Category: Travel


A Day in the Life of a JMT Thru-Hiker

The first light of morning on the JMT begins to stream over the mountains, through the tree’s canopy, and into your tent. These mornings were welcome, as seeing the sun’s morning glory while still bundled up warmly inside your tent was actually a rarity on the JMT. More often than now, however, you’re confronted with the unenviable task of rising to the dark, cold blanket that lies heavily on your campsite before the sun’s rays have the chance to lift it off.

Chilly mornings thicken the blood and slow down all bodily processes. Everything happens a little more slowly first thing in the morning. Naturally, it takes time to work out the kinks from the previous day before mustering up the courage to throw your pack on again and step out confidently to meet the day ahead.

After a warm helping of oatmeal, a much-needed shot of instant coffee, and a glance at your planned mileage for the day, you break camp and continue down the same comfortable path you were so eager to leave the night before.

Completing the JMT only requires the simple act of putting one foot in front of the other. I suppose the challenge really lies in the sheer number of times one must be willing to endure this simple act if they wish to complete the entire trail. Trust me, there are days when simply putting the next foot forward is much more challenging than you’ve possibly imagined.

Every hiker that’s been out for weeks will tell you that you’re simply bound to have “off” days, much like even the greatest athletes in human history. There are days when your feet seem detached from the body. You feel clumsy. Your feet can’t seem to pick out the right spots. You struggle to find the path of least resistance. Then, there are other days when the ground simply flows beneath your feet effortlessly, and you’re left to take in the beautiful surroundings with your head up and your eyes alert.

But let’s get back to today: After three hours of hard hiking, it’s time to take your first major break. Depending on the number of miles you’re going for on a given day, you might choose to break for an early lunch or you might choose to push into the early afternoon before making your first pit stop.

The morning is undoubtedly the best time to hike once you’ve given yourself over to Nature’s schedule. The air is crisper and lighter, and lower temperatures make pushing hard miles much easier on the body in the early part of the day.

Lunch is always a welcome reprieve on the JMT. It typically signals the onset of that, “It’s all downhill from here,” mentality for the remainder of the day. While this is almost always figuratively true, it’s quite often accurate in a more literal sense as well.

Because you’ve already put so much time into planning, you’ve probably thought about NOT lining yourself up for a stormy pass or backbreaking climb in the afternoon. While everyone has their unique style, most hikers prefer to knock out the toughest mileage before noon so that they can literally cruise “downhill” in the afternoons.

Lunch on the JMT typically consists of whatever “ready-made” foods you’ve compiled leading up to the trip. Not many use their mid-day break as an opportunity to bust out the camping stove and burn up precious fuel.

The knowledge that your lunch will be ready as soon as you fetch it from your pack, however, often motivates you to push those few extra miles before giving into a well-deserved rest. Mid-day on the JMT, on sunny days, was the best time to throw the pack off your shoulders and hurl yourself down on the grass. When it comes to moments of sheer satisfaction on the JMT, stopping for lunch was on par with finally settling on a consensus-approved campsite at the conclusion of each day.

Hiking in the afternoon was always the most physically taxing, as the heat and the accumulation of morning mileage begin to take their toll. Short rests are much more frequently interspersed throughout afternoon hiking, and that funny energy I can only describe as a mild mania is much more likely to settle upon the group after lunch. Afternoons were the playground for random outbursts of song, prolonged attempts to communicate with nearby wildlife, and any other general shenanigans that could be mustered.

The boundary line where physical exhaustion meets mental stubbornness can be a wonderful place to forget your fears and lose your mind for a few moments, and the warm rays of the afternoon sun presented the comforting atmosphere necessary for many of these moments to be fully embraced by the group, without worries or trepidations of any kind. Afternoons on the JMT: the place where your body is pushed so far that your mind begins to break. But is it a breakdown, or should it be viewed, more positively, as a breakthrough?

But I digress, and whilst you’ve allowed my intense period of reminiscing to run its’ course, you’re undoubtedly still waiting for more about the actual, physical experience of hiking through the Sierras. Well, just for fun, let’s jump to a splendid section of trail with a river on our left and towering rock piles with clever nicknames rising thousands of feet to our right. We come to a hanging suspension bridge. Yes, you heard that right: A hanging suspension bridge built over a river way out in the middle of the woods, expressly for the purpose of transporting backpackers and hikers from one side to the other.

