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Visiting Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve

Sian Ka’an is Yucatec Mayan for “where the sky is born,” and it’s not hard to see how the original inhabitants arrived at such a poetic name. The unkempt beaches, blue-green sea, bird-filled wetlands and islets, and humble accommodations are manna for bird-watchers, artists, snorkelers, and kayakers. But most visitors come here for the fishing. Sian Ka’an is one of the best fly-fishing spots in the world, with all three Grand Slam catches: bonefish, tarpon, and permit.

green waters amon lush trees in Sian Kaan Biosphere Reserve
The Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve was designted as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. Photo © Serafino Mozzo/iStock.

[pullquote align=”right”]A huge variety of flora and fauna thrive in the reserve, including four species of mangrove, many medicinal plants, and about 300 species of birds, including toucans, parrots, frigate birds, herons, and egrets.[/pullquote]

The reserve was created in 1986, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987, and expanded in 1994. It now encompasses around 1.3 million acres of coastal and mangrove forests and wetlands, and some 113 kilometers (70 miles) of pristine coral reefs just offshore. A huge variety of flora and fauna thrive in the reserve, including four species of mangrove, many medicinal plants, and about 300 species of birds, including toucans, parrots, frigate birds, herons, and egrets. Monkeys, foxes, crocodiles, and boa constrictors also populate the reserve and are spotted by locals and visitors with some regularity. Manatees and jaguars are the reserve’s largest animals but also the most reclusive: You need sharp eyes and a great deal of luck to spot either one. More than 20 Maya ruins have been found in the reserve, though most are unexcavated.

Spending a few days in Sian Ka’an is the best way to really appreciate its beauty and pace. Hotels and tour operators there can arrange fishing, bird-watching, and other tours, all with experienced local guides. But if time is short, a number of tour operators in Tulum offer day trips into the reserve as well.

Information and Services

Don’t expect much in the way of services in Sian Ka’an—if there is something you can’t do without, definitely bring it with you. There are no banking services, and few of the hotels or tour operators accept credit cards. There is one Internet café (9am-9pm Mon.-Fri., 9am-2pm Sat., US$1/hour), located inside a mini-mart near the southwest corner of the central plaza; many hotels have Wi-Fi. Cell phones typically don’t work in Sian Ka’an, but there are public telephones in town. Punta Allen also has a modest medical clinic—look for it on the main road as you enter town. There is no laundry, but most hotels will provide the service.

muyil archaeological site in yucatan
The Muyil Archaeological Zone is one of the oldest in the Maya world. Photo © Dennis Jarvis, licensed CC BY-SA.

Sights in Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve

Muyil Archaeological Zone

The most accessible Maya site within the Sian Ka’an reserve is Muyil (Hwy. 307, 25 kilometers/15.5 miles south of Tulum, 8am-5pm daily, US$4), on the western edge of the park. Also known as Chunyaxché, it is one of the oldest archaeological sites in the Maya world, dating back to 300 BC and occupied continuously through the conquest. It’s believed to have been primarily a seaport, perched on a limestone shelf near the edge of Laguna Muyil; it is connected to the Caribbean via a canal system that was constructed by ancient Maya traders and still exists today.

Only a small portion of the city has been excavated, so it makes for a relatively quick visit. There are six main structures ranging from two-meter-high (6.6-foot) platforms to the impressive Castillo. At 17 meters (56 feet), it is one of the tallest structures on the peninsula’s Caribbean coast. The Castillo is topped with a unique solid round masonry turret from which the waters of the Caribbean Sea can be seen. Unfortunately, climbing to the top is prohibited.

A sacbé (raised stone road) runs about a half kilometer (0.3 mile) from the center of the site to the edge of the Laguna Muyil. Part of this sacbé is on private property, however, so if you want to access the lagoon from the ruins—you also can get to it by car—there is an additional charge of US$4 per person. Along the way, there is a lookout tower with views over Sian Ka’an to the Caribbean.

Once you arrive at the water’s edge, it’s possible to take a boat tour (US$46 pp) that crosses both Muyil and Chunyaxché Lagoons, which are connected by a canal that was carved by the ancient Maya in order to reach the ocean. It’s a pleasant way to enjoy the water, and you’ll also get a view of several otherwise inaccessible ruins along the lagoons’ edges and through the mangroves, with the final stop being Xlapak ruins, a small site thought to have been a trading post. If arriving by car, look for signs to Muyil Lagoon on Highway 307, just south of the similarly named archaeological site. More thorough tours of this part of Sian Ka’an can be booked in Tulum.

