Turtle Bay Resort — O’ahu North Shore, Hawaii

Five miles of sandy beaches, natural authentic beauty, and completely remote, Turtle Bay Resort is the only hotel and resort located on the North Shore. Situated an hour north of the bustling cities of Honolulu with its busy Waikiki beachfront, you’ll get to experience what it feels like to escape from the world and immerse yourself in the laid back island lifestyle.

Imagine sitting on a beach chair, enjoying the sun and a fresh breeze, sipping a Kona Big Wave, overlooking the beautiful Pacific Ocean whilesurfers are trying to catch a wave. This is one of the many experiences you can have at Turtle Bay. Talk to the staff and you will quickly understand the magic of the place. Many have left their high-paying careers in big cities to come here to find the perfect work/life balance.


Turtle Bay

Aloha! Is likely the first greeting you will hear arriving on O’ahu. Hawaiian’s are proud of their native language and they love it when visitors know a little bit about it. The most challenging part for English speaking people is the pronunciation. This Hawaii language guide can help with it.
Aloha and mahalo are very important. Whether you’re passing a local on the street and say aloha, or paying for dinner and thank your waiter by saying mahalo, having those two words in your vocabulary will go a long way.

Here are a few other common Hawaiian words to help you out:

  • Pehea ‘oe — How are you?
  • Maika’i no au — I am fine
  • ‘Ono — Delicious or tasty
  • Malihini — Newcomer or visitor
  • KOkua — Help or need of assistance
  • Kala mai ai’u — Excuse me
  • Aloha au ia ‘oe — I love you

Experience Turtle Bay Resort

Under new management since 2010, millions have been invested into upgrading this unique property.Today you can expect sleek, sophisticated rooms and an overall modern, luxurious, casual surfer vibe. The resort has 452 up-scale, oceanfront accommodations. Choose from either beachfront cottages and villas or pick a guest room or suite–majority of the rooms at Turtle Bay have a stunning ocean views as well. What’s really spectacular is going to sleep to the sounds of the waves crashing on the shore–and it’s not from a sound machine that’s on repeat, you’re really listening to the soothing sounds on your front door.

Oahu Hawaii Turtle Bay aavtravel travel Not only do you get five miles of pure beachfront beauty to walk along, the resort also has endless activities that you can keep yourself busy with, such as: horseback riding, hiking and mountain biking and tennis. You can even go to surf school and learn how to catch a wave. Water sports include: snorkeling, paddle boarding, kite surfing, kayaking and fishing. There’s also a 36-hole championship golf course designed by pro golfers George Fazio and Arnold Palmer near by. You can also learn some of the traditional Hawaiian culture by trying hula and ukulele lessons and lei making.

The Nalu Kinetic Spa will give you a multi-sensory experience: hearing waves crashing on the shore, beautiful views of the swells, and the new Wave Therapy will gently rock you back and forth as if you were floating in the ocean. It’s a great way to experience the ultimate relaxation. The spa was also named one of the nation’s top 10 Organic Spa’s in 2013–and there’s good reason for it! There are various kinds of treatments that you can choose from, whether you want a private seaside massage, body wraps, reflexology, or couples massages, you’ll be guaranteed to find something you’ll love and the treatments are reasonably priced.

Oahu Hawaii aavtravel travel Have you ever dreamed of having a private beach wedding? At Turtle Bay, you’ll be guaranteed to get just that. Ranked in the top 10 of Hawaii’s best honeymoon destinations, tying the knot beachside or at the oceanfront chapel will feel like a dream come true; it’s the perfect romantic couples escape. After ‘I Do:’ Imagine yourself, just recently pronounced man and wife. You get ready for a private dinner on your lanai with your own personal butler as you watch the sunset. Afterwards, you walk hand in hand down the beach, feeling the soft sand between your toes and listening to the soothing sounds of the waves coming on shore. You come back to your cottage and it’s decorated with rose petals leading to your own personal exotic spa….where you relax and toast to your new life together as a married couple.

Oahu Hawaii Turtle Bay aavtravel travel Haleiwa
Just a short drive from Turtle Bay Resort, Haleiwa (pronounced hah-lay-EE-wah) is a small community and is also known as the surfing capital of the world. Though this town may be little, it definitely brings its A game! Don’t expect to find Waikiki here, expect a laid back surfer town instead. There’s no shortage of shopping in downtown Haleiwa, whether you’re looking for high-end shops or affordable authentic Hawaiian-made gifts to bring back home, you’ll be sure to find something! Surf shops, art galleries featuring local artists, and specialty shops are also located downtown. If you are into photography and want to take home a authentic North Shore souvenir stop by Clark Little’s gallery. His images are amazing!

