Hey there, and Happy Galentines! I'm Henley, our Social Media Intern for the Spring here at Sherpani! Growing up, I knew one thing about what I wanted to do in my life, and that one thing was to travel! Being young, however, isn't always easy, so I'm here to share some fantastic trips I've gotten to experience. Read along as I share some perfect coastal girls' trips I've taken and how to make them a reality with some money-saving tips and tricks.
Newport Beach, California
First up, let's take a trip down memory lane when my four college roommates went on our first beach vacay together! We went for our Spring Break, so it was mid-March, and the weather was perfect. We were fortunate enough to have six full days of complete sunshine, 70-degree weather, a gentle coastal breeze, and glorious sunsets. Now being college students, we had a tight budget, but we also knew what to splurge on and when. Here are some of my favorite recommendations: where to stay, what to do, and where to eat when you travel to Newport Beach on your next girls' trip!
Where to Stay:
Newport Beach is a walk-friendly town which worked out great for us since we can’t rent a car just yet! We stayed in a condo near Seventh Street and West Balboa Boulevard, so we were right across the street from the beach. We were also about a 20-minute walk from Balboa Peninsula, which meant we got to enjoy many sunset strolls down the beach on our hunt for an evening ice cream. Anywhere within a mile radius of Balboa Peninsula is a perfect spot to enjoy the beach during the day and have shopping and food spots for the night!
AirBnB’s are my personal go to, so here are some recommendations of some affordable places to stay near the beach and the peninsula.
What to do:
Balboa Peninsula: If you haven’t heard me say it yet, this is a great area to explore when you need a break from the beach. You can take a walk out on the pier, grab a bite to eat, or pop into some of the surfer shops and pick out a new swimsuit (or grab a new bucket hat like me!)
Balboa Beach: This is the beach where we spent most of our days soaking in the sun. Don’t be surprised if you get some dolphin sightings right along the shore- we saw quite a few pods almost every day of the week! Beware that the water may be chilly depending on the time of year. Still, another fun activity we experienced was watching one another struggle back up the sand drop off any time someone would go down to touch the water for even a minute.
Dana Strand Beach: If you want to get out of Newport for the day and explore more of SoCal, drive to Dana Strand Beach. It is a picturesque coastline view paired with an elevated sidewalk that we walked along the beach to take in the scenic rolling hills, coastal bluffs, and ocean breeze. This beach is also a prominent surfer spot, so it was fun to watch the surfers catch some waves and dream that I could do that too!
Montage Laguna Beach Resort: Laguna Beach is another excellent spot outside Newport. Towards the back of the Montage Laguna Beach Resort is a gorgeous park equipped with a gazebo, picnic tables, and benches for the public to enjoy. The girls and I grabbed some sandwich fixings and bubbly drinks on the way and opted to enjoy this park for a sunset picnic! To add a cherry on top, we even saw baby dolphins that evening and watched them jump around until the sun went down! A bonus of this location is the drive there! It passes by many beautiful spots of SoCal, such as Venice Beach and Crystal Cove State Park, and shows you all the various scenery that California offers outside of Newport.
Where to eat:
Woody’s Wharf: Midway through our trip, we were tired of the grocery shopping meals and decided to get dressed up and go out for dinner. We headed to Woody’s Wharf, about a mile from our stay, and found the perfect restaurant for a cute-casual night out! Our table was right on the West Lido Channel side, so we saw the sunset sky and fantasized about joining one of the many yachts parked in the water. They had divine seafood pasta dishes and yummy appetizers. A must-eat place when visiting the town!
Seaside Bakery: What's better than a donut and smoothie on the beach to start your morning? The seaside bakery was the perfect breakfast spot for a grab-and-go when you are ready to start your day. My friends and I got various goods, and we all had rave reviews for our picks of mango smoothies, sprinkled donuts, ham and egg croissants, and blueberry muffins. This spot is guaranteed to make for a great morning!
Handel's Ice Cream: What’s a beach vacation without ice cream? Well, for us, it's a must, considering we went back to Handel's three times within the week! This ice cream place is a hot commodity around town, so don't be surprised to see a long line around the building, but not to worry, use this time to sift through their menu of over 45 flavors of ice cream, sorbets, sherberts, and ices if you can't choose (like me) then share a four scoop dish with a friend to get a taste of all your favorites. My faves were brownie dough, s'mores, and chocoholic chunks! Enjoy!
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
Next up, we have the lovely Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. The summer after my first year of college, my high school friends and I took this trip because it was an affordable and tropical location for us that had the beauty of Mexico, but was a little easier on our pockets. We went the last week of May and had terrific weather, with days full of sunshine and 80 degrees. Beware, though, that the humidity is no joke! Luckily, the ocean is nearby so you can take a break from the heat and jump in the ocean!
Where to stay:
While in Punta Cana, we chose to rent out an Airbnb for a group of us and enjoy a house to ourselves. The first Airbnb listed below is the one we stayed in, and it was perfect. It was a 3 level home with an upper deck for sunbathing and an outdoor pool to enjoy when we were done with the beach. It had plenty of sleeping rooms, comfortable beds, beautiful views, and 3.5 fully equipped bathrooms to freshen up after long beach days!. It also had a fully equipped kitchen that we utilized often! Best of all, though, our owner worked to get us set up with the excursion agency office directly below our home. From there, we made friends with the agent who showed us the local grocery stores, how to make a quick walk to the beach even faster, and of course, how to be safe in the town. However, you can find many airbnbs in the area including this one!Other Places to Stay:
What to do:
Boat Excursion: The boat day was our absolute favorite day and a must do when you are in the Dominican! We used the tour operator coordinated with our AirBnB host, Visit Dominican Republic, and they were absolutely phenomenal! Our group chose the Saona Island trip, and with that we had transportation to and from the boat and our home, boat stops at some natural pools and Saona Island, lunch, drinks, and entertainment during this all day excursion. We loved getting to explore the different islands around the Dominican, and enjoyed a day away from our home beach while getting immersed in the culture and meeting other vacationers from Belgium, France, and England!
