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Reviews & Recommendations

Hiking Mt. Christoffel in Curaçao

Hiking Mt. Christoffel in Curaçao

A major reason why I chose to visit Curaçao is Mt. Christoffel. Curaçao is the only island in this part of the Caribbean that has a true mountain hiking experience.

Mt. Christoffel, also known as Christoffelberg, is a short but challenging hike with satisfying, 360-degree views from the top. I loved this hike and the views so much I spent a ton of time at the top taking it all in.

In this post, I give the complete breakdown of how to make this hike happen in the best way. From the best time to go to how long it'll take you, this is my hiking story and your guide to climbing the highest peak in Curaçao.

10 Things to Explore in Willemstad, Curaçao

10 Things to Explore in Willemstad, Curaçao

When I visit new places, I rarely spend a lot of time in the main tourist areas. But the Otrobanda, Punda, and Pietermaai districts of Curaçao's capitol were unique and rich with history, art, culture, food, and fun. I am glad I spent time in this area both during the day and at night to discover the atmosphere in both settings.

I got stuck on a floating bridge, found a secret beach, uncovered unique historic landmarks, and posed with lots of street art. Everything I did I could easily experience in one full day of exploring Willemstad!

What To Eat In Curaçao: Groceries & Restaurants

What To Eat In Curaçao: Groceries & Restaurants

My favorite way to explore a country and its culture is through its food.

I enjoyed experiencing Curaçao's unique mix of Caribbean and Dutch food through some of its restaurants, grocery stores, and other little gems I found!

Below I write all about what to eat in Curaçao, including the foods I tried (like iguana!!) and some that I (sadly) missed.

11 Things To Do In Cape Town, South Africa

11 Things To Do In Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town is the oldest city in South Africa. There is a ton of history and culture to explore and lots of adventures that will give you some epic coastal city views.

In this post, I share 11 highlights or things I experienced in Cape Town and the nearby areas. Perhaps this will inspire you to visit or revisit to see and do some of the things I did!

Unethical Animal Tourism at Moholoholo in South Africa

Unethical Animal Tourism at Moholoholo in South Africa

On day 4 of my African safari tour, I found myself bursting into tears and walking out of the Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. What upset me? It was a culmination of unethical animal practices that I saw, ending with the enslavement of cheetahs.

Yes, I said enslavement, and I'll tell you why I use that word in this post.

I have been very vocal on this blog about animal tourism around the world. There’s a lot that goes on that we don’t know about until we actually go there and see it. My hope is that this post sheds a bit of light on what is going on in South Africa, even at the best of the options among the various tourist attractions that exist.

Moholoholo does a lot of good for endangered African species. But, in my opinion, it has improvements to make. Either way, you can take in the information I provide and decide for yourself what’s right for you when you visit South Africa.

How I Planned A Low-Cost African Safari Tour

How I Planned A Low-Cost African Safari Tour

An African safari tour was a dream experience of mine since I saw the Lion King as a kid. But I always assumed the cost of such an experience would be astronomical. Most safari tours I looked into casually required thousands of dollars. As much as I wanted to have this experience, I really didn't want to go bankrupt because of it! And so the research began!

I'm all about balancing the cost of things when I travel. I'll lay out money for a really extraordinary experience—but it better hit all the marks in all the right places. That's why I spent lots of time researching tour options for my trip to South Africa. Through my research, I found the perfect tour. For a minimum price, I maximized the experience for my first African Safari tour in Kruger National Park. It offered the kind of accommodation I wanted, the right number of days, and, most importantly, the best chance at seeing tons of wildlife!

This post is all about the decisions I made: Why I chose Kruger, why I chose a guided tour instead of self-guided, how I searched for tour options, which tour fit all my needs, and what the actual benefits were. Perhaps the approach I took will help you find and plan your perfect African Safari Tour, too!

Diving the Caribbean Sea in Bayahibe, Dominican Republic

Diving the Caribbean Sea in Bayahibe, Dominican Republic

I've always wanted to dive the Caribbean Sea! I finally had the opportunity to while in the Dominican Republic.

Diving near the resort on the Eastern, Atlantic side was not ideal conditions. So Ang and I took a road trip down to Bayahibe on the Southern, Caribbean side of the island country. There, I had a most spectacular, personalized tour of 2 reefs with Go Dive Bayahibe.

In this post, I review my experience diving and visiting this new area of the DR. From pristine beaches with crystal clear blue waters to diverse marine life including a squid encounter (!), now I know where to book my next trip to the Dominican Republic!