We cross, one at a time, as the instructions clearly dictate, and it begins to drizzle as we stand around marveling at the fact that we’d walked nearly 200 miles only to find a perfect suspension bridge, crafted and constructed by the hands of many skilled men, waiting for us such a seemingly wild place Such surprises, and indeed many much better than this one, are commonplace on the JMT.

In this case, the slight drizzle that dissipated as began to prepare dinner in the twilight was a foreboding sign of things to come. After a hearty dinner of your JMT staple, dehydrated chicken and quinoa with a healthy variety of spices, the group chipped in for clean up and, before long, you’ve all settled into your respective tents to spend time writing or reading before finally closing your eyes for the night.

But a clap of lightning and the low, heavy rumbling of thunder shake you awake around 4 am. You can hear the incessant beating of raindrops on your tent, but you can only lay your head back down and hope the storm blows through before you’re supposed to hit the trail again. It doesn’t. It sticks around and graces you with its’ domineering presence for close to 24 hours. All you can do is sit inside your tent and read or write, leaving only to prepare food or quickly scuttle over to a companion’s tent to discuss the JMT hiker’s eternal dilemma when confronted with unfavorable weather: “Do we stay, or do we go?”

Such is life on the JMT. Mother Nature ultimately holds all the cards. She has the power to delay, suspend, or cancel your trip if she desires. All you can truly hope is that she shows you enough compassion to give you fighter’s chance at testing your mettle, and pushing your boundaries, on the JMT.

Securing Permits

If you’re interested in exploring the wild places that are accessible via the 210-mile-long JMT, it’s best to start planning as early as possible. Each group of hikers needs to purchase a permit for the JMT, regardless of whether you’re through hiking or just completing a select section. If you’re truly interested, you should be sure to visit the National Park Service to explore the process of obtaining a wilderness permit.

Those interested in fishing while hiking the JMT should also be sure to purchase a fishing permit before setting foot on the trail. You’ll have a few options when selecting which specific permit to choose, but you should have no issue doing this either in Yosemite Valley or Whitney Portal before getting underway.

Best Time to Go

While the best time to hike the JMT will vary depending on seasonal weather, as well as your desired starting point, most hikers prefer to tackle the trail anywhere from early July to the end of September. This doesn’t mean the trail is completely inaccessible outside of those months, but the conditions might require a bit more heavy gear if you wish to be truly prepared. Check out this convenient FAQ page for more info on the best times, and the best direction, to hike the JMT.


Planning meals for a month in the wilderness and sending resupplies to the proper locations months in advance is difficult in its’ own right, but those who wish to complete the JMT successfully must also consider a number of other logistical factors, including monitoring weather conditions to be sure you include the proper gear and arranging pick-ups and drop-offs at either end of the trail. Every individual hiker on the JMT must carry a bear proof container for food storage purposes, and the details of pick-ups and drop-offs can vary greatly depending on which terminus you start from and where you’ll be traveling from to get there.

If you’re starting on the north end of the trail in Yosemite Valley, you’ll need to know which entrance will be most convenient for you. There are four gates into Yosemite Valley: Lee Vining in the east, Groveland in the North, Mariposa in the west, and Oakhurst in the South.

When starting in Yosemite Valley, it can be beneficial to arrange an overnight cabin in Curry Village to give yourself a final evening to dial in any last minute details before departing the following morning. If you’re starting in the south, things may be a bit simpler, as there is only a single access point to the southern terminus at Whitney Portal, which is located just outside Lone Pine, CA.

Maps and Books

While you’ll most likely be able to obtain the best maps of the trail at the Ranger Station where you pick up your permit, there are a number of online trail maps that will help you plan your daily mileage in advance.

The most up-to-date versions of maps for the JMT section of the PCT are available here, while a breakdown of mileage separating popular waypoints, as well as elevation gain per day, can be found here. When it comes to useful literature, Elizabeth Wenk’s, John Muir Trail: The Essential Guide to Hiking America’s Most Famous Trail, comes highly recommended.

slab city - JMT Cotton Candy Clouds

“God Is Love”: A Story From ‘The Slabs’

If you can find the Salton Sea in your handy road atlas (or in Google Maps on a smartphone, like a “normal” person), your eyes may fall on the small town of Niland, CA, which lies just east of this vast body of salt water. Niland is the last “on-the-grid” town before the lawless, and arguably limitless, territory called Slab City.

