Our #MyBBB Bucket List: Hawai’i

As we prepare to go to London to compete against 9 other finalists for MyDestination’s Biggest, Baddest Bucket List competition, we’re blogging about the places we’d love to include on our bucket list. We’ll spend this month in constant count-down, researching MyDestination.com’s 65 featured destinations and highlighting one per day. In no particular order, today’s post is on Hawai’i. 

Hawaii (3)

The only downside of Hawai’i is that there is too much to see in a week. With only seven days to explore eight islands – each one of them unique – we’d have to pare down our bucket list to the bare essentials. Help is appreciated.

Much of Hawai’i’s allure comes from it’s Polynesian heritage, stunning natural beauty and active lifestyle. All three factors are in abundance in each isle – whether it be surfing, night diving, swimming with sharks or sailing – so let’s instead focus on what makes each island unique.

Everything starts in Oahu.  Touch down at Honolulu’s international airport and spend a day walking to Chinatown, Waikiki beach and the sobering monument to Pearl Harbor. We’d pass through the center of the island to see the former palace of Hawaii’s royal family before finding the real action on the North Shore – some of the best surfing in the world.

Maui is more low-key than Oahu – especially when taking the road less traveled. The Hana Highway is a 52 mile winding coastal road with 59 bridges cutting through the jungle. It also passes by the Seven Sacred Pools (Haleakala), a series of gradually increasing waterfalls (perfect for cliff jumping), and Honolula Bay, must-stop for surfers.

Kauai would be our top pick. The “Garden Island” is supposedly the least developed and contains the most impressive natural beauty of the island chain. Waiamea Canyon is waiting for us to hike it, while the Napali coast beckons us by bike, sea, or air. Our goal on Kauai is to simply explore, film, and transmit the experience to our viewers.  The island of Lanai floats just offshore – unspoilt beaches where you can swim with dolphins or watch the whales during their annual migration.

The Big Island has the world’s most active volcano, which gives the lush island it’s black sand beaches.  In the center of the island is Mauna Koa, a dormant volcano that is actually bigger than Mount Everest if measured from the seafloor.  We’d sip local Kona Coffee to stay up late and visit the mountaintop telescope with some of the world’s best stargazing.

But sometimes good things come in small packages – such as the “Forbidden Isle” of Nilhau, a nature preserve that only admits a select number of visitors each year. This is where native Polynesian culture is strongest and locals live in a traditional way and the endangered Hawaiian language thrives. We would be honored if Nilhau would admit us onshore.

In short, too many options, not enough time. Perhaps we’d be better off using the prize money to buy a house on the beach and explore each island at a more Hawaiian pace. For now, let’s throw on some Hawaiian music courtesy of JamandaHalf.com, and imagine life in paradise.

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MyBBB Vlog 2: Marko’s 1st Week

Marko updates us on life in California since being made a finalist in the MyBBB competition.  If you haven’t seen the first vlog, you can watch Alex’s update here.


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New Project: Vagabrothers x JamandaHalf

Jam and a Half

As two brothers, we’ve learned that one of the keys to success is collaboration.  That’s why we’ve teamed up with our good friends at JamandaHalf.com to merge two things we love – travel and music.

Jam and a Half is a site that does what the name claims: it highlights songs that are more than just “jams” -they’re “jam-and-a-halves.”   Leks, Moose, and Griffin are three traveling audiophiles who have jammed to the best music of every corner of the world  and their website is a reflection of their vast experience.

So as we continue our countdown to the finals of MyDestination’s Biggest, Baddest, Bucket List Competition, they are providing the soundtracks for each country we blog about.  We’re just getting started, but they’ve already introduced us to the music of Puerto Rico, and Rio de Janeiro with more to come soon.

Check out the archives of their website for a whirlwind tour of world music, find them on Twitter or Facebook and and make sure to subscribe to their page if you like what you hear.

More blogs and posts coming soon!

– Vagabrothers

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Our #MyBBB Bucket List: Rio de Janeiro

As we prepare to go to London to compete against 9 other finalists for MyDestination’s Biggest, Baddest Bucket List competition, we’re blogging about the places we’d love to include on our bucket list. We’ll spend this month in constant count-down, researching MyDestination.com’s 65 featured destinations and highlighting one per day. In no particular order, today’s post is on Rio de Janeiro.

