Travel Photographer

Tulum Travel Guide


Have you ever felt like you were decades too early or 5 years too late for something? Back in April of 2017, we pretended we were college students and decided to go to Tulum for Spring Break. As a child, my family frequently traveled to Mexico for our winter reprieve from the frigid, Alaskan winters. When I was 12, we spent several weeks in the Yucatán Peninsula, visiting all of the hotspots like Cancún, Cozumel, Mérida, Akumal and even the tiny town of Tulum.

Tulum Beach by Ruins

I remember the trip well — mostly for strange illnesses, like when my little brother ate too many beets at the hotel buffet and had 2 days of testing for what we thought was blood in his stool. (Ahem!) Or when my mother was violently sick on the ferry to and from Cozumel. She brought home a lovely souvenir of Hepatitis-A that year that she blames on said ferry ride. I spent a month post-vacation thinking she was going to die, not to mention we all had to get shots to protect us from yellow eyes and tormented livers. Oh the unsaid joys of traveling!

Maladies aside, it was a fantastically fun vacation. I can still visualize the colorful, colonial buildings of Mérida, mostly in vivid hues of pink, yellow and orange. We climbed the massive pyramid in Chichén Itzá (which sadly is no longer allowed.) We took in the ancient astrological observatory and marveled at the terrifying ways in which the Mayans sacrificed themselves. In Akumal, we tried parasailing (quite unsuccessfully) and much to our horror, found ourselves swimming with water snakes. We snorkeled in the turquoise waters off Cozumel and further south into Quintana Roo, we discovered the equally cerulean cenotes and caves underground. Lastly, I vaguely remember driving down to see the ancient ruins of Tulum — but other than that, I have no recollection of anything else there. 

Abarrotes Tulum Town

Fast forward 30 years, when Tulum was on everyone’s radar. This tiny beach town had become a chic, bohemian mecca. It was literally featured on every website, Instagram and magazine I followed. For years, I’d tried to find a way to revisit — perhaps for a yoga retreat or a girls’ trip. But sadly, by the time I made it back, I had already missed the bygone era of Coqui Coqui and other boutique hotels that I’d dreamed about visiting. In 2016, over a dozen hotels and businesses were raided and seized by police over land disputes. Over the course of the next few months, things went from bad to worse and it was clear that the Tulum I had wanted to see was no longer there.

photo (above) by The Selby prior to the raid and (below) after the seizure

Coqui Coqui Hotel Tulum 2017

When we arrived in Spring of 2017, the affected properties were torn down, disfigured and/or covered by reed curtains built by greed and shady politics. Even though the area still reeked of jetset, model-worthy air, I had the sinking feeling that I had missed it at its peak. I have very mixed feelings about Tulum and it’s not just because like my mother, I too, came back from the trip extremely sick for a month. It’s hard to say how Tulum will be rebuilt, but perhaps one day, those devoid spaces will be filled with new, bustling properties and the organic, rustic beginnings will be a distant memory for those that witnessed it at it’s heyday. Now, nearly two years later, I give you a belated, rough guide. Chances are decent that things have changed, but I’m guessing my story remains largely the same.


Let’s get the one thing that tends to come up when visiting Mexico out of the way first… “Is it safe?” Between the property seizures of top hotels, drug cartels, organized crime and corruption — it did make me pause to consider the safety of visiting the area. Generally, I do not allow fear to get in the way of my travels. Instead, I try to be as informed as possible. Warnings were mostly given against traveling into the jungle late at night — which was certainly not on my to-do list! 

That said, I would be remiss to not mention all of the police presence. Literally every mile or so on the main roads, there would be a small building with about 10 heavily armed policemen standing outside. It was hard to know whether we were to stop or keep going, so we would usually slow down and be waved on. Police were also seen all over the roads, driving in blue trucks with about 7 or 8 machine-gunned men in the back. The trucks almost always had their lights flashing and sometimes sirens going, which was very confusing. We would try to pull over so they could pass whenever possible. It was definitely disconcerting to see so many guns and policeman and the children were worried that it meant the whole area was unsafe. But by the end of our trip, we were sort of used to seeing them everywhere and hoped it just meant that there was more protection than none at all.

I had also read about the gas station and car rental scams. Thankfully we managed to escape both of those. But as with any travel, it’s crucial to: pay attention, take videos as proof, watch money transactions carefully and most importantly, don’t look like a target! 