Bahía de la Ascensión

Ascension Bay covers about 20 square kilometers (12.4 square miles), and its shallow flats and tangled mangrove islands teem with bonefish, tarpon, and huge permit—some of the biggest ever caught, in fact. It is a fly fisher’s dream come true, and it has been attracting anglers from around the world since the mid- 1980s. Don’t fly-fish? No worries: The spin fishing is also fantastic, while the offshore reef yields plenty of grouper, barracuda, dorado, tuna, sailfish, and marlin.

Getting to Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve

Many of the hotels include airport pickup/drop-off, which is convenient and helps you avoid paying for a week’s car rental when you plan on fishing all day. That said, a car is useful if you’d like to do some exploring on your own.

By Bus

Public transport to and from Punta Allen is unpredictable at best—build some flexibility into your plans in case of missed (or missing) connections.

A privately run Tulum-Punta Allen shuttle (cell. tel. 984/115-5580, US$22, 4 hours) leaves Tulum at 2pm most days. You can catch it at the taxi station on Avenida Tulum between Calles Centauro and Orion, or anywhere along the Zona Hotelera road; advance reservations are required. To return, the same shuttle leaves Punta Allen for Tulum at 5am.

You also can get to Punta Allen from Carrillo Puerto, a slightly cheaper but much longer and more taxing trip. State-run combis leave from the market in Carrillo Puerto (a block from the main traffic circle) for a bone-jarring four-hour trip down a private road to the small settlement of Playón (US$10, 10am and 3pm daily), where water taxis wait to ferry passengers across the lagoon to Punta Allen (US$2.50 pp, 15 minutes). The combi back to Carrillo Puerto leaves Playón at 6am.

By Car

To get to Punta Allen by car, head south along the coast through (and past) Tulum’s Zona Hotelera. About eight kilometers (5 miles) from the Tulum/Zona Hotelera junction is el arco (the arch), marking the reserve boundary where you register and pay a US$2.85 per person park fee. From there it’s 56 kilometers (35 miles) by dirt road to Punta Allen. The road is much improved from years past, and an ordinary car can make it in 2-3 hours. It can be much more difficult after a heavy rain, however. Be sure to fill the tank in Tulum—there is no gas station along the way or in Punta Allen, though some locals sell gas from their homes.


Excerpted from the Twelfth Edition of Moon Yucatán Peninsula.

11 October Reads You May Have Missed

11 October Reads You May Have Missed

 

 

The days are growing colder and darker, and winter is quickly approaching… so what better time to snuggle up and read? Check out our list of LBYR books released this past month, full of beautifully illustrations, laugh-out-loud stories, fantastical tales, and more.

 

Rory the Dino Needs a Christmas Tree coverPrincess Hair coverthe Bad Mood and the Stick cover

1. A Farm for Maisie by Jennifer and John Churchman

The bestselling authors of The Sheepover are back with another charming story set on their bustling Vermont farm. This time, follow Maisie, an adorable sheepdog puppy, as she learns about each animal’s job: laying eggs, pulling carts, and making wool. But can Maisie find her own place in her new home?

 

2. Rory the Dinosaur Needs a Christmas Tree by Liz Climo

When Rory and his dad can’t find the perfect Christmas tree, Rory is worried the holiday will be ruined! Can he and his friends learn how to get into the Christmas spirit without one? This festive tale from popular comic artist Liz Climo will appeal to children, Tumblr followers, and new fans alike!

 

3. Princess Hair by Sharee Miller

Debut author-illustrator Sharee Miller celebrates different shapes, textures, and styles of black hair in her new picture book! With colorful illustrations and an endearing text, Princess Hair spreads the invaluable message that all hair is befitting of royalty.

 

4. The Bad Mood and the Stick by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Matthew Forsythe

From the New York Times bestselling author Lemony Snicket comes a witty, deadpan tale about the contagious nature of bad moods. This picture book provides a humorous lesson on forgiveness and reminds readers that a little ice cream and empathy goes a long way in turning a bad mood around!

Malala's Magic Pencil coverHaunted Sleepover coverDraw It Yourself Adventures coverThe Wizards of Once coverThe Twelve Pets of Christmas cover

5. Malala’s Magic Pencil by Malala Yousafzai, illustrated by Kerascoet

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai has changed the world with her inspiring story and perseverance. Now, younger readers can learn about Malala through her first picture book! The tale recounts her childhood in Pakistan and desire to make the world a better place with a magic pencil. As she grows older, Malala discovers that true power came from her words.

 

6. Haunted Sleepover by B. A. Frade

Who says spooky books are just for Halloween? For young readers who want to keep the Halloween spirit going all year long, check out the Scaremaster series. The newest frightfully fun installment takes you on a journey through a haunted night in a museum. Enter if you dare!

