Mar 042011
Penguins I have known: Half Moon Island, Cuverville, and Neko Harbour

Finally, Antarctica proper. Time for penguins! Our first landfall in Antarctica was at Half Moon Island, a crescent-shaped, rocky island with chinstrap penguin colonies and a small Argentinian research station.  (Technically Half Moon Island is part of the South Shetland Islands, not the Antarctic Peninsula, but there was ice and there were penguins, so I’m […]

Feb 152011
The Drake Passage: It's Not so Bad Until It is

Most people who visit Antarctica get there by boat, and the shortest route to Antarctica by boat is across the Drake Passage. For those of you who don’t remember your grade school history and geography lessons, the Drake Passage is the treacherous stretch of ocean between the southern tip of South America (at Cape Horn) […]

Jan 262011
End of the Road: from Ushuaia to Antarctica

Ushuaia is, quite literally, the end of the road.  Located off the tip of the South American continent in the archipelago called Tierra del Fuego, it’s considered the southernmost city in the world (although the smaller, Chilean Puerto Williams is giving Ushuaia a run for its money). As the last outpost before the Southern Ocean […]

Jan 202011
Antarctica Is . . .

For most of my life, Antarctica was an abstraction — a stand-in for the concept of “faraway”, of inaccessible wilds, bitter cold, the unknowable.  It stood for the idea of a last frontier populated by heroic explorers, or, as a reflection of more modern concerns, a barometer of climate change.  It was the fabled seventh […]

May 082010
‘R’ We Good Enough? Dominican Cascading at Ciguapa Falls, Cabarete

In April we attended a fantastic destination wedding in the Dominican Republic.  The gorgeous wedding was held at Casa Kimball, a villa overlooking the rolling waves of the Atlantic Ocean.  While we were there, we stayed in Cabarete, a town on the north coast known as one of the best kitesurfing and kiteboarding locations in […]

Nov 152009
Brush with a Tsunami (Tonga)

BEFORE: AFTER: Thanks to Claire Stucklen for these iPhone photos! She’s a fabulous masseuse, who was visiting Sandy Beach from the Four Seasons Resort Wailea, Hawaii. On the 29th of September, around 6:50 in the morning, I was out early on the beach hunting for shells.  I didn’t even notice the mild shaking, which others […]

Nov 082009
Humpback Whales in Tonga (Part II: Singing and Swimming)

The most thrilling experience of our trip to Tonga was the opportunity to swim in the water with the humpback whales.  Surprisingly, in the presence of such large creatures, I didn’t feel scared.  The whales were so graceful and in control and aware of our presence, that I never felt like I might get accidentally […]

Oct 262009
Advice for Prospective Whale Swimmers

So if I’ve convinced you to book your next trip to Tonga, congratulations!  It’s surprisingly easy to research and book online, and yes, they will eventually return your emails.  Just give them a few days. Here I’ve put together some advice for prospective swimmers: [Click on title for full story]Every day out on the water […]

Oct 082009
Swimming with Humpback Whales in Tonga (Part I: All About Humpbacks)

Just last week, I returned from a trip to Tonga, an island kingdom located in the Pacific Ocean, about a thousand miles (1,600 km) northeast of New Zealand. Tonga is one of the few places in the world that you are allowed to swim with whales. It was an awe-inspiring experience. These are pictures from […]