Know your airlines. Which airlines depart for airports that you frequent. By watching these airlines you can follow their trends.
  2. Don’t use sites that search several airlines at a time. There are airlines that do not post their flights on these sites and therefore you may not find the best price.
  3. Watch when you compare pricing for the ancillary charges such as seat costs, and bags. You may land on an airline site, such as Spirit whose airline charge usually will produce lower rates, but then after adding ancillary charges, your price may be higher or very similar to other airlines that may be providing more, such as larger seat sizes and refreshments.
  4. Consider the flight you are taking. If it is a flight longer than a few hours, you should consider the comfort of your seat. It may be worth the extra $50.00 to have a comfortable seat.
  5. Time of departure, arrival and layovers all need to be taken in consideration. Often the early morning departures are the lower fares. That may look good on paper, but considering that you need to be at the airport 2 hours prior for domestic flights and 3 hours for international flights, these early morning departures saving money may end up exhausting you – and if you travel with children – do I need to say more? Not only are you departing and arriving early, you then face waiting around for your hotel room to open. This can be several hours and you could have slept a little longer in the morning and arrived right when the room is open!
  6. A basic budget for most domestic departures can be $250.00 – $350.00 per person. Of course, there are some less and some more, but this is a great place to start. Signing up with airline programs also allow you to watch fares. Frontier is a great one. They often send out notices of significantly discounted rates – the key is be ready to buy – they go fast! One additional item — make sure you have a place to go before you purchase air as you won’t want your hotel sold out either!

These are not all tried and true but may answer some of your questions. The bottom line, traveling by air gets you to where you need to go, but needs to be considered in your vacation budget in order to plan the rest of your vacation fun!

Vegas with Your Family?

Destination Vegas

Vegas is one of those places the invokes many feelings, thoughts, concerns, and fun! Vegas lights, Vegas casinos, Vegas shows, one has to admit Vegas goes big!

I just returned from Vegas with my family. I have three “newly” adult children and we wanted to experience some of the things we could do by staying in Vegas and not having to rough it so to speak.

The highlight of our trip was by far visiting the West Rim of the Grand Canyon. No one could put in words or even take a picture that could adequately describe their experience standing in the edge of this amazing natural wonder. We decided to rent a car and drive ourselves rather than taking one of the bus tours. It turned out to be a great decision for us. We were in our own time. The drive was very easy, clearly marked, and great roads.

Our first stop in the drive was the Hoover Dam. The power source for many states. You can choose to just drive over or you can walk. We chose both! There are tours to visit the inner workings and learn all about the dam or you can just take it in yourself.

Hopping back in the car and heading to the west rim we drive across the barren land. Even though there was nothing green in sight we could not help but express it as beautiful. At one point we drove through an area that was filled with odd-looking trees! We find out they were called Joshua Trees. You could see them for miles!

Soon as we turned the corner there it was!! The Grand Canyon! Ahhhh! We visited the Hualapai Indian ranch. There are about 1350 Native American Indians in this tribe in Arizona. They have created a great tourist site to view the canyon via helicopter, boat, or just walking around. The Glass skywalk was worth every penny as you venture over the canyon. We ended our day eating at Sa NYU Wa restaurant, a one of a kind Grand Canyon experience. Food was excellent!

The rear of our week was filled with shows and shopping. Blue Man Group at the Luxor never disappoints. Fun at Excalibur with the dinner show cheering for our favorite King. A slip of the hand watching the magic of Nathan Burton winner of America’s Got Talent. All of them were perfect family fun. To view all the lights we decided to not only walk the strip, but also take the Big Bus Tour. Our guide was wonderful and shared the little secrets of the strip.

We celebrated our daughter 18th birthday at a fantastic Brazilian steakhouse in our own little room. Dining at Otto in the Venetian we were treated to Opera and even chimes in a few times!

