My Global Bucket List

Since we can’t travel and plan much during these times, I thought I’d jump on the bandwagon of listing my dream destinations. There are plenty of vacations I’ve planned in my mind. For the most part, I would seriously go anywhere, but here are the top things I’ve done research on and want to make an intentional effort to see one day.

Uyuni Salt Flats in Bolivia

Bonus: There are also flamingos here! Photo credit: @sol_n_g

Honestly, I hadn’t even heard of this place until I watched a vlog of Kara and Nate having the time of their lives there. I’m a beach girl and never thought of Bolivia as a must see destination because it’s landlocked. However, the salt flats just look too amazing to not experience. During certain times of the year, a light glaze of water gives the landscape a spectacular glass or mirror like image. Where else could you see something like this? Also, the area is gigantic. You can drive for hours and still not see it all. Bolivia also includes many other attractions to make the trip even more worth while, like the Witch’s Market, the train graveyard, an abandoned ski lodge, and dinosaur footprints!

How could you not want your own picture like this?! Photo credit: @krystinesc

The Ultimate Thailand Experience

One of the many temples of Thailand.

The idea of Thailand started as my husband’s bucket list destination. When trying to decide where exactly in Thailand we would go (read: where was cheapest to fly to), I discovered how many amazing things the country has to offer! Here’s the ultimate plan: fly to Bangkok because it’s the least expensive from where we live, spend a couple of days there and then head down to Phuket. Then, over to Krabi. If I’m dreaming big, we’d find time to get up to Chang Mai and explore the inland part of the country.

Elephant sanctuaries are more humane than riding. They sound way more fun, too! Photo credit: Wootthisak Nirongboot

Elephant sanctuaries, temples, ruins, beaches, long boats, Thai food, night markets, floating markets, ladyboy cabaret, tuk tuks…the list just grows every time I start researching! To do it right, I feel like I’d need at least two or three weeks to see it all. Plus, for a 22+ hour journey to get there, we’re not coming back in just a couple days! With all these attractions, we may not come back at all!

Cruise to ALL the Caribbean Islands

Our pin map

Okay, maybe not every single island! The Bahamas alone have about 700 islands, so that’s near impossible. But to hit every country, territory or nation along the Caribbean chain is doable and sounds like an exciting challenge. One of my favorite things when flying to this region is looking out the plane window and seeing all the other nearby islands sprouted throughout the spectacularly blue-green water. I’ve looked at island hopping tours, especially for the Bahamas since there are so many places to choose from. We’ve got a pin map of the Caribbean and I’d love to get it as full as possible. A few more cruises should hit a big chunk, but I’d like to spend more than just a port day at some places, like Cuba, Jamaica and Curaçao.

Amazing Caribbean aerial view. Photo credit: Linda Larson with FineArtAmerica

Eastern African Safari and Zanzibar

Beautiful Tanzania

Who doesn’t want to see the Big Five outside of a zoo in their natural environment? Elephants, lions, leopards, buffalo, and rhinos, oh my! Besides these animals, you have hippos, birds, zebras, cheetahs, giraffes, wildebeests, warthogs, gorillas, and many more that call Africa home. It can’t be guaranteed to see every animal, but I know any combination of this wildlife would be so cool to see up close. I’ve read a lot about safari experiences and I really want to be able to do this one day. I’m mixed on shelling all out for a luxury experience, or roughing it in tents to cut costs and get more of an authentic feel. A two to three night safari would be ideal. Side note—who has seen Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard’s Africa music video? If you haven’t, go find it on YouTube!

Stone Town, Zanzibar. Photo credit: IntrepidTravel

Like our Thailand dream, if we’re traveling this far, we might as well plan for an extended stay and see more of the area. Stone Town, Zanzibar looks really pretty and has a lot of history. I love a good beach, so combining several days of inland wilderness with some gorgeous coastline is ideal for me. Stone Town looks like a great place to explore and experience new things. I’d love to learn more about the local culture.