Dominican Republic: My First All-Inclusive Resort Stay

Dominican Republic: My First All-Inclusive Resort Stay

I am so not an all-inclusive resort type of traveler. I'm the type of traveler who goes camping across New Zealand. I pour buckets of water over me at hostels for a shower in Iceland. I party and couchsurf with locals in South Africa. In general, I adventure travel on a budget with minimal environmental impact and maximum exploration of culture and countryside.

But I got that style of travel out of my system in Africa. This week, I am taking a break from my posts about Africa to fast forward to my trip to the Dominican Republic. I broke all my travel norms to have this romantic, Caribbean getaway with Ang! It was her birthday, so I was down for whatever she wanted to do. And an all-inclusive, adults-only resort was it!

Breaking my own travel norms meant I had the chance to pop many travel cherries on this trip. I had my first resort experience, my first swim-up bar experience, my first Caribbean vacation, and my first visit to an international country South of the United States! Woo! Who knew I had so many cherries to pop after all the travel I've done? Well, this post is my take on all these new experiences, from the good to the not so good.

 Visiting The Cheetah Conservation Fund In Namibia

Visiting The Cheetah Conservation Fund In Namibia

As a lover of cheetahs, I was very excited to learn that the "Cheetah Capital of the World" is Namibia. But, with less than 8,000 left in the world, the chances of seeing the endangered cheetah in the wild is very low! Still, I wanted to see these beautiful creatures in person and in the most ethical way possible.

Before I traveled to Namibia, I researched and identified the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF). After carefully assessing their ethical practices, I booked 2 tours with CCF.

In this post, I share a full review of CCF. I include how I got there, what I learned about cheetahs, my experience seeing the cheetahs, and learning about CCF's efforts to save them.

My 8 Favorite Brooklyn Things To Do in Spring

My 8 Favorite Brooklyn Things To Do in Spring

I have spent a lot of time in Brooklyn over the years.

Recently, I've been visiting friends there and getting to know the place from a local perspective. And my favorite time to be in Brooklyn? It's got to be the Spring! Between the warmer weather, the flowers popping up, and the cheerier vibe, I love Brooklyn in the Springtime.

The following are some of my favorite activities for when all the flowers start blooming. But don't worry, I share some activities for other seasons, too.

10 (More) Things To Do In New York City

10 (More) Things To Do In New York City

In my last post about things to do in New York City, I focused mostly on what to see as first-timers to NYC. I featured mainly the places and activities I chose to show my then-boyfriend from New Zealand.

In this post, I cover different things to do in the Big Apple. You could say these suggestions are suited for second-timers! But really, you can pick and choose from this list or the last list and be totally fulfilled during your visit!

Included are activities I've experienced on my own and with others. As a former resident and frequent commuter to the city, I've included all kinds of recommendations from my New York adventures. 

Weekdays Are The Best Days To Visit Niagara Falls

Weekdays Are The Best Days To Visit Niagara Falls

In late May of 2017, my cousin Lisa and her partner Christoph visited me in New York from Germany. One of the top travel experiences on her list was to see Niagara Falls during her visit. When she told me this, I started planning our 8 hours drive from Long Island to Niagara on the western border of NY.

With stops at my parents', relatives', and brother's house along the way, I strategized our visit to Niagara Falls so that it would fall on a weekday. The weekend we were traveling upstate was Memorial Day weekend. The last thing I wanted to do was wind up on long lines again like I did the year before on July 4th weekend. No way would I put myself through that again!

But I wasn't completely certain that our visit would be without crowds. On a Tuesday attached to a holiday weekend, I thought others might have the same idea. I discovered they didn't. Like I pro, I got to show Lisa and Christoph the beauty and exhilaration of Niagara Falls without the long lines and wait times. I'm happy to say I had an amazing time there, completely making up for the horrible experience I had previously!

I'll Never Do It Again: Bayou Tour In Louisiana

I'll Never Do It Again: Bayou Tour In Louisiana

Compromising my ethical values is something I do not do very often. And it never feels good doing it. But my bestie was coming with me to NOLA for the weekend. So I said yes to a swamp tour I had warned would likely be unethical to the animals. I've never been so upset about being right.

The last time I was in NOLA, I "broke into" the local zoo. Although I didn't pay to get in, walking around there reinforced my ethical standards around animal tourism. I've written about this before, such as with the Monkey Forest in Ubud. Basically, my standards are don't support it unless it's highly regulated and the interaction is as natural as possible.

