For those who crave that electrifying rush of adrenaline, a week of lying on the sand is not an ideal vacation. Beachside rest and relaxation can do wonders for some, but others find their R&R with a solid jolt to the nervous system; cue the adventure-vacation combination! Whether you’re surfing waves, chasing storms, or heli-skiing mountaintops, these eleven destinations all hold the promise of a heart-pounding getaway. Ready? Set? GO!
Adventure seekers have been visiting the Hawaiian islands for centuries. The state’s rugged, lava-formed terrain offers challenging — and stunningly beautiful — hikes and climbs, and the volcanoes themselves present unique thrills. But, of course, the main pulse-racing draw is surfing the menacing waves and rip curls that crash against the islands’ shores. The biggest and baddest waves roll in off of a reef break on the North Shore of Oahu at Banzai Pipeline. Many surfers have made a name for themselves at this spot, which is also home to some of the most intense surfing competitions in the world, including Pipe Masters. Adrenaline seekers who know their way around a wave — and are serious swimmers — can’t miss a trip here.
Stay: Turtle Bay Resort
This 448-unit resort on the scenic, isolated North Shore — just minutes from Banzai Pipeline — features an unbeatable array of amenities. There are two 18-hole golf courses, a stable, helicopter rides, and five miles of shoreline. Read More »
“America the Beautiful” was originally a poem written in 1893 by Katharine Lee Bates, who was inspired to pen the historic words after taking a memorable — and clearly, scenic — cross-country train trip from Massachusetts to Colorado. In the late 1800s, such a trip might have been grueling, but it was nonetheless considered exotic — whereas nowadays, it sometimes seems travelers aren’t impressed unless they’re crossing vast oceans and getting multiple stamps on their passports. But America is still the fair beauty of Bates’s poem, and tons of gorgeous sites and settings can be found right in our backyards. Even better, local travel is often relatively cheap and easy: There’s no currency exchange, language barrier, or passport required, and even if you do fly, flights are certainly less expensive than those to far-flung international locales. Here are six amazing sites in the U.S. that you’ve got to see. (And don’t worry. If you really must cross an ocean to feel like you’re on vacation, we have some U.S. destinations where that is a necessity as well).
If you’ve ever questioned whether the U.S. could be exotic, the Bioluminscent Bay in Puerto Rico’s Fajardo will have you properly convinced. Just a short drive from Old San Juan, this famed “Bio Bay” puts on nature’s most magnificent light show: At night, when the bay is inky black beneath the light of the moon, microscopic plankton glow turquoise as you paddle or swim through the water.
Where to Stay: El Conquistador Resort, A Waldorf Astoria Resort is just about as close as you can get to the Bio Bay. Even better, this luxe resort offers some of the Caribbean’s most epic views.
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Calling all adrenaline junkies! Our hearts are in the bottoms of our stomaches just thinking about bungee jumping, but we know some of you seek out breathtaking, heart-stopping, pulse-quickening adventures on the reg. Well, if that’s what you crave, bungee jumping is just the ticket! And if you’re already game to try something terrifying, you might as well conquer the most terrifying, right?! Here are the world’s five most terrifying bungee jumps (plus, five beautiful hotels for celebrating — or sleeping — post-feat).
Connecting the countries of Zimbabwe and Zambia, the Victoria Falls Bridge crosses over the second gorge of its namesake — which, as the largest waterfall in the world, is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World as well. Only the bold bungee jump from this bridge; after all, the jump plummets 364 feet over the Zambezi River, which in turn is filled with crocodiles — but the views are breathtaking…if you can keep your eyes open!
Where to Stay: Matetsi Water Lodge is located on a massive game reserve by the Zambezi River. The lodge’s 18 suites are intimate and surprisingly luxe — each suite has its own plunge pool, patio, large bathroom with separate shower and tub, and bedroom with river views.
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We have seen some beautiful sites during our travels around the world. But don’t take our word for it (although you should; we are experts) — many of our favorite places are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, which means they are “places on Earth that are of outstanding universal value to humanity and as such, have been inscribed on the World Heritage List to be protected for future generations to appreciate and enjoy.” And there you have it — spots that make this list are absolutely stunning. To date, there are 911 sites on the list and we have seen a ton of them. But to make things a tad more manageable, we’ve parred it down to 9 sites that you’ve just got to see. And if you can make it to all 911, then by all means go for it!