Explore the History of the Country: If you need a day away from the sun, you can explore the island's many historical sites.Take a drive down to Santo Domingo to visit their 500 year old Colonial Zone. Founded in 1498, you will get to experience several century old Spanish colonial buildings and monuments such as the Catedral Primada de America, the first church in the America's. After taking a glimpse at history, you can stroll through other areas of the Colonial Zone that offer cafes, shops, museums, and more! Another excellent historic spot is Basílica Catedral Nuestra Señora de la Altagracia. This renowned church offers a 250 feet high arch over the building and a painting of the Virgin Mary from the 16th century. It is a beautiful spot for tourists to enjoy and become one with the Dominican culture.
Where to eat:
Onno’s: We didn't eat out a ton, however, we are so glad we checked out Onno's. This was about 20 minutes from our home along Arena Gorda Beach, which was a fun stroll. The restaurant had such a fun vibe and was welcoming to those who were just getting done with the beach or were choosing to dress up a bit more for the night. They have both local and American food to choose from, which were both great, but we especially loved their fish tacos and got a few tapas to share! They were a delicious, affordable, and inviting restaurant, and of course, they had some tropical cocktails to match the vibe and enjoy!
Nam Nam: If you want to enjoy authentic Dominican hospitality, there is no better place than this locally-owned restaurant.The raving reviews from this place are true- with outstanding service, long hours, and is located centrally in Punta Cana. They have a variety of American foods, such as burgers, sandwiches, salads, and homemade desserts. Still, they all have a hint of Dominican love from the local family who runs it.
Finally, Destin, Florida- this spot will always have a special place in my heart! Being from Texas, this was always a perfect beach getaway for us, and I have driven the 9-hour route many times. The sand in Destin is my absolute favorite of all the coastal places I have experienced (even Hawaii!). The soft, white sand paired with the crystal clear blue waters will make you think you are far outside the United States. Destin is the perfect ladies' getaway when rotating through beach days, exquisite dinners, shopping downtown, and drinking wine at sunset!
Where to stay:
Having stayed in Destin before, I have tried out numerous options, from condos to hotels to homes, and have settled on my favorite being the splurge for a beachfront condo or home. Nothing is better than waking up to enjoy a cup of coffee on a balcony that overlooks the ocean and offers the relaxing sounds of the waves crashing and seagulls starting their day! While Seaside is a popular location in Destin, it can be pricey, but everything is close around there, so staying on Miramar Beach or Santa Clara beach may offer more beach access! I have linked 3 AirBnB options below of affordable, oceanfront properties to ensure you make the most of your beach vacation!
What to do:
Downtown Seaside: When visiting Destin, Florida, setting a day or an afternoon aside for Downtown Seaside is a must! This adorable town will send you back to where life was slower and more simple. I always start by exploring the numerous shops in the town! A few of my favorites are: Central Square Records, Sundog Bookstore, and Hooch and Holley’s. Don’t forget to stop in the Seaside Store to grab an iconic Comfort Colors t-shirt or sweatshirt to wear upon arriving home because, if you’re like me, you weren’t there if you don’t have the shirt! After the shopping, be sure to enjoy some food at some beachfront restaurants such as Bud and Alleys (which I’ll talk about later ;)) or Pickles Beachside Grill. Finally, walk down to the beach to experience the glorious sunsets, but be careful of getting in the way of photos because many families opt to take advantage of the beautiful scene to share on their Christmas Cards!
Harborwalk Village: A stroll along Harborwalk Village is another option similar to Downtown Seaside, full of shops and restaurants to enjoy. I loved heading to HarborWalk for the night to grab some ice cream, shop, and enjoy an evening showing of the movie they had on a big screen that night. Make sure to stop in the Aloha Surf Company to get into the surfer spirit of Florida, and pop in the Life is Good store to find some more comfy tees for back home.
Where to eat:
Bud and Alley’s: Named after the town founder’s dog and the restaurant owner’s cat, Bud and Alley’s is the perfect place to enjoy the sense of community that Seaside has to offer over some cocktails and dinner. Growing up, my friends and I would have my parents grab a table while we went down below to stick our toes in the sand and water before heading back up to watch the sunset along the shore. You can’t go wrong with their seafood dishes, and one of my favorites was the BBQ Head-On Shrimp or fresh fish of the day. The view, combined with the food, is something you don’t want to miss!
Boshamps: At another great location situated on the Destin Harbor, Boshamps was another family favorite, with a large variety of food to choose from. You must try the Fried Green Tomato and Jumbo Lump Crab to start and finish your meal with their famous oysters, or try my sister’s favorite, the Lobster Mac and Cheese. The live music they offer adds to the ambiance of Boshamps. A favorite memory I have was on the 4th of July when we could see loads of fireworks while finishing our meal, thanks to their Harborside open windows.
I hope you have enjoyed reminiscing with me on some of my favorite coastal girl's trips I’ve taken in the past. I don’t know about you, but after looking back on them, I am just about ready to book another trip myself! So what’s stopping you? Call your girlfriends, pick a place, get a date, and experience a new journey to create memories that will last a lifetime. Work will be waiting on you when you return… ;) Let us know where you go, and safe travels!
Great suggestions. I’m ready to book a trip! By the way, Bud & Alley’s has an awesome upstairs bar overlooking the beach, and their crab cakes are the best in the world! And… Boshamps has a delectable smoked yellowfin tuna dip, most places in the area do, but urs the absolute best!