Why I love traveling Lebanon

Why I love traveling Lebanon

Why I love traveling Lebanon

Historic cities, mountains, beaches & exquiste food

Duration: at least 10 days

Budget: $ 55 per day

Lebanon got my heart from the second I arrived last year. Indeed it was such a special travel destination for me that I am returning to Lebanon for a second time this summer. I am super excited to discover the tiny country between mountains and the Mediterranean Sea a bit more.

However, I noticed that whenever I tell people about my upcoming travel plans I get a lot of disbelief.

  • Sight Seeing 100% 100%
  • Beaches 90% 90%
  • Activites 100% 100%
  • Culture 100% 100%

Even though Lebanon is still in deep crisis, here is my homage to one of my favorite travel destinations. May this love letter inspire you to discover this mesmerizing country and help overcome some common misconceptions about traveling to Lebanon.

The People of Lebanon

Although Lebanon shares many cultural traits with its Arab neighbors, it also has unique characteristics that set it apart from other countries in the region.

For one, its rugged and mountainous terrain has made it a refuge for a wide range of people throughout history, from religious and ethnic minorities to political dissidents. Some areas of Beirut for example feel like a day trip to Armenia.

This rich history and diversity make Lebanon a fascinating place to explore and meet new people from all over the world.

I really enjoyed getting to know people and always felt very welcomed anywhere I went.

What stuck with me until this day is the incredible resilience of the people, their warmness towards me, and their infectious way of embracing beautiful moments.  


Concert in Lebanon
Sunset in Lebanon from Frozen Cherries

Sunsets in Lebanon

The sunsets over Lebanon are one of a kind! The unique setting between mountains and the Mediterranean Sea makes up for some of the most stunning sunsets I have seen in my life.

No matter where you are in Lebanon: up in the mountains or by the water, I promise you one thing: chasing sunsets in Lebanon is totally worth it.

My two favorite ways for watching the sunsets in Lebanon are:

– Frozen Cherries Bar

– Paragliding into the sun



Beaches in Lebanon

To me, Lebanon is way too exciting to be considered a mere beach destination. What I love about the beaches in Lebanon:

1. A beach is never far away

2. Lebanon’s coastal region was once home to some of the most influential and fascinating centers of trade and culture known to man. The Phoenician ports of Tyre, Sidon, and Byblos were bustling hubs in the 3rd millennium BCE.

So I can combine some hours by the beach with super interesting cultural sights.

3. Beach Clubs: Though I am not a big supporter of private beaches, visiting a beach club in Lebanon is a very fn experience and a good way to get to hang out with the local crowd.


Me at Lazy B, a beach club outside of Beirut
our lunch in Lebanon

Food culture in Lebanon

Let me tell you. the food I tasted in Lebanon was some of the best in the world!

The demographic diversity is also represented in Lebanon’s food and so I got to try different flavors every day.

Making Lebanese food culture so special is the practice of ordering several plates and sharing them with your friends.

Short Distances

Lebanon is tiny and due to its unique location between mountains and sea, you could go skiing in the morning and enjoy the sunset by the water. Basically, anywhere you go in Lebanon is never really too far away making it very easy to travel around.

us on a road trip in Lebanon
house in Beirut with visible bullet holes

Feeling safe

Despite the political tensions with Israel, the geographic proximity to war countries, and the ongoing crisis in Lebanon: 

I always felt very safe!

As a female traveling around I experienced much respect and friendliness anywhere in Lebanon. 

Even though the economic situation is terrible, I was told that petty crimes such as pickpocketing are basically non existent. 


Accommodations in Lebanon

There are stunning places to stay in Lebanon. In the absence of international hotel chains, Lebanon is home to very unique Airbnbs across the country as well as several charming boutique hotels.

beautiful view in Lebanon
me counting money in Lebanon


Lebanon is a very budget-friendly destination especially when compared to other destinations in the Middle East. 

When traveling solo expected to pay:

– $ 40 per night for a comfortable accommodation

– $ 4 for street food

Variety of things to do

The small country offers so many things to do that I promise you won’t get bored no matter how many times you return.

The mountains offer exquisite accommodations, vast hiking terrain and trails, and even the possibility to ski. 

The cities allowed me to get a glance at modern Middle Eastern life. I embraced the architecture wandering the streets and enjoyed shopping at the lively souks. 

The beaches are super beautiful and the surrounding towns offer plenty of things to do. Despite enjoying the beauty of the sea, you can even go diving. 


me in a mountains house in Lebanon

Get ready to travel Lebanon

Public Transport in Lebanon

Taking public transport is quite the challenge though not impossible. There are several companies operating within Beirut and other major cities. You most likely won’t be able to find a schedule.

The bus map project  is doing a great effort in mapping out the public transport in Beirut. They even offer a tour discover Beirut by public transport, which is super cool and intersting. 



While there are some safety concerns to keep in mind, I personally felt completely secure during my trip there. Of course, it’s always a good idea to keep an eye on the political situation and any border tensions with neighboring countries. 

I was told that petty crime such as pickpocketing is almost non-existent.

As a female traveler, I felt very safe. I was never harassed, cat-called, or made to feel uncomfortable in any kind of way.

Best time to travel Lebanon

From April to October!

Though it does get hot during the summer months, you can always cool down by the beach!

It does get rainy and grey during the winter months from November to March.

Tap water in Lebanon

Do not drink tap water in Lebanon. The infrastructure is in pretty bad shape and you’ll never know what comes out of the pipe.

I use a water purifier when on the country side. However, Lebanon is so far the only country where I buy bottled water in the cities. 


Where to get money in Lebanon

Getting money is not only an issue many Lebanese face on a daily basis. You will also be confronted with a lack of functioning ATMs and basically non-acceptance of credit cards anywhere. 

Therefore. Bring enough Dollars to exchange on the black market. This is faily easy as you#ll find exchanges anywhere within Beirut. 

Biggest challenge for the responsible traveler

For me, it was definitely the ethical concern of traveling to a country in such a deep crisis. It took me a visit to realize that it is ok to visit and the Lebanese are happy to have visitors coming back. 

Power outages

Power outages in Lebanon are a real struggle for the local population. 

As a traveler, you most likely feel very little impact of the power outages as most accommodations have their own generators. 