Vegas was filled with girlfriend trips, guys getaways, honeymooners, no frills weddings even at the local Taco Bell, and yes plenty of families. There are some crazies here as I may call it, but good planning can make this a very enjoyable trip.

Travel Local

Visiting family and friends can open up the door to crossing off a bucket list destination and sharing it with them as well. Last week I had the opportunity to visit my brother’s family in San Francisco, CA. This has been a destination I have wanted to visit for a long time, and since he was stationed in the Coast Guard there and being that it was my niece’s high school graduation it was perfect time to check that destination off my list!

The highlight of this trip was our day to Napa. A scheduled tour of the Silverado Vineyards, established in 1981 by Ron and Diane Miller. Diane just happened to be Walt Disney’s daughter so that was extra exciting for me as a Disney fanatic! I asked for permission to share our day with you for this week’s blog post, so here goes!

(except from their brochure)
Ron and Diane Miller established Silverado Vineyards to make wines from the historic sites of their estate. The winery borrows its name from the abandoned mining town at the top of the Napa Valley, where Robert Louis Stevenson stayed and wrote over a century ago. Three generations of Millers are still “prospecting” for wine, making something beautiful from the land under their care.

The ranches themselves were first planted to vineyards by Napa pioneers between 1865 and 1895. Each ranch played an important role in establishing the reputation of its growing area; Carneros, Coombsville, Yountville, Soda Canyon and Stags Leap District. The beautiful fruit from these vineyards is the exclusive source of Silverado Vineyards’ Estate and Single Vineyard wines; the Miller’s highest expression of the Napa Valley they love and admire.

Our wine tasting tour began with a sample of a Rose that they only share on site, as we were introduced to our Host, John Marchesini. John was a wealth of information and made our tour comfortable and informative. As we walked the halls of the winery, we were introduced to Diane’s passion for posters from the early 1900’s. She loved the colorful display these posters offered and wanted them displayed for all to see. There is actually one from the more recent movie Ratatouille that is now one of only 2 in existence. As we continued we were introduced to Ron’s passion for the arts. He collected a variety of paintings, some were paintings used on trains to entice visitors to come to San Francisco.

As John opened the door to the room of wine filled barrels, we caught the scent of the wine that escapes through the barrel and that they affectionately call the “Angels Share”. It put a smile on all of our faces! John shared how the barrels are labeled, made and stored. We proceeded throughout the pressing room, which is nothing short of impressive as we learned about the very large press to create and separate the juice and then to the bottling room. The Silverado Winery bottles their own wine which is rare as it is quite the operation and the machines are expensive. Although they were not bottling that day, it was fascinating to see the different stages the machine goes through to fill and package the bottles.

Jon Emmerich, Winemaker has been with the winery for 25 years and notes, “What can we do to make the wine better? My work is to show the qualities of the estate in the wine so the wines show harmony and depth.” This was evident as we proceeded to our tasting, which was situated in the main area as we were sat near the grand fireplace at a small table overlooking the vineyards! Picture perfect. A nice welcome menu with our name a top, listed our tastings; 2016 Chardonnay Carneros, 2013 Merlot, Mt George Vineyard (limited quantities), 2013 GEO Cabernet Sauvignon Coombsville, and 2011 SOLO Cabernet Sauvignon Stags Leap District. Each had a beautiful quality and it was hard to say what the favorite was. I did favor the SOLO, however. John sat with us and answered our many questions and brought over some additional wines for us white wine lovers. We enjoyed hearing how the grapes change with the weather and how each growing season presents its opportunity to continued creations of fantastic wines.

I was so glad we had the opportunity to visit Silverado Vineyards. It was a testimony to the importance they place on the people that work there, the quality of product and presentation. To be successful it these are great qualities for any company to possess. I would have expected nothing less coming from someone from the Disney family! It made for a lovely day and one that I hope you may have the opportunity to have someday!

Visit Silveradovineyards.com to watch a wonderful video, learn more about the winery and maybe even order some wine! I want to thank John Marchesini for being a wonderful Host and for indulging us with the answers to all our questions!

