Let me help you with that...

Category Archives:North & Central America

10 Hot Destinations to escape the northern winter

Winter is creeping up, or, depending on where you live, has been here for some time. If the annual depression is setting, it might be time to trade the snow boots for some flip flops and recharge your batteries with a coconut in one hand, a good novel in another, and a beer in the other.

I’ve put together some of my favourite destinations that are hot year-round to get your travel juices flowing. I hope you enjoy reading it only slightly less than I enjoyed visiting each place individually.

Barbados

Calm waters. Beach beers. Wild Sea turtles. And 50 scrambling tourists drowning each other to get a glimpse. Sound like paradise? It is.

There is heaps to do in Barbados, or there’s very little, depending on how you like to vacation. I spent a day on Carlisle Bay – just out of Bridgetown at a beach club called the Boatyard. For $20 a day we got to sit on their deck chairs, play with their water slides/swing, use their snorkel equipment, and of course the bar is just a few sandy steps away.

Carlisle Bay Barbados - out the front of the Boatyard

Indonesia

Indonesia is South East Asia’s hidden gem but I have a feeling that in the next few years it is going to see an explosion of tourism as people realise the wonders that abound across the archipelago. Every Australian knows about Bali, and nearby Nusa and Gili islands are also becoming more popular.

Nearby Labuanbajo, home of the famous Komodo National Park is spectacular and was a particular highlight for me. Bintan Island is remote and a fun escape. And although I haven’t made it out there yet, Raja Ampat looks absolutely incredible.

Queensland

If you’re looking to escape the cold north and you’re keen to get out of your hemisphere, why not keep coming all the way to Australia? Queensland, in particular, is especially hot and you could spend weeks grazing the coast. But special mention must go to the Whitsunday Islands, just off the coast of Proserpine and Airlie Beach.

The Whitsundays is home to Australia’s number 1 beach, Whitehaven. Whitehaven is 7 kilometres long ending at Hill Inlet, the iconic river with the sandy swirls viewed best at mid tide, where the water dunes are part-filled by the income or outgoing tide.

Hill Inlet on Whitsunday Island, Queensland
Hill Inlet on Whitsunday Island, Queensland

St Thomas, British Virgin Isles

St Thomas is the home of the banana daiquiri and they certainly do not let you forget it! Buy one at Mountain Top where Captain George Soule invented the recipe. Enjoy one of the most spectacular views in the Caribbean while enjoying one of their most delicious drinks.

Afterwards, Magens Bay is a must stop for a swim and people watch. I wouldn’t say this beach is quintessential Caribbean, but it is nonetheless beautiful. The horseshoe type beach feels much more enclosed than beaches exposed to the sea and the surrounding trees ensure there is plenty of shade for those that seek it.

There are so many individual islands in the Virgin Islands, too, that are well worth exploring and all major ones are well-connected by ferry. You could genuinely spend a few weeks island hopping in this region alone.

Overlooking Charlotte Amalie St Thomas from the Skyride cable car
Overlooking Charlotte Amalie, St Thomas from Paradise Point

St Maarten

Recently devastated by Hurricane Irma, St Maarten is incredibly unique in that even though it is a tiny island, it is split into two countries (or overseas territories): Saint Martin (French) and Sint Maarten (Dutch).

When they get back on their feet (which I sincerely hope is soon), there’s enough to keep you entertained for a few days with water sports on Orient Beach, local eating in Grand Case, exploring historic Fort Louis in Marigot, and of course Maho Beach, famous for the jumbos that come into land metres from the little beach.

Gran Canaria

Part of the Canary Islands, Gran Canaria bills itself as its own little continent. And it’s easy to see why. With rugged mountains not all that far from the beach, you could hike a mountain in the morning and come back for a surf before dinner.

Gran Canaria is equal parts sun soaking beaches, adventure seeking activities, and cultural exploration with something for everyone on such a diverse island.

It might take some effort getting there from Australia, but from greater Europe it’s a simple dolphin ride down I’m pretty sure.

Watch the highlights of my last visit to the Caribbean in the below video:

Fiji

Fiji is popular for Australians, but it should not be overlooked as a real escape from the northern winter either. Tourism is the major industry in Fiji and resorts dot the coast right around the island. You’ll most likely find yourself around Denarau near Nadi airport, but it is most certainly not the only option.

