Category Archives: Travel news

The Best Beach Bars In America

Old Tony's Beach Bar - Redondo Beach, CA

(Travel + Leisure) — The sun twinkles on the turquoise water off palm-fringed Waikiki Beach, the air heady with the scent of coconut suntan lotion. “Aloha,” grins the waiter at Duke’s Barefoot Bar as he sets down a Tropical Itch, a rum drink with a foot-long bamboo back scratcher sticking out.

That scratcher is yours to keep, but the strongest itch you’ll feel is the desire to linger on the bar’s open-air patio above the white sand. Some 50 million people will be heading to American beaches this summer. And it’s never far to a bar.

“The beach bar is a perfect summer respite,” says Jamie LaMarco, bartender at Cape Cod’s Beachcomber, which has a roofed deck open to the beach and a 45-foot bar. “You never have to change your clothes, and you don’t have to pack lunch or a cooler.”

Such an easygoing vibe is typical-even at upscale beach bars. Guests at the Ritz-Carlton in Naples, Florida, for instance, trade business casual for swimsuits when hanging at the resort’s Sand Bar-no shirt, no shoes, no problem.

It’s your vacation, after all, and the point is to mellow out. So scratch your itch this summer at one of America’s best beach bars.

Old Tony’s Bar, Redondo Beach Pier, California

The Scene: This octagonal all-glass landmark on top of Old Tony’s Bar attracts South Bay beach bums who come for the spectacular sunsets, crashing surf, and 360-degree views of the coast. A spiral staircase leading up to the Crow’s Nest, as it’s known, is lined with shots of celebrities who’ve joined the regulars for nightly live entertainment.

Signature Drink: The Fire Chief, a grenadine Mai Tai with a kick from three different rums including a 151-proof floater, served in a take-home collectible cocktail glass imprinted with Old Tony’s logo, $7.75.

Half Moon Bay Brewing Company, south of San Francisco

The Scene: A surfer’s haven that’s conveniently adjacent to Mavericks break, famous for some of the world’s toughest big-wave surfing. Handcrafted Mavericks Amber Ale and Mavericks Budgetary Alement are piped directly to the bar from the Half Moon Bay Brewery next door. Grab a patio seat near the blazing fire pits in time to watch the sun set. Weekends are for live rock ‘n’ roll and blues while “Brews & Views,” a heated political discussion, takes place monthly.

Signature Drink: Mavericks Amber Ale, as full-bodied and robust as the legendary wave for which it was named, $6.75 for a 22 oz bottle.

Barefoot Bar, Duke’s, Waikiki Beach, Hawaii

The Scene: The dress code at this Waikiki hot spot takes its cue from the name: bare feet with bikini or surf shorts. Beach loungers drop in for the Jawaiian music, a mixture of classical Hawaiian mixed with groovin’ reggae. Named after Olympian Duke Kahanamoku, father of international surfing, the bar displays paraphernalia such as his original redwood board. Sip a Tropical Itch, Lava Flow, or draft beer served at a chilly 28 degrees while taking in drop-dead views of Diamond Head and Oahu’s leeward coast.

Signature Drink: Tropical Itch, with passion fruit juice, vodka, rum, and orange Curaçao, served with a local bamboo back scratcher (yours to take home), $7.75.

Sand Bar, Naples, Florida

The Scene: You might not expect the funky two-year-old Sand Bar to be part of the opulent Ritz-Carlton Resort. The vibe here is casual and cool. Guests saunter up from the beach to sit on a bamboo barstool beneath a tiki roof. Nurse your drink and, with any luck, a school of dolphins will swim by before long. Nature-themed info boards educate guests about other area wildlife like the loggerhead turtles that nest on the beach and the fauna in the resort’s mangroves.

Signature Drink: The Naples Sunset, a blend of rum, peach schnapps, and tropical juices, $12.95.

Marshside Mama’s, Daufuskie Island, South Carolina

The Scene: “Our bar is like Canterbury Tales; there’s a little bit of everything,” says bartender Tyler Gerow of the honky-tonk Marshside Mama’s. Owner Beth Shipman cooks up mouthwatering gumbo, shrimp, and grits, and there’s always the freshest fish because fishermen pull up to the dock to drop off the catch of the day. Even though it’s only a 45-minute ferry ride from Hilton Head, the ferry doesn’t always run, so the crowd is mostly local boaters. They rock out to live bands on weekends and follow the lead of owner Beth, who’s known to yell out, “No whining, just dance.”

Signature Drink: Marshside Mama’s Rum Fruity: four different types of rum mixed with fruit juices, $8.

