Dec 312016
 

As 2016 comes to a close, we want to thank you for sharing our adventures with us.  We wish you all a happy and healthy 2017 filled with love and adventure.

Rain, rain and more rain.  That’s been the weather forecast on Bonaire for the past month.  But we’re not complaining.  This desert island, along with its flora and fauna, welcome the life-giving H20.

The increased rains also mean that dive and snorkel conditions have been less than optimal.  But it’s still Bonaire, which means that the diving is still incredible.

Here are some scenes from the island this week.

tattoosh super yacht

Paul Allen’s Tatoosh has been docked in town for several days. She is 303 feet of super yacht complete with a helicopter and two 46 foot boats.

Tattoosh from her stern

Tatoosh from her stern

The Courtyard Marriott has been completed and is open for business.

The Courtyard Marriott has been completed and is open for business.

The Salt Pier - one of the most interesting dive sites on the island

The Salt Pier – one of the most interesting dive sites on the island

A panoramic view of the Salt Pier

A panoramic view of the Salt Pier

Dancing beak to beak in Gotomeer Lake

Dancing beak to beak in Gotomeer Lake

Another pair of flamingo mates at Lake Gotomeer

Another pair of flamingo mates at Lake Gotomeer

Eared Dove atop cactus near Rincon

Eared Dove atop cactus near Rincon

A Blue-tailed emerald hummingbird shimmers on its perch

A Blue-tailed emerald hummingbird shimmers on its perch

How are you celebrating the new year?  As tradition dictates, Bonaire will have multiple fireworks displays on the waterfront tonight.

Apr 122013
 

On a recent sojourn to the Big Island of Hawaii, I found myself checking into the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel for five days of doing whatever the heck I want unscheduled relaxation (much needed after a four day business event, which was fun but tiring).

Prior to the trip, I researched all of the Kohala Coast hotels, and none seemed to have the right low-key “vibe”. One had a dolphin prison captive dolphin program, so it was immediately off the list.  Others seemed too corporate-y, too large, too impersonal or too crowded.  Once I started reading about Mauna Lani Bay, I knew I had found a winner.

Upon first entering the resort, I felt a sense of tranquility while gazing at the breezy open-air courtyard and verdant Hawaiian foliage.

mauna lani courtyard

Mauna Lani Courtyard2

mauna lani interior pond

Mauna Lani Courtyard

It’s not just the abundance of foliage that makes this hotel green.  It’s eco-friendliness and awareness was one of the top selling points for me.  Here’s why…

Green Sea Turtle Program

Since 1989, Mauna Lani has raised over 200 juvenile Green Sea Turtles (Honu – in Hawaiian) in its own saltwater ponds. They feed, care for and nurture the baby Honu until they are fit for release into the ocean. Each July 4th is Turtle Independence Day at Mauna Lani for the Honu that are large enough and healthy enough for release.    This hotel respects the Honu!

Mauna Lani Sign

Juvenile Honu in Mauna Lani Pond

Juvenile Honu in Mauna Lani Pond

honu at mauna lani2

Mauna Lani Sign Sea Turtle

Honu Head Out

Hawaiian Saltwater Fish Ponds 

Within the grounds, there are 7 saltwater fish ponds that date back to 250 BC.  The original purpose of these ponds was to raise fish to feed the Ali’i (Hawaiian royalty).  Mauna Lani preserved the ancient ponds and continues to nurture them.  The ponds are stocked with Hawaiian fish, including my favorite – the Humuhumunukunukapua’a.

Saltwater Pond at ML

mauna lani grounds pool area

mauna lani grounds waterfall

Solar Energy Program

The resort has a 3-acre solar energy system – one of the largest and most powerful resort-based systems in the world.

The rocky beach was beautiful and uncrowded.  We watched humpback whales breach from our shaded cabanas while wild Honu sunbathed on the lava rock.

Honu on Beach

Kona Palms

The food was excellent.  Each morning I devoured an Acai Berry Parfait at breakfast, along with a strong Kona coffee.

Coffee Shop

The spa was a tranquil oasis, nestled in the greenery among palms and manicured grounds.  I had the Hawaiian Hot Stone massage, which melted away all traces of stress and tension.  I highly recommend this treatment.

