The best part of Tropical adventures is that packing is light! Here are some of my go-to items for a sunny and water sport adventure.
Purchasing gear for adventure travel can add up. Especially when you go from a cold climate to tropical climates. These are the sites that I find amazing deals on when shopping. Although, there is a benefit to shopping at REI . REI allows for returns up to 1 year even if the items are worn or used. It is a nice option when you decide after 3 wears a $200 backpack is not that comfortable, or a pair of hiking boots gives you blisters. They also have a membership for $20 that offers rewards and keeps your purchase history. However, for items that you know the brand, fit etc. these places will save you a good bit of money.
Going on a cold adventure this winter? Follow the link to a cold weather list for adventure travel .
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This Southern California girl knows how to keep warm and dry in cold destinations.
Most important is staying dry. I wear the following quick drying pieces to accomplish this:
Gear is expensive. If adventure trips are something you want to continue to pursue, there are great sale items online. I always look at the ratings. REI is a bit more expensive, but has the benefit of returns for up to a year. Yes, you can return items up to a year if you join the Co-op for $20 even if they have been worn. I returned a backpack that was not comfortable after 2 hikes. They also have a REI Garage Sale at their stores where they sell these items.
If you want to buy used items there are many options to buy 2nd hand high quality items. I have had luck on Ebay and Gear Trade. Happy Shopping!
Going on a tropical adventure trip? Here is a link to apacking list for warm adventure travel.
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Alaska is a fantastic destination to visit in the Winter. Well...very late Winter.. a few days from the official start of Spring.
Snow covers the ground for dog sledding and snow shoeing, and temperatures are completely manageable. Temps hovered around the mid 40s during the day and the evenings were in the 20s. We were lucky enough to have sun a few days. We arrived a week after day light savings, so sunset was in the 7:30 p.m. range. These added hours gave us a lot of time to explore! Being in Alaska for Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) was magical.
The trip highlights included the dog mushing, all the different forms of ice and hunting for the Northern Lights.
Day 1 - Arrival in Fairbanks. A nice small modern airport with very little traffic in March. The town is small with a population of 32k. There are limited number of restaurants. As you can imagine, comfort food is popular. We ate at a Thai restaurants several times. The town has a tired feeling, but the locals were warm & accommodating. The navigation was easy and the roads felt somewhat safe. Although, the rental car company we used did not offer additional insurance in the Winter.
Day 2 - Morris Thompson Cultural Center visit for an overview of central Alaska, and a trip down the Dalton Highway to see the Pipeline & a visit to the North Pole. The pipeline was a cool stop & a little hike to stretch our legs. The North Pole is kitschy & a tourist stop..but fun anyhow! Later we were spectators at the International Sprint Dog Racing Championships and the International Ice Art Championships. Exhilarating and intriguing. Northern light hunting the second night was cloudy..so no luck.
Day 3 - Dog Mushing! We visited a farm where they raise over 50 sled dogs. It was a well-run facility and we learned about the entire process of dog mushing & sledding. The sprinters run up to 100 miles and these dogs are long distance runners. A few had competed in the Iditarod almost 1000 miles! The dogs are bread for certain conditions and are not the typical full-bred husky. Later we continued North to Chena Hot Springs where we hiked and enjoyed the natural hot springs. We hit the luck of the Irish and saw green at midnight on St. Patrick's Day! Aurora Borealis.
Day 4 - This day we explore Denali National Park by snow shoeing through trails and riding along the main park road. Only 30% of the visitors are lucky enough to see Denali's Peak at 20,310 feet. We were in the 70%, but were lucky enough to see it on the way home for a few seconds during sunset. Another night of cloud cover hindered our Northern Light hunt.
Day 5 - We slept in after a late night of Northern Lights hunting and then visited The Museum of the North. A wonderful comprehensive museum at University of Alaska at Fairbanks. The weather started to cool down and then a dusting of snow. Just the right time to return to Southern California!
How do you get to Channel Islands National Park?
