Bring on the weekend!

helloooo Thursday!! You’re looking extra fine today,could it be that #longweekend glow? ❤️

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Summer Destination ~ Burlington Beach, our own hidden gem!

A wide swath of creamy sand, calm greenish blue waters framed by rolling sand dunes, big beautiful trees and a waterfront trail that goes forever. As the sun warms the land and a hint of Summer promise touches us, our love of adventure and natural beauty comes back home. We have so many lovely hidden gems in Ontario and our thoughts inevitably return to our own gorgeous little paradise in Burlington, Ontario.

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Nestled at the most westernly point of Lake Ontario, Burlington is blessed with a kilometer long, light sand beach tucked among century old trees and connected to a vibrant and friendly downtown area within easy walking distance. To explore the whole area you may park either in the downtown core or as we did at the base of the CN liftbridge and canal. From here you can walk, hike, rollerblade or walk the rest of the area. Burlington has an active & lively community and the path is always in use no matter the season.

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Walking is definitely our method of choice as you can really get in to explore all the great nooks that are found along the way. Tiny dirt pathways and wooden promenades veer off the main paved path every so often and they are worth exploring! Shady spots with beautiful views wait for your private family picnic. Catamarans line the beach creating visions of tropical destinations.

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Walking up the beach which is a protected natural area, you are greeting by visions of the wide crescent beach winding up to the skyline. Summertime brings hundreds of beach goers to its shores with almost as many boats linked up enjoying the heat in the shallow waters. A large buoyed area and a slow sandy entry to the water makes it a fantastic place for families. You can smell the myriad of BBQ lunches being cooked up in the shady grass areas of the bordering park and hear children’s squeals of laughter as they enjoy the refreshing clear waters.

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Near the middle of the beach, is where Burlington Beach Rentals resides. The beach shop is contained in the beautiful historic Pump House and has everything you could ever need to enjoy a day at the beach including towels, sunscreen & beach toys. Whether you’ve come prepared to enjoy the day or not, Burlington beach Rentals is there to make life easy for visitors and locals alike.Just behind the building, on the beach ready for your enjoyment “Beach Spots” consisting of either muskoka chairs, sun loungers and great little SPF50 blue and red colored huts dot the beach and are for rent by the day or hour. Reminiscent of a tropic holiday, they strive to bring the vacation experience home. Complimentary wi-fi is included for all their guests. If you’re feeling a little more adventurous paddleboats and stand up paddleboards are ready and waiting on the shore!

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You can’t find a better way to spend an afternoon than by taking out of their water rentals and enjoying the sights and sounds from the water. Bring a picnic lunch and take it with you, the paddle boats have cup holders and space for a small basket!

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If you’re staying in the area longer they also have beach yoga classes at sunrise & sunset. Full moon social’s every month along with lots of other fun events and activities! Conveniently right next door a small concession is ready to feed your hunger and even satisfy the sweet tooth with yummy ice cream. Showers, change rooms, bathrooms and a playground round out this busy and fun spot.

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Heading farther up the beach, the massive trees start to over hang the water and limestone rocks jut out of clear waters making for picturesque stops. Eventually you round the curve and head back up on the path that leads into Spencer Smith Park. A tiny round protected bay can be found at this junction and if you’re lucky swans can be seen bobbing in its protected waters.

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Spencer Smith Park leads into our downtown core and is a gorgeous large park that lines the majority of the downtown area ended with a large curved pier that completes the scene. Here is where the great city holds numerous awesome festivals throughout the summer months. Sound of Music is Canada’s largest, best and free outdoor music festival held yearly in June. Thousands of fans flock to the area to hear well known and local talent fill the park with music. A full listing of summer events can be found here. On quieter days you can enjoy the reflecting pond surrounded by benches and sometimes home to fancy R/C ships that sail on its surface. Right next door a new playground and large splash pad are ready to entertain the kids for the whole afternoon.

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Following the boardwalk you eventually find yourself staring at the large delicately curved pier that is now the crowning glory of the park. Beautiful in the daytime but even more so at night. This is one of our favorite places to watch the sunset. As the daylight slips colored beacons light up the night sky from its edges.

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No visit to the Burlington waterfront would be complete without a stop in the lovely downtown area. Absolutely full of fine dining, wonderful outdoor patios and great shops all within a few blocks. A small town, friendly feel with big city amenities. One of the things we love most about being here is the awesome vibe of the city and its people. You are always welcome and you will always enjoy your visit!