And while our room was quite nice, the views from our (wind whipped) balcony were even nicer.

View from room Mauna Lani

View of Mauna Kea from our Balcony

View of Mauna Kea from our Balcony – The World’s Tallest Mountain when Measuring from the Sea Floor

The only area where I was slightly let down was the quality of the shore snorkeling.  It just wasn’t what I expected.  The wind was fierce during our stay, so I’m sure that affected the visibility.  Thankfully, I had plenty of other amazing underwater experiences in Kona.

Have you been to the Big Island?  What did you like most about it?  I’m already dreaming of going back…

edited to add:  I’m told by reader Tasha that there is great snorkeling by the beach club in the deeper water where the Winona moors.  Thanks Tasha for this useful information.

Jan 272013
 

I recently wrote about my experience at Matangi Island Resort in Fiji.  We journeyed to Matangi, armed with suitcases full of photo and dive gear, primarily to see what we could discover under its clear turquoise waters.

Shore diving and snorkeling enthusiasts will be happy to hear that there is an extensive house reef which extends several hundred yards off the main beach.  In addition to the house reef, there are many reefs just a short boat ride from Matangi that are prime spots for both diving and snorkeling.  The dive boat leaves each morning for a 2-tank dive, and the snorkeling boat leaves each afternoon.

Here are my favorite shots from my week at Matangi.

Matangi Underwater

Underwater photos from Matangi, Fiji - Shot by Meredith

[img src=https://www.reeftraveler.com/wp-content/flagallery/matangi-underwater/thumbs/thumbs_matangi-reefscape2.jpg]Reefscape
[img src=https://www.reeftraveler.com/wp-content/flagallery/matangi-underwater/thumbs/thumbs_matangi-nemo-closeup.jpg]Clownfish
[img src=https://www.reeftraveler.com/wp-content/flagallery/matangi-underwater/thumbs/thumbs_matangi-3-butterfly-fish.jpg]Butterflyfish
[img src=https://www.reeftraveler.com/wp-content/flagallery/matangi-underwater/thumbs/thumbs_damsel-fish-looking-at-cam-wm.jpg]Curious Damsel
[img src=https://www.reeftraveler.com/wp-content/flagallery/matangi-underwater/thumbs/thumbs_blue-star-matangi.jpg]Blue Starfish
[img src=https://www.reeftraveler.com/wp-content/flagallery/matangi-underwater/thumbs/thumbs_matangi-giant-clam-2-wm.jpg]Giant Clam
[img src=https://www.reeftraveler.com/wp-content/flagallery/matangi-underwater/thumbs/thumbs_matangi-butterfly-fish-boat-snorkel.jpg]Butterflyfish
[img src=https://www.reeftraveler.com/wp-content/flagallery/matangi-underwater/thumbs/thumbs_matangi-clownfish-with-anemone.jpg]Clownfish in Anemone
[img src=https://www.reeftraveler.com/wp-content/flagallery/matangi-underwater/thumbs/thumbs_matangi-worm-with-olympus-wm.jpg]Christmas Tree Worm
[img src=https://www.reeftraveler.com/wp-content/flagallery/matangi-underwater/thumbs/thumbs_matangi-damsel-fish.jpg]Damselfish in Coral
[img src=https://www.reeftraveler.com/wp-content/flagallery/matangi-underwater/thumbs/thumbs_matangi-lizard-fish.jpg]Lizardfish
[img src=https://www.reeftraveler.com/wp-content/flagallery/matangi-underwater/thumbs/thumbs_matangi-reefscape-from-olympus-wm.jpg]Matangi Reefscape
[img src=https://www.reeftraveler.com/wp-content/flagallery/matangi-underwater/thumbs/thumbs_matangi-snorkel.jpg]Mushroom Coral
[img src=https://www.reeftraveler.com/wp-content/flagallery/matangi-underwater/thumbs/thumbs_matangi-staghorn-coral-w-fish.jpg]Damselfish in Staghorn Coral
[img src=https://www.reeftraveler.com/wp-content/flagallery/matangi-underwater/thumbs/thumbs_matangi-starfish-clinging-to-coral.jpg]Blue Starfish on Coral
[img src=https://www.reeftraveler.com/wp-content/flagallery/matangi-underwater/thumbs/thumbs_matangi-reefscape.jpg]Reefscape
[img src=https://www.reeftraveler.com/wp-content/flagallery/matangi-underwater/thumbs/thumbs_matangi-two-clownfish.jpg]Two Clownfish

 

 

 

Jul 152012
 

I just returned from my first trip to Sunset House in Grand Cayman.  Sunset House is a true diver’s resort, located on one of the best dive and snorkel islands in the Caribbean.

