Archive for June, 2013

postheadericon Grand Cayman with Kids: Stingray City Excursion with Cayman Eco Adventures

 

Grand Cayman Island:  Cruise Excursion:  Stingray City with Cayman Eco Adventure

The Cayman Eco Adventures Tour:  Less People = More Fun

The tour operator will meet you right at the dock and take you by air-conditioned bus to the dock.  Then you will board the 42-foot Alii-Kai which is large enough to carry 40 people, but they limit the number to only 25!  That leaves a lot of room to spread out and relax!

 

My girls got a great seat right on the bow for the journey to Stingray City, The  Barrier Reef, and Starfish Point!

 

 

 

Stingray City Sandbar

The first stop is the sandbar where you’ll get in the crystal clear, waist deep water with these beautiful rays!  You will be able to pet them, feed them, and get your photo taken with them!  Here is our awesome guide, Chip, making sure everyone is having a great time!!

 

 

They are gentle and safe!

 

 

 

These gentle giants are as soft as velvet!  We just loved it when they rubbed up against us!

Have you ever fed a stingray?  It is the neatest feeling…they suck the fish out of your hand with so much pressure you may be a little surprised!

What I love most about this place is the fact that these rays have the freedom to come and go as they please.  A long time ago fishermen used to stop at the sandbar to clean their catches and the stingrays got used to getting a free meal.  Now, when they hear the boats come in, they know they will get a tasty treat!

The Barrier Reef

The second stop on the tour is to snorkel the barrier reef where you can see coral and tropical fish!

 

Remember to never touch or step on the coral because it’s living and that will kill it!  Help keep the reefs beautiful!

Starfish Point

The last stop on the tour is Starfish Point.  This is a wonderful beach where you can just relax and wade in the water.  We got to see a few giant starfish and play in the sand!

 

Whom to Book the Excursion With?

The obvious choice for booking cruise excursions is the ship itself.  They do a good job of telling the passengers that they are the safest bet and that the ship won’t leave without them, but all it takes is a little research to realize that there are some major downsides to their option as well.  First of all, the cruise ship is roughly double the price for all excursions.  I kid you not!  Second, and more importantly, they book an obscene amount people on their trips!  We are more of a small group kind of family.  We like personal attention, we don’t like bumping into people while snorkeling, and we like to support the little guys.

For all of these reasons we chose Cayman Eco Adventure for our day trip to Stingray City!

Small Group Tour

We had about 16 people on our tour!  This afforded us a more personal tour and we loved every second of it!

 

 

 

Some of the Other Tours

I think the photos say it all!  Would you rather be on a cramped, overcrowded boat or on a small tour? 😉

 

 

 

What you get if you book a Stingray City Tour with Cayman Eco Adventures

 

  • Cayman Eco Adventures provides daily excursions to Stingray City
  • Available whether you’re traveling by cruise ship, staying on the island, or want a private charter
  • A SMALL GROUP!  Cayman Eco Adventures keeps the numbers low so everyone has a great time!
  • A knowledgeable guide that is from the island and an awesome Captain!
  • All of the snorkel gear:  mask, snorkel, fins, and swim vest.
  • A cooler full of waters and sodas is available.
  • You may take your own snacks/lunch!
  • Adult Prices are $45 US and Children under 12 Pay $35 US.
  • A photographer to capture this fun experience for you!  The top photo was taken by him!
  • I took all of these photos with my awesome water camera!

 

To check out what others are saying visit their reviews on Trip Advisor.  This is where I begin all of my research when booking excursions, tours, or hotels!

Cayman Eco AdventuresCaymanEcoAdventures@gmail.com
345-926-1744

 

 

 

postheadericon Cruising with Kids: Carnival Liberty Review

My family and I just returned from a 7-day Carnival Cruise to the Western Caribbean via the Carnival Liberty.  We took the trip with open minds in spite of the cruise line receiving a lot of criticism lately for various reasons.  We had faith that everything would be OK and our family would recreate some wonderful family memories.  After all, it was just two years ago that we took our first cruise ever, a 7-day Western Caribbean Cruise aboard the Carnival Legend.

Our Expectations

Our expectations for this cruise were for it to be as good as our last one.  We had a great time on the Carnival Legend and we were hoping to do that again.  The ship was sailing to the same four amazing ports, Cozumel, Roatan, Belize, and Grand Cayman, but this time out of Miami, Florida.

Rates were considerably lower than what we paid a couple years ago and I only assumed that others wanted to take advantage of that as a kick off to summer as we did so it was no surprised that the ship was sailing full.  There were times that we felt the capacity, but overall that was not an issue.  The most important thing was safety and never did we feel like that was an issue!

