We spent a weekend in Coronado for Halloween and it was marvelous. The weather couldn’t have been better. The quaint little shops, historic landmarks, incredible beaches, and good eats are calling me to come back. Until then, here are a few things about Coronado that might be useful to you.

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1. James and the Giant Beach

Coronado, the Crown City or Emerald City if you’re an Oz fan, is a skinny stretch of land connected to San Diego by the impressive Coronado Bridge that seems to curve on forever. Coronado can be described as a small beach town, and what a beautiful beach it is! There are several beach entries, but if you head out of downtown Coronado you’ll reach Loews resort hotel, and right across it is the Silver Strand beach.

birds gathering

birds gathering along beach for sunset viewing

The beach goes on forever! At Silver Strand (entrance across from Loews Resort), you can see Hotel Del Coronado on one end and infinity on the other end. Here, the soft sand caresses your feet and the sunset paints the sky in the most vibrant hues. The waves glide along the beach and create a thin layer of water that’s perfect for a skim board. I imagine that on a windy day, this would be the perfect place to fly a kite or wind surf – it would be so epic! People who visit the San Diego area all praise La Jolla for its dramatic cliffs and cute wildlife citizens, but the beach at Coronado has my heart.

2. Warm weather all year round

Is it possible to get sick of sunshine? If you were so inclined to find the answer, this would be a good place to test your hypothesis. While the rest of us in the Pacific Northwest get to rake leaves in the cool and grey sky of autumn and winter, Coronado bathes in sunlight, enjoying sunshine consistently throughout the year. It doesn’t get too flustered with the seasons, staying a steady pocket of joy for those of us seeking refuge from the incessant light rain. Why can’t you just rain all at once and clear up, Puget Sound? WHY?

yearly sunshine data (courtesy of city-data.com)

yearly sunshine data (courtesy of city-data.com)

As the figure above illustrates, Coronado receives sunlight all year round, dipping only during the brief “April shower, May flowers” period. The figure below shows the average temperature for Coronado throughout the year. Temperature doesn’t fluctuate much here – staying at a comfortable average all year long so you can visit anytime and you’ll probably have good weather. So bust out the summer clothes and rage in the sun!

annual temperature average (courtesy of city-data.com)

annual temperature average (courtesy of city-data.com)

3. European outdoor living

Thank to the incredible weather, Coronado residents enjoy outdoor living every day. This is evident in the outdoor furniture lining the streets of Coronado’s downtown area. Deep into the night, people leisurely gather outside in one of the many restaurants in the area to enjoy delicious food, refreshing drinks and good company. We visited in October. The weather was slightly cooler and visitors to Coronado were less numerous, but people still partied late into the night. And when I say “party,” I mean sit around eating, drinking, and enjoying each other’s company. You can’t go wrong with any of the restaurants in the area. Ask for seating outside. I recommend Leroy’s on Orange Avenue – this place makes excellent food and has great outdoor seating. It’s also in the heart of downtown Coronado so you can shop around as well. Right next to Leroy’s is the ever-decadent Moo Creamery, serving ice cream as they’ve done for years. I promise your taste buds will be attacked by deliciousness and will have to work overtime.

4. Laid back

palm trees are so relaxing

palm trees are so relaxing

First time travelers to California always seem to prefer Los Angeles because of its lights and fame, but the hectic lifestyle, incomprehensible traffic, and visible smog cloud lingering above the city make laid-back Coronado a haven from chaos. People aren’t really in a rush. The average commute time for workers in Coronado is 15 minutes – a ridiculously short commute compared to what Los Angeles natives must endure. Even during the peak season, the crowds are far and few in between so you can relax, stroll along the beach, take your time shopping and dining, and really absorb the culture and environment.

5. Full of history

With the Navy base looming in the distance, Coronado houses many distinguished military personnel and their families. And why not? With such an amazing community, fantastic weather, and proximity to large cities and attractions, Coronado is a natural magnet for Special Forces and Pentagon people looking to get away. Though the Naval Base itself wasn’t created until 1997, this strategic location has been a prime defensive position since the World Wars for the nearby San Diego Naval Base.

the 50's called, they want their aprons back

the 50’s called, they want their aprons back

The relics of these times can be seen in the downtown area itself with its numerous flashback diners from the fifties and architecture prevalent of that era. You could be eating in the same seat as the generals of years past.

6. Hotel del Coronado

If we’re talking history, we have to talk about Hotel del Coronado. Built in 1888, this hotel has been visited by 11 presidents and is a favorite location for films such as Some Like it Hot (Marilyn Monroe) and The Stunt Man. Listed as a National Historic Landmark, Hotel del Coronado is an distinguishable fixture for the city, sitting right on the beach and can be seen miles away.