Tulum Beach Ruins // Tulum Travel Guide


Tulum is situated on the Caribbean Sea, complete with warm turquoise water and white sand beaches. We really wanted to relax on this trip and there’s no better way to do that than to park one’s self (or family in my case) on the beach. Despite our condo rental being in town, they had a sister property (Coco Beach Tulum) on the beach that we were able to use.

tulum coco beach club

One major thing I did not find in my research was the seaweed problem in Tulum. Technically known as Sargassum, this macro-algae washes up along the shore and can create quite a nuisance for the ecosystem and travelers alike. The beach was covered 3-4 feet wide in it and it floated all around the water, making it hard to swim or relax near the shore. Hotel properties actually employ people to bury it in the sand all day, which is a temporary bandaid and never-ending work since it continually reappears. It also releases a sulfurous smell as it decomposes, that can create yet another unpleasant problem for beach goers. The good news is that it’s not always there. The bad news is that it’s hard to predict when it will bloom. Sadly, it pretty much ruined swimming in the ocean and lying on the sand during our stay. Whereas, the partygoers at the beach club next to us didn’t seem to mind a bit!  

Tulum Seaweed

Tulum Coco Beach Club


If by chance the seaweed is blooming, no worries! There are other bodies of water to swim in — like the infamous and mystical Yucatan cenotes! In case the word seems unfamiliar, they are deep, natural wells or sinkholes from collapsed limestone that leads to a source of freshwater at the bottom. There are many to choose from, all with different and interesting features. In the end, we only made it to 2 cenotes and really only spent time at one because the other (Zacil-Ha) was packed with people. It would’ve been ideal to visit far more and perhaps even go diving in one. The photos below are from Gran Cenote. 

Tulum Gran Cenote

Kaan Luum Lagoon

This was one of the random finds from my travel research. It seemed worth checking out as it was just down the road from where we stayed. Despite reading it was hidden, we had no trouble finding the lagoon. There’s a signpost on the highway, followed by a short drive down a dirt road that ends at a large parking lot. We changed into our bathing suits in the car, paid our entry fee and then followed the trail and boardwalk to the lagoon. There appeared to be more locals there than tourists, which is often appealing — but what really stood out was the aquamarine colored water. I’d read that there were doctor fish (the ones that nibble feet for pedicures), so my teenage daughter refused to get in the water. I never felt anything biting my feet, so I’m not entirely sure if that is fact or fiction. Either way, it was a beautiful location even if it felt like taking a bath with a lot of strangers. 

Kaan Luum Lagoon Tulum

Laguna Kaan Luum Tulum

Tulum Kaan Luum Lagoon


On one of our last days, my family wasn’t particularly interested in seeing the Tulum Ruins, so they dropped me off in the parking lot and headed to the beach. Truthfully, these are my favorite kind of travel moments because I can go wherever I want, spend as much time taking photos as I feel like, no one is complaining and I can walk, walk, walk. Pure heaven!

If you’ve ever been to Chichén Itzá, these ruins probably won’t seem too spectacular by comparison. The beauty, however, is in the fact that they are by the sea, which makes them definitely worth visiting in my opinion. I wandered around aimlessly then decided to try to walk the entire length of the beach back to meet my family. Unfortunately, this wasn’t really possible and after a lot of rock scrambling in some hairy areas, I finally had to find my way back to the beach road for a portion. Nonetheless, it was a peaceful and exciting little adventure. 

tulum ruins beach boat

Tulum Ancient Mayan Ruins

tulum flower and buddha

Finally, one of the only things on my list that we didn’t make it to was the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve


As most everyone knows, Tulum has become a foodie destination. I had an enormous list of places to eat and we barely touched the surface of it. Number one on the list, which will come as no surprise to anyone, was Hartwood. Thankfully just before our visit, the restaurant started taking reservations. Unfortunately, the only one available was at 8pm — which is late by our standards when traveling with kids. We took it anyway because we had to see if it was worth the hype. Even with a reservation, we still had to wait an additional, painful hour that no amount of cocktails while corralling tired, hungry children could ameliorate. 

Finally, we made our way to a communal table. Despite the pre-meal annoyances, the food and ambience were spectacular. The humble restaurant truly is a feast for the senses. It’s equal parts ancestral, sustainable and farm to table. Lantern-lit and open to the elements, the smell of charred wood and burning copal wafts around the space like a Mayan spirit. Everything we ate seemed to carry the same attentive details; earthy, fresh, simple, clever. It was a meal I won’t forget. 

