Posts Tagged ‘ocean’

Exploring Maui, Hawaii: a Stay at Travaasa Hana

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Pool and the Pacific at Travaasa

If you want to drive the Road to Hana at a more relaxed pace, and stay for a night (or three) in the Hana area, Travaasa Hana (formerly known as the Hotel Hana Maui) is the best bet for the luxury traveler. There are other options in town (including Airbnb properties), but if you want a full-service property, Travaasa is the way to go. Travaasa also offers a stay three nights and fly for free promotion that allows those who want to skip driving the Road to Hana altogether.

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One of the charming Ocean Bungalows at Travaasa Hana on Maui

Not all rooms at Travaasa are created equal. The Ocean Bungalows are located across the street from the main hotel complex, near the pool and fitness studio. They are more expensive than the Garden Junior Suites and worth every additional penny. Our first room was a Garden Junior Suite and only had a standing oscillating fan for cooling. It was tolerable but not pleasant.

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The Ocean Bungalows had lovely breezes coming off the water, and newly refurbished bathrooms. It was a much more pleasant environment overall. The ocean bungalow also had a spacious lanai (balcony) which was great for viewing the sunset or enjoying a drink.

Rainbow time lapse at the Hotel Travaasa Maui

I shot this time lapse of a rainbow appearing from my ocean bungalow at the Hotel Travaasa Maui.

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Rainbow views at the Hotel Travaasa Hana on Maui

While the Hotel Travaasa does not have it’s own beach, it’s a mere 10 minute walk from the property to Hana’s gorgeous Red Sand Beach (also known as Kaihalulu).

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Bed in an ocean bungalow

Hana is not a highly populated area and while all the hotel staff were very nice, service was uneven. The bellman who showed us to our room the first night (a Garden Junior Suite) did not point out where the hotel’s pool was located. When we ordered cocktails from room service, they failed to make note of our room number and we had to call back. The staff made up for the error by comping the round of drinks.

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Lovely renovated bathroom in the Ocean Bungalow

Tennis courts and a rec room are some of the other facilities on the Travaasa Hana property .

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Another view of the bedroom of an Ocean Bungalow at Travaasa

Travaasa rates can be all-inclusive or priced a la carte. We opted for a la carte and think it was the right choice. While there isn’t a wide selection of full service restaurants in the area, there are several food trunks that served tasty tacos and bbq that are perfect for lunch or a quick snack.

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The living room of the Ocean Bungalow at Travaasa Hana

All rooms come stocked with coffee makers and banana bread, a local specialty.

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The ocean bungalows at Travaasa

Travaasa also offers a schedule of cultural, culinary, and adventure experiences as well as fitness classes. Some are free, others are offered for an additional fee. There is also a spa on the property. I can’t vouch for any of the classes or spa services since we used Travaasa as a home base for Hana and spent most of our time off the property exploring the area. The spa and fitness class space did however look lovely.

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Sunshine on the Ocean Bungalows

I really enjoyed Hana and would happily stay at Travaasa Hana again. But I’d be sure to book an Ocean Bungalow and I’d want to have my car with me so I could continue to explore the area and not be isolated on the property.

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Entrance to Travaasa Hana

The restaurant on property was fine but not exceptional, and service is more laid back than you will find in the other resort areas of Maui like Wailea or Kaanapali.

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Breakfast at Travaasa Hana

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A view of the Ocean Bungalows at Travaasa Hana

Travaasa isn’t cheap but I’d happily stay here again. It’s not the place for you if you require five star service or strong A.C., but it’s a lovely place to use as a base to explore the Road to Hana and the Kīpahulu District of Haleakala National Park.

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Rocks along the walk to the Red Sand Beach

If you are staying at Travaasa, please keep in mind driving the Road to Hana after dark is dangerous and plan your driving time so that you arrive before dark. Hana doesn’t have a buzzing night scene but it a good night’s sleep can help you beat the crowds at some of the best attractions in the area by getting on the road early after a good night’s sleep.

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Maui’s Red Sand beach is a 10 minute walk from Travaasa

The vibe in Hana is chill and relaxed, so you just kind of go with it and enjoy the island vibe. It’s fantastic.