Oahu Hawaii aavtravel travel Turtle Bay’s Webcam is a great place to catch a glimpse of the waves (heads up: the link first runs an ad before connecting with the webcam).

Or, if you like videos, check out this clip about a typical day at Turtle Bay Resort:

Have you ever stayed at Turtle Bay or visited the North Shore? Share your experiences with us, leave a comment, we’d love to hear from you! Dreamed of planning a vacation to O’ahu and its magical North Shore? We can help! E-mail us at info@aav-travel.com or visit our website at www.aav-travel.com        

Review — Excellence Playa Mujeres Resort, Mexico

Unlike many other resorts in Cancun and the Riviera Maya, Excellence Playa Mujeres is located North of Cancun in an area called Playa Mujeres Resort. This unique, 930 hectare piece of land is nestled between the Caribbean Ocean on the east and the Chacmochuc Lagoon  on the west. Ancient history, undisturbed tropical plants were waiting to be revealed, including a 1,200-year-old Mayan Temple which was studied, restored and opened to guests for tours.

The drive along the small coastal road will keep you guessing what to expect until you pass through the gates and finally pull up in front of Excellence Playa Mujeres’ impressive lobby. The welcome at Excellence Playa Mujeres was one of the best we’ve ever received. It was heart-felt, welcoming and despite it being our first time, made us feel like coming home.

A 35 minute drive from Cancun’s International Airport will take you to this all-inclusive resort, catering to adults 18 and over, looking for romance or wishing to escape on a relaxing getaway. Excellence opens its arms and makes you feel special.

Excellence Playa Mujeres Cancun aavtravelOne of Excellence’s key strengths is the beautiful, state-of-the art spa. One of the reasons why this resort isn’t just great for people in love but also friends looking for a rejuvenation getaway. A huge hydro-therapy awaits, several massage packages, everything you could possibly want to relax and get pampered. Miilé Excellence Resort Spa is the ultimate retreat for your mind, body and soul where relaxation is natural.

Excellence Playa Mujeres Spa

Excellence Gourmet
Excellence Playa Mujeres offers nine wonderful and unique restaurants. The themed locales are authentically decorated and create a world of their own. Whether you wish to dine in a traditional Mexican Hacienda style restaurant, eat at the hip sushi bar, or are looking for an Indian dinner, gourmet dishes await. Best of all, Excellence makes it easy, no dinner reservations required. Day or night, there are 11 bars that will quench your thirst. Did anyone say signature cocktails? Never forget to ask for one.

Adult-only all-inclusive fun
There are so many options included in your stay that you’ll never be bored. Walk the two mile white sandy beaches, or swim in one of the seven pools located on resort. Feel like just laying back and relaxing? Close your eyes and let yourself truly relax in an outdoor jacuzzis or in an in-pool whirlpools. As a guest, you’ll have access to the fitness center, jogging and bicycle trail and the use of non-motorized water sports, such as: Hobbie Cats, windsurfing boards, sea kayaks, snorkel gear and paddle boards. There’s also table tennis and billiards, darts, board games, archery and rifle shooting available. And don’t forget about access to the Main Theatre for a night of entertainment and fun!

Excellence Mexico aavtravel travel

Excellence Playa Mujeres is also located within walking distance of the marina and the Playa Mujeres Golf Club that was designed by golf pro Greg Norman. The 18 hole, par 72 course is challenging and features beautiful views that you can’t get back home. Imagine yourself teeing off on one of the lagoon and ocean-front holes.

Romancing in style
Excellence is the perfect place for a romantic escape. Whether you just want to enjoy each other, tie the knot, or celebrate your marriage, Excellence will welcome you with open arms and has a package that meets your need. Celebrate your love with a romantic night on the beach having a private sunset dinner. Or dining in-room on your rooftop terrace. Looking for a romantic way to propose? Contact us, we have some ideas (wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise!).

Excellence Playa Mujeres is a dream come true to those who stay. From the gorgeous resort, to the multiple dining areas, endless activities and five-star accommodations, your stay will feel luxurious. Enjoy the stress-free lifestyle the Caribbean has to offer.

Have you stayed at Excellence Playa Mujeres? Please share your experience in the comment section!

For more info and to contact us visit www.aav-travel.com


A Maritime Adventure — Nova Scotia

Every year, my mom and her friend, Tammy, take a trip to Nova Scotia to visit my aunt Danielle and her family. For the past five years, mom has always invited me, but every time I sadly had to turn her down because I’d be heading back to university. But this year, since I’m now graduated, I was able to go on this crazy, fun-filled five day adventure.