Tulum Hartwood Restaurant

Other restaurants we tried: Posada Margherita, Casa Banana, La Zebra, Juanita Diavola, Burrito Amor, La Malquerida, Cetli, plus a few we stumbled upon once we were there. There were a handful on my list that we never made it to as well: Gitano, Casa Jaguar, Kitchen Table, Del Cielo, Taqueria Honorio, and Taqueria La Eufemia.

Tulum Posada Margherita

Needless to say, there are plenty of options to choose from both at the beach and back in town.


Finding the perfect lodging takes some serious research. I always spend hours studying locations, reading reviews and travel guides to find the right spot no matter where we are headed. In Tulum, there are a few options; staying on the beach, near the beach, in Tulum town or on the outskirts of town. I looked high and low for a hotel or Airbnb on the beach road but did not find what I was looking for. As usual, most hotels wouldn’t fit our family of 5 and those that could were either out of our budget, did not have electricity, A/C, WIFI or some other element that I was hoping for. There were several large condo complexes that were within walking or biking distance to the beach, but there was something about them that felt too touristy or they had no character. 

In the end, we found a place in Tulum town. It turned out to be the best of both worlds because they had a sister property on the beach that we could use at will. It was a large, 2 story penthouse condo in a quiet, gated, secure location with a pool, jungle views, A/C and all amenities we could ever need. It also gave us a broader sense of the area had we only stayed on the beach road. I would highly recommend it if you happen to be traveling with family. If not, stay by the beach! 

Coco Village (We stayed in one of the Penthouse residences, which I’d highly recommend.)

Calle Kohunlich Mz 22 Lt 2 
Tulum Centro,
Tulum, Quintana Roo
México CP 77780

Coco Beach Residence Tulum Town

We rented a car because we wanted the freedom to travel around at will, which we did quite a bit. I had read several horror stories about car rentals and when I went to book ours, the prices on Expedia were $1-2/day. That seemed very strange to me, so I looked into it. Apparently rental companies like Avis and Hertz are not technically related to their American counterparts, thus their rules are different. Reports claimed that they would charge a fortune for random insurances and cars ended up costing far more than expected. After much deliberation, I decided to go with a local company, Easy Way Rent A Car that had fairly good reviews. The car we got was old and basic but there were no unexpected charges. (I highly recommend videoing any rental before and after using, just in case.)
Please note: A car is certainly not required here. A transfer or taxi from Cancun would be necessary though. Once in Tulum, one could easily get around by foot, bike or taxi. Some of the cenotes will require a taxi or longer bike ride. It’s approximately 5 miles from the beach to the town. We had planned to take day trips to Valladolid and Coba, which would not have been as accessible otherwise. 
tulum beach road south
This is Tulum Beach Road.
Last but not least, I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention some of the unpleasantries that come along with visiting this area, namely: no flushing toilet paper down the toilet, unsafe drinking water and Montezuma’s revenge. I didn’t realize that Tulum was like Greece and that we’d have to put used toilet paper in a garbage bin. Apparently all of those travel bloggers I’d read forgot to put that in their guides! I can handle it, but it definitely makes me feel a little paranoid about the cleanliness of everything in general.
Whereas it’s pretty common knowledge to NOT drink water in Mexico, we made the mistake of ordering a cocktail that had ice in it on our last night. And just like my mother, I returned home with one of the worst illnesses of my life. I was sick for nearly a month and despite loads of testing, my doctor couldn’t identify the parasite or bacteria in my system. Without a doubt, it tainted my experience a bit but was also a good reminder how lucky we are to live somewhere with safe drinking water and modern sanitation systems. 
I hate to end this extremely long guide on such a sour note, but even with two years of mellowing, I still have mixed feelings about Tulum. There’s no question that I wish I’d gone earlier — when it was at it’s prime. I’m optimistic that it will come back in a new form, but I’m afraid that the truly special artisans and properties I wanted to experience were driven away for good. This was an important reminder for me to not wait too long to visit any places that beckon. And beneath the seaweed, shady politics and likelihood of a foodborne illness — Tulum still has that rustic, free-spirited quality that makes it a unique destination worth visiting.
Tulum Travel Guide
tulum travel guide

North to Alaska Roadtrip: One Day in Yellowstone National Park


Yellowstone is one of those places I’d heard about my entire life but really had no idea what to expect. I did know that it is most certainly not a park to visit in one day! It truly deserves days and probably multiple visits to really experience it correctly. However, we knew going into this trip we’d have to make do with our brief stay and luckily, picking the top places we’d see was fairly easy. First, we had to stop at the most famous geyser in the world, Old Faithful, and then, we’d swing by the other-worldly and technicolor Grand Prismatic Spring. 

