Ain Sokhna, Egypt: Beach Thursday video and naughty Arab lesson

It is Beach Thursday and I have a video that will teach you something naughty ūüėČ I didn’t even dare to post it on my Travel the Middle East site! See it until the end, as the lesson is on the last half of the Ain Sokhna video:

Beach time! Naughty Arab lesson found at 1:55

Yes, I just taught you the middle finger or Arab sign language for “f**k you.” You know, travel brings many things with it. I can’t just paint a pink picture on my blog every single time. Keepin’ it real! ūüėČ

About Ain Sokhna, Egypt

Literally meaning “hot spring” in Arabic, Ain Sokhna is located in the Eastern Desert and happens to be the highest peak there (Wikipedia). It is a popular beach spot, but mostly to Egyptians. In fact, I didn’t even see one other foreigner during my visit, except for the fellow Couchsurfers that were with us. As I was told by my host Moussa, the resort we stayed at is of mostly middle-class Egyptians.

Photo time!

For your entertainment, photos of the grounds. Enjoy! (Note: Yes, I know I blatantly ignored all rules in regard to how to dress in Egypt¬†or any conservative country, but I was told by Moussa this was a safe spot to wear my tank top. And, as a Latina, feeling ubber liberated, I so did…!)

Ain Sokhna beach, Egypt

Me at Ain Sokhna beach. The sandy part

Ain Sokhna sandy beach, Egypt

Ain Sokhna sandy beach teni (again)

Sokhna mountains

Barren mountains, too! This is from the rooftop of Moussa’s apartment, with his cousin and fellow traveler Jaimie (Aussie)

Sokhna resort view

Ain Sokhna resort view from our friend’s flat

Sokhna hookah

Hookah time! We went to a café/resort on the road from Ain Sokhna to Cairo

Have you been to any off-the-beaten-path spots in Egypt?

Things to do in Fajardo Puerto Rico: Beach Thursday photo essay

This week’s Beach Thursday post is a photo essay about the¬†things to do in Fajardo Puerto Rico. One of my favorite beach towns, I love its narrow roads that hug the ocean and the many hidden beaches to choose from. Also, it happens to be the doorway to the outlaying islands of Vieques and Culebra, which I will talk about in the coming weeks. Let’s discover Fajardo’s great food and spectacular scenery!

The Governor’s House Reserve

This claims the top spot of things to do in Fajardo Puerto Rico! Now legal to enter, the sign is battered and the¬†policemen¬†that actually found my friends and I while there were simply checking us girls out whilst telling us to not pass a certain mark. Oh, yes, because we walked so far into the reserve that we actually found the secret Governor’s Beach House — as of the “Camp David” of the Governor of Puerto Rico…

This is the reason why I have personally named this “unidentified” natural spot as “The Governor’s House Reserve” XD ūüėõ¬†Ha! What an adventure. Only way of reaching this beauty is by walking for 30-40 mins. through the coast (from Seven Seas Beach). Water, rocks, bushes, and narrow dirt paths. This is how your trail should look like (read the photo captions for detailed instructions, by the way!)

things to do in Fajardo Puerto Rico, Seven Seas hidden beach

1. Walk toward the left of the entrance to the Seven Seas beach, until you see the rocky part. head that way (and take some photos with your friends on the way)

things to do in Fajardo Puerto Rico, Seven Seas hidden beach path

2. After the ocean rock path, you go through a path like this…for like 30-40 minutes…

things to do in Fajardo Puerto Rico, hidden beach

3. After ocean, rock, and bushy path, you encounter this…but there are some people here already. Thus, keep walking, toward the left side of that beach

things to do in Fajardo Puerto Rico, hidden beach waters

(this is the “oleaje peligroso” or “dangerous shorebreak” the sign warns you about, by the way)

things to do in Fajardo Puerto Rico, hidden beach reserve

4. Walk 15 minutes more…aaand here! Hope you made it!! ūüėÄ

things to do in Fajardo Puerto Rico, hidden beach reserve 2

Ahhh, the beauty of my Puerto Rico, la Isla Del Encanto

Walk a little further and you won’t see any bathers. At all. Enjoy! ūüėČ

Bioluminescent Bay or Lagoon

things to do in Fajardo Puerto Rico, Bioluminescent bay

!!!