 

7. Draw-It-Yourself Adventures: Superhero Saga by Andrew Judge, illustrated by Chris Judge

Embark upon another trip to Doodletown with the latest customizable tale in the Draw-It-Yourself Adventures series! Scribble, sketch, fold, and twist your way through a story of superheroes, villains, action, and mayhem— and be prepared to laugh the whole time.

 

8. The Wizards of Once by Cressida Cowell

The internationally bestselling author of How to Train Your Dragon is back! Wizards and Warriors have been mortal enemies for centuries. But when a warrior princess and wizards prince collide on the trail of a deadly witch, it’s the start of a grand adventure! Readers will be transported to the wildwood by Cressida’s trademark humor and charming illustrations.

 

9. Celebrate the Season: The Twelve Pets of Christmas and Celebrate the Season: Secret Snowflake by Taylor Garland

The magic of Christmas is captured in the first two books of this very merry middle grade series! In The Twelve Pets of Christmas, Quinn raises money for the local animal shelter by selling ornaments. But will she be able to make sure her favorite dog has a home for the holidays? In Secret Snowflake, Riley must discover who has been leaving her thoughtful, anonymous secret snowflake gifts. Is it her crush Marcus or someone else entirely?

All the Wrong Questions coverNevermoor cover

10. All the Wrong Questions: Question 1 by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Seth

Before the Baudelaires, before A Series of Unfortunate Events, even before the invention of Netflix, Lemony Snicket was a boy discovering the mysteries of the world. Read the account of it all in the debut volume of the New York Times bestselling series, available now with a new look.

 

 

11. Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend

Discover the story TIME Magazine called, “A Harry Potter-esque adventure.” Nevermoor is the first book in a breathtaking new series by debut author Jessica Townsend about a cursed girl who escapes death and finds herself in a magical world—but is then tested beyond her wildest imagination.

8 Recipes with a Twist for Thanksgiving!

Let’s make Thanksgiving a little more exciting this year! Whether you’re cooking a turkey and want to include a creative side (Ayesha Curry’s Spiced Butternut Squash Mash) or are preparing an entire vegan meal and want to replace the bird all together (Sweet & Smokey Glazed Tofu Ham), we have something that will put a fun twist on your traditional Thanksgiving meal that will please family and friends. Our mouths are watering just typing this!

From THE SUPERFUN TIMES VEGAN HOLIDAY COOKBOOK by Isa Chandra Moskowitz
Sweet & Smoky Glazed Tofu Ham
 – 
This is the cutest thing in the world, and it also happens to be incredibly tasty. A winning combo!
Stuffed Thanksgiving Burger – It’s like eating a Bob Ross foliage landscape—in burger form!

The Superfun Times Vegan Holiday Cookbook by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

From DEEP RUN ROOTS by Vivian Howard
Marinated Turnips with Orange and Pumpkin Seeds
 – Turnips and oranges bring out the best in each other in this salad that lightens the sometimes heavy combination of roots and greens. Make this bright version of the combo with baby turnips of any kind, but Hakurei is Vivian’s favorite. Mature turnips or turnips that have been sitting in a root cellar or grocery store for any length of time will disappoint. Baby beets work too. This salad needs to marinate before you serve it.
Grandma Hill’s Candied Yams – If you’re looking for syrup-sweet, marshmallow-crowned yams, this is not the recipe for you. If you’re interested in sweet potatoes that taste just that but with just little extra sweetness, then consider Grandma Hill’s approach. You can assemble them ahead of time and bake the yams off just before you want to serve them.

Deep Run Roots by Vivian Howard

From THE SEASONED LIFE by Ayesha Curry
Spiced Butternut Squash Mash – Spiced with curry powder, nutmeg, and pepper, this side dish is perfect with jerk turkey, but it’s also a great alternative to plain mashed sweet potatoes served with any main course. It’s not hard to make cashew butter at home—put 1/4 cup of raw, unsalted cashews in a Vitamix, crank it all the way up for about 20 seconds, and you’re done. For a deeper flavor, give the cashews a quick toast in a pan before blending.
Ayesha Curry’s Best Mac and Cheese – This mac and cheese is extra cheesy, including a generous amount of cheese on top. There’s also a pinch of ground mustard to give it some depth, and an addictive pancetta ‘crumble’ on top. To save some time, look for already-chopped pancetta in the deli section of the grocery store. If you can’t find it, buy strips of pancetta and chop them up yourself.

The Seasoned Life by Ayesha Curry

From ISA DOES IT by Isa Chandra Moskowitz
Vegan Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream
 – This is the most ice-creamiest ice cream ever! It’s a pumpkin pie in a cone (or a bowl)!

Isa Does It by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

From GOLDEN by Itamar Srulovich and Sarit Packer
Butternut Squash & Spice Cheesecake
 – An American-inspired cheesecake from a London café serving Middle Eastern desserts, and it’s bound to be a crowd-pleaser!

