Costa Rica

Summer is such a gift: the warm weather, the laid-back vibe, the beachy music, the opportunity for more travel, the sunsets. Here at Oyster, we’re really big fans of the latter two, and we often get to enjoy them both at the same time. (Not to say that we don’t love watching the sun sink down into the Hudson from our home base in New York City, but there’s something particularly special about taking in the sunset from an exotic locale.) We’ve watched the sun bid adieu to the day in numerous destinations around the world, and we’ve picked out the seven summer sunsets you’ve just GOT to see.

1. Aruba

Aruba

Photo Credit: David Stanley

Home to some of the best sunsets in the Caribbean, this Dutch island knows how to make the most of its outrageous sunsets.  From beachfront dining to sunset cruises, there are endless opportunities to take it all in.  And due to Aruba’s location that’s (generally) outside of the hurricane belt, consistently warm and sunny weather can be experienced year round, so you don’t even have to rush to get there this summer!  Be sure to check out California Lighthouse on the island’s northwest tip for a one-of-a-kind vantage point.    

Where to Stay: Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino  

Located on Aruba’s famed Palm Beach on the island’s western coast, The Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino is the ideal place to watch the setting sun.  Since many rooms include large, comfortable balconies, you don’t even need to leave your chair to see the magic happen.   

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One way to up the ante for your next vacation? Pick an uber-remote destination. A remote locale of course means some extra time spent traveling, but when that translates into an extra peaceful setting that not only feels, but is, miles away from home, it makes it well worth the journey. We’ve logged hundreds of hours in our efforts to find some of the world’s coolest, most secluded hotels. So here we bring you ten of the world’s most remote resorts in gorgeous, virtually untouched, and totally tranquil settings.

1. Arenal Nayara Hotel & Gardens, Costa Rica

 arenal

This 12-acre hilltop property not only sits on beautiful, uber-remote grounds – with unobstructed views of the Arenal Volcano – but even the rooms have an ultra-private vibe, with each being a separate bungalow tucked into the lush surroundings. Special touches include outdoor garden showers and decks with whirlpools and hammocks.

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Sun and sand is great and all, but some (us included) would argue that a beachy setting gets better when the clothes come off. Not only is it totally freeing (as a vacation should be), but it’s also economical — no need to buy a new bathing suit or pay to check your bag! So come and get the skinny on our favorite nude beaches.

1. Haulover Beach, Miami

Though Miami is topless-friendly just about everywhere, Haulover Beach is the only true nude beach in this spring break hotspot. The waters are crystal clear, the soft sand is debris-free, plus there are tons of on-beach amenities. Haulover has lifeguards (in swimsuits, unfortunately), food and drink vendors, and plenty of organized activities like birthday-suit volleyball…although we recommend not going for the save.

Where to Stay: Mandarin Oriental, Miami 

Secluded on an island overlooking Brickell Bay, the 326-room Mandarin Oriental offers a private retreat for couples, business travelers, and anyone else seeking an escape from the crowd. Chic, Asian-inspired decor, a three-level spa, and modern fitness center help soothe jangled nerves, while oversized rooms with water views offer ample opportunity to decompress.

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A beach getaway is meant to be a relaxing escape. But when you’re spending a fortune for just a few days on the sand, it can be everything but a time of peace and tranquility. Fortunately, we’ve traveled to beaches all over the world and have stayed not only in luxe beachfront hotels, but also in lovely motel-style beach properties that are — wait for it — affordable. Here are our top ten picks.

Ke Iki Beach Bungalows

1. Ke Iki Beach Bungalows; Oahu, HI

These 11 beachfront bungalows offer a solid value, and sit just above the sand on Hawaii’s picturesque North Shore. Sure, the bungalows are modest, amenities are few, and service is minimal. But a beautiful beach is just outside the door, as are hammocks and grills, and parking is free. Oahu’s most famous surfing spots and a charming surfer town, Haleiwa, are just down the street.

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We get it, you love your kids. But some occasions — anniversaries, romantic holidays, and even just good ole sexy time — require an adults-only escape. Enter these six sensual (and beautiful) adults-only resorts and inns, each of which promises all the accouterments of the ideal vacation a deux. From fluttering bed canopies to massages for two, from private rainforests to seaside cliffs (and some secluded corners private enough for a little hanky panky, as well!), these six kids-free vacations deliver the ultimate in romantic luxury.