There are only 5 bioluminescent bays or lagoons in the world, from which a whooping 3 are located in Puerto Rico. One of them is in Fajardo and you can kayak there at night. My advice, of course, is for you to book a tour in order to reach the best area to see the bioluminescence. It is a truly magical experience.

I believe Vieques’ Mosquito Bay has healthier organisms, making the glow stronger, so you should head there if you can only visit one of the bays. You may reach¬†La Isla Nena¬†by a short flight or simply pay the $4.00-round-trip ferry ride.

Icacos, Palomino and Palominito Cays

things to do in Fajardo Puerto-Rico, Icacos

View from a beach in Icacos (Photo: Jeff Gunn, Flickr)

Speaking of boat rides, you should ither befriend some Puerto Ricans and/or hitch a boat ride to the islets (or cays) of Icacos, Palomino or Palominito. If you seek an isolated beach (other than the “Governor’s Reserve”! ūüėČ haha), Icacos is the least crowded of the 3, as you can only get there via private boat.

Conversely, Palomino and Palominito are so well known that too many locals and now even tourists on tours from the nearby 5-Star El Conquistador Resort flood their tiny coasts daily. Still, if you like a good vibe, the latter have gorgeous beaches and offer more activities. Icacos is better suited for those seeking to just drink with locals and be lazy at a beach with few visitors. The choice is yours!

Fajardo Town Square

Last days in town and just wish to unwind? Plaza de Fajardo (Town Square) is a perfect place to read a book, look at colonial Spanish architecture (i.e. the¬†Santiago Apostol Cathedral) and/or simply people watch. The characters of el pueblo are interesting and very photogenic, so be sure to drop by, photographers! ūüėČ

Las Cabezas de San Juan Lighthouse and Reserve

things to do in Fajardo Puerto Rico, Las Cabezas Lighthouse

“View of the Northeast Ecological Corridor and El Yunque National Forest as seen from the Lighthouse at the Cabezas de San Juan Nature Reserve” (Wiki Commons)

A natural reserve with mangroves that happens to be the home of one of the oldest lighthouses of Puerto Rico. Enough said? ūüôā

La Estación Restaurant

things to do in Fajardo Puerto Rico, La Estacion restaurant

Red snapper with all things homemade. Yum! (Photo: Tripadvisor)

Eating the street food and/or dropping by a local restaurant right in front of the sea whilst visiting Seven Seas beach is a given. However, after a long day sun baking, do yourself a favor by eating at La Estación in order to close the night with broche de oro.

This amazing restaurant cooks homemade BBQ and seafood that is to die for. They use some traditional cooking methods as well, in addition to making their own salad dressings and sauces. Please try the Lobster or Mahi Mahi Mofongo — and go right up to Puerto Rican food heaven.

What are your favorite things to do in Fajardo Puerto Rico now? ūüėČ

China beaches: Beach Thursday Photo Essay

China beaches Рwhile my eyes have yet laid eyes on them, they are on my travel bucket list. Typically, tourists head to Thailand or Indonesia for an Asian tropical escapade. However, judging from these photos, China beaches rival their counterparts. Definitely consider them when planning your escape from the city! Hope you enjoy my picks and photos.

Dadonghai beach, Hainan province

China beaches, Dadonghai

View from a restaurant at Dadonghai beach (Photo: AndyNor)

Lovely restaurants line the gorgeous turquoise waters of Dadonghai beach, one of my top China beaches. It is very popular due to its mild climate: Never too cold in the winter, never too hot in the summer. The green, lush mountains in the background reminded me so much of home – hundreds of thousands of kilometers away in the Caribbean!

Shek-O Beach, Hong Kong

Chinese beaches, Shek-O beach Hong Kong

Shek-O beach, Hong Kong (Photo: ElphHK, Flickr)

In addition to its glitzy skyline and and buzzing shopping centre, Hing Kong is a great vacation getaway. One of its best beaches is Shek-O not only because of its beauty, but also due to its excellent facilities and relaxed party scene. It is Hong Kong after all!

Tianya Haijiao, Hainan province

beaches in China, Tianya Haijiao

beautiful boulders on a section of Tianya Haijiao beach (Photo: Matthew Stinson, Flickr)

Like our my # 1 top pick, Tianya Haijiao is one of the best China beaches¬†located in the Hainan province. Don’t be put off by the rocks pictured above, though – there is plenty of sandy coast nearby! This was simply one of the best shots I found ūüėČ Oh, and don’t forget to pay a visit a coconut plantation in the area!

Beach Hotel Resort grounds, Sanya

Chinese beach hotel in Sanya, Hainan province

Photo: Max Okojie, Flickr

Must have the best for the opening and the closing! Indeed, seems like Hainan province is our winner. From what I could see, it has most of the top beaches in China. Above, a photo of the¬†Beach Hotel Resort grounds.¬†I’ll have to stay there for a night or two when I need to escape from the craziness of¬†Chinese cities – simply gorgeous!

best Chinese beaches, Beach Hotel Resort, Sanya

the beach behind the Beach Hotel Resort, Sanya (Photo: Max Okojie, Flickr)

What are your favorite China beaches? List them on a comment below!

Checkout other wonderful travel photos at Budget Traveler’s Sandbox

Travel through Barbados beaches: #BeachThursday photos

Barbados beaches, sailing ship

Sailing ship seen from one of Barbados' beaches (Photo: Mark Connell, Flickr)

Good morning everyone! Tired and sleepy, but holding on! Beach Thursday photos today are from the island of Barbados. I was there back in 2002 and it is a lovely place indeed. Consider it for your next beach getaway!

Barbados beaches, Hastings, Christ Church

Barbados beach in Hastings, Christ Church (Photo: Ben124, Flickr)

Bridgetown is the capital of this island nation. And judging form this photo above, one of the best beaches in Barbados is close to it!

Barbados Crane Beach

Seaside path at Crane Beach (Photo: Trevor Quinn, Flickr)

Barbados Crane Beach Hotel

One of the many wonderful room views at the Crane Beach Hotel (Photo: Jennifer Martinez, Flickr)

Crane Beach, also among one of the top beaches in Barbados, also houses one of the oldest (and most charming) hotels in the island: The Crane Beach Hotel. According to the Travel Channel, it’s been named¬†“One of the 10 best in the world by Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.”

Bathsheba, Barbados beach surfing

Bathsheba: Barbados top surfing beach (Photo: Joe Ross, Flickr)

big wave, Bathsheba, Barbados beach

Surfer riding big wave at Bathsheba (Photo: Paranoid Black Jack, Flickr)

The best beach in Barbados when it comes to surfing? Bathsheba!

Barbados beach, unknown dead tree

Contrast: Sea of life...dead tree (Photo: John Starnes, Flickr)

The best of the best when it comes to spots in Barbados, though? The unnamed beaches (as seen above)! Rent a car, find your unnamed deserted spot, and enjoy ūüėČ

Enterprise beach, Barbados

Enterprise beach, Barbados (Photo: gemteck1, Flickr)

Have you visited any of Barbados beaches? Which is your favorite?

Playa Santa, Guanica: Beach Thursday photo essay

Playa Santa, Guanica is a beach in Puerto Rico that very few outsiders have heard of. Unfortunately, many foreigners miss the true gems of the island when they visit, as the best beaches in Puerto Rico are located in the southern and western coasts. For this reason, I have selected Playa Santa as this week’s Beach Thursday feature.

