Cabo Vacation Guide

Oooops, looks like I’m about 2 months late on this one! I could get into excuses like the holiday season being busy, getting caught up with our new house, etc., but I won’t. The point is, I’m finally getting around to a Cabo post now! Let me just preface this with saying I loveeee Cabo. It’s the exact type of getaway we needed in November, when Toronto temperatures really start dipping and all the life is sucked out of people and plants alike. We wanted somewhere we could fly to directly, that would have reliably good weather, and that had lots of nice hotel and food/drink options. Cabo ticks all of those boxes, and this past trip there made me feel like it was really giving Tulum a run for its money in terms of chic boho-luxury accommodations and restaurants, among other things. There are tons of trendy new eateries and boutique hotels, the beaches are stunning (although not usually swimmable), and it’s a Mexican destination that you feel pretty safe traveling to. I literally live to eat so was happy to make that the focal point of our trip. I did a fair amount of research and we had awesome lunch or dinner reservations most days, so you can imagine how tragic it was when I came down with a horrible sinus cold on day 3 of the trip that rendered my tastebuds entirely USELESS. All I can say is, learn from me and be a complete germaphobe on airplanes. There was a sick toddler behind me and I wish I had brought a case of Purell, endless packets of Emergen-C, and a surgical mask. Unfortunately, hindsight is 20/20 so I was stuck being sick and we figured it would be useless to keep a lot of our reservations since I couldn’t taste a thing and it would be money down the drain. I will include all of the places we didn’t make it to as well though, because my research rarely fails me and I’m sure all of the restaurants are amazing! See below for my Cabo recs:

STAY:
-For the first half of the trip we stayed at the Westin Los Cabos. It’s closer to San Jose Del Cabo and is on a hugeeee piece of property. They also have an amazing beach that is for guest use only (surrounded by rocks so can’t be accessed by other parts of the beach). There are many pools and tons of lounge areas so you never have to worry about not getting a beach chair! For our room, we had a decent sized suite with a kitchen and living room. The food and drinks here were pretty good (the poolside nachos were unbelievable) and fairly reasonably priced as well. One thing I really liked about the Westin was that they had an on-site convenience store with a Starbucks counter in it. I still don’t know whether its safe to drink tap water at hotels in Cabo (despite many Google queries), so we were able to stock up on huge bottles of water and snacks. They sold wine and liquor too, so we bought all of our alcohol and mix here and snuck it into the Swell bottles we brought hehe. One more thing—we were there one of the few times a year they release baby turtles into the ocean! They did it at sunset and it was just the most precious and wonderful experience that had me tearing up.
-The last half of the trip was spent at the Cape, part of the Thompson hotel group. The Cape is closer to Cabo San Lucas. From the moment we arrived, everything was PERFECT (aside from my illness :|). Seriously, nothing compares to this place. They have a stretch of beach that is open to the public but just attracts local surfers as its next to a wave breaking point (or whatever they call it in surfer slang). There are two pools (amazing for people-watching and sipping drinks all day), an awesome rooftop bar, and a few great restaurants. Everything about this place is seriously flawless. The most basic room you can book is an ocean view with a private balcony. All of the rooms have funky decor, a standalone bathtub, and come with a complimentary bottle of tequila and treats once you check in. It definitely isn’t cheap, but it’s one of my favourite places I’ve stayed at and I already want to go back for my birthday next year. A couple of other tips: if we do go back, we will most definitely be stopping at a convenience store on the way in and buying like 20 huge water bottles. Bottled water is just not something I want to pay inflated Thompson-hotel prices for, and trust me it is expensive here. Most days we would go to the gym first thing in the morning and fill up huge water bottles from the water dispenser they had there, but I feel like this is probably a frowned upon practice. On another note, their breakfast is just unreal. They have a French toast dish called Cape Toast and I would legitimately go back just to eat it again. ALSO, a heads up that all of their breakfast items are part of their room service menu and are the exact same price as they are in the restaurant. We discovered this on our second last day and ordered one of everything to our room and ate it on our balcony overlooking the ocean. Finally, to conclude our magical stay, there was a wedding on the cliff beside the the hotel on our last night, and they let off some real impressive fireworks which were a nice treat on our final evening.