Rio de janiero

Rio is the world’s funnest city.  And with the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics on the horizon, it’s never been a hotter time to visit the Cidade Maravilhosa  (the Marvelous City).

Before we start, we have a confession.  We love Brazilians.  Our home town of San Diego is overflowing with transplants from Rio, and we’ve been falling in love with the city through its people for years now.  Like with any destination, we like to travel as the locals live – but never more than in Rio de Janeiro.

We’d start at the beaches.  We’re already getting our beach bodies ready to hit up the infamous Impanema and Copacabana beaches, but we’ve heard there’s even better stretches of sand to be found.  45 minutes outside the city is Prianha, a gorgeous, undeveloped beach in the middle of a nature preserve with the best waves in Rio.

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Spending all our time at the beach could be a bit…er…distracting for our eyes, so for some more perspective we’d get up to Sugarloaf Mountain for an unsurpassable view.  Instead of the cable cars, we’d opt for the 45 minute hike – we gotta earn a view like that!  Then we’d make it over to the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue to spread our arms wide and release a few shouts of joy at winning the #mybbb contest!

We’d come down to earth via hang glider, then take a rest and enjoy people watching in Leblon.  It’s a well-heeled quarter of Rio with plenty of good places like Bar Veloso to cool down with local beers or a chilled caipirinha.

We couldn’t leave Rio without seeing a Flamengo game at the Maracana.  The stadium gets a bit nuts during popular matches, but with the 2014 World Cup just around the corner, football is an inextricable element of Rio’s life.

Next, we’d seek out the Brazilian music that we love.  Whether it be finding street performers in Lapa, seeking out live shows, going to a Favela funk party, or watching people practice Capoeira, Rio’s music is the best way to capture the boundless energy of the city.  Check out this playlist by our friends at Jam and a Half and start moving your body like a Brazilian.

In Rio, its impossible not to follow the music into the night.  Rio’s Nightlife is world-renowned, and even though we’d miss carnival, we’d make up for it with our own week-long party!  Samba starts at the famous steps of Lapa, and moves you through the night ’til dawn.

The next morning – or afternoon – it’s time to wake up and do a day trip.  Rio features the world’s largest urban park – Tijuca Forest, complete with monkeys and waterfalls – but just off the coast is the pristine rainforest island of Ilha Grande.  A bit father is the Costa Verde, where beaches like Itamambuca and Ubatuba hold the best waves in Brazil and plenty of rural relaxation to balance out our week in the city.

Comments? Advice? Disagreements? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below.

And please vote for us to win MyDestination.com’s Biggest Baddest Bucketlist Competiton! 

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Countdown to London Week 1: Alex’s Vlog

Vagabrother Alex recounts the past few weeks in San Sebastián where the pace of life has accelerated drastically since being named a top ten finalist in My Destination’s Biggest Baddest Bucket List.

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Our #MyBBB Bucket List: Puerto Rico

As we prepare to go to London to compete against 9 other finalists for MyDestination’s Biggest, Baddest  Bucket List competition, we’re blogging about the places we’d love to include on our bucket list. We’ll spend this month in constant count-down, researching MyDestination.com’s 65 featured destinations and highlighting one per day. In no particular order, today’s post is on Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico (2)
Puerto Rico is one of the most interesting corners of the Caribbean. The “51st State” of the USA is the anomaly of the Americas – technically a US territory, Puerto Rico is an island with a mixed cultural heritage reflecting its indigenous Taino roots, west African legacy, Spanish colonial past and modern American influence.

The “Enchanted Isle” of Puerto Rico is adamantly unique – and proud of it. That’s why it’s our first port of call in the Caribbean.

We’ve been inspired by our fellow #MyBBB contestant, Maria Laborde, who’s short video on Puerto Rico serves as an excellent introduction to the island.

She made us want to practice our Spanish with beautiful boricuas, explore the 272 miles of white-sand beaches, fill our bellies at hole-in-the wall chinchorros and wash it down with local spiced rum! All the while, we’ll be bumping the following Puerto Rican tracks to get us into the mood.  Thanks to our friends at Jam And a Half for the compilation!

We’d start by whistling our way through the old city of San Juan, wandering from its three forts through the cobbled streets of the colonial quarter, dipping into its markets and sampling the best of cocina criolla as we eat our way from breakfast to dinner.

