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Summer 2009 - The Best Beaches

Posted By BrandHonney on May 30, 2009 at 4:43AM

Miami Beach, Florida, USAMiami Beach, Florida, USA

One of the most famous places and the big tourism spot ;)

Cancun, MexicoCancun, Mexico

Always the best for visitors and good for relaxing

Morro de Sao Paulo, Second Beach, Bahia, BrazilMorro de Sao Paulo, Second Beach, Bahia, Brazil

Tropical place and the rising sun with a nice Brazil people everybody voted for their fave :)


Caribbean Beaches for the dreams. Bahama is the greatest place. You need to see soon.

Panama City Beach, USAPanama City Beach, USA

Florida's one of the coolest beach.

Vavau, TongaVavau, Tonga

Little country but has miracles like Vavau :)


Tropical place in Africa

Plage de Pampellane, FrancePlage de Pampellane, France

Good beach from the romantic country France

Orient Beach, St. MartinOrient Beach, St. Martin

Where's that island? Find in Caribbean :P


Not only Asia's beach queen :)

7 Dream Islands (You Haven't Heard of Yet)

Posted By LolaDub on Sep 4, 2008 at 6:21AM

Escape to one of these, and you're guaranteed to get there before anyone you know

Skomer Island
The secret is out about Skomer — among birds, anyway. Nearly half a million puffins, kittiwakes, fulmars, and razorbills build nests in the lichen-covered cliffs of the 721-acre nature reserve off mainland Wales. The birds far outnumber the dozen or so humans on Skomer, just a 15-minute ferry ride from the town of Martin's Haven. Crisscrossed with hiking trails, the island is protected by The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales. A maximum of 250 people may visit per day, but there's only room for 15 overnight guests in a converted barn where scientists conduct most of their research. If you visit between May and July, when the majority of birds are nesting, you'll hear the eerie serenade of the rare Manx shearwater; there are more than 200,000 of them on Skomer. "They have this really wacky call, like a crazy chicken crossed with a pigeon," says Jo Milborrow, the island's wildlife warden. "The legend is that they're the souls of sailors." — Amy Laughinghouse

Corn Islands
Even the pirates of the Caribbean took a vacation from plundering, and to this day, their hideaway has remained a fairly hidden treasure. Forty miles off mainland Nicaragua, the Corn Islands are still populated by the descendants of buccaneers. On Great Corn Island — one-hour La Costeña flights depart daily from Managua — the only attractions are sand and sea, including a reef that surrounds a 400-year-old Spanish galleon. "If you get bored here, then you don't know how to unwind," says Jeff Johnson, an expat from Washington, D.C. "Not doing anything is the point." Great Corn is a metropolis compared with the 1.4-square-mile Little Corn Island. The $6 ferry from Great Corn drops you off near the two best places to stay: Hotel Los Delfines and Casa Iguana, which relies on solar power because of spotty electricity. Despite the wonky infrastructure, Little Corn has pockets of sophistication: Paola Carminiani serves up a taste of her Italian homeland with three-course dinners at Farm, Peace & Love. Just bring a flashlight so you can find your way back through the jungle. — Paul Katz

Kíthira Island
Mythical characters dwell everywhere on Kíthira, just eight miles off the tip of the Peloponnesian peninsula. Here's the pool where Aphrodite bathed. Over there, you can see the cave where Helen and Paris are believed to have sought refuge. Except for the six weeks starting in mid-July, Kíthira is a sleepy place with compact medieval villages that are home to ancient grain mills, Byzantine chapels, and cheerful wooden beehives that are painted yellow, blue, or white. (Kíthira's thyme-scented honey is so coveted that the annual production sells out within weeks.) Lodging on the island consists of small hotels and inns. In the whitewashed capital of Chora, the 12-room Hotel Margarita faces the sea. An even better base for exploring is one of the villages in the center, such as Mitata, where a beekeeper has opened Aplinori, an inn where guests can learn how to make honey and cheese. One-hour Olympic Airlines flights to Kíthira depart daily from Athens. — Ann Banks

Rottnest Island
The name Rottnest is unsuitable for such a beautiful place — after all, the island has more than 60 white-sand beaches. Blame Dutch explorer Willem de Vlamingh, who discovered the island in 1696, mistook the marsupial quokkas for rats, and named the place "rat's nest." After a 70-year stretch as a penal colony, the island, 12 miles off mainland Australia, has become a popular day trip from Perth. The best way to tour the salt lakes in the interior is to rent a bicycle through Rottnest Bike Hire. The reefs around the island are great for snorkeling; Oceanic Cruises leads excursions to shipwrecks off Kingston Reef. Most visitors come just for the day, but there are lodgings—cabins and bungalows (shown here) managed by the island authority. Before heading back to catch the ferry, stop for some Victoria Bitter beer and a platter of fish, scallops, and oysters at the Rottnest Tearooms Bar & Café. — Justin Bergman