Some neiguhborhoods of Beirut and the surrounding area get pretty dark at night. However, the busy neighborhoods will still have nightlife and restaurants. 

tanzania travel Zanzibar beaches

Packing for a trip to Lebanon

Packing for Lebanon can be quite a challenge! Not only does the climate vary greatly regionally but there are also so many activities to plan for.

Traveling Lebanon?

Lebanon Itinerary

Places to visit in Lebanon

Things to do in Beirut | 2023 Update

Things to do in Beirut | 2023 Update

I did not know what to expect and was taken by huge surprise by this pulsing and simply beautiful city. The “Paris of the Middle East” as many referred to Beirut is a stunning city that wears its heart on its sleeve. Despite the crisis, there are so many cool things to do in Beirut!

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Packing for Lebanon | What to bring

Packing for Lebanon | What to bring

Getting ready to embark on a trip to Lebanon? But before you head off for your magical Middle Eastern adventure, there’s one important thing you need to do: pack! In this blog post, I want to share my advice with you on what clothing essentials you should pack, gadgets that will make things easier along the way, plus some tips designed with the budget- and eco-conscious traveler in mind.

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Lebanon travel in 2023  | Everything to know

Lebanon travel in 2023 | Everything to know

Traveling Lebanon 2023

Practical Travel Tips

Everything to know from power shortages to money

Lebanon is in deep crisis but do not let it keep you from visiting this incredible nation. The Lebanese are as welcoming as ever and will show your beautiful country.

There is very little touristic infrastructure making Lebanon the perfect place to explore for the independent traveler. But it also means that you have to prepare yourself a bit better than on your trip to Central America.

Get ready to travel to Lebanon

When traveling to Lebanon you’ll face some challenges caused by the economic crisis and international sanctions. However, as long as you are aware of them, you can come prepared and fully enjoy your trip to Lebanon.

Power outages in Lebanon

Power outages are something very common for the Lebanese, especially during the ongoing economic crisis. Sometimes the power goes out for hours.

This means there are almost no city lights in certain areas and lots of houses turn dark. To solve the issue many Lebanese have installed generators. 

When booking an Airbnb, be considerate of the power outages. Many of the listings will tell you if they have a generator. 

P.S.: Elevators won’t work either during time of outages!

Carnival in Kingston, Jamaica 2023
us in front of mas camp at Jamaica carnival

Lebanon's financial crisis

Cash is key in Lebanon as credit cards are hardly accepted anywhere. The mistrust in financial institutions and the government is just too deeply rooted. On top of that the Lebanese bank used to have a fixed exchange rate until 2023 which was up to 20 times lower than the black market value.

On top of that the availability of cash is greatly limited.

If you are traveling to Lebanon in 2023 make sure to bring efficient cash funds to exchange. Lebanon is a very safe country so don’t worry about bringing cash.

Make sure to download the Lyra App to know the daily value. You will find plenty of currency exchanges basically anywhere.

Credit cards are currently not accepted anywhere. Please note that you can not use your credit cards for withdrawals either.

In case you run out of money, you can use Western Union and have somebody transfer your money that way.

Internet and phone

VPN Client

International sanctions will keep you from visiting certain websites. As I had to work during my stay there was no way around installing a VPN client.

Make sure to download the VPN client before getting there. 

Wifi in Lebanon

Wifi is so-so. I find the local mobile network to be a lot better than most of the Wifis I tested during my trip. 

Getting a sim card in Lebanon

Do get a sim card when traveling around Lebanon. Its super easy and you are so much more flexible. I usually get an ALFA sim card which works great and is pretty cheap. Make sure to bring your passport when buying one!

Me in Jamaican carnival costume
Carnival party in jamaica

Is it safe to travel Lebanon in 2023?

Yes! Even though the country is suffering from a terrible economic crisis and the conflict with Israel is ongoing, you can ( and should) travel to Lebanon.

Petty crimes are almost non-existent, and so are any violent crimes towards visitors.

As a female, you always feel safe and welcomed any time of the day.

However, the situation in Lebanon may change quickly and without much further ado. Make sure to keep up with the local news and avoid any kind of demonstration.


Religious diversity

As the most religiously diverse country in the Middle East, Lebanon is home to 18 different religions.

Christianity, Islam, and Druze are the main religions, with Christianity making up about 40% of the population, Islam about 60%, and Druze about 5%.

With such a diverse mix of religions coexisting within one country, Lebanon has a unique and fascinating history that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. Whether you are a believer or simply interested in the cultural aspects of religion, a trip to Lebanon is sure to be an eye-opening and memorable experience.

me at Jouvert in Jamaica

Religions in Lebanon

Religion plays a huge role in every Lebanese life as it heavily impacts politics (one reason why Lebanon has been unable to elect a president), daily practices and law enforcement, and of course marriages. I found it to be super interesting to learn how the religious diversity is impacts such a tiny country.


Sunnis and Shi’ites

For curious travelers, there’s nothing like getting to know a country’s history and culture. In Lebanon, that means understanding the divide between Sunnis and Shi’ites, two sects of Islam that have had a lasting impact on the nation. The tensions between these groups can be traced back to the early days of Islam when the question of caliphate succession split the religion in two. It’s taken on different forms over the centuries, but today, it’s still very much a part of life in Lebanon. For those interested in history and politics, a trip to Lebanon is a must. With about 50% of the population identifying as Sunni and 60% as Shi’ite, it’s the perfect place to explore the complexities of religious diversity. Who knows, you might even leave with a new perspective on the world.



Unlike other Islamic groups, the Druze have eliminated all rituals and ceremonies, rejecting the five pillars of Islam and having no defined holy days. Only those born into the religion can be considered Druze, and actual religious practice is limited to a small elite group known as ‘initiates’ or ‘uqqal.’ The Druze are mainly found in the south of Mount Lebanon, where the elite men can be identified by their distinctive mustaches, low-hanging trousers, and white caps. Meanwhile, Druze women wear white veils and long black dresses. It’s fascinating to learn about the history of this religious group, including their current leader, Walid Jumblatt, and local hero, Fakhr el-Dine Maan II.