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Pink clouds at Travaasa Hana on Maui

Travaasa Hana Maui

5031 Hana Hwy
Hana, Hi 96713

Tel: 808-248-8211

Room rates start at $450

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Exploring the Big Island of Hawaii: a Photo Essay Using the Boomerang App

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Shaka symbol shadow puppets on the Big Island

I just got back from  a girls trip to the Big Island of Hawaii. I decided to document our trip using the Boomerang App from Instagram on my iPhone 6s (Boomerang is also available for Android users). The Boomerang app creates short videos from bursts of still photos. Below are some of my favorite Boomerangs from the trip to the Aloha state.

A video posted by Jen Pollack Bianco (@lax2nrt) on Jul 21, 2016 at 5:56pm PDT


 
Sunset Zen on the Big Island of Hawaii

The Big Island of Hawaii excels at sunsets. I took this Boomerang on the beach at the Fairmont Orchid Hotel on the Kohala Coast.

A video posted by Jen Pollack Bianco (@lax2nrt) on Jul 15, 2016 at 5:54pm PDT


 

Hang Loose Shadow Puppets

The Hulihee Palace in Kona was once a vacation home used by the Hawaiian royal family. Built in 1838, it is now a cool Victorian era museum with a great collection of Hawaiian artifacts and pictures. You aren’t allowed to take pictures inside the palace, so I made this boomerang of the “hang loose” shaka symbol. The shaka symbol is used as greeting in Hawaiian culture.

A video posted by Jen Pollack Bianco (@lax2nrt) on Jul 22, 2016 at 5:42am PDT


 
Rush Hour on the Kona-Kohala Coast

The waters off the beach at the Fairmont Orchid are perfect for swimming, kayaking and stand up paddleboarding. It’s a great snorkeling spot as well. The local fish and giant turtles (known as honu) happily share this portion of paradise.

 

A video posted by Jen Pollack Bianco (@lax2nrt) on Jul 20, 2016 at 6:27am PDT


Hula Dancing on Hilo Bay

My friend, Zan Aufderheide, learned a few hula dancing basics during a tour of the Big Island. Here she is showing her mad hula skills on Hilo Bay.

A video posted by Jen Pollack Bianco (@lax2nrt) on Jul 16, 2016 at 2:08pm PDT


 
Yummy Tuna Crudo

The Beach Tree Bar and Lounge at the Four Seasons Hualalai is one of best spots on the Kailua-Kona Coast to take in the sunset and enjoy a meal with a view. The tuna crudo (ahi sashimi) with spicy aioli was both satisfying and light and paired perfectly with the tropical cocktails. I recommend trying The Green Flash made with Patrol Silver Tequila, Grand Marnier, lime, cream of coconut, Genovese basil, and fresh jalapeno.

A video posted by Jen Pollack Bianco (@lax2nrt) on Jul 15, 2016 at 1:24pm PDT

 

Yellow Flags at the Fairmont Orchid

I stayed at the Fairmont Orchid. The hotel has a lovely beach and bay which is a great place to snorkel with the giant turtles, known locally as Honu. These yellow flags amongst the palm trees gave a real sense of being on vacation.

A video posted by Jen Pollack Bianco (@lax2nrt) on Jul 16, 2016 at 9:02pm PDT

 

Handsome Furry Local

Much of the Big Island of Hawaii used for ranching, complete with cattle and cowboys. I met this furry local, a dog known for guarding cattle up in Waimea. If you’re in the area, try one of the locally sourced burgers at Village Burger. Located in an laid back strip mall, locals and visitors flock to Village Burger for their cooked to order Hawaii Big Island Beef Burger. I wasn’t even hungry and I could not resist the delicious smell wafting in the Hawaiian breeze.

For best results, Boomerangs are best viewed using the Instagram app. If you’re not yet following my Instagram, here’s a link.

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Visiting Iceland’s Famous Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon and Beach

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Ice glistens like crystal on the black sand beach at Jökulsárlón

The coldest morning I spent this year was when I awoke before dawn so I could photograph the sunrise on the beach at Jökulsárlón, the glacial lagoon in southern Iceland located in Vatnajokull National Park. The images in this post are some of my favorites from that frigid morning, and the afternoon before.

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Afternoon view of an iceberg in Jökulsárlón

Jökulsárlón has both a large glacial lake and a nearby beach, where you can see the icebergs head off into the cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Some chunks of ice wind up on the beach. In the shifting morning light, they can glisten like giant crystals and are incredibly beautiful.

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Calm before the storm on Iceland’s Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon

 Jökulsárlón is such a uniquely beautiful spot it’s a favorite spot for Hollywood filmmakers.