Tamboo Tavern, Rincon, Puerto Rico

The Scene: Simply one of the most romantic, sultry beach bars imaginable. Owner Javier Quinones and his wife had their first date here in 1990. They now serve everyone from wedding guests in formal attire to sunburned yuppies in bathing suits. Sit on the beachfront deck with a drink and watch for whales, play footsie in the sand with your loved one, and welcome the evening with hot Latin rhythms.

Signature Drink: Mojito: Bacardi rum with simple syrup, soda water, lime, $7.

The Wayfarer, Cannon Beach, Oregon

The Scene: Restored original portholes and light fixtures and a more rustic look are the result of a recent $300,000 tune-up of this charming spot on the Northern Oregon Coast. From the glass-enclosed lounge or the outside summer deck a few feet above the beach, you can hear the crashing surf and gape at Haystack Rock, a 235-foot-tall iconic basalt monolith. The restaurant itself is a special occasion kind of place serving some of the Pacific Northwest’s freshest seafood, but the atmosphere is unfussy.

Signature Drink: The Tolovana Fizz (named after the nearby park): house-infused strawberry vodka, Triple Sec, and a splash of strawberry purée topped with champagne, $8.50.

The Rusty Nail, Cape May, New Jersey

The Scene: This iconic surfer bar on the grounds of the Beach Shack was first hot in the ’70s, when lifeguards from the nearby station came nightly for an ice-cold beer in a frozen mug. When a road separated it from the beach, the owner dumped 10,000 pounds of sand next to an outside breakfast nook and turned it into a tiki bar with its own beach of sorts. Happy-hour crowds spill outside for the sunset, fire pit, live music, and the coldest beer in Cape May.

Signature Drink: The Hammer: coconut rum and spiced rum, passion fruit, and fresh-squeezed lemons, limes, and oranges served in a keepsake hollowed-out coconut with the Rusty Nail Logo, $14.

Tom’s Burned Down Café, Madeline Island, Lake Superior, Wisconsin

The Scene: An old tavern burned down in 1992 and was totally destroyed so that only the decks remained. That didn’t bother owner Tom Nelson, who thought, “Do not rebuild it, and they will come.” Nelson pulled in a 40-foot trailer to the decks and began serving beer from the back of the truck. Since then, he’s built more decks and a bar and added a tarp roof and knickknacks. It’s a quirky place that could keep your attention for hours between the bartenders’ stories and the view of kayakers and stand-up paddleboarders on the lake. There’s even a chance of glimpsing the northern lights.

Signature Drink: Island Rum Punch: three kinds of rum with pineapple, cranberries, orange juice, and lemonade, topped with a cherry and lime, $8.

The Beachcomber, Wellfleet, Massachusetts

The Scene: For the last 50 years, hippies, rockers, and New Agers have flocked to this Cape Cod hangout, originally built in 1897 as the Cahoon Hollow U.S. Life Saving Station. It’s right on the dunes with a roofed deck open to the beach and a 45-foot bar. The Beachcomber is a family-friendly restaurant until 9 p.m., when it morphs into a club with live entertainment, anything from surf-rock to reggae to jazz.

Signature Drink: The Goombay Smash, spiced and coconut rum with pineapple and orange juice, $7.

Beach Tree Bar, Big Island, Hawaii

The Scene: Come as you are to this aloha-friendly bar, part of the Four Seasons Resort, but much more rustic. Wiggle your toes in the sand, sip a drink, and embrace the bar’s motto: don’t worry, be happy. You’ll want your camera at the ready to capture the sun as it sets behind the iconic beach tree for which the bar is named. Try one of the equally colorful cocktails or a glass from its selection of more than 60 wines.

Signature Drink: Tom’s Pink Shirt, a combination of Tanqueray Rangpur, orchid guava liqueur, strawberries, lime juice, agave nectar, and Sprite, $16.

Tom Costello is the CEO, Partner & Co-Founder of Groups International, a company that provides marketing, consultative services, and technology solutions to the group and leisure travel markets.  Connect with him on TwitterLinkedIn, and Facebook or contact him by email.

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US issuing licenses for increased Cuba travel

Washington has begun issuing travel licenses that promise to bring thousands more U.S. visitors each year on legal trips to Cuba.

A U.S. Treasury Department spokesperson says nine groups have been granted permission to operate so-called people-to-people exchanges since May.

The spokesperson said Friday that about 10 applications are coming in each week, and officials are reviewing them.

The spokesperson was not authorized to be quoted by name on the matter.