River Cruising

Sail away to explore the world on a river cruise. Intimate, luxury, and adventure are just a few words that describe a journey aboard a river cruise.

River cruising is the fastest growing travel segment today. Most likely because it is a perfect way to see many iconic cities and historic locations. Unlike ocean cruising, your entire sailing is in view of beautiful scenery. Whether you are watching from your balcony or from one of the public areas aboard you will be engulfed in the
view.

Many river cruises are all inclusive in nature and some include excursions as well. They dock right in the heart of the city allowing ease to set out and explore.

If you are a first time river cruiser, the Rhine is a perfect choice! It is beautiful any time of year! Sailing through the Rhine gorge is one of the most scenic sections of the Rhine sailing past castles, churches and vineyards!

There are many wonderful River Cruise lines to choose from. You will want to talk with your Travel Planner and discuss the best options for you.

Peek Behind the Scenes of a Travel Professional

Let’s address the myth out there about what really a travel planner’s job is. Many think we are always flying off to some wonderful vacation. True, we do take vacations just like you. However, many of our other trips are trips to educate, learn and discover new locations for our clients. These are long days of what we call site inspections. Granite they are in wonderful locations so that makes our work a bit more pleasant.

So what is behind the scenes of a travel planner? For many of us the day starts early when the home office is quiet and we can be prepared for the day. Many hours are invested into quoting and planning vacations. The quoting process alone can be 2-5 hours depending on the details of the trip. Even specializing in certain destinations, a travel planner will want to ensure they are matching up everything the client is looking for. It can even exceed the 5 hours it is an involved Itinerary to ensure the client is receiving multiple options just to get them started! From there the choices are narrowed down and then final quoting is done before completing the booking. Prices and availability can change at anytime so keeping up on it all is sometimes a challenge.

Once the client is prepared to book and deposit their vacation the administrative work begins. Reviewing and recording of information for accuracy takes time and is an extension to their customer service. Calendar reminders are set to ensure on time payments and important dates such as booking dining for a Walt Disney Resort guest. Once the booking is complete, then Itinerary planning begins! Meetings with clients to determine their most desirable activities and then research to find the best options to meet those needs. There are many hours of phone calls to make it all happen! They love it!! They do this for each of their clients and can be juggling many of these things each and everyday.

In addition, to servicing our clients, we are marketers and students. We spend time attending webinars, reviewing promotions from our preferred suppliers, and keep up on our social media, websites and local events. There are also occasions where travel planners have to troubleshoot and assist clients when things come up and plans need to change. This is a very important service we do as typically when things like this happen the client needs to be with family and just simply can’t focus on getting things done. There are times we joke that we dream about our clients vacations because the brain is always thinking!

Needless to say, there are many reasons to choose booking your vacations with a travel planner. They are you personal connection to your vacation. When using the services of a travel planner you don’t pay more money for the booking of a resort or a package as those are the same no matter how you book them. They can save you money as they receive the most updated information about various promotions and news about different destinations. Often, planners don’t charge a fee, however, when they do it is for the costs not covered by commissions. Just like we pay a lawyer a fee for their professional advice, travel planners may charge a fee for their research and itinerary planning. For many clients, this is well worth the money, as you can see it save many hours of time and headaches! You can always discuss this with your travel planner.

The real perk for a travel planner is the amazing people they meet. Lifelong friendships develop and knowing that they are responsible for helping their clients create moments that will last a lifetime is so rewarding. The best compliment for a planner is sharing their information with others and giving them feedback post trip. I hope you enjoyed this sneak peek into some of the aspects of the job of a professional travel planner!

So what does all inclusive mean?

Right now a beautiful all inclusive resort situated on the beautiful shores of a vast ocean sounds like a perfect place to be! With the “yucky” weather still lingering in the north nothing screams more than sunshine and warmth!