EAT:
-Flora Farms - a family-run adorably stylish farm with tons of little upscale shops, pretty landscaping, a market, and restaurant!
-Acre Baja - new eco-resort where the accommodations are in treehouses. Went here for dinner and it was one of the coolest places I have EVER been. You drive down a dirt road for a few km, get dropped off at the front which is basically a pathway leading into the jungle, and follow the pathway through to this open-air bohemian-chic haven where there’s a bar and restaurant. The music is amazing, the drinks are fabulous, and the food was delicious. FYI, Acre and Flora Farms are right next to each other and both quite inland from the coast.
-Romeo Y Julieta - the best spot for amazing Italian food in Cabo
-Toro Latin Kitchen - a restaurant by well-known Mexican chef Richard Sandoval. Toro offers “Pan Latin cuisine”, which takes unique flavour inspiration from all of Latin America. The restaurant itself is a super stylish spot with lots of cozy seating, a huge water feature, and lots of lanterns and wood accents.
-The Office - an iconic Cabo spot right on the beach for authentic Mexican food
-Edith’s - run by same people as the Office, another great spot for an authentic Mexican experience under a canopy of trees and hanging lanterns.
-El Farallon - if you wanna ball out, this high-end restaurant is built into the cliffside at the Pedregal resort. The BEST place in Cabo to watch the sun set.
-Sunset Mona Lisa - ok maybe there are two BEST places to watch the sun set in Cabo haha. And the third is the rooftop at the Thompson (Sunset Mona Lisa is next to the Cape)

MISC:
-This was my second time in Cabo, and had already done the boat cruise to Lover’s Beach and the arch. It’s definitely worth doing though, so if it’s your first time, try to make arrangements for it!
-There are two “towns” that make up Cabo as a destination. San Jose Del Cabo is more of the “old town”, it’s closer to the airport, and a lot of the newer hotels are popping up in this area. Cabo San Lucas is the main “touristy” town that is beside the arch/Lover’s Beach. CSL is more walkable and has tons of restaurant and hotel options.
-Taxis are exorbitantly expensive. I’m talking 40USD for a 20min drive. There isn’t really any way around it unless you rent a car, so just make sure to include taxi fare in your trip budget.
-On that note, everywhere takes USD and most places actually list prices in USD as opposed to pesos. There is really no need to bring pesos with you here.

OUTFIT DETAILS:
-Sans Souci lace off the shoulder top (similar), Prem frill shorts (similar), Forever 21 sunglasses, Zara leather slides (similar — well the Zara ones were knocked off from these to begin with haha)
-Zaful white bikini top (similar), Zara snakeskin denim skirt (similar), Forever 21 sunglasses and hat (similar)
-Olivaceous polka dot set via Sundream Resort Wear (similar), Ever New espadrilles (similar), Gucci wallet on chain
-ASTR the Label frill sleeve midi dress via Sundream Resort Wear, Forever 21 sunglasses and hat (similar — and again the F21 version was knocked off from this)
-Forever 21 tortoiseshell button dress with belt
-Zaful olive tie-front one piece (similar), H&M hat (similar), Forever 21 necklace
-Ciao Sea printed one-shoulder bikini
-LoveShackFancy tiered frill dress via Shopbop (sold out in parchment but still available in white)

Luxury Resale Made Easy With MCouture

Can we talk about how challenging it is to re-sell luxury/high end items? This has aggravated me for years. Apps to arrange meet-ups typically end in either the buyer or seller flaking out, stores that operate on consignment or buy items for cash on the spot are a huge hassle (and often a rip-off), and as easy as it is to donate like I do with my fast-fashion pieces, I feel like I should be able to make a bit of money back on higher end, gently used items.

As a fashion blogger, I have a pretty extensive closet, but I hate holding onto items I no longer wear and find it hugely satisfying to clean out my closet on a seasonal basis. I’ll organize the items I’m getting rid of into “throw away”, “donate”, and “sell” piles, however my “sell” items ALWAYS end up going into my storage locker because I just don’t want to deal with the hassle of selling them through consignment or a meet-up app. Needless to say, it’s hugely frustrating. I was recently introduced to MCouture, and I absolutely believe it is the luxury re-sell option we need in Canada.