Channel Islands National Park is a wonderful day trip from Los Angeles, Santa Barbara or anywhere within a 2 hour drive. Ventura and Oxnard California are the harbors located in the Central Coast of California where you can catch a ferry to this National Park established in 1980. We planned a 2 day trip to incorporate the charming town of Ojai along with Channel Islands National Park.
Here is a 1 day itinerary for visiting Ojai, CA - what to see, do and eat in this charming town
Ferry transportation to The National Park - logistics
I purchased the ferry tickets through Island Packers website. They are the contracted Ferry Service to take visitors to Channel Islands National Park. It was a bit confusing not knowing what stop we should choose, and the space was very limited even on a Monday. I recommend calling the office as it was very helpful. We purchased tickets for a 9:00 a.m. departure for Santa Cruz Island -Scorpion Ranch and 4:00 p.m. return to Ventura.
We were instructed to arrive at 8:15 a.m. We drove to the Ventura harbor from Ojai, California and it took us about 35 minutes in traffic. The parking is free and plentiful during the week. Weekends are probably crowded. Better to arrive early on a Saturday or Sunday.
The ferry ride experience
The ferry ride was great! We had calm seas. I've been on a whale watching tour out of Dana Point, California and many people got seasick in the 4 foot waves. If the water is too rough Island Packers will cancel the morning of, and you will be reimbursed. Island Packers also has a 72 hour out cancellation policy. Typically there will be a marine layer in the a.m., and then it will burn off by 1 p.m. It was much warmer on the island than we expected during August. Remember a windbreaker for the boat ride, as it is cold many months out of the year.
Marine life viewing in The National Marine Sanctuary
This was the board at Island Packers office for marine sightings documented daily. The count includes many ferry crossings. We did not see any whales in either direction, but we did see many bottlenose dolphins. They followed the boat and surfed the wake of the boat. It was very entertaining!!
Throughout the year it is possible to see Gray Whales, Humpback Whales, Blue Whales and Minke Whales, Orca Whales, Common Dolphin, Risso’s Dolphin, Bottlenose Dolphin, Pacific White Sided Dolphin and Dall’s Porpoise.
Arriving at Scorpion Ranch on Santa Cruz Island
We chose to visit the largest of the 5 protected Channel Islands - Santa Cruz Island (not to be confused with Santa Cruz the City). Santa Cruz "Scorpion Ranch" is the destination. It offers a small self-guided National Park Welcome Center and volunteer docents offer free guided short hikes explaining the history and nature on the island. They offer a Junior Ranger program for the little ones.
The volunteer stressed the importance of protecting our National Treasure. Trash or food is to be taken home with you! Follow the "LEAVE NO TRACE" motto as in any National Park. I was able to get my National Park Passport stamped at the Visitors Center.
The hike and what we learned about Santa Cruz Island
If you are a history buff, you will enjoy the guided docent tour. Our passionate docent volunteer hiked us up the Potato Harbor Trailhead which is about 300 feet in elevation and about 1 mile in distance. We continued on the Potato Harbor Trail Loop for a total of 4.9 miles and total elevation of 600 feet. This is considered an easy to moderate trail. Wear sunscreen and bring at least 2 liters of water as there is no shade.
Channel Islands fun facts to know in case you are a contestant on Jeopardy
Going back to Channel Islands National Park
Santa Cruz Island was a delight. I would enjoy going back for another day trip for a kayaking tour of the caves. The kayaking tours are offered by an outfitter company, and it is recommended to purchase tickets prior. During the visit, I would like to add in another hike on the Southwestern side of the island.
Personally I would not take the time to visit the other accessible protected islands within Channel islands National Park. I loved this National Park, but I have so many more parks to visit.
Do you love National Parks?
A link to a 4 day itinerary for magical Banff National Park in Alberta Canada
Here is a link to our 61 National Parks of the United States in alphabetical order
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Travel Tips & Fun Adventures!
Hi there....Nice to meet you! I'm Judy and I love to travel to unique spots all over the World. I love experiencing beautiful places & different cultures. I also enjoy adding elements of adventure to my travels. I hope you find some tips & ideas here for your next trip.
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