For the 50+ Traveler

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Here are seven pink travel ideas reminding women that travel is an essential part of living life to the fullest. So let’s think pink. But don’t just think. Do. Be active. Support your sisters and brothers (men get this too) by celebrating Pinktober. Let’s help everyone stay in the pink of health, including you.

The Royal Hawaiian hotel on Waikiki Beach.

1. A Pink Hotel

Joni Mitchell mentions the Royal Hawaiian (also known as the Pink Palace of the Pacific) in her “Big Yellow Taxi” lyric -- “With a pink hotel, a boutique, and a swinging hot spot.” Walking along Waikiki’s famous white sands, this humongous, turreted pink hotel stops tourists in their tracks. Built in 1926 for guests like the Rockefellers, Fords, and DuPonts, these days, the pink lady’s not so fussy. Anyone rich enough can stay here or join in a historical tour. I opted for the free tour.

The lobby features chandeliers, giant pink floral arrangements, and bell boys pretty in pink. The historic guest list sounds like a Hollywood casting call -- Spencer Tracy, Carole Lombard, Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, and Shirley Temple. It tickled me pink to learn the hotel slipped a few rungs on the social ladder when the U.S. Navy leased it for some rest and relaxation during World War II. Sailors strung laundry on balconies, and management hid the entrance to the world-class wine cellar -- just in case.

The historic wing is decorated in a warm palette accented by bold fuchsia. Candy-striped bathrobes hang in the plush bathrooms.

The Pink Palace hosts the annual Komen Hawaii Pink Tie Ball to support local breast cancer programs with a silent auction, flowing pink champagne, and lots of regal pink gowns.

Your call: Komen Pink Tie Balls occur in other U.S cities. Keep on your radar for future years.

Pfeiffer Beach in California.

2. Pink Beaches

For some, life’s a beach, and finding a pink one is a rare pink pearl indeed. Pfeiffer Beach in California sometimes has shades of purplish-pink, but most pink beaches are overseas. In 2019, the Park Hyatt Dubai turned its lagoon beach pastel pink to support Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Other pink beaches are natural because of microscopic organisms from coral reefs that color the sand. Not vibrant pink, but rather, blush -- like a world seen through rose-colored glasses.

In the Bahamas, there’s Pink Sands Beach (Harbour Island), Horseshoe Bay Beach in Bermuda, Crane Beach in Barbados, Elafonisi Lagoon and Balos Lagoon in Crete, Playa de Ses Illetes in Spain, the Pink Sand Beach on Santa Cruz Island in the Philippines, and the Pink Beach on Komodo Island. This Indonesian island is also home to Komodo dragons -- lizards 10 feet long and weighing 300 pounds!

Your call: Walk these stunning beaches. Studies show regular exercise can lower breast cancer risk by 10 to 20 percent. This benefit is most evident in post-menopausal women. That’s part of the reasoning behind those charity pink walks and runs. In 2020, many pink walks are virtual, so you can participate.

Flamingoes at Everglades National Park in Florida.

3. Get Pinked

Pink flamingos have long umbrella-hooked necks, noble heads, and graceful, one-legged yoga poses. The collective noun describing flamingos is “flamboyance” -- so apt for these flouncy feathered creatures. Seen in flight, their elongated bodies and tipping wing spans remind me of airplanes jetting off to exotic destinations. TravelAwaits has a list of overseas places to see flamingos in the wild.

Stateside, spot them at Everglades National Park in Florida. If you miss out, try Flamingo Gardens, also in Florida. The plastic garden species is more common. Visit Leominster, Massachusetts. Local artist Don Featherstone crafted the first plastic flamingos here in 1957. They took off so to speak. Once considered kitsch -- now they’re venerated. Even the Boston Museum of Fine Arts exhibits a pair. Featherstone planted 57 on his lawn. Today, Leominster holds an annual Pink Flamingo Day. Bemused tourists spot flamingos all over town.

In Wisconsin, there’s a Giant Pink Flamingo near Oshkosh as tall as a tree. And flamingo lovers flock to Maggie's Restaurant in Bayfield because the decor is an ode to flamingos. In Madison, the plastic flamingo (not the real flamingo) is the city’s designated bird. The town’s obsession with garden flamingos stemmed from a prank in 1979. A group of University of Wisconsin-Madison students covered the hill in front of the dean's office with 1,008 pink flamingos. This fall tradition is still upheld to this day.

Today “pinking” someone’s lawn can raise money for breast cancer survivors. In Monroe, Connecticut, The Monroe Women’s Club runs an annual “You’ve Been Pinked” Flamingo Fundraiser. A donor can have their lawn pinked before passing the experience to a neighbor to make a similar donation. And on it goes.

Your call: Given charities have had to cancel fundraising events, “pinking” offers a good social distancing option. Here are some flocking ideas and how it’s done in New Orleans.

