Posts Tagged ‘beach’

My pic(k) of the day:

A remodelled room at Paradisus Punta Cana, Playa Bavaro, Dominican Republic

Paradisus Punta Cana is in the midst of renovating its rooms. Here's a sneak photo. Love the headboard...

Paradisus Punta Cana is in the midst of renovating its rooms. Here’s a sneak photo. Love the crisp use of white, and the art on the backwall.

Lori Knowles is the Family Fare columnist for the Toronto Sun’s travel section. More stories: www.loriknowles.com 

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Paradisus Palma Real, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Greetings from Paradisus Palma Real on the beach at Punta Cana. I’m seated on the balcony watching the waves lap the shore, the sand as white as sugar. Incense are filling the air with a spicy smoke, and Balinese music is lilting softly on the stereo.

Heaven? You tell me:


My day has been about water rituals.

First, a run along the beach, with the sun’s rays beating on my back and the beats of Springsteen propelling me forward.

Second, an egg-white omelet stuffed with vegetables for breakfast, and coffee as strong as it is in Spain.

Third, a tour of Palma Real by Paradisus, a Melia hotel they tell me is among the nicest in Punta Cana. As it’s my first time here, I cannot say for sure. What I do know is this: their Royal Service is helpful and nice, and the beds are lose-yourself comfortable.

Fourth, a doze on the beach. Those cabana beds! I’m taking one home with me.

And finally, a water ritual. In the spa. Hot. Cold. Sauna. Steam. I am ready for bed. But wait… there’s a nine-course dinner to come, and then… well, then, it’s rumoured Michael Jackson is in the buidling.

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Today I discovered two things:

1) I love to surf.

2) I’m terrible at surfing.

I’m a 40-plus woman on a girlfriend-getaway in Tofino, British Columbia… capital of Canada’s cold-water surfing culture. Capital, I should say, of Canada’s female cold-water surfing culture–I’m told there are more women than men surfing Tofino waves.


Tofino is home of Surf Sister, an all-female surfing school that offers all-women (and co-ed) surfing camps. You can learn in an hour, a day, a week… whatever. Surf Sister’s founder, Krissy Montgomery, has a band of pros under her wing who break down “the break,” making learning to surf Tofino waves really, really simple.


Simple, that is, in theory… not necessarily in practice. Today I learned ‘popping up’ and ‘paddling out’ and ‘reading’ the waves are all more exhausting than simple.

Exhausting! After my 14th wave, just as I figured out where to place my feet and hold my hands and bend my knees… my body turned to jello. Simply walking out into the surf became a trial.

But surfing is thrilling, nonetheless. Very, very thrilling, especially when experienced alongside a group of like-minded women. Like I said, I learned to love it. Now, if only I wasn’t so terrible…

Stay tuned… humiliating surf photos to come!

In the meantime, some added suggestions for a girlfriend getatway in Tofino:

1) Consider a helicopter ride along this wild wet coast courtesy of Atleo Air. Jason Bertin’s new Tofino service offers sightseeing trips to glaciers, private islands, remote coastal locations…. head’s up, guys: it’s a good way to propose! Astounding and terrific.


2) Tofino’s Wildside Grill cooks the best BC salmon and spotted prawn I’ve ever tasted. Wildside’s Jeff Mikus is a commercial fisherman bringing BC’s sea delicacies straight to your picnic table. Chef Jesse Blake certainly knows how to BBQ them.


3) Order take-out (or hire a personal chef) from Tofino’s RedCan Gourmet. Chef Tim May makes a mean granola bar, brownie… and braises lamb to absolute perfection.


4) Stay at Tofino’s Pacific Sands hotel. Rent a beach house. Mine is No.35… and it’s glorious, especially in the chair from which I’m writing this:


Adios (rested) from Tofino.
Lori. www.loriknowles.com
Twitter: @LoriExploring

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Our Parksville Sand Castle

When your soul object for the day is to build a sandcastle, you’re bound to have a pretty good day.

On our first full day on British Columbia’s Vancouver Island, the only job we gave ourselves was to build a sandcastle on Parksville Beach.

What a lovely occupation, sandcastle building. Material costs are minimal (buckets and shovels pretty much do it). Everyone can help. Architectural design can be accomplished easily by a seven year old. Interior design can unapologetically take on an island motif: seashells, sticks, rocks… even crab legs contribute to the decor. And best of all, your new place gets to have a mote. Said mote can be as deep as you want, can be filled (endlessly) with water, and can include as many bridges as you like.

The only drawback? Tide. The ocean tends to swell at certain times of the day and flatten your sandcastle, rendering your artwork useless. Oh well. The beauty of a vacation is, you can build another sandcastle tomorrow. No insurance required.

For more info: www.VisitParksvilleQualicumBeach.com

Lori Knowles is the family travel writer for the Toronto Sun. You can read more of her work in this blog (www.LoriExploring.Wordpress.com), on her website (www.loriknowles.com) and on Twitter @LoriExploring.

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Sandals Emerald Bay, Bahamas

I’ve just spent a lovely afternoon browsing through the press material for my upcoming stay at Sandals Emerald Bay, Great Exuma, Bahamas. It’s Sandals newest resort, having debuted in February 2010… and it’s enticing.

An overview of the property pre-visit:

  • Sandals Emerald Bay is a 500-acre resort on one mile of beach on Great Exuma, the largest of 360 Bahamian islands.
  • Onsite: an 18-hole golf course by The Shark: Greg Norman. Plus a marina and 183 Beachfront rooms. Did I mention they’re BEACHFRONT?
  • Most compelling: Sandals Emerald Bay is its first all-butler resort. Which means… I’ll have my own butler. At. My. Service. I’ve only had this once before–aboard Cunard’s  Queen Mary 2–and trust me, it is luxurious.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Sandals Emerald Bay has a gym. A very expansive gym. With treadmills on which I can train for the upcoming Sporting Life 10K in May I’ve ludicrously signed up for.  No lounging on the beach sipping mohitos for this travel writer. I’ll be running Great Exuma.

More soon. Lori

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