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EX-PATS: From New York Streets to Tulum Sands

Switching careers is always a bit of a tango, but for designer David Graziano hopping from New York City to Tulum, Mexico was a no-brainer. David spent the first 13 years of his career designing NYC nightclubs like Pink Elephant and Kiss & Fly, but it wasn’t until he left these fast-paced streets behind that he discovered his true calling. 

Moving to the sandy shores of Tulum gave David a “giant lift,” and he began building Ahau Hotel from scratch as soon as he landed. David’s only goal is to provide a paradise for his guests—and perhaps now to his wife and baby girl as well.

Need more daydream-worthy career moves? Watch the video or head to the Reserve Channel’s YouTube page for the full series of EX-PATS.

Maria Pedone is a digital editorial intern at Travel + Leisure.

Trip Doctor: Dubai, Beaches, and Bikinis: What's Allowed?

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With all the news recently about bans on skimpy swimwear at UAE beaches, T+L wanted to clear the air and figure out what travelers need to know when heading to the Emirates.

First off, the bathing suit laws aren’t laws. After initial reports that bikinis and bikini briefs were banned, UAE newspapers reported that police backtracked, and later clarified that the regulations were only guidelines. After receiving multiple complaints from local families, authorities posted signs stating, "All coastgoers should commit to public morality and modest clothing." Police "strongly discourage" individuals from wearing revealing swimwear, and to respect "cultural sensitivities."

Secondly, these official recommendations apply only to the country’s northernmost emirate, Ras al-Khaimah. The emirate attracts few tourists compared to flashier Dubai, which sees nearly 10 million visitors annually, although it is home to 2011 It List property Banyan Tree Al Wadi.

So does that mean it’s acceptable to wear a thong on the beaches of Dubai?

I checked with the emirate’s Legal Affairs Department to get the final say. Here’s what beachgoers in Dubai will want to know:

° All beaches, even those next to hotels, are public, so local families and international vacationers have access to the same sandy stretches in Dubai.
° Several beaches offer women-only days one day a week. On these days, males—excluding toddlers—are prohibited.
° There is no Dubai law prohibiting a particular bathing suit, but swimwear should not be worn off the beach. Nudity is strictly prohibited.

Still, when considering which suit to wear on their UAE holiday, bikini-toters should consider that the local population, along with the majority of international visitors, in Dubai are Muslim, and therefore unlikely to appreciate skimpy swimwear.

If looking for a destination where scanty suits are a-okay, try Egypt, whose tourism minister stated on Monday that "bikinis are welcome in Egypt and booze is still being served."

Related: See the Future in Dubai.

Peter Schlesinger is an editorial intern at Travel + Leisure.

Photo credit: © Jon Hicks/Corbis

Guess Where? Sunset Beach

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Can you guess what beach this is? Head over to our Facebook page and leave your guesses there. Check back on Monday for the answer!

Lyndsey Matthews is an assistant digital editor at Travel + Leisure.

Photo Courtesy of Lyndsey Matthews

Surfing as Art and Lifestyle: Q&A with Saturdays' Colin Tunstall

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Any store can put out a catalog or a little circular that focuses on its brand, but few would dare print a full-color, oversized glossy and sell it for $25. That's exactly what Saturdays, a New York City-based surf shop has done with it's massive Saturdays Magazine.

The second issue (out now) is a celebration of all that's great about print: It's heavy, its pages make noise as you turn them, and it falls open with a satisfying "thunk." The magazine, which was printed in Iceland (watch this video of it coming off the press), is so massive you might not be able to fit it in your carry-on bag. But if you do, inside you'll find striking multipage spreads of surfers at work and at play, interviews with artists like Larry Clark and Christo, and projects from photographer Bruce Weber and designer Hedi Slimane. What you won't find is a hard sell for surfboards.

We spoke with Saturdays co-owner and Saturdays editor-in-chief Colin Tunstall. Here's what he had to say:  

What's a little surf shop with two locations in New York and two in Japan (the newest in Kobe) doing putting out a 300+ page oversized doorstopper of a magazine?
Colin Tunstall: I've always wanted to produce magazine. Before starting Saturdays I worked in publishing for 10 years. The concept was simple, we just wanted to produce something cool. We decided to focus on Q&A's with people we thought were interesting. We cast a wide net and embraced the variety of backgrounds, ages and locations of everyone to define the common thread of our lifestyle.

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Ritz-Carlton Expands Award-Winning Environmental Program

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This summer, Ritz-Carlton guests will have more to look forward to than just sunbathing. The luxury hotel company will expand its ecological program, Ambassadors of the Environment, to three of its properties. The program, created by award-winning environmentalist Jean-Michel Cousteau, emphasizes education and sustainability through various Caribbean eco-adventures.

Read More

Is Something Rotten in the City of La Jolla?

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If you’re in La Jolla for lunch, you might think twice before asking for patio seating.

According to various reports including one from The Associated Press, seriously stinky breezes are leaving tourists and business owners gasping for air.

"We've had to relocate tables inside," Christina Collignon, a hostess at the cliffside steak restaurant Eddie V's, told the AP. "Because when people go out to the patio, some are like 'Oh my God. I can't handle the smell.'"

The area of La Jolla Cove is home to some of the city’s best restaurants, posh boutique hotels, and a few famous, well-heeled residents like Mitt Romney. It's also an area of "special biological significance" by California law, which means there are strict regulations to protect local marine life, like dolphins, sea lions, harbor seals, and countless birds.

