Boat passing Little James Island as seen from First Beach
First Beach is sometimes known as La Push Beach. It has a crescent-shaped swatch of sand as rocky points and views of James Island and Little James Island. It’s a favorite of both surfers and vampires (the location is featured in the Twilight series of books). La Push is one of the most popular destinations for Twihard tourists.
Summer sunset at First Beach in La Push, Washington
The Forks chamber of commerce has seen a 600% increase in tourism since 2000, and Stephanie Meyer’s YA series of books is often credited as a major factor. Fortunately, my visit was vampire free.
Stylish totem outside the Lonesome Creek Store in La Push
The Forks Chamber of Commerce has set up a First Beach Webcam so you can visit virtually if you can’t make it in real life.
Pacific Northwest Surfer Girl
First Beach is a great place to watch the sunset and take in the twilight. I enjoyed watching the sun dip below the horizon between James Island and Little James Island.
A panorama of sunset seekers enjoying the view from First Beach
First Beach is also a favorite of storm watchers and one of the most popular stops on the Twilight Tours. La Push is where Bella learns the tale of the Cullens and later goes cliff diving and almost drowns
First Beach driftwood frames trees on Little James island
Pacific Northwest Summer evening on First Beach
Clouds and sunset on First Beach
Only members of the Quileute Tribe are allowed on James Island. But there is a James Island webcam.
Twilight view from First Beach in La Push
Dusk view of Little James Island from First Beach
First Beach is easily accessible and open to all. Located near LaPush (about 15 miles west of Forks). Put the Quileute Oceanside Resort in your GPS as your destination and you’ll find it.
Gorgeous tropical sunsets are the stuff Hawaiian post cards are made of. The Kona and Kohala Coast of the Big Island offer some spectacular spots to watch the sun dip below the horizon and enjoy the last rays of the day. The lagoon at the Fairmont Orchid Hotel was my favorite sunset spot on my recent trip to the Aloha State.
Big Island Sunset Time-Lapse
I shot the sunset time lapse above using the Time-Lapse function on my iPhone 6s on the lagoon beach at the Fairmont Orchid, which is a popular gathering spot around sunset.
Last light off the Kohala Coast of the Big Island
After sunset, the Fairmont Orchid hotel offers stargazing opportunities for guests a few nights a week, with giant telescopes set up right on the property and an on-site astronomer.
Big Island sunset at the Fairmont Orchid
Sunset at the Coconut Grove
The Fairmont Orchid’s Coconut Grove is a popular choice for destination weddings on the Big Island. The scenery is pretty spectacular.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
One of the luxury tented accommodations at Longitude 131
Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock, has been on my list of places to visit for years. Last month I finally got my chance to visit Australia’s Red Centre, with a few nights at Longitude 131. With a reputation for being the finest accommodations in Outback glamping, Longitude 131 doesn’t come cheap. My husband and I tried to maximize our bang for the buck by staying one less than the recommended three nights/four full days, and attempting to see as much as we could during our time.
First glimpse of Uluru HyperLapse (shot on iPhone 6)
The cranked up pace was a bit too crammed for me. While I totally enjoyed my time, I think I would have enjoyed it more if I hadn’t been so hurried. I also had a difficult time with jet lag on this trip, which did not help the situation.
Some of the stunning scenery seen on excursions from Longitude 131
My hotel review posts usually feature lots of images of hotel room interiors and bathroom amenities, but photographing the room did not happen during my brief stay at Longitude 131.
Fortunately Longitude 131’s own website photos are very realistic. The tents are glamorous and comfortable, but we did not spend much time there other than to sleep or change clothes. The bulk of your day at Longitude 131 is spent exploring nearby Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, which was the point of the whole trip anyway!
My first glimpse of Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock
We had about 35 minutes from the time we arrived at the Longitude 131 until we headed out for our first excursion, the Mala Walk around the base of Uluru, followed by a sundowner and light bites in the Kantu Gorge.