This is a no-frills resort, yet it is comfortable, clean, convenient and friendly.  I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Sunset House to divers or snorkelers, but beach-goers looking for pampering and amenities should probably look elsewhere (Sunset House has no beach).

Sunset House from the Water

Sunset House Deck, Seaharvest Restaurant

Sunset House Grounds

There are two pools on the grounds – a natural sea pool and a standard swimming pool.  The sea pool is often used as a shore diving entry point.

Sunset House Sea Pool

Pool with Waterfall

Sunset House has an enclosed restaurant, Seaharvest, as well as an open-air bar.  Complimentary breakfast was included with our stay.

Seaharvest Restaurant

Seaharvest has an extensive menu, with many American, Mexican and Indian offerings.  My favorites were the veggie tacos and the Tofu Vegetable Curry.

SeaHarvest Restaurant Menu

For shore dive and snorkel enthusiasts, the resort has it’s own house reef, complete with a wreck and a mermaid statue, both sitting in about 50 FSW.  Between both diving and snorkeling, I think I spent about four hours each day in the water (and I didn’t regret a minute of it).

Amphitrite – Photo by Mr. Reeftraveler

The dive operation, Sunset Divers, makes tanks available 24/7 for shore diving.  They also offer daily 2-tank boat dives as part of their dive package, complimentary lockers for your gear and unlimited shore diving.  In addition to the two boat dives per day, they offer special trips to Stingray City and the Kittiwake wreck 2-3 times per week.

 

I was impressed with their operation.  They were safety-conscious, professional, helpful and friendly.

One of the main reasons we chose to stay at Sunset House is that it’s the home base of Cathy Church, one of the most respected underwater photographers in the world.  Cathy has built an underwater photography mecca here at Sunset House (I’ll share more about her operation in a subsequent post, so stay tuned).  This was my first time in the water with my Canon G12 and Fisheye Fix Underwater Housing.

 

And I suppose it isn’t ironic that you find gorgeous sunsets at Sunset House.

Keep reading (or subscribe to new posts via email), because I’m going to show you what we found on the house reef in an upcoming post.

May 052012
 

My name is Meredith, and I’m addicted to Mexican Food.  And while I don’t really need an excuse to indulge in my favorite cuisine, Cinco de Mayo is the perfect day to celebrate all things Mexican.

For those unfamiliar with the holiday, it is observed every May 5th in the United States to celebrate Mexican heritage and culture.

Here are a few ideas for your own Cinco de Mayo celebration.

-Whip up a bowl of fresh guacamole, using my tried and true recipe.

-Indulge in a round (or two) of margaritas.  Try this recipe from Alton Brown of Food Network, for a traditional margarita.  Or, mix it up a little and try this ginger margarita from Guy Fieri of Food Network.

-Book a trip to Tulum, a laid-back jungle oasis just 90 minutes south of Cancun.

Tulum Beach

The “resorts” in Tulum are mainly beachfront cabanas (some quite rustic).  High maintenance types beware, many cabanas have little or no electricity.  We’ve stayed at Nueva Vida de Ramiro, and, while the older section is VERY rustic, it was a welcome respite.  The white sand and turquoise water create a stunning visual.

Next to Nueva Vida de Ramiro is La Zebra, another popular cabana resort.  La Zebra has a fantastic beachfront restaurant, with bartenders who happily hand-craft margaritas with freshly squeezed juices (try the ginger margarita, it may change your life).  For those looking for a little salsa (the dance, not the dip), La Zebra is famous for its Sunday night Salsa lessons and live music.

So, what are you doing to celebrate Cinco de Mayo?