All Over Australia

Melbourne coastline

I have always want to go to Australia! Initially, there was no real reason other than “just because.” Or maybe it’s that plane tickets are wildly expensive from where I live, so it’s almost a “challenge accepted” scenario. Too much Netflix binging on Bondi Rescue, Instant Hotel, and (embarrassingly) Back With the Ex recently reignited the spark. Ive done some research and can’t decide between Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney. You’ve guess my M.O. by now—for as expensive as it is to get there, I might as well make the most of it and hit all three. This also would allow me to experience more of Australia instead of just one city representing the entire country, as I’ve heard the vibes can be quite different. I’d love to snorkel or do some underwater activity in the Great Barrier Reef, hit Bondi Beach just for the novelty, and apparently Melbourne boasts the world’s best coffee—that alone may be worth the $1200 journey!

Kangaroos in the snow! Photo credit: Bernadette Camus

I think some people don’t realize that Australia has more to offer than beautiful beaches and coastline. You can go skiing there—just like in Hawaii! Before this trip could become a reality, I need to do some more exploration around what I really want to see and do. I couldn’t go all that way and miss out on the best things due to lack of preparation.

The Ultimate Beatles Holiday in Liverpool

The Fab Four in Liverpool

My father is obsessed with the Beatles. I would love to go to England with him to visit all the famous spots related to the Fab Four. Tour packages exist taking you to Stawberry Field, Eleanor Rigby’s grave, the Beatles’ childhood homes, the Cavern Club, the Beatles Story Museum, and more, all while staying in the Hard Days Night hotel. Although this dream is more for my father’s enjoyment, I would thoroughly enjoy it also. Plus, I’ve never been to the UK, so why not?

There you have it. Since we can’t quit our day jobs, this list will likely take a decent amount of time to conquer. Plus, who knows what international travel is going to look like for a while. In the meantime, I’m perfectly happy dreaming about these amazing adventures and creating possible itineraries. We’ve written down our great travel destinations and placed them in this jar. It’d be so fun to be able to randomly draw a destination out of the jar and have that be where we go next. Maybe we’ll be brave enough for that one day!

Our jar of bucket list destinations.

Which trip should be our first? Have you done any of these yourself? Tell me all about it in the comments!

A Day in St. Lucia

We went to St. Lucia as a port stop on our Southern Caribbean cruise. After much research on what to do there, the number one suggestion was to book with Cosol Tours. There are so many things to choose from when it comes to sight seeing—volcanoes, waterfalls, beaches, food tours, etc. Cosol Tours gives cruisers the opportunity to experience everything—and I mean everything!

Our first stop was to see and learn about banana plantations on the island. Our guide taught us about the importance of the banana to the local economy (most get shipped to the UK) and let us sample a banana, as well as locally made banana ketchup. Yes—banana ketchup! I’m not a ketchup fan, but it actually tasted alright!

See the little banana bunches?

We stopped at various viewpoints for photo ops and the chance to browse for local souvenirs. I liked the feel of buying from locals on the side of the road versus a signature, overpriced tourist gift shop right at the port. I found your typical magnets and shot glasses, but also handmade dolls and other items that were more unique and authentic feeling.

From the town of Soufriere, we took a boat ride over to Jalousie Plantation beach, also known as Sugar Beach, which sits right in between the two pitons. Fun fact: Our guide told us that Matt Damon renewed his vows on this beach. A quick Google search also indicates many celebrities have frequented this same spot. A season of The Bachelor was filmed on the island, to. We were able to relax here for about an hour. Again, there were locals ready to sell souvenirs, but they were not in your face about it like I have seen elsewhere. We tried getting in the water, but quickly decided it was too cold for us, so we laid out on the sand and people watched a bit.

