Beyond Alaska

Top Ten Places I’ve Knocked Off My Bucket List

As I’m writing my Bucket List, I started to ponder some of the places I’ve been.  While I’m not a world traveler by any means, I have been to 28 islands in the Caribbean, much of Central America, and 32 states in the USA including living in Hawaii.   I decided to come up with a list of my Top Ten Places I have kicked off the Bucket List. Alaska was prevalent on the list, but I live here now so I had to revise it a bit.

It’s been fun to take a walk down memory lane, give it a try yourself!

My Top Ten

10.  Long Caye, Belize:

I went to Belize several years ago with some friends to do some work in an orphanage.  Of course since it was Belize, we had to throw a dive trip in there.  The place we choose to go was a resort on Long Caye.  We were at the only resort on the island where about 20 people were staying or lived.  That was the closest I have felt to being on a deserted island.  We were the only three guests on the dive boat for much of the trip and had our pick of fantastic, pristine sites and extended bottom time.  It was my favorite place for self reflection and discovering a cure for sand flea bites.

Top Ten Belize Diving

9.  San Diego, California: 

I love San Diego, and it made the Top Ten because it’s one of the few big cities I would live in.  The climate is perfect year round.  The downtown is easy to make your way around with great hotels and restaurants that are family friendly as well.  Strangely, I like how the airport is in close proximity to all of the attractions and yet doesn’t intrude.  Sea World is my favorite place with the San Diego Zoo a close second.  My 22 year old daughter remembers being spit on by a walrus when she was two.  The beaches are nice, abundant and clean with fun shopping around the perimeters.  Of course, scuba diving the kelp beds is a must, great whites and all!

8.  Holland America’s Private Caribbean Island: 

Most large cruise ship lines have a private island or resort located in the Caribbean and more generally in the Bahamas.  Holland America’s is one of my favorites anywhere.  It is small but has powder white sand and crystal clear water.  And I do mean clear!  The first time I went there, we were doing a dive in about 20 feet of water on a small coral head.  An hour and a half later, the divemaster had to come down and make us surface.  Holland America has food facilities, shops, and shore excursions like stingrays, parasailing, spa services etc.  Kind of your own private Nirvana.  I must say I have actually picked certain cruises because they stop there and that’s the only way you get to go there.

7.  Kailua Kona, Hawaii

We lived there and loved it.  If it wasn’t for Bridger’s asthma we likely would still be living there.  (Although in all honesty, I’m a child of the mountains.)  It’s big, it’s beautiful, it’s in the USA, there’s a Costco and Target, the diving is awesome, there is a Mormon temple, and enormous diversity of ecosystems (think top of Mauna Kea in the snow followed by a dive at sea level in the afternoon).  The Polynesian people for the most part exude the Aloha spirit.  And that’s just the short list of the wonders of Hawaii.

Top Ten Kona Hawaii

6.  Vail, Colorado

I have skied at many resorts and have lived by some of the best in the world.  The reason I put Vail is the experience I had when I went.  I was a senior in high school and I went to stay with my uncle and his family in their condo over New Years.  It was awesome to ski with my favorite male “we got into trouble with everything we did” cousin.  The pool and the jacuzzi were perfect on a frigid night after skiing and the ice show.  Fireworks and fondue graced New Year’s Eve and I’ll always remember it as a highlight of carefree youth.  (Except for a 2 hour wait for a gondola, only did that once)

5.  Yellowstone National Park/Grand Tetons

We lived in this area for 15 years; plus, it’s the first national park I remember my parents taking me too when I was younger.  One of the favorite scenes I play out in my mind is a camping trip we took when the kids were small. It was later in the afternoon into early evening, and we were sitting by the Buffalo River eating a picnic.  Jeff was fly fishing, and the kids were playing in a stream under a beautiful, warm summer sky.  A herd of buffalo and a few elk were grazing along the other side of the river.  One of the most perfect memories I have.  And definitely one of my top ten places as I’ve lost track of how many times we’ve been.

4.  The Cayman Islands

It is in one word…perfect.  Nice resorts, fabulous beaches, breathtaking reefs, golf, seclusion or socializing…it doesn’t get much better, seriously.  It’s a bit more expensive and there are hurricanes, but I can’t think of any other reason that would keep you away.  Strangest story:  17 people in a minivan with six dive tanks on the floor on a dive trip. Have fun with that one.  Favorite place there, Rum Point.  And don’t forget the rum cake samples.

Top Ten Kona Waves

3.  Lake Powell, Utah

Another throw back to my youth but one of the places that defined me.  My family had a boat and waterskiing was a very regular event during the summers.  For one magical week, we left the cold lake waters of northern Utah, and went to Lake Powell located on the Colorado river, behind Glen Canyon Dam.  My uncle had a houseboat there.  (Yup same uncle in Vail…he is a great uncle to have)  We would pack the houseboat and tow the speed boats to a secluded canyon to spend the week.  Mornings were and early ski on glassy water…as great a feeling a natural high can give.  Afternoons was a survival of the fittest on tubes behind the boats.  Food, red rocks, warmth and family made those trips some of the greatest of my life.

2.  Cannon Beach, Oregon

If I ever leave Alaska, I’m moving to Cannon Beach next.  It is cool and rainy much of the year, but sooo pretty.  I love those beaches and quaint towns not so crowded by tourists and development.  My favorite shell shop is there along with the best place ever for chowder, Mo’s.  We’ve been there with kids and had fires and marshmallow roasts on the beach.  They love the tide pools.  Strangest thing there was coming on a dead baby Great White shark about 4 feet long that had washed up on the shore.  I was with my dive buddy and her kids so of course I had to dissect the thing.  Much funner than biology class.

1.  Cozumel, Mexico

Despite the crowds and cruise ship traffic, the first time I saw the water there, I was in love.  It inspired me to scuba dive in the first place giving me my passion I’ve loved my whole adult life.  It won’t be everyone’s favorite, but if you are a diver and want somewhere cheap, laid back with the clearest water I have ever seen, this is your place.  I love drift diving, the closest to flying I’ve come and the splendid toadfish lives there.  My second favorite dive ever was at the Paradise dive site.  Clear, tons of fish were going nuts, and only four of us in the water (including myself and daughter Haley)…my kind of dive.  It is also the place we took my favorite family vacation with the kids to over the 4th of July one year.  I’d go back anytime in a heartbeat.  Oh, and ya, don’t drink the water but definitely eat the food.

And that’s a rap for my “Top Ten”.  This has seriously been fun…talk about memories.  I would most definitely suggest giving it a try, you will remember you have done far more than you think you have…so have some fun with it!  And it’s time to get working on the Bucket List for a new “Top Ten”.

Beach Kona
Kona Beach
  • May 02, 2017

    These destinations all sound amazing. Is it okay if I use the same bucket list? Kidding! But I can definitely see why Cozumel, Mexico made it to the top of your list and I love the fact, you took the time to go diving. The underwater scenery must have been stunning. Thanks for an amazing top ten!
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    • May 03, 2017
      Janet Bowman

      Thanks for the comment! So many amazing places in the world, I hope someday to write a ‘Top 100’ places post. Cozumel takes a lot of flack for many reasons, but I love the water there.

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