Golden by Itamar Srulovich and Sarit Packer

Best Berlin Clubs

Chances are pretty high that at some point in your visit to Berlin, you’re going to end up in a nightclub. Berlin is one of the most infamous party cities in the world, where top-notch DJs, artists, and performers flock en masse, inhibitions are adamantly cast aside, and the revelry never stops—sometimes, quite literally. Berlin’s diverse neighborhoods, flourishing art scene, and tenacious persona have created some of the best nightclubs, bars, and music venues in Europe. No matter your nightlife preferences, there’s a place for you here. Visitors would do well to keep in mind that Berlin comes alive after midnight: don’t be surprised to see lines still forming at some of these clubs at 3 in the morning. Don’t fret, though, early birds—plenty of places open their doors in the afternoon, and thankfully, daytime parties happen to be Berlin’s forte.

Here are a few of the city’s best spots for drinking, dancing, and debauchery.

Berlin evening skyline
Berlin comes alive at night. Photo © bluejayphoto/iStock.

Prince Charles

Prince Charles (Prinzenstraße 85F) is an excellent choice if you’re craving hip hop or house music, and any given night might offer a totally different experience from the one before. The Kreuzberg venue is sort of part-nightclub, part-concert hall (they occasionally host event nights like “Burgers and Hip Hop”), and provides just the right balance between a bar and club atmosphere. The club itself is located in the basement of an old piano manufacturing complex, where the former employee swimming pool has been drained and converted into the club’s central bar.

House of Weekend Club

Sitting high above the city in the top floors of the former Haus des Reisens near Alexanderplatz (Alexanderstraße 7), this popular spot works just as well for cocktail hour as it does for dancing till dawn. The rooftop is a huge draw—the open-air terrace offers panoramic views of the city, and space to sit down, relax with a cocktail, and take in the sunset (when the weather is permitting). There is usually a cover charge at the door (10 euros), but you’ll find an inviting mix of locals and young tourists inside enjoying the music: relatively standard DJ sets on most nights (house and techno), with occasional themed events.

RAW-tempel

RAW-tempel (Revaler strasse 99) is a collection of eclectic spaces—technically, an entire city block of abandoned warehouses—that has been repurposed as a playground for Berlin’s young, creative urbanites. It’s the perfect place to soak up the art, music, and burgeoning creativity that blossoms in Berlin’s seemingly-gritty underground. Pretty much anything you’re in the mood for, you’re likely to find in this hidden, graffiti-covered gem: food trucks, pop-up shops, bars and restaurants, climbing walls, an indoor skate park, live concerts, galleries, theater, and of course, nightclubs. The goings-on tend to vary, so you never quite know what you’re going to get here—but trust us, that’s half the fun. Offerings are generally pretty cheap, but remember to bring cash; most places won’t take cards.

Club der Visionäre

The popularity of this trendy waterfront bar, located between Kreuzberg and Treptower Park, has stood the test of time. The picturesque Club der Visionäre (Am Flutgraben 1) sits directly on the canal, under the friendly blanket of a romantic weeping willow. Like many in Berlin, this spot lands somewhere in the gray area between bar, venue, and nightclub—it’s a great place for afternoon drinks on a weekday, but is well-known for its Sunday parties and afterhours scene, when the music kicks in and the dance floor heats up. There’s a small indoor dance floor for those so inclined, as well as a larger, open-air deck on the water. In the colder months, they’ll often seal off the outdoor area and provide heaters in order the keep the party going. Cover charge is 5 euros.

Berghain

It wouldn’t be a Berlin nightclub list without Berghain (Am Wriezener Bahnhof): the club has become practically synonymous with the city’s famed nightlife. Located near the border between Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain, this popular club is notoriously difficult to get into, with a line that often stretches more than three hours. There are theories floating all over the internet on how to make it past the strict doormen, suggesting everything from “speak to him in German” to “dress like a poor hipster.” (Seriously, there’s even a website for hopefuls that lets you practice for the real thing with a virtual bouncer.) That being said, if it’s your lucky night and you make it through, you’ll find yourself in one of Europe’s most legendary clubs: an industrial-style former power plant where the festivities regularly rage for more than 24 hours. And for party-goers with a passion for music, Berghain’s sound system is a thing of beauty.


Moon City Walks Guides - Explore seven amazing cities, one step at a time.

Looking to explore more of Berlin? Check out Moon Berlin Walks for six self-guided walks through the city.

