A New Year in Nicaragua

Hi friends! I hope 2018 is treating you all well. I know it has been for me and I started the year off by taking one of the most amazing vacations to Nicaragua. For those of you that don’t know, my family is from Nicaragua. Although I was born in California, I grew up in a Nicaraguan household so naturally their values and culture were passed down to me. Yet it took me 22 to years to decided to visit Nicaragua for myself, which I now regret. This was my second time visiting Nicaragua and I fell in love with it more than the first time. This place should be on everyone’s bucket list and if you need a tropical getaway, this is a wonder you shouldn’t miss out on.  Nicaragua is the largest country in Central America and is Costa Rica’s neighbor so they are very similar. Nicaragua is extremely affordable and has so much to offer. I am still a stranger to this country but I have never felt so at home in a place that is still new to me.

Travel Tip: Research the language of a country before going. Even if you can’t speak it, write down common phrases to help you out on your trip. Being fluent in Spanish allowed me to have a more in-depth experience but knowing Spanish is not necessary to enjoy this tropical heaven. Just like most Millennial American travelers, I am looking for modern amenities, wifi, bomb food and perfect places for pictures.


Esteli was my first destination on my itinerary for this trip. Esteli is Nicaragua’s 3rd largest city, which is known for its cooler weather, natural reserves and tobacco production. I have family that still lives in Esteli that I met recently so this place has a special spot in my heart.  Although it is not a big tourist hotspot, I still recommend stopping by Esteli if you’re ever traveling in Nicaragua and want to indulge in Nicaraguan culture in a lively city that still provides relaxation and greenery.

Lodging: Since I have family here, I skipped the hotels and Airbnb to save some money. Instead I was welcomed to Nicaragua with some of the best hospitality ever and it was from my own family. From getting my own room to sleep in, to waking up to freshly grounded coffee and daily housekeeping…was I staying at a full-service hotel or with family in their own home? Because this is what hospitality is about, making guests feel at home in your own home. What better way to start my trip than with being reminded why I love hospitality in the first place. For those looking to stay at a hotel, you can find clean hotels for under $50 a night. Unlike other destinations in Nicaragua, Esteli has limited hotel options and limited hot water.

Travel Tip: In third-world countries, resources like hot water and electricity can sometimes be very limited. When traveling to a third-world, be ready to be limited on resources that we are so blessed to have! Unless I boiled my own water, I took daily cold showers here. My showers were hard to enjoy but it allowed me to appreciate the hot water I take for granted every day back home in the LA. After a few cold showers I learned that the noticed the minerals from the water making my hair and skin so much softer and healthier! Less is more 🙂

If you’re ever in Esteli and need a place to stay, let me know. Staying with a local is one of the best ways to really have eye-opening experiences and engage in the daily life of a another culture. If staying with my family in Esteli taught me anything is that some of the people who have the least have the most love in their homes. I have never been showered with so much genuine love from people I only starting to reconnect with until I came to Esteli.

Food: Nicaraguan cuisine is one the reasons I wanted to visit Nicaragua in the first place. I grew up with homemade Nicaraguan cuisine so naturally it’s a comfort food to me. But I’m also a bit conscious about the food I eat anywhere so when I say the food is good here and trust me! Nicaragua has some of the most organic and sustainable food systems. No need for labels here, almost everything is farm to table and you can see it all around you! There is something here for meat eaters, vegans and everyone in between. Staying with family, I was lucky to have delicious homemade meals every day, which all included coffee and fresh juice. As for restaurants, my favorite place to eat in Esteli is La Casita – a hidden little gem that offers healthy, locally sourced options. I recommend their Muesli with their homemade yogurt and honey! This restaurant has outdoor seating in a green garden next to a cute bridge and family park. This is the perfect spot to grab a bite to eat and lounge outdoors. I found my favorite street snack in Esteli as well –  bag of fresh plantain chips for only 50 cents! For a sweet treat, I recommend Los Paleteros, located in el mercado. My favorite the coffee ice cream topped with dulce de leche and nuts. This little stand is a non-profit organization ran by college students to raise money for local business education. This place is amazingly delicious and helps a great cause.

Leisure: Esteli is a lowkey destination but it the perfect balance of jungle and urbanization. Like I mentioned before, Esteli is known for its natural reserves so I went to one called El Tisey. Surrounded by the aroma of pine trees, this is a great spot for a mellow hike and breathtaking views. Just down the road is El Jalacate Farm. This farm is special because it is an artistic masterpiece. There are stone carvings along the rocks of the mountain that were all hand carved by a man by the name of Don Alberto Gutierrez. Meeting Don Alberto and hiking amongst his art surrounded by the jungle was truly an amazing experience. Don Alberto welcomed us warmly and shared his story and art with us. According to Don Alberto, he knew he had a calling to create art when he had at the age of 9 because of a dream he had. His carvings are influenced by animals and Nicaragua’s history, and they are so beautiful! All he asks in return is for visitors to sign his welcome book but feel free to leave a voluntary donation! (Ps: Don Alberto has had over 45,000 visitors sign his book, pretty amazing for a guy living lowkey in the jungle!) Esteli is a busy town that is perfect for doing some outdoor shopping, visiting a historic museum or for relaxing at the park in front of a cathedral. (Did I mention it is really common for parks in Nicaragua to have free wifi? By far one of the most creative ways to get people outdoors.)

Overall, my stay in Esteli was great. I felt very engaged with the local lifestyle and I learned a lot about my Nicaraguan roots. I got to see both the city life and explore the jungle. I ate some of the best street food as well as the best homemade food here. From walking around from shop to shop to learning about art in the jungle, Esteli truly welcomed me with the best of both worlds.


Next stop on my road trip around Nicaragua was the colonial town of Granada. This is by far one of my favorite towns because it is always so lively and colorful. (Literally every wall is yellow, teal, pink, you name it. Perfect Instagram backgrounds everywhere!)

Lodging: Great hotel hospitality is one thing Granada does not lack. There are plenty amazing full-service hotels as well as clean hostels to choose from. For this trip, we stayed at Hotel Estrada, which is a boutique hotel located a block away from Granada’s central park. We were warmly welcomed complimentary Maracuya cocktails at check-in. Elsa, the front desk receptionist was extremely sweet and gave us insight on her favorite spots in the city. Our rooms were really clean and had a modern, Spanish vibe to it. What stood out to me the most about this hotel were it’s prime location, the relaxing jacuzzi bathtub in our bathroom, and the hotel’s sustainable practices. Breakfast is included with the stay, which is also a plus when saving money. I would recommend this hotel because of the modern amenities it has, how clean it is and how amazingly comfy the beds are! For about $80 a night, this room surpassed my expectations. Other hotels I highly recommend when visiting Granada is Hotel Patio Del Malinche. This hotel also offers great hospitality, free breakfast as well as a pool and poolside bar.

Food: The variety and quality of food Granada offers makes me love this town even more. Although many hotels include free breakfast, Kathy’s Waffles is one of the most popular breakfast spots in town. This perfect may be a tourist hotspot but it does not disappoint. Their menu offers a perfect balance between both American and Nicaraguan breakfasts. Both their Nicaraguan and American options are just as delicious. I recommend their blueberry pancakes and typical Nicaraguan breakfast plate with eggs, fried plantains, fried cheese and gallo pinto. (Gallo pinto is Nicaraguan’s version of rice and beans but cooked together. Their iced coffee was one of my favorites on my whole trip as well. Granada is also abundant in healthy dining options. Two of my favorite spots are Pitaya Bowls and The Garden Cafe. Pitaya Bowls’ menu offers smoothie bowls made from pitaya, cacao or coconut as well as variety of fruit smoothies and cocktails.  Garden Cafe offers a variety of healthy plates at a very inexpensive price. Their salads and juices are my favorite! Walk down la Calle de la Calzada and you will find a variety of places to eat from Pizza to Chinese and authentic Nicaraguan cuisine.

