Friday, June 13, 2008

Natasha - British Virgin Islands



Climbing on the ferry from St.John to head over to Little Dix Bay Resort in the British Virgin Islands, my husband and I couldn't imagine a more beautiful place than Caneel Bay. Well, we sure did find it when we arrived to Virgin Gorda! Rosewood Resorts did it again with an amazing setting on the Little Dix Bay. Our room's balcony overlooked the crystal blue waters of the Caribbean. All we wanted to do was head out and walk along the water, and we were thrilled to have another four nights in paradise. We stopped to have a light casual lunch and a Mojito at the Beach Grill before we went for a swim. I, of course, loved taking a dip showing off my Malibu Strings bikinis. You could walk into the bay for a hundred yards before your feet could no longer touch bottom.

In the evening, we made reservations at the Sugar Mill and had a romantic dinner on the bay. The Caribbean food was incredible and the wine list offered excellent choices...just the way we like it. After dinner, there was always festive music playing at the Pavilion Bar. Every evening my husband enjoyed a Cuban cigar along with our night cap sitting outside enjoying the warm trade winds. It was a beautiful walk back along the bay to our room, and somehow we couldn't help ourselves but skinny dip under the moonlight! What a great way to cool off before heating up again!

The resort offers many excursions during the day. No trip to Virgin Gorda is complete without a visit to The Baths which are located only five minutes from the property. The rocks sit directly on the water and each climb through the formations bring you to incredible views of the clear blue water.



Our favorite excursion, however, was a trip to a private island. A twenty minute trip by boat will drop you off at a nearby uninhabited island. For four hours you can swim, enjoy the sun, and sip cold beers from the ice chest they send you with. It did feel like we were a million miles away, and for a while we hoped our ride back would forget about us. Malibu Strings, or any bikini, were definitely not required on this beach, but I brought them along anyway to take plenty of pictures to remember our unforgettable trip to Virgin Gorda!

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Friday, June 6, 2008

Jacqueline - Hawaii



Aloha! 7 days, 4 suits, and a ton of pictures!



Having previously been on all the other islands of Hawaii, we have picked the Big Island as our most favorite and as always, we had an absolute blast. This time, our accommodations were at the Surf & Racquet Club in the Kona-Kailua area. The luxury condo was so big and fully furnished with a large kitchen; it was really more like an apartment!

Our condo faced out onto the ocean and was aboot, (not a typo, it’s a Canadian thing, eh?), 20 feet from the lava rock that surrounds most of the island. We left our bedroom lanai open at night because I absolutely LOVE falling asleep to the sound of waves crashing on the shore. It’s kind of mandatory when we travel that if there’s water, I want see and hear it from where we’re staying. In fact, one night the surf was particularly high and the pounding waves shot up over the lava rock 25 feet into the air...an incredible sight. The booming was so loud I thought it was an earthquake!



As some of you may know, I have been training to participate in a Figure Competition taking place this June, and it’s my first! I had to be able to keep my exercise/meal schedule and found a great gym called Pacific Island Fitness. A very good friend of ours lives in Hawaii and put me in the right direction with this facility. The folks there were fantastic, friendly, and knowledgeable. Pasqual owns the gym and operates it with his son, Isiah. I was also inspired by Carol, a 55 year old woman who doesn't look a day over 40. She runs a breakfast/lunch kiosk in the gym and cooks healthy meals made to order. She also competes in figure competitions, and came in 2nd in last years Fitness Competition for the entire Big Island. I saw her pictures, she should have won! I have to go back to talk with, and learn more from her, (she's been into bodybuilding/fitness for over 30 years), what a sweetie!



The gym itself is hu-uge and split into 2 sections: an open air 'hardcore' side, with free weights and some really, really big guys walking around, and an air-conditioned side with cardio machines, muscle-specific machines, and free weights that I could lift. I was doing 2 sessions of 55 minutes each day, low intensity. I also squeezed in some weight training as per my trainers instructions.
Despite the food restrictions, my trainer luckily gave me one ‘cheat’ meal and we headed off to The Hard Rock Café in Kona.



Now I have to tell you, the classic cheeseburger and fries were to die for, not quite as good as In-N-Out, but trust me, when you’ve been deprived of it, it always tastes spectacular!
Right next to the Hard Rock is a beach volleyball court. This is so cool, and you can work off your lunch/dinner by just heading down and starting up a game. Or you can just sit in the bleachers and watch one. It was very entertaining to say the least.



Other fun restaurants to try in the downtown Kona area include Bubba Gumps, get a table on the water and watch the sunset. Lava Java where the whole menu is as good as the service is slow, but who’s in a rush in paradise? We have also eaten at Lu-Lu's which is another great party place with a spectacular view of the bay.
Of course the Big Island is more than just a gym and burgers! It has some of the most spectacular, and if needed, secluded beaches that you could ask for. One thing we learned from our trip last year was to pick up the book, "Hawaii - The Big Island Revealed". Written by a local couple, it gives you the entire do’s and don’ts, and must see’s and how to get there’s, for the whole island. The authors don’t accept advertising, and only write aboot what they themselves have experienced in a very none ‘touristy’ or ‘wanna sell you sumptin’ way’.

The book describes almost every beach on the island, and pointed us to the right beaches to suit our needs. Most of the beaches on Kona are primarily lava rock, but there are several that have sand as well. The Big Island is way less crowded than the others, and on more than one occasion we had the entire half mile long Mahai’ula beach to ourselves, and I mean the entire beach. It matters not what you are looking for, this island has it all.



Another must for us on vacation is golf. We played 4 courses, Makalei GC, Kona CC, Big Island CC, and Waikaloa GC. My brief not-so-expert course reviews are as follows:



Makalei GC was nice and is popular with the locals. It is located half way up the volcano and is rather hilly which makes for some tough shots. There are dozens of peacocks walking all over the course, it's wonderful! I *ahem* beat hubby by 2 strokes, (who in fairness was nursing a bad back and has had persistent tennis elbow - or so he said).



Kona CC was by far my favorite course. Several holes on the course run along the ocean and they have a par 3 that you have to tee off over a huge lava flow. My errant tee shot actually hit the lava, but got a favorable bounce back onto the green. Unfortunately, hubby returned to truer form...and whipped me badly.
Big Island CC was just OK. Unbeknownst to us they had top-dressed the greens. Their greens keeper must have taken the whole 'golf near the beach' thing to the extreme. The greens actually looked sand traps! True story: if we dragged our putter along the sand, we would have left a groove to the hole, that's how bad it was! We had to play the '2 putt' rule because there really was no way putt at all. They did reduce the green fees to compensate, which was nice. Overall it’s a beautiful course though, complete with wild turkeys running around and gorgeous jacaranda trees all over. The two finishing holes are pretty and tough!



Waikoloa is part of a huge hotel/condo/golf complex. The course is nice, but nothing earth-shattering. Maybe I say that because I kind of sucked that day, nothing was working and my game was quite inconsistent....well, at least it didn't rain. There were 2 pretty ocean holes, but the rest of the course is rather typical.



We took 4 Malibu Strings bikini’s with us, a black mesh, a black sling, a white sexy halter, and the new stars & stripes, which had more than one person saluting! Several new Malibu Strings galleries to follow!

In the mean time, if you have never been to Hawaii, just go!.....there is so much to see and do. In 2007 we explored the Volcanoes and did lots of sightseeing and exploring, this year was R&R and beaches, next year who knows, maybe it’s time to learn to surf!...Hawaii really is the most gorgeous place on earth. Go...go now, and save me a spot on the beach!

Love, Jacqueline

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