Enjoying Aruba Water Sports—Without Planning Ahead

All along Palm Beach are a dozen or more independent operators with tents that provide spur-of-the-moment, unscheduled activities. These could be banana boat rides, tubing, waverunners, and parasailing, usually sold in blocks of 15-30 minutes. Each resort has at least one vendor; prices and services are the same from one to the next. Fisherman’s Huts, north of the Marriott, is Aruba’s windsurfing and kitesurfing center, with kiosks and tents where lessons can be arranged or equipment rented to those with experience.

kitesurfers and other people enjoying water sports in Aruba
No need to plan ahead to get out on the water; these watersports operators have you covered even if it’s a last minute decision. Photo © Nisangha/iStock.

Aruba Active Vacations

Dedicated to extreme sports, Aruba Active Vacations (Fisherman’s Huts, L. G. Smith Blvd. across from Bakval, 297/586-0989, 9am-7pm daily, windsurfing $50-135, kitesurfing $110-160, mountain biking $25-100, landsailing safari 2.5 hours, $60) is aptly named. Owner Wim Eehlers is the president of the Aruba Windsurfing Association, which conducts the annual Aruba Hi-Winds Pro-Am. He and his crew are fanatical about their activities, offering patient, expert instruction. Aruba is considered to have some of the most ideal conditions for windsurfing in the world: Calm waters and steady winds make it easy to master the sport. Discover a new obsession.

Aruba Surf School

Due to Aruba’s calm waters, surfing does not have the thrill of the Pacific or north Atlantic coasts. There is only one operation dedicated to pursuing this activity here: Aruba Surf School (Irausquin Blvd, 297/593-0229, by appt. daily, 2.5-hour lesson and tour $95, rental $35, SUP class $60, $25/hr rental). Still owner and surfing fanatic Dennis Martinez does his utmost to provide a fun day of riding the waves. He picks up guests at their resorts and takes them to the best surf for that day—at out-of-the-way coves along the north coast. Expect an outback adventure and surfing safari experience all in one. They also rent stand-up paddleboards (SUP) from their center on the beach directly in front of the Marriott Surf Club.

Native Divers Watersports

You can always count on a friendly chat and conscientious service with Vanessa at Native Divers Watersports (Washington 16, 297/586-4763, book at the tent in front of the Marriott Surf Club, 9am-5pm daily, float rental $5/day banana boat; tube rides $20 for 20 minutes; waverunners $65/half-hour; additional $5 per child to share with up to two small children; driver must be at least 16 years old; parasailing $60). She will be happy to arrange all sorts of family activities for playing in the waves, such as tubing, banana boat rides, parasailing, and waverunners, as well as renting out floats, at standard rates. She makes it a practice of directing clients to the most safety-conscious and reputable operators. Her tent is a hospitable place to relax, and she is a fountain of information regarding activities and operators.

Fun for Everyone

At the north end of the Riu Palace beach is George Tromp and his tent offering Fun for Everyone (Borancana 128, 297/640-6603, 9am-5pm daily, float rental $5/day, banana boat and tube rides $20/half-hour, waverunners $60/half-hour, parasailing $60, beach umbrellas $25/ day, beach lounges $5/day). George runs a very friendly operation. He has four fast boats of his own to accommodate all comers. Banana boat rides offer a complete tour of the coastline from Palm Beach to the Westpunt.

He also has beach lounge rental by the day and shade umbrellas for those who are not guests of Palm Beach resorts but wish to spend the day here. This is particularly handy for cruise ship passengers.

Vela Surf Center

On the beach between the Marriott and Ritz-Carlton sits Vela Surf Center (L. G. Smith Blvd 101, 297/586-3735, 9am-6pm daily, $60-$125) and a full menu of surfing options. Two-hour beginners’ group windsufing and kitesurfing lessons are scheduled four times daily. Advanced private lessons can be set up as well. They also rent kayaks, snorkeling gear, and SUPs. This is one of Aruba’s longest established and most respected operators.


Excerpted from the Second Edition of Moon Aruba.

Welcome to the Family

“Stylish and action-packed, full of ambitious families and guilt-ridden loves, Jade City is an epic drama reminiscent of the best classic Hong Kong gangster films but set in a fantasy metropolis so gritty and well-imagined that you’ll forget you’re reading a book.”
―Ken Liu, winner of the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Awards

 

Let me make you an offer you can’t refuse by pointing you in the direction of an outstanding new novel, JADE CITY. Reminiscent of The Godfather and everything you love about kung fu movies, JADE CITY follows a family of Green Bone warriors, the Kauls, who use the power of jade to enhance their magical abilities.

Like any family, there is a pecking order; however, most average families probably aren’t involved in the illegal trade of jade. Read on to learn more about the organization of this crime family and consider what job might suit you best.

Finger: Entry-level Green Bone warriors who patrol clan territory and report to Fists.