Welcome to NS aavtravel travel novascotiaOne of the three maritime provinces in Canada, Nova Scotia is rich in arts, culture and history. Having only been to the province once about 10 years ago, I was thrilled to get in the car and make the seven hour drive to Kentville. We stayed at the Sun Valley Motel, which was close to my aunt’s and centrally located to all the attractions we wanted to see. Over three days, we visited many small towns, local beaches and many shops (one which had the largest hammock in Canada!)  but I’m only going to highlight my three favorite attractions.

Nova Scotia Adventure aavtravel travel Peggy’s Cove

Located in the Coastal Region of St. Margaret’s Bay, Peggy’s Cove is a working fishing village and is only half an hour from the province’s capital, Halifax. Driving by the coast was absolutely beautiful–thousands of boulders were scattered amongst the greenery of the landscape, then as we crested the hill, we spotted the iconic lighthouse perched atop the rocky coast.

Nova Scotia Adventure aavtravel travel There’s so much to see in the tiny, picturesque village! Before we started exploring, we had a delicious, fresh Nova Scotian lobster roll, steak fries and coleslaw at the Sou’Wester Restaurant and gift shop located right near the lighthouse. The food was great  and the service was fast and friendly. After our bellies were filled, we ventured out onto the rocks and explored the coast. Since tourist season was winding down, it wasn’t as packed as it usually is during the regular season. It was absolutely beautiful: water crashing onto the rocks, seagulls flying above, sun beating down on me and wind making my hair fly.

Lighthouse Nova Scotia Peggys Cove aavtravel Peggys Cove Nova Scotia aavtravelThe village is full of locally owned gift shops and crafts shops that feature Canadian and Nova Scotian artists. Down by the docks we saw many buoys, lobster traps, ropes and anchors and boats–it’s a photographers playground! It’s really great to explore the village and talk to the locals–who are very friendly to say the least! Even though Peggy’s Cove isn’t that big, you can also get a map of the village shops from the Sou’Wester gift shop. You can easily spend a day at Peggy’s cove wandering around the coast, checking out the shops, visiting with the locals, and learning about the history.

Halifax Harbourfront
After making a sufficient hole in my bank account at the Halifax Shopping Centre, mom, Tammy and I walked the harbourfront for the afternoon. The boardwalk stretches 4 km (10 city blocks) along the harbor, and you can start at either the north or south end. The Historic Properties (north end) gives the history of the city that started in the late 1700s. The old buildings are interconnected so you can travel through them easily. You’ll find many restaurants, bars, boutiques, coffee shops, a barber shop and a bookstore. From there, we wandered onto the Cable Wharf. Here you can get a tour of the harbor, go whale watching, deep sea fishing, tall ship sailing, and go on dinner and midnight cruises. To get the full Halifax experience, get on the land/sea vehicle, the Harbor Hopper–you’ll be sure to get a unique tour. The boardwalk also has the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic which has exhibits about life at sea in the Maritimes. A stop I’d highly recommend (but didn’t get to do) is the Alexander Keith’s Brewery. It’s the beer of Nova Scotia, so why not stop in and get a tour and taste the variety of pale ales? To mark the end of the boardwalk on the south end is the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21. After exploring various gift shops along the way, we stopped at Black Bear Ice Cream–it was delicious! Best combinations of peanut butter and chocolate chip ice cream I’ve ever had!

Halifax Nova Scotia aavtravel travel Halifax Nova Scotia aavtravel travel It was later in the afternoon when we hiked up Citadel Hill to the National Historic Site. We walked around the hill and had a panoramic view of the entire city. We wanted to go on a tour but it was too late, the Citadel closed in half an hour, but they let us go in for free to explore on our own. Even though it was a quick visit, it was awesome to see the star-shaped military fort that was built in 1856 by the British to watch over the harbour.

Citadel Halifax aavtravel travel Citadel Halifax aavtravel travelLunenburg
Probably my favorite stop, the painted little town of Lunenburg is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a National Historic District. Even after 250 years the original street plans are still followed and new construction doesn’t replace the history of the town, bur rather adds to it. The town people take pride in their commitment in the conservancy of Lunenburg’s heritage.

Ironworks is a micro-distillery that makes various flavors of spirits. The building was built in 1893 and was originally a blacksmith’s shop that made ironworks for the shipbuilding trade. We stopped in before they were getting ready to close ( I know, bad timing again!), but it was awesome. The floors were old barn wood and uneven to walk on, spirits were on display, and you can even have a free taste–mom and I had the blueberry liqueur, which was different, but I’d definitely have it again. I highly recommend going in and taking a tour! Lunenburg Nova Scotia aavtravel travel Walking down the main street and seeing all the buildings painted a different colour was so beautiful and unique! I could’ve easily spent the day there to take photos of every single building because they were all very different.