Violence in Mexico Causes Princess Cruise Lines To Cancel Calls to Puerto Vallarta & Mazatlan

Princess Cruises canceled calls to Puerto Vallarta on three cruises aboard the Sapphire Princess for security reasons.

The cruises depart Los Angeles on Nov. 19, and Dec. 10 and 31.

The line earlier this year had already canceled calls to Mazatlan, another Pacific destination on Mexican Riviera cruises.

“Our security department continues to monitor the actions taking place in specific areas of Mexico. As the safety and security of our passengers and crew is our highest priority and based on the continued violence in these areas, we’ve made the decision to cancel our calls to Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlan,” a Princess spokeswoman said.

Princess would not elaborate beyond its statement, declining to cite any incidents in Puerto Vallarta that prompted the decision to cancel calls.

The affected Sapphire Princess itineraries will substitute calls in Cabo San Lucas and Ensenada.

Travel & Leisure Report – America's Dirtiest Cities

Bourbon Street Trash

What makes a city dirty?  What criterion is used to suggest that X city is dirtier than Y city?

Of course, visitors gauge “dirty” in a variety of ways: litter, air pollution, even the taste of local tap water.

This year’s American State Litter Scorecard, published by advocacy group the American Society for Public Administration, put both Nevada and Louisiana in the bottom five—echoing the assessment of T+L readers who ranked Las Vegas and New Orleans among America’s dirtiest cities.

Here are your American Dirtiest Cities (think of Ryan Sechrist delivering this to millions of TV viewers)

  1. New Orleans (I love the smell of chlorine bleach that flows in the gutters on Bourbon Street)
  2. Filthadephia (It is pretty filthy)
  3. LA (rightfully so)
  4. Memphis (yes)
  5. NYC – ranked #1 as the most popular tourist destination (I think Chicago and New York should be switched)
  6. Baltimore
  7. Vegas Baby – ranked #2…(I can’t stand those guys who stand on the corner and flip “cards” in your face)
  8. Miami (Esto no puede ser lo que mi amigo)
  9. Hotlanta
  10. Htown (don’t agree)
  11. San Juan PR
  12. SFO – ranked #7…
  13. DFW (don’t agree)
  14. Beantown – ranked #4…(got a bad rap here)
  15. DC – ranked #3…(can’t Michelle do anything about this?)
  16. Sam Anne Tonio – ranked #14…(not true)
  17. Orlando – ranked #12…(what would Mickey say?)
  18. Cheecago – ranked #10…(Should be ranked higher)
  19. KC (who goes to KC besides me?)
  20. Anchorage (there aren’t enough people and trash to go around)

Travel & Leisure Report – Americas Dirtiest Cities

Bourbon Street Trash

What makes a city dirty?  What criterion is used to suggest that X city is dirtier than Y city?

Of course, visitors gauge “dirty” in a variety of ways: litter, air pollution, even the taste of local tap water.

This year’s American State Litter Scorecard, published by advocacy group the American Society for Public Administration, put both Nevada and Louisiana in the bottom five—echoing the assessment of T+L readers who ranked Las Vegas and New Orleans among America’s dirtiest cities.

Here are your American Dirtiest Cities (envision Ryan Seacrest delivering this to millions of TV viewers)

  1. Nawh Lins (I love the smell of chlorine bleach that flows in the gutters on Bourbon Street)
  2. Filthadelphia (It is pretty filthy)
  3. LA (rightfully so)
  4. Memphis (yes)
  5. NYC – ranked #1 as the most popular tourist destination (I think Chicago and New York should be switched)
  6. Baltimore
  7. Vegas Baby – ranked #2…(I can’t stand those guys who stand on the corner and flip “cards” in your face)
  8. Miami (Esto no puede ser lo que mi amigo)
  9. Hotlanta
  10. Htown (don’t agree)
  11. San Juan PR
  12. SFO – ranked #7…
  13. DFW (maybe Dallas but don’t include Fort Worth into this deal)
  14. Beantown – ranked #4…(got a bad rap here)
  15. DC – ranked #3…(can’t Michelle do anything about this?)
  16. Sam Anne Tonio – ranked #14…(not true)
  17. Orlando – ranked #12…(what would Mickey say?)
  18. Cheecago – ranked #10…(Should be ranked higher)
  19. KC (who goes to KC besides me?)
  20. Anchorage (there aren’t enough people and trash to go around)
Tom Costello is the CEO, Partner & Co-Founder of Groups International, a company that provides marketing, consultative services, and technology solutions to the group and leisure travel markets.  Connect with him on TwitterLinkedIn, and Facebook or contact him by email.