French Polynesia
Fakarava Island
The island's single road wasn't paved until 2003, in anticipation of a visit by then-French president Jacques Chirac (he never arrived, nor did he give a reason why). But that certainly helped put Fakarava on the map — unlike its more populated neighbors Bora-Bora and Tahiti, Fakarava is home to about 500 residents. In the center of Rotoava village is the Relais Marama, the one pension in town with oceanfront bungalows. For divers and snorkelers, the northern Garuae Pass and the southern Tumakohua Pass have pristine coral reefs that are accessible through outfitter Te Ava Nui. You'll have to travel for a full day to get to and from Tumakohua — the pass is only reachable by boat — but it's worth the trip. The nearby village of Tetamanu has a church built entirely out of coral, as well as several black-pearl farms that give free tours. A pension on the outskirts of Rotoava, Pearl Guest House Havaiki, will even allow you to snorkel to its oyster farm with the owner and keep any pearls you find. One-hour flights to Fakarava depart from Papeete, Tahiti, once daily. — Lynwood Lord

Sumba Island
Legend has it that Sumba's first inhabitants descended a ladder from heaven, but as soon as their feet hit the ground, they started battling. The natives' reputation convinced European traders to avoid the island in southern Indonesia, leaving it relatively undeveloped for centuries. The warrior culture lives on in the annual Pasola ritual war festival held each February and March, in which horsemen from various tribes joust using spears. For more mellow activities, the island's southern coast has great surfing — 12-foot swells are not uncommon — and a community-minded (although expensive) resort called Nihiwatu. The hotel has day trips to nearby villages, where you can chew betel nut with the locals, buy colorful ikat cloth, and volunteer at a clinic funded by the resort. The more affordable Sumba Nautil Resort is down the coast. One-hour Transnusa Air Service flights to Sumba depart from Bali. — Susan Crandell

Amantaní Island
Few places have a welcoming committee quite like the one on Amantaní, an island in Lake Titicaca: Aymara Indian women wearing embroidered black tunics line the dock and wave to visitors as they disembark from the ferry arriving from the city of Puno. After living in relative isolation for centuries, residents on the island began to allow overnight stays about 10 years ago. There are no cars or roads, and quinoa and barley are grown by hand — as they have been for centuries — on hillside terraces. Stone hiking paths lead to the island's two highest peaks, Pachamama (Mother Earth) and Pachatata (Father Earth). During the Fiesta de la Santa Tierra each January, the residents form dual processions from temples built atop Pachamama and Pachatata to the main village, also called Amantaní, where everyone dances late into the night. Tour operator Edgar Adventures will arrange farmstays with several families that take turns hosting visitors. "The Aymara live simply on what they produce," says guide Fredy Manrique. "It made me realize that you can be happy with very little — that you don't necessarily need to have big houses and cars." — Justin Bergman

Note: This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.


10 U.S. Places to See Before You Die

Posted By LolaDub on Jul 17, 2008 at 5:47AM

Many people have a list of places they'd like to visit before they move on to the next world; here are a few American suggestions of my own.

For conversation's sake, I have avoided the obvious targets, but a stroll across the Golden Gate Bridge or a trip up the Empire State Building is still definitely worth it.

Though we are lucky to live in a beautiful country, I have mostly focused on smaller, manmade sites, simply because a catalog of pretty American places could stretch on forever.

This list is admittedly subjective, but comes from 30 years of professional wandering. Some places are more well-known than others, but all share a sense of tranquility and wonder.

And since I review small boutique hotels for a living, I have included nearby recommended places to stay. Happy travels!

1. San Francisco de Asis Church, Ranchos de Taos, N.M.
Famously painted by Georgia O'Keefe and described by her as "one of the most beautiful buildings left in the United States by the early Spaniards," this handsome adobe mission a few miles outside of Taos Pueblo yokes together a staggering five centuries of North American history.
Harper hotel: Casa de las Chimeneas, Taos.

2. Whaling Museum, Nantucket, Mass.
At its whaling peak during the first half of the 19th century, the small island of Nantucket had 88 ships scattered across the oceans. The Whaling Museum is wonderfully evocative of this era (plenty of scrimshaw and rusty harpoons), and out-of-season Nantucket Town, with its Greek Revival mansions and cobblestone streets, is equally enchanting.
Harper hotel: The Wauwinet.