Petit Piton
Gros Piton

After admiring the Gros and Petit Pitons on this ultra secluded beach, we took the boat back and headed to the mud baths and volcano. Having been to Volcano National Park in Hawaii, we were prepared for the strong sulfur smell, but it is intense if you haven’t experienced it before! We elected to skip the sulfer mud bath experience and get a closer look at the “world’s only drive in” volcano. This thing was impressive. As advertised, you can drive right up to it and be in the midst of natural hot vents and black rock.

Can you smell this picture?

After the volcano, we stopped at Toraille Waterfall—just one of the many beautiful falls on the island. By this time, it was the end of the day and you could tell the whole tour group was tired. This made the waterfall our shortest stop of the day, and half the group didn’t even get out of the van to see it. It was hard to get a good picture since there were so many people there.

The only shot I could get with no people in it!
What it actually looks like with all the tourists!

Throughout the day, we were also given drinks and homemade food from the island to try. Lunch was a massive buffet of all kinds of dishes, from different meats, to vegetables, sides, and even desserts. There were so many dishes that if you liked something, you wouldn’t be able to remember where you got it from on the buffet table! I really liked being able to sample a dozen things instead of just one or two items. Any foodie would love this.

Here’s the truth: seeing St. Lucia on this tour package is a very long day, but so worth the price for a first time visit. A lot of the stops are overcrowded with tourists, so you’ll be enjoying the views with many others. This didn’t bother us since we were only at each spot for so long, and the fact is we were doing the exact same thing as every other paying customer! If you’re prone to car sickness, you should know that the roads are very windy. If you can get past that, this lush island has a lot to offer. You can easily book other tours and see one or two of these attractions for the same price you’ll pay to experience everything with Cosol.

Brimstone Hill Fortress in St. Kitts

St. Kitts—a beautiful Caribbean island with rich history and stunning views. Sure, you can go swimming, snorkeling, or beach bumming just like on any other island in the world, but what you can’t do anywhere else is visit the Brimstone Hill Fortress. If you prefer to do activities that are unique to the area you’re visiting, this is a must do.

Set on the west side of the island, this National Park and UNESCO World Heritage Site dates back to the 17th century. Built by African slaves, it was a British military inspired fortress designed to protect the island from intruders coming by boat. Built high up on the hill, guards could see unwanted guests in plenty of time to take action.

On a clear day, we were told you can see the island of Nevis from the fortress.

You can drive there on your own, take a taxi, or go on an organized tour group. We went on a tour group that also included some other highlights of St. Kitts. This gave us about an hour to tour the fortress on our own, which was a decent amount of time. You could easily spend much more than an hour here, so think about that when choosing how to visit.

Be prepared to gets your steps in! There is so much to explore at this nearly 40 acre site. The path from the parking lot up into the fort is steep and will certainly test your fitness level! It is worth the climb, though, and along the way, the views get better and better.

One of the dozens of cannons pointed at sea

On top of the citadel is a large, circular area with cannons surrounding all sides. The cannons were very impressive and made for some great photos—the sheer size of these babies is something to see! The views of the island and the water are breathtaking, and the stonework and architecture top it all off. Although it wasn’t created purely for beauty, I can only imagine what it would have been like to be up here two and three centuries ago—especially on a clear day. It was a little cloudy when we visited, but that makes it look cool, too!

Down below the lookout is several rooms built into the ground with even more cannons. Other rooms are decorated with artifacts and great information about their historical significance. This is where people lived, worked, and stored their goods while manning the fortress. Some rooms are set up as part of the museum displaying what it may have looked like when in use, and other rooms are empty. Audio and video history lessons are available to learn even more. If you’re a history buff, you’ll truly enjoy this!

A traditional bunk and uniform.

Outside of the main fort are other buildings and fragments of what used to be. A downhill walk to the other side of the parking lot will get you over here.

This lush island really adds to the landscape of the Brimstone Hill Fortress. It’s wonderful to have history preserved so well, and makes for a memorial vacation day. This is just one of the great things to do in this Caribbean dreamland! Stay tuned for more adventures in St. Kitts!

