Charleston on my mind, with Kathryn Budig

Charleston, SC is a beautiful, historic city rich with culture, activities, and fabulous food. I was lucky enough to live there from 1999 to 2001, but so many new restaurants and businesses have popped up in my decade and a half absence that I’m collaborating with my amazing best friend, Kathryn Budig, on this post. KB is an international yoga teacher, writer, foodie, model, and all-around badass warrior of love, who just so happens to live in Charleston. Since I have easy access to this well-traveled and knowledgeable woman, I figured I better tap her for assistance.

Some things about Charleston haven’t changed since I lived there. For instance, walking around downtown from Rainbow Row to the Battery will never get old–the architecture and charm of this area are top notch–there are a multitude of fabulous restaurants from which to choose, and it will always be oppressively humid in the summer.

Unless you’re a fan of 99% humidity, I don’t recommend visiting in the dead of summer. That being said, even if you do, the Charleston charm will still grab your heart.

I asked Kathryn some of her favorite things to do in order to best show off the city. (Her answers are in italics)

For a casual dinner?
My favorite casual night out would start at Pearlz for their oyster happy hour (their house oysters are fantastic!), maybe a custom cocktail at The Gin Joint (you pick two adjectives and they make the drink based off of your choice words: genius), and then head to Sean Brock’s Minero for his delicious take on Mexican cuisine (the golden burrito is to die for).


“Wrapped for your protection. Start at the top & work your way down.”


Drinks with a view?
I adore Shem Creek in Mount Pleasant. There are plenty of casual restaurants there with great seafood and a fantastic place to watch the sun set as the dolphins swim by.


Dolphin-gazing at sunset


Nice dinner?
I find myself at The Obstinate Daughter in Sullivan’s Island all the time—lunch and dinner. The food is amazing (best pasta in Charleston, right behind Indaco), and you can be casual during the day or dress up for dinner.


Favorite beach?
It’s a toss up between Isle of Palms and Sullivan’s Island. Honestly, you can’t go wrong with the beaches here. They’re all pretty fantastic.


A Sullivan’s Island vista


Favorite bar?
The lavender martini upstairs at Cypress is so lovely, and I already mentioned how much I love The Gin Joint. The bar attached to Husk is totally sexy, too.


Burger night at Cypress plus lavender martinis AND wine


Fave activity?
So many! I love to stand up paddle board on Shem Creek, hit the beach, walk the bridge or Pitt Street Bridge with my dogs, stroll The Battery daydreaming about what it must have been like to live there back in the day, attend a Riverdogs baseball game, oh right, and EAT! This town is full of endless delicious restaurants.


Shem Creek paddleboarding, complete with dolphin sightings


A totally jump worthy bridge walk


Many people go to the baseball stadium for The Riverdogs, but that day, we went for Kathryn’s yoga class


Isle of Palms beach selfie


Should you find yourself planning a trip to Charleston, here are some of my lodging recommendations–I’ve personally stayed at several, others are recommended by reputation:

Charleston Place

Right on King Street in the heart of downtown. I stayed there when it was an Omni, so I can’t speak to how it is currently, but the location is fabulous.

The Vendue

This is a smaller inn with a rooftop bar/restaurant. Fantastic location with lovely rooms.


With airbnb you can find cheaper places all the way up to luxury apartments in just about any area you’d like. Downtown is great to be in the thick of it, but also old town Mount Pleasant is an option. It’s conveniently located to get downtown as well as Sullivan’s Island and Isle of Palms. I haven’t been out to Folly Beach in years, but it has a more casual feel than Sullivan’s and was always a favorite of mine.

Wentworth Mansion

Fancy. Expensive. Gorgeous. If you can afford it, go for it!

Zero George Street

Very charming boutique hotel in a great location for getting to all the goods that downtown has to offer.

Days Inn

This Days Inn is a more affordable hotel option in a really great location.

There are several budget friendly hotels downtown and too many B&Bs to name. The moral of the story is that you should check out Charleston and you certainly won’t go hungry while you’re there. My trips usually involve a 3 meal per day eating agenda… I mean business when it comes to food!



Roatan: the food and the activities

Roatan is home to the second largest barrier reef–you know, after that other one in Australia–and, therefore, has a huge diving community. Full disclosure: I am not a diver, so I can only give partial advice. That being said, I did ask some people who know, and did take a snorkeling trip with a dive company. Next trip, I WILL get scuba certified.

Since I’m already talking about scuba, I’ll start with the activities…

You do not need to do a boat tour, but for approximately $75/person, it’s totally worth it. Our house was located on Orchid Beach–convenient walking distance from both West Bay and West End. Our first morning, we hopped in kayaks and paddled out to the reef, tethered the boats to a buoy, and snorkeled around the shallow reef. Not many large groups of tourists make it there, so the reef is very much intact and alive.

Several days we walked to West Bay Beach and set up camp all the way at the end, in front of the Grand Roatan Resort. If you go there a couple of days in a row, and are like us and will talk to anyone, make friends with Xiomara (Flaca for short). She gives a decent beach massage for dirt cheap and will give you tips on where to get cheaper beers and locally made (DELICIOUS) empanadas.