3. Battery District, Charleston, S.C.
The historic Battery District of Charleston, South Carolina, home to dozens of stately antebellum mansions, is one of the prettiest U.S. neighborhoods I've ever explored. Follow the promenade along the shores of the Charleston peninsula; Fort Sumter, where the first shots of the Civil War were fired, sits broodingly across the Cooper River.
Harper hotel: Planters Inn.

4. Madison Valley, Montana
Montana's Madison Valley, which runs between the Madison and Gallatin ranges down to West Yellowstone, is magnificent Lewis and Clark territory. This is unspoiled land, vast and uncompromising — everything you hope Big Sky Country will look like.
Harper hotel: The Lodge at Sun Ranch.

5. Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston
Housed in a charming Venetian-style palazzo, this gem of a gallery displays works by Rembrandt, Michelangelo, Whistler and Sargent. It's small enough to tour in an hour or so, and you can spend the rest of your time enjoying the sunny, flower-filled courtyard. And if your name happens to be Isabella, you get in free.
Harper hotel: XV Beacon.

6. The Four Seasons Restaurant, New York City
If you had to choose only one restaurant in New York City to visit, this would be the one. The city's prettiest dining room was designed by architects Mies van der Rohe and Philip Johnson, and astutely hasn't been touched since its introduction in 1959. The Pool Room is a study in muted sophistication, despite some of the outsized egos at the tables.
Harper hotel: The Lowell.

7. The Rothko Chapel, Houston
This small, non-denominational chapel located just off the Menil gallery in Houston's Museum District seems unassuming at first, but spend some time surrounded by the 14 mysterious paintings by Mark Rothko, and it may start sinking into your skin.
Harper hotel: St. Regis.

8. The Huntington Gardens, San Marino, Calif.
Huntington did quite well in railroads, and he's left us with a wonderful afternoon escape just outside of Los Angeles. After admiring some of the spoils of his industry — a Gutenberg Bible, a Shakespeare folio, Thomas Gainsborough's "The Blue Boy" — venture out into the superb botanical gardens, home to dozens of unique environments: an almost eerily authentic Japanese garden, a lily pond straight out of a Monet painting, and an entrancing collection of cacti.
Harper hotel: Hotel Bel-Air.

9. Robie House (Frank Lloyd Wright, Chicago
The Robie House, the world's first modern home, was designed in 1908 by architect Frank Lloyd Wright, and still seems startlingly contemporary 100 years later; with its broad horizontal lines and sleek art-glass windows, it looks like a modernist yacht. Wright himself showed up to protest the planned demolition of the house (it was to be replaced by a seminary dormitory) at the ripe old age of 90.
Harper hotel: Four Seasons.

10. The Oregon Coast
Highway 101 along the Oregon Coast swerves through 360 miles of jagged cliffs, rocky outcrops, sweeping dunes and temperate rain forests. The coastline lacks deep harbors, so there are no large cities here — just old logging towns, fishing villages and the occasional artist colony. And the entire coast is public land, which makes for excellent picnic opportunities in rugged and remote spaces.
Harper hotel: The Stephanie Inn, Cannon Beach


Life-Changing Escapes for a New You

Posted By LolaDub on Jan 4, 2008 at 9:49AM

Sure, you could return to your favorite winter beach spot to kick off the new year. Or you could take a vacation that will enrich your mind, body, and soul. Sherman’s Travel uncovered 10 life-changing escapes, with a splurge and a value option for each. Climb a volcano, explore the Nile, or learn to drive a race car. What are you waiting for?

1. Spa Renewal
Phuket, Thailand: Some spa programs are easy: a little massage here, a big salad there. Not the Five-day Puriti Purification Program at Trisara, a luxurious resort located near the Phuket airport on a secluded beachfront sanctuary. The immersive plan starts with a physical and includes daily fitness activities, body treatments, and yoga. You’ll eat raw organic food on the first and last days and only fresh vegetable juices and organic Chinese herbal supplements in between. But the tropical gardens are so beautiful and the private pools so relaxing that you won’t crave a thing—except, possibly, more purification. $4,120/5 days or $7,350/10 days; trisara.com

St. George, Utah: Red Mountain Spa is set in the stunning and serene southwestern Utah desert—an ideal spot for moonlight hikes, rock climbing, biking, tennis, swimming, and enough other activities to exhaust the tireless. The JumpStart 2008 package for January and February includes guided walks, tai chi, unlimited fitness classes, gourmet meals, and cooking demonstrations. Also available are extras such as day trips to Zion National Park and horseback riding. Save time for treatments at the Sagestone Spa, especially the Adobe Lavender Hydrating Cocoon. From $239/3 days (the minimum stay); redmountainspa.com