First and most importantly, everything listed on MCouture is validated by their in-house teams and guaranteed authentic. Designer items listed are thoroughly checked for proper serial numbers and correct embossing/hardware/quality standards. So as a buyer, you can rest assured the LV logo clutch you’re eyeing is 100% authentic. They’re constantly listing new items, so I’m going to be checking the website every few days to make sure I don’t miss out on anything! There are tons of amazing designer pieces and the very best ones get scooped up quickly. You guys know how much I love a good vintage find. Extra bonus: you can track an item to see if the seller lowers the price!

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Now let’s talk about selling on the platform, because it couldn’t be easier and provides complete visibility on the commission you’ll make off of your items. First, you list your item, the price, and provide pictures, then the MCouture team does their due diligence to verify for authenticity and quality. Your item will be listed for sale and visible on their website within 48hrs, and you’ll receive an email to confirm when it’s posted. Once your item sells, MCouture will email you a pre-paid Canada Post shipping label and all you need to do is pack your item up and ship it! Once the buyer receives the item, you get paid via PayPal, so everything is super secure and simple. See below for commission chart:

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I now have no excuses for having a storage locker full of Rag & Bone, Alexander Wang, Michael Kors, etc. It’s awesome that Canadians now have such a great and hassle-free option for designer resale. Time for me to get to work and start listing, and to reward myself, maybe that LV clutch above…?!

Ultimate Guide to Thrift Shopping for Clothing

Thrift shopping has been a serious passion of mine for as long as I can remember. As much as I love luxury goods and fast fashion, nothing gets me quite as amped up as spending hours shopping at Value Village rummaging for treasure. The prospect of coming across one-of-a-kind vintage pieces that I’ll have forever ignites some kind of carnal female "gatherer" shit within me. 

Since I was younger, I would go with my mom who operates the same way as I do once within the walls of a thrift store: shopping cart at the entrance, start from one end of the store until you make your way all the way through. NO SECTION GOES OVERLOOKED! This is NOT an activity I would ever partake in if under a time restriction. You’ve gotta go in knowing you could be in there for several hours. Pretty sure I have spent up to 6 hours in a Value Village. Is that wack?? Whatever, I’m proud of it. Through my many, MANY years of thrifting, I have picked up a ton of tips that I hope might help less-experienced and potentially apprehensive thrifters. This post is long overdue! Here we go:

-Like I said above, prepare to spend a few hours in the store. If you’re not in the mood to HUNT, don’t even bother. You really have to put in the time looking for the goods. 
-There are “good” and “bad” Value Village (and any other thrift store, but I'm a V.V. girl) locations. In my experience, the farther into the suburbs you go, the better. Suburban Value Villages are goldmines and not at all picked over. The one by my parents place in Ajax is my JAM. If you’re in Toronto, the only location I have ever had luck at is the one on the Danforth. My Nonna used to live just around the corner from it so I have been going to this location since I was like?? 2 years old??? It still has a special place in my heart and I always find the best things there. Sorry to say, but the Bloor & Lansdowne location is awful. 
-If you find something you love but it’s stained, ripped, or needs to be altered to properly fit you, just pass it up. It’s not worth it and chances are you’ll never get it altered (unless you have a tailor who you frequently go to).
-I don’t like to thrift items from stores that I normally shop at. Thrift stores these days have tons of items from Zara, Forever 21, Aritzia, etc. These are not things I typically like to go for. When I’m thrifting, I’m THERE TO THRIFT! Aka unique and/or vintage items only. If I do find something relatively current that I loooove and it’s in great condition, I’ll of course still pick it up, but this is rare. When I find an amazing item, I know I've really hit the jackpot when I look at the tag and it looks super dated with font from like the 70s.
-This one is imperative: go by yourself or with someone else who’s thrifting vibe will align with yours. For me, that means someone who wants to disappear into the Value Village vortex with me. My mom is the perfect companion, as are a few of my friends. 
-Certain categories have much higher success rates than others. Blouses, sweaters, trousers, purses, blazers, leather/furs, and vintage tees are all good bets. Shoes can be tough because they take a beating so most are not in great condition. Vintage denim (like Levi’s etc) is such a hot item right now and that makes it really challenging to find because it’s what everyone is looking for. 
-What clothing size are you?? Not anymore! Size means next to nothing when thrifting because of how many different decades the clothes come from. I’ve purchased trousers in size L that are probably from the 70s and they fit like a modern day size S. Also, things like blouses, blazers, and sweaters can still look great if oversized. So don't make the mistake of only looking in your usual size section!
-In that vein, make sure you take a thorough look through the men's and even kid's sections. Two of my fav finds ever (a double breasted mini houndstooth blazer and a vintage Clash tee) came from the boy's section. Menswear can have great sweaters and graphic tees. And don’t forget the seemingly random “fringe” categories for women’s like sleepwear (my #1 find EVER EVER EVER is a black and tan printed kimono-jumpsuit hybrid that came from the sleepwear section, they had categorized it as a “robe”), suits (they categorize most two piece sets as “suits”, including matching tops and bottoms), and gross as it may seem and not recommended for beginners, lingerie (silk and satin slip dresses are in abundance there).
-When it comes to styling thrifted & vintage pieces, it’s important to modernize the look and be creative. Remove the massive 80s shoulder pads from blazers and dresses. Pair a vintage blouse with leather skinny pants and white sneakers. Knot a shapeless shirt at the front and wear it with high waisted pants. Roll up/cuff sleeves that are too big and boxy. Artfully wrap and tie up big vintage scarves to make them into tops/skirts/hair wraps, etc. If you can’t think of how a thrifted piece would fit into your existing wardrobe and style, pass it up. It will just end up sitting unworn in your closet forever. 
-Once you've made your purchases and arrived back home, keep everything in plastic bags until you are ready to wash or dry clean it. Obviously we all know that second-hand items are usually not freshly laundered, so don't mix your thrifted purchases into your closet just yet. It freaks a lot of people out not knowing where the items came from and I totally get that! The first thing I do when I get home is sort my purchases into "wash myself" or "take to dry clean" bags. With items I am washing myself, I make sure to use a mesh bag and wash on the hot/cold cycle to get the items really clean and sanitized. When taking more high maintenance items like silks or blazers to the dry cleaners, unfortunately you'll have to be prepared to likely spend more on the dry cleaning than you did on the item itself.  