Once home to WWII-era Marine barracks at Camp Dunlap, the only remains from military operations in the area, which were suspended permanently in 1956, are the giant slabs of concrete upon which the barracks once stood. These remaining concrete footers are responsible for the site’s present-day moniker: “The Slabs.”

The top hits in a Google Search for Slab City suggest it as a relaxing “winter getaway” for retired RV-folk, otherwise known as “Snowbirds.” The ‘city’ also sees many daily visitors, but a much smaller percentage venture to stay overnight. If you’re willing to continue past the ‘gates’ at Salvation Mountain, the city is actually spans a large area, extending, quite ambiguously, for miles in every direction.

The area covered by Slab City, however, wasn’t my main concern as we approached. Tagged widely as ‘The Last Lawless Place in America’, Slab City promised a unique experience, to put it kindly. Who and what one might encounter in this desert settlement, was anyone’s guess. And as we approached, my stomach was uneasy about the prospects.

An Interesting Introduction

We rolled into Slab City as the sun set brilliantly over the calm salt waters to the west. In the fading light, we made out dozens of RVs, of various size, age, and condition, scattered across this patch of barren desert. In search of any human willing to offer their version of an introductory speech, we followed signs to the ‘Internet Café.’

When we pulled into the ‘café’ parking lot, what we found in front of us was little more than a 10’ by 20’ square of concrete littered with couches and chairs and covered by a crude tin roof. Clearly, the major expense was the 52-inch flat screen television hanging on the wall. It was an obvious contradiction to its’ surroundings, but even way out here one must be able to tune into their favorite NFL games.

This was the occasion for several community members gathering at the café on this night, and we had barely stepped out of the RV when we found our ‘greeting party’. Two men approached us, one in his mid-40s and the other mid-20s. The former also claimed to be a newcomer to ‘The Slabs’ while the latter informed us he’d been roaming around “these parts” for nearly five years.

After exchanging stories and passing around the customary peace pipe, we found ourselves engulfed in a ‘wild goose chase’ for the elder stranger’s pet circus cat. The irony of the situation was undeniable, as the man had been boasting of his talents as an animal trainer just five minutes before discovering his own cat had been lost. He even claimed to have worked with the famous Barnum & Bailey’s circus and that his pet passenger was “the most famous trained cat in the world.” But it appeared that a failure to roll up the passenger side window in his truck had resulted in the escape of this famous feline. As we canvassed an unknown desert landscape in the dark, the thought of this being an elaborate ruse came to my mind, and once it did, I couldn’t escape that sneaking suspicion that we were being duped. These men could have been an honest cat trainer and his newfound stoner friend, but they could also have more sinister intentions in mind.

As my suspicions grew, I found it more and more difficult to give these men the benefit of the doubt, and I finally convinced my travel mates to abandon this ‘wild cat chase.’ The uneasy feelings I harbored upon entering this lawless frontier had been validated by our first encounter, and I began to wonder whether this side-trip had been a mistake. Without a word of farewell to the two strangers combing the desert for their feline companion, we quickly and quietly stole back to our RV to relocate.

Driving Around in the Dark

Per a recommendation from our greeting party, we next followed signs to a town called East Jesus, which actually lie on the western edge of the The Slabs, now that I think about it. The streets of East Jesus were dark and quiet, and it was clear that we had arrived in the ‘dog days’ that often follow an extravagant gathering. It was just three days after the celebration of the New Year.

The creative artwork in East Jesus would have been quite a sight in broad daylight, and even in the darkness it was quite impressive to see the time and energy the community had poured into their creations. These statues and sculptures were lifeless, and we found little in the way of human life as well, but as we decided to turn tail and head back towards a more central location in the city, however, we heard a man call out to us from his property just off the road. We pulled over and he came down to chat. He carried with him a thick accent. It was heavy and reminiscent of Russian, or possibly another Easter European country.

I don’t have a good ear for accents in the slightest, and we failed to ask where he hailed from. My suspicions being raised from our previous encounter, I sat silently in the rear of the RV while my two companions conversed with the accented stranger. He seemed honest and genuine, but my trust was not in generous supply in those moments, even for my travel companions. However, we were where we were, as one might say, and this gentleman appeared to be the best informational resource available at the time.