Gaia Hotel And Reserve

Gaia Hotel And Reserve, Costa Rica

The adults-only Gaia Hotel, located in spectacular Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica, is a romantic tropical haven. Surrounded by a private rainforest reserve, this boutique boasts exotic blooms, hooting howler monkeys, and lush scenery at nearly every turn. Many couples appreciate the quiet, the ambiance and the attentive service, which includes freebies such as delicious breakfasts and a 20-minute spa treatment.

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It’s wedding season and we’ve got the honeymoon bug — clearly. Not only have we gabbed about our favorite spots for a budget (but nonetheless totally awesome) honeymoon, but we’ve also dished our finds for a wonderfully atypical honeymoon as well. And yet… we can’t help but get nostalgic for those classic honeymoon destinations that will forever stand the test of time. The five most popular honeymoon destinations are, after all, the most popular for a reason. Whether beachside in sunny Mexico — or found along the hidden cobblestone streets of Paris — the hotels in these locations are truly romantic, and are made even more romantic by their location — again, whether amid the lush tropics or with views of the Eiffel Tower. So whether it’s the chicken or the egg (or in this case, the destination or the hotel), it doesn’t matter. Here are the five most popular honeymoon destinations, and hotels in each that are sure to deliver that classically romantic honeymoon getaway you seek.

 

1. Paris: Hotel Relais Saint-Germain

Relais Saint-Germain

If you’re shocked that Paris tops our list, then you are in dire need of some lessons in romance before you jet off on your honeymoon, mon ami. Considered by many to be the most romantic city in the world, Paris attracts honeymooners with it’s gorgeous architecture, beautiful parks, fascinating history, and PDA-friendly streets, cafes, canals, restaurants, museums — you name it!! Anything and anywhere is fair game for romance by Parisian standards. Owned by celebrity chef Yves Camdeborde, Hotel Relais Saint-Germain is a cozy love nest focused on food and culture. On-site restaurant Le Comptoir is a destination unto itself, and guests get priority when booking one of its coveted tables. Large, stylish rooms feature unique decor and distinctive details inspired by literary greats, as well as luxe amenities that include stocked minibars and Anne Semonin toiletries.

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Earth Day may roll around just once a year (it’s today, by the way), but the great thing about travel is that you can celebrate your commitment to the planet anytime and anywhere! So whether you’re planning a last-minute bash to celebrate Mother Earth, or just want to go green for your next vacay, these seven hotels have you covered… And if you’re asking what makes a hotel eco-friendly, the answer varies depending on whom you question. Some of our picks have launched awesome recycling programs; another is LEED -certified; and yet another sits on a 1,000-acre private rainforest reserve, home to scarlet macaws. Read on for all the tree-hugging deets, and have a very happy (and green) Earth Day!

Pueblo Bonito Sunset Beach, Los Cabos 

Pueblo Bonito Sunset Beach

Pueblo Bonito Sunset Beach, along with its sister hotels Pueblo Bonito Los Cabos, Pueblo Bonito Pacifica Resort & Spa, and Pueblo Bonito Rose Resort & Spa, is committed to green initiatives and promoting sustainable tourism throughout Mexico. The hotel has taken lots of steps, both big and small, to reduce its environmental impact, from launching an initiative to protect sea turtles in the area to headlining an innovative recycling program. Pueblo Bonito also organizes beach clean-ups, composts much of its organic waste, and works to protect local whales, brown pelicans and other wildlife. Oh, and it’s a gorgeous luxury property with direct access to a private beach.

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Even during adventurous getaways, we love a chance for some R&R so we almost always book a spa service to treat ourselves. While we could probably enjoy a massage or facial just about anywhere, there’s something to be said for a hotel spa that is truly luxurious and jaw-dropping. Some of the most gorgeous we’ve seen are particularly inspiring because they boast beautiful views of their natural surroundings. So before you close your eyes and drift off to pure relaxation during your treatment, take in these 11 stunning views…from these 11 stunning hotel spas.

1. Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay, Hawaii

Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay

On a beautiful stretch of beach on the tiny island of Lanai, this Four Seasons is one of the most luxe properties in Hawaii. Considering the remote location, its no surprise that the hotel attracts couples, and the upscale spa is a major draw for romance as well. The spa features red cedar dry heat saunas, eucalyptus steam rooms, and rainforest showers, but its most stunning amenity is its outdoor massage cabana with views of the Pacific Ocean.

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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!

1. Statue of Liberty, New York City

statue of liberty

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

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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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