We drove up from Jackson Hole via the scenic route on US-191, giving us more of the park to see. As we were there in July, the traffic definitely wasn’t ideal. However, the slowness allowed us more time to look out the window. After a quick picnic lunch, we went to the geyser area. 

Highway to Yellowstone

I have to admit that I had no idea that Yellowstone contains the majority of the world’s geysers and the largest concentration in one area! In the Old Faithful area alone, there are multiple geysers to view. Prior to the eruption, we checked out the Old Faithful Inn, the Visitor Center, some of the other geysers and grabbed some ice cream to eat on the boardwalk. Sure, it was all a bit touristy, but also one of those things everyone should probably experience once!

Geothermal pools and springs along the boardwalk

Good Old Faithful

Old Faithful Erupting

After visiting the Upper Geyser Basin, we continued along the road to our next stop, the Grand Prismatic Spring. I had seen photos of this on Instagram and it looked incredible. The parking area was full, so we parked along the road. Although I would’ve preferred to do the Fairy Falls Trail hike that overlooks this area, my children weren’t feeling up for it. Instead, we simply hiked straight to it from the road, which is a dead easy walk over a bridge and to a boardwalk. I carried our littlest one in the Ergo because I was worried he might be tempted to dive into the steamy, colorful pools. Despite not getting the best photo op from above, I’m so glad we saw it. It’s such an incredible wonder of the world!












Finally, we got back in the car and headed to our hotel in West Yellowstone. This was one of the places that was well-booked in advance, so we didn’t have many options. The Days Inn hotel was our least favorite on the trip, but it wasn’t that big of a deal. Honestly, nothing looked too spectacular in this small town. We walked down for a casual pizza dinner at the Wild West Pizzeria, came outside to a beautiful double rainbow and then called it a night.

Definitely not taking anything from this hotel. HA!

Up next– Day 4: Yellowstone to Glacier National Park

North to Alaska: Salt Lake City to the Grand Tetons


On our way out of Salt Lake City, we figured we should visit at least one site in Utah. Even though we’ve been to the Great Salk Lake before, I’m kind of fascinated by endorheic basins, so we quickly stopped at the Saltair to see if anything had changed since we were last there. It is so perfectly creepy! (I wish I could go back in time and see it when it was a full-fledged resort.) From there, we drove towards Logan, so we could take Highway 89 through Idaho and into Wyoming. I must admit, it’s pretty cool to drive through 3 states in a matter of a couple of hours!

Honestly, I wasn’t originally planning to stop in the Grand Tetons, but my friend Desi told me that it would be a mistake to miss it. As it wasn’t out of the way, I decided to add it to the itinerary and I was so glad that I did! It turned out to be absolutely beautiful and a place I’d really love to return to. We stayed the night in a cabin at the Cowboy Village Resort  and for dinner, we walked down to Wyoming’s oldest brewery, Snake River Brewing Company. It was the perfect place to take children that had been cooped up in a car for hours.

The following morning, we visited Jenny Lake, the Mormon Row Historic District and a few different overlooks on the way to Yellowstone. 


Scenic Drive

The Teton Range


Mormon Row Historic District


Jenny Lake

Snake River Overlook

Oxbow Bend Overlook


Up next — Day 3: Grand Teton to Yellowstone National Park

The Car Cruise


With summer nearly approaching and endless travel possibilities on the horizon, I wanted to share something we’ve been doing lately that I’ve dubbed as: ‘The Car Cruise.’ Much like an actual cruise, it’s a road trip that covers a lot of ground in a short amount of time. Whether there’s a lack of finances, time or both — it’s a fun, quick way to travel. We’ve taken many of these road trips over the past several years, so I thought might be helpful to share some of our experiences and travel tips.

Honestly, I’d love to be able to take months off at a time and tour the world slowly, but so far that’s not been an option for us. All of our recent road trips have had time limits and tight budgets! But, because I’m determined to see as much of the world as I can — I’ve learned to make it work. These constraints have forced me to focus on seeing as much as possible with the least amount of time. And just like cruising on water, this condensed method allows for a “taste” of each place; which at the very least, creates a visual image and a ‘feeling’ for areas that you may want to revisit. But unlike a cruise ship, it can be completely tailored to meet each traveler’s specific needs. 