Us being three men in our early 20s, he recommended where we might find a few ladies to show us around Slab City. Of course we took his suggestion, despite my reservations about the prospect of finding three upstanding women willing to entertain three stinky vagabonds and a dog sharing a space of less than 200 square feet. (In hindsight, if there were ever a place, Slab City would seem to be it!)

What followed was another hour of navigating through the dark, dusty ‘streets’ of The Slabs trying to decide upon a spot to make camp for the night. Eventually, we drove past a small camp that boasted a cozy-looking bonfire. There appeared to be six or eight young folk close to our age sitting around the fire. One played guitar and sang while the others stared into the fire and swayed to the music. This seemed like our crowd, and I made the suggestion that we circle back and inquire as to whether we might join them.

Our RV boasted a handy megaphone and our driver slightly startled the group with an unexpected inquiry, “Y’all mind if we park here?” The answer, “Come one over,” wafted back to our ears from the fire. We had our spot for the night. Being suspicious of the folks to be found in this forgotten desert, I was last to leave the RV and greet the strangers around the fire. But once the strangers learned we came with firewood and whiskey, they welcomed us with open arms. We spent both of our nights in The Slabs with our new, although temporary, friends, exchanging food, booze, stories, and music. No hard currency passed between hands during this time.

Chance Encounters in Slab City

The next morning I stepped out for a stroll around The Slabs with our new Husky puppy, Zeke. I walked past the community cemetery and a number of individual campsites with inexplicable varieties of materials gathered in semi-organized piles. More frequently, ‘resources’ were tossed about with seemingly no semblance of order whatsoever. Once my RV-mates rose, they hopped on our bicycles and met me at Salvation Mountain.

Salvation Mountain is an altar, of sorts, that exists just inside the entrance to Slab City. It is the product of 25 years of inspired work at the hands of a man named Leonard Knight, who had moved out to the desert in the mid-80s. Upon the mountain there is written a number of Bible verses and other philosophical quotations.

This is where we met four beautiful ladies from the Netherlands. They rented a colorful “peace wagon” in L.A. and were now traveling the southwestern U.S. They caught word of Slab City on television and set their minds on experiencing this “haven for alternative living” for themselves. Our newfound Husky companion helped us make a favorable introduction and we exchanged numbers in hopes of meeting later that evening.

After returning to camp, we decided on a trip to the community hot springs, where we met a couple that had hitchhiked to The Slabs all the way from Oregon. Eventually they were invited back to our camp for the evening, which proved quite fortunate, as they recovered one of my mates’ phones that had been left at the springs. No doubt he had been a bit distracted by the beautiful group of women from the Netherlands that had also found their way to the springs.

For my part, I fell in love many times over that night, certainly aided by the booze and other substances on hand, but previously laid plans compelled us to say our goodbyes and continue down the road the next morning. I think a part in each of us seriously pondered the possibility of shirking these plans and responsibilities and remaining in The Slabs for an undetermined period of time.

I’ll be honest about pushing for our departure, however. My judgmental ego had seen enough of the place, for the time being. The original group that inhabited our camp when we first arrived traveled in a beat-up old minivan and most spent their nights lying under the stars. They told stories of dumpster diving when food was scarce and a few seemed in desperate need of significant dental care.

But despite the seeming “misfortune” that had fallen upon this lot, none asked for pity, or for handouts, or even for a lift to the closest city. In fact, they were happier than many others who would, at least by the greater portion of society, be deemed to be living a “more civilized” life.

In spite of my skeptic nature, I sit here now, weeks removed from The Slabs, strongly questioning whether these uneducated and disgustingly egotistical judgments were warranted. Were any of our possessions stolen? Did our bikes mysteriously vanish when we neglected to lock them up for two nights in a row? Did anyone attempt to take advantage of us in any way? I find, now, that the answer to these questions is a resounding “No.”

It’s important, I think, to note that those we perceive as “more civilized” or whom appear to be “more civilized,” at least on the surface, may not actually be so when the curtains are pulled back and truth is exposed. And on the flip side, those that appear to be “uncivilized” may actually have more truth and meaning to them than we would like, or care, to believe.