Travel Tip: The best way to get a real taste of what a country is like is to eat local cuisine and learn what a place is known for! I encourage researching the cuisine before traveling so you don’t miss out on new, delicious dishes. Although I’ve grown up with Nicaraguan cuisine all my life, there is a lot I have to learn about and try .I learned that Nicaragua has some of the most sustainable coffee in the world, which made drinking multiple cups a day taste better! Yay for eco-friendly caffeine!  I also discovered that Granada is known for their Vigoron (yuca, pork chicharron topped with cabbage, tomato and onions) made at a stand in the central park. I was skeptical about trying it at first but it was well worth it!

Leisure: When staying in Granada, you will definitely need more than a night’s stay to enjoy all the city has to offer. From visiting different cathedrals filled with history to riding colorful horse carriage around town learning about local history and landmarks, Granada has something for everyone. I highly recommend taking a boat ride around the Islets De Granada, which are little islands in the lake of Granada. You even get to meet and touch a monkey who lives on an island with other monkeys. This was an activity both my mom and I enjoyed a lot. For chocolate lovers, there is the ChocoMuseo, which offers free chocolate tastings and history on cacao making. I am not a big chocolate person but learning about cacao making was really interesting. Another great thing about Granada is their mercado. This outdoor market is so lively and has everything you can think of! I highly recommend browsing through the mercado even if it seems intimidating at first. They have have amazing deals so it is well worth it. I bought 3 pairs of leather shoes for $15 and they are so well made!

Travel Tip: When traveling to other Hispanic countries, explore their markets. Shopping at a local market is usually in expensive. You’re very likely to find authentic, high quality fashion and products at a bargain rather than purchasing the imitated and overpriced version back in the U.S. I found that leather products, hammocks, and jewelry were worth buying here.

When I visit Nicaragua again, I will make sure to stop by Granada again. There something so romantic and lovely about this town that automatically puts me in a better mood. This city has wonderful hospitality all around and feels very safe throughout. It is a popular tourist destination that stays true to its Nicaraguan roots. The town is very lively both day and night, which is great for both early morning risers and night owls. There is an abundance of hotel,food and activity options, which is great for those traveling here for the first time.

San Juan Del Sur & Playa Maderas

All of Nicaragua is absolutely stunning but San Juan Del Sur is the place that really made me fall in love with this country (and also the reason why I have started looked into real estate here!) Where do I even begin? San Juan Del Sur is a popular tourist destination on the southern west coast of Nicaragua, close to the border of Costa Rica. SJDS is a developing beach town filled with international surfers, young travelers ready to relax and party, as well as families on vacation. The vibe in this town is very laid-back and has a wide variety of people, both locals and foreigners. Just a 15 minute car ride up north and we stumbled upon Playa Maderas, the best surf spot in the whole country. What this surf town had in store for me was more than I could ever imagine.

Lodging: Being one of the most popular destinations in Nicaragua, SJDS offers a variety of full-service hotels, clean hostels and Airbnb. Whatever way you’d like to stay, this beach town can definitely accommodate. For this trip we stayed at Villa de Palermo, which I highly recommend over and over to anyone. These Spanish-inspired two-story villas come with a full kitchen, walk-in closets and some of the most stunning views of San Juan Del Sur’s Beach. For less than $100, this hotel went beyond our expectations. These villas are perfect for families, groups of young travelers or even couples. Not only is the property very-well kept and have all the amenities necessary for your stay, but the hospitality here is truly amazing. We loved it so much here that we decided to extend our stay last minute. Although other hotels were completely booked, the receptionists at Villa de Palermo, Danielka and Esperanza were extremely accommodating and were able extend our stay without even having to move villas! They even gave us the same discounted rate, when the rate for the night was actually a lot higher. The way this situation was handled not only made our stay a lot smoother but we really got to enjoy San Juan Del Sur for another extra day while staying in a lovely villa. Another similar hotel I recommend is Pelican Eyes Resort & Spa , which offer similar full-service villas  and is just down the street. The location for both these hotels is only a 5 minute taxi ride down to the beach. If I ever work out of the country in hospitality, it will be here because the atmosphere of the hotels and town are so warm and lively.

Food: If there’s one thing SJDS is lacking is more authentic Nicaraguan cuisine. Yet, this place does not fall short of amazing, delicious food. From breakfast to dinner, from coffee to cocktails, SJDS has a wide variety of food and definitely some of the coolest dining concepts. If I could only pick one place to here, I would choose Dale Pues in a heartbeat. Everything about this restaurant is a 10/10 – the food, aesthetic and service  They offer free coffee in the mornings and wifi, which is a life saver for someone who isn’t awake until I have my coffee. Some of my favorites here are their breakfast burrito (that has gallo pinto in it for a twist, YUM!), the Tommy Loco wrap (the jalapeño mayo with the fries are absolutely fire!) and the black bean burger. Their fresh maracuya juice and red sangria compliment any dish perfectly. Dale Pues was so fresh and flavorful we came back to eat here multiple times during our stay. If you’re looking for quality fast food, Taco Stop is place to go. This place reminds me of a Nicaraguan version of Chipotle. I’m not exactly sure how this place is considered fast food because the quality of the ingredients are so fresh. Their menu offers tacos, burritos, bowls and quesadillas. Also guac is only 25 cents here so stock up! Another favorite spot of mine in Simon Says, which is a healthy smoothie bar. This place is so visually intriguing and is the perfect place to lounge, read a book and gaze at art in a garden while enjoying an ice cold smoothie. This place definitely has a hipster vibe with it and is covered in art, positive affirmations and greenery. As for desserts, my absolute favorite spot is Dia de las Donuts,  which has some of the best donuts I’ve ever tried in my life and I’m a huge donut lover. Something about the way the dough makes these donuts stand out so much. If I could have these back home, it would definitely be local donut spot. All the donuts I tried were so delicious I couldn’t pick a favorite (Make sure to stop by early when they are freshly baked, they run out quick!) If there’s anything else I like is drinking craft beer. The San Juan Del Sir Cerverceria is a must go-to for craft beer lovers. This place is known for tropical fruit craft beer brewed on-site. Out of all the beer flights, my favorites were the Passionfruit Ale and their Pitaya Sour Ale. I am not fan of sour beers but the pitaya in the beer balanced it out perfectly. The tropical fruits found in Nicaragua are changing the craft beer game and I am very excited to see this industry develop more here.

Leisure: If you’re going to visit SJDS, I recommend staying a couple of nights because there is a lot to see and do here. SJDS is the perfect blend of beach, jungle and warm weather, which makes it the perfect spot to go out and adventure. From zipping in the jungle to horseback riding on the beach or riding a 4×4 , there is something to get everyone outdoors and moving. Hiking up to  El Mirador de Cristo was one of my favorite outdoor activities. This little hike isn’t the longest but is steep and so worth it. The Jesus statue has the best view of all SJDS coastline as well as the Costa Rican border. I recommend coming here early in the morning or later in the afternoon for sunset to avoid the heat. Although SJDS has its own beach it is not the best for swimming or surfing compared to nearby beaches like Playa Maderas is only a 15 minute drive away. This place is surfer’s paradise and I recommend taking a whole day just to come get away for a day of relaxation on the beach. The water is clear and warm surrounded by soft sand. This beach is more isolated, which makes it a hidden gem. The beach was so beautiful here I spontaneously decided to take my first surf lesson here. Thanks to Mauricio, one of the locals at the surf shop, I was able to stand up and ride the waves on my board. This was the perfect place for my first lesson because the waves are good, water is warm and the sunsets are unbelievable. Getting my first surf lesson here will always be a memorable experience. For those who aren’t as adventurous, SJDS has great spas to unwind at like Gabby’s Spa.  For those who love a good dance party, Hostel Pachamama is the place to go for Sunday Funday Pool Crawl. There’s everything for something for all ages. There is so much yet to be discovered and this town is the perfect place for self-discovery and unwinding in a tropical oasis.

If there’s one place I will for sure go back to in Nicaragua it is San Juan Del Sur and the neighboring surf beaches. I felt The hospitality, food and experiences I had here made it so hard to leave. I dream of having a house here or my own little hotel and restaurant one day. I hope that everyone could come visit this therapeutic jungle for themselves.