The water in West Bay is so clear and so blue (due to the white sand and probable blasting of the reef to create tourist swimming zones) and it’s an easy swim to AMAZING snorkeling. The reef is shallow, but if you carefully navigate past that part to the drop off, it’s quite surreal. Observing the other world that exists under the sea is spectacular.

*Do find out from the locals which days are cruise ship days. If there are only 1-2 in port, it’s still ok, but once you get more, this beach is kind of a zoo. Now, I was able to witness several cruise ship people suit up in their snorkel gear (with flippers) and carefully back into the knee-deep, perfectly still water. Those laughs were worth the crowds for a day, as people-watching is a favorite pastime of mine. Here’s a tip: If you’re planning to snorkel at West Bay Beach, and don’t want people like me to poke fun at you, put your flippers on in the water and just walk straight in. After all, the water looks like this:


Shea ladies at West Bay Beach

For our snorkeling trip, we went with Clearwater Adventures and were so happy with that decision. Denisse Mazu, the dive master, was lovely and really provided us with a fabulous experience. When staying at The Pink Orchid, Clearwater couldn’t be more convenient as it’s, quite literally, a stone’s throw from the house.

Our snorkeling trip included a few stops at great reef sites as well as an old shipwreck. A truly unique highlight was our lunch stop in the village of Crawfish Rock, where Miss Dulce invites you into her home and serves a yummy, homemade lunch (for $10/person). Another family on the boat was far more prepared than we were, and brought some toys and trinkets for the kids in the village. I have a few pictures of the adorable kids, but if you’d like to see professional ones, that family just so happens to contain photographers and you can see the better versions here.


Some of the children of Crawfish Rock



The View from Miss Dulce’s Porch


Crawfish Rock Dock

Another dive company that came recommended by someone more experienced than I, is Las Rocas, located in West Bay. I cannot personally vouch for their dive experience, but I can say that their $7 fish tacos were one of the best things I ate the whole time I was in Roatan. The restaurant is super casual, super beachy, and it just feels right. I would be remiss if I failed to mention the “monkey lala”, which is apparently the drink of the island and available everywhere. It’s kind of a cross between dessert and drink as it’s a combination of vodka, kahlua, vanilla ice cream, coconut cream, and half and half. This is not my drink of choice, but it is delicious.

So, on to the food…

  • I mentioned Las Rocas’ restaurant and you should definitely give it a try for a casual, affordable, beach dining experience.
  • Creole’s Rotisserie Chicken in West End is so good! Another destination if value is your goal (approximately $8/person for a full meal with sides). They don’t appear to have a website, but here is their Trip Advisor link.
  • Beachers, on West Bay Beach is a good day drinking spot that has tasty bloody marys and a scrumptious jalepeño cheddar burger that they just could not understand why I wanted without a bun. If you eat/drink here, you’re welcome to use the beach chairs in front…a win-win.
  • Roatan Oasis came highly reviewed and recommended, but we found it to be just ok. Some items were really good, but some were so-so. At the prices they charge, it all needs to be really good, in my opinion. Look here for other reviews though. Perhaps we went on an off night and I would certainly be open to trying it again, but give me fish tacos at Las Rocas over this any day.
  • Our last night was spent with a little treat to ourselves because, can you really ever treat yourself enough? As I mentioned in my other Roatan post, Caribe Tesoro is a B & B in a fabulous location, with a decadent restaurant called Leña Parilla. What a treat it was to sit right on their dock and watch the sunset complete with cocktails and exceedingly friendly waitstaff. Four of us opted for the tomahawk steak, and one went with the Mahi Mahi. Everything, from our grilled romaine Caesar salads to the steaks were delicious. The meat was perfectly cooked to the chef-recommend medium rare and was paired with Gorgonzola mashed potatoes and asparagus. The wine list could afford to contain some higher quality wines, but we did end up with a good Malbec. My sister lived in Chile for 7 years, worked in the wine industry there, and is a level 2 sommelier. I am a self-taught wine aficionado (translation: I drink a lot of wine). So bearing that in mind, we thought the wine list could use some help, but we’re picky when it comes to our booze. For the more casual wine drinker, it’s probably fine. In their defense, they had been open one week when we dined. Our experience wasn’t complete until our very friendly and accommodating server (Glenn Jr) pointed out his “pet” barracuda living under the dock.

Dinner on the Caribe Tesoro dock at sunset

Some miscellaneous info about the island:

Pretty much everyone speaks English, although the island is part of Honduras. The locals seem to speak Spanish, a local dialect, and English, which is apparently the first language they learn.

West end is buggier than West Bay. There are “noseeums” and mosquitos just waiting to devour a sweet succulent human such as myself. If you’d like to bring me with you, no need for bug spray, otherwise I highly recommend it.

Off the beatean path, and reportedly great, is Hole in the Wall. This place is NOT fancy, go figure, so disregard the reviews that complain about how rustic it is.

I did not make it to La Sirena de Camp Bay, but it is owned by the brother-in-law of a friend of mine, has great reviews, and is in a remote location that I WILL visit next time.

In true Caroline fashion, I did experience a touch of gastrointestinal distress (no one else did though), so I always recommend traveling with the appropriate drugs.

For now, that’s all I’ve got, but I shall return to this beautiful little island paradise one day.


West End sunset