The Return to Salvation Mountain

As we drove out of Slab City, Salvation Mountain said to us its gracious farewell. The cars of day visitors sat in the parking lot and their inhabitants roamed the ‘attraction’ taking pictures. I considered how my closest friends and family might react to the sight that now lay before my eyes. I’ll admit it’s enough to make even the uninterested agnostic pause and ponder, and it initially struck me as being quite fanatical.

But as the mountain shrank in the distance, my eyes could only make out the largest letters presented thereupon. The ‘quote of all quotes’, one might say. The more the words sunk in, the more I felt they reflected an undeniable truth, and the more incapable I became of ignoring their message.

The message read, “God Is Love,” and for me, the truth in these words has become inescapable. As we’ve continued our travels eastward, and now settled here in Austin, this truth is reaffirmed on a daily basis. Beauty is present in many forms. Love is the inherent right of every human, from the homeless man on the street corner to the Fortune 500 CEO. Keeping our eyes and ears open to beauty and embracing love and acceptance for all of humankind, requires daily practice.

“When you go out into the woods and you look at trees, you see all these different trees. And some of them are bent, and some of them are straight, and some of them are evergreens, and some of them are whatever. And you look at the tree and you allow it, you see why it is the way it is. You sort of understand that it didn’t get enough light, and so it turned that way. And you don’t get emotional about it. You just allow it. You appreciate the tree. The minute you get near humans, you lose all that. And you are constantly saying “You’re too this, or I’m too this.” That judging mind comes in. And so I practice turning people into trees, which means appreciating them just the way they are.” — Ram Dass

Recruitment of Child Soldiers in Sudan Featured Image

South Sudan – Recruitment of Child Soldiers Still an Issue

In spite of rising international pressure to halt the controversial practice, rebel forces, as well as the Sudanese government, continue to actively recruit child soldiers in the country. Sudan has been marred in conflict for years, but renewed conflict between members of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) has recently caused many South Sudanese civilians to take refuge at the United Nations compound in the city of Juba.

Human Rights Watch, the organization committed to defending the basic human rights of people worldwide, has publicly called for both the SPLA and the Sudanese government to halt the practice of recruiting children under the age of 18 for military duty. In spite of both organizations’ promises to do so, it seems that neither side is holding true to their word.

“Despite renewed promises by both government and opposition forces that they will stop using child soldiers,” says Human Rights Watch’s Africa Director, Daniel Bekele, “both sides continue to recruit and use children in combat. In Malakal, government forces are even taking children from right outside the United Nations compound.”

The Extent of Child Recruitment

The instability of the Sudanese nation greatly affects the country’s accessibility to potential visitors. In fact, many tourists should consider actively avoiding financially supporting a government that allows this type of injustice to continue within its’ borders.

A startling report released by the international organization UNICEF in April looked at both sides of the South Sudanese conflict to determine that a staggering 9,000 child soldiers have been forced into service since the fighting’s inception in December of 2013. While rebel forces did release 3,000 child soldiers back in January, the recruitment practice is ongoing.

This practice can be devastating to the early developmental period of children’s lives and that’s something that both Bekele, and the Human Rights Watch organization, understand all too well. “South Sudanese children’s lives are being devastated by conflict, with children once again going to war instead of to school. Both sides should stop recruiting children, and hold those responsible to account,” says Bekele.

Raising Awareness and Taking Action

Moving forward, it’s imperative that international organizations, such as Human Rights Watch, continue to raise awareness surrounding the recruitment of child soldiers in Sudan. As an individual, there is also steps you can take to raise awareness and, most importantly, make sure that your travel choices do not continue to support this unjust practice.

Ethical travel means considering how your movements impact the people, the economy, and the environment in the places you visit. While Sudan may be an attractive destination for some, it’s important to consider your safety and security when traveling to a country mired by conflict and human rights injustice. If you’re thinking of traveling to Sudan this year, check out these tips for safe travels in or through Sudan.

As an individual that has the ability to enjoy international travel, it’s your duty to be aware of human rights issues around the world. Our privilege to see the world as we please also gives us a greater responsibility to exercise care and compassion towards all the human beings that inhabit this planet.

If you’d like to learn more about the current situation in South Sudan, please check out Human Rights Watch’s South Sudan page. If you’d like to join a campaign to raise awareness of the need to end recruitment of child soldiers, check out Child Soldiers International to find out how you can support the movement today!