2. Health and Wellness
Maharishi Vedic City, Iowa: Guests come to The Raj for Ayurveda, the ancient whole-body Indian health-care philosophy and practice. This award-winning spa on 100 beautiful Midwestern acres has antiaging and weight-loss regimens, along with treatments for ailments like Alzheimer’s and hypertension. A one-week stay includes two to three hours of daily treatments, yoga, health coaching, and cooking classes. French provincial rooms are elegant and comfortable. $4,700/1 week; theraj.com

Mysore, India: Indus Valley Ayurvedic Center, an innovative clinic and spa resort, offers traditional, therapeutic treatments in a palm tree–lined setting in the Chamundi Hills. The weeklong program includes sessions with a doctor, massages, yoga, lessons in Ayurvedic practices, and detoxing treatments. Accommodations are in the lovely main house or in cottages scattered throughout the grounds. From $1,160/1 week; ayurindus.com

3. Academic Excursions
Southeast Asia: Stanford University’s Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia Suitcase Seminar, led by a former Stanford art history professor, includes tours of the Forbidden City in Hue and Buddhist temples in Luang Prabang. The 20-day trip is immersive, featuring traditional welcoming ceremonies, water-puppet performances, and visits to monasteries and the Phnom Penh university. Dec. 28-Jan. 16 and Feb. 15-Mar. 5; from $7,765, which includes visas and airfare from San Francisco or L.A.; stanfordalumni.org

The Nile: Smithsonian Journeys’ Splendors of the Nile is a 12-day excursion that includes a stunning visit to the Pyramids of Giza. A Smithsonian Egyptologist brings to life the region’s religion, art, and recent archaeological discoveries. Four nights are spent in hotels in Cairo and Luxor, four on the Mirage II ship cruising the Nile, and the last at Aswan’s Elephantine Island Resort. Various departures Jan.-Apr. and Sept.-Nov.; from $1,849, based on double occupancy; smithsonianjourneys.org

4. Extreme Sports
Dalton, New Hampshire: Learn to drive like a pro during a three-day course at Team O’Neil Rally School. The first two days cover basics like braking technique and skid control, and on day three you’ll move on to closed loops of real roads with gravel, trees, and other obstacles. Instructors are on hand at all times, and safety is a major consideration. One-, two-, and four-day sessions are also available, and students typically stay in one of many hotels in Littleton. $2,950 covers tuition only; teamoneil.com

La Jolla, California: Make your Peter Pan fantasies come true at Torrey Pines Gliderport, one of the oldest paragliding schools in the country. You’ll spend the first few days of the basic training program on the ground learning to control, launch, and fly the wing. Then you’re ready for your first solo flight off a 300-foot cliff. You’ll soar for three to five minutes and land on the beach below. The course lasts from three to five days, depending on individual ability and agility, but has one flat rate. There are no accommodations, but there are several hotels in the area. $895 covers tuition only; flytorrey.com

5. Volunteer Vacations
Kali Gandaki Valley, Nepal: Volunteers on the Chairro Gompa Restoration Project help redevelop an ancient Buddhist monastery (gompa) under the snow-capped Himalayas. The setting is stunning, encompassing a high-desert moonscape and colorful, orchard-filled valley. You’ll work on projects that can vary from building to restoration and art conservation. During the afternoons, you’re free to hike the villages, pick apples, visit schools, or keep working. You’ll stay in a modern, family-run guesthouse with comfortable but simple rooms. $2,495, fully tax-deductible; crtp.net

Costa Rica: The Sea Turtle Conservation Project in Costa Rica helps protect the critically endangered Leatherback Turtle, whose eggs are poached for their aphrodisiacal properties. Volunteer duties include digging out eggs from nests and transferring them to a hatchery, as well as night patrols. This is a trip for beach lovers, not luxury seekers, as lodgings are rustic, with volunteers living together on the beach in a cabin or tent. But those turtles sure are cute! $995 for 1 week; i-to-i.com

:jumpin: how nice :P

source: yahoo.com

Tagged with: Life-Changing Escapes

Managaha Island

Posted By german girl on May 30, 2007 at 9:49PM

aerial view of managaha islandaerial view of managaha islandThis is Managaha Island in Saipan, best for snorkeling, diving and lots and lots of tropical fish. You've got to see it to believe it!

Can be accessed by ferry for $35, about 15 minute ride from the port. Food concessions are situated along the island and shops that sell beach gears. Reservations must be made for the ferry ride.

Have fun!

Tagged with: vacation spot

What Is Your Favorite Cruise Line?

Posted By Juicy23 on May 23, 2007 at 5:33AM

Tagged with: Cruise Lines!