Big Island

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 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.

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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 

portofino

The professional dive shop on-site at the romantic and secluded Portofino Beach Resort is a major draw for adventure seekers. Read More »

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For outdoorsy types, a tiny basement fitness center at the hotel just isn’t going to cut it. For them, a great vacation is all about getting outdoors — and being in a stunning natural setting to boot. Luckily, there are plenty of fantastic resorts around the world offering a range of activities right on-site, from horseback riding to water sports to fishing to stargazing. Check out our faves.

Calistoga Ranch, Napa Valley

Calistoga Ranch, An Auberge Resort, Napa Valley

Calistoga Ranch, An Auberge Resort, Napa Valley

Calistoga Ranch was designed with Mother Nature in mind: All the modules for the property’s 48 exquisite private lodges were flown in by helicopter to minimize impact on surrounding trees and to maximize privacy. The 157-acre property offers abundant outdoor activities, including hiking (there are a number of trails on-site), outdoor yoga, a beautiful heated outdoor pool, a bocce court, and a fabulous fitness center. After all that exercise, there’s no need to feel guilty about indulging at one of the wine tasting seminars (this is Napa, after all). Read More »

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The Ocean Crystal Wedding Chapel at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Resort

When it comes to destination weddings, the options can seem endless (and exhausting). Couples can choose to wed beachside or poolside, in the woods or atop a mountain. But sometimes sticking to tradition can be just the ticket, even if you are in an exotic locale. That’s why many hotels around the globe offers gorgeous chapels for nuptials. We picked some of our favorites for saying “I do,” so get the wedding marches ready: It’s time to walk down the aisles of our favorite hotel chapels.

 

 

 

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The Madison One-Bedroom Suite at The Mark; New York, NY

The Madison One-Bedroom Suite at The Mark; New York, NY

1. FACT OR FAKEOUT? Emma Stone, Russell Crowe, Naomi Watts, Jonah Hill and Marc Jacobs were all spotted hanging out in The Mark’s lobby during Hurricane Sandy.

2. FACT OR FAKEOUT? The San Juan Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino will offer a free weekend stay in the property to every guest that posts pictures on the hotel’s Facebook or Twitter pages proving that he or she voted today.

3. FACT OR FAKEOUT? P. Diddy recently crashed his car right outside The Beverly Hills Hotel after another driver swerved in front of his Cadillac Escalade.

4. FACT OR FAKEOUT? The Four Seasons’ $71,000 Around-the-World Tour By Private Jet package includes a stop at the Four Seasons Hualalai, which was selected due to its convenient on-site landing strip.

5. FACT OR FAKEOUT? The Ritz-Carlton Atlanta is offering an $87,000 spa package that includes stem cell treatments and hair transplants.

Check out the answers after the jump!

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Several celeb couples have honeymooned at this gorgeous California property.

Several celeb couples have honeymooned at this gorgeous California property.

Celebrities always travel in style, and we love checking out where they stay when on a getaway from the spotlight. So in this honeymoon edition of our (constant) celeb watch, we explore the gorgeous hotels where some of our favorite celebs celebrated their first days of wedded bliss. Sure, some didn’t last, but it’s not like these hotels are to blame. In fact, they’re probably responsible for the happiest days of the marriage! Take note, Jen and Justin: these spots will deliver the star treatment during your honeymoon.

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Planning a wedding is no easy task: Guest lists, seating arrangements, and the requisite family drama (because apparently you just have to invite your cousin Mildred) can all add up to a nerve-wracking experience for even the most clear-minded of brides. There are just so many things to consider before tying the knot, that brides-to-be can often forget about themselves – and the importance of maintaining their own sanity – amidst all the hustle and bustle. So we’re here to play fairy godmother (well, sorta) and remind all the future Mrs’s (and Mr’s!) out there that they need to take some time for themselves, too. And we can’t think of a better way to relax and recharge than a good spa session — complete with candles, soft music, plush robes, you name it! Because the last thing you need right now is more planning and researching, we’ve done the legwork and have picked our favorite spas for pre-wedding pampering. Check ‘em out and say “ahhh” before the big “I do”!

Viceroy Miami

Spa at the Viceroy Miami; Miami, FL

Spa at the Viceroy Miami; Miami, FL

The Viceroy’s 28,000-square-foot, Philippe Starck-designed spa is arguably the most striking — and extensive – wellness center in Miami. It features ten treatment rooms, redwood saunas, eucalyptus steam rooms, and a gorgeous water lounge complete with white marble floors, three Jacuzzis, a shallow reflecting pool, and floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the bay.

Oyster’s Spa Menu Pick: For those who want to leave behind the stress of planning a wedding, we’d argue that the 60-minute Milk and Honey Body Treatment ($180), which “exfoliates and moisturizes the body, harmonizes the senses, and encourages relaxation” is a must. We wouldn’t mind the 30-minute Papaya and Pineapple Foot Scrub ($65) either.

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Makena Beach and Golf Resort -- Maui, HI

Golf Course at Makena Beach and Golf Resort -- Maui

A round of golf can always do a body good. Sure, golf can be one of the most frustrating sports on the planet, [Ed. note: We've seen a few snapped clubs in our day.] but there’s nothing like the feeling when you sink that putt for eagle. (Not that we can speak from personal experience, per se, but we’ve heard stories.) So what could possibly make hitting the links even better? Gorgeous ocean views, duh. For all you golfers out there – Hi, Dad! — we found twelve beautiful hotel golf courses around the globe that have killer vistas to boot. Pack your clubs and get ready to work on your swing–these spots will be sure to inspire you to play your very best.

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A Destination Wedding in the D.R.

A Destination Wedding in the D.R.

June is infamously known as wedding mayhem month. It seems like couples everywhere choose this month over any other to say their “I dos.” Even we couldn’t help but catch a little bit of the wedding bug and we’ve been doing our research. So if you happen to be planning a very last-minute wedding (perhaps a la Drew Barrymore, the mommy-to-be who tied the knot this past Saturday) or are just looking for some inspiration for your upcoming nuptials, we have all the details on where some of your favorite celebs wed. Some of the marriages may not have lasted through better or worse, but hey, at least the wedding was beautiful. Check out where stars like Megan Fox, Jennifer Garner, and Kelsey Grammer got hitched after the jump »

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Dying to be under that palapa right about now.

Vitamin D does wonders for our health. Better known as the “Sunshine Vitamin” because our bodies produce it from the sun’s rays, Vitamin D regulates blood pressure, reduces muscle tension, and prevents cancer and various other diseases. Luckily for us, some of our favorite spa hotels have just the the right treatments. Whether they boast ocean-side cabanas or secluded rooftop hot tubs, these outdoor spas really know how to make us feel good — all while we’re soaking up the sun, of course.

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