U.S. Circuses Announce Retirement of Elephants from Shows Featured Image

U.S. Circuses Announce Retirement of Elephants from Shows

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey recently announced that they plan to phase out the use of elephants in their shows by the year 2018. The announcement comes in the wake of years of pressure from animal rights groups through the filing of lawsuits concerning the circus’ treatment of animals.

End of an Era

“It is bittersweet because the elephants have been at the circus for 145 years so this is a real shift in what will be but it’s the best thing for our company, for our associates and for our consumers and most of all for the elephants,” said Kenneth Feld, President of Feld Entertainment.

Over the course of the next three years, the circuses will send their 13 traveling Asian elephants to the established Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Center for Elephant Conservation in central Florida. According to a press release issued by Feld Entertainment, “the circus will continue to feature other extraordinary animal performers, including tigers, lions, horses, dogs, and camels.”

The Feld Entertainment Company believes they’ve made an “unprecedented” commitment to focus their efforts on elephant conservation programs. “No other institution has done or is doing more to save this species from extinction,” said Feld, “and that is something of which I and my family are extremely proud.”

Continued Public Pressure

In spite of these efforts, the company continues to feel pressure from animal rights organizations that believe they should suspend the use of live animals in their shows altogether. According to Born Free USA, “Elephants, tigers, and other circus animals are wild animals…Wild animals used in circuses originate from different parts of the globe and have unique and specific needs for diet, health, vet care, social interaction, stimulation, exercise and movement, living environment, climate, etc. Yet circus animals are all trained similarly, and all live and travel together under the same conditions. It is impossible for the unique needs of every animal to be met. Worse yet, outright neglect and mistreatment of animals in the circus is rampant throughout the industry.”

Despite years of public outcry regarding the use of wild animals in circus acts, the recent decision by Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey came as a surprise to many animal welfare organizations. “It’s wonderful news for the animals that have endured so much cruelty for so many years,” says Diane Schabath, a member of the Indiana Animal Rights Alliance, but she believes it’s just the first step in a continuing battle against the animal rights abuses that occur behind the scenes at circuses around the country.

Expediting the Process

While the plan to phase out elephants by 2018 is a step in the positive direction, many animal rights groups would like to see it happen sooner. “Three years is too long for a mother elephant separated from her calf, too long for a baby elephant beaten with the sharp fireplace-poker-like weapons called bullhooks that Ringling handlers use routinely, too long for an animal who roams up to 30 miles a day in the wild to be kept in shackles,” said PETA president Ingrid E. Newkirk in a recently released statement.

If you believe that Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey have already profited enough from the use of elephants in their shows and you’d like to see them expedite the process of releasing their performance elephants in a protected sanctuary, make your voice heard and Urge Ringling Bros/ to Stop Cruel Elephant Acts TODAY!

Five Farmer’s Markets to Check Out During Your Stay on Maui

When traveling on a family vacation to Maui, one of the most expensive aspects of your trip can be the food. In general, it can be difficult to find affordable, healthy food sources while you are traveling, but with a little extra insight, you can always find a more sustainable, organic food source in your area.

If you’re traveling to Maui, you’ll find that the island presents many opportunities to find fresh, locally produced fruits, vegetables, and much more. If you’re going to be staying in a vacation rental with full kitchens and optional chef upgrade, you’re going to want to find the best places to source ingredients around the island.

Fortunately, there are many people doing great, sustainable work all over Maui. If youíre traveling to the island and are interested in finding sources of local produce, you should be sure to stop by these five convenient farmer’s market locations around the island:

Westside Market

The Honokawai Market serves Lahaina and Kaanapali on the west side of the island, and is located at 3636 Lower Honoapiíilani Road in Lahaina. You’ll find the outdoor market open to customers on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 7 am to 11 am. In addition, the location now has a new grocery store and deli that is openevery day from 7 am to 7 pm.

South Maui Market

If you’re vacating in Kihei or Wailea, you should be sure to check out the Lipoa Street Farmer’s Market, which is open every Saturday from 8 am to noon. At the Lipoa Market you’ll be able to find fresh fruits and veggies grown and harvested right here on Maui. The Lipoa Market is located at 95 Lipoa Stress in Kihei.