When it comes to Christianity in the Middle East-North Africa region, Lebanon stands out from the crowd. Looking specifically at Lebanon, you’ll find that the Maronite denomination is the largest group of Christians in the country. With origins tracing back to the late-4th century, the Maronites are deeply rooted in the history and culture of Lebanon. The foundation of a monastery around the figure of St. Maron was the catalyst for their formation and their influence has since grown throughout the country. It’s fascinating to see the impact that this denomination has had on Lebanon and its people and serves as a reminder of the rich religious history that exists in this diverse region of the world.

Tours are a must!

Lebanon is an incredibly diverse and deeply complex country. To understand better and reach other destinations than Beirut I highly recommend going on at least two tours while you are here. I love the walking tour of Alternative-Beirut. The people are very cool and you get a much deeper insight into the city and its challenges. 

For outside of Beirut, check out Tourleb!

Nada is a super cool person with lots of interesting day trips around the country that take you way off the beaten path and right into the heart of Lebanon!

me at Jouvert in Jamaica

Thinking about traveling Lebanon?

Lebanon itinerary

Things to do in Lebanon

No matter how often you return to Lebanon, you will never get bored!

San Salvador | a resilient capital, rich in history, scars and hope

San Salvador | a resilient capital, rich in history, scars and hope

Things to do in San Salvador

El Salvador
San Salvador Itinerary

A resilient capital rich in history, scars, and hope

Duration: at least one week

Stay: Hotel Oasis

San Salvador is exciting, its energy infectious. The city, with its many museums, churches, and murals, offers visitors the opportunity to learn and understand El Salvador’s history. Colorful paintings often grace San Salvador’s walls. Pay attention when passing them. They often tell the stories of recent history and aim to raise awareness of social issues.  We were in complete awe every time we explored and loved learning about the culture through its friendly people. We highly recommend this amazing city, as San Salvador has so much to offer no matter what type of experience you’re hoping for.

A capital between volcanos and beaches

The pulsing capital is surrounded by stunning volcanos, frolicking with many day trip opportunities. If these weren’t enough reasons to visit, you could also reach some of the most lively beaches within a short bus (about one hour) if you feel like getting out of the city. San Salvador mesmerized us and stole our hearts. We can only recommend visiting and getting to know its fabulous people.

  • Sight Seeing 85% 85%
  • Culture 95% 95%
  • Activities 100% 100%
  • Nightlife 70% 70%

San Salvador, El Salvador’s resilient heart. The capital bears deep scars. Many of them are still visible at Centro Histórico and tangible in the hearts and memories of its inhabitants. Its heartache was omnipresent. Yet the city’s fierce determination for a better future and aspirations are infectious, making San Salvador our favorite capital in Central America.

Centro Histórico

San Salvador’s historic center is a window to the past. Until recent years, most middle-class people did not dare to visit their Centró Histórico after the civil war ended in 1992. Then, step by step, the San Salvadorians took back their center as the wounds slowly started to heal. Restoration is taking place between the bullet-scarred walls and crumbling buildings, and several bargain shops, food vendors, and visitors have sprung up. There are various second-hand stores, and we indulged in a shopping spring. We have gotten to know the El Salvadorians as fierce and optimistic, and the historic center represents precisely this to us.

Cavalerio church in Leon, Nicaragua
Granada, Nicaragua: market

National Library

We visited the National Library, where the peace bibliography is exhibited. Shortly after Valentine’s day, we found a wall created by visitors expressing their love for their country, peace, and literature.

Palacio Nacional

It sits right next to the Catedral Metropolitana. The impressive Palacio National, the republic’s first building, was constructed in 1870. Today the Palacio Nacional is home to the national archives and sometimes features art exhibitions.

Leon, Nicaragua: barrio Sutiavia
Granada, Nicaragua: dani in front of church

Teatro Nacional

San Salvador’s Teatro Nacional might be the oldest theater in Central America. It is the most important for arts and culture in El Salvador.

Iglesia El Rosario – A must-visit church

Our favorite building, and the fascinating one, is Iglesia El Rosario. While the building is rather unimposed from the outside, you’ll find a kaleidoscope of colors once you enter. Thousands of colored glass pieces set in the half-moon-shaped ceiling create and fantastic play of colors as the light shines into the building. The atmosphere is sheer beautiful. Designed by the young Ruben Martinez, the church aims to be the first statement against the elitism of the Latin mass. A symbol of equality and solidarity with the working class and the poor.

Granada, Nicaragua: Lauri in Parque Colon
San Salvador El Salvador 10

Catedral Metropolitana

The cathedral is perhaps the most impressive building on the central plaza. The original building, constructed in wood, burnt down in 1956. The church also played an essential role in the civil war when anti-government protestors overtook the cathedral on several occasions. Tragically, 24 people were killed on the cathedral steps in 1979. When one year later, tragedy struck again. While human rights champion and archbishop Monsenor Oscar Romero’s funeral took place, security forces opened fire, killing another 44 people. The late archbishop’s thumb is located in the cathedral’s basement and can be visited during opening hours.

Party the night away in Zona Rosa

No Latin American capital is complete without its Zona Rosa. This elegant and affluent part of the city stands in contrast to San Salvador’s Centro histórico. Hip cafés, lively nightspots, and many fancy restaurants make up Zona Rosa.

Leon, Nicaragua: Central Park
Leon, Nicaragua: Cerro Negro

Hike Parque National El Boquerón

Known as the “big mouth” because of its steep-walled crater, we reached El Boqueron within a 30 minutes drive from San Salvador. The national park consists of two significant peaks making up Volcan San Salvador. It also goes by the name Quezaltepe. There are various hikes you can do within the national park. Some of them lead to lookout points with views over San Salvador. Walking around the crater is possible. With a guide, you can challenge yourself by hiking down the crater’s walls. You’ll find some (pricey) but delicious restaurants on the road to the park. It is the perfect spot to spend a relaxed evening amongst San Salvador’s hip crowd. The views over the city by night are stunning! We loved “Pupuseria Loka.” The Llorc con queso pupusas are our favorite!

Live the surfer's life at Costa de Balsamico

Live El Salvador’s surfer life at La Costa de Balsamico. The distinct places lay 2 hours outside of the city. The two black sand beaches offer fantastic surfing opportunities and buzzing nightlife on the weekends.

San Salvador 4

Our favorite beaches around San Salvador

San Salvador 2

El Tunco

Even though we really wanted to visit the well-known El Tunco beach, we almost couldn’t get ourselves to leave San Salvador. Take this as a token of how mesmerizing the city truly is. Yet, we made it for at least a long weekend! Let us tell you: El Tunco parties hard on the weekends but is super relaxed during the week.