We’re starting local — for us, at least. A beacon of hope for travelers to New York City since it was dedicated in 1886, the Statue of the Liberty is one of the most-recognized and beloved National Monuments in the United States. Visitors can walk to the top for sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline from the statue’s crown, and many visit Ellis Island at the same time to round out their historical and cultural trip.
Where to Stay: The Ritz-Carlton New York Battery Park
As expected of the luxury brand, this Ritz property boasts gorgeous rooms, top-notch service, and a long list of amenities. Some rooms feature views of the Statue of Liberty.
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Rain usually isn’t an element vacationers seek; in fact, it is often purposely avoided, whether that means picking a rain-free destination or visiting a spot during its dry season. Yet some of the rainiest destinations around the globe are also the most beautiful, and they are all the more enticing during their wet seasons when the crowds are few and the natural surroundings are lush. Here are eight spots where we’ve found the silver lining; these rainy destinations are gorgeous, and definitely deserve a visit this spring.
Costa Rica is one of the wettest destinations in Central America, but it’s thanks to the constant rain that it is also one of the most beautiful. The country is home to lush rainforests, dozens of national parks with a rich diversity of flora and fauna, and long white-sand beaches. If you visit towards the end of the spring, you’ll be traveling during Costa Rica’s rainiest season which means crowds are fewer (in fact, Costa Rica is still relatively undeveloped and uncrowded year-round compared to its Caribbean counterparts), the surroundings are uber-lush, and, also like spots in the Caribbean, rain often lets up for sunny mornings.
Where to Stay: Lapa Rios Ecolodge & Wildlife Reserve
Lapa Rios, located in the remote coastal rainforests of the Osa Peninsula, is Costa Rica’s original luxury eco lodge. This is the opposite of a Cancun-style beach resort — guests come to the upscale Lapa Rios to enjoy the spectacular surroundings, learn about sustainable tourism, and re-connect with nature.
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Hawaii attracts about seven million visitors annually and it’s no wonder; with a beautiful natural landscape, rich culture, and vast range of activities, it is one of the most diverse destinations in the U.S. No two islands of the six-island chain are the same, and even different areas and coasts of a single island can vary drastically. This can make it difficult to choose an island for your vacation, but it also means that all kinds of travelers can find what they’re looking for — and fortunately, travel among the islands is relatively easy and stress-free. So whether you plan on island-hopping throughout your trip, or prefer to pick one island that’s best suited to your needs, our handy island guide will make planning your Hawaiian getaway a breeze.
If you want…
A little bit of everything: The Big Island
It makes sense that the largest island (larger, in fact, than all the other islands combined) would be the most diverse, and those who seek a well-rounded experience will love the Big Island. Between fiery volcanoes, cascading waterfalls, white-sand, black-sand, and even green-sand beaches, blossoming meadows and snow-capped mountains, the options are seemingly endless. Visitors can sunbathe and snorkel by day and stargaze from frigid mountaintops by night.
This clean, affordable condo property in Waikoloa Village on the Kohala Coast offers an uncommon level of privacy: It’s located inside a gated community and surrounded by a golf course. Ranch-inspired buildings house multi-room units, complete with full kitchens and washer/dryers, and property features include an attractive (if small) infinity pool and an open-air fitness room.
If you’re like us, you’re ready for this freezing weather — courtesy of the polar vortex — to be over. In fact, you’ve been ready for weeks now. And though the groundhog may not have predicted a quick return to warm weather, that hasn’t stopped cities across the U.S. from making plans to usher in the spring, which makes its official entrance March 20. From Atlanta to Los Angeles, from Vermont to Savannah, popular vacation destinations are already prepping for the season’s welcome with spring-themed festivals, parades, and parties. Here are seven destinations where you can celebrate spring.