Central Maui Market

As soon as you make your way out of the airport in Kahului, you should make a stop at the Maui Tropical Plantation farm stand. The stand offers a variety of fresh produce, and they are open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 am to 4 pm. You’ll find the stand located at 1670 Honoapiíilani Highway in Wailuku.

North Shore Market

If your vacation to Maui includes a drive on the road to Hana, you should be sure to take a slight detour to check out the Makawao Farmerís Market. This bountiful market is open every Wednesday from 10 am to 5 pm and itís located at 3654 Baldwin Avenue in Makawao.

Upcountry Market

On your vacation to Maui, you should certainly consider making your way up the side of the mountain toward the Haleakala Crater. If you find yourself exploring upcountry, you should certainly stop by the Upcountry Farmer’s market to get your hands on a native tropical floral bouquet picked straight from the forests of Maui. The Upcountry Market is open every Saturday from 7 am to noon, and it’s located at the Kulamalu Town Center at 55 Kiopaía Street in Pukalani.

Wherever you’re vacationing in Maui, youíll find the island abundant with fresh, natural produce. To learn more about Maui’s amazing farmer’s markets, please click here. Mahalo!

Check out the published piece here:

Three Beautiful Substitutes for the All-Inclusive Resort Vacation

While low prices and package deals are still a draw for tourists all over the world, the all-inclusive resort vacation is slowly becoming a less appealing form of tourism. Indeed, it seems no matter what part of the world a resort is in, they all offer the same cookie cutter experience, and you get to experience very little of the actual culture around you.

If you’re looking for a little more privacy, a little less congestion, and a little more freedom on your next vacation, you should certainly be looking in places that are far from what the traditional all-inclusive resorts have to offer.

So the next time you’re thinking about traveling to a tropical destination with crystal clear waters and crisp ocean breezes blowing onto your patio, you should consider getting your own picturesque private vacation rental or holiday villa. This way, you can escape the bustle of a resort, have an excuse to get out into the real culture around you, and maybe bring back some of the friends you meet along the way. Here are just three such holiday homes you might consider on your next trip.

Sea Haven on Discovery Bay

This amazing luxury villa is located on Discovery Bay in Jamaica. With four bedrooms, four bathrooms, and a pool with a view of the ocean, it’s an incredibly opportunity for anyone looking to holiday with extended family, or a number of different families.


Discovery Bay is one of the more convenient locations for your Jamaica adventure, as it’s located less than one hour from the airport. The bay itself is a distinctive horseshoe shape and, close by, Columbus Park offers even the casual visitor a chance to explore some of Jamaica’s rich history. For more information on this amazing luxury rental, please click here.

Wailea Sunset Bungalow

This stunning bungalow is located on the island of Maui, in the town of Wailea. It is a perfectly intimate and charming location for a small family, or even a couples’ retreat. The bungalow is named for its prime sunset viewing location along one of Maui’s most spectacular stretches of coastline.


The bungalow has two bedrooms, one bathroom, and a beautiful back porch that offers views across the ocean to the neighboring islands of Lanai and Molokai. When you step out the back door of this relaxing island getaway, a lush field of grass and a few gently swaying palm trees invite you down to the beach and into the ocean’s warm waters. To learn more about this beautiful Maui villa, please click here.

Baan Dalah

If you’ve always wanted to travel to Thailand, this luxury rental located in Bang Rak, Koh Samui could be perfect for you. With three bedrooms and three bathrooms, you might think about bringing a friend or two or two along as well!


This amazing luxury villa is located on the oceanfront at a pristine spot along Koh Samui’s northeastern coast. The backyard boasts an exotic pool, along with easy beach access. Any seat on the deck provides amazing views of the pristine ocean and spotted islands in the distance. If you’d like to know more about this spectacular Thailand getaway, please click here.

Glamor Tourism with a Clear Conscience

Most all-inclusive resorts are owned by large, multinational corporations. This means not only that they tend to provide generic experiences, but that a significant percentage of their profits do not remain in the local economy where the resort is located. Rather, profits flood back overseas – in many cases, from the world’s poorest countries to some of its’ most affluent.

Staying in a local bed and breakfast or renting an apartment or condo from a local owner, and spending your dollars in local shops (rather than chain super stores) can help you increase your positive economic impact on the places you visit.

And going local doesn’t mean having to rough it, either. There are many locally owned luxury accommodations that will not only help you support the local economy, but experience the local culture, too!

Please check out the published article here: