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Secret Beach Spot: Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe

Monday, September 23, 2013

Guest post by Leesa King.

Emerald Bay cove is a beautiful beach spot along a scenic road in South Lake Tahoe; just a twenty-minute drive from the casinos at Stateline or Tahoe City proper in the northwest. This local gem is a pure haven for tree-loving adventurists of any age. This summer we packed up two of the ten cars in our driveway at The Tahoe Meadows and headed straight for our favorite turquoise beach and its incredible views. We even brought along the newest addition! My 1-year old niece, and my wild pregnant sister played in the sand ‘til the sun went down and we all watched as the sky melted from fluorescent pinks and oranges to a velvety royal blue. As Emerald Bay sparkled under the moonlight and twinkling stars, we made our way back to the house for a BBQ and s’mores. As if any day could be more perfect!

Hikers and beach-goers alike enjoy this serene area of the lake for it’s easy navigation, sprawling trails, and soft sandy beach. Whether making the trek to stay only a few hours or camping for days, you should definitely consider hitting the viewpoint at the top of the cliff, which overlooks the beach from thousands of feet above. There’s also a private boat tour that leaves from Harrah’s Casino to the Bay for those seeking a first-class experience! Lucky for me (and about 30 family members) we’ve got a good relationship with the casinos via our gambling uncles. Every summer they treat us to a day of sight-seeing on the lake, complete with a catered lunch and open bar, yahoo! Though Emerald Bay can be busy during high tourist season, there’s never an issue finding a spot to sprawl out.

Visiting South Lake Tahoe is a yearly tradition in my family, started by my Grandmother about 40 years ago. Every August my mother and her three brothers would pack into their station wagon for the strenuous 8-hour drive. Today about thirty-five of my family members make the same trek for a reunion vacation, and it wouldn’t be complete without a day at Emerald Beach.

Leesa King is an avid traveler, photographer, and writer based in San Diego, CA.

She is studying kinesiology and nutrition while she hikes, runs, and marathons this great nation!

Campground Review: Longs Peak

Monday, September 16, 2013

What a great review and story by Mik Everett, author of Memoirs of a Homeless Bookstore Owner. We hope you enjoy this post as much as we did!

Longs Peak was the first campground my family stayed at last summer. Our summer started as a vacation and would eventuall ...

Secret Beach: Marmara Crete

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

We just heard about a really cool secret beach in Greece after some friends filled us in on their recent honeymoon discovery. We contacted one of the guides who works there, and she wrote us a little story about how she feels when she gets to travel from her home base in Colorado, out to the beautiful beaches of Crete.

By Dana Paskiewicz

It’s mid-June, Crete, Greece, and the sun is blazing overhead. A slight breeze blows across the deck of my kayak, and I gaze out into the vast blue waters of the Libyan sea. It’s almost noon, and it’s time to take a rest from paddling, refresh with a dip into the water, and seek shade under the palm roof of a taverna.

Past rugged cliffs, rock formations, and pebbly beaches, my team of kayakers and I turn the corner to our destination: Marmara beach. We excitedly pull into it’s calm bay, one at a time, and line up our boats on the shore. Miles from cities, neighboring towns, and even miles from a paved road, the tiny beach is a remote gem located on the south coast of Crete. The only other beach-goers here are a handful of hikers, seeking solitude and quiet relaxation in this tiny cove.

I know this place so well. It’s the kind of place that doesn’t change. Isolated from the rest of the island, it feels almost frozen in time. I hadn’t been back since October, the last time I guided a kayaking program there, and immediately I’m met with a warm ‘Yassou!’ (‘Hello!’ in Greek). The taverna owner, Edmundo, waves from the above taverna, gesturing for me to come visit.

The hungry paddlers follow me up a rocky staircase cut into the side of the cliff, and we have a seat in the shade to enjoy refreshing, homemade Cretan mezzes, followed by a delicious lunch. Lemonadas, Mythos beer, and freshly squeezed juices pour out from behind the bar and line the table, while the group goes back and forth about what to order. Avocado salad? Octopus? Ancient salad? Sfakian pie? They quickly make their choices, and we gaze out onto the beach below.

Marmara is named for it’s smooth marble cliffs, which not only provide a gorgeous backdrop, but also offer opportunities for cliff jumping and diving. Cavities and caves lie below, with waters so calm they allow swimmers explore their aquamarine chambers. Behind the beach, and towering above us, the Aradena Gorge is cloaked in the shadows, a deep cut into the Earth, and a wonderful afternoon hike for those wanting to stretch their legs and explore the land.

We devour our lunches entirely - basket upon basket of fresh bread is brought to the table, and just as soon, vanishes. Each dish we order comes loaded with fresh produce, local of course, and made to order. The isle of Crete is famed for it’s thriving agricultural market, with bounding orchards and groves of olives, citrus, and vegetables. After we finish the mezzes, lunches, and desserts, we head back down to the beach, where adventures await us.

Some of the paddlers spread out on the beach to take in the afternoon rays, while others swim and snorkel the crystal bay. I take the willing and adventurous group up to the top of the cliffs, where one at a time, we celebrate with cannonballs, dives, and jumps into the sea. We swim from our landing spot into sets of sea caves, enjoying the cool water and listening to the gentle lap of the sea splashing against the rock.

As I look around, I realize the group has found their own paradise. Far from the bustle of the city, the stress of everyday life, beyond cell phone reception and wifi and technology, we’ve settled deep into relaxation. Only a place like Marmara, I think to myself.

Dana Paskiewicz is a kayaking guide for The Northwest Passage and has led several Crete programs on the south coast. When she’s not working as a guide, she can be found backpacking, kayaking, and rock climbing in her home state of Colorado.

For more information on Crete Kayaking Adventures, visit or call +1.800.RECREATE or +1.847.256.4406. Dana can be reached at

Featured Secret Beach Spot: Dewees Island

Friday, July 12, 2013

We recently got wind of the best kept secret in South Carolina... Dewees Island. It’s actually close to Charleston, so it’s a must see stop if you’re traveling or vacationing on the beaches there.

Accessible only by boat and private ferry, Dewees has 3 miles of pristine shoreline at the tail end of 60 miles of undeveloped seashore (the largest stretch on the eastern seaboard). “Our home setbacks are triple those of other inhabited islands, resulting in a really remote feel and unspoiled seashore,” explains Judy Drew Fairchild, a South Carolina Master Naturalist who also lives on the island full time.

According to Judy, the most crowded the beach gets is about 4-5 other families, with the exception of Independence Day when you might have up to 25. But what’s perhaps even more intriguing than that, is the importance of sustainability the community promotes. “I live in a solar house with solar hot water, we only keep the seafood we catch that can be eaten in a single meal, we compost our household waste, our roads are all crushed shell (no paving) and we only garden with native plants,” says Judy.

Every day during nesting season, volunteers walk the beach to check for turtle nests, and after one hatches the locals gather at sunset to inventory the nest for any remaining turtles and determine hatch success. Judy is an avid bird counter herself, and says, “I love getting people to connect with the nature around them.” In fact volunteers often monitor bird life, alligators, and other wildlife around the Dewees Islands.

For more information on visiting the Dewees Islands, check out the community blog.

10 (or more) Tips for Camping in National Parks

Saturday, June 15, 2013


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