Random fact: San Juan was recently rated the city with most beautiful people.  Need we explain why we’d take advantage of its famous nightlife?  But there’s a challenge… locals have been dancing long before the arrival of Europeans, and today Puerto Rico a home to many major Latin dances including merengue, salsa, and cha-cha. Hopefully these two gringos can absorb enough latin spice to be as suave as the locals – or at least avoid stepping on their toes!

Puerto Rico

The next morning, we’d trek into El Yunque National Park – the only rainforest in the US – which receives over four billion liters of water per year and has some amazing waterfalls we’d have to swim under.

But we can’t spend all the time on the ground floor…we have to fly over the jungle by conquering La Bestia – a massive zip line ripping through the center of the island 260 meters above ground and 1,400 meters long. Check out this video:

Every day would be a chance to explore a few of Puerto Rico’s 300 beaches – we’d need to partner up with a local to know which ones to pick! But we’d be sure to paddle out at famous surf breaks like Rincón to catch some of the best waves in the Caribbean.

puerto Rico (3)

Comments? Advice? Disagreements? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below.

And please vote for us to win MyDestination.com’s Biggest Baddest Bucket List Competition!

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Our #MyBBB Bucket List: Bali

As we prepare to go to London to compete against 9 other finalists for MyDestination’s Biggest, Baddest Bucketlist competition, we’re blogging about the places we’d love to include on our bucket list. We’ll spend this month in constant count-down, researching MyDestination.com’s 65 featured destinations and highlighting one per day. In no particular order, today’s post is on Bali.

Bali1 (3)

Bali is one of the most fascinating destinations in South East Asia. This lush jungle island sits between cultures – midway between trade winds that brought together Chinese, Indian and European influence, today Bali is a Hindu island within predominately Muslim Indonesia with a rich cultural heritage still preserved despite its immense popularity with tourists.

Bali is a true paradise. Its thick jungles hold scores of crumbling Hindu temples, Buddhist stupas, and traditional villages. Terraced rice paddies cut unforgettable lines into hillsides waiting to be explored, while its valleys hold hotels and yoga/meditation retreats beckoning us to come, relax and soak up the essence of the island.

But beauty is only a part of it – action junkies have more than they can handle. Bali’s surf breaks are world-famousUluwatu, Bingin, Keramas, and Balangan, to name a few. Add scuba diving, sailing and hiking to the list, and our week would be packed with activities.

However it is Balinese dance which truly sets the island apart. Traditional dances are closely tied with religion and are often a way of telling stories and epics like the Hindu Ramayana or the Barong Rangda, representing the eternal battle between good and evil. Some ceremonies – like the “monkey chant” – would be truly magical to witness, and while even performances at tourist hotels are preceded by a prayer to the gods for inspiration.

Inspiration seems to abound on Bali. Whether it be surfing some of the world’s best waves, finding inner stillness in an ancient temple or yoga retreat, or simply standing in awe at the island’s natural beauty, Bali one place we’d be sure not to miss.  

Thanks to our friends at JamAndAHalf.com, we’ve got a little sample of Balinese music as well.  Cheers Big Leks!

Comments? Advice? Disagreements? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below.

And please vote for us to win MyDestination.com’s Biggest Baddest Bucketlist Competiton! 

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Our #MyBBB Bucket List: Cape Verde

As we prepare to go to London to compete against 9 other finalists for MyDestination’s Biggest, Baddest Bucketlist competition, we’re blogging about the places we’d love to include on our bucket list. We’ll spend this month in constant count-down, researching MyDestination.com’s 65 featured destinations and highlighting one per day. In no particular order, today’s post is on Cape Verde.

Andreas Urban

Andreas Urban

Whenever we travel, we set our sights on the cultures that fascinate us – the ones that draw us in on an emotional level but offer enough outdoor opportunities to balance our curiosity with activity. Cape Verde fits the bill perfectly.

Floating way off the Atlantic coast of Africa, the 10 islands that make up Cape Verde weren’t on our map until we found them through MyDestination.com. But after reading up on it’s rich mélange of Afro-Euro-American cultures, verdant landscapes and the beckoning blue waters of the Atlantic, we couldn’t help put put it at the top of our Bucketlist.

Banana Ladies

Santa Maria, Sal

Cape Verde has a vibrant culture emerging from a turbulent past. Until three decades ago, it was a colony of Portugual, where it originally served as an important center in the slave trade. Today it’s confidently stepping forward and proudly showing the world its two most exceptional exports – music that is uniquely Cape Verdean and the charm of island itself.

