La Valencia Hotel in La Jolla

La Valencia

The gorgeous La Valencia hotel.

During my recent weekend in San Diego, I had the absolute pleasure of spending the second part on the beach in La Jolla, in an ocean villa at La Valencia. After spending the night downtown at the lovely, artsy US Grant, my friend Christy picked me up so we could head to the beach. Since I live in Las Vegas, I look forward to any glimpse of the ocean with a ridiculous amount of excitement. And nothing says “California” like the pink stucco and terracotta of La Valencia. When we pulled up to the distinct palm-tree lined arches of the historic hotel, I knew it was going to be a wonderful day!
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Tuning out in Costa Rica: Santa Teresa

Along the main drag of Santa Teresa.

During my last trip to Costa Rica, three girlfriends and I took a little getaway. It’s about time I introduce you to Santa Teresa! The hippy-dippy little beach town is stretched out along one long main road on the Nicoya Peninsula, near Mal Pais, south of Nosara and Playa Guiones, my favorite surf/beach area. We stayed in a rental home outside of town, which some might find isolating but was just the escape we were looking for. Aside from a comical Halloween crab invasion every evening at sundown, the empty jungle beaches were the idyllic slice of Costa Rican paradise I have come to love about the coasts of Costa Rica.

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How the most beautiful Halloween crabs stole my sleep

Abby Tegnelia Cheryl Grant

Relaxing with my friend Cheryl after re-adjusting to sleeping in the jungle.

On a previous trip to Costa Rica, I first laid eyes on a beautiful purple and orange type of crab (nicknamed the Halloween crab) and took the photo below of it in shallow ocean water. I thought it was the most people sea creature I had ever seen! On this trip? Well, I could still see its beauty, but when they descended on my vacation home by the dozens, my view did change a bit! It all started our first night in our Costa Rican paradise on the dense jungle beaches of Santa Teresa. My friends ever so politely recommended I stay in a certain bedroom downstairs. It wasn’t until later that they told me there was a bat in one of the upstairs bedrooms.

Did I mention that the house was open-air? In the jungle?

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Locals’ gem: Contadora Island, Panama

Our time was limited in Panama City, so we didn’t have time to make it out to Bocas del Toro or any of the other islands that Panama is famous for. But we still wanted to see some beach! We were planning on a day trip to Taboga, but after chatting up a local businessman at the bar of our hotel, the stunning Trump Ocean Club, we changed our plans to Contadora Island. There were very few tourists on the early-morning ferry, which proved to be quite an experience! Supplies are very expensive on the island, so families walked out onto the docks with carts of groceries, toilet paper and rum. We wished we had a few days to relax in paradise!

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Fun things to do in Panama City

Leora Hasas and Abby TegneliaThere are so many fun things to do in Panama City, so we knew we shouldn’t go it alone. We asked the drivers outside of Trump Panama, the gorgeous hotel we were staying in. At first, we got excited — they said they’d be happy to take us around for $30! Luckily, Leora clarified. They meant $30… an hour. We walked down the street and asked the bored yellow cab driver who was parked on the corner. He got stressed out when we said $30 for three hours, but he easily agreed to $40. Deal! We were so excited to tour the town — first stop — the Canal of course!

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Bliss in the city: Panama City Trump Ocean Club

Trump Ocean ClubMy first venture to Panama City was nothing but surprises for me, right down to the emerging food scene that was so much fun to explore. I say everything was a surprise, but really it wasn’t… As I had no idea to expect in the first place! But if I did, I would have never in a million years imagined something as luxe as the Panama City Trump Ocean Club, which opened at the end of 2011. It came highly recommended from friends in Costa Rica, so I jumped at the opportunity to stay there. I’m so glad I did! My mini-vacation before my “good life” stay in my former homeland of Costa Rica was a blast.

I mean, look at this POOL!

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