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Click for moreJan 15, 2017 - Cuba 2016-2017 - Old Havana

As 2016 came to an end, it was awesome to have an adventure in Cuba. The recent passing of Fidel Castro may lead to changes for Cuba in the years to come, and this seemed like a great time to go experience and take snapshots of how things are now.

For this visit to Cuba, a resort was found in Jibacoa, an hour drive from Havana, and so this vacation offered both beach relaxation and snorkeling as well as easy access to nearby towns and cities. Of course, one goal was to visit Old Havana and see things before too much new change has taken place.

As you view Havana from a distance, you know from the colors and skyline that this is not a typical north american style city. As you step into the streets, it feels like you stepped out of a time machine. Old cars, bicycle taxis, open market storefronts, phone booths...

Within Old Havana, visitors are treated to the sights of old buildings, many made from coral stone, architecture from prior centuries, tiny storefronts and markets, cafes, and a rich history that you can barely scratch the surface of in any single visit.

It felt safe to roam around Old Havana streets. There is poverty at every turn, and people do seek handouts, but even lost in the poorest of areas with a camera around my neck I didn't feel there was any danger. People are friendly, going about their daily business of living.

Over the course of 3 different ventures to Old Havana, many spots were visited. I had the best Mojito ever on the rooftop patio at Ernest Hemingway's preferred hotel, and also visited his favorite Daiquiri bar Floridata, among other landmarks around this historic area.

One additional place I saw was Revolution Square, where Fidel Castro was known to give lengthy speeches, some having lasted up to 8 hours.

So much to share about Cuba, I'll let the pictures tell some of the story.

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Click for moreJan 15, 2017 - Cuba 2016-2017 - Marine Life

For 2016-17's visit to Cuba, in addition to seeing Havana, it was also a priority that the chosen resort have snorkeling directly from the beach. Research on TripAdvisor helped to select Memories Jibacoa and the location turned out to be perfect.

From the beach, you can walk in up to your knees, and launch into the water and immediately be treated to amazing sights. Closer to the shore are grasses and coral stone, and the farther out you go the more diverse things get.

The photos in this post were shot with a Lumix waterproof camera. It's not as complex a camera as my others, but with a Leica lens and snorkel mode to adjust white-balance, it worked remarkably well and was easy to manage.

When snorkeling in this location, I typically spent 1.5-2 hours of swimming at a time, and you are only 500-700 meters from shore. There is a lot of coral structure to explore, and once you get out there flipping, it's very easy to just stay out there, relaxing and seeing what's around the next corner. Without fail my fingers were wrinkled every time I returned.

The farther you got out from the shore, the more coral there was to see. At one point was a coral barrier, and when you got past that the water dropped off to a depth of 30-40 feet. It was such a great experience to swim around for hours in this area, observing all the life there was to see.

If you're looking for a great beach and a place to snorkel within easy reach of all your hotel amenities, I'd highly recommend Memories Jibacoa. It checked all my boxes as far as peace & quiet, beach, swimming, snorkeling and access to nearby Havana.

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Click for moreJan 31, 2016 - Awesome Antigua

While Canada isn't having a very bad winter this year, it was still awesome to get away at the start of the year, and the location of choice was Antigua. Staying at The Verandah Resort, it was nice to go along with a local phrase 'sail fast, live slow'.

The resort itself was beautiful, and other parts of the island were gorgeous as well. On the resort itself there was a wide range of natural features including an abundance of plant life and birds.

Venturing away from the resort, a catamaran cruise was taken from St. Johns along the west coast to Cades Reef for some snorkeling. From the resort itself it was easy to walk to Devil's Bridge to see some wild crashing waves, and in the other direction was Long Bay, where there were vendors and more snorkeling.

At night in the resort was a loud sound that was a mix of crickets and tree frogs. After some hunting with a video light I caught some of the little guys with the camera, which was fun in itself. I also had some fun taking night shots of palm trees, I was pleased with the results.

All in all, this part of the Caribbean was a first for me, and I was very glad to have brought my cameras! I definitely expect to go back.

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