And if you’re into ghost hunting, you’d want to request room 3372, the infamous room frequented by the ghost of Kate Morgan who supposedly committed suicide in 1892 – it remains a mystery to this day as to whether foul play was involved. Maybe you can strike a conversation with her and find out what really happened.
Wedding invitations and stationery from Wedding Paper Divas

7. Oz

Speaking of films, Coronado has long been linked to L. Frank Baum and the Oz series. The renowned author visited Coronado so much that he rented a house (which still stands and can be visited to this day). He wrote 3 Oz books from 1904-1910 while in Coronado. He was greatly entranced and influenced by the city as evident in the books themselves. For example, the Emerald City in Oz is based after Hotel del Coronado.

8. Small community

gelato time

gelato time

Coronado was established mainly as a resort town; thus, tourism is its mainstay, but even so it hasn’t lost that small community feel. We visited this little city during Halloween and were shocked to see the streets teeming with children in costumes going from business to business on Orange Avenue trick or treating. This is definitely a family friendly destination. And as you will notice, there aren’t many high-rises there. The quaint little shops sell mostly locally produced arts and crafts.

9. Highly educated

education data (courtesy of city-data.com)

education data (courtesy of city-data.com)

The residents of Coronado Island are highly educated: 98% with a High School diploma, 55% with a Bachelors degree, and 26% with a graduate degree. These numbers consistently rank higher than the California and national average every year. The data above is additive (adds up to 100% from all the categories).

10. Expensive

Being a resort town isn’t cheap. With about 24,000 inhabitants, median income sits around $90k/year, a $30k/year higher than California’s average. It’s no surprise that the median income is that high since the median house/condo in Coronado is a cool $1 mil. But don’t be afraid, restaurants and shops are reasonably priced. If you plan on staying at Hotel del Coronado or Loews, come during the fall and winter seasons for the best deal.

11. Safe

crime rates (courtesy of city-data.com)

crime rates (courtesy of city-data.com)

Statistically speaking, Coronado is about 3 times safer than the rest of California – with the crime index coming in at 114.5 in 2013 versus California’s 294.7 average (the higher the index the more crime). When we visited, we did not once feel threatened. The graphic above shows Coronado’s crime rates compared to California’s averages. Again, the stats can only do so much. You should take all the necessary precautions when traveling to an unknown location. My own personal experience tells me that Coronado is extremely safe.

12. Retired

Perhaps a factor for the safe city, along with that community feel I talked about earlier, is the average age of Coronado’s citizens (roughly 39.4 years old). There are a lot of retired civilian and military folks here. We saw a show while in Coronado – it was the premier of a modern twist of The Wizard of Oz – at the local theater and in attendance were 80% retirees. For more statistical data of Coronado, visit city-data.com.



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nebo loop, utah

With Thanksgiving upon us, I want to take a quick moment to give thanks to my friends and family, and all the wonderful things that make it possible for me to travel frequently: a stable job, my fiancé who shares the same passion for travel as I do, the internet for making travel easier, planes for making travel faster and safer, and all the people we’ve met along the way. Most importantly though, I am thankful for my US Passport. Looking at the turmoil around the world I realize how lucky I am to hold a US Passport. It is accepted in most countries without visas. And when visas are required, they are relatively easy to obtain. Just imagine having a passport from a war-torn country. Even if traveling is your passion, it would be very difficult to go anywhere. The US Passport is a luxury we’ve grown accustomed. How amazing is the US Passport? Check out this site that provides a list of countries that accept it without a visa.

And finally, thank you fellow travelers for enriching my life and broadening it beyond my wildest dreams. Happy Thanksgiving!

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solfar, reykjavik, iceland

As I mentioned in my previous post, 33 Tips for First Timers to Iceland, Iceland is incredibly safe. I experienced this myself, both mentally and physically speaking. Not once did I feel threatened even while strolling the streets in the middle of the night. I became so curious with this aspect of Iceland that I’ve spent the last few days researching crime rates of Iceland and other countries as well for comparison.

Before I reveal the data, I just want to preface the fact that statistical data cannot fully tell the whole story. First, the data shown is collected from official reports. Depending on the integrity of reporting in these countries, the data might or might not reflect the truth. There’s also the very real possibility of unreported crimes due to social pressures or whatnot. Second, different countries provide different definitions for the same crime so the numbers might not truly be comparable. For example, the definition of assault might be different in Croatia than it is in Japan. Also, the “trend” columns in these statistics are my own judgment. Lastly, the data do not explain the “bad neighborhoods.” A majority of reported events might only occur in small pockets of a country. The data do not account for this skew.

These reports are available on UNODC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime)’s website. You may pull the full set of data to study for your own amusement. To keep from inundating this post with massive spreadsheets, I’ve narrowed down the focus to 16 representative countries with a study space between 2010-2013. Why these 16 countries? There’s no particular reason why. I did try to include a variety to show the range for a more complete analysis. Though there are dozens of crime categories and dozens of measures such as drug trafficking, gun ownership and etc., I’ve chosen 4 main areas of focus that might be indicative of “safety” overall and that might be of special interest to travelers: assault and battery, robbery, car theft, and rape. I’ve excluded homicide in this analysis. I believe the 4 barometers I’ve chosen are sufficient enough to tell the story.

