Weekend getaway, close by, Miami Beach. Just pack a bathing suit and go.

Quechua ladies of Peru

"Positano, like Capri is more of a way of life than a tourist destination.  La Marina Grande is the small main beach."

Aperitif on the beach at sunset, in Grand Cayman, is priceless

I ticked off another destination on my bucket list and, in retrospect, am finding it hard to determine which vacation I loved more: the South African Safari http://singita.com/ or a recent trip to the Galapagos Islands.

View from our Dorado Beach Hotel terrace.

After last year’s trip to Japan, my grandson wanted a family trip with lots of action. I found one in the National Geographic Adventures booklet: nine days of kayaking, hiking, white water rafting, and zip lining on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica. It was for the intrepid traveller but no experience was necessary. So I packed up my creaky bones and got ready to immerse myself in a unique adventure. We were greeted at San Jose airport and driven half an hour to a hotel set amid tropical gardens high above the city, the Xandari Resort. http://www.xandari.com/colorscapes.html We had time to walk in the garden and take a dip in one of the two swimming pools before dinner. The hotel overlooks the lights of San Jose in the evening. (Meals in most of the hotels throughout the trip were served family style for breakfast and lunch; at dinner we chose from a menu. We had enormous breakfasts everywhere, often starting with quinoa granola, yogurt, fresh fruit salad, freshly squeezed...
According to everyone we met in Lima, it never rains there, though the city is quite green with many lush gardens. At the end of August, winter in Peru, it was cloudy, misty, and cool during the day, 60-65 degrees, perfect weather for walking. Our private guide, Mariela, took us to the historical center of Lima, the Plaza de Armas, to see its colonial buildings and to the San Francisco Monastery, which boasts intriguing catacombs that date to the early 1800s. We had lunch at the Cala Restaurant, high on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, specializing in contemporary seafood dishes, and watched the surfers and hang gliders during our meal.     The national drink, the Pisco Sour, and dish, ceviche, are for those with a strong stomach: both depend on a lot of lime juice. Pisco, the liquor, is similar to Italian Grappa, an eau-de-vie made from grapes, and the drink mixes it and lime juice with sugar and egg white to make a frothy, sweet-and-sour concoction....
After a quick 2 1/2-hour flight from La Guardia and a 25-minute taxi ride, we arrived at a little piece of heaven, 1Hotels South Beach on Collins Avenue and 23rd Street. The hotel was just weeks old when we visited and so taxi drivers knew it as the former Gansevoort—that said, you’d never recognize it as such. As one enters the lobby the first thing one senses is the wonderful aroma of wood; my daughter kept looking around for the scented candles but the smell is natural, a byproduct of the building materials used in the hotel’s design. In fact, we discovered that much of the ash wood came from a forest in Colorado that had succumbed to a beetle infestation. The 1Hotels company bought the dead trees and replanted the forest. Eco-friendly, recycled materials are everywhere, yet the result is serene, elegant, fresh, and natural; no one is roughing it here.  After a quick check in, we went to our rooms, one overlooking the city with two queen beds and the...
We had a few days when my family could all take off from work and take a long weekend in the sun.  We had been to Grand Cayman during the school Winter Break, but longed for more sun and beach.  I had recently read that Dorado Beach had been taken over by the Ritz Carlton and they had done a real bang up job.  At the same time, an old friend who was a chef in NYC had left for Puerto Rico and was cooking at a fancy hotel/restaurant in Condado, so we decided to combine the two and go.  The end of March is somewhat of a crap shoot weather-wise.  We arrived with rain and most of the day was cloudy. We stayed at the Ritz Carlton in San Juan which is about five minutes from the Muñoz Marin Airport, so you land and soon enough you can be at the beach, that is if the hotel does not manage to misplace all your luggage for almost two hours. Since it was Easter vacation, the place was really full.  Because the ocean was a bit rough and it was windy,...