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If you haven’t recently visited this gorgeous city…it’s time to come back and see what you’re missing 😉

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Why life is better at the Beach!

Ask anyone what their most favorite place to be is and invariably, somewhere on that list is a beach. Why is it that we feel so compelled to spend time close to the water?  Does the sun shine brighter? Maybe.

For many, the beach is a world very different from the everyday. It’s cheap flip flops, bare feet and ice cream. It’s the sounds of children singing, radio’s blaring and happy laughter. It’s a riot of color from bright rainbow colored towels, beach toys, bikini’s and board shorts. It’s a place where people smile wider, laugh easier and love deeper. Life is easy and worries tend to fade away for another day.

 

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It doesn’t matter whether the beach is in the city surrounded by board walks, carnivals and never ending vendors or untouched with only you and nature as far as the eye can see. It exists in a different plane of life…it embodies the carefree, relaxed and adventurous spirit all in one. It contains so much of what we need while needing so little of us in return. These are eight of the best & simplest reasons we think the beach is the best place in the world to be:Image

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Sounds

The sound  of water gently lapping at the shoreline or waves crashing on the shore is constant, rhythmic and natures song. It calms us, helps us de-stress and ultimately remember to enjoy life’s little moments. There is no better place for a mid day nap.

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Simplicity

Life is simple at the beach. Grab a spot of sand, a patch of shade and you have everything you need for a marvelous afternoon.

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Discovery

There is always something to see or do at the beach. You can wander its shore everyday and discover something different from one day to the next.…a washed up seashell, the flock of swans that just flew in for the day…that perfect spot to watch the sunset.

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Adventure:

Good times know no limits at the beach. Whether you spend your time playing in the sand, floating in the water or wandering the shores in search of hidden treasures, the beach has something for everyone in every budget.

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Water:

Our world and our bodies need water to exist. Both mysterious and beautiful it harbors secrets still waiting to be discovered. Our lives revolve in and around it and nothing else can take away the weight of everyday life than floating serenely in its arms. For others it is a playmate that is always there. Water men of the world use surf boards, SUP and diving gear among other tools to learn its rhythms and take advantage of the ultimate playground.

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Relaxation

Lay in the sand or playing on the beach, worries seem to melt away like magic. Our minds are able to stay in the moment and enjoy the now so much better than anywhere else on the planet.

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Nature at its best:

The most beautiful of beautiful moments are born here. Stunning orange, purple and pink painted skies with each sunrise and sunset.  Strange and interesting flora and fauna that are specific to each region. Animals and prolific birds that call it their home. Trees that back its shores and overhang the sand. Even the sand when seen under microscope is an array of thousands of tiny pieces of  amazing sculpture.

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Health

We feel better at the beach. It’s been scientifically proven people that live closer to the water live longer, healthier lives. They tend to exercise more and make time in their everyday lives to enjoy life and family. Beach walks are the best way to fill up on Vitamin D and sunlight helps lift depression and general malaise.

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“At the beach . life is different. Time doesn’t move hour to hour but mood to moment. We live by the currents, plan by the tides and follow the sun”.

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We live in tune with nature, where we began…where we are happiest.

 

 

Yoga on the Beach!!!!

Who’s ready to make the most of every Summer moment, get in shape and do it all in style?!
Announcing sunrise & sunset Yoga classes on our beautiful Burlington, Ontario beach starting in May. Stand up paddleboard yoga starting mid- June!!
We will have a variety of different & fun classes for every experience level. Class schedules, passes and everything else you need to know will be posted in the next week. Make sure to check our website often for more updates!
We CAN’T WAIT to help YOU have an amazing Summer!! Image

 

 

Wanderlust Wednesdays ~ Treasure Beach, Jamaica

After spending 6 nights in the gorgeous, white sand haven that was Negril I was ready to set off to discover some of the hidden gems tucked away on the South shores in the fair isle of Jamaica. I had heard about the area during some quick research the night before I had boarded my last minute flight to a new country. The allure of black sand beaches, a string of coves to wander and the fact that it was still undeveloped was enough of a draw to make me want to see it for myself.

Traveling solo around a country tends to add up, not only in cost but time and here is where creativity helps in saving on both!  The famed Pelican bar was 2/3rd of the way to my final destination and always a big draw! Built with donated lumber and a bit of thatch, it was the only bar I had heard of that existed a mile or so from shore! I managed to find 3 other hostel guests that also wanted to go and between us we were able to charter a private taxi turning what could have been a long travel day into a fun adventure that didn’t break the bank!