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Cold light on an iceberg in Jökulsárlón

Scenes from the James Bond films Die Another Day and A View to a Kill as well as Batman Begins and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider have been shot here.
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Left: pastel morning skies on the beach at Jökulsárlón  Right: waves crashing on icebergs on the Jökulsárlón beach

Here’s some video I shot on my iPhone 6s of that chilly morning on the beach at Jökulsárlón:

Video of sunrise at Jökulsárlón Beach. The wind you hear was cold.

With gorgeous soft light that makes the ice seem to glow from within, it’s not a surprise that Jökulsárlón is such a dream location for photographers.

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At sunrise, the light is as cold as the icebergs on the beach

The glowing icebergs and dramatic landscape make Jökulsárlón one of my favorite spots in Iceland. Tourists love it and many photographers were deeply committed, dressed in waders to keep the chilly waters of the Atlantic from getting them wet.

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Ice ice baby

 The light was so gorgeous many of the images I shot required no editing or retouching.

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Chilly morning on the beach of the Jokulsarlon Glacial Lagoon

 Visiting Jökulsárlón was part of my two day Glacial Lagoon tour with my fabulous guide, Jorunn Sjofn Gudlaugsdottir.

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Beached iceberg

The blocks of icebergs on the black sand beach make for dramatic images. Processed with VSCOcam with 4 preset

Photographers love Iceland’s Glacial Lagoon

This is a popular spot for photographers to attempt to capture shots of the Northern Lights, although they did not make an appearance the night we tried.

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Dirty ice and lots of tripods = Iceland realness

I am so grateful we called off our aurora hunt just past midnight so we had the energy to get to Jökulsárlón’s black sand beach before sunrise. It was so worth it.

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Blue ice in the morning sun

I had so much fun shooting I did not realize how cold my hands were until I got back into the car and took off my gloves. I usually wear fingerless cashmere gloves for shooting, but I’d advise something warmer and more weatherproof if you’re shooting here at dawn.

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Lonely blue iceberg

I usually wear fingerless cashmere gloves for shooting, but I’d advise something warmer and more weatherproof if you’re planning a trip to Jökulsárlón shooting here at dawn (or at night).

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Left: glowing blue ice and puffy clouds Right: this piece of ice looked like a fish up close

If any photographers have suggestions for gloves that work for photographers in cold and damp climates, please leave your suggestions in the comments thread.

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Ripples and bokah on the Jökulsárlón Glacial lake

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A Stay at Las Alamandas in Jalisco, Mexico

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My favorite hammock at Las Alamandas

I recently visited Mexico’s Costalgre for the first time, spending a few nights at Las Alamandas resort. Located about About 120 km south of Puerto Vallarta, getting to the resort takes more than 2 1/2 hours along a long, winding, and frequently bumpy road from the PVR airport. It’s clear from the moment you arrive that the best and worst thing about Las Alamandas is it’s remote location.

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The bougainvillea-filled courtyard

Located on 1,500 acres and with only 16 suites (which can accommodate up to 42 guests), Las Alamandas is incredibly private and the type of property that gets bought out for weddings and celebrations. Old press clippings in the hotel’s library feature images of Hollywood celebrities spending New Year’s Eve here. The hotel has also served as a backdrop for a bunch of catalog and photo shoots. Las Alamandas is also a favorite of honeymooners, again because of it’s privacy and tropical romantic charm.

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Left: colorful stairs Right: welcome drinks served in coconuts

Las Alamandas offers activities from horseback riding to kayaking to fishing. But it’s also a great place to do absolutely nothing. Wifi only works in the common areas, so it’s a great place to unplug and recharge.

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the gorgeous swimming pool

The resort is extremely private, which makes it clear why celebrities might like it so much. There is no way a paparazzi is going to be able to photograph you in an unflattering swimsuit on one of the property’s private beaches. The main stretch of beach, which my Domo Master suite was situated directly above, was experiencing unusually strong wave and current activity due to seismic activity in the Pacific. This was a bummer since it made the beach unusable, but the owner told my husband she had never seen the waves that large before.

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A cozy banquette at Las Alamandas

I stayed in the Domo Master Suite which was large, with a king sized bed, a living and dining area, an outdoor jacuzzi, and seating area. Only the bedroom had adequate air conditioning and fan coverage, so the rest of the indoor space was not all that usable. The patio was nice and used often, with a great hammock and comfy sitting area. The staff would deliver my morning coffee here and it was a very pleasant spot to gaze the Pacific ocean and wake up.