It was the music that initially drew us in. Check out Cesária Énora for a classic intro to Cape Verde’s mornas which blend the longing of Portuguese fado music with mellow island rhythms. More recently, a younger generation has taken the islands’ music in new directions, embracing the their mixed heritage and celebrating through festivals such as the “Kriol Jazz” fest and traditional parties like Carnival (see article from The Economist for more).  Thanks to our friends at JamAndAHalf.com for putting together the following playlist!

With these tunes in our heads, we imagine whistling our way through Praia, the capital city of Santiago. The Portuguese old town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site while the island remains the most African of the isles. Santiago contains enough sites, events, and beaches to make it the perfect starting point for exploring the other nine islands.

Santa Maria Pier

There is no shortage of islands to explore from here. We’d make trips to the gorgeous San Antao, volcanic Fogo, jam to local music in Sao Vincente, or rent quad bikes to explore the deserted island of Boa Vista. Ten islands, an infinite number of ways to relax.

It would be just as easy to spend all our time in the water – from deep sea diving, to surfing, windsurfing, big game fishing or night-diving with Loggerhead turtle. We’d be so busy we’d barely have time to come up for air!

With so many fun activities, it would make us wonder how to give something back to the island. Luckily, there’s an organization called Turtle SOS that lets you do just that. We’d wrap up our time with one of their guided turtle watching tours, which help raise money for the preservation of the indigenous turtles in danger of extinction.

Seven days would hardly be enough for all ten islands, but we’re sure there would be enough to keep us busy, satiate our curiosity and make a nice, relaxing break in the midst of a six month trip.

Comments? Advice? Disagreements? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below.  

Santa Maria Beach

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Vagabrothers on the Radio

Hello World,

What a crazy past few weeks it has been over here in San Sebastián.  Ever since Mydestination.com announced the finalists to the Biggest Baddest Bucket List we have been a wild roller coaster ride!

Here is a quick video edit of Alex’s radio interview with Cadena Ser from last week.  In it he explains more about the BBB contest, a bit of history about the Vagabrothers and their views on travel and exploration.

Sincerely,

-Vagabrother Alex

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Preparing for London

It has been an eventful week.

As you might know, the two of us received great news on Monday – our entry into My Destination’s Biggest, Baddest Bucketlist competition got us into the final round of the competition.  We go to London in a month (May 18th) to spend 7 days in 7 undisclosed locations to compete with 9 other finalists for the grand prize – 6 months of travel to 6 continents, plus a cash prize of $50,000. 

We don’t need to explain how unbelievably awesome this opportunity is – or how excited we are to have it.  But there is one question we keep getting – “What are you doing to prepare for the finals?”

We typically respond with another question: “What more can we do but be ourselves?” But wait! If it sounds a bit lame or conceited, it’s not meant to be.

We’re just talking about our view on the nature of competition.  In a way, we aren’t competing against the other finalists because we can’t win by trying to out-do them at their own styles.  The only people we are competing against are ourselves.  Our goal is to be better at being ourselves.

The two of us have spent the better part of the last year trying to become better filmmakers, presenters, and writers, striving each day to improve upon the last.  It is this endless pursuit of self improvement that has got us this far, and it is what will always carry us forward – regardless of who wins this contest.

So once the initial shock of the news wore off, we started looking through the other 1,200+ videos that been entered into the contest.  We’d done the opposite a month ago.  After we’d hit the “submit” button, we had to force ourselves to ignore the other competitors.  We told ourselves that we’d done our best and that no matter how many other videos we watched, our fate was out of our hands.  So we rallied as many votes as we could, detached ourselves from the outcome like Zen monks, and crafted a final Facebook post: Inshallah.

One month later: Good News.  Now, as we go through the videos submitted by other travelers from around the world, we are humbled to be surrounded by such talent – and ever more grateful for the opportunity to advance.

We have one month until London.  Most of this time will be spent spreading the good word about MyDestination‘s 65 global destinations, talking to media about the contest and doing our best to kick-start a global social media campaign in favor of our entry.

In short, we will tweet until we break into quadruple digits on our Twitter followers – or our eyes start bleeding…whichever comes first.

Apart from that, there’s little more to do but close our eyes, breath, and smile.

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