PHEW ok I think that's all for now! Honestly if I could leave you all with one final and very important tip it would have to be: don’t get discouraged if you don’t find much the first time you go. Give it a month and try again, or try a different location! It takes a while to find your thrifting groove and to start to have an eye for unique/quality/timeless/whatever-it-is-you're-searching-for pieces. The saying practice makes perfect is definitely true when it comes to thrift shopping! Good luck and please leave any of your own tried-and-true tips below!

Clover & Sloane

So happy to be a part of today’s launch of Clover & Sloane - a brand new brand offering the sweetest dresses and jumpsuits. All of their pieces are so ideal for dressing up or down! I paired the Soho black jumpsuit with sneakers and a leather moto for daytime (above), and dressed the same jumpsuit up the day before with tan block-heeled booties and an oversized peacoat to go to the art gallery. The Carroll dress features my fav print of the season, cherries!!! I wore it out for a coffee date with a cozy cardigan, tights, and sock booties, though I really need it to be summer ASAP so I can wear it bare-legged with a straw hat… Clover & Sloane’s pieces feature sweet feminine details like ruffles, bows, and girly prints, done super tastefully in the most wearable styles and silhouettes. Shop now at cloverandsloane.com

Cranes in the Sky

Just returned from South Beach and I just have to express my love for it! It is the place to go to be EXTRA, but for a quick and easy getaway somewhere hot, beachy, stylish, and fun, there isn't a better place to go. The bar and restaurant scene is amazing... Some of my fav spots include the Broken Shaker (the bar at the Freehand hotel), Ola (amazing Latin food), Casa Tua (incredible Italian in a gorgeous courtyard patio setting), River Oyster Bar (in Brickell, so good), Habitat (for brunch or lunch, such an adorable patio), Mandolin Aegean Bistro (Greek, featured in Vogue), and Dreamer (most adorable brunch). The pool at the W Hotel is my fav but the Shore Club also has a great vibe. Our stays down there never feel long enough and there are so many other things I would love to do that I haven't had the chance to yet! Itching to go back and see the Museum of Ice Cream, explore the design district, and drive down to the keys. 