Fist: Senior Green Bone warriors who protect assigned districts, report to the Horn, and manage Fingers.

Horn: Military leader of the clan, responsible for defending the clan’s territory and its residents.

Weather Man: Business leader of the clan, manages the flow of tribute money, patronage, and investments.

Luckbringer: Staff members of the Weather Man’s office; may or may not wear jade.

Lantern Men: Affiliated business owners who pay tribute to the clan in return for its patronage and protection.

Pillarman: Personal aide to the Pillar.

The Pillar: The leader of a Green Bone clan.

For those of you who chose Pillar, consider the following adage: those at the top have the farthest to fall.

But you know what isn’t a risky choice? Picking up JADE CITY today and diving into this rich world of family, honor, and non-stop action.

Jade City by Fonda Lee

 

Moving to Australia Checklist

When we finally got the call that our visa to Australia had come through, we cracked open a bottle of bubbly. After months of filling out forms, answering awkward questions, numerous health checks, and copying and scanning countless documents, we felt we had conquered the mountain and had reached the summit. We were finally legal and allowed to move on to the next step of our adventure: moving overseas.

To help you set out on your own adventure, we’ve put together a moving to Australia checklist spanning six months before the move to the week after you’ve arrived in your new home.

Boxes filled with household items for a move.
Start packing for your move to Australia at least four weeks in advance. Photo © Kurhan/123rf.

Six Months Before the Move

  • Check out schools in Australia.
  • Review your relocation package, if you have one, and determine what expenses will be paid by your company.
  • Start a log of moving expense receipts; some may be tax deductible.
  • Get written estimates from moving companies, including their written commitment of pickup and delivery dates. Get references. Check the limits of insurance they offer, and if it covers replacement costs.
  • Purchase additional insurance if necessary.
  • Arrange for a storage facility if you plan to store any of your belongings. Again, check on insurance.
  • Check that your pets’ vaccinations are up to date.
  • Arrange an export service for pets and automobiles, if needed.
  • Get your medical and dental records prepared for transfer.
  • Put your house on the market for sale or rent.

Two Months Before the Move

  • Secure temporary or permanent accommodations in Australia.
  • Enroll your children at your chosen school.
  • Contact your bank to arrange transfer of your accounts; order checks with your new address; clean out your safety deposit box.
  • Submit change-of-address forms to the post office; mail postcards to friends and creditors.
  • Give your day care center proper notice of withdrawal.
  • Contact schools and arrange for transfer of student records.
  • Contact your doctors to double-check that medical records are ready to go.
  • Change your insurance policies on property, cars, and health.
  • Organize all important documents in a fire-safe box. Include school records, home purchase and sale papers, wills, marriage and divorce papers, pet documents, financial records, stock certificates, Social Security cards, birth certificates, and passports.
  • Give notice of resignation to any clubs, organizations, or volunteer activities you belong to.
  • Cancel newspaper subscriptions, and change your address for any magazine subscriptions you intend to keep.
  • Arrange for hotels, rental cars, or temporary housing as needed.

Four Weeks Before the Move

  • Take a ruthless walk-through to determine what you really want to take with you.
  • Tag the rest of it and hold a garage sale, or call a charity to pick it up.
  • Clean out club, gym, and school lockers; pick up all dry cleaning.
  • Arrange for disconnection or changeover of utilities.
  • Have measurements taken of the rooms in your new residence and use floor plans to determine where everything will go.
  • Begin packing less-used items. Number and label each box, and keep an inventory.
  • Retrieve and return all borrowed items from neighbors and friends; return library books.
  • Clean out the cupboards and plan remaining meals so you can pack what you don’t need, and don’t buy any more perishables than you have to.

One Week Before the Move

  • Make an inventory list of all items going with you personally. Keep valuable and irreplaceable items such as jewelry and heirlooms with you, not movers.
  • Confirm arrangements and dates with moving and storage companies.
  • Confirm arrangements with auto and pet transportation companies.
  • Confirm hotel, rental car, or temporary housing accommodations.
  • Disassemble furniture or other items.
  • Sell your car.
  • Be sure to check yards and sheds for all items to pack.
  • Inform friends and relatives of your forwarding address.
  • Take pictures of furniture or get fabric samples for anything you will want to reference for color or decorating before your goods are delivered to your new home.
  • Set aside a box of cleaning supplies and the vacuum cleaner.
  • Have cards and gifts ready for the kids to give to their friends, complete with the new address and social media contacts.

One or Two Days Before the Move

  • Clean and defrost refrigerator and freezer.
  • Withdraw cash needed for the move, and convert currency.
  • Reconcile and close bank accounts, unless you will be using another branch of the same bank.
  • Conclude financial matters relating to the sale or rent of your home.
  • The movers or you should complete packing of all household goods for the move.