All inclusive resort vacations can be the perfect match for many travelers. If you are like me, once I plan my vacation I just want to enjoy it. I want it to fit the budget. Include everything I need and no surprises!

So what does all inclusive mean? For most resorts it means your package includes, your room, all you can eat dining, all you can drink beverage, and some onsite activities and entertainment. You basically can travel to these destinations with everything taken care of and few out of pocket expenses. Easy!

There are some differences throughout the all inclusive industry. Some resorts capture a niche like Sandals that includes many beach and water activities or Karisma resorts that boast gourmet dining and top shelf drinks and exclusive Canadian Beef weeks. Others you may need to upgrade to get those added to your package.

In addition room categories leverage one brand over another too. Over the water bungalows are the hottest rage right now and are exclusive to Karisma and Sandals in the major island markets. Exclusively designed suites like Casitas at El Dorado or beach front Bungalows in Sandals Antigua offer the luxury of exceptional views, privacy and restful vacations.

There are moderate all inclusive resorts that are nice on the budget and offer everything you will need to steal away for some sun and fun. You will find clean rooms, beautiful pools, great food and plenty of pool bars to try out some of your island favorites.

Day trips to local attractions and activities are typical for someone that wants to get a little more culture. You can swim with dolphins, sail away on a catamaran, Rose a camel or scuba dive! There is plenty to choose from. Cultural excision to the Mayan Ruins or museums and cities are great options too. You won’t be disappointed.

Many Weddings and Honeymoons are taken at all inclusive resorts. It has everything for everyone and creates a perfect backdrop for these special occasions. And certainly don’t forget th anniversary!! Capturing the romance is their specialty!
The ultimate in luxury for me is visiting the spa. Although this is an additional charge you can prepay services if you choose to do so. The spas located at these island resorts enhance the overall relaxing experiences of your vacation. And if you get a little sunburn you may want to stop in for a little therapy to sooth the burn!

There are many fantastic resorts to choose from and our travel planners have their favs they would love to share with you! The nice thing about these type of vacations are that you can plan ahead or even check it out last minute for a quick trip!

#MustLoveTravelMoments

Moments are a very brief period of time or an exact point in time.  There is significance in a moment that can have huge impact on your life. The day you met the love of your life, witnessed the birth of your children, spent time with good friends, you name it!   The moments of your journey are ones you don’t want to forget but collect them and etch them as memories forever.

Must Love Travel Planners seek vacations that will give you opportunity to experience once in a lifetime moments. As a result of many of our clients sending us testimonials and pictures of their special moments,  we have established this awesome hashtag — #MustLoveTravelMoments to capture and collect  of those moments.. We believe as the famous Italian poet, Cesare Pavese once said, “  We do not remember days, but we remember moments”. The first time you stand on the soft sand watching the sunset with your new spouse on your honeymoon or capture the joy of your children as you explore the world, these are moments that need to be shared and remembered.

Here is a moment from one of our family vacations to Dollywood in TN!  We had a great time!

Great ways to capture #MustLoveTravelMoments include anything from quick snaps on your phone, professional pictures from the photographer onboard a ship, travel journals that you write, draw in and sharing them with friends and family on social media. Sharing your moments can be inspiring to others.  We would love to see your moments on our brand new Must Love Travel Group. It is a public group to share and be inspired!

Here is the link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/405874653192913/

Are you ready to go to Hawaii?

Planning your trip to Hawaii

It will be hard to choose which of the six islands of Hawaii to visit as you can see from our series on the Hawaiian Islands. This state hosts so many wonderful wonders from breathtaking waterfalls, volcanoes, tropical delights, ocean greatness fit for watching sea life, snorkeling and surfing. It is a destination within reach. No need for passports, great weather throughout the year and plenty to do! It is a destination for families, honeymoons and romance.