Leon & Matagalpa

The next stops on my trip were short but amazing. Driving up back North after SJDS, we headed to Leon and Matagalpa. Leon is Nicaragua’s second largest city after the capital. Similar to Granada, Leon is lively colonial town with beautiful architecture although it is not as colorful. Leon is known for its 8 volcanos, hot weather and its historic cities. On the other hand, Matagalpa is a green, mountainous area, with lots of natural tourism such as lakes, natural reserves and waterfalls. Matagalpa is known for their cooler weather and coffee production. I decided to visit both of them spontaneously and I a glad I did because I discovered another beautiful side of Nicaragua.

Lodging: If there’s anything I could change from this trip, it would be extending my stay in Leon. I only stayed in Leon for 1 night and I felt like it was not enough to full immerse myself in all the historic stories this city has. For hotel accommodations in Leon, we stayed at Hotel Posada del Doctor, by accident though. We accidentally booked the wrong night for another hotel, Azul Hotel & Restaurant. Although they were not able to accommodate us because they were completely full, they were extremely sorry they could not help us and recommended the hotel we ended up staying at. The hotel was intimate and had views to a little garden with a fountain. The rooms were clean, the showers had water but I felt like it wasn’t the most visually pleasing and with more amenities. Yet for being a last minute accommodation at 10:30pm, this hotel was good for a night’s stay and about $80. Yet I would recommend to go elsewhere for this price range because I know there’s hotel with better quality properties. I will say that the hospitality here was really great. The receptionist was extremely attentive and took the time to get to us a bit better. On the other hand, no accommodations were needed since we took a day trip here before returning back to Esteli. Yet, if you’re ever in Matagalpa for a night, I have heard great thing about Hotel San Jose, so it should be worth checking out. Booking more hotels will be my goal for next trip so I can explore the hospitality in both Leon and Matagalpa completely.

Food: For breakfast in Leon, we ate at El Desayunazo, which offers great service and service Things that stood out to me was their various vegetarian and vegan options on the menu as well as how large their food portions are. I ordered their breakfast burrito, which was a little spicier than I was expecting but it was still bomb. Their homemade potatoes are to die for. Other spots worth checking out are Libelula Coffee Shop, for some strong and freshly grounded coffee in the morning. During our day trip to Matagalpa, we ate at Selva Negra Ecolodge & Restaurant. This place is truly worth visiting, even if it is just to eat like us. Their restaurant has a farm to table concept and offers a variety of sustainable Nicaraguan and American cuisine. The restaurant overlooks a man-made lake in the middle of the jungle surrounded by tall trees and butterflies. Hotels food is usually overpriced so the food was more expensive than I thought it would be. Their warm Atol with cinnamon is a must try.

Leisure: If there is one thing Leon is known for is its 8 volcanoes, some which are still active. One of the most amazing things about Leon is that it is the only place in the world where you can volcano board down el Cerro Negro. Wow, if there’s any new adrenaline to experience in Nicaragua, it is sliding down 726 meters of volcano. Although it sounds dangerous, it is completely safe and can be done by younger travelers and older ones too. (My mom volcano boarded and she is usually not the bravest when it comes to adrenaline rushes). For $25, transportation, snacks, water, gear and board are provided. Our tour guide was amazing and gave us so much insight on the history and cool facts about Leon and the volcano all throughout our hike up the volcano. The hike lasts about an hour and is a wonderful workout. The view from the top of the volcano is unreal and sliding down the volcano itself is one of the most unique and fun experiences ever. If being too adventurous isn’t your thing, Leon has lots of historic museums and the Leon Cathedral, which is worth visiting. This cathedral has all white floors so they make you go barefoot. Even if cathedrals aren’t your thing, visiting this one is worth going for a cool picture on the roof. It has a view of the whole city and multiple of Leon’s volcanoes. On the other hand, Matagalpa is filled with natural outdoor activities. My favorite place is Ecolodge La Cascada Blanca. This ecolodge is a hidden gem with a beautiful waterfall and greenery. I got to see my first real life sloth here and it was the cutest thing ever! The entrance fee is only $2 too! Another cool place to visit while in Matagalpa is Selva Negra, which I mentioned before. Aside from being an ecolodge, this place is the perfect place to walk around in the middle of nature and enjoy a small hike.

My 2 weeks in Nicaragua were absolutely amazing but it was too short. This beautiful country has so much natural beauty and adventures to experience. This vacation is one I will always remember and I know it won’t be my last visit to Nicaragua. I was able to reconnect with my roots and nature, which allowed me to see a different perspective of the world. It was the perfect detox from real life back home and allowed me to understand that less is more and some of the most loving people come from nothing. Although third-world countries get a bad rep by being called “unsafe”, don’t believe that! Nicaragua is really safe and the people are some of the sweetest and hardworking people I have ever come across. For anyone looking for a tropical oasis with both adventure, relaxation and greenery, this is the place to go. Nicaragua is not only a beautiful destination, but also extremely affordable. $1 U.S is $30 in Nicaragua so saving money is easy when traveling here

If you ever decide to discover Nicaragua for yourself, please let me know! I have connections and can refer you additional places to stay, eat and activities to do.

Oh Nicaragua there is so much more I could write about you but I will save it in my heart forever. Thank you for allowing me to grow, to discover new places and things about myself, to spend the best time with my mom and for reconnecting me with my Nicaraguan side. It’s not a goodbye, it’s a see ya soon.

Until my next adventure,


24 Hours in San Diego: Festival, Hotel, Nightclub and Dining Review


When it comes to traveling, you don’t always need to take a long or expensive vacation to experience good hospitality or something new. It can be short, sweet and spontaneous. Sometimes, that’s the best way to travel – especially when you’re on a budget or have other priorities such as school, work and life in general. Going to San Diego with my girlfriends was a last minute plan and I didn’t know what to expect but it turned out to be one of the best decisions yet. The hospitality I experienced in San Diego within 24 hours was truly amazing – from the hotel to the festival to the nightclub and dining. Not only did the hospitality make this weekend memorable but the whole trip was very affordable, which made it that much better.


Omni Hotel & Resort

For our overnight stay, we booked a room at the Omni Hotel & Resort in San Diego. The Omni Hotel is a upscale, full-service hotel located in downtown across Petco Park (which is where Groundwater was held at.) This property is one of the many luxurious resorts that Omni Hotel & Resorts owns around the world. The hotel’s location was super convenient because we could walk to the festival and back within a couple of minutes, which helped us save money instead of having to take an Uber. The service at Omni was spectacular from the moment we checked in until we retrieved our car from valet. (PS: you can tell a lot about a hotel’s service by how they treat younger travelers so pay attention that!). As I entered the hotel lobby, the impression of the hotel was that it was very chic, clean and quiet. We were greeted warmly at the front desk by Sarah and the check-in process was quick and easy. There’s been multiple times where check-in has been an issue, especially when I have booked through a third-party site like Booking.com or Trip Advisor.

Travel tip: Before booking a hotel, it’s always a smart idea to compare prices through the hotel’s direct website as well as third-party sites like TripAdvisor, Booking.com and Expedia. These sites are called OTAS (aka online travel agents) and they’re are a great way to save money on hotels and finding more flexible deals or cancellation policies but it’s important to be very careful with them. Did you know that if you book a hotel through a third-party site, there’s a huge chance the hotel won’t be able to change your booking or upgrade your room if something happens last minute? Many hotels don’t have control over bookings that not were not directly booked through their system.

The interior of the hotel’s lobby was very open, clean, and modern. Our bellman was very welcoming and genuine and even gave us directions to Spin Nightclub so that we didn’t have to figure it out later. The room we stayed in was perfectly clean and had a great view of downtown and the bay. I honestly wish we could have stayed another night because I didn’t get to try the food or many of the complimentary amenities the Omni Hotel offered. I would definitely come back to Omni Hotel because of how clean the room was and how nice every employee was. (I’m very picky with how clean hotel rooms are and I couldn’t find a single thing that was off.) I would definitely recommend this to anyone who’s looking for a full-service hotel that is both upscale yet affordable.