Moving Day

  • Confirm delivery address, directions, and delivery date with the movers.
  • Carefully supervise the move. Make sure boxes are clearly marked and your instructions are understood.
  • Clean the home and check the entire grounds before leaving.
  • Check the thermostat and make sure the temperature is set appropriately. Make sure all windows and doors are closed and locked, and all appliances are turned off. Leave your forwarding address, garage door openers, and any keys, if agreed to, for the new owners or renters.
  • If your home is going to be vacant when you leave, make sure a relative, neighbor, or real estate agent has the keys and can contact you. Also, notify your insurance agent and police department that the home will be empty.
  • Meet up with friends, relax, and look forward to your adventure. It’s really happening.

Arrival Day

  • Get a new SIM card at the airport or get a new cell phone, and let friends and family and your moving company know your new number.
  • Check to make sure all utilities are on and working properly.
  • Let family members or friends know you have arrived safely. Check in with your employer and real estate agent to confirm itineraries.
  • Check in with the moving company to confirm the exact date of arrival of your container.
  • For any airfreighted boxes, supervise the moving crew on the location of the furniture and boxes. Begin unpacking necessary basics first—kitchen utensils, bath toiletries, and so on.
  • Go over the bill of lading from the moving company very carefully before signing; check for damaged items first, as it is usually binding once signed.
  • Try to stay up until bedtime. It will help you cope with adjusting to the new time zone. Explore at least the block around your new place and point out exciting finds to the kids. You have arrived in Australia!

One Week after Arrival

  • Get a tax number in Australia and register with your local embassy.
  • Look into buying a car.
  • Organize school uniforms for the children.
  • If you have a pet in quarantine, go and visit so they know they’re not alone.
  • Meet the neighbors.
  • Check out some local sports clubs and log on to an expat forum or join the Australian American Association in your city. It’s time to make new friends.

Excerpted from the Third Edition of Moon Living Abroad Australia.

One-Week Best of Aruba Itinerary

Aruba’s principal attractions are its gorgeous beaches and azure waters. Still, it is worth it to travel beyond the beaches to explore the unique topography of the island and its culture. Main tourist areas offer a myriad of choices for dining and nightlife, but you will also find excellent eateries in less-trafficked places. Free musical entertainment can be had at several venues. The most stunning show, however, is the colorful sunset along Aruba’s western shore. Hotel beach bars and independent lounges offer happy hour prices while you enjoy this spectacle, which can segue into a romantic dinner right on the beach.

diners on the beach under palm trees at sunset
Enjoy a romantic dinner at sunset at one of many beachside venues. Photo © Rosalie Klein.

Day 1

After you have settled into your accommodations, run down to the beach to savor the sunset while taking advantage of happy hour. Look for 2-for-1 cocktails at most hotel bars and cafés nearby. If you’re staying in the Palm Beach area, try Bugaloe at the end of the De Palm Pier. If you’re staying in the Manchebo Beach area, enjoy a gourmet fresh fish entrée beachside at Ricardo’s in the Aruba Beach Club.

After hours, take in some free live music at Palm Beach’s Arawak Gardens, Fusion Wine and Piano Bar in the Alhambra Shopping Bazaar, or at the bandstand by the water at the Renaissance Marketplace in Oranjestad. If it’s a weekend, find a great band and fun crowd at Café Chaos across the street from Renaissance Marketplace or at South Beach Lounge in Palm Beach.

Day 2

If it is a Sunday, check out the luxurious Sunday brunch at Windows on Aruba at the Divi Links. Enjoy an exhilarating morning jog along the paths parallel to Eagle Beach, or following the shore from Marriott to Malmok. Or, if you prefer, refresh your chi with some yoga on the beach at the Manchebo Beach Resort. For a true introduction to pampering and relaxation, Okeanos Spa will take you out to Renaissance Island for a treatment in their private cove.

If it’s not a Sunday, or you’re hungry for lunch, head over to the Butterfly Farm in Palm Beach for your first real outing; it won’t be your last visit. Butterflies are most active in the mornings. Enjoy some refreshing, light crepes at the cute Crepe Bar, attached to the farm.

Those eager to learn to snorkel or dive should join a sailing and snorkeling tour. Dive operators like Unique Sports of Aruba will have you exploring under the water in a few short hours. Quick morning courses allow novices to dive at one of the easier, shallower dive sites around the west coast, or snorkelers can enjoy a trip to the Antilla shipwreck and Arashi Beach.

Share a romantic dinner on the beach at Elements at the Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort, or book a private sail and dinner for two on the Tranquilo. Afterwards, stroll along the Palm Beach promenade for some souvenir shopping. Stay until late to party at Señor Frog’s.

sign and front of building of the National Archaeological Museum Aruba
The daily life and culture of Aruba’s inhabitants prior to the Spanish arrival are the focus of NAMA. Photo © Rosalie Klein.