I actually stayed at a resort halfway between Nadi and Suva and when I wasn’t lazing on the beach I was kayaking, playing golf, cycling through puddles, or zip lining through a forest.

Zip lining through the jungle in Fiji

Texas

A surprising inclusion in this list? Perhaps. But I was in Houston for Christmas 2016 and I kid you not, I wore shorts. I’ll grant you that it was unseasonably warm, but the potential is there, and I guarantee it will be warmer than Vancouver.

Texas is a beautiful state with friendly southern accents, plentiful bar-b-cue, cowboys, rolling hills, and more bar-b-cue than you can poke a stick at. (Yes, bar-b-cue gets two mentions). Man, I want to go back for more bar-b-cue.

Cook Islands

Located in the middle of the Pacific, on the other side of the international dateline (from Australia), the Cook Islands are just about the last people to experience time in any given day. I was lucky enough to spend my honeymoon in this paradise, split evenly between humble Aitutaki and the comparably metropolitan Raratonga.

Aitutaki Boat, Cook Islands

Raratonga is small enough to loop in a bus in just over an hour. There are jungles to explore on quad bike, shows to experience some of the local culture, luxury resorts with day spas and SO much delicious seafood.

Aitutaki will bore you if you hate snorkelling in clear ocean water, reading in hammocks, stand up paddle boarding in the naturally protected reef, and feeding fish by hand. Aitutaki is paradise in every sense of the word.

Jamaica

You will either love Jamaica, or it will frustrate the living hell out of you. It is in every sense a very beautiful country with more lovely beaches, rum, jerk chicken, and sweet old Mary Jane. But if you stay in tourist hotspot such as Negril like we did, it is difficult and expensive to leave the resort area and you become an easy target for local hawkers. However, it is home to the absolute best sunset I’ve seen in my life, so it will always have a special place in my heart.

Incredible sunset over Negril Jamaica

What’s your favourite place to escape the cold? Let me know in the comments below!

Did you enjoy this post?

Plenty more where that came from. Make sure to sign up for the mailing list to never miss the next one.

The Best Fast Food in the USA: My Junk Food Tour

In-n-nout hollywood header

When I visited the USA 3 years ago I created a blog draft with the same name as you read above. But since I didn’t really eat that much junk food, that’s literally as far as the post went.

At the end of last year I was back in the USA for around 3 weeks and this time I made a concerted effort to ensure I enjoyed some of the finest dining experiences fast food USA has to offer. I made a list and checked off just about all of it.

If you’re visiting the USA soon and you’re a big fan of dirty burgers and seeing how the morbidly obese eat, then you are in the right place!

In-N-Out Burger

The undisputed king of the Western Conference. In-N-Out Burger believes that less is more; simple is better. And that getting it “animal style” isn’t something you’d do in the bedroom.

In-N-Out offer 3 burgers: a hamburger (meat, sauce, lettuce, tomato, onion), a cheeseburger (add cheese), and a Double Double (double meat and cheese). That’s it. Then you have fries, drinks and shakes to round out one of the simplest menus in global fast food. And it works because they nail it. The burgers are some of the greasiest around and the pickle-based sauce is what dreams are made of.

But if that truly isn’t enough for you then customise away with the “secret menu”. Well it’s actually not so secret anymore since some of it is on their website, however, one guy went on a mission to try everything on the secret menu and lists everything else here.

In n Out Double Doubles and animal fries
In n Out Double Doubles and animal fries

Shake Shack

Shake Shack is In-N-Out’s cross-continent arch-nemesis and undisputed champion of the Eastern Conference. West and East coast burger lovers are forever at odds with each over who has the better franchise but you will never truly know for yourself until you’ve had both.

Shake Shack was born in New York and has a wide variety of burgs to choose from. The burgers are good, but the franchise really comes into its own with the milk offering. Shake flavours are seasonal and at the time of writing they were Mint cookies and cream, salted vanilla toffee and mud pie.

In my view, In-N-Out is cheaper and have better burgers, but Shake Shack has better sides and shakes so it can’t be completely put to bed for me.

Shake Shack Las Vegas. One of the few in the west.

Chipotle

Taking a break from burgers, Chipotle is in my view the best spot for some quick Mexican. Burritos, tacos and enchiladas fill the room and scents of their signature chipotle sauce subtly fill the airwaves. The burritos are big, and the menu simple so your decision should be easy.

Born out of Colorado, the chain has spread all over the country so there’s a good chance you’ll be able to find one where you visit. 