The Bayou Tours in Louisiana broke these rules. And I say the plural word "tours" because it's more than just the one we went on. While I learned a lot about the wildlife and swamp ecosystem on the tour, I cringed as the tour guide fed marshmallows to the animals. That only scratches the surface. Read on to learn more about why I'll never support tours like this again!

Willie Mae vs Dooky Chase: The Fried Chicken Verdict! (NOLA)

Willie Mae vs Dooky Chase: The Fried Chicken Verdict! (NOLA)

The verdict is in! I finally tried the two most famous fried chicken dishes in NOLA to determine which is better: Willie Mae or Dooky Chase. Which will it be?!

The last time I was in NOLA was summer 2016. I went to Dooky Chase's with my then-boyfriend from New Zealand. We gobbled down a buffet of Dooky's best, including her famous fried chicken. We loved it. But then we went to the airport later on and a fellow traveler told us Willie Mae's was better. Talk about #regrets!

So, upon arriving in New Orleans for a second time, Willie Mae's had to be on my agenda. I checked into my accommodation and I hopped in an Uber and sped over to the neighborhood of Treme. Now I can tell you which I think is the better dining experience.

13 To-Do's in Montreal On A Summer Day

13 To-Do's in Montreal On A Summer Day

In August this year, I had the opportunity to travel to Montreal for 2 nights. It was going to be a short stay, but I wanted to make the most of it.

I was traveling with my new partner, Ang. She was presenting at a conference, and I joined for some fun! I have been to Canada before—to Toronto and Bromont. But Montreal is a city I have been wanting to visit since I took French in high school. So this trip was 15+ years in the making! It also marked the first time I had been out of the USA since my round-the-world trip!

Summers in Montreal are full of art, music, and outdoor fun. I experienced everything I describe in this post over 2 days. But you can easily see and do it all in 24 hours.

Angel's Landing: Zion's Most Dangerous (and Crowded) Hike

Angel's Landing: Zion's Most Dangerous (and Crowded) Hike

I kept hearing about the "most dangerous" and "most popular" hike in Zion. Angel's Landing is beautiful, thrilling, and inevitably crowded.

I woke up at 4AM to hit the trail solo at 6AM. I drove into the park from my Airbnb in St. George, Utah, and managed to be one of the first to the top!

I am so happy I planned this way. So I want to tell you how to plan similarly! In this Q&A-style post, I describe my entire experience. I explain everything including when to go and how dangerous it is. Then you can decide if it's a hike you'd like to do, too!

The Best Way to Hike into Bryce Canyon National Park

The Best Way to Hike into Bryce Canyon National Park

Deviating often means taking a different path. But sometimes the best way is to deviate down the same path backwards.

I found this out when I took an alternate trail to hike into Bryce Canyon National Park this past summer. I went by instinct. I skipped the main park entrance and found an alternate trail. The trail cut a path to the main trail that looped backwards around the park.

I avoided the $30 park fee and was gradually introduced to the scenery rather than forced to view it up front. This way, the epic views at the halfway point served as a hard-earned, well-deserved reward.

How to Visit Antelope Canyon in Arizona

How to Visit Antelope Canyon in Arizona

It's a secret that was only exposed less than 90 years ago. Before that, Mother Earth had been busy painting waves into stone with water. The result is a photographer's dream location. 

And the photographers show up in herds. This is why you need to know how I got to see it before all the crowds got there and without paying premium ticket prices.

In this post, I use my first-hand experience to answer everything you need to know about Antelope Canyon.

13 Free (or Under $10) Activities Near Waikiki

13 Free (or Under $10) Activities Near Waikiki

There's a lot to see and do around the Waikiki area that will drain your bank account. But there's also a lot to do for those on a budget!

You can certainly lounge on the beach all day for free. You can even visit Pearl Harbor for free! But there's tons of other cultural, physical, and food-related activities around Waikiki that I find a lot more interesting!

In this post, I outline the best activities in the Waikiki area that won't break the bank!

Hawaiian Food: What to Eat and Where on Oahu

Hawaiian Food: What to Eat and Where on Oahu

I love adventurous eating and local cultural food. Hawaii has opportunities for both. Mainly, there’s a wonderful combination of both native Hawaiian foods and Asian cultural influences on Oahu. The Hawaiian food is reminiscent of some of the Polynesian dishes I had in Niue. And the Asian influences come from the large population of Japanese, Filipinos, Chinese, and Korean people living on Oahu. I start with an in-depth description of some of the traditional Hawaiian cuisine I ate. Then I mostly list all of the other must-try foods and places to eat them.