4. Fall For Pink

Spotting a pink waterfall is as likely as seeing pink pigs fly. Contradicting this was the famous image of Cameron Falls in Alberta when it did run pink. The Candy Land color was caused by a downpour and subsequent rockslide pushing argillite (fine particles of iron-red rock) into the water. It was a brief event the world might have missed if not for Rochelle Coffey, a local photographer, who was hiking that day. Her photo went viral.

The falls are in the Waterton Lakes National Park. As they are in the stunning Canadian Rockies, they are worth traveling to.

For a guaranteed pink waterfall, head to Niagara Falls. Yearly on October 13th, the world’s most famous falls light up for Metastatic Breast Cancer (MBC) Awareness Day. They turn pink with the flick of a switch amidst much fanfare. Other colors presented include green for renewal and hope and teal symbolizing healing and spirituality. A sight worth traveling for.

Your call: There are 120 other illuminated landmarks in the U.S. -- part of the #LightUpMBC campaign. Here’s a list. Go and applaud.

The Sunshine Skyway bridge in Florida lit up in pink.

5. Pink Landmarks

In 2000, cosmetic brand Estee Lauder started Global Illumination to highlight Breast Cancer Awareness Month. They embraced the whole world in 2010 when they entered the Guinness Book of Records for most buildings illuminated for a cause in 24 hours. The pink lighting traveled like beacons uniting the world in hope.

Beginning in Australia, with the illumination of Federation Square, and then sparked to 40 iconic landmarks around the globe, including Castle Schonbrunn in Austria, Taj Mahal Palace in India, and the Kuala Lumpur Tower in Malaysia, culminating in New York’s Empire State Building. In NYC, Elizabeth Hurley, ambassador of the Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign, accepted the Guinness World Records certificate in front of the world’s media. Hurley was more than the beautiful face behind the Estee Lauder brand, a role she no longer holds. Like many women, Hurley’s dedication to the cause has been heartfelt. In 1992, her grandmother died of breast cancer, after keeping the disease secret from her family. For over 20 years, Hurley, now 55, served as a global ambassador for the breast cancer cause.

Your call: Yearly illuminations have touched the Sydney Opera House, the Brandenburg Gate, the Taipei 101 building, the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, Tokyo Tower, and the White House. Wherever you travel in the world, look for pink.

Pink flowers at Keukenhof Garden in the Netherlands.

6. Vistas Of Pink

Seeing pink flowers en masse is a comforting spectacle. The world-famous Keukenhof Garden in the Netherlands provides such a setting. The spring opening (mid-March to mid-May) attracts millions of visitors. To view click here. Tourists can bicycle or take canal boat tours through the surrounding fields to see where the famous tulips grow.

Asia has noted Western tourists’ fascination for all things pink. Nong Han Kumphawapi Lake is an important wetland in Thailand, in the Northeastern province of Udon Thani around 350 miles north of Bangkok. Every year from October until March, the lake blooms with a carpet of pink lotus flowers. Tourists hire a small boat (and a boatman) that chugs through a sea of pink lotus flowers. It’s best during the cool season (early December to the end of February), with the most blooms in December. Visit before mid-day when the flowers are fully open.

There’s a similar experience in rural, Southern India where visitors take non-powered boats through the backwaters of Kottayam, Kerala, surrounded by pink water lilies. A true Lady of Shalott moment. Locals take selfies and wedding photos. So expect an immersion in local culture as well. Best visited September to November and before 9 a.m. Boat tours cost around $1 USD for 30 minutes. Here’s a video by Kerala Tourism.

Your call: Give pink flowers to patients, survivors, and healthcare workers as a way of showing support. Choose florists who donate some of the money to breast cancer charities.

Herstmonceux Castle in East Sussex, England.

7. Pink Castles

Pink castles are a thing. Who would have thought? Visit Herstmonceux Castle in East Sussex, England. The 15th-century moated castle boasts 300 acres of woodlands and formal gardens for your daily walk.

Visit Craigievar, Scotland’s fairytale pink castle said to be the inspiration for Walt Disney’s Cinderella Castle. As well as a tour, there’s a two-mile hike through the fir trees and the hilltop circle folly with a view of Lochnagar.

The world is also eagerly anticipating the re-opening of Cinderella’s Castle in Disney World. With Magic Kingdom’s 50th-anniversary in 2021, the fairytale castle of little girl’s dreams is enjoying a pink makeover.

Your call: When we enter magical pink castles, remind ourselves that life doesn't always have a fairytale ending. Currently, more than 3.8 million women have been diagnosed with breast cancer in the U.S. An estimated 42,690 breast cancer cases (42,170 women and 520 men) will result in death this year. Like Cinderella, let’s show courage, kindness, and compassion. And generosity when we can. For more pretty in pink destinations, check our list of nine magical pink destinations!