All it takes is some solid research and an adventurous spirit. Besides, planning for travel is half of the fun, right?!

Here’s how it’s done:

  • First, decide your starting and ending points, then find what is interesting in between. I like to come up with a title that encompasses what we’re doing, ie. “North to Alaska,” “The American Southwest,” “Andiamo- 7 days in Italy” and then go from there.
  • Consider how many hours a day you are willing to drive. Since most of my road trips have been just me and 3 kids, I found that 6 hours max in the car is what they can handle right now. Some days we only drove 3 and others we pushed to 10. The latter were not fun at all, but sometimes you just have to power through! Really pay attention to mileage and timing, as well as factoring in stops for food, bathroom breaks, fueling up, or in my case — photo ops!
  • Next, figure out where to stay. I look everywhere from AirBNB to Expedia to TripAdvisor to blogs to friends and even Instagram! Book ASAP, as the best places always fill up early. On some of these trips, sometimes the accommodations are roadside motels that you’d normally never consider. Remember, it’s part of the charm! 
  • Hone in on one or two must-see places for each stop (these might be what the area is famous for) and then seek out something unique or out of the ordinary to do. I almost always run a search for unusual, bizarre, or local secrets to try to discover “the other side.” HA! If traveling with children, always find an activity or place that they will enjoy visiting, too. And if all else fails, take them to a local park. It’s interesting to see how different they can be from place to place.
  • We try to eat local and avoid chains whenever possible, so scour the internet for the best restaurants in each stop.  I wish I could say I’m a “fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants” kind of eater, but I can finally admit that I like knowing where to go in advance. There’s nothing worse than rolling into town after a long, tiring day, with 3 whiny, starving children (and possibly husband) and then having to sift through Yelp or Zagat in the car or hotel room. Instead, I make a list of any and all restaurants that keep popping up during my research phase. I love to search for “Travel Guide __(wherever I’m going)__” and see what pops up. Generally there are travel magazine articles, as well as personal bloggers that post these. Between the two, I usually find a decent list of recommendations to get me started. Then I do my own research to see what suits our family best. I use this method for shops and sights as well.
  • Make an itinerary. I’m fairly organized in an old-school way in that I still print everything out and put it in an envelope that I travel with. I always have a basic plan written down of what I want to see or do each day. The list always includes restaurant options, shops to visit, things I might want to buy, and perhaps most importantly — phone numbers, contact info, reservation numbers, etc. If for some reason there’s no cell service or I’ve lost my phone, I can still access things the old-fashioned way.
  • Along those same lines, print or buy PAPER maps. Yes, it’s possible that they might be completely unnecessary — but trust me when I say, as someone that has been stranded with a non-functioning Sat-Nav in the middle of nowhere with no cell-reception and not another car in sight, they just might come in handy.
  • To help save money and morning stress, we always plan to make our own breakfasts and sometimes even lunches. We fill a large bin (or reusable grocery bags) with an electric kettle, coffee with a pour over filter, tea, sugar, reusable mugs, bowls, silverware, dish soap, granola, oatmeal packets, cereals, protein bars, dried fruit + nuts, chips, crackers, bread and peanut butter and jelly. I also like to pack an emergency provisions bin with water, wine – HAHA, toilet paper, wet wipes, plus a roadside emergency kit just in case. 
  • And finally, this is probably my biggest tip of all: you can always go back. If for some reason it becomes impossible to see and do everything planned, never fear. It just means that you’re meant to return! 

Up next, I’ll be sharing some of our “Car Cruise” road trips with you….

Travel Guide: Turks and Caicos


The Turks + Caicos are a group of islands located in the West Indies. About an hour flight from Miami, this British Overseas Territory is home to one of the most beautiful beaches in the world — Grace Bay. With its baby-soft white sand, crystal clear turquoise water and gentle waves — it’s hard to imagine a more idyllic beach could exist!

Turks and Caicos Travel GuideTurks and Caicos Travel Guide

We spent 9 days visiting the most populated island of Providenciales in January 2016. Although I’d hoped to island hop, it was too complicated and expensive for our family of 5. Instead, we kept it simple and explored nearly every inch of “Provo.” Prior to leaving, I studied the island in depth and it seemed that Grace Bay was the most popular area to stay. After visiting, I would have to agree! We rented a condo there, only a block away from the beach. Every morning we would bike or walk over for a swim and then each afternoon we would drive to a different area of the island.