Windows down , music up we made our way up through the interior dodging not so tiny potholes that threatened to swallow anything that didn’t see them coming. A quick stop in Savanna el Mar for some not so fast, fast food and some unknown delicious tasting fruit we continued on until we reached Black River. This hard working Jamaican hub is one of the oldest cities in the country and the gateway to the south shores of the island.

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Many boats are available to take you to the fabled Pelican bar. After some quick negotiations that included a divine sounding lobster dinner that would be waiting on our return ($1000 J each), we climbed on board an old fashioned turquoise longboat and sped towards the tiny speck where we would spend our afternoon. The ocean here had a different quality and color than Negril. While just as beautiful in its own right, the waters were an opaque turquoise and seemed ladened with minerals and full of mystery.

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Pelican Bar was exactly as advertised and we had a great afternoon. Where else could you spend your days drinking Red Stripe, playing dominos and doing absolutely nothing but worshipping the sun, miles from any speck of land. Constructed of donated lumber, some thatch for shade and a good many license plates and tokens left behind by travellers before us, I doubt it would survive much of a storm. Luckily no storms threatened and the hundreds of names carved in every square inch of wood, friendly locals and surrounding pelicans made their marks in our memories. After swimming and chillaxing under our shady nook all afternoon we accompanied our captain back to his home where dinner was waiting as promised. Beautifully seasoned lobster with vegetables, rice and plantain were delicious and I was happy to splurge just a little to enjoy a seafood dinner with the group. Seafood while plentiful on the island is also very expensive…unless you manage to catch it yourself 🙂

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With a full belly and slight trepidation, I said my goodbyes to my new friends and got dropped off at the side of the road to await the next route taxi that would take me to Treasure Beach. I have a penchant for exploring the path less taken and this isolated series of coves with black sands and few travellers had peaked my interest as soon as I had heard of it on the travel forums I had scoured hours before my last minute departure.

I didn’t have to wait long before spotting a red plated car with Treasure Beach on the side. Climbing into the 5 seater with 6 people already inside, we drove the remaining 30 minutes to French Bay for $200J. No one waited for me or knew I was coming because as hard as I had tried, I had never been able to reach any of the tiny guesthouses I was interested in. Rolling in just before sunset I was dropped off in front of Shakespeare Cottage. The gates and doors were open but not a soul was to be found. This I hadn’t expected!  After cooling my heels and checking out my new surroundings I left my big bag and decided to head out to find anyone that could rent me a room. Luck was again on my side as I spoke to a friendly local that informed me that I should go to the very back of the property and yell “Dickie” as loud as I could. That should bring the owners, she said. True enough a few minutes later Dickie’s wife wandered over, rented me my own private room with fan for $25/ night…total score!

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Treasure Beach was black to Negrils white in every respect.  Quiet and mellow with rolling pastures and hills as a backdrop and the crash of ocean waves beating the black sanded shoreline. There was a trail right in front of the house that led directly to the ocean and I couldn’t wait until the next morning to heed its call. As I admired the deep orange of that first nights sunset, I had the entire beach to myself and my thoughts. It was a truly peaceful and zen experience that I will always remember. Heading back home to what turned out to be a most comfortable bed, I got a great nights rest before starting starting my adventures of the area early the next morning. No wi-fi, no distractions, not even a rooster to wake me at dawn.Image

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Treasure Beach is best seen on foot, following the coast and stopping to explore anything that catches your fancy. A few restaurants and small resorts dot the landscape here and there but for the most part it is undeveloped and free of mass tourism. Less expensive than most destinations in Jamaica and richer in community feeling. Everyone knows everyone here and after a few days, they know you too. A place to get lost or find yourself, it resonates with the soul and brings peace to the mind. Over the course of 3 days, I explored the entire area from Frenchman’s Bay to Great Bay and easily stayed within my $40/day budget including accommodation!