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Groundwater Festival

Just when I thought festival season was over for the year…nope. The main reason we spontaneously took a trip to San Diego was for Groundwater, which is a intimate one-day house and techno music festival presented by FNGRS CRSSD. I originally heard about Groundwater after attending CRSSD two months ago, which is Groundwater’s big sister festival also hosted twice a year in downtown San Diego. I didn’t know how Groundwater would be like and if it would be worth taking a trip right before going into finals, but wow was it beyond what I expected.

Tickets: How affordable tickets for Groundwater is what initially caught attention for this event. Tickets started at $30 and but came out to about $50, including service fees and taxes, which was a great a value for the experience I had. Anyone who attends music festivals knows that most event tickets can range from $80 – $150 for one day tickets. Aside from the festival itself, FNGERS CRSSD offered various ticket options for the pre-party and after parties. We chose to go to Spin Nightclub as our after party because of how good the lineup was. Tickets for the afterparties started at $15 and were limited, which meant we had to be on top of getting them. The process of purchasing afterparty tickets was a bit annoying because it required attendees to have purchased their festival tickets before they could access afterparty tickets as soon as possible. This wasn’t a big deal because I’m usually on top of these types of things but for someone who wants to go and isn’t keeping up with all the event’s announcements, it’s really easy to miss out on the afterparties. What I like about this festival is there were no wristbands so it wasn’t as hyped up on social media with everyone posting their wristbands coming in the mail. For Groundwater, tickets could be printed at home or downloaded onto to your phone easily.

Getting in & The Venue: Wow, I have never gotten into a festival so quickly and easily. Honestly my friends and I were a bit concerned about this because the festival’s website did not give any details of what items were allowed and what items were prohibited. Many festivals can be annoyingly strict so we assumed that bringing in our makeup and chapstick would be an issue at Groundwater like it was at CRSSD. (Thank you Groundwater for not throwing away $50 worth of my makeup!) Although we went through metal detectors, none of our items were an issue to bring in. Once inside the venue, we were welcomed by funky house music bumping through the lush, grassy hills and trees that faced Petco Park’s baseball stadium and Groundwater’s main stage. The vibe of this event was both energetic and laid-back the whole time.  The venue itself was the perfect size and everything was well organized. One of my favorite things about this festival was there how much room there was to dance freely or to sit on the grass without being in someone’s personal space. This made moving through the crowd a breeze for us – it almost felt like I was floating because of how easy it was. Being only 5’1 usually makes being in crowds awful for me personally because I can’t see over the people in front of me and usually people can’t see me either so they step on my feet or spill drinks on me. At Groundwater, I had a view of the DJ at all times no matter where we were in the crowd and didn’t have a single person run into me. This is very rare so I was happy my height wasn’t an issue at this festival. The grassy hills allowed us to have a great view of the stage when we didn’t want to be as close in the crowd. Another great thing about this event is that the venue had real bathrooms and not disgusting porta potties like most festivals. I hate public restrooms but this one was well kept. It was nice to have clean bathrooms with real sinks and mirrors. At most festivals I have to cram into a dark porta potty that makes me disgustingly wander what my life has to come to while I simultaneously have to avoid falling or touching anything around me while I pee. Real bathrooms for the win hah! I think the best part of this venue was the baseball park itself. Having the huge, empty baseball park in the background made the event feel a lot more exclusive. Hopefully Groundwater is held at Petco Park next year because the venue creates the perfect intimate setting.

Music: Ok now what we came for, to dance. The lineup for Groundwater only consisted of 5 DJs but it was perfectly curated. Although we missed the first DJ, the others did not disappoint. Initially, I came for Claude Vonstroke and Maya Jane Coles but I’m glad I was there for the others. Of course Claude and Maya had the best sets (they always kill it) but honestly Claptone’s set blew my mind. Although I have seen him live before, his set at Groundwater was truly one of the most elegant and in-sync sets I have ever seen (and I’ve gone to a lot of festivals and shows). The transition between songs and even between DJs were so smooth. Each DJ built off the energy from the previous one and it was amazing. Claude Vonstroke’s closing set was going off and driving the crowd wild. You could tell he was loving it too because he had the biggest smile on the whole time. It was also the perfect little sneak peak to how the afterparty would be. The crowd’s vibe was on the same page the whole time. Unlike a lot of music festivals, I would say the majority of this crowd was dancing and getting down the whole night. This was a smaller festival so there was only one stage, which meant we didn’t have to have a game plan on who to see and what stage to go to. This was a nice change because it made the evening less stressful and meant everyone would be experiencing the same music. Something I pay attention to at festivals is the stage design and lights (You can tell a lot about festival through what they present on stage.) My favorite thing about Groundwater’s stage was that it was covered with green plants and palm trees and didn’t focus too much on crazy light shows. I really appreciate when stages don’t have screens just flash hypnotizing lights and random things like skulls. In my opinion, the better the DJ is the less background visuals are needed to keep the crowd’s attention. Overall, Groundwater’s musical talent was amazing and that was easily reflected in the crowd’s energy. Can’t wait to see next year’s lineup has in store for me to dance to.

Food & Drinks: I know music festivals are about the music and having fun but eating is still important! It’s so easy to forget to eat when you’re having the best time but I love food too much to forget, even at a music festival. Since Groundwater was at Petco Park, the venue offered food through the baseball field’s concession stands. They had a good amount of food options but nothing really stood out to me. They offered the usual food that would be found at a baseball game – hot dogs, popcorn, nachos, etc. I only had churros and potato wedges while I was at the festival. Both were good but nothing was memorable food wise. I personally felt like the food quality could have been better but it was enough to get me through the night and at least the food wasn’t as overpriced like other events. Now the drinks at bar on the other hand were impressive.  My two favorite cocktails of the evening for the Fiji Mule and the blackberry mojito. Signature cocktails were $14, which is pretty average for festivals. Not only were the drinks delicious but they were also consistently strong so we got our money’s worth. The best part about these signature cocktails is that they came in reusable mason jars. They were so cute I wanted to take one home in my backpack. My one complaint would be the lack of free water. I feel that festivals should provide free water for safety reasons. It’s very easy to become dehydrated at festivals and it’s annoying to have to keep buying water bottles for $3-5 each but I do understand that’s how business works. Overall, the food and drinks were good enough for the night but I would have rather waited to eat after the event.

Overall, Groundwater Festival was an amazing time for my girlfriends and I. Since there wasn’t many details about it, I went in not knowing what to expect but it certainly went beyond my imagination. Although it didn’t really feel like a festival because of how small and short it was, I really enjoyed how intimate it felt. I never thought I would be dancing to house and techno at a baseball park but the venue was perfect for this event. Although there were only a couple of DJs, their groovy sets were a great reminder that you don’t need a lot of them to have the perfect dance workout. The crowd was one of the nicest and coolest crowds I’ve ever been in, which reflects the ambiance Groundwater created for us for the night. For how affordable this festival was, I honestly was expecting a lot less yet it was one of the smoothest and unique festival experiences yet, which made it that much better. Would I recommend Groundwater? If you love good house music, having room to dance, downtown city vibes and and intimate experiences then yes, definitely. 

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Spin Nightclub

What’s a party without the after party right? Groundwater offered two after parties at different nightclubs. We chose to go to Spin Nightclub because Claude Vonstroke, Fritz Carlton and Dena Amy were playing. I’ve been to other nightclubs in San Diego and I have to say Spin is now one of my favorite ones. Although the nightclub was located a few minutes outside of downtown, it still had all the right city vibes. The line to get in was surprisingly short so we were in quickly. The thing that is unique about this Spin is that it is a  mini workout because there are 4 different floors to choose from. There was a different DJ in each room and each room had a unique vibe to it. There were smaller rooms with couches and darker dance floors but there was also a main stage that could be enjoyed from two different floors. The main floor had the biggest dance floor it while the floor above had the perfect view of most of the club. The 4th floor was lit up with string lights, with a rooftop bar and room to get fresh air. I personally like that Spin is designed like this because it allowed us to explore and switch up the vibe throughout the night. The music was amazing and once again Claude killed his set. Dena Amy was also great and even though I’ve seen her 3 times this year, her sets keep me coming back for more. We had so much fun that we ended up staying later than I thought we would. I honestly wish there was a nightclub like Spin in LA because the ambiance was really cool. I’m glad we ended our night here because it was the cherry on top to our spontaneous night of dancing.