Turks and Caicos Travel Guide
Our first excursion took us to the Northwest Point. The freeway eventually turns into a sandy, one-lane road that ends at the beach. The area was completely deserted but covered in large conch shells, which Max and I enjoyed picking up.

Turks and Caicos Travel Guide
Turks and Caicos Travel GuideTurks and Caicos Travel Guide

From there, we followed the coast back as far as we could, enjoying some of the more local scenes on the island. We also stopped at the infamous da Conch Shack and Rum Bar. The service was lousy but it was a fun place to grab an afternoon drink.

Turks and Caicos Travel GuideTurks and Caicos Travel Guide

The next day, we took a boat (through Caribbean Cruising) from Leeward Marina to the iguana inhabited island of Little Water Cay. Never have I seen so many iguanas in one place! There’s a small visitor’s center with a few guides, but mostly we had the island to ourselves. We didn’t take a guided tour, but instead followed the boardwalks through the jungle and explored some of the private beaches on our own.

Turks and Caicos Travel GuideTurks and Caicos Travel GuideTurks and Caicos Travel Guide

Another fun and educational outing was the Caicos Conch Farm. Although nearly every restaurant in Provo has some form of conch on the menu, I really had no idea what was in a conch shell until visiting this non-profit farm. The tour begins with a biology lesson about the conch (which is actually an edible sea snail), followed by a walk around their hatcheries. The educators explain and show all of the different stages of a conch’s life cycle, what they eat and how they reproduce. They also talk about how some species are endangered and how they are being over-harvested.

Turks and Caicos Travel Guide

Turks and Caicos Conch Farm

Turks and Caicos Conch Farm

Turks and Caicos Conch FarmTurks and Caicos Conch
Turks and Caicos Conch Farm

The rest of the time, we drove around to visit different beaches. On the south side of the island we discovered Chalk Sound, with hundreds of rock islands in a shallow, turquoise lagoon. It wasn’t particularly accessible but was interesting to look at.

Turks and Caicos Travel Guide

Next we stopped for a swim at Sapodilla Bay and Beach, which we found to be a great area for children.

Turks and Caicos Travel Guide

On one of our last days, we drove to Malcolm’s Road Beach. The road was a bit rough but our tiny, Fiat-like car managed. The beach was a little different than the others, with golden sand and a large reef. 

Turks and Caicos Malcolm Beach

Turks and Caicos Malcolm Beach
Lastly, a few more images from stunning Grace Bay.

Turks and Caicos Grace Bay Travel Guide
Turks and Caicos Travel Guide
Turks and Caicos Travel Guide Pier


STAY: Grace Bay, hands down. There’s a stretch of hotels all along the beach and plenty of rental properties to choose from. Restaurants, bars, shops and the ocean are all mostly in walking or biking distance. The only other options I would recommend would be staying at the luxury resort of Amanyara (but it is very secluded and on the opposite side of the island) or find a house rental near Sapodilla or Taylor Bay (if you are looking to be far away from touristy areas.)

TRANSPORTATION: We rented a car (which I would recommend if you want to see the island), however the rental process was a nightmare. We had to wait around for an hour and half because they didn’t have a car available (despite having booked months in advance) and we barely fit in the car they gave us. If you really want to relax and stay situated in Grace Bay, you could certainly get by without a car.

EAT: I can’t say we had any truly outstanding meals while we were in the Turks and Caicos, but we had plenty that were good enough. We stocked up on groceries at the Graceway Gourmet store in Grace Bay which allowed us to eat breakfast and/or lunch at our condo. We also went to the local grocery in the middle of the island just to check it out. It was definitely cheaper but didn’t have the selection of organic and natural items that I wanted. Most evenings we would go out for an early dinner. Some of the places we tried were: Lupo, Bella Luna, Chopsticks, Da Conch Shack, Garam Masala, Flamingo Cafe, Somewhere, and Lemon2Go.

DO: Grace Bay Beach, Caicos Conch Farm, Iguana Island in Little Water Cay (bring insect repellant – the mosquitoes were thick in the jungle), visit the other islands in Turks & Caicos, snorkel in the reefs. Some things we didn’t get to do but that looked fun were parasailing, kayaking through the mangroves and riding on the Provo Ponies.

