The occupational hazard of being a travel photographer is wanting to move to all the places you visit, but Mexico City really is a place I could live. It has the laid-back attitude of LA but the walkability and grit of New York with of course the amazing food and culture of Mexico plus some of the best museums in the world. I also have never been to a city more obsessed with dogs! I love going to the one of the many gorgeous parks and seeing the dog walkers wrangling a menagerie of breeds. Every café in the charming Condesa and hip Roma has dog bowls for your furry friends and what could be better than that?
Ahh that freeing feeling as you leave the smog of LA and see those gentle giant windmills in the distance. The air feels a little cleaner, the sky a little brighter, and you feel suddenly more relaxed. And all that mod design makes you feel like you’ve rolled into an old movie.
There’s lots of ways to do Palm Springs but really what will decide your trip is where you stay which is why I’m listing more hotels than I normally would. Palm Springs is a place where the main activity is lying by the pool so it all depends on what kind of pool scene you’re after. Always expect to pay half price if you can manage to come on a weekday instead of a weekend.
As a photographer I absolutely loved Cuba – the old cars, the crumbling grandeur, the beachy climate. As a tourist I thought it was challenging. This is not a place where you can just look up a nearby restaurant on Yelp if you’re hungry. There’s barely any WIFI and there are not enough Casa Particulares (home run restaurants) to serve all the tourists. Chances are your favorite bar or restaurant there is everyone else’s so be prepared to wait or be turned away if you don’t have a prior reservation.
There are two currencies in Cuba, one much cheaper for the locals in addition to their food stamp cards they use at markets and one that is pretty close to the dollar for tourists. What this means is that the cool bar or restaurant will be too expensive for most locals so you’ll find them hanging out with a bottle of rum on the Malecón (the stone wall and pathway but the ocean) instead. And there is a downside to all that crumbling beauty: the locals would like to fix up their homes but the government doesn’t give them money to do it. They have to be enterprising without getting in trouble. And while Cuba is amazing in that everyone gets free education and medical care you can make more money as a cab driver to tourists than as a doctor or teacher.
In general, my favorite thing was just to wander the streets there so bring good shoes and explore the unique beauty of Cuba.
Note: While I didn’t make it to Trinidad or Viñales it would have been nice to experience a less touristy Cuba.
I have been lucky enough to have visited Hawaii countless times and it’s a place I’ll continue returning to. Being in Hawaii is to know that the guiding force here is Mother Nature and that we are all just visitors, in awe of her beauty and power. Not one to believe in superstitions, I have seen bad luck fall on people that have take a lava rock with them. All the islands are all different versions of paradise with astounding beaches, lush forests, and great food. My two favorites are Kauai and Maui. Kauai is wilder and more untouched but the weather here can be unpredictable and generally rainier. Maui is a bit more developed than Kauai but has something for everyone and generally more sunshine. Hana is also in Maui which is wild and full of untouched places to discover especially if you beat the day tourists by basing yourself there. Because Maui is quite big you may want to split up your stay by booking a room on one side of the island for part of it and the other side for the rest so you don’t spend the whole time in your car.
This is the place to get off the grid, lose cell service, succumb the nature around you with quail, rabbits and coyotes popping up from behind the signature Joshua Trees that give this desert land its name. Some of the best stargazing there is amongst other-worldly boulders and cacti.
The nearby towns of Yucca Valley and Pioneertown are also worth exploring with the can’t miss restaurant, bar and live music venue of Pappy & Harriet’s. The hotels here are expensive and rather disappointing. Instead reconnect with nature and get first access to the park by camping or get an Airbnb near the park entrance.
I have been lucky enough to have visited Hawaii countless times and it’s a place I’ll continue to return. Being in Hawaii is to know that the guiding force here is Mother Nature and that we are all just visitors, in awe of her beauty and power. All the islands are all different versions of paradise with astounding beaches, lush forests, and great food. My two favorites are Kauai and Maui. Kauai is wilder and more untouched but the weather here can be unpredictable and generally rainier. Maui is a bit more developed than Kauai but has something for everyone and generally more sunshine. Kauai has a more boho feel though where locals care about keeping GMOs out of their fruit and vegetables and chickens run wild in the streets. The Napali coast on the north shore is wild, rugged, and unlike anywhere else.
I fell in love with French Polynesia on a cover assignment for Travel + Leisure Magazine. It was pretty much a dream job and due to the sporadic flight times between islands I was able to spend more days than usual in some places. While in Tetamanu Village I scuba dived for the first time in the clearest and most marine-life abundant waters I have ever experienced. Getting to places like this is challenging but you are rewarded with cleaner water where you can watch sharks and rays from the shore.
While French Polynesia seems incredibly far-flung it is actually only two more hours flying than Hawaii. What you give up in ease of getting around, communication, and food you gain in the clearest protected waters with snorkeling that will spoil you for the rest of time. And while you could spend tons of money on high end overwater bungalows there are also some amazing places that are a lot less expensive if you’re willing to forgo some creature comforts. I’ve now been lucky enough to have traveled to these islands three times and always leave wanting to go back again soon to discover another atoll in paradise.
I wasn't sure what to expect when we headed to the Azores but I definitely was surprised to see that almost every road there is lined with the most gorgeous hydrangea bushes. On São Miguel island they are all perfectly pruned, in the same powder blue color scheme, and some are quite massive. The island reminded me of a combination of an east coast hydrangea-filled island, Iceland with its hot springs and volcanoes, Hawaii with its lush foliage and clear sea, and Ireland with its pastoral grazing cows. But really São Miguel is its own special place with us visitors trying to make sense of its unique beauty.