Long Weekend in Atlanta, GA

I was lucky enough to go to Atlanta, Georgia for a work trip, and since I had never been, I decided to stay an extra three days to explore on my own. Even better—my husband was able to fly out to meet me. Who doesn’t love an impromptu mini vacay?!

My favorite thing about Atlanta? The food! I haven’t spent much time in the south, and southern or soul food is hard to find where I live. Good meat, new sauces, corn bread, coleslaw, beans, mac and cheese…We ate BBQ every meal we could for the whole extended weekend. To our delight, we learned that when you enter “BBQ near me” into google maps, dozens of restaurants come up no matter where you are in the city. This allowed us to visit more neighborhoods as we Lyft’d our way from place to place. Think of it as a bonus way to tour the city instead of just staying in a two mile radius from your hotel or Airbnb.

Our first of many plates like this.

Besides the food, Atlanta has a lot to offer in the way of sightseeing and activities. Olympic Park made for a great afternoon. The Coca Cola museum, the Georgia Aquarium, the college football hall of fame, the ferris wheel, statues, and water features are just a few attractions in this very walkable area. Of course the park was packed, but it was so big that it didn’t feel crowded. There was plenty of space to wander and enjoy with no one too close by. The ferris wheel was closed when we were there, and I wish we had come back at night to see it all lit up.

Statue of John Pemberton—the inventor of Coca Cola.
Olympic park

We couldn’t do everything at Olympic Park in one day, so we decided on the aquarium. As we told people we met about our plans, we received mixed reviews on whether or not this was a must do when you’re only in Atlanta for a few days. I had my mind set, though, and almost $100 later, we were inside the aquarium. Honestly, it wasn’t the best aquarium I’ve ever been too, but I did get my jellyfish fix!

Jellyfish at the Georgia Aquarium.

Although I’m partial to the jellyfish, the best feature was the floor-to-ceiling glass displaying all kinds of sea life. I could have watched that for hours, but it was quite crowded and there was an urging pressure to be courteous and let others in the small viewing spot. The norm seemed to be to enjoy the view, take some photos, and then let other have a turn after several minutes. I have no problem sharing and taking turns, but it seems the viewing space could have been bigger for as popular as it is.

Our turn in the viewing nook.

The aquarium also boasted sting rays, various whales and sharks, seahorses, otters, penguins, and more fish than you could count. It was a good use of time and we definitely got our steps in that day, but since there are aquariums all over the world, next time we’ll stick to attractions that are unique to the area.

The best thing we did in ATL was the Atlanta History Center. How incredibly fascinating! Being from the west coast, there isn’t nearly as much rich, deep history close by like there is in the south and on the east coast. Our Lyft driver told us she had lived in Atlanta all her life and had never been here. I don’t always like to visit places more than once, but I would certainly come here again. After several hours, we hadn’t even seen all there was to offer.

Cyclorama depicting the Battle of Atlanta through painting and 3D figures.

The highlight of the Atlanta History Center was absolutely the Battle of Atlanta Cyclorama. This 360 degree display of battle was breathtaking. The amount of detail in every inch of the place made the display just spectacular. We watched a presentation about the work of art and learned a great deal about modifications to the art and the political reasoning behind it. Fun fact: Clark Gable is hidden in the cyclorama.

Besides this exhibit, we toured the Swan House and gardens. This beautiful 15 acre estate was built in 1928 by the Inman family. We were wowed by the incredible detail inside and out. It’s so beautiful that you can book it for your wedding!

The Swan House. Check out that old car!
Intricate detail from top to bottom.

Like most big cities, three days in Atlanta was not enough to see everything. I think we did a pretty good job for our first time. I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to come here for work and to make a trip out of it. If for nothing else, we definitely need to come back for more BBQ!