BRING: Insect repellant. I had read that no-seeums were a bit of a problem on the beach and while we did get bit here and there, it wasn’t too bad. Money! It’s quite an expensive island to visit. Since everything has to be shipped in, you’ll find that a 6 pack of beer runs nearly $20 and regular milk was over $8/gallon. Eating out was even pricier!

Turks and Caicos Travel GuideTurks and Caicos Travel Guide

Turks and Caicos Travel Guide //

Cambridge Day Trip: Waddesdon Manor


Perhaps I’ve watched too much Downton Abbey — but lately, I’ve found myself wanting to experience England in a more traditional sense. I suppose because we’re always there to see family, our visits are often centered around just that. Instead, I’ve been envisioning a trip that involves a stately home, roaming the beautiful countryside via horseback, adorned in proper attire, followed by afternoon tea with scones (pronounced: scons) slathered with an obscene amount of clotted cream and a touch of jam. There’s a hunting dog curled up by my feet and to my side is a pile of books that I’ll read by a fire, once I’ve finished stuffing my gob… I guess what I’m trying to say is, it’s time we do a few touristy things too!

Cambridge England Day Trip

This past summer we decided to brave the nightmare, errr… I mean nuisance of driving in England and a find a stunning estate where I could pretend to be Lady Mary. My father in-law (who is always up for anything) recommended Waddesdon Manor — a gorgeous, country house in Buckinghamshire, about an hour and half drive from Cambridge.

Cambridge England Day Trip to Waddesdon Manor

This Renaissance-style manor was built for Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild in the 1870’s. Essentially a French chateau in the middle of the English countryside, it’s much like those found in the Loire Valley. It’s surrounded by various gardens, wooded forests, an aviary, a dairy, playground, stables, summer houses and much more. Inside, Waddesdon Manor is an impressive home made for entertaining guests; with ornate rooms, wine cellars containing 15,000 bottles of historic wine and a vast collection of antiques, art and treasures.  

Cambridge England Day Trip to Waddesdon Manor

The floors are adorned with the reddest carpet and the walls are covered with English and Dutch masterpieces.

Cambridge England Day Trip to Waddesdon Manor

The drawing rooms are all richly decorated.

Cambridge England Day Trip to Waddesdon Manor

 An austere dining table in the wine cellar is juxtaposed with an extravagantly dressed table on the main floor.

Cambridge England Day Trip to Waddesdon Manor //

There are separate areas in the house for men and women. Above are some of the weapons displayed in the armory of the Bachelor’s Wing.

Cambridge England Day Trip to Waddesdon Manor //

Downstairs, there’s an unusual, musical elephant automaton

Cambridge England Day Trip to Waddesdon Manor //

A grand staircase and billiard room.

Cambridge England Day Trip to Waddesdon Manor //

One of the small rooms off a bedroom. Perhaps this is where I shall take my tea and scones?

Cambridge England Day Trip to Waddesdon Manor //

A lady’s bed and (wooden) loo. I’ll pass on reading by that fireplace, though!

Cambridge England Day Trip to Waddesdon Manor //

 Back outside, there are parterre gardens and fountains with views of the countryside.

Cambridge England Day Trip to Waddesdon Manor //

Cambridge England Day Trip to Waddesdon Manor // 180360.comCambridge England Day Trip to Waddesdon Manor //

The aviary.

Cambridge England Day Trip to Waddesdon Manor //

The children enjoyed the walk through the wooded forest towards the playground areas and stables. Be sure to find all of the hidden play areas. 

Cambridge England Day Trip to Waddesdon Manor //

While I didn’t exactly live up my original fantasy, visiting Waddesdon Manor was definitely an afternoon well-spent. It was so interesting to see firsthand how the noble families lived. This just means that next year I’ll find have to find a horse, some riding apparel and an endless, green countryside… 



Waddesdon Manor
Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire
England, HP18 0JH
Tel: 01296 820414

  • Driving is not permitted on the property. However, they provide a shuttle bus or there’s a footpath, if you’d prefer to walk in.
  • Expect to visit for at least 2-3 hours. 
  • Tickets for visiting the house are twice as much and have a timed entry, but include visiting the grounds. 
  • Although we did not eat on our visit, there are several different places to purchase food and drink, if needed.
  • If you’re traveling with children, be sure to seek out all of the playground areas including a giant slide and zipline.
  • Prams/strollers are not allowed inside the house.

Cambridge England Day Trip to Waddesdon Manor //