East coast, west coast, the Rockies. Since this list spans the entire country you might actually need to rent an RV and road trip all over to try them all!

Five Guys

Despite my fanfare above about In-N-Out and Shake Shack, Five Guys was actually my favourite burger joint across the US. A thick, juicy patty, the right amount of pickles and onion (i.e. lots), a token amount of tomato, all overflowing with yellow American cheese.

And speaking of overflowing, these guys know how to do fries. The put a tiny paper cup in the bag, and generously fill the cup a laughable amount so you have chips all throughout the bag. It’s just wonderful.

Five Guys love tooting their own horn with awards and reviews plastered all over the world, each one of them well-deserved, and many from bygone eras. They also want you to see the ingredients they use (or have little storage out back); so much so that they stack them in the restaurant!

Chick-fil-A

Despite my best efforts, I actually never made it to a Chick-fil-A. And it certainly didn’t help that they aren’t open on Sundays – the day I was most often available to go. But I still wanted to include it because of its reputation and my disappointment.

Everyone raves about the nuggets so I’d be backing up the truck.

Fuddruckers

Maybe a little left of field, but I have very fond memories of Fuddruckers. I visited one in California back in 2011. Fuddruckers’ uniqueness is that you order the size of the patty you want (and you can go BIG), how well you’d like it cooked, and then add the toppings yourself from the salad bar. That way you get exactly what you want on your burger and how much of it.

They also bake all of their buns in house, something that cannot be said for most other chains.

P.Terry’s

Special mention here must go to P.Terry’s of the greater Austin area. My good friend brought me to a P.Terry’s for one of the greasiest, dirtiest burgs I’ve ever had. Along with fresh French fries It was pure bliss after a few beers. Earlier that evening we had also enjoyed Chipotle for dinner.

The following day I came down with a bad case of the voms and it lasted a whole 24 hours. It was clearly food poisoning of some kind. Kynie reckons it was the excess of fast food in one evening. I steadfastly refuse to join those dots.

It must have been something we bought at Whole Foods earlier that day. It’s the only explanation that makes sense.

PTerrys Austin

Hooters

Hooters is on here as an honourable mention. I went to the Hooters on Hollywood Boulevard and I found it a bit overrated. This probably comes as no surprise to anyone. I mean, the service was fine, I couldn’t complain about the atmosphere, the waitstaff were friendly and mildly attractive, and the wings I ate were just ok. It just wan’t a “wow” moment for me.

However, what was memorable about that night was while we were eating, some dude was getting arrested just outside. Yep, that’s Hollywood Boulevard.

Wendy’s

Ok ok so Wendy’s is on here as a bit of a joke. Wendy’s is just awful.

Obviously, there are so many other great fast food joints in the US. Which one is your favourite? Let me know in the comments below.

Did you enjoy this post?

Plenty more where that came from. Make sure to sign up for the mailing list to never miss the next one.

Sign up here

Beyond the Beach: Underrated Activities In The Caribbean

When you think of the Caribbean what springs to mind?

Beaches?

Scuba diving?

Cocktails?

Me too. And when I think back to the trips I’ve taken to the Caribbean, this is immediately where my mind wanders because it’s a feature of the region that is actually incredible. The beautifully temperate waters of Negril’s 7 Mile Beach in Jamaica, or the perfect white sand of Barbados and, well, most everywhere else! Continue Reading

3 Days in Toronto, Canada: Best things to do

A few years ago I worked at a summer camp in Calgary and did a big road trip through the northeast of the USA, Ontario and Quebec. Toronto was a major stop on this trip, my crew and I spent 3 days there catching up with other camp friends from the summer just past. Toronto is a great city in which to live – It’s often voted as one of the world’s most livable cities – but some people argue that there’s not a great deal to see as a visitor. This notwithstanding, here are some of the things I spent my time doing.

CN Tower

Whenever I visit a city, I always check if there’s a tower so I can get a feel for the lay of the land. This was easy to find in Toronto, as I’d seen in many global tall building comparison pictures and it always featured towards to right. In fact, it was the world’s tallest tower until 2007. It was so high up that the ground seemed hazy due to the small clouds below us. It even has a glass floor so you can see down 550 metres to the ground. Unfortunately, all we could see at the time was a drab worksite.

