Tag Archives: beach

Buenos Aires Beach Getaways

Friends and family in the Northern Hemisphere, I see you with your long coats and Facebook statuses about snow and hot chocolate. I am currently sitting in the air conditioning, while outside it is 93 degrees Fahrenheit on the first day of summer in Buenos Aires.

You might be planning ski trips right about now, but everyone down here is all about the beach. Christmas time marks the start of beach escape season, and it seems as though everyone and his/her mom (really, though) is discussing the various towns along the water they’re migrating to and for however long. The way people talk about it, you would think the entire city is fleeing to any nearby strip of sand for the month of January.

Punta del Diablo, Uruguay by Karina for TKGO

I was a little ahead of the seasonal curve and spent last week in the Uruguayan beach hamlet and fishing village of Punta del Diablo. It was picturesque in a way unlike any other beach I have visited, with its tiny, colorful houses, rolling dunes and blue, blue skies. I returned sunned and relaxed, and also set on returning to a beach again this summer.

Below is a list of some of the most popular summer beach destinations for porteños (those from Buenos Aires). Mar del Plata (aka MDQ) and Pinamar are both within Argentina, and locals pile into buses to get there. For the beaches in Uruguay, most people take a ferry then bus.

To give you an idea about the various beaches and how they differ, I included some quotes and insight, both good and bad, heard from friends and acquaintances over the past couple of weeks. Of course, it is all hearsay and everyone’s opinion differs, so if you are planning a trip of your own, I recommend doing your own research, too.

Seeing as I just had a relaxing beach week, I am thinking my next sandy destination is one of the beach party havens. I have to get the full spectrum of the beaches people here love, after all.

Punta del Diablo beach, by Karina for TKGO

Punta del Diablo, La Paloma, La Pedrera

Prettiest and most tranquil

The “real” Uruguayan beaches

Too tiny

Punta del Este

Should really just be considered part of Argentina, so many people from Buenos Aires flock there

Expensive, and people with lots of money

Overrated

Beautiful, stylish people and parties

Mar del Plata

Best beach for people 25-35 (ish)

Most “joda” (partying) out of all the beach towns

Crowded beaches, not the prettiest

Pinamar

Like Mar del Plata, but slightly older

Like Mar del Plata, but slightly nicer and more expensive

Other beaches to consider: Carilo, Miramar, Mar de los Campos and Villa Gesell, all in Argentina. Many are in wooded areas, too.

Generally, people agree Uruguay has the prettiest beaches between the two countries, but that is not to say people do not stand by their own country’s sand and waves.

Karina for TKGO

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Shot of the Week

I am lucky to have family in paradise, a.k.a. Puerto Rico. Last summer I spent about two weeks with my aunt and cousin there, and the day I arrived my aunt and I went to the beach in San Juan. We arrived around 4 p.m. and I was exhausted, but as the sun began to set everything was bathed in yellows and pinks. I looked up through these palm trees and felt so serene. I still feel that calm, exhausted happiness when I look at this photo.

Karina for TKGO

Bringing the Goods Back Home

When you have to dig through your closet to find buried souvenirs, what’s the point? We are firm believers that the best souvenirs are the ones you see every day. They become a part of your day-to-day life, sparking memories and conversation. Here, we list a few of our favorites.

A hideous coin purse, Buenos Aires

 

Argentine coin purse in a popular fabric, by Tara for TKGO

 

The Argentinean bus system is notorious for its impractical requirement that coins — not bills or any special reload-able transit card — be used as bus fare. As a result, dense areas like Buenos Aires have a serious shortage of monedas. In order to better hoard bus fare, porteños, or residents of Buenos Aires, often carry coin purses. Although today my coin purse is considerably more full of unwanted American change, it’s an everyday reminder of my former lifestyle. –Tara

Canvas painting, Cuba

 

Canvas painting from Havana, photo by Karina for TKGO

 

Cuba has a vibrant art scene, and the main feria in Havana is the selling ground for many aspiring artists in the country. When I visited Cuba last March, I was overwhelmed by the multitude of artwork, but as soon as I passed this canvas painting, I was immediately drawn to its colorful representation of a Havana city block. (In fact, I bought a similar one for my parents, too.) No matter where I live over the years, I’ll have this hanging. –Karina