On Puerto Rico’s southwestern coast…

Playa Santa, Guanica, Puerto Rico

Me (11 years ago!) in Playa Santa, Guanica

Located in the southwestern coast, Playa Santa, Guanica is kissed by the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea. Popular in the summer, locals drive from all parts of the islands to retreat in government-subsidized vacation rentals along the coast. Thus, if you seek relaxation, the best times to visit Playa Santa, Guanica are the winter and spring.

Playa Santa, Guanica – The Vicinity

Gu√°nica State forest

One of the many views you encounter at the Gu√°nica State forest (Oquendo, Creative Commons)

Gu√°nica is not just about beaches, though! It is a true nature lover’s paradise. Here, you should visit the¬†UNESCO Guanica Biosphere Reserve. Comprised of more than¬†4000 hectares of coasts, mangroves, several cays and even a subtropical dry forest, it is a perfect day trip from Playa Santa (Jos√© Ouendo, Flikr).

Manglillo Beach - Playa Santa, Guanica vicinity

Manglillo Beach - another fantastic day trip from Playa Santa! (Photo: Creative Commons)

Sunsets are particularly spectacular on this side of the island. I remember contemplating them religiously when I vacationed in Playa Santa, Guanica with my family almost every summer. Growing up in Puerto Rico had many perks – I’m an island beach girl at heart!

Playa Santa, Guanica sunset

sunset on a cloudy day at Playa Santa, Guanica (view from our balcony!)

another glorious sunset in Playa Santa, Guanica

another glorious sunset in Playa Santa

Playa Santa, Guanica is not only great, off-the-beaten-path spot for a beach getaway. It is also a great base to visit other lesser-known attractions in Puerto Rico. Rent a car and swing by Ponce, Mayag√ľez¬†and also pay a visit to the gorgeous beaches of Cabo Rojo!

Playa Buye, vicinity of Playa Santa, Guanica

another great beach in the vicinity of Playa Santa, Guanica: Playa Buye! (Photo:Elivan)

Discover Puerto Rico today! Several flights a day available from hundreds of airports around the United States and worldwide. To visit the west coast, I recommend you fly into Aguadilla (Rafael Hern√°ndez Airport, BQN). Looking for a road trip? Then fly into San Juan (Luis Mu√Ī√≥z Mar√≠n Airport, SJU), stay a couple of days by the Old City (UNESCO World Heritage Site) and rent a car to head west to Playa Santa, Guanica.

Best beaches of Curacao, a photo essay (part 2!)

Beach Thursday this week translates to The Best Beaches of Curacao! In the past couple of posts, you’ve learned (and seen) some of Curacao‘s exotic offerings: Eating iguana for lunch, fake beaches and nice resorts. Finally though, it is down to the best of the best. While I will be talking about gorgeous Punda center in a future post, we are beach hopping today!

Best beaches of Curacao: On the way…

Curacao beach hopping tour

beach hopping road trips are the best

Before I talk about the best of the best beaches of Curacao, I must at least mention others we found on the way. As you already know, I visited all these beaches during a Beach Hopping tour offered by Irie Tours. They were absolutely fantastic the whole way, the driver was great, and we even got free Venezuelan beer during the entire trip. Awesome double-whammy¬†for a budget traveler like myself ūüėÄ so! That being said, beaches we visited were Santa Cruz, Porti Mari, Kenepa Chiki, and another one I can’t quite remember the name of (Lola, please help me out!). I have included gorgeous photos below. Albeit the cloudy weather, views were great!

unknown Curacao beach

Beach I can’t remember the name of – help me out Mrs Lola!

best beaches of Curacao, unknown Curacao beach

me at the “unknown” Curacao beach – found out it’s named¬†Westpunt!

best beaches of Curacao, Playa Santa Cruz

loved these signs to identify most beaches in Curacao

Kenepa Chiki

too bad the weather was cloudy–I’m sure these beaches are even more spectacular than my photos show!