Those rules have made the area attractive to large numbers of two endangered species, brown pelicans and cormorants. Both species have flocked to La Jolla, no pun intended, and have covered the seaside rocks and outcroppings with guano—lots of guano. The resulting scent, according to a San Diego Union-Tribune article, is akin to a blend of “rotting vinegar and human body odor.”

For years, La Jolla has been the site of another wildlife-related debate: the seals that have taken up residence on the previously human-covered Children's Pool beach. A new “beach cam" monitors both the seals and any humans who might bother them.

And now the bird funk, some say, is hurting local business. The owner of legendary local restaurant George’s at the Cove has started an online petition to clean up the poop—although city officials have indicated that environmental safety makes that chore complicated. Some have argued for horn blasts to shoo the birds away, while others have suggested tarps or intimidating falconry.

One La Jolla waiter, meanwhile, says that this may be the price one pays for natural harmony. “People come here because they want to see nature,” Anton Marek told the AP. “Poop is a part of nature.”

Photo by istockphoto

Guess Where? Winter Beach

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Can you guess where this beach is? I took it a few weekends ago on short weekend getaway from New York. Head over to our Facebook page and leave your guesses there. Check back on Monday for the answer!

Lyndsey Matthews is an assistant digital editor at Travel + Leisure.

Photo Courtesy of Lyndsey Matthews

Camera Lost at Sea Near Maui Found on Taiwan Beach Five Years Later

Maybe there's hope for Brittania Fisher after all. Fisher, the Dallas woman who lost her wedding ring in the surf in Miami earlier this month, might be happy to read the story of Lindsay Crumbley Scallan, who lost an underwater camera while scuba diving in Maui in 2007 and has gotten it back—plus a free trip to Taiwan to retrieve it.

Last week, Hawaii News Now broadcast a story about the camera, which was found last month washed up 6,000 miles away on the shore in Taiwan. The camera, a Canon PowerShot A520, was intact despite its casing being covered with barnacles. More importantly, its memory card still worked and contained clear pictures of its owner enjoying Maui. A China Airlines employee who found it on a beach in Taiwan set up a Facebook page looking for the woman in the photos. Hawaii News Now posted a slideshow of images recovered from the camera along with an appeal to help track down the people in the photos. Since it was posted on Friday, the story of the lost-and-found camera was passed around the Internet until it was seen by a high school classmate of Scallan's who recognized her and brought it to her attention. She's planning her trip to Taiwan now.

In an interview aired on HNN, Scallan, who lives in Georgia, said the discovery of her camera and its social media-aided return is "just unbelievable… It's pretty neat."

See: Best Digital Cameras for Travel.

Thai Beaches Are The Latest Hot Zone in the Monkey Wars

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How cute, you might say, when you spot a monkey ambling along the beach in Thailand. (“Wait, where'd my lunch go?”) But lately the primates have become a little too aggressive, so authorities have posted new signs on beaches in the country's Krabi province (which includes Long Beach, Phi Phi Island and the aptly named Monkey Bay) that read "Beware of the Monkey" in both Thai and English. According to a report from the Bangkok Post, roughly 600 beachgoers have been treated at one local hospital in the past year for monkey bites. The furry beachgoers have gotten so used to edible hand-outs from their human enablers that they can turn ugly when spurned. A whopping 75 percent of the victims are foreigners.

The need for monkey caution, however, is not limited to Thailand. The monkeys at India’s Amanbaugh Resort in Rajasthan have gotten so close to the guests, the hotel employs staffers to chase the critters away from guestroom patios where the hotel sets out complimentary cookies. In London,  monkeys at the London Zoo have been known to pluck sunglasses right off visitors' heads. And in St. Kitts, the little rascals have been caught on video making off with tourists' cocktails. A more powerful deterrent, in the latter case, may be that monkeys can suffer from hangovers just like humans do.

Photo by David Kukin

Hoping for a Miracle, Miami Resort Guest Seeks Lost Ring

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On a calm beach, a big wave can knock you off your feet—and even act as a thief, as one resort guest recently learned.

Brittania Fisher and her husband were vacationing earlier this month at Miami’s Turnberry Isle Miami, and on their last day there, Brittania was wading in shallow water and picking up shells on the private beach. Suddenly, a big wave surprised her, and knocked her over. "I clenched my left hand because the water was cold, and I knew it would make my fingers shrink," the Dallas native told us. "But my rings were already gone."

She immediately enlisted other people on the beach to help her look, and hotel staffers are still looking—but so far, with no results.

Turnberry's staffers, it should be noted, have recovered lost rings in the past. In 2002, Heather Mills, former wife of Paul McCartney, "lost" one hers when she was staying with the music legend at the resort. "Apparently they had a big row in our Grand Presidential Suite, and in their fight she threw her engagement ring off the balcony," Rachel Pinzur, the resort's public relations director, told NBC Miami. A determined hotel employee found it in the bushes with the help of a flashlight.

The shoreline may pose greater challenges, but Fisher says that she is hopeful that her two rings—both platinum, and soldered together—are heavy enough to have sunk into the sand, rather than be sucked out to sea. (See picture: above.) She recently posted on the resort's Facebook page asking guests to keep looking, and is offering a $2,000 reward for their return.

“There's a dollar amount on the rings, of course, but I can't replace them," Fisher told us. “The engagement ring was what my husband had when he got down on one knee, and he slipped the band on my hand on our wedding day. They're priceless." She's willing to be patient, too. "You always hear stories about people being reunited with items after a long time, so I'll believe in miracles."

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