Best places to stay around in El Tunco

San Salvador 3

El Zonte Beach

Playa El Zonte, on the other hand, is supposedly much quieter. The waves make it the perfect spot to learn how to surf.

Best place to stay around El Zonte

Beach Nicaragua 4

Santa Tecla – the place to spend the weekend

Because of San Salvador’s complicated past, many locals were afraid to go out and enjoy their city. “Nueva San Salvador” sprung up 15 km outside of San Salvador. Santa Tecla, a pedestrian-only strip, turns into a lively weekend market. At night bars and nightclubs are open to entertaining Santa Tecla’s visitors.

Practical travel tips for San Salvador

How to get to San Salvador by bus


Depending on where you are coming from, you'll arrive at:

Terminal de Occidente:
San Salvador's bus terminal handles all arrivals and departures from Western El Salvador, e.g., Santa Ana (bus 201, $1.35, 1,5 hours), Ruta de las Flores/ Ahuachapan (bus 202, $1,5, 2,5 hours), or La Libertad (bus 102, $0.60, 1 hour).

Terminal de Oriente:
The bus terminal handling Eastern El Salvador, e.g., San Miguel (bus 301,$4, about 3-4 hours), Suchitoto (Bus 129, $0.70, 2 hours), La Union (buses 304&446, $3.50, 4 hours)

Terminal del Sur:
This bus terminal serves all Southern destinations, including Costa del Sol (bus 495, $1.25, 25 hours) and Puerto el Triunfo (bus 185, $1.60, 2 hours)

Public transport in San Salvador


You can easily explore the city and its surroundings by bus. Unfortunately, the buses might sometimes take a slightly different route depending on traffic. But don't worry, many El Salvadorians have lived or had family in the US, making it easy to find someone who speaks English and helps you out.

What is the best time to visit San Salvador?


Our friends recommend to come back in August for the “Fiestas Agostinas” in San Salvador and “Las Bolas de Fuego” in nearby Nejapa. The "Fiestas de Agostinas" celebrate San Salvador's patron saint with parades and fireworks. "Las Bolas de Fuego" is a spectacle that follows a long-standing tradition of throwing fireballs at each other.

Where to stay in San Salvador?


Zona Rosa and Colonia Escalón are two of the best neighborhoods to stay in. Naturally, the prices are a bit higher. Alternatively, check out Antiguo Cuscatlan. The young community close to the university is more budget-friendly.

Is San Salvador safe for travelers?


There is no denying it. San Salvador is a Central American capital, and certain precautions must be taken. Don't flash your big camera around and take taxis at night. Yet, San Salvador felt a lot safer than one would have expected. We felt comfortably secure and welcomed. You have to note that until today, El Salvador is ruled by fear and brutal memories. Therefore, many locals take extreme precautions and will advise you against many things. As a visitor, you must be aware of that and know that you are NOT the target.

San Salvador's civil war – Who was Archbishop Oscar Romero?


El Salvador's past was brutal and dark. Thousands of people were tortured, disappeared, or murdered during the civil war. Yet, Oscar Romero stood with his people and demanded justice. The remarkable bishop stopped the reconstruction of the famous Catedral Metropolitana to help the poor instead. In 1977, when he became archbishop, the police shot down 24 people. Tragically, Romero was killed only three years later. Even at his funeral, the killings continued. Yet, today, Oscar Romero is widely beloved and remembered. His life and memory of him are unintendingly tied to San Salvador's dark past.

Can I drink tap water in El Salvador?


Do not drink tap water in El Salvador; bring your self-cleaning bottle instead! While water from the National Water Company (ANDA) is generally safe, you never know the water source the restaurant, hotels, and so on may use.

What's the biggest challenge for the conscious traveler?


Trash: Often, you'll find food vendors selling typical Nicaraguan dishes on the go. It's not just delicious but cheap. To avoid plastic wrapping, choose to buy your food at the bus stations and have them put it in your collapsible container. Bring your water filter or UV bottle to avoid having to buy bottled water.

Sunscreen: Protect Marine life and wear reef-friendly sunscreen!

tanzania travel Zanzibar beaches

Packing List Nicaragua

Nicaragua is super diverse and offers plenty of things to do. Check out our packing list, and get ready for an incredible adventure!

Find everything from eco-friendly toiletries to the only travel shoes you’ll ever want to exciting travel gadgets!

Places to visit in El Salvador

Do not skip El Salvador! It’s one of the most amazing countries to visit in Central America!

San Salvador | a resilient capital, rich in history, scars and hope

San Salvador | a resilient capital, rich in history, scars and hope

San Salvador, El Salvador’s resilient heart. The capital bears deeps scares, many of them still visible at Centro Histórico and in the hearts and memories of its inhabitants. Its heartache was omnipresent, yet the city’s fierce determination for a better future, its hopes and aspirations are infectious and the reason why San Salvador is our favorite capital in Central America.

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El Cuco & Playa Las Flores | Surfing & Turtles

El Cuco & Playa Las Flores | Surfing & Turtles

El Cuco is a sleepy little village. It’s busier on the weekends as many El Salvadorians come to enjoy the stunning beaches. El Cuco is winged by two impressive beaches on either side, Playa Esteron, a remote white-grey sand beach, and Playa Las Flores, which boasts world-class waves for surfing.

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Portland: lush vegetation, chill vibes and beautiful scenery

Portland: lush vegetation, chill vibes and beautiful scenery


Portland Itinerary

Waterfalls, lush greenery, turquoise waters and charming villages

Duration: at least 10 days

Budget: $ 75 per day

Portland is my favorite Parish in Jamaica when it comes to scenery. I love coming here after getting wild in Kingston to unwind, relax, and take in the stunning nature. Portland gets the most rainfall and is lush and green, offering lots of things to do outdoors.

Portland’s beaches are some of my favorite in all of Jamaica. I love Portie because it is so laid back and still manages to maintain an authentic charm, even though development has increased.

  • Sight Seeing 40% 40%
  • Beaches 70% 70%
  • Day-Trips 95% 95%
  • Party 100% 100%

If you want to find the best beaches in Jamaica, head straight for Portland. Several stunning sandy stretches with unique vibes run along this Jamaica’s eastern coastline! In addition, I love discovering the vibes of the different villages along the coast.