So if you are like me, Hawaii is a bucket list destination for you and how are you going to plan for such a trip. You may want to visit all the islands or atleast many of them to get the full experience. Afterall, it may be your only visit to Hawaii right? Although after you visit you this may be your go to destination! As with any vacation, planning is key. You will need to plan your time off, set your budget and make a list of your must do’s. Many visitors to Hawaii set aside 7-14 days depending on how much they want to see. Your budget will need to be a healthy one as you can only arrive by land or sea. Airfare ranges between $880 – $1500 and fluctuates often. Resort costs are fairly typical, but as with any travel to islands food can be a little higher than you are used to at home.

One cost effective way to travel to Hawaii is via cruise. I say cost effective because your vacation is pretty much paid for before you leave home since your food is included in your cruise package. One of my favorite ships to sail is the Pride of America on Norwegian Cruise line. Recently renovated, the Pride of America has been sailing to Hawaii for many years. It has recently been voted the best Hawaii Itinerary. With a variety of Itineraries, you can hit most of the highlights. You can choose packages that include pre cruise land stay or just cruise only.

If you are more adventurous or a little shy of cruising and want to dive into one or more islands on your trip there are packages that will include your flights, accommodations, excursions. This way gives you the flexibility to customize where you want to be and when.

Whatever way you want to go – land or sea, you will want to work with your Must Love Travel Planner to help you create a spectacular vacation. Plan ahead. This bucket list destination is a place you will not want to miss. The history, gorgeous views, culture and volcanic wonders are calling your name! If you missed any of the island articles we have recently published, go back and check them out!

 

Island of Hawaii – The Island of Inspiration

Nicknamed “The Big Island” the island of Hawaii is the youngest and the largest of all the islands. Host to the Hawaii Volcanoes National park, you will find molten magma flowing as well as snow-capped heights of Maunakea. Many of the world’s climate zones can be experienced on the Big Island. The Island of Hawaii has 6 regions, Hamakua Coast, Hilo, Puna, Kau, Kona and Kohala. There is certainly plenty to explore and do!

Hamakua Coast is located north of Hilo on the northeastern side of the island. Experiencing 84 inches of rainfall a year, this region is filled with tropical rainforests, stunning waterfalls, and tranquil green valleys. Plan a trip to the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden and World Botanical Gardens where you will see the triple-tiered Umauma Falls. The Akaka Falls is 442 foot hight and the Kahuna Falls is 100 feet tall. The Hamakua Coast was the boyhood home of King Kamehameha I and is known as “The Valley of the Kings”. Check out the Waipio Valley Overlook at the end of the Hamakua Heritage Corridor drive. Here you will see the amazing sites of this incredible area.

The Hilo region is a perfect mix of open markets, shopping, gardens, and beautiful state parks.
In downtown Hilo you will find the Hilo’s Farmers Market. You will find, locally grown and roasted coffee, tropical fruit and sweet treats like butter mochi. The market also feature beautiful plants, outside crafts, local souvenirs. It is open year round every Wednesday and Saturday with some vendors open every day.

One area of Hilo you will not want to miss is the world’s largest authentic ornamental Japanese garden outside of Japan itself. It is open 24 hours a day and you can experience this for free. The Liliuokalani Gardens, named after the last reigning monarch, Queen Liliuokalani is location on 24.67 acres and was dedicated in 1917. It is truly an amazing and tranquil place. Don’t miss the amazing falls in Hilo as well. Wailuku River state park is best know for the Waianuenue (Rainbow Falls) and Akaa Falls State Park features the Akaka Falls and Kahuna Falls.

Looking for some Lava? The region of Puna just south of Hilo in the town of Pahoa you can experience the designs of Pele, the volcano goddess who continually creates and recreates the land. This area features, black-sand beaches and lava features as well as more natural wonders forged by the power of volcanos. What could be more relaxing that to experience one of Puna’s coastal geothermal baths heated below the earth by Kilauea’s steam. A don’t miss spot on Puna is Lava Trees State Park. in the 1700’s, lava flow swept through the areac coating the trunks of ohia trees leaving tall lava molds of the tree trunks in their wake, frozen in time.