I'm wearing my favourite outfit ever from MISSPAP... A crane print culotte and kimono set paired with fluffy block heels and a cute little backpack that perfectly fits my DSLR camera. Easy, stylish, fun, and just a little over the top... just like Miami ;)

Make Me Blush

Now that we are a few weeks into 2018, I wanted to take a moment to put together a brief post about why last year was such a significant year for me. I had a lot thrown at me in 2017: I got laid off from my job of 6+ years, I had a flood in my apartment that rendered it unliveable for 2 months, and I dealt with a considerable loss that brought grave disappointment and uncertainty. I also traveled to amazing places, started a new job, and began to take charge and ownership of my life and the direction it was going in. Looking back on it all, everything I went through made me stronger and more confident that I can handle all of the ups and downs that come my way. Over the last year I threw myself into my passions, overcame anxieties, stood up for myself and my ideals, and of course made a lot of mistakes. When I needed people to lean on, I was so incredibly lucky to have the best family and boyfriend a girl could ask for, plus the most amazing and supportive friends both old and new. I’ve never been one for resolutions, but it’s funny how much the beginning of a new year can feel like a brand new chapter full of hope and opportunity. In 2018 I want to keep pushing myself to do better and to get outside of my comfort zone, but also not let setbacks and things beyond my control get the best of me. I want to use the start of a new year as an opportunity to have a more positive outlook overall, one that consists of mindfulness, gratitude, and composure.

With all that said, this was my New Years Eve look! A little blush velvet wrap number from Tobi. I layered a blush mesh bodysuit underneath to make it a bit more weather-appropriate, and added in some star earrings and a pair of thigh high boots. Rung in the New Year in style and good spirits.

Blizzard Attire

Happy 2018 guys! It's been a while since I've posted... The holidays and work have totally taken up my time but I'm hoping to get back on track with regular posting. I have a few posts lined up over the coming weeks! These photos were taken over the holidays at Elliot's family cottage in Muskoka. I have always been a warm weather person and I liiiiive for the summer. Winter and I just aren't meant to be, but the beauty and allure of winter up north is undeniable and this year I finally can say I appreciate it. 

We drove up from the city late one night and the forecast was clear. As we drove further north, however, we were suddenly enveloped into a complete whiteout. The snow was falling fast and heavy, it completely shrouded our vision to the point that we could only see a few feet ahead of us. The storm was completely mesmerizing and it felt like a winter fairytale. Pine trees heavily coated with snow tightly surrounded the road and everything was so quiet. There was something so magical and ethereal about it all and as corny as it sounds, I felt so at peace and lucky to be able to experience winter at its finest. It was probably way more nerve-wracking for Elliot since he was behind the wheel, but I trust his driving and the fact that our lives were in his hands haha. We made it to the cottage safely and went straight to bed, and the cold morning came clear and bright. During our stay, we headed to a nearby road to take some pictures in my very appropriate winter attire. I'm wearing these jeans by Tobi. Love the wash and the rise! So easy to wear, even in the winter... toss on a cute pair of booties and a cool coat and you're set :)

Cinque Terre Travel Guide

Just about the most charming and picturesque region you could travel to in Italy, the colourful cliffside towns that make up Cinque Terre are a dream destination. In my previous post from the area, I outlined where we stayed and a few other noteworthy bits. This post will focus solely on the 5 towns in the Italian Riviera which are (from N to S): Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. Aside from the obvious beauty of the towns, one of the major reasons they have become so adored is due to the seaside hike that takes you from one town to the next. Due to the earthquakes in 2012, some of the hikes are still undergoing remediation and are closed to the public. As of currently, the closed trails are between Riomaggiore & Manarola, and Manarola & Corniglia. Unfortunately, those are said to be the least challenging of the trails. Clearly for me an easy jaunt > a strenuous hike. The only one I personally did was one of the most challenging, between Levanto (NOT one of the 5 towns) and Monterosso. Honestly it was a pretty tough hike, but luckily you are shaded for most of it, and Monterosso waits at the other end! For those who want to avoid hiking altogether (like I did every other day), the train system is easy, reliable, and fast. Make sure to stamp your day passes though because they are always patrolling the train cars! And word to the wise: do not use the boat system! It sounds great in theory but we decided against it. When we were in some of the towns we saw the insane lines of people waiting for the boats… it looked like mayhem and far too crowded to be enjoyable. 