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The living room of our Ocean front master suite

The living room of the Domo Suite was large, but lack of good air-conditioning and a fan made it mostly wasted space.

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flower petals on the bed at Las Alamandas

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One of the daily gorgeous touches at Las Alamandas

The welcome greeting on the King-sized bed. The bed was not the most comfortable, but it was adequate. The bedroom had a fan and small air conditioning unit for when the breezes weren’t enough.

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The master bathroom featured dual sinks

The master bathroom had dual sinks and a fantastic shower which was large enough for two people and had ample water. It was hot during my stay so the outdoor jacuzzi never got used.

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Well-placed hammocks are abundant at Las Alamandas

My favorite amenity, a well-place hammock, is where Las Alamandas truly excels. I was happy spending the afternoon here with a book and a quick call to room service for a round of freshly made margaritas.

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Foosball in the gallery at Las Alamandas

The public spaces in the property are beautiful. There is a gallery complete with a foosball game. The only time I saw other guest was during meal times, hen eating breakfast and lunch at La Palapa restaurant or dinner at Oasis. For more about dining at Las Alamandas, check out my previous post, Mexican Food in GIFs: Dining at Las Alamandas here.

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The view from La Palapa restaurant at Las Alamandas

Las Alamandas was relaxing, rustic, and stylish. The staff was very nice and accommodating. It’s also for those who don’t mind privacy and a bit of a hassle to get there. If you want a bar scene, you’re better off staying in Puerto Vallarta. Las Alamandas’ remote location isn’t close to much of anything, so you should expect to stay on site for your visit (unless you’ve booked excursions through the hotel).

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Margarita with a view

My trip was booked through Suzy Xiu at Smartflyer. You can book directly through the hotel’s website and check out Las Alamandas special offers section here.

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Succulents near the beach

Las Alamandas is great choice for couples and families looking to get away from it all who don’t mind getting to the resort’s location. If you’re not a fan of bumpy roads, the hotel can book you a transfer to and from the Puerto Vallarta airport in a small Piper airplane.

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Left: Current warning sign during my stay Right: unusually strong waves 

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Lookout Point at Las Alamandas

Lookout point on the Las Alamandas property is great place to take in the sunset. The staff can also provide a picnic or cocktails to enjoy while you watch the sunset.

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The beach at Las Alamandas at dusk

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Killer sunset views along the Pacific

Las Alamandas could not be any prettier. It’s easy to see why it’s a popular property to buy out for weddings and other private events.

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If bumpy roads aren’t your thing, book the Piper!

Room rates at Las Alamandas start at about $260 per night.

Las Alamandas Resort
Carretera Federal 200 km 83.5
Costalegre, Jalisco, Mexico

Toll Free US: 1888 882 9616
Toll Free Mexico: 1800 8366640
Tel 52 322 285 5500

​General Information: info@alamandas.com

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Sunset Time Lapse in the Seychelles at Maia Luxury Resort

Obligatory feet-in-the-sand selfie

I recently spent a few days at Maia Luxury Resort. Located on a private peninsula on the west coast of Mahé island in the Seychelles, Maia Luxury Resort is surrounded by natural beauty including a private beach and the Indian Ocean.

Maia’s location is most gorgeous during the golden hour before sunset. The light is warm and the clouds take on pastel hues.

I made this time lapse using the TimeLapse app on my iPhone 6 using the sunrise & sunset preset:

Clouds at Sunset at Maia Luxury Resort, Mahé island, Seychelles Time Lapse

I still prefer using this app over the native time lapse feature on the iPhone 6 camera because it offers presets for situations like clouds, traffic, and sunrise/sunset and will shoot and speed up accordingly.

The private beach at Maia Luxury Resort

This gives me one less thing to think about so I could focus on dipping my toes in the warm waves of the Indian Ocean.

A friendly snail  I met in villa 208 at Maia Luxury resort

One tip for shooting sunset time lapse videos… don’t stop shooting as soon as the sun disappears. Let the camera run for a few minutes. Usually this is when you get the most vivid hues, and you can always trim the video if the afterglow is less than gorgeous.

Sunset stroll at Maia Luxury Resort, Seychelles

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