Winnifred Beach - full of vibes

Winnifred Beach is a must if you want to mix with locals and experience the vibe. On weekends, the music is pumping, folks profiling, taking selfies, couples cuddling, families relaxing, and the food is cooked from the vendors who have food stands. In addition, you might find yourself doing a little shopping with the artisans showcasing their labor. To me, Winnifred beach had some of the best beach vibes in all of Jamaica.

You’ll be asked for a voluntary donation at the entrance to support keeping the facilities and beach clean. Winnifred beach has by far the best food options of all the beaches in Portland. 

Me at winnifred beach in Portland, Jamaica
Me at Frenchman's Cove Beach in Portland, Jamaica

Frenchman's Cove - breathtakingly beautiful

Frenchman’s Cove is a little paradise in Port Antonio, Jamaica. Frenchman’s Cove is a small beach with pristine sand and the bluest water breaks. The area mixes fresh and salt to make an enticing natural pool on one side with beautiful colors ranging from Blue to Green! Pay attention: as you walk from the entrance to the beach, you’ll notice that the trees have little signs. Frenchman’s Cove is the perfect place to relax and escape the hustle and bustle of daily life. The entrance fee is only $10, and a restaurant is on site. However, the food is only so-so.

San San Beach - snorkel & enjoy the tranquility

San San Beach is a beautiful, private beach near Frenchman’s Cove. You can enjoy this gorgeous stretch of white sand and turquoise water for a small entrance fee. If you’re ready for a challenge, you can swim to Pellew Island, about 200 meters from the shore. San San Beach is also one of the best beaches for snorkeling. Several reefs off the coast have legally enforceable fishing restrictions to swim and explore without worry.

San San Beach in Portland Jamaica
Long Bay beach im Portland, Jamaica

Long Bay - the Kingstonians' weekend getaway

Long Bay in Portland, Jamaica, is great for catching the vibes and relaxing. The town is small and chill, with plenty of restaurants and bars serving food by the beach. All accommodations in Long Bay are within walking distance of the beach. The stretch of beach is vast and offers plenty of space for sunbathing. Sadly, during my visit, the beach was rather polluted with plastics. However, I still enjoyed my time in Long Bay. Wild Ponies Beach Bar by the beach is always a vibe, and you’ll even have bonfires on Wednesdays. Acai Cafe across the street not only serves the BEST coffee in all of Jamaica but also hosts parties on the weekends!

Boston Bay

Boston Jerk Center  – Home to Jamaica’s best Jerk!

What’s certain is that the Boston Bay Jerk Center is one of the most popular and well-known places to get Jerk in all of Jamaica.

Jamaican Jerk is a culinary tradition that is centuries old. The term “jerk” refers to how meat is seasoned, smoked, and grilled. Jerk seasoning usually includes Jamaican bird peppers, pimento, and pepper elder. However, modern recipes may include Scotch bonnet peppers, scallions, garlic, ginger, pimento, thyme, and cinnamon. Jamaican Jerk is a remnant from the era of slavery when Maroons would transform tough cuts of meat into tender, delicious dishes. Today, Jamaican Jerk is enjoyed by people all over the world. It is a delightful and healthy way to season the meat. Jamaican Jerk is a culinary tradition that everyone should celebrate and enjoy.

The annual festival celebrating jerk brings together Reggae musicians with drinks tastings set against an exciting competition where participants showcase recipes. The festival takes place in July. Entry starts at $25.

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Surfing in Boston Bay

The beach at Boston Bay is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike. The shoreline offers soft white sand, great waves to surf, and delicious Jamaican food you can enjoy while relaxing! The water was always super calm when I visited Boston Bay, making it perfect for swimming.

Skating in Boston Bay

Boston is maybe the coolest village nestled along Potland’s highway. The good surf has attracted surfers in Jamaica ever since. Now you’ll also find Boston BMX and SKATE Park attracting locals and visitors alike.


Portland's stunning Blue Lagoon

Blue Lagoon The gorgeous Blue Lagoon is one of the most beautiful sights to see in Jamaica. The water changes its color depending on where there’s light from. Once considered bottomless, the Blue Lagoon is an underwater sinkhole about 180 feet deep. You can get there by Route Taxi from Port Antonio in only 20 minutes. I loved visiting the Blue Lagoon early on a weekday. It was super quiet, and I truly enjoyed the serenity of the place. It’s popular and busy on the weekends. I went for a short boat ride to a nearby Pellew Island, which was a fantastic way to spend the afternoon as the waters were magical!

Ackee in Jamaica
Secret waterfalls in Portland, Jamaica

Cool down at the waterfalls in Portland

Portland is Jamaica’s wettest Parish resulting in lush greenery, making it a nature lover’s paradise, with four spectacular waterfalls to explore. Reach Falls is the most popular, and for a good reason—it’s easily accessible. You can swim in the refreshing pools beneath the falls. However, the other waterfalls are well worth the effort to reach. Nanny Falls is where the Maroons (Jamaica’s runaway enslaved people) hid from their pursuers. And at Nonsuch Falls, you can swing out over the waterfall on a rope for an unforgettable experience. Portland is truly a place where you can connect with nature and feel your cares melting away. If you plan on visiting Reach Falls, I can highly recommend you go in the morning during the low season. Reach Falls is one of Jamaica’s most popular sites and, therefore, super busy. If you feel like visiting Jamaica’s secret and remote waterfalls, get in touch with my friend Birgitta from @streetsofjamaica. She knows the most beautiful spots to hang out.

Discover the Blue Mountains

From Port Antonio, you can easily explore Jamaica’s Blue Mountains. This massive mountain range covers over half of the island and is home to Jamaica’s most stunning scenery. You have plenty of hiking trails and several waterfalls, and natural pools to cool off in.

If you want a truly unique experience, check out the Maroons. These are descendants of enslaved Africans who escaped from their captors and established communities in the remote areas of the Blue Mountains. The Maroons still maintain many of their traditional customs and beliefs. You can learn about their culture by staying in one of their villages.

Rastafarians are also prevalent in the Blue Mountains. They, too, have created communities where they practice their religion and way of life. Suppose you’re interested in learning more about Rastafarianism. In that case, several tours and activities will allow you to do so. Just be respectful of these communities and make sure to comply with customs. To learn more about things to consider when staying at a Rastafarian village. School of vision is a fantastic place to stay and catch the vibe.