The region is known for white wines, limoncello, seafood, focaccia, and pesto. And probably some things other than food & alcohol, but who cares about those? To be honest, I find the food in southern Italy just incredible and way more to my own personal liking, but who can hate on pesto and focaccia? Though after a week it did get a bit tiresome, and almost all restaurants have a slight variation on the same menu, but you will definitely enjoy it while you are there! See below for restaurant recommendations by town, as well as any other town-specific info I picked up on while there!

Monterosso: The largest of the 5 towns, situated right on the seaside, with a small but very recognizable beach covered in orange and green striped umbrellas. This town is possibly one of the busiest, although they ALL get very busy which is a shame. We came here most often, as it was the closest to where we were staying in Levanto. It is not worth it (in my opinion) to try to lay out on the beach here. It is all paid spots and they fill up so early in the morning. It is also super overpriced (in Levanto we paid half of what we would have paid in Monterosso for a beach chair). Two restaurants that were fantastic were Torre de Aurora (just opened this summer, in a castle on a cliff top with different patio levels all the way down) and Miky (a Michelin starred restaurant that was incredible).
Vernazza: Did not have the best luck in Vernazza! I wanted to do a partial hike from Vernazza to Riomaggiore, as supposedly the best view of the town is about 30 minutes into the trail, but it was ridiculously hot that day and we got too frustrated trying to find the start to the trail. We were also dying to eat at Ristorante Belforte (in my photos, it’s the place with the blue stripey umbrellas. SO DREAMY.) but we learned that most people make reservations months in advance so we were SOL! We ended up having dinner at a cute spot called Gianni Franzi that overlooks the main beach.
Corniglia: The only town I did go to. Corniglia is the only town of the 5 that is not on the sea. It is high up on a clifftop and has incredible views. My family ended up doing the hike between Corniglia and Vernazza and their photos were pretty incredible.
Manarola: Painfully perfect. Like, I look at the photos I took from the lookout point in Manarola (facing back towards the town) and feel physical pain at how pretty it is. It looks like a painting! Colourful buildings spilling down the cliff to the rocky sea where people swim. It is heaven. Two restaurants that you can’t miss are Trattoria del Billy (great views if you can get a spot out on the patio, amazing food) and Nessun Dorma (the best view you could ask for of Manarola… the entire restaurant is on a patio covered in tropical flowers and plants, and the food is so delicious and fresh. After eating pesto and focaccia for days on end, we were able to get amazing salads and bruschettas here, along with ridiculously good drinks).
Riomaggiore: Started our day here one day and did lots of wandering. So many pretty look out spots! Did not do much in Riomaggiore other than walk around, but it’s just as pretty as the rest of the towns, and I love the photo of the little harbor with the bright buildings snuggled up around it.

La Dolce Vita

Naturally, Italy is one of my favourite countries to visit, being the (half) Italian that I am. In all honestly I could go every year and never tire of the energy, food, beaches, architecture, history, style, people.... and so on. This year, my family rented an Airbnb villa in Levanto to explore a region we hadn't been to before, Cinque Terre. I'll dedicate an entire post to the 5 towns, but in this post I wanted to focus on the area and house we stayed at in Levanto. When travelling to Cinque Terre, the options for entire homes to rent are pretty slim. Each town has small apartments and hotels, but we wanted a larger house with an outdoor space as there would be 6 of us traveling together. We came across Villa Mesco, which is right at the edge of Cinque Terre, in a town called Levanto. The villa is literally at the start of the hike between Levanto and Monterosso (the first of the 5 towns, heading from north to south). It looked absolutely beautiful on the Airbnb listing, with a sprawling yard covered in plants, archways, flowers, and a huge patio, plus a pool. We were absolutely not disappointed upon arrival! It was such a perfect place to stay and use as a base to explore the entire region. The house itself is a very traditional, classic Italian style home, so we didn't expect anything too updated. This suited us just fine. The pool and patio were perfection, and the house was very spacious. It's at the top of a hill so the views were just incredible. The only downside was having to hike up and down the hill to get anywhere, but we definitely were able to work off all the pasta and gelato so no harm done! Levanto itself is bigger than any of the 5 towns that make up Cinque Terre, so there were many grocery stores, shops, restaurants, etc., and the town never felt too crowded or busy as it doesn't draw the crowds as much as the 5 towns do. This was great because Levanto has a large, beautiful beach that we could ALWAYS get a spot on (you won't get a chair in Monterosso, the only town with a full beach, unless you get there first thing in the morning). A few other things we did in Levanto that were so enjoyable included renting a small boat to explore the coastline by sea, trying nearly all of the gelato and focaccia shops in town, and exploring the streets. There was also an amazing restaurant in town that we loved called La Loggia, with a gorgeous stone patio, and a bar with delicious cocktails that we went to one night, called Controvento. Levanto was such a great area to stay in and explore the entire region from! Our Airbnb made the experience an absolute dream.