Los Angeles, CA: Holi Festival of Colors, March 8
Traditionally a religious Hindu festival marking the beginning of spring, Holi has become a holiday celebrated around the globe by Hindu followers and non-followers alike, and few places stateside do the day justice like Los Angeles. This year, the festival takes place in L.A. on March 8 and includes group yoga sessions, musical performances, food vendors, and even “color throwings” ever hour. Dubbed by many as “the world’s happiest event,” Holi is all about reveling in the vibrant colors of spring.
Where to Stay: The Georgian Hotel
A picturesque Art Deco boutique hotel with a commanding view of the sea (from the sunny front porch, but not all rooms), the Georgian is a classy retreat with lovely rooms and a prime location on Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica. On-site amenities, however, are few. You’ll have to drive to the festival, but when the festival is over, we recommend staying near the beach in Santa Monica to catch some rays.
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Spring break is right around the corner — finally! After a long winter of snow and slush, it’s time to escape the homestead and let loose. But a quick trip to an island all-inclusive isn’t for everyone. Maybe desert vistas are more your thing? Or you’d rather climb a mountain than windsurf in the Caribbean? No matter what your vacation style, we have a spring break plan for you that promises to be everything but run-of-the-mill.
If the desert sun is calling your name, head to Albuquerque, New Mexico:
Albuquerque, located about an hour from Santa Fe, is often overlooked. Like Santa Fe, Albuquerque is dotted by adobe historic buildings, and has boiling summers. Albuquerque is known as the “hot air balloon capital” of the U.S. and if you like the city in the spring, you should be sure to revisit in the fall when the world’s largest hot air balloon festival takes place here. Albuquerque also boasts gorgeous terrain, a chance to cross the Rio Grande, and an amazing fine arts community. Not to mention, as the setting for AMC’s Breaking Bad, the city attracts more than one Walter White fan.
Stay: The gorgeous and hip Hotel Andaluz is housed in a historic building with a luxe vibe and eco-friendly focus. Featuring a rooftop bar and a stunning lobby, the Andaluz evokes the feel of a Spanish resort, yet also honors its own history as a New Mexico landmark with extensive Southwestern art throughout. Read More »
Fun, sun, and…scuba? For many, a trip to the beach just isn’t complete without the possibility of a deep sea dive. Whether you want to explore ship wrecks, meet creatures of the deep, or wonder at gorgeous coral formations, scuba diving can be a fun and athletic opportunity while you’re on vacation. Getting certified is crucial before attempting a dive, and if you choose to give it a go, we’ve compiled some of the best dive sites in North America for you to visit. Some may not realize just how many dive sites await in our own backyard!
1. Dive: Half Moon Caye, Belize
Half Moon Caye in Belize offers divers the chance to go on a wall dive–a dive in which the vertical facades of the earth’s landmasses are explored. The depths at Half Moon Caye (and really at any wall dive) are tremendous, giving you the very correct feeling that you are staring into an abyss. The waters at Half Moon Caye are particularly clear, despite the depth, so you will be able to see all manner of wildlife, including loggerhead turtles, rays, barracuda, and eels.
Stay: Portofino Beach Resort
The professional dive shop on-site at the romantic and secluded Portofino Beach Resort is a major draw for adventure seekers. Read More »
The opening ceremony for Winter Olympic Games in Sochi will be broadcast on Friday, February 7th, which means that Olympics fever is nearly here. Those of us who love the Winter Olympics may be looking for a taste of our own Olympics glory – without going to Russia. Luckily, many hotels are allowing guests the chance to partake in the Olympics fun through Olympics-inspired packages. Whether you want to relive Winter Olympics past or simply show off your own winter sports prowess at some of the world’s top winter destinations, these hotels have got you covered.
The Resort at Squaw Creek is one of the largest hotels in Squaw Valley, where the 1960 Winter Olympics were held. It’s making the most of its Olympics past with the 1960 Winter Games Penthouse Package, which includes penthouse accommodations for two nights as well as two lift tickets and two adult ski rentals per day, among other offerings. The hotel has a ski-in, ski-out location with lift to Squaw Valley, making it easy for guests to ski the same slopes of long-ago Olympic greats. Read More »