After we checked out of our hotel, getting food was first on our to-do list. We were originally going to get brunch but none of us wanted to eat at an actual restaurant. Instead we decided to stop at Little Italy and get pizza. There were tons of pizza spots to choose from within the same block but Napizza caught our eye right away. We walked in just to see the pizza but ended up wanting to eat there because of how bomb the food looked. Various fresh pizzas were displayed behind the glass and they all looked so good. They had variety to choose from such as pesto chicken, a breakfast pizza, and even gluten free pizza. For $11, I got a slice of BBQ chicken and white truffle mushroom with a drink. The pizza slices were bigger than I thought they would be so it was worth the price. The white truffle mushroom pizza was honestly amazing. I would recommend it to anyone who loves truffle cheese. The pizza was very fresh and wasn’t greasy at all. One cool thing about Napizza is that they are a sustainable business and are even certified by the Green Restaurant Association. Some of Napizza’s sustainable practices include using higher quality ingredients from local farmers and donating leftover pizza each night to local food banks. It’s important to support sustainable businesses that actually care about the well-being of their customers, their products and the planet. The quality of their ingredients can easily be tasted in their delicious pizzas. If you’re ever in Little Italy for pizza, stop by Napizza and I promise you won’t regret it.

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The hospitality in San Diego was amazing and has me wanting go back for more. For being spontaneous when traveling, the hospitality turned out great everywhere we went during our stay. All the employees at Omni, Groundwater, Spin and Napizza were welcoming, friendly and professional. This was surprising to me because every location had consistent and authentic hospitality, which can be difficult to find sometimes, especially as a younger traveler. San Diego has the perfect vibe for millennial travelers because it provides variety, convenience and unique experiences. I’m so happy my friends and I went on this little trip because it was honestly so fun and smooth. It was something new and definitely memorable. Thank you Groundwater and Omni for your hospitality and making this girl’s trip a really fun and easy trip. I’m bummed it went by too fast, but oh well I guess that just means I’ll have to come back for more hospitality 😉


Until next time,










Cancún Coastin’

Hey everyone, hope everyone is staying hydrated and cool during this heatwave in Southern California. I just got back into the swing of things after a mini vacation to Cancún, Mexico last week. I’ve been busy ever since I got back but I’m finally back to my routine of things and over my jet lag . This trip to Cancún was kind of spontaneous, booking a flight only two weeks in advanced. Although this was my 3rd time visiting Mexico, it was only my 1st time traveling to Cancún. I’ve been to Puerto Vallarta before, which is another big tourist destination but on the Pacific Coast of Mexico. I’ve also been to Puebla, which is a town in the middle of Mexico and where tourists are rarely found. Both are polar opposites and I had unique experiences at each one. This led me to have expectations of what Cancún would be like but at the same time I had no clue what to expect. I wasn’t mentally prepared but to be honest when are you fully prepared to visit a completely new place?

Anyways, this trip was very interesting to say the least – both good and bad. Mostly great though! I guess I just had expectations and I shouldn’t have because you know the saying, “no expectations, no disappointments”?  Ya I need to remind myself that before every vacation because it’s so true. If there’s any advice I could give someone when traveling to a new place, I would say it’s to not have expectations because it will make your trip 100000x better and I have learned that the hard way. (Fun fact: Out of all generations, Millennials are the most-open minded when it comes to traveling  so we crave more adventure, authentic & cultural experiences and we’re the most environmentally conscious, which benefits us a lot. We’re also always wanting to capture our memories for social media so we look for more intriguing aesthetic when traveling). Anyways, this trip was one I won’t forget and I’m thankful I was able to experience it with some of my best friends and Blake’s mom (thank you so much for making a majority of this trip possible. Seriously beyond grateful!).  Anyways, this post is my review of my first experience in Cancún – the hotels, food, activities, beaches, nightlife and every bit of hospitality in between.
After a 5 hour flight alone, I was in Cancún. The moment I walked out of the airport, it was extremely hot and humid and I was being offered shuttle services left and right. I was picked up at the airport by Brandi and Stevie, who arrived at the airport before me and were so nice enough to wait for me. Almost immediately, the taxi driver started offering us “deals” on activity cards that were $100 USD. At first it sounded like a great deal but that was just from the excitement of being in a new place and all the activities he was talking about sounded so fun. Thankfully, I’m fluent in Spanish so this helps me out so every time I travel to a Spanish-speaking country. Although the taxi driver was friendly, I knew he was trying to convince us into purchasing an overpriced activity card. I’m sorry but $100 USD…are we in Mexico or am I purchasing a ticket to a music festival? Mexico is usually cheaper so I was expecting to bargain like usual but Cancún was a bit different. It’s definitely a well developed tourist destination, which has both its ups and downs (just like anywhere you travel in the world). Anyways, now for the real hospitality and the rest of my trip.

Hotels, Food and Beverage:

Grand Fiesta Americana Condensa All-Inclusive Resort: For our first night, we stayed at Grand Fiesta American Condensa All-Inclusive Resort, which is a big family-friendly resort right on the beach that was all-inclusive. Grand Fiesta Americana has another resort in Cancun but this one is in a more prime location because it’s right on the beach. The hotel itself is huge and had a tropical vibe to it. There was lots of bamboo, wood, orange walls and little fountains everywhere. Lily, Brandi and I got the better room, which had 2 balconies! One of the balconies was huge and overlooking the crystal-clear, blue water and it was beautiful. That itself made me like the hotel a lot. Amazing views like that are so peaceful and relaxing. It’s truly breathe-taking to see something new and different than what I’m used to back home. Our room had a modern design and was very clean and well-kept. The mini fridge came stocked with water and mini Coronas, which was a plus. Although we had a great room with a sick view, this hotel unfortunately did not blow my mind away.  The service was alright but nothing stood out to me, not even the staff or food. My friend’s mom unfortunately left her makeup bag behind when we changed hotels and the hotel did not help as much as they should have. They never “found it” even though it was last in her room before we checked out.

Quick Hospitality Lesson: If you ever lose / accidentally leave something behind in a hotel room, there’s a good chance housekeeping will find it for you. Most hotels internationally are required to hold your lost item in lost and found for 60-90 days. After that date, the employee who found it can keep the lost item if they want to. The hotel cannot contact you about the lost item that was found, you have to contact them first! Unfortunately this is due to liability reasons.

 On the other hand, if you’re a guy and forget to bring pants for the restaurants and nightclubs, Grand Fiesta American lets you rent out pants, which I think is pretty cool and convenient for anyone who forgets pants when packing. That service saved one of my friends from not being able to go out that night.

Travel Tip: Guys, this one’s for you. Pack at least one pair of nice pants and a button up! I know you’re on vacation and it’s hot and humid here and the last thing you want to be is in pants but you still need them at a lot of restaurants and nightclubs, even within your own resorts. They won’t let you in without them so remember to pack a pair! This applies a lot to guys when traveling internationally.