Kau is host to the world’s most active volcano, Kilauea. The eastern slopes of Kau host macadamia nut orchards, coffee farms and cattle. 45 miles south of Hilo, is the Hawaii Volcano National Park. It is 333,000 acres from the summit of Maunaloa to the sea. Manualoa last erupted in 1984 and Kilauea has been erupting since Jan. 3, 1983. Check out this area to learn more about the amazing dynamics of volcanoes. Learn more about these volcano’s click https://youtu.be/gNoJv5Vkumk

The West side of the island is Kona. If you are a coffee lover, Kona has some of the best coffee as it hosts many coffee farms. Kona’s calm and clear waters make it perfect for snorkeling, diving, sailing and spotting dolphins and honu ( Hawaiian green sea turtles). During the month of August, Kona hosts the International Billfish Tournament. Located in south Kona, is Honaunau Bay where there is a 180 acre national historic park.

 

This historic park was once the home of royal grounds and a place of refuge for ancient Hawaiian lawbreakers. Kapu, or sacred laws, were of utmost importance to Hawaiian culture and the breaking of kapu had its consequences, including death. If one were to break kapu, their only chance for survival was to evade his pursuers and make it to a puuhonua, or a sacred place of refuge. Once there, a ceremony of absolution would take place and the one who broke kapu would be able to return to society. Puuhonua o Hanaunau remains one of the most sacred historic places. Visit the Historic Kailua Village and Hulihee Palace where you will be transported back to the days of Hawaiian monarchy.

Finally, Kohala. This is the area of some of the best resorts and as you travel this area you will find amazing lava fields. In north Kohala, there is a small town called Kapaau. Her stands the original King Kamehameha I Statue which is not far from where the famous King was born. Historians believe he was born in 1758, the year Halley’s Comet passed over Hawaii. Kamehameha stands for The Lonely One. His story is amazing so you will have to visit to receive the full appreciation of this amazing sense of history. Pololu Valley Lookout and Hapuna Beach offer breathtaking views and amazing beaches.

The Big Island has a lot to offer tourist and you will want time to explore! #MustLoveTravelHawaii

Molokai the Friendly Isle

Molokai, known as the Friendly Isle, is the 5th largest Island and home to the longest continuous fringing reef, at 28 miles long. This is a perfect place for scuba diving and snorkeling where you will see natural “finger” coral. The adventure traveler will love this island as it is absent of attractions and commercial activity.

At 38 Miles long and 10 miles wide, this island makes it easy to discover the jungles, and some of the most remote parts of Hawaii. Visit Halawa Valley on the east end and you will not be disappointed by the breathtaking vistas and cascading waterfalls including Mooula Falls.

Beaches on Molokai are beautiful but not necessarily the best place for swimming. Despite their wonderful views, the current can be strong and most beaches do not have lifeguards. The beaches welcome picnics which can provide for a great afternoon.

Home to a historic coconut grove in Kaunakakai is a must see on this island. It was planted in the 1860’s during the reign of King Kamehameha V. Watch out for falling coconuts!

You may want to just take a peek at the island by taking a helicopter from Maui for a fly over this island full of nature. Even though this is a great option you may miss the opportunity to immerse yourself in historic, beautiful natural locations of this great island.

The Heart of Hawaii

There are six islands that make up this wonderful state and each island has its own personality and desired experience. Besides the wonderful year round weather, tropical yumminess, Hawaii is full of wonderful places to visit.

In this post, I want to take you to the Heart of Hawaii –Oahu. There are 5 regions of Oahu which include, Honolulu, Central Oahu, Leeward Coast, North Shore and the Windward Coast. The island is a perfect mix of the ancient and the modern infused with the Hawaiian culture and experiences.

