Great Barrier Reef Heart Reef

I recently asked my followers about what kind of content they would want to see from me. More often than not, they wanted to read about beach/ocean travel.  And since that’s right up my alley, I wanted to share the result. I’ve broken down my trips from least expensive to most expensive.


Cruising – $ to $$$

As a family, we have enjoyed many cruises.  I love that I only have to unpack once, but I get to visit different places throughout my trip. People either love cruising or hate it so it won’t be for everyone.  I think it gives you the best bang for your buck if you plan it right.

Our Favorite Cruiseline

We cruise exclusively with Royal Caribbean and I enjoy their loyalty program.  I even cruised solo with them for the first time last year.  Royal Caribbean has something for everyone, from food, entertainment to port options.  You can read some of my cruising blog posts here, here, and here.

Hawaii – $$ to $$$

My family loves going to the Hawaiian Islands.  In fact, my husband and I were married on Oahu about 100 years ago!  Regardless, our two favorite islands are Maui and Kauai, for entirely different reasons. Now that Southwest Airlines has started flying to Hawaii, the costs associated with this kind of trip have come down substantially!


Maui is huge in comparison to Kauai, making planning for the day essential.  We tend to stay on the west side of the island, Kihei being our latest little gem that we really enjoyed.  Now that we are pretty familiar with Maui, we’ll rent a house through Airbnb, rather than stay in a hotel.  It’s much easier for a family our size.

One of our favorite things to do on Maui is to go to Haleakala Summit at Sunset.  The crowds like to go at sunrise, but there is hardly anyone there at sunset and the scenery is just as beautiful.  Take a look!


Kauai is a place I will return to over and over. I can feel the tension from my body release as I step off the plane. It’s much smaller than Maui, so it’s very easy to get from one side of the island to the other. We have always stayed on the south side of the island in the Poipu area, then driven to the north side when there’s something we want to see or do.

Every time we go to Kauai, we find another reason to return.  The vibe there is much more chill than the other islands.  However, it does not have much of a nightlife (if that matters to you).

Jamaica – $$ to $$$

I find myself returning to Jamaica over and over.  The people, the food, the ocean, and the views always make for a good trip.  Our favorite hotel is in Negril, called The Caves.  You can read about it here.

Hamilton Island, Australia – $$$ to $$$$

When Kid #3 headed to Australia to study abroad for a semester, I helped move her there.  While she was spending a week doing her orientation, I headed to Hamilton Island for a much-needed break.  I wanted a beautiful island, a lovely hotel and a visit to the Great Barrier Reef.  This trip checked all the boxes.

I stayed at Qualia while I was on the island.  Each room came with its own buggy (or golf cart, as we Americans would say).  This made getting around the island so easy, as there are very few cars.

The Maldives – $$$$$

I am so glad I made the trip to the Maldives.  It’s a pretty major undertaking from Texas, with a 16-hour flight to Dubai , then another four-hour flight to Male, the main island in the Maldives.  After that, it was a 45-minute boat ride to our hotel.

We stayed at Coco Bodu Hithi and got a really good deal from Gilt Travel.  Our over-the-water villa was stunning and it was so fun to just walk down the steps into the water to swim. The snorkeling was the best I have ever had and included several black-tipped reef sharks.  If it wasn’t for the distance, I’d be back every year!

Do you have any favorite places you’ve liked in your travels?

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  1. Shareen on May 18, 2019 at 5:58 am

    It’s always surprising to me how many people don’t enjoy cruising. While not my first travel trip pick – I love them! Especially on RCI.

    Gorgeous pictures btw

    • travelingemptynester on May 19, 2019 at 5:09 pm

      I am always surprised to hear when someone doesn’t like cruising. What’s not to like? And thanks for checking out my pics. Photography was my first love.

  2. Katherine on May 21, 2019 at 2:47 am

    I’m headed to Kauai this summer! Would love any recommendations for where to stay 🙂

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