Now let’s move on to more important matters, the food! The food was honestly the biggest disappointment in my opinion. First off, the room service menu was limited and it took almost an hour to get our food every time we ordered. That wasn’t even the worst part. The food itself was bad. If you know me you know I’m not a picky eater either. I eat almost anything, even if I don’t like it. This resort’s food was extremely bland and tasted like it had all been microwaved or made from a box, including the fries. I love all kinds of ethnic food so I was extremely excited to eat authentic Mexican food again. (I had some of the best food of my life during last two trips to Mexico so I had pretty high hopes again.) To be honest, I was looking more forward to the food than anything else on my vacation. I was always ready for my next meal, craving new flavors and fresh food. When I tried to order a side of rice and beans through room service, the lady on the phone hesitated and told me they did not have rice. Umm what?! I’m at a nice resort at a popular destination in Mexico and they don’t have rice? 😦 When I asked how they didn’t have rice, she managed to somehow find rice they could make. Although she was able to get my rice, her attitude about me ordering it was not friendly. Regardless, that was a huge disappointment in my book. That was a clear sign this place lacked authenticity so I found that to be pretty lame. I didn’t come here to eat American food haha. On the bright side, their flan was good in my opinion (at least they had one authentic dessert.) Yet, the rest of the food quality was pretty bad and discouraged me from eating there. The food and service were the reason we moved to a  different hotel the next day. Although this was not my decision, I’m glad we switched because the next hotel was different. Overall the Grand Fiesta American Resort was really nice physically.  I would still recommend this hotel for it’s clean accommodations, ocean views and tropical interior but I would not recommend it for quality hospitality and their food services. For being an all-inclusive hotel, the food should have been a lot better, as well as the service from the staff. This is one of those hotels I’m willing to come back to as long as I eat outside of the resort everyday, which defeats the point of it being all-inclusive.

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Le Blanc Spa Resort: Talk about an upgrade and quality hospitality! For the other 3 nights of our trip we stayed at Le Blanc Spa Resort Hotel, which is also located right on the beautiful beach of Cancún, except this resort is the #1 rated hotel in all of Cancún. It’s also an all-adult hotel, which is great when you’re trying to relax in a more peaceful environment and don’t have kids. Anyways this place was absolutely amazing and makes me want to work here. Not only does Le Blanc have a  5 star rating but it also has 5 diamonds. 

Quick Hospitality lesson: For those who don’t know how hotel rating systems work, this is very helpful to know when booking hotels! Although star ratings still look at the amenities and services hotels offer, what you might not know is star ratings don’t necessarily determine good or bad service because it can be rated by anyone. On the other hand, diamonds are earned by hotels that are inspected by AAA and meet their standards. The inspection for earning diamonds is a lot more extensive than stars and  AAA rates hotels on a more “luxurious scale” that focuses just as much on the quality of services as well as the amount of services offered. For example it focuses on small details such as the thread count in the bedding and the temperature of the jacuzzis.  Diamonds are lot more challenging to earn than stars so if you ever see a diamond that is good sign. Look for diamonds when looking for the level of luxury because whether it’s 1 diamond or 5 diamonds, it’s guaranteed to be a good hotel. On the other hand, when looking at star ratings – don’t determine the rating by the stars, determine it by the reviews you read.

I don’t think I’ll ever be able to afford staying at this resort again considering it was over $800 a night but I’m so happy I had the opportunity to experience it once because the hospitality here was absolutely superb and really inspiring for my own major and  future career. We were greeted with warm hellos by every staff member and were given fresh almond-coconut milk the moment we walked in, which was a great first impression. The resort itself was absolutely beautiful and elegant. It has a minimalistic, modern, all white and sleek design from top to bottom. Each floor had a different aromatic scent from the essential oils. It was really soothing. The resort had 4 restaurants (Italian, International, French, Asian-Fusion) and 6 bars. Each room not only came with its own whirlwind tub and alcohol dispenser but it also came with it’s own butler! Never in my life would I have thought I would have a butler but I have to say it was pretty cool.  Since Le Blanc is spa resort, they had a spa that offered various treatments. On top of that they offered amazing complimentary in-room services such as aromatherapy pillows, soothing essential oils, and aromatic bath salts, which were all found in the comfort menu in our room! This stood out to me a lot because I love aromatherapy so I feel like it enhanced my experience by constantly smelling different calming and energizing aromas throughout my stay there. I definitely took advantage of these services by ordering lavender pillows two of the nights and balancing bath salts one of the nights during our stay. I forgot to mention the butler set up our bath tub with the bath salts! We didn’t have to do a single thing. If that’s not top-notch hospitality I don’t know what is. Some other cool services included with our stay at Le Blanc included free hydrotherapy and free $500 room credits per room that could be used for the spa, a private dinner, shopping, or cool activities like swimming with dolphins (you’ll read about that later!)

The food here was a lot better than the Grand Fiesta Americana and offered a lot more options. Yet, there was still no Mexican restaurant to be found! 😦 Although the International restaurant was my favorite because it was a big buffet with various cuisines, they still lacked authentic Mexican food, which is my only complaint. At least they had rice, beans, chilaquiles and taquitos though. What made up for the lack of  Mexican food was the fact the servers actually put in effort to make our experience better by making sure the rice they had was cooked the way we wanted – white or Spanish style. They may not have had mole, tostadas, or chili rellenos but they had genuine hospitality and that’s what mattered to me the most. Plus all I really need in life is rice and beans to be satisfied (and maybe some fresh tortillas on the side!) 🙂 On the bright side, this place had a wide variety of delicious food. My favorites from the trip were the fresh sushi, stuffed cheese pastas, fruit smoothies and the omelettes from the International restaurant (they made the omelettes right in front of you too!)  I also really liked the mozzarella sticks from one of the lounges. We liked them so much we got 6 orders in one sitting whoops! My cocktail of choice this trip was a Paloma, which is tequila, lime and grapefruit juice. Apparently it’s a really common drink in this part of Mexico and it tasted similar to a margarita but with less sugar. I also really enjoyed the fresh orange juice and beet juice here and the coconut milk. I find that fruit outside of America always taste better so I try to eat a lot of it when I’m traveling internationally. During our stay, we also had a food and wine pairing Italian dinner and that was a cool experience since I’ve never experienced it with my friends before. The portions were small but most of the food was good. My favorite wine they offered was the Sauvignon Blanc. I’m not sure of the exact name but it light and refreshing. Overall, this hotel was hands down the best hotel I have stayed at. I definitely see why this resort has 5 diamonds and they definitely earned it because their hospitality was over the top. Every single staff member was so attentive and personal. They also a lot of bilingual staff, which is amazing for those who don’t speak Spanish like me when traveling. Language barriers can sometimes impact the quality of service but that was not the case at all here. My one complaint is Le Blanc still needs a Mexican restaurant or at least more Mexican dish options offered! But honestly the service, amenities, and food made up for my complaint easily. It’s a truly amazing place to stay at. I honestly would love to come back to this resort because it was so amazing. I would totally recommend this resort to anyone willing to invest in it. It’s definitely worth it. If you ever have the chance to check this place out in Cancun, do it.Processed with VSCO with c8 presetProcessed with VSCO with c7 presetProcessed with VSCO with f1 presetProcessed with VSCO with c8 presetProcessed with VSCO with kk1 presetProcessed with VSCO with kk1 presetIMG_1223Processed with VSCO with c7 preset

Day Activities:

Now just like Puerto Vallarta, Cancún is a popular tourist destination surrounded by lots of beautiful nature and wildlife. The main difference is Cancún is way more developed and a lot more Americanized. To some people this might be a great thing but for me, I want to be enriched in the culture as much as possible whenever I travel. Cancún felt a lot like the Las Vegas strip and a couple tours and activities would have added up to be more than my Coachella ticket from this year. In my opinion, it’s great to see a part of Mexico that is so developed and modern but at the same time this usually means it more expensive. Yet, there’s of a lot day tours and activities to do in and around Cancún. For example, you can go swimming with whale sharks, snorkeling on a booze cruise, visit Tulum or Playa de Carmen nearby, visit the Mayan ruins or one of the 7 Wonders of the World.  This was probably the part of the trip where I wish we took more advantage of. One of the main reasons I didn’t get to do as much as I wanted to was because of  how expensive everything is here and and we were only here for 4 nights so we were on a time crunch. If it were up to me I would have done a different tour or activity everyday but I’ll just have to save those for the next time I vacation in Cancún. I’ll also be more financially prepared next time since now I know a zip-lining tour in Cancún will be $100 opposed to Puerto Vallarta, where it’s only $10 for zip-lining. I still think everyone should take advantage of doing something fun here, at least once!