Fortunately though, Mother Nature graced us with a bit of sunshine sprinkled throughout the day — enough to allow us to enjoy two beaches in their full gorgeous selves! ūüėÄ Maybe, then, I am a bit bias when I describe the following as the beast beaches of Curacao IMHO. But how can you blame me after seeing these?!

Playa Kalki

best beaches of Curacao, Playa Kalki

Playa Kalki – one of the best beaches of Curacao? I think so!

Playa Kalki was the very first beach we visited during our beach hopping tour. We arrived while it was raining, but later on the clouds revealed a hot sun — and many iguanas! I took the time to snap some great photos and tell my boyfriend at home how much I missed him (story to follow soon! That’s some news I haven’t shared with you yet…).

best beaches of Curacao, Playa Kalki

look at that water!

Messages to habibi back in America…

wish you were here, Playa Kalki

I love jou!

Kalki beach, Curacao

=)

After Playa Kalki, we drove by the beaches I previously mentioned and spend a couple of minutes walking on the sand and snapping photos. We only really got to enjoy sun bathing and relaxation at about 3 beaches, as that’s what our time allowed. Still, we covered a lot in 6 hours!

Kenepa Grandi

Playa Kenepa Grandi

my favorite!

Kenepa Grandi arguably tops the list of the best beaches of Curacao by many accounts — and was definitely my favorite! The gorgeous views afforded from the cliff/terrace overlooking the Caribbean Sea in the horizon and beach below are simply breathtaking.

best beaches of Curacao, Kenepa Grandi

what a view!

best beaches of Curacao, Kenepa Grande

uff!

Playa Kenip Grande

our tour group was nothing but ladies!

That’s it for this week’s Beach Thursday! In the coming month I will unveil the last spot in my list of the Best Beaches of Curacao. The chosen one? Cas Abou¬†beach!

Are these the best beaches of Curacao to you or not? Comment below?

Puerto Rico’s Culture and Politics: Photo Essay

My trip home¬†is in T minus 8 days. Can’t wait to see paradise again¬†along with my fam!¬†For this reason, I felt inspired ūüėÄ I present you a photo essay of Puerto Rico’s culture, politics, and history¬†for this week’s Beach Thursday.

Puerto Rico flag

My beautiful, Puerto Rican flag!

Geography of Puerto Rico

While it is famously known as¬†La Isla Del Encanto (“The Enchanted Island”), Puerto Rico is actually an archipelago¬†with an area of¬†9,104¬†km2 in the Caribbean. The main island, however, is just 100 miles by 34 miles.

Puerto Rico's culture and Caribbean map

Puerto Rico and the Caribbean

The smallest of the Greater Antilles, Puerto Rico is located east of La Espa√Īola (Haiti/Dominican Republic) and west of the USVI and the string of islands known as the Lesser Antilles. Due to its strategic geographical location, it was known as the Gateway of the New World during colonial times, back in the 1500’s.

Carlos Arroyo, Athens 2004

Puerto Rico vs USA – 2004 Summer Olympics

Historical and Political Overview

Puerto Rico was discovered by Christopher Columbus on his second journey to the New World on November 19th, 1493. For more than 400 years, it was a colony of Spain.

However, Borinquén (as the native Taínos called it) was attacked repeatedly by different colonial powers, most notably England, France, and the Netherlands. Ironically, though, Puerto Rico was ceded to the United States under the terms of the Treaty of Paris in 1898, after winning the Spanish-American War.

What most people (and, ironically, most Americans) do not know is that Puerto Ricans have been U.S. citizens since the Jones-Shafroth Act of 1917.

What’s curious about this Act is that while it granted most rights associated with citizenship (established a bill of rights, Puerto Ricans could now carry U.S. passports, etc.), it did not allow for proper representation in Congress.