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Rafting Rio Grande River, Jamaica

Rafting Rio Grande River

Where there are waterfalls, naturally you’ll find plenty of rivers. Because river rafting seemed like one of the most touristy things to do, it took me 3 visits to Jamaica until I finally decided to raft down the Rio Grande River in Portland. Berrydale, located 30-40 minutes from Port Antonio, is the perfect starting point for your rafting adventure in Portland. I loved that, contrary to other rafting experiences in Jamaica, I was lucky to enjoy the stunning scenery away from the crowds. 

Rafting was originally a form of transporting bananas from the plantations. However, Errol Fylnn, who once lived in Portland, enjoyed taking in the beautiful scenery from the raft and started a tourist trend. Rafting Rio Grande will take you along the river for about 1.5 hours till you reach Belinda’s restaurant, a charming no-fuss authentic Jamaican restaurant by the river. After lunch, it will take about an hour to reach the finishing point. 

Fairy Hill - the best place to stay

Fairy Hill is, in my opinion, one of the best places to stay in Portland. The village has grown naturally, and while many guest houses are springing up, Fairy Hill keeps its distinct charm. To me, Fairy Hill offers everything for a perfect Jamaican getaway: It’s also ideally located right in the middle between Frenchman’s Cove and Boston Beach making it easy to get to both. The locals are some of the friendliest people you’ll ever meet. There are some great food options, such as Ital’ish and Aya Naturals. And: there is a tiny bit of nightlife going on!

By the way: Fairy Hill is also home to one of my favorite places to stay in Jamaica: Rass Rod’s charming home! You can find Rass Rod’s house on Airbnb.

Rass Rod's home: the best place to stay in Fairy Hill Jamaica
church in Port Antonio, Jamaica

Port Antonio

Port Antonio is the place to be for backpackers coming to Portland. The midsized no-fuzz town is a lively vibe and is the perfect point to base yourself on and start exploring Portland. Nestled along the marinara, you’ll find plenty of authentic restaurants, shopping, a decent weekend market, and cool parties! Charming old churches and buildings are sprinkled between colorful Caribbean houses. The Errol Flynn Marina almost seems like you are in Europe. It’s a nice spot to come and hang out. You’ll also find a Devon House there if you feel like ice cream. There is plenty of route taxis to keep you moving around Portland Parish. Many of Portland’s most stunning waterfalls, such as Reach Falls and Nanny Falls, are best visited from Port Antonio.

Port Antonio Party schedule:

Sundays: Celebrations Sundays

Mondays: Iconic Mondays

Tuesdays: Quarts Tuesdays

Thursdays: Road Block

Fridays: Intense Fridays; Jungle party @livingdaylightsja

Practical travel tips for Portland & Jamaica

Which language is spoken in Jamaica?


The official language is English, but you'll also hear Jamaican Patois spoken throughout the country. It's a colorful and vibrant mix of English, West African languages, and Spanish influences. Don't be afraid to interact with locals and try out some basic phrases in Patois - they'll appreciate the effort and you may even learn a thing or two.

What is the offical currency in Jamaica?


The Jamaican dollar is the official currency and is accepted everywhere on the island. However, US dollars are widely accepted as well, so it's always a good idea to have some cash in both currencies. You can easily exchange your money at banks or ATMs throughout the city. Just be aware that the exchange rate may vary, so it's best to check before making a transaction. Also, don't forget to tip - it's customary in Jamaica and greatly appreciated by service industry workers. So make sure you have some small bills on hand for tipping at restaurants, bars, and hotels.

What is the best time to visit Kingston?


The climate stays pleasant all year round. It might rain a bit more during hurricane season from June to September, but you still won't get bored on rainy days!

Kingston is home to many festival and events, so if you want to check them out, plan your dates accordingly.

Is Portland safe for travelers?


As a female traveler, I felt safe. Portland is very quiet at night and there is not so much going on. Downtown Port Antonio gets somewhat sketchy in the late hours.

Is there an ATM in Portland?


In Portland, getting Jamaican dollars from ATMs or exchanges is not always possible, especially in the villages. Get money in Port Antonio.

Public Transport in Portland, Jamaica


Route Taxis go around the Port Antonio area and even down to Fairy Hill and Boston Bay. The further South you go, the fewer Route Taxis on the roads.

Public Bus: The bus stop is downtown Port Antonio and Anotto Bay. I couldn't find a schedule. They seem to go more frequently than the Knutsford.

Be aware that the time stated refers to calculated driving time, not the actual time to reach a destination. Adding to the driving time are stops and bus switches which are not apparent when buying the ticket. Due to Covid, there are fewer buses than usual, and it is better to buy the ticket online.

Can I drink tap water in Jamaica?


Even though Jamaica is considered a third-world country, it provides the best water quality in the region. You are, therefore, safe to drink tap water. This is especially true in the cities. However, if it makes you feel uneasy, bring a water purifier.

What's the biggest challenge for the conscious traveler?


Tourism leakage: Jamaica is a tropical paradise that's adored by tourists worldwide, but it has a problem that's hidden from sight - tourism leakage. This phenomenon refers to the loss of revenue that occurs when international hotel chains capture a large chunk of tourist dollars, leaving very little money behind to benefit the local economy. If you're among the millions of visitors who flock to Jamaica every year, there's a simple way to help mitigate the effects of tourism leakage: support Jamaican-owned hotels, shops, and restaurants. By doing so, you can put your money where your heart is - and give the people of Jamaica a chance to thrive. So don't be shy about seeking out local businesses on your next vacation. Your decision to keep tourism dollars within Jamaica could make a world of difference.

Beach access

While Jamaica is known for its beautiful beaches, there have been some issues with access to these public spaces. In recent years, many resorts and private properties have restricted access to certain parts of the beach, making it incredibly difficult for locals to maintain their life and right to the sea. Support public beaches and say no to all-inclusive tourism!


Make sure to bring a foldable food container and cutlery with you! The amount of waste caused by food sold on the street is incredible.