Isla de Las Mujeres: On the bright side, my friends and I got to visit Isla de Las Mujeres, which is an island about 45 minutes off the coast of Cancún. We decided to go to this island because we wanted to swim with dolphins there. Like I mentioned earlier, Le Blanc Resort gave each of our rooms $500 worth in credits that could be used on activities. My friends and I booked the activity late so swimming with dolphins was one of the only activities still available, which was perfectly fine because it still sounded fun. Thankfully our credits applied to this so we only had to pay $8 for a service fee, instead of like $120 each. The only other thing we had to pay for was our taxi, which was $20 on the way there and $15 on the way back. We were dropped off at a dock and boarded a boat (similar to the one Catalina Island has) and we were off. The boat had an open bar so we had a couple of drinks on our way there. We were sitting on the top deck of the boat, which was scorching hot so the beers were refreshing. When we got to Isla de Las Mujeres, we walked around for a bit. There wasn’t as much to do as I expected but that was ok. There wasn’t a public beach but we could still go in the ocean as long as we had a life vest on (which was kind of lame but at least I wasn’t going to drown).  A few of my friends and I decided to quickly zip line into the ocean, which was pretty fun and it woke me up. We had to wait about 3 hours until we swam with dolphins so in the meanwhile we decided to eat. We didn’t like the buffet that came included with our package so we decided to upgrade to VIP for $20 each. Since we had a group of 7, I tried to negotiate with one of the gentlemen working to see if we could get a group rate. Although he said he couldn’t give us a discount, he gave us a wristband to swim with manatees for free! (This is why knowing Spanish helps me out so much, especially when it comes negotiating in super tourist destinations).

Travel Tip: When traveling to any country, it’s always important to know the current currency exchange rate. Even if you don’t know the language of the country, at least learn to do the conversion math or prepare to get ripped off for being a tourist. Also, always negotiate but do it nicely! Even with a language barrier, negotiate into getting group rates or upgrades at a cheaper price. Even offer to tip more if they lower the rates of whatever it is you’re doing. It will usually work and can help you save a lot of money, trust me! This is great for us college students because we usually need to save every dollar we can to make the most of our trip. You have nothing to lose so might as well try!

The VIP lounge was pretty cool because it was upstairs overlooking the ocean with it’s own pool and 2 lunch buffets. This was probably the one place on my whole trip that had the most authentic Mexican food so I was happy. They even had fresh tortillas!  I ate a lot of rice and beans and some carne asada. The bartender gave us tequila shots but made us stand up from our table to chant, “Para arriba, para abajo, para el centro, y adrento!” , which is a common chant done in Mexico while taking shots. It’s one of those sayings that sound way cooler in Spanish than English so there’s no point in translating or else it sounds kind of weird haha.  When it was time to swim the manatees and dolphins, we were required to put life vests on before going in the water. We got to get in the water with the manatees first, which was kinda scary but super exciting. We were able to pet a couple of them, including a baby. Their skin was so rough yet smooth because they’re covered in algae! We also got to feed them cabbage and it was so cute to see them eat it! I learned that manatees are vegan, which I thought was interesting. Unfortunately, they’re manatees are endangered  and it’s strictly because of humans since manatees do not have any predators to hunt them. This made me sad but it also made me appreciate being able to connect with them before anything worse happens to them. It made me want to be more conscious of my actions so that these sweet “cows of the sea” don’t have to suffer. Next, it was swimming with the dolphins. We didn’t expect to actually swim with them since we were told we would be touching them from a platform. Some of us were more excited than others but I think we all ended up having a lot more fun than we expected. It was so cool to see all my friends get pushed by a dolphin while they were riding boogie boards. The dolphins were so sweet and so smart! I wish I could do that again honestly. That was definitely one of the highlights of my trip forsure! Unfortunately, our pictures were $60 per person, which in my opinion was too overpriced when I could have paid a stranger half of that to take pictures with my Nikon for an hour and had the same outcome. Lily was able to sneak a picture in before getting told to put our phones away so here’s me with a dolphin!



Once the sun goes down, Cancún is ready to play and dance all night. Cancún may lack good Mexican food but it certainly does fall short of having a fun nightlife scene. Like I said, this place reminds me of the Las Vegas strip. Walk down the main Cancún street and it’s just nightclub after nightclub after nightclub! The bass from the venues can be heard from down the street, there’s colorful lights beaming, and the every place is filled with people. If EDC and Coachella decided to open multiple nightclubs next to each other, I would imagine it would be a lot like the ones in Cancún. Not too mention all these nightclubs charge you cover fees as if you were attending a music festival or something.

Travel Tip: This one is super important, especially for us younger travelers who are more likely to party every night when traveling. BE SMART WHEN GOING OUT! I can not emphasize this enough. Yes I may sound like a mom but seriously, just because you’re on vacation doesn’t mean your common sense has to be. Have fun but be careful, especially in other countries such as Mexico. Places like Cancún have had incidents of alcohol being tapered with recently, which is more common than you think and that’s scary. Be aware of your surroundings, how much you’re drinking remember to drink water in between (bottled or filtered water only!) and listen to your gut feeling! Even if the alcohol is fine, your body might react to it differently because of the different ingredients so just be smart while you party all night 🙂

Daddio’s: This was the nightclub we went out to on our first night. This place was pretty cool because it had a huge dance floor in the middle and had stairs wrapping around it on both sides. Thankfully we had a table upstairs with the perfect view of the dance floor. This was convenient because we didn’t have to go to the bar for drinks at all the whole night. Although this place wasn’t raging when we got there, my friends 110% started the party. There was not a single person on the dance floor so we decided to do what we do best – start dancing. Within minutes, more and more people started coming to dance floor from out of nowhere and all of a sudden it was packed. I’m not even kidding, we started the dance party. This was the first time I witnessed a real life scenario of the bystander effect and I’m glad we got the club dancing haha. It was honestly pretty epic. I think my favorite part about this place is that they have legit DJs come perform. We came on a good night because DJ Tay James performed, who is Justin Bieber’s DJ. We found it funny because Justin Bieber had just cancelled his tour earlier last week so this was as close as we were going to get to the real deal. My favorite part about Daddio’s is that the dance floor rotates! We did not see that coming at all and all of sudden we’re going round and round while dancing to hip-hop, house and and Spanish EDM. (I know EDM is a lame term but I don’t know what to categorize the music in, especially when it’s in Spanish.)

Coco Bongo: This isn’t just a nightclub, but it’s also a live show. If you’re ever in Cancún, go to Coco Bongo! Reserve a table if you can, it’s so worth it because it includes an open bar and you won’t have to be crowded in the pit. This show blew mind. I honestly expected it to be corny but it ended up being an epic Spanish Cirque du Soleil mixed with a rave mixed with live movie performances that went on for hours. There were pretty go-go dancers, acrobats hanging from the ceiling, and even dancers in realistic costumes from Sparta and Pirates of the Caribbean! Right when you thought it was over, another live performance would come on and would keep the party going. In between performances, they would play live music videos on the screen and put the the lime light on girls dancing in the cages they had upstairs. Brandi, Lily and I were lucky enough to have been in the cage for most of the show. We got to dance on screen a lot but more importantly we had a front row view of the whole show. The dancers from Coco Bongo were so talented and in shape that it made me want to start doing aerial flow yoga. This was some of the best entertainment ever and I highly recommend going here!

