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The Picture-Perfect Beaches of Puerto Rico

Yo sé lo que son los encantos
De mi borinquen hermosa
Por eso la quiero yo tanto
Por siempre la llamaré Preciosa

-“Preciosa,” Rafael Hernandez

Marc Anthony’s rendition of the song, “Preciosa,” a love song to the island of Puerto Rico, still gives me goosebumps. If you ever want to know why I love the beach so much, all you need to know is, it’s in my blood. Born and raised in Puerto Rico, I always have been and always will be most at home near the ocean.

Visiting my family on the island is a rare, special treat these days, but every time I go, I try to see someplace new. If you’ve never been, here’s some of what you’re missing out on: some of the world’s best beaches, three bioluminescent bays, the third largest cave system in the world, the only tropical rainforest in the U.S. National Forest System, the world’s best food (I’m only a little biased), historic Spanish forts, lush green mountains with awesome hiking trails, tiny coquí frogs (our version of crickets at night), “coco, piña, parcha” ice cream at the beach, and so much more.

Our trip to PR in August 2016 was just what I needed — and by that, I mean, lots of beach time. Here are some highlights of our time at Cerro Gordo Beach, on Gilligan’s Island in Guánica, and on Vieques Island. If you’re looking for paradise-like beaches, read on!

1. Balneario Cerro Gordo

Located in Vega Alta, PR, about an hour west of San Juan along the northern coast, this is a government-run beach, part of the Parque Nacional de Cerro Gordo. We went on a Monday, so there were hardly any other people at the beach. I was excited to see the crystal clear and perfectly calm waters. My dad quickly found some palm trees from which to tie our two hammocks. (That’s one thing I love about PRican beaches — there are plenty of palm trees for shade and hammocks. You just have to watch out for falling coconuts!) Continue reading The Picture-Perfect Beaches of Puerto Rico

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6 Summer Things to Do in Northern Virginia

I don’t know what it’s like where you live, but here in Northern Virginia, it already feels like summer. The weather has been incredible. So, in the spirit of feeling like summer is just around the corner,  I’m going to share six of our favorite things we did last summer in the NoVa, Washington, D.C., and Baltimore areas.

1. Luray Caverns

We visited the Luray Caverns on Memorial Day weekend, which, sure enough, meant it was ridiculously crowded. We waited in line for about 1.5 hours! But I’ll tell you what — it was absolutely worth it. (By the way, on the same grounds, they have a garden maze, rope adventure park, snack bar, and train and toy collection, among other attractions, to keep you and the kids busy during the wait.)

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The Luray Caverns are a registered U.S. Natural Landmark, and the largest series of caverns in the eastern United States. To call them breathtaking would be an understatement. We have been spelunking and visited caves in other parts of the world, but the Luray Caverns are unlike any of them. Magical. Continue reading 6 Summer Things to Do in Northern Virginia

Strolling Among the Cherry Blossoms in DC

Last year, we were fortunate enough to be living in Asia during cherry blossom season. We saw the beautiful blooms in Seoul, Tokyo, and Osaka, along with the large, excited crowds that flocked to view and photograph them. We’re talking tripods and selfie sticks everywhere. But when you see them in person, it’s easy to understand why. The white and pink petals brighten up any landscape, as if straight out of a fairytale.

So when spring finally reared its head in Northern Virginia, we knew we needed to make the trip to Washington, D.C. to experience the short-lived cherry blossoms.

First, a little history on how these cherry blossoms even ended up in the United States. The existing 3,000 cherry trees arrived in D.C. in 1912, a gift from Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo. (The first batch of 2,000 trees arrived diseased in 1910.) According to the National Cherry Blossom Festival website, “in a simple ceremony on March 27, 1912, First Lady Helen Herron Taft and Viscountess Chinda, wife of the Japanese ambassador, planted the first two trees from Japan on the north bank of the Tidal Basin in West Potomac Park.” The annual festival celebrates the lasting ties between both countries.

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I have to admit, we weren’t expecting much. After all, we’d seen “the real deal” in Japan — how could these possibly compare? I’m happy to say we were pleasantly surprised. We rode the motorcycle into D.C. to avoid any parking headaches, and made our way to the Tidal Basin, where we found eager throngs competing for the best photo ops. Continue reading Strolling Among the Cherry Blossoms in DC

The Dating Years: Snowboarding in Southern California

I’m an island girl, born and raised on a Caribbean island. So as of my mid 20s, I had never gone skiing or snowboarding, nor did I really have any intention of ever doing so. Going down a mountain at high speeds? In the cold? No, thanks.

Of course, that changed when I met Will. In January 2010, we went snowboarding at Snow Summit, a mountain resort in Big Bear Lake, California, with our friend Ron.

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I don’t remember much about the trip, except:

  • I’m glad I took the beginner classes first. The hour or so really helped, I think.

Quick beginner's lesson on how to snowboard

Quick beginner's lesson on how to snowboard Continue reading The Dating Years: Snowboarding in Southern California

The Dating Years: Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo & Hearst Castle

As we approach our second wedding anniversary next week, I’ve decided to embark on a new blogging journey — The Dating Years. I’m sifting through all of my old photos and videos from the five years we dated, looking back at some of the adventures we had before becoming husband and wife. There were many! It only makes sense to include them in this blog. After all, it’s a big part of what brought us together in the first place, our knack for traveling, seeing new places and trying new things.

In May 2009, we drove up to San Luis Obispo from Los Angeles. Our first road trip as boyfriend and girlfriend. If you’ve ever driven along the Pacific Coast Highway in California, you know what a treat that is, in and of itself.

Driving up the PCH

Driving up the PCH Continue reading The Dating Years: Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo & Hearst Castle