Make sure to protect Jamaica's marine life and bring reef-friendly sunscreen!

tanzania travel Zanzibar beaches

Packing List Jamaica

As you see, there are plenty of things to experience in Jamaica. To come fully prepared, check out my packing list for Jamaica, which includes everything from eco-friendly toiletries to sustainable fashion and even the coolest travel gadgets!

Traveling Jamaica?

Jamaica Itinerary

Places to visit in Jamaica

I’ll be going back to Jamaica for the fourth time this April. I promise you: no matter how many times you’ll return, you’ll always discover something new in Jamaica!

Packing tips for carry-on luggage

When it comes to traveling, I’ve become a pro at packing just a carry-on, even for those long trips. After my bag got lost during a two-month adventure in Trinidad and Tobago, I decided to ditch the hassle of checked luggage whenever possible.

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Léon | City, beach and volcanos

Léon | City, beach and volcanos

Things to do in Léon

Léon Itinerary

A charming city between volcanos and beaches

Duration: at least four days

Stay: Hostal El Rio & Vacaciones Nicas Hostal

Léon is Nicaragua’s second largest city, though it’s much less commercial and touristy than Granada. Despite being a city of more than 200,000 people, Léon still retains its genuine charm, mainly through its intense passion for poetry. Poetry and literature are at Léon’s core – locals honor their poet saints with monuments and vigils often held in public squares. Léon is also home to Nicaragua’s first university, which gives the city an energetic buzz that can’t be found anywhere else. It is considered the ground zero for the Sandinista movement and has memorials around town to commemorate its importance in Nicaraguan history. Léon is a fierce reminder of why we love Nicaragua so much- from volcano surfing at nearby hills to participating in political protests, Léon shows us how raw and undiluted Nicaraguans live life to the fullest!

  • Sight Seeing 85% 85%
  • Culture 95% 95%
  • Activities 100% 100%
  • Nightlife 70% 70%

Our love affair with Léon started on Valentine’s day. We arrived pretty late (as usual) and could not resist getting a first glimpse of the city after dark. We were mesmerized by the majestically exposed churches and the lively streets.

Stroll the colorful streets and trace the tracks of Nicaragua's poetry

Vibrant Léon seems to wear its heart on its sleeve. Léon’s history, passion for arts, and pulsing liveliness become visible at every corner. Murals and statues are visual reminders of the 20th century revolution. Colorful houses are often seemed by a quote. The feeling of a capital city is still traceable in Léon. It seems rougher, more authentic, and fiercer than other cities. Take the time to join the locals in the shade or for a beer at night. They have a passion for their hometown and love sharing it with you!

Cavalerio church in Leon, Nicaragua
Leon, Nicaragua: Museum of the Revolution

Learn about the Revolution at Museo Historic de la Revolution

We learned quickly that the revolution and its scares are still prominent in Léon. The Museo Historico de la Revolution gives you a blueprint of the civil conflict that ended about 40 years ago. The unimposing building on the opposite side of the cathedral also played a part in the revolution. Within its walls shattered by bullets, you’ll get to listen to the stories of the revolution by the ones who shaped it. Naturally, good knowledge of Spanish is helpful. To get Léon better, we recommend visiting the museum at the beginning of your stay

Indigenous Barrio Sutiava

Discover Léon’s indigenous side and pay a visit to Barrio Sutiava. The neighborhood is home to the Sutiava tribe, the first people who settled in Léon. Large, colorful murals tell the story of the barrio’s history, culture, past, and future.Surprisingly, the walls were painted by children about 12 years old. Barrio Sutiava is also home to León’s oldest church, San Juan Bautista Sutiava. After that, we took a bici-taxi and strolled around the barrio. Expect to pay $15 for a tour by Bici (bike) taxi.

Leon, Nicaragua: barrio Sutiavia
Granada, Nicaragua: dani in front of church

El Convento de San Francisco

Léon’s most iconic building, the Convento de San Francisco, is a must-see. The convent was founded in 1524 and served as a center of religion and learning for centuries. It’s one of the oldest buildings in Nicaragua and the Americas. Today, the convent houses a museum with a collection of religious art and artifacts.The museum is small but very interesting. It has a lot of history behind it. The convent is located in the center of the city and is easy to find. Admission is $0.50 for foreigners and $0.25 for nationals.

Parque Morazán

After visiting the Convento de San Francisco, take a walk to Parque Morazán. The park is named after Francisco Morazán, a national hero of Nicaragua. In the center of the park, you’ll find a statue of Morazán on a horse. The park is also home to the Léon Cathedral, one of the largest cathedrals in Central America. The cathedral is an interesting mix of Gothic and Baroque architecture. It’s worth a visit, even if you’re not religious.

Granada, Nicaragua: Lauri in Parque Colon
Leon, Nicaragua: On top of the Central Cathedral

Walk on top of the cathedral

Central America’s largest cathedral was constructed in the 1700s. Léon’s white cathedral looks impressive from above but wait till you get on top of the cathedral’s roof! The architecture and views will take your breath away. You can buy tickets at the church’s back office for 2 $.The roof of the building is bright white, so you’ll have to take your shoes off before you leave the clock tower and head out. You are reminded of San Torini, Greece, as soon as you set your eyes on the shining white roof. Walking on top of the cathedral is definitely a must-do in Léon.

Spend the evenings at Parque Central

When we arrived in Léon on Valentin’s day, Parque Central was filled with love birds, street artists,and food stands. The setting in front of the beautifully lit Cathedral de Léon was just picturesque.We loved the lovely vibe. You’ll find the best Assados (barbeques) behind the cathedral. The two food stands compete for their guests’ favor. They offer the most delicious barbeque dishes! Even vegetarians will find plenty of alternatives.