Read the rest of this entry »

postheadericon Hilton Head with Kids: Fabulous Family Resort @ Omni Hilton Head Oceanfront Resort

 

Room with Amenities

They have 295 studio suites, 8 traditional suites, and 20 luxury first floor and oceanfront suites available at this resort!  Our room at the Omni Hilton Head Oceanfront Resort was a studio suite overlooking the garden and it had a large balcony to sit and enjoy the calmness of the resort!  It was a spacious 530 square feet and had a mini kitchen with a microwave, sink, coffee maker, and mini fridge.  It was  very nicely decorated in a subtle, yet elegant style with all of the amenities that you can expect from a four star hotel and more!

 

 

 

 

I loved that there were more places to sit than just the bed!  This is truly a huge hotel room.  This nice sitting area was a popular spot for the kids as well as the balcony.  When we were grabbing a bite to eat it was so nice to have a table to prepare snacks!

The bathroom was also very spacious with dual sinks.  One was actually inside the shower room and the other was outside!  This is super convenient for three girls getting ready at the same time!

 

 

Three Fabulous Pools

The resort has two family pools, a splash pad, and an adult pool…..I think the photos speak for themselves…take a look!

This zero entry family pool is amazing!  I love all of the lounge chairs and umbrellas!  There are also two great hot tubs right next to it as well as a pool bar with yummy pina coladas!

 

Relaxing Cabanas at the Adult Pool

 

 

 

 

Splash Pad Fun!

 

 

 

 

Let’s Not Forget about the Beach!

I honestly have no idea or good reason why it’s taken us this long to get to Hilton Head.  After all, we only live 4 hours away.  The beach is perfect for taking long walks, building sand castles, and my kids personal favorite…boogie boarding!  The waves were just the right size!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friendly Horseshoe Crab!

 

Take a Peek Around the Resort Grounds

I love the open feel of the resort!  Nice wide hallways and open centers filled with landscape gave it that true resort feel!

Chess Anyone?

A perfect spot to roast some marshmallows!

 

 

Choosing the Area to Stay While in Hilton Head

Hilton Head Island, South Carolina is a popular family getaway destination that offers an endless selection of hotels, private homes, villas, resorts, and condos.  Choosing the right one can be an exhausting task!  The first step is to decide which area of the island is best for you.  There are various gated communities around the island commonly referred to as plantations. The most popular ones or the ones that allow short term rentals or have hotels are Sea Pines, Palmetto Dunes, Port Royal Plantation, Shipyard Plantation, Forest Beach, and Folly Beach.  I highly recommend staying at an oceanfront property and we had a wonderful experience at the Omni Hilton Head Oceanfront ResortClean, spacious rooms, a great private beach, wonderful pools, on site activities, and an attentive, friendly staff made this the perfect spot for our family!

 

A few Favorite Highlights:

  • The ease of getting to the beach made the short getaway so relaxing!
  • The towel stand by the pool was perfect.  I loved that we could simply trade our towels at any time.  It’s so nice to come off of the beach and get a fresh towel for the pool.
  • There are friendly staff members EVERYWHERE!

 

Omni Hilton Head Oceanfront Resort
23 Ocean Lane
Hilton Head, South Carolina 29928

843-842-8000

 

For More Photos Check Out My Facebook Page!  Don’t Forget To Like It!

 

postheadericon Sea Lions @ Pier 39 on the San Francisco Bay

 

 

 

 

Sea Lions at Pier 39 Read the rest of this entry »

postheadericon Whale Watching in San Francisco, CA

 

San Francisco Whale Tours

 

 

Did you know that you can go on a whale tour year round in San Francisco?  There are different migrating whale species that go up and down the coast at different times making almost any time of year ‘whale season!’

The tour starts out of Pier 39 and takes you about 15-25 miles off the coast.  What a view of the Golden Gate Bridge, right!?  Point Bonita Lighthouse is a beauty, too!

 

When you finally get out of the bay you will see something really unique.  It looks like giant marshmallows, but it’s really sea foam.  It happens when the bay meets the ocean!

 

 

You may also catch a glimpse of some Harbor Porpoises or even a hungry sea lion like this one….

 

 

On our particular day we traveled about 20 miles out and we got to see two humpback whales!  They were a good distance away and we mostly saw the water spouts, which look like big puffs of smoke coming out of the water!  Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see an breech, but they were actively popping up and down!

 

 

 

 

Highlight of the Trip

The captain and the crew where amazing!  They really worked hard to make it an enjoyable trip for everyone!  Carla, an on-board marine biologist, was so knowledgeable and friendly and narrated the trip wonderfully.  She was there to answer questions, point out different birds and sea life, and make sure everyone got to see the whales!  To learn more about other sea life in the San Francisco Bay make sure to visit the Aquarium of the Bay at Pier 39!

 

What To Wear

It’s COLD and WINDY on the water so wear many layers!  A waterproof jacket, hat, and gloves are even recommended.  There is a warm cabin that has great big windows, but the best seats on the boat are outside!  Be prepared and you’ll be comfortable!

 

San Francisco Whale Tours does several different trip routes!  Check out their website for all the details!

 

 

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