The guides at Longitude 131 are friendly and great and I felt that I learned a ton on this excursion. The couple I met from Sydney who were staying the recommended three days seemed more relaxed than I was (and less jet lagged).
Left: sunrise at a viewing area in Kata Tjuta National Park Right: My room at Longitude 131
Both my husband and I were tired when we returned from this excursion, so we skipped the formal dinner service and headed straight to our tent.
I fell asleep immediately and woke up in time for a quick bite before heading out for our next excursion, headed to a sunrise view point in Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. This was one of my favorite parts of the trip. The Kata Tjuta range (also known as the Olgas) domes are visually interesting, and the sky and scrubby landscape looked gorgeous in the soft morning light.
Gorgeous desert landscape and clouds at Kata Tjuta
After admiring the sunrise at Kata Tjutas we headed out on the lovely Valley of Winds hike , which can range 6-10 km around a sacred Anangu men’s site in the domes of Kata Tjuta. We finished our hike just before the day got too hot. The only thing missing was a cold beer before we headed to the Cultural Centre in the park for a visit. Then we got back to Longitude 131 in time for lunch.
A view of the Kata Tjutas at sunrise
Our day finished with the Uluru sunset excursion (again complete with cocktails and nibbles). It was a delightful day. Dinner that evening was served at outdoors under the star filled skies at Table 131 set up outside. Once again, jet lag made me decide to skip the main course and get as much sleep as I could.
A vibrant sunset view of Uluru (Ayers Rock)
Your days are paced similarly to those on safari at Longitude 131– most activities happen around sunrise and sunset leaving the hottest hours in the middle of the day free for you to enjoy the resorts lovely pool, the nearby Cultural Centre in the park or even arrange a camel ride or motorcycle ride. Unlike being on safari, you come to Longitude 131 for the landscape and outdoor activities, not for the wildlife. You might see some wild camels or feral cats, but this is not the place for those who want a game viewing experience.
Yummy steak for lunch at Longitude 131
All the food and beverages at Longitude 131 were excellent.
Left: Pasta with shrimp for lunch Right: a colorful salad with edible flower at Longitude 131
While I did not eat every dinner I was totally satisfied by the appetizers served during the sundown excursions and did not feel I needed much more.
Glacial toothfish and broccolini for lunch at Longitude 131
A stunning sunset view of Longitude 131 Resort
Rainbows in the bathroom at Longitude 131
My Longitude 131 experience was very good. I made the decision to do a shorter, more concentrated trip and I’m not sure I’d recommend that unless you are 100% over jet lag or the sort of person who loves having every minute scheduled.
I was impressed with my experience enough that I am now curious about other Baillie Lodges and am considering a visit to Kangaroo Island on my next trip down under.
I recently returned from a trip to Mexico, where I stayed at Las Alamandas for the first time. Located 120 kilometers south of Puerto Vallarta, along Jalisco’s Costalegre Coast, Las Alamandas is situated on it’s own 1.500 nature reserve which offers up several different vantage points to take in the stunning views of the Pacific ocean at sunset.
The second I saw the property I knew I’d be making time lapse videos on my iPhone 6.
Sunset time-lapse video shot on the beach at Las Alamandas
I clipped my camera mount to an agave plant on the beach in order to get this perspective. The waves were unusually strong, due to seismic activity in the Pacific.
On our last night at the hotel, we drove up a rocky road to Sunset Point, where we took in the stunning views while enjoying cocktails and cake (we were celebrating my husband’s birthday).
Sunset Point’s spectacular views
I clipped my camera mount to the table to shoot the time-lapse below on my iPhone 6. It was very windy and so the resulting video is not particularly smooth, although the views are still rather beautiful. While I love the compact size of my iPhone 6, wind is one of the elements where shooting with a heavier camera can yield better results.
Sunset Point time lapse from Las Alamandas
When shooting into the sun with a mobile phone, there is going to be flare. Sometimes the flare has flair, sometimes it doesn’t work as great. But the view is still spectacular.
Sunset stroll along one of the private beaches at Las Alamandas