Mandala: Oh Mandala, we meet again and I’m so glad we did because it’s always amazing! Mandala is more of a franchised  type of nightclub that can be found in Cancún, Cabo and Puerto Vallarta. I went to the one in Puerto Vallarta last year and it was my favorite nightclub so I knew it would be a great time in Cancún as well. The main difference between the one in Puerto Vallarta and Cancún is that one here in Cancún is smaller and lot more expensive. There was $55 cover fee (even for girls), which included an open bar but to me that is pretty pricey considering I don’t even pay that much to get into places in Hollywood and LA back home. We even got into Mandala free when we went to Puerto Vallarta so I was kind of disappointed at how expensive it was here. There were a bunch of promoters outside the club trying to offer the “best” rate but honestly they were all overpriced. I think if it would have been just girls going, we would have gotten in for free but that wasn’t the case this time. My favorite thing about Mandala is their taste in music every time. They play the perfect balance between Spanish and English music, as well as house, hip-hop and everything in between. I also really like that they play music videos of the songs their playing but then again most nightclubs in Mexico do. (I still think it’s pretty cool though). The highlight of my night was when Lily and I got picked from the crowd to go on stage with the DJs. I feel like this has happened to us a few times but it’s still always as exciting as my first time. As lame as being that girl on stage can seem, it’s pretty fun to have a view high up from the DJ booth where you can see the whole crowd vibing and dancing down below. We were only there for a couple of minutes but it was cool that they picked us out of all the girls in the crowd that night.

Overall the nightlife in Cancún is great but it’s overpriced at American rates. The one good thing about is that they’re open bar and stay open until like 5 am, so you can dance there all night long. There’s a lot of other nightclubs to hop to nearby that I didn’t go to but I wish I could have. Once again, that will be for my next vacation in Cancún.IMG_6519IMG_6620IMG_6532IMG_6626

Cancún Wrap Up

Overall Cancún was an amazing trip. It was the chaotic but fun and I was able to explore a new place and learn a lot of new things, including more about myself. I always come back from trips with more knowledge, a stronger self of myself, and lots of gratitude. Although this trip had a few bumps in the road, it was still a wonderful and relaxing trip. I’m so grateful my friends and I were able to experience new things together, like swimming with dolphins and exploring new beaches. Would I go back to Cancún? Definitely! Next time I would just save up more since it’s not cheap and next time I would visit more places like Playa del Carmen, Tulum, and the Mayan ruins and Downtown Cancún for some authentic Mexican food. I would also recommend coming for at least a week so that you can fully enjoy everything Cancún has to offer. Yet if I had to recommend to someone my age if they should go to Cancún or Puerto Vallarta, I would say Puerto Vallarta in a heartbeat. Why?

Although Cancún’s beaches are way prettier, I feel like Puerto Vallarta has everything Cancún has and a lot more! It’s also about 10x cheaper than Cancún and you get a sense that you’re actually surrounded in Mexican culture while still feeling safe. They both have amazing all-inclusive resorts on the beach and offer booze cruises, zip lining, jungle tours, banana boats, etc. but Puerto Vallarta saves you a lot more money for the same experiences, has authentic Mexican food everywhere, including the resorts and the weather is not as humid. I also surprisingly felt safer in Puerto Vallarta even though it’s not as developed as Cancún.  If you have more money to spend and would rather feel like you’re in America, then I would recommend Cancún. If you’re traveling on a tighter budget but want to experience more culture, more adventure, better shops and food, then I would totally recommend Puerto Vallarta.

Cancún, you were hot, beautiful and fun but this vacation was too short. I hope we meet again so I can explore more of the natural beauty you have to offer. Thank you for showing me new places, teaching me new lessons, and making me feel alive.

Until next time,


Deep in the Sky with Marquees Wyatt and Evan Casey

Sunday Funday! If you know me, you know how much I love to dance and that I love good house music. Thank you mom and dad for putting me in dance and cheerleading at such a young age because dancing has remained my main form of therapy. Yesterday was my first Sunday off in a while and it just happened to be on the same day that “Deep in the Sky” was being held at the Standard in Downtown LA. Deep Los Angeles was founded by Marques Wyatt and he has been putting on music events at warehouses, hotels, bars and funky venues around LA. Did I mention he DJs at all his events too? So my best friend, Cody (the blonde guy you will see dancing in 90% of my Snapchats) and I won free tickets to a Deep Los Angeles event in Venice two weeks ago and we loved it so much we wanted to go again. Unfortunately, pre-sale tickets for Deep in the Sky were sold out by the time we decided to go and we didn’t know if would be able to purchase tickets at the door. Thankfully for us we were given free tickets again last minute (shoutout to Ashley’s mom for hooking it up). I think the fact we keep getting free tickets to these music events means the universe wants us to dance and get funky or at least I’d like to believe so.  Regardless, we were both stoked and appreciative because everything is better when it’s free, right? I had no expectations of what was yet to come but I was ready to dance on a rooftop with my best friend.

Although I have been to the Standard Hotel before, it was way easier to get in this time. There was a lot of parking available at the hotel and it was only $7. Finding cheap parking in LA is not easy so this was great start to our adventure. Usually parking in LA can be a hassle even with valet and it can range from $10-$30 so I  was happy we found it so conveniently and even saved some money. As a college student who pays for all my adventures while being on a tight budget, saving money wherever possible is always a plus. Getting into the event was a breeze. We waited in line for about 3 minutes and were pulled to the front since we were on a guest list. Took an elevator 12 floors up and we were could already hear the bass before we even stepped out the elevator door. Evan Casey was DJing first and he set the mood with some uplifting and vibey house beats. Of course we hit the dancefloor before we could even think about cocktails. The crowd’s energy was high from the moment we got there until we left and it only continued to get packed as the afternoon went on. People were dressed up in festival attire while others were dressed extremely casual, which was perfect for a Sunday afternoon dance party. The weather was hot on the rooftop so this called for a refreshing drink. As I was making my way to the bar, I noticed one of the servers carrying a lot of empty glasses. Being a typical hospitality major and restaurant employee, I automatically helped her out by picking up empty glasses and taking them up to the bar for her. Lucy thanked me and offered me free a cocktail for helping her out. I decided to try a new cocktail that caught my eye because it was so pretty. The cocktail is called the Frozen Desert Flower, which is handcrafted with vodka, lemon, elderflower, and pear purée. Wow just wow this drink did not disappoint. It tasted like a tropical fruit slushy party in my mouth, which was perfect on a hot day where I was dancing like it was a gym workout. I think the Frozen Desert Flower will be my cocktail of choice whenever I visit the Standard Rooftop from now on. Definitely recommend trying it out if you go to the Standard Hotel in Downtown.

Before Marques Wyatt went on for his set, I had the opportunity to meet and talk to him. It’s always pretty cool when I can chat with DJs at events because it creates a more intimate vibe and I get a better perspective on who the DJ is aside from their talent. I also had the opportunity to meet Evan Casey from Desert Hearts, which was great because he is such a down-to-earth guy and also extremely handsome. He even showed us where his family was chilling. Seeing that type of family love and support at music events always fills my heart because it shows how music can bring people together regardless of age. As we were coming back to the rooftop from my car, Cody and I ran into Lee Reynolds from Desert Hearts, who is the oldest DJs I know yet he is so full of life. This guy parties harder than I ever could and can mix for hours. As we rode the elevator with him, I asked him, “how do you stay so full of life all the time?”. His life advice was basically to just always have fun in life and have a positive outlook because that’s how you manifest anything in life. Just like me, he is a true believer of the law of attracting and manifestation.  As cliche as this advice was, it was refreshing to hear it from someone who I just met for the first time although I’ve danced to his house sets many times ebefore. As the sun went down, the party only got bigger. We danced for hours and the DJs curated nothing but groovy and funky music for a perfect summer vibe.

Overall Deep in the Sky was amazing. The service provided by all the Standard Hotel’s employees was spectacular. From the receptionist at the front desk to the bartenders on the rooftop, I was surprised at how genuine and professional everyone was. A big thank you to Elijah, one of the bartenders, who hooked it up with a free drink. As for Marques Wyatt and Deep Los Angeles, thank you so much for putting on a great event on a hotel rooftop. Although we were definitely some of the youngest in the crowd, the older crowd’s energy was consistently high all day and the house and techno music were great back to back. I’m grateful I had the opportunity to experience this basically for free because it was so much fun. Not only did I get to meet new people and multiple DJs but I was also able to run into old friends and people I’ve met at Lightning in A Bottle. Such a small world! I may have left the Standard Hotel tired from dancing all day but I came back with some new life advice and a new favorite cocktail. Can’t wait for the next Deep Los Angeles event for some more house music and lots of dancing.