(Wearing a Whistles striped linen/silk blend midi dress, ASOS nude flat ring sandals, Karen Walker Helter Skelter tortoiseshell sunglasses, and a Forever 21 black straw hat + a Shine & Gold romper "Spell on You", Zara white sneakers, and a Forever 21 tan straw hat)

Ios Island Travel Guide

Prior to going to Santorini, we stayed on the heavenly island of Ios. We arrived right at the beginning of September and immediately noticed how quiet the island felt (in the BEST way possible). We asked our taxi driver about it as she drove us to our hotel, and she said that during June, July, and August, Ios is a party island filled with students, but as soon as September rolls around, the island becomes a lot more calm and quiet. Um, literally music to my ears. The island was not dead by any means, but in September there are a lot more couples and mature groups of friends. Absolutely ideal if you ask me. We stayed at Ios Palace Hotel, which is right on Mylopotas Beach (Mylopotas Beach is the main “tourist” area, and Chora is the main town). The hotel was clean and comfortable with two beautiful pools and a great bar/lounge area that we had breakfast in every day. Also, it was beyond affordable. Really great value for how fantastic this place was. Read on for other tips and recommendations for Ios!

Eat/drink:

Harmony – such a little gem. This place serves Mexican, which you might not think you want when you’re in Greece, but trust me when I say you do haha. The food is so fresh and healthy with tons of vegan options, and they even have acai bowls. The atmosphere is so chilled out and relaxed, it’s a place you could just hang out at all day. It’s a bit up on the rocky cliffs, so you get a stunning view of the sea. They have hammocks all over, tons of tables low to the ground with cushions to sit on, lots of white curtains, hanging lanterns, rugs, and plants scattered around. It’s dreamy.

Salt – just about the most chic and bohemian open-air restaurant I have been to. White wicker and wood furniture, plants and bougainvillea everywhere, striped pillows, loungers hanging from the ceiling by ropes… the décor of this place is what really drew me in, but the food and drinks are great as well.

Cantina Del Mar – the food here is just amazingly fresh and delicious, as well as ridiculously affordable. We were only on the island for 3 days and we ate here twice. I had the best Greek salad with tuna I have ever had here, as well as a really great grilled halloumi and avocado sandwich. They have delicious cocktails, juices, and smoothies too.

Grandma’s – if you’re looking for an elevated culinary experience on Ios, Grandma’s is the best bet. It’s located in the Liostasi Hotel in Chora which is just exquisite. It’s the most high-end accommodation you can find on Ios, way up on a cliff with a huge pool and enormous patio right at the edge for prime views and sunset-watching. We came here on our last night for dinner and let me tell you, it.was.perfect. The service was almost TOO good, the food and drinks were amazing, and the atmosphere of the hotel was beautiful.

The only other advice I can give is to really just relax and enjoy. The beaches on Ios are positively stunning with soft golden sand and warm, clear water. On Mylopotas Beach, you’ll have to pay a few euros to lay out, but it was definitely worth it as you get a comfy lounger and an umbrella. There is a section on the beach that is public and unpaid, but you’ll just be on your towel with no shade. There are also countless rocky cliffs and swimming spots all around the island.  When we got to our hotel, we were given a map of the island (it’s quite small) showing where all of the lesser-known beaches were on the island, and I can pretty much guarantee we would have had a lot of them almost to ourselves. Also, rent an ATV and go exploring! It’s the best way to see the island. Just make sure you get a good one with a stronger HP as we unfortunately got stuck with a dud that could barely get up a hill. I had imagined us whipping around the island happening upon glorious beaches, but unfortunately our ATV wasn’t cooperating so that vision of mine did not come true haha… the only disappointment of our entire time on the island. Overall, Ios was so uncomplicated, beautiful, and laidback, and I hope to visit again someday!