Starting my days with freshly brewed Blue Mountain coffee at the Blue Smurf café (highly recommended at 100J/ cup AND they even had milk!!) I picked a direction each morning. With no wi-fi and little time to research before I arrived, each day I still managed to find amazing hidden gems, great places to eat and friendly locals to tell me about the history of this quiet heaven. Some of my most favourite finds and moments were:

 Glorious Sunsets:

Deep orange with undertones of burnt yellow lite the sky every night. Framed by jutting rocks, crashing waves and black warm sand.  Every night I would make sure to pick a slightly different place to watch. Always sitting in the sand, trying to embed every magical moment to memory. I preferred having this nightly ritual to myself but most locals and travellers alike headed to Eggys. A tiny little hut on the beach with some chairs and well priced Red Stripe. Here you can mingle, exchange the days stories and share your adventures. A must stop, a least for one sunset!

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Discovering the MOST gorgeous tree with a private, natural pool & the talented artist the called it his workshop!

Wandering the coast line from Calabash Bay back toward Frenchman’s Bay there is a rocky point jutting out that separates them. From a distance I had no idea what I was walking towards but the closer I got, the more excited I became. There growing amongst the sharp rocks and sparse vegetation was the most perfect, beautiful tree I had EVER seen. Ancient, twisted branches called out to the sea they were hovering over. To my absolute delight, natural tiny pools had formed on each side of the tree. Protected from the waves and sheltered from the sun…absolute heaven. Could I have discovered my own private oasis?! I spent the entire afternoon there and was soon joined by a Clancy. Clancy is a local artist that works with local wood to produce beautiful hand made works of art. Not only did I make a new friend, after some conversation I got to experience something amazing!

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Clancy worked in wood and I had noticed this beautiful giant log in my little pool with me. Further conversation revealed it was Linden wood ( Jamaica’s national flower) and he had been soaking the wood for weeks to get it ready for carving. It really was my lucky day as he decided to chop off a piece and make something right in front of my for my love that was waiting back home. I watched him take a piece of nothing and turn it into a beautiful souvenier paddleboard with nothing but a machete. That is a memory that I will carry forever. If you’re ever in Treasure Beach, make sure to seek this artist and his beautiful tree out. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience or reminder of my time here.

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 Favorite swimming spot:

One draw back of the Treasure beach area is the strong riptides and currents that are present at most of the beaches. You can feel the power of the currents just sitting on the edges and swimming out beyond the waves should only be reserved for very strong swimmers. Especially if you are travelling solo. A local well known restaurant and hang out, Jack Spratt’s has a tiny cordoned off area and a lifeguard on duty and would be the best place to bring a family. I overcame this by stopping in every tiny, me size pool that I can across in the wanders instead. There were plenty of them if you took your time and looked. On the last day I came across THE BEST spot for actual swimming in the area. Located at the end of Calabash bay about ½ km before Great Bay is a large protected spot between 2 reefs that hem either side of the pool in. Here the water was clear, calm and excellent for snorkelling. Many local children and families came to cool off during my time there, confirming its safety. If I had more time, I would have spent another afternoon floating happily in the dancing soft waves.ImageImageImageImage

Exploring tide pools:

The tide pools from Calabash Bay to Great Bay were amazing, plentiful and yielded new excited finds every day I was there. You never know what creatures would be left behind and I got to see a great amount of sea life up close and personal. In fact I could have collected quite a nice dinner for myself if I had the heart to take the crabs I found from their homes. Tiny bumblebee like fish, puffers, snails and so much more were there to delight me at every turn. It was like have my very own sit in aquarium and it was awesome!!!

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This beautiful, less known paradise has many wonders to explore. Best for romantic escapes or really getting away from it all. There are enough small shops & local restaurants to satisfy needs but it is far from bustling. Time spent here is peaceful, there is noone to hurry you, sell you things on the beach or interrupt natures song. Next time I would certainly bring the man that holds my heart. Fully restored and ready to integrate back into society, it was time again to pack my bags and prepare myself for what would be the MOST challenging leg of my trek. Making it all the way back across the country to Montego Bay using public transport. I knew it would be an adventure but I had no idea the adventure it would be. Join me next week to follow the rest of my trek North through half of Jamaica and up through the mountains before descending to my destination. It was a journey that I will talk about for awhile! Lol

 If you are interested in JOINING me on one of my awesome adventures, we are NOW BOOKING for our epic beach lovers trip to Costa Rica in November 2014. 9 nights, 5 bucket list worthy adventures, 4 stunning beaches & towns. Almost all inclusive for $2195 CAD pp (double occ) including flights from YYZ. For those in other areas, we can give you a land only price and you can meet us there!

Carpe Diem my friends, life is too short to wait!!