View from the CN Tower Toronto
View from the CN Tower

Dundas Square

Dundas Square is Canada’s answer to Time Square. While Time Square will always wear the crown for the most billboards on a single block, Dundas Square has done a commendable effort. The square is full of restaurants, cafes and bars and is a centre for the arts with a couple of theatres and cinemas nearby. You probably wouldn’t come here for the sake of it, but it’s a good place to go for a meal or a few drinks.

Dundas Square, Toronto
Dundas Square, via Pedro Szekely on Wikimedia Commons

Eat Poutine

“I LOVE POUTINE”. This was the catch cry of one of the young guys at the camp I worked at over the summer. He’s Canadian and clearly passionate. I can’t say I blame him though, as far as food inventions go, it’s up there with the buffalo wings, the Philly cheese steak, and the burger.

For the deprived, poutine is hot chips/fries with cheese curds and gravy. It’s so simple, and oh so delectable. It should be the first thing you order when you arrive in Canada.

Eating Poutine in Canada
Devouring poutine

Related: How much does it cost to visit Toronto?

Niagara Falls

It might be 90 minutes away, but Niagara Falls absolutely should be on your Toronto list. It’s just spectacular to see 600,000 gallons of water per second thundering over the edge down to the Niagara River 57 metres below.

My crew and I took a day trip, but you could easily spend a night out there to maximise your time. There are plenty of places to stay, but the Marriott is the closest and many of the rooms allow you to wake up to views of the falls. For information, see niagarafallsmarriott.com.

If watching the falls from the edge isn’t close enough for you, the Maid of the Mist cruise takes you as close as possible by boat. Prepare to get wet though, as the body-sized condom they provide doesn’t do a whole lot!

Niagara Falls with the Maid of the Mist
Niagara Falls with the Maid of the Mist

Further reading: an alternative list of things to do in Toronto.

MuchMusic

Depending on your age, this one might seem serious, or could be a joke. I am told that kids all over Canada grow up to MuchMusic, it’s like the Canadian MTV. MuchMusic is filmed at a studio in Toronto and I worked out that Foster the People, one of my favourite bands then and now, were performing on the show while we were there, so we thought we’d try and get in.

We lined up for about 15 minutes before long it dawned on us: all the other people in the line were teenage girls. We quickly bailed and went and did something adult-like. Thankfully I was able to see them play a full set later that month in Los Angeles.

Royal Ontario Museum

The ROM is one of those buildings where you’ll walk past it a dozen times, and every time you get a little more intrigued as to what is inside the doors. An ingenious design completed in 2007, combines the original 1914 building with a jagged, modern crystal-shaped building. Without saying a word it expresses the essence of the museum: everything from history, nature, arts and culture, all combined under one roof.

Royal Canadian Museum Toronto
Royal Ontario Museum

Casa Loma

Casa Loma is a large stone castle built in the early 20th Century. It has served as a residence, luxury hotel, war-time research facility, and museum. Now it serves as a tourist attraction where visitors can explore the great hall, secret tunnels, grand suites, towers, and the expansive castle grounds. The entry fee is pretty steep, but it’ll give you insight to how to absurdly wealthy lived 100 years ago.

Casa Loma Castle Toronto Canada with me
Casa Loma Castle

Toronto is billed as one of the world’s most liveable cities. In my experience, this means that there isn’t a whole lot for tourists to do. I could argue similarly – that it’s not bursting with tourist attractions – however, I had a really fun 3 days there and if you scratch a little deeper than what Lonely Planet tells you and get amongst the local culture, you’ll find plenty of things to do to fill up 3 days.

Did you enjoy this post?

Plenty more where that came from. Make sure to sign up for the mailing list to never miss the next one.

Sign up here

Two Adults on a 4 Day Disney Cruise in the Bahamas

disney cruise castaway cay header

Kynie and I are both pretty big Disney fans. Perhaps Kynie a little more than me, but I’ve certainly been known to watch an animated cartoon or two in my time. We’ve been to Disneyland both together and separately. So while researching things to do after our time in Miami in 2014, the moment I suggested a Disney Cruise in the Bahamas I knew there would be no turning back.

The fact that we didn’t have kids at this point in time meant nothing to us in regard to the cruise. It wasn’t even a consideration. It wasn’t until we were questioned by just about every single person we told did we consider that maybe it would be a bit weird; two adults on a Disney cruise without kids. But you know what? As we initially expected, it was completely fine, almost better.

Disney Wonder leaving Miami Beach

Continue Reading

http://nosubhealth.com/