I plan to travel to Hawaii this fall, and Central Oahu has been on my bucket list for years! Pearl Harbor has its draw that any American would be proud to stand foot on. A moment in time that changed the course of history. Walking the harbor, hearing the stories from survivors, and taking it all in would be a moment no one could ever forget. Planning your day there will require reservations and great walking shoes! The Passport to Pearl Harbor will allow you to see it all.

Passport to Pearl Harbor Tours Include:

Attractions
Adults
Kids (4-12)

USS Arizona Memorial
Narrated Tour
$7.50
$7.50 

USS Bowfin Submarine and Park*
$15
$7

Pacific Aviation Museum
Pearl Harbor*
$25
$12

USS Battleship Missouri Memorial*
$29
$13

* Prices are subject to change


If you are more adventurous, the North Shore will transport you into the world of the surfer. You will want to go between November and February for the big waves, but don’t plan on riding those as they should be left for the professionals! During the rest of the year you will see a more calm ocean. Haliewi is a perfect little surfing town where you can shop, eat and enjoy! Not far down the road you can visit the Polynesian Cultural Center and the old plantation town of Kahuku.

Whale watching is another favorite among tourist. December to May you will find these beautiful Humpback Whales, however February is peak season. These whales are considered native to Hawaii as this is where the vast majority are born. For the Hawaiians these animals are treated with great respect.

ONO! A word you will use often. It means delicious. When you look at the culinary journey you will take on a visit to Hawaii you will be in heaven. Not only is Hawaii rich with their own flavors, but it is a melting pot for many of the worlds wonderful culinary treats. Don’t miss out on the local out of the way places and make sure you don’t pass on all of the street foods!

Rounding out a perfect stay on Oahu is to dive into Honolulu. With cultural arts, food and shopping you can explore for hours! Staying on the famous Waikiki Beach where with Luau’s and beautiful views will take you back in time, perhaps staying at the Moana Surfrider, Waikiki’s first hotel will offer the nostagia you might be looking for.

Stay tuned for more on Hawaii. More islands, in depth look at its culture and more!

Next…Kauai!

Establishing a 5 Year Vacation Plan. Really?

We all have plans or at least we should. When we are young and finishing High School, we set out our plans for college, and getting the right degree so we can start an awesome career. Then we thinking about getting married, and go through the planning and we think about our lives together with our spouse. We ask questions like, when do we want to purchase a home, start a family, retire? We get awesome jobs and we set goals for success. Then we have children and set goals for their lives – milestones that will help them become independent. Let’s face it – our lives are a series of planning and setting goals then striving to meet them.

So, why not establish a vacation plan? How many times have you turned the corner of another year and said, “I wish I had the budget to take a cruise” or “ I wish I would have thought of this sooner so there was availability where I wanted to go.” A vacation plan can help eliminate the stress of last minute planning. It is even more important these days to plan out your time of disconnecting from the everyday, relaxing, reconnecting with your family or friends, and going to places that will help your accomplish just that.

Here are some steps that you can share with your travel planner that will help you establish your 5 year vacation plan.

  1. Share with your travel planner some of your favorite things you and your family like to do on vacation. Do you like to swim, hike, visit historic locations, fish, etc.?
  2. Think about the best time for you to travel during the year. Some vacations may require to travel during months you might not think of and may need to do some creative scheduling.
  3. Make a list of places that you may consider” Bucket List” travel. Going on a cruise, visiting an island, visit your favorite Disney Destination, or going to another country.
  4. Establish a 3 – 5 year vacation budget and share it with your travel planner so they can begin to research the best packages. Many times certain vacations can be planned in advance which will help with the budget.
  5. Lay out a Vacation Calendar with your Travel Planner and beginning dreaming of awesome vacations!

Establishing your vacation goals relieves the stress of last minute decisions, not having enough money to go where you want to go, and just settling for another visit to the same old location you go every year.

Must Love Travel Group specializes in planning awesome vacations across the globe! Contact your Travel Planner and start your 5 Year Vacation Plan today!

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