Lunenburg Nova Scotia aavtravel travel Lunenburg is the home of the Bluenose–which is a famous Canadian icon that you can find on the Canadian dime. The Bluenose is a celebrated fishing and racing schooner that was built in 1921 and went undefeated for 17 years in the International Fishing Challenging Cup. After being wrecked beyond repair in 1946, a replica–Bluenose II–was made in 1963 to commemorate the schooner. Though under current repairs and no tours are going on, you can see the Bluenose II docked in Lunenburg.

Bluenose Lunenburg Nova Scotia aattravel travel There are many different shops and boutiques on the main street to visit, and various galleries that feature local artists. Hand-carved wood, home-made jewellery, ship models, pottery and paintings of maritime heritage are a few things you can expect to see. When we were walking around the waterfront we saw people getting horse-drawn carriage rides to get the history of Lunenburg. It looked like so much fun! At the Wharf you could also go tall ship sailing and visit the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic and explore their fishing vessels and aquarium.

Lunenburg Nova Scotia aavtravel travelNova Scotia is a beautiful province. There are endless things to do and places to see. If you want a different kind of vacation from the traditional tropical paradise, this maritime province will make sure you get an experience of a lifetime. Instead of the typical white sandy beaches, I walked on a red sand/mud beach at Evangeline Beach in Wolfville. I sat in a gigantic Adirondack chair that was in the front lawn of our motel. I fed a box of soda crackers to ducks in Mahone Bay while watching the sunset over the bay. It was a different kind of vacation, but I loved every minute of it.

Mahone Bay Nova Scotia aatravel travel

Passport Checklist for Smooth Travels

Are you ready to hit the beach for a week down south? Explore the bustling city life in Europe? Or how about walking the Great Wall of China? As a traveller, whether frequent or new, it is your responsibility to make sure that you have completed the “before you go” passport checklist–that way you won’t have any troubles at the border or with airlines and it’ll be free sailing from there.

TravelDocuments aavtravel travel

Make sure you have ALL required documents for your destination.
We strongly believe that the global traveler of today MUST have a valid passport! You might hear otherwise, and yes, there are a few exceptions, but play it safe, get a passport. They usually are valid for 10 years. For US passport information and application forms visit the Bureau of Consular Affairs’ website.

You already have a passport, that is great!

  • Many countries require your passport to be valid for at least six months beyond your arrival date. You can always check with the Embassy of your destination if you’d like to get more information.
  • Make sure your passport isn’t damaged! If your passport is damaged in any way, you can face delays or get denied entry at border crossings or flights. “I’m sorry, your passport is damaged, I can’t let you on this flight.” That’s not something you want to hear before heading on your vacation. Your passport is considered damaged if it:
    • has been exposed to water and humidity
    • has a tear in one or more pages
    • has unauthorized markings
    • has altered information or the photo is unrecognizable
    • has pages that have been removed/torn out
    • has been chewed by a pet
    • has come apart (the cover)

If you’re concerned about the condition of your passport and want to make sure it’s not considered damaged, you can contact the airline you’re traveling with before you leave, or contact the National Passport Information Center. 

Having the improper documents for a trip can become a real issue. A common example is a cruise. They may start and end in the USA, but sometimes they will dock in a foreign country, like Canada.  Even though you don’t plan to leave the ship, if you don’t have the proper documentation for the country, you’ll be denied entry on the cruise.

cruise passenger travel

Check the visa laws for your destination
Visa and immigration laws change all the time. Let’s say you planned and booked a trip six months to a year ahead of time. Laws may have changed since you’ve booked your trip, so it’s a good idea to check again before you leave to make sure you have the proper documentation. Let’s say you are a US citizen but your friend is from Germany. There will be different requirements as some countries have treaties with each other whilst others don’t. Visa Central is a great place to check and can also help you with visa procurement if needed.

Traveling with children
First off, if you need to apply for a passport for your child, both parents need to apply for the child’s passport. For more info click here. If you are a single parent, grand parent, friend and traveling with a minor that is not accompanied by both parents you will need a notarized Letter of Content, giving you permission to take the child with you when leaving the country.

children, beach, travelingTravel Tip: To be extra safe, scan and make a copy of your passport ID page, foreign visa (if applicable), itinerary, hotel confirmation, airline ticket, driver’s license, credit cards being used on the trip and Traveler’s Cheque serial numbers. Keep the pictures on your phone or store them online in a safe place, for example in your Dropbox.

We love Sonia’s Travel Tips and this video fits our topic perfectly!

Having a smooth trip is what everyone wants. Follow these steps and you will be enjoying your Mojito on the beach in no time!
Stephanie Jellett

This post was written by STEPHANIE JELLETT
Stephanie Jellett is interning as a travel writer and social media manager at AAV Travel. You can contact her at stephanie.jellett@maine.edu


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