Leon, Nicaragua: Cerro Negro

Try sand-boarding at Cerro Negro

Sandboarding is undoubtedly one of the most popular tourist activities in León. We were pretty tempted to surf Cerro Negro ourselves but finally decided against it for two reasons. For once, we loved every second we spent on the streets of the city, and secondly, fellow travelers reportedtold us about some pretty severe accidents. The pictures of fellow travelers looked terrific, and they loved the experience. We didn’t book a tour through Quetzaltrekkers in Léon. However, we know the nonprofit tour company from Guatemala. All profits made by volunteers go directly into projects for disadvantaged youth. We walked past them and saw that they offer volcano sand-boarding amongst other hiking tours around Léon

Enjoy Poneloya & and Las Penitas Beaches

We did not visit these two charming fishing villages just 20 km outside the city because we wanted to enjoy beach life in El Salvador. However, we met many fellow travelers and locals alike who love the beach stretches on its excellent surf, choice of bars, and restaurants. If you are looking for a party, then head to Poneloya. Las Penitas is your place for those of you who prefer a more relaxed vibe. You can also find some sound waves here for surfing.We met a lot of locals in Leon who highly recommended we check out the beaches, and we regret not doing so! Hike Up Volcán Momotombo This active volcano last erupted in 1905 and is just a 30-minute drive from Leon. Although you cannot hike to the crater, the views from the top are worth it. The ascent takes around two hours and is considered moderate to challenging.We did not have time to do this but next time for sure!

Beach Nicaragua 4
Turtles in Leon, Nicaragua

Nicaragua's sea turtles

We met Philipp at a trade fair and were touched by his commitment. Together with SOS Nicaragua, he and the team have been working for years to protect sea turtles.

To protect endangered creatures, SOS Nicaragua offers various tours. In addition to releasing young turtles, you can take a night tour with the SOS Nicaragua team and watch them lay their eggs.

SOS Nicaragua is a project of the heart, which we heartily recommend to you!

How to get around León

The best way to discover the center of the city is by bici-taxi. Going around by bike allows you to
take in the exciting city. On top of that, it’s environmentally friendly!

Best time to visit León

The tropical climate of León is warm all year round. It gets super hot in the summer. The least rainfall is expected from December to April.

Safety in León:

Nicaragua’s second-largest city is pretty safe. As almost anywhere, avoiding flashing cameras or expensive phones is advisable. Take a cab at night and avoid dark alleys.

Where to eat in León - the best street food:

Don’t miss out on the fantastic barbeque on the east side of the cathedral, close to Mercado
Central. The food is super tasty and cheap!

Léon's role in the revolution

Nicaragua’s former capital has been central to the left-wing Sandinista movement. After the assassination of President Somoza Garcia in 1956 by a poet. Decades of conflict erupted following repressiveness against the ones thought responsible. As a result, thousands lost their lives. Léon was the first to be liberated in the Nicaraguan revolution in 1979. However, years of conflict have left deep scars on Léon’s inhabitants.

Léon and poetry

Other Nicaraguans often refer to León’s inhabitants as poets. Poetry is a “national sport.” Learn more about the Nicaraguans, their culture, and poetry by joining one of the private “tertulias,” a two-century-old tradition. A tertulia is a social gathering with an artistic overtone typical in Latin America.

Tap water

After a personal experience with some parasites, Tap water in Nicaragua is not good to drink! Bring a self-cleaning water bottle or filter to get clean and cool drinking water.

Biggest challenge for the responsible traveler

Trash: Often, you’ll find food vendors selling typical Nicaraguan dishes on the go. It’s not just delicious but cheap. To avoid plastic wrapping, choose to buy your food at the bus stations and have them put it in your collapsible container. Bring your water ourifier to avoid having to buy bottled water.

Sunscreen: Protect Marine life and wear reef-friendly sunscreen!

Practical travel tips for León, Nicaragua

What is the best time to visit León?


The tropical climate of León is warm all year round. It gets super hot in the summer. The least rainfall is expected from December to April.

Is León safe for travelers?


Nicaragua's second-largest city is pretty safe. As almost anywhere, avoiding flashing cameras or expensive phones is advisable. Take a cab at night and avoid dark alleys.

How to get to the León?


You can get to León easily and comfortably by bus from Managua or Granada.

It will take about:
Granada to León's (2,5 hours, $4)
Managua - León ( 1,5 hrs, $2.75)
León - Masaya ( 2,5 hrs, $3)
León - Chinandega (1,5 hrs, $1).

What is León famous for?


Nicaragua's former capital has been central to the left-wing Sandinista movement. After the assassination of President Somoza Garcia in 1956 by a poet. Decades of conflict erupted following repressiveness against the ones thought responsible. As a result, thousands lost their lives. Léon was the first to be liberated in the Nicaraguan revolution in 1979. However, years of conflict have left deep scars on Léon's inhabitants.

What is the "national sport" in Léon?


Other Nicaraguans often refer to León's inhabitants as poets. Poetry is a "national sport." Learn more about the Nicaraguans, their culture, and poetry by joining one of the private "tertulias," a two-century-old tradition. A tertulia is a social gathering with an artistic overtone typical in Latin America.

Can I drink tap water in Nicaragua?


After a personal experience with some parasites, Tap water in Nicaragua is not good to drink! Bring a self-cleaning water bottle or filter to get clean and cool drinking water.

What's the biggest challenge for the conscious traveler?


Trash: Often, you'll find food vendors selling typical Nicaraguan dishes on the go. It's not just delicious but cheap. To avoid plastic wrapping, choose to buy your food at the bus stations and have them put it in your collapsible container. Bring your water ourifier to avoid having to buy bottled water.

Sunscreen: Protect Marine life and wear reef-friendly sunscreen!

tanzania travel Zanzibar beaches

Packing List Nicaragua

Nicaragua is super diverse and offers plenty of things to do. Check out our packing list, and get ready for an incredible adventure!

Find everything from eco-friendly toiletries to the only travel shoes you’ll ever want to exciting travel gadgets!

Places to visit in Nicaragua

Often overlooked, Nicaragua is home to friendly people, dramatic landscapes and rich culture!

Copan |  A pleasant if not surprising stop in Honduras

Copan | A pleasant if not surprising stop in Honduras

We traveled to Central America a couple of times and had the chance to see several Maya sites along the way. Each impressive in its own way. Contrary to other Maya ruins across Central America. You’ll often have Copan to yourself. The mysterious archaeological site boasts remarkable hieroglyphics and sculptures. On top of that, the town of Copan itself is drop-dead charming.

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Léon | City, beach and volcanos

Léon | City, beach and volcanos

Our love affair with Leon started on Valentine’s day. Contrary to Granada, Nicaragua’s second largest city feels much more authentic and is not overrun by tourists. The drop-dead gorgeous city manages to maintain it’s genuine charm. Just outside of Léon, numerous volcanos wait for you to climb or surf them. And as if this wasn’t enough, some of Nicaragua’s most beautiful beach and surf spots are just around the corner.

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