Naples Florida-A Great Relaxing Vacation Destination

Naples combines the allure of Florida beaches, exceptional restaurants, and fabulous shopping in one town, making it a great destination for a tropical vacation.  It isn’t classic Florida, but, in my bias opinion, it offers the best of Florida with a more sophisticated twist.  Everything is, there’s not better way to say, relaxing and nice.  Wether it’s walking the miles of white sandy beaches and swimming is mildly calm waters, or spending the day out shopping at the many unique stores around town, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

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The main beach in old Naples.  It stretches across the whole town and includes an iconic pier.  The beach is public but is never super busy.  

Once you soak up enough of the sun, there are plenty of great places to walk around and shop.  5th Ave is the most popular street and offers a lot of fun restaurants and quant shops to walk into.  3rd Street is another hot spot, along with Waterside shops which is chock full and higher end flagships and department stores.

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3rd Street is a popular destination who’s shops include Lilly Pulitzer, the Island Company and 3 huge Tommy Bahama stores.  

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Waterside Shops which features many well know stores, along with lesser known boutiques.  Window shopping is just as fun here and the fountains surrounding the squares are beautiful.   

The restaurants in Naples are truly exceptional and there is a wide range of options.  My all time favorites include the modern Persian restaurant called Bha! Bha! and the quant provencal restaurant called Blue Provence.  However, there are plenty of options to soot anybodies taste.  It’s also great to be able to sit outside on the patio or street side.

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One of my favorite dishes ever, Persian Haleem, from Bha! Bha!.  It’s a roasted eggplant dip that’s eaten with pita bread.   

 

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Apricot orange peel Persian Ice Cream from Bha! Bha!.  Persian ice cream is unlike any ice cream you’ve ever had.  It’s a must try!

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The decor at Bha! Bha! is modern, pleasing, yet cultural at the same time.  And yes, there is outside sitting right on 5th Ave.   

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Bleu Provence offers traditionally prepared French cuisine in a classic setting.  Here, I have the country paté which is prepared with an apricot purée.    

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The classic chocolate profiteroles that embody the best of french pastry baking.  All the deserts are great, but the profiteroles are absolutely fabulous.  

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The patio at Bleu Provence is extremely welcoming and comfortable.  It aspires to be a traditional french garden with a homey feel.  

You really can’t go wrong with anything in Naples as it truly is a great vacation town.  I highly recommend checking it out if your planning on going to Florida, or if you are still looking for somewhere to go for spring break.

3rd street shops: http://thirdstreetsouth.com

5th Ave: http://www.fifthavenuesouth.com

Waterside shops: http://www.watersideshops.com

Bha! Bha!: http://bhabhabistro.com

Bleu Provence: http://www.bleuprovencenaples.com/dinner

 

 

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You better Belize it

Over the course of the last week, I haFullSizeRender-25d the opportunity to travel to the beautiful country of Belize for a mission trip with my church.  Although the trip centered around mission and volunteer work at a local school, we still managed to explore the vast culture of the country while contributing to a great cause.  I hope the experiences that i witnessed stay with me forever and I would like to share them and encourage others to look into traveling to Belize or to participate on mission work.

After arriving at the airport at 3:15 am, my group finally disembarked the plane at what seemed like a late hour (12:00 pm) to suffocating heat that instantaneously brought about extreme perspiration.  Now I know that that does not sound like the most pleasant welcome from a country but it resulted in a greater appreciation for air-conditioning and we knew automatically that we would be experiencing tropical climate and weather at its finest.  Once the initially shock of the heat died down, we made our way through customs and out of the airport to be greeted by a bus that would take us the lunch and the port.  The first meal in Belize that we ate truly embodied the traditional Belizean cuisine with their staples substances of rice and beans.  I will write more about the food in another post.  After lunch, we boarded a boat and traveled to the island of Ambergris Caye and the town of San Pedro.

San Pedro is a lively but quant town, bustling with locals and tourists alike.  The island is very narrow with

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A bustling street of San Pedro

only 4 streets including the beach.  Walking up and down the beach, you find it lined with restaurants and hotels along with more extensive resorts and small little shops.  There are docks extending the town every 100ft or so that offer different water sports and snack stands.  The sea itself is crystal clear.  With the water being only a few feet deep,  swimming and relaxing is easy.  Everyday, after a long morning of work (starting at 5 am), we would all go and relax and swim in the waterfront right outside of our hotel.  Strangely, or maybe not,  the water is warm for the ocean but we weren’t going to complain.  Any water felt good after being drench in sweat all morning long.  As for the shops throughout town, there are many great places for souvenirs and artisan crafts.  One of my favorites is called “12” and it sells all handmade gifts from Belize such as jewelry, spices and clothing.  Another place that is fascinating was the artisan market where there are booths lining a square with all sorts of crafts and souvenirs.  In addition to shopping, we also ate our way through the town by means of fruit and candy stands, ice-cream shops and smoothie shops and my particular favorite, the Belizean Chocolate Company, a local chocolate shop with all sorts of delicious delicacies.  I’ll tell you now that the Belizean people have master the art of sweets but more on that later with my food post.

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Holy Cross Anglican, the school that my church helped out at.

After 5 long days of work and play, in addition to a day filled with snorkeling, our group headed to another island called Caye Caulker.  This particular island is smaller than Ambergris but still filled with culture and charm.
I highly recommend the boutique hotel called “Seaside Cabanas” since it offers great beachside views and comfortable accommodations.  The rooms are decorated in Belizean style and the courtyard is gleaming with a beautiful pool and

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Seaside Cabanas hotel

lounge chairs, exactly what we needed after a long week of work. We spent that last weekend relaxing poolside and on a catamaran sailboat where we swam and snorkeled in the sky blue water.  Caye Caulker didn’t offer as much shopping and recreation as Caye Ambergris did and I would recommend Ambergris over Caulker if you wanted to vacation on a Belize island.

All in all, it was a wonderful experience filled with memories of joy.  Belize is a beautiful countries with a great culture.  Through the work involved with the mission, I am proud to have hopefully made an impact on the kids of San Pedro and Holy Cross Anglican, the school that we worked at.  I hope that the memories and experiences stay with me so I can cherish them forever and fuel my love of travel.

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Sunset over the ocean