Now let’s get into it.

 

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ASSAULT

UNODC defines “assault” as “physical attack against the body of another person resulting in serious bodily injury, excluding indecent/sexual assault, threats and slapping/punching.” In this category, Iceland’s assault rate has been rising consistently. The influx of tourism might have something to do with that. However, when compared to other developed countries, Iceland consistently beat them in this statistic. As shown below, Iceland’s assault rate per 100,000 people is 8 times less than the United States’ rate. It also beats out the majority of the countries shown on this list, only losing out to Croatia, Poland, and Switzerland.

assault statistics

assault statistics

It’s surprising to note that the Maldives fared way worse than what I expected based on all my friends’ personal experiences. I’m not surprised with the rate shown for Switzerland though. All in all, Iceland fared very well in this category.

ROBBERY

UNODC defines “robbery” as “the theft of property from a person, overcoming resistance by force or threat of force. Where possible, the category ‘Robbery’ should include muggings (bag-snatching) and theft with violence, but should exclude pick pocketing and extortion.” Iceland performed incredibly well in this category, placing second only to Japan. I guess it’s shouldn’t be surprising considering this is a country with donation programs focused on sending people off on vacation. Such a program indicates that its people are pretty well off; thus, there’s no desire for robbing others. And though Iceland is becoming more and more of a tourist paradise, the rate seems to be remaining relatively even. Once again, the Maldives didn’t fare very well, but compared to Belgium the Maldives looks like a heaven on Earth. Holy cow Belgium! I was also incredibly surprised to see the high rate for Costa Rica. I was just there last year! I suppose we were pretty sheltered traveling in a tour.

robbery statistics

robbery statistics

CAR THEFT

I chose to include this category because many travelers rent cars while on vacation. Don’t let this data deter you from renting cars, but you can use this data to judge whether you need car insurance or not. Though, I think it is good practice to get car and trip insurance regardless. Protect your vacation!

car theft statistics

car theft statistics

Anyway, the UNODC defines “car theft” as “the removal of a motor vehicle without the consent of the owner of the vehicle.” Looking at the data, I’m actually surprised that it’s that high in Iceland. I mean… there are about 300,000 people who live there, wouldn’t it be pretty obvious when you jack someone’s car? Well, I guess when you look at the “count,” it does make sense. There’s not that many stolen vehicles overall. Now I’m curious to know how many of those car thefts were on tourists. So though I’m a bit surprised by the rate, Iceland still ranks extremely well in this category, losing out only to Japan, Poland, and Croatia.

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RAPE

In this category, which the UNODC defines as “sexual intercourse without consent,” Iceland did not fare as well as I had hypothesized. Note: from 2010-2013, this category was blank for Iceland (no data available). The data you’re seeing is my extrapolation of available numbers from 2003-2009 (not shown). Its rate is relatively high when compared to other countries in this category. I am a bit skeptical about Maldives’s extra low rate. Social pressures to not report might be a factor in the numbers being so low. Based on other categories where the Maldives didn’t do as well, I had concluded that the it would be the same in this category. I can trust the other numbers way more than I can trust Maldives’s data points.

rape statistics

rape statistics

This is an especially difficult category to judge. The definition of “rape” varies so much between countries that it’s hard to do a good comparative analysis. Furthermore, as with my thoughts on the Maldives, this category might be grossly under-reported. Iceland’s numbers, though surprising to me, seem to be on par with countries like the US and the UK.

BONUS: INCARCERATIONS

I threw this in here as a bonus. I think it speaks volumes about the sense of “safety” or lack thereof. For this analysis, I calculated the percentage of the overall population that is currently in prison (dividing the prisoners count by the total population). The percentage of incarcerated persons in America is about 16 times that of Iceland’s. Nothing surprising there – I believe the US might be the leader in this category. It is also interesting to note that the current inmate count for Iceland in 2013 is a mere 116 people. It must really suck to be an inmate there because everyone would know that you went to jail.

inmate statistics

inmate statistics

CONCLUSIONS

When you look at the overall picture, the data suggest that Iceland is an incredibly safe country. I can back this up with my own experience; however, that doesn’t mean you should set your common sense and awareness free. Again, the data shown here can only provide a statistical viewpoint. And while my own personal experience can attest to the validity of the data (for Iceland), you must make your own conclusions. For your own safety, you must assume that I am completely wrong. Be on alert wherever you travel. Obey the local laws. And be mindful and respectful of the customs and cultures of the place you’re visiting. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

For more tips on Iceland, read 33 Tips for First Timers to Iceland. To learn about what I did on my trip there, read Adventuring with 3 days in Iceland. If you would like the complete reports shown in this post, join my newsletter or send me a note in the Contact page. If you found this useful, please share so it can be of use to others as well.

Happy trails!


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