Beach blanket, Rio de Janeiro

 

The Brazilian flag adorns this lightweight beach blanket, popular in Rio, by Tara for TKGO

 

In Brazil, it’s too hot to roast on a cotton Mickey Mouse towel. Instead, beachgoers buy an inexpensive viscose blanket (made in Indonesia) from salespeople roaming the beach. They’re hand-dyed in tons of designs and colors. Of course, I chose the Brazilian flag, but was comforted by my touristy decision when I noticed the design is popular among Brazilians, too. I still have it and prefer this cooler option to a towel at the beach. –Tara

Earrings, Costa Rica

 

Earrings from Costa Rica, photo by Karina for TKGO

 

Jewelry is one of my go-to souvenir categories; I love how it allows you to wear and represent your travels subtly. (What I mean is, it’s not as tacky as a t-shirt!) I like to pick hand-crafted goods from a market that locals frequent. One pair of earrings I picked up in Costa Rica is in my regular rotation of favorites. They’re simple, yet have character, and I get compliments on them regularly. When people ask where I purchased them, I love saying they’re from Costa Rica and made of dyed cow bone. That’s not the department store or Forever 21 answer anyone’s expecting to hear. –Karina

Have you found any good souvenirs? Share with us in the comments section!

Tara and Karina for TKGO

The Beautiful Jersey Shore

New Jersey, that great state I call home, suffers a less than stellar reputation. When I’m out of state, whether at Northwestern or traveling, I find I spend a lot of time defending its largely unwarranted notoriety. (“Where else can you live that you’re one hour from New York City, one hour from Philadelphia and 40 minutes from the beach?!” I always say.)

The stereotypes were already bad enough, I thought, when this little show called “Jersey Shore” debuted. Forget that only two members of the cast hail from the Garden State — it still cemented and created new stereotypes about my beloved NJ. But the truth is, one of our main reputation saboteurs is also one our top attractors.

People from up and down the East Coast flock to the Jersey shore coastline every summer from states as far south as Virginia. “Jersey Shore” features Seaside, one of the grittier beach towns we boast, but there is a reason people choose to make the Jersey shore their lovely summer home year after year. The following beaches, which are some of top in NJ, are all reasons why.

Atlantic City

Atlantic City, courtesy of NJCasinoDealer.com

Before I start, a caveat: Don’t go here solely for the beach, because it’s definitely not our nicest. Still, Atlantic City is like Las Vegas on the ocean. Get your night started early with a walk on the boardwalk, or detox post-gambling on the beach. There’s even a cultural draw here, which Elizabeth Gilbert of Eat, Pray, Love fame mentioned in a recent Budget Travel article.

Cape May

Cape May, courtesy of BestofTimesTravel.com

Cape May, which is in the south of the state, is undoubtedly the most charming of New Jersey’s shore havens. The architecture is Victorian, and the beaches picturesque. Cape May also claims Avalon, a hamlet with a slew of private beaches and some of the most expensive real estate on the East Coast.

Belmar

Belmar, courtesy of Wikimedia user Girdi

Belmar is a favorite day-trip spot and the beach I have frequented most, so I feel obligated to include it. Belmar is one of the more accessible NJ beaches for a day trip, and you might lay your towel next to a sweet family or a gaggle of gossiping tweens. Hang around 16th street and you’ll see a watered-down, daytime version of what MTV exploited in “Jersey Shore.” There’s no obnoxious boardwalk, though, and only a subdued nightlife so things stay pretty low-key.

Island Beach State Park

 

Island Beach State Park, courtesy of the official site

The near 10 miles of beach on this barrier island are close to nature; they’re populated with ospreys and more than 400 types of plants. The shore is sheltered and serene, and on a walk you’ll find marshes and well-preserved sand dunes.

Spring Lake

Spring Lake, courtesy of TheNewYorkCityTraveler.com

Apparently, Spring Lake morphed into a prime destination for the high society folk of neighboring New York and Philly during the Gilded Age, leaving some lasting architecture. I remember Spring Lake as one of the most serene beaches I’ve ever visited. Many of the beaches are reserved for people who own homes shoreside, but swaths are accessible to day trippers.

Karina for TKGO