Day Tour of Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico is a common port stop at on cruises to Mexico. The Mexican Riviera boasts it’s own unique beauty and history. Aboard the Carnival Panorama, we were able to spend a day at this port. We chose not to book an excursion, but to ask a local to take us around to what he thought were the must-see sights. I had done research on cruise stops to PV and this was a commonly suggested way to explore. This turned out to be a great choice!

Not only was our driver more affordable than company excursions, but we got to see a multitude of sights instead of just one or two. It was also on our timeline, so we could start and end when we wanted. Our first stop was to Old Vallarta, or the Romantic Zone.

Cobblestone streets in Puerto Vallarta

This part of town is filled with old, cobblestone streets. So fun and colorful! We zipped through the narrow streets and hilled landscape to get to some great city viewpoints. Since we weren’t on a scheduled tour, we were free to stop wherever, whenever, and for as long as we wanted. The flexibility was great for us first time visitors. We learned about the history of the area and stopped for some shopping at the local markets. What pleasantly surprised me about the area was the lush greenery mixed in with old buildings, and then the coastline in the distance. The best of three worlds!

After our drive through Old Vallarta, we headed to the beach. We had just had a beach day in Cabo, so we were more interested in the area surrounding the beach. This particular beach felt very local and did not have a ton of tourism muddling it’s unique beauty. This was a short stop for us before moving on.

This was the bridge between the beach and a hotel. One person at a time!
Local boats near the beach
Look how close this pelican was!

Next stop: the Malecon. The classic boardwalk with the Puerto Vallarta photo op sign. Shopping, live music, sculptures, and awesome water views filled the scene. We waited in line to get our picture taken with the PV sign, and this experience alone made for some great people watching. Luckily, everyone was patient and friendly, with many people offering to take photos for others so their whole group could be in the shot. It’s silly, but I almost felt like a celebrity when it was our turn: We walked up to the sign and posed. Three people with our phones in their hands took multiple pictures while a slew of people watched. Really, the watchers were just waiting for their turn, but all eyes were on us for those 30 seconds! I appreciate how respectful people were so everyone could get a decent shot. That kindness, patience and consideration is definitely a group effort!

Another discovery during this experience: it’s hard to get the whole sign in the picture! Here’s what we ended up with:

Our best picture with the PV sign

Our driver took us back to the ship after this. We were satisfied with this port day and how we chose to spend it. The great thing about cruises is if we go back, we can research and find something new to explore that we may have missed this time around. Since we were there less than 12 hours, I’m certain Puerto Vallarta has more to offer than our little taste of the city.

Have you been to Puerto Vallarta? How did you spend your time? What’s a must see or must do if we get a chance to go back?

SNUBA in Punta Cana, DR

My brother and sister-in-law got married in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. We stayed at the all-inclusive resort where the wedding was held–it was our first all-inclusive experience. We left the resort one time to go on a SNUBA excursion. SNUBA is like a mix between snorkeling and scuba diving. You get to go deeper under water and stay under longer, but you don’t have a full oxygen tank and scuba gear.

Boarding our boat for SNUBA!

A shuttle picked us up at the resort and took us to the beach where we got on the boat. There were a few shops here, and I found some great, unique souvies for family and friends. My favorite was coconut shell magnets with hand painted scenery on it. I got one for myself, as well!

Hand painted magnet made out of coconut shell. How could you not love this?!

After filling out paperwork ensuring we were healthy enough for the excursion, we hopped on the boat. We hooked up to our SNUBA gear provided and jumped in the beautiful Caribbean sea with the rest of our excursion buddies. We followed our guide under water and onto the bottom of the sea floor, popping our ears as we went further and further down.

On this excursion, were not allowed to take pictures or video, but the company provided awesome underwater pictures for purchase. Since this was a unique experience for us (we’ve snorkeled several times, but hadn’t done this) we chose to purchase the pictures. We were definitely not disappointed in this decision!

Feeding the fish

Each group took turns in the staged area for professional photos. There were two chairs chained down and the photographer guided us in how to pose, and also allowed for some freestyle. As you can imagine, it was difficult to stay seated underwater! When we weren’t posing in the chairs, we were trying to lay down flat on the ocean floor, which is cool to say you’ve done!

The abundance and diversity of fish was just beautiful. Forty-five minutes later, I was not ready to come back up to the boat.

Look at all these fish!

All in all, SNUBA was a great choice. Especially if you’ve already gone snorkeling a handful of times and you’re looking for the next unique experience, this is definitely one to consider. Would we do it again? Absolutely!

Extended Layover in New Orleans, LA

One way to sneak in an extra destination is to coordinate your flights to have an extended layover in a new city. This is how we got to explore New Orleans, Louisiana two different times. You can either book a flight with a long layover, or book two separate plane tickets. In our case, the two separate plane tickets ended up being less expensive than a direct flight from our home to where we were headed (Punta Cana, Dominican Republic in this case.) This allowed us to leave the NOLA airport without stressing about making it back in time for the next flight. Both on our way to and from the DR, we got to stay the night in the popular French Quarter district.

Our cute French Doors in the French Quarter

To keep costs down and to experience the true French Quarter, we stayed in two hotels in historic buildings–the Inn on St. Peter, and the Inn on Ursulines. These two buildings were built in the 1700s and early 1800s. The rooms were tiny–my bedroom at home was larger than both of these rooms including the bathroom. I didn’t mind though–I was wanting this style and the price was exactly what I was looking for! The Inn on St. Peter has a great deck, which was fun to hang out on and people watch below. The staff were so wonderful at both places, and allowed us to store our luggage after checking out so we could explore the quarter before heading back to the airport.

We hit the classic Bourbon Street and felt very safe both during the day and late at night. What I loved most about the French Quarter was all the amazing little shops. I found some very unique gifts for family, and really enjoyed browsing the local goods. We bought some pralines from the New Orleans School of Cooking store. I had never had anything like this, and they were AMAZING!

On to Jackson Square. Here, you’ll find live music, dancing, street performers, horse carriage rides, ice cream, local art, and so much more! You can easily spend hours right on this block alone. This area is home to the big St. Louis Cathedral, which is still in use. The interior was just as gorgeous as the exterior, and is definitely a must see.

The Street Performers were truly something else! A new one for me was these guys painted like gold and silver statues. We watched for several minutes and, I’ll tell you, they did not move an inch! They work for tips, so please fill their cups when you see these guys!

We decided to take a horse and carriage ride around the neighborhood and learned a lot about the area. We saw celebrity owned homes, learned about former slave quarters and how buildings were designed to house them, and we stopped at Laffite’s Blacksmith Shop–the oldest bar in New Orleans! This dates back to the 1720s, and did not disappoint.

After the carriage returned us to Jackson Square, we took a short walk to the river. This muddy, brown water river was huge and pretty in it’s own, unique way. The restaurants and ferry boats added to the unique scenery.

Since we were only here on layovers, we did not explore the other districts of New Orleans. This amazing, historic city offers mansions, plantations, swamp tours, high end shopping, and so much more outside of this one neighborhood. What does that mean for us? It means we’ll have to coordinate another layover to see the rest!

Affordable Aruba

Aruba sounds so exotic, doesn’t it? Did you know you can fly there for less than $500? Less than $300 sometimes, depending on where you’re coming from? Did you know it’s possible to enjoy without going broke?

I love cruising, so the ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao) have been on my bucket list. There are plenty of cruises that’ll take you there, but why not fly and spend more than a few hours at a place you’ve been dying to go?

How do you find cheap flights?

First, do a basic google search with your closest airport code. That’s simply how I found my plane tickets. Other great resources are SkyScanner, and signing up for flight deals like FareDrop and NextVacay.

Once on Aruba, other than shelling out to the see the famous flamingos, we spent the rest of the time having a ball with minimal spending. It is possible to enjoy paradise and not spend a ton! We chose to rent a car, but you wouldn’t have to in order to enjoy yourself. A midsize car for a week was abou $300. Jeeps and big rigs are common here, but unless you’re planning some serious off roading, it’s not needed.

Fun fact-I don’t think there’s a single stop light in Aruba. It’s all roundabouts!

There are two different “hot spots” we enjoyed in Aruba that are very walkable and offer a feast for the eyes. Downtown Oranjestad is one, and the other is a few miles up the coast in the Palm Beach area.

Downtown offers the marina, a large mall, endless restaurants and an outdoor market. This is where the cruise ships stop, but it’s not as crowded as you might think. You can easily entertain yourself in this area without spending much.

Palm Beach offers another mall, restaurants, outdoor entertainment, and a cool atmosphere at night. Plus, you have the beach right there!

Heading to the southern end of the island, we found some wild donkeys on our way to Baby Beach. We drove around the neighborhoods and entertained ourselves for a whole afternoon. We found a food truck and got some great, cheap, local treats!

Back up north is the California Lighthouse. We paid $5 each to climb the 100some stairs to the top for great great views-and even greater wind! Again, this was another whole afternoon moseying our way up north and taking in the views. Costs were minimal.

I’ve found in my travels that the getting there is the biggest cost when going somewhere. Wait for a good deal and just get there! Once you’re there, there is plenty to do without having to purchase excursions every day of your vacation. Especially at a beach destination like Aruba, it’s mighty nice to just sit back and relax—which is totally free!

Why You Need a Private Cabana at Flamingo Beach

I wanted an epic story to share about how I spent my 30th birthday. Once I realized Aruba was affordable and had flamingos to play with on the beach, it was decided! Here was my perfect day in a private cabana on Renaissance Aruba’s private island, also known as Flamingo Beach.

The island has plenty of free beach chairs, but I saw online that you could rent private cabanas for the day. I had never done this before because it sounded expensive for just a private spot to sit. Since it was my 30th birthday, after much hesitation, I let loose of the purse strings and booked a cabana.

It was the BEST decision ever!

We arrived to the island in the morning and found our beautiful cabana. Our private waiter was writing our name in the sand and welcoming us in. We received Champaign, sparkling water, regular water, strawberries and chocolate, along with our own snorkeling gear, floaties, chairs and towels. Our waiter checked on us regularly throughout the day and treated us like royalty. For this frugal missy, it felt so luxurious! Now I get why people shell out money for this!

The hammock over the water was awesome, and the view was perfect. We did have neighbors on both sides of us, but we were far enough apart that we hardly noticed, and it still felt very private.

We also found we were not alone in and around the cabana!

If you’re wondering if a private cabana is worth the money, it definitely is! It was an amazing, unforgettable experience and It absolutely added to how memorable my day was!

Renaissance Resort Aruba

I wanted to do something big for my 30th birthday. I started research shortly after turning 29 and decided on Aruba. Why? Honestly, because it was cheap to fly there!

We had been to the Caribbean several times and the A-B-C islands, or the Dutch Caribbean, was definitely on my bucket list. When I saw that a flight from Oregon to Oranjestad, Aruba was only $500, I was sold.

The island is known for the beautiful flamingos on the Renaissance Resort’s private island. If I was going to fly all this way, this was definitely a must for me. “Jenna, what did you do for your 30th birthday?” “Oh, I spent the day on the beach in a private cabana and hung out with flamingos!” Can you think of a cooler answer than that?!

The private island is for guests of the Renaissance Resort, but others can pay to visit depending on capacity for the day. I didn’t want to take the risk, so I booked a room at this resort. Also, when considering the cost of the day pass AND another hotel, it just made sense to stay at the Renaissance.

The resort was beautiful, and our room was so clean and spacious. It’s in the perfect location for walking around and exploring Oranjestad.

Stay tuned to read about my big 3-0 in the private cabana surrounded by vibrant flamingos!