Day 3

Catch a bus to Oranjestad for the day. Explore the landmark buildings that house the National Archeological Museum Aruba (NAMA) and the Aruba Historical Museum located within Fort Zoutman.

Check out a charming lunch spot with a view of the harbor at The Paddock, or meet island movers and shakers at their favorite power lunch restaurant Aquarius. Break up the day by indulging in an underwater adventure on the Atlantis submarine.

For dinner, savor the gourmet cuisine at celebrated L.G. Smith’s Steak & Chop House or a romantic meal on the water at Pinchos Grill and Bar.

Day 4

Today, get away from both beach and town and do some touring with Madi’s Magical Tours, a highly personalized, unique safari tour with a dawn trip to Conchi (Natural Pool) on the north coast. From there, Madi can take you on an outback adventure lasting all or part of a day.

You can also choose to rent a 4×4 to tour on your own: Start the day by watching the sunrise from the California Lighthouse. From there you can head down the north coast road or make your way back to Noord and take in such sights as Alto Vista Chapel, Philip’s Animal Garden, and Santa Ana Church. If venturing farther along the coast in a four-wheel drive, follow the gravel road to the Bushiribana Gold Ruin and the Aruba Ostrich Farm. After scrambling around the Ayo Rock Formation, explore the countryside even further on horseback with Gold Mine Ranch.

Unwind from an exhausting day of touring with a sunset “toes in the sand” dinner at Footprints at the Hyatt.

Day 5

Enjoy a day of hiking or horseback riding at Arikok National Park and the caves and coves beyond. A hearty but inexpensive breakfast of arepas can be had at Cheo’s Corner in Paseo Herencia Shopping Mall in Palm Beach before you venture out into the wilds. Paved roads within the park allow exploration by car, or park rangers will guide you through various hiking paths, such as Cunucu Arikok Trail, or to the summit of Seroe Jamanota. A trek to Conchi (Natural Pool) will take up a morning or nearly the entire day. Enjoy a lunch of authentic Aruban cuisine at Urataka Center on the road leading to the park. Call Rancho Daimari if you’d prefer to take the tour on horseback.

If you booked a reservation online months in advance, you can savor a gourmet dinner at Carte Blanche, in the Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort. This is a long, full, and entertaining evening of socializing with the chef while watching him prepare a delicious dinner.

sun shining on Baby Beach in Aruba
Take a dip at Baby Beach. Photo © Kjersti Joergensen/Dreamstime.

Day 6

Try one of Oranjestad’s many early morning eateries, such as Smit & Dorlas Coffee House. Drive to San Nicolas to soak in the scenery of “Sunrise City.” Take a dip at Baby Beach or Roger’s Beach, two of the most beautiful inlets on Aruba. You can also set up diving or snorkeling in this area with Jad’s Dive Shop.

On the way back from San Nicolas, stop at Zeerover in Savaneta for fresh fish island-style, or B-55, next to the old drive-in theater on the main highway, for good pizza and a beautiful view. From either of these eateries you can easily stop at Mangel Halto for a relaxing swim.

For a full day of water fun, families can skip the excursion in favor of the Aruba Waterpark off the Oranjestad-Santa Cruz road. They have a nice kitchen featuring local cuisine and barbecue.

Returning from the south side of the island takes you past the Orange Mall on the Sasaki Highway, which houses Red Fish restaurant, an affordably priced haven for fresh-caught fish and island cuisine.

Day 7

Dig into a buffet breakfast at La Vista within Marriott Aruba Resort & Stellaris Casino to fuel up for windsurfing or kitesurfing lessons with Aruba Active Vacations. For a real thrill, try Skydive Aruba in the field across the road from the windsurfing center. Scuba is a no-no less than 24 hours before departure, but sailing and snorkeling are always an option. Try something really different by exploring the south shore with Aruba Kayak Adventures, which includes lunch, or opt for a customized surfing tour with Aruba Surf School.

In the evening hours you can pick up some last-minute souvenirs and explore the hot spots at Arawak Gardens. It is also a good time to give in and buy that pair of earrings that caught your fancy at Gemstones International on the Palm Beach strip or go back for one of the exquisite handcrafted accessories at Caribbean Queen in Palm Beach Plaza. Combine shopping with some island history and culture while enjoying the Waltzing Waters at Paseo Herencia Shopping Mall. Finish the day at Señor Frog’s in Palm Beach for tasty Mexican food, giant drinks, and the most entertaining staff on the island.


Excerpted from the Second Edition of Moon Aruba.

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