Rather, Puerto Ricans could now elect a Resident Commissioner every four years, who basically acts as any other U.S. Representative, except his/her votes don’t count.

Puerto Rico vs USA 2004 Olympics

Puerto Rico became the first-ever in history to beat the USA’s (NBA!) Dream Team” during the 2004 Summer Olympics. Final score? 92 – 76!

Speaking of the¬†political¬†ambuiguity of Puerto Rico: Its official name is Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico (literally “Associated Free State of Puerto Rico”). In simple terms, a Commonwealth.

What’s that?

An unincorporated territory of the U.S., which¬†according to the U.S. Supreme Court’s¬†Insular Cases is “a territory belonging to the United States, but not a part of the United States” (Wiki).

We have both a federal government (USA) and a state government (PR), like any other state of the union. However, Puerto Ricans cannot vote for the President of the United States nor can they receive all benefits that U.S. citizens living in any other state enjoy.

Additionally, Puerto Rico cannot free trade with other countries directly–the U.S. must always be the¬†intermediary. Thus, under¬†article 73(e) of the UN Charter, Puerto Rico is a non-self-governing territory.

What’s the most curious fact about Puerto Rico’s unique political status, though?

In all other aspects, it is an independent country.

Huh!? Yes!

Puerto Rico fully participates in most international (non-political) events as a separate country. We send our own delegates to Miss Universe, have our own team in the Basketball World Championship, and even the Olympics–meaning we do not go under the U.S. flag or name, but under our own, Puerto Rico. Isn’t that cool?!¬†ūüėÄ

Heritage and Culture of Puerto Rico

Puerto Rican culture is a rich heritage, primarily Spanish, African, and Ta√≠no (indigenous-aboriginal). Once Conquistadors came to the island, they intermarried Ta√≠nas and also slaves that they brought from Africa. Thus, as far as looks go, the possibilities are endless ūüėČ

Some tourists get confused when they see us, as they imagine Puerto Ricans to be like the Telenovela stars with long, dark hair, olive skin, and brown eyes. Those are common, too, but so are the green-eyed African Puerto Ricans and the blondes with ultra-curly African locks!

Puerto Rico's culture and ethnicities

All people on this pic – 100% Puerto Rican! (and ME almost a DECADE ago! lol)

Puerto Rican ethnicities

Even more 100% Puerto Ricans!

Puerto Rican races

The guy on the right? His name is Brahany, and yes, 100% Puerto Rican as well!

When it comes to music, all the Latin vibes are quite popular, but so are the American tunes. Salsa, bachata, merengue are the usual tunes for proms, while the YMCA and American oldies are played toward the end of each party or at special-themed nights in selected clubs.

What’s funny, though, is how most Puerto Rican islanders see those Boricuas who like American music as come-mierdas (bad word for conceited) and “condescending,” believing those who like American music to be “gringo wannabes” that feel they are better than everyone else.

This depends on the area you live, of course, but usually locals¬†living in the metro area around San Juan are considered “too gringo” to be Puerto Rican by those from the middle-to-low classes living toward the interior of the island.

And now some Puerto Rico beach pictures!

That shall be it for this wonderfully-educational photo essay about mi patria, Puerto Rico!

I will leave you with some awesome pictures + videos of my friends and me at different beaches from all over Puerto Rico ūüėÄ

Hope you enjoyed this Beach Thursday special – have a great weekend!

Culebra, Puerto Rico

My sis Karla Michelle, cousin Sharoliz & me in Culebra, an islet off the east coast of mainland Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico beach

Beach in Vieques, Puerto Rico

Puerto Rican girl in Playa Santa, Guanica

Me (11 years ago!) in Playa Santa, Guanica – located on the southwest coast of Puerto Rico

Puerto Rican girl in Isla Verde, Carolina

Me (2008) in Isla Verde, Puerto Rico – one of closest beaches to the capital, San Juan, on the northeast coast

Have you visited Puerto Rico? What did you think of my island?