This post originally appeared on Yahoo! Travel.
As much as we would all love to pack our bags and fly off to some remote corner of the world, the reality is that the majority of Americans won’t be leaving the “Land of the Free” any time soon. In fact, as of last year, a study showed that more than half of Americans have never left the country. A full third does not have a passport. When asked why, many of those Americans who participated in the study said they felt everything worth seeing was already in their own backyards. While we’d like to contest the veracity of that statement, we have to give credit where credit is due. The States DO have lots to offer travelers. From crystal clear waters that rival those in the Caribbean, to insurmountable mountain peaks that wow even the most experienced adventure traveler, the geography of America is as varied as the citizens that call it home. By that logic, you technically don’t have to leave the States to feel miles away. This summer, explore the far corners of America and discover just how diverse your country — you won’t even know you’re still on your home turf.
The Florida Keys are as close to the Caribbean (and its nice weather) as you can get in the U.S. Formerly thriving on the loot from wrecked ships, the Keys now thrive on tourism. Visitors flock to the area during the winter and spring to soak up the year-round heat and swim in the beautiful, calm waters. Situated on the third largest barrier reef in the world, the Keys are a great destination for snorkeling and scuba diving, and there are tons of other outdoor activities, too — tennis, golf, kayaking, fishing…the list goes on.
Stay: Little Palm Island Resort & Spa
Reachable only by boat or seaplane, Little Palm Island Resort & Spa is located on a private island where wild key deer roam. It includes 30 luxurious suites, many with private oceanfront verandas. A favorite getaway for celebrities, it provides a secluded place to unplug from the world (use of technology is discouraged) and experience a romantic vacation in a lush, tropical environment. Read More »
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.
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.
Read More »
Nothing manmade can rival Mother Nature at her finest, and this summer is a fabulous time to visit the country’s most gorgeous natural wonders. Whether you’re planning a cross-country road trip or a quick weekend getaway, our home states are themselves home to some pretty breathtaking sights that are worth a visit. From Yosemite National Park in California to Hawaii’s vast natural glory, these nine spots are the most beautiful natural wonders in the U.S. — and arguably, in the world. Oh, and of course, we give you great hotel recommendations nearby for each (and many actually boast views of our top Mother Nature picks).
Considered a sacred spot by many locals, Haleakala National Park is Maui’s most-visited attraction, bringing in 1.3 million visitors annually. Haleakala, the world’s largest dormant volcano, literally means “House of the Sun,” a fitting name considering the spectacular sunrises that can be viewed from the summit.
Where to Stay: The Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resort Villas
Not your typical time-share, this multifaceted Kaanapali resort features amenities that rival the area’s mid- to high-end hotel chains — fitness center, kids’ club – along with massive, stylish units and an atmosphere heavily geared to families.
Read More »
Getting married is so exciting and wonderful…and stressful….and expensive — are we starting to sound like your father? After all, saying “I do” to your significant other also means saying yes to a reception hall, a caterer, and half-a-trillion other details like flowers, place settings, you name it. While the wedding will certainly be one of the happiest moments of your life, after all that you’ll deserve an epic honeymoon that will kick off your married bliss — and won’t run you straight through your savings. Whether you’re looking for a getaway where you can get more bang for your buck, or are willing to sacrifice a few bells and whistles in the hotel amenities department in order to visit some of the world’s hottest honeymoon destinations, we’ve got ten great spots for you (and your wallet).
Few destinations are more “classic honeymoon” — or really even “classic vacation” than Hawaii. Among the state’s islands, Kauai — with it’s lush, wild mountainous terrain — is arguably the most beautiful and relaxing for a honeymoon. But that doesn’t mean it has to cost you an arm and a leg. The secluded Kauai Beach Resort is a great budget option, featuring large rooms with gorgeous views of the sun rising over a rugged beach, a sand-bottom pool with a waterslide, and a romantic bar with live music. It’s an excellent choice for a quiet, low-key Hawaiian honeymoon. The cherry on top? Rates consistently hover around $150 per night. Read More »
With the arrival of warm(er) weather, the Great Outdoors have officially begun beckoning and we here at Oyster can’t wait to pack up some supplies and make for the trail head. The United States offers some of the most varied and stunningly gorgeous terrains in the world that make the perfect backdrop for a back-to-nature hike, whether you’re looking for a one-day jaunt or hoping to make a vacation out of the entire experience. No matter your ideal trail or fitness level, we’ve got you covered coast-to-coast with the best trails for an awesome hiking adventure. We’ve even included one spot you’ll have to cross the Pacific to get to! Break out the rucksack and dig up your hiking boots, because here are nine of the best hikes in the United States… as well as the best hotels nearby for each.
Gorgeous trails snake along Kauai’s stunning coast, and the Kalalua Trail is one of the most stunning, with beautiful sweeping vistas from atop the cliffs. Visitors can choose to hike a portion of the trail for a day excursion, or make an extended trip out of it: The entire trail is about 22 miles and can take three to five days to traverse. It’s often regarded as one of the finest — and most varied — coastal trails in the world, with challenging, muddy slopes and steamy tropical temperatures. Hikers can explore Kalalua Valley, home to enchanting waterfalls and lush foliage, or choose to rest up on the beach.
Stay: Hanalei Colony Resort
No TVs or phones here; instead, you get rare oceanfront views and easy access to hiking along the (practically adjacent) Na Pali Coast. The pool is small, housekeeping only comes every third day, and there’s little on offer at the free breakfast aside from bagels. But the 48 two-bedroom condos with full kitchens are worth the downsized features. 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.
Read More »
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.
Read More »
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 and your honey have VIP taste when you travel, you’ll be in good company at these romantic resorts. All of them have made headlines for hosting celebrity couples, from Brad and Angie at Caneel Bay Resort in the U.S Virgin Islands to, most recently, former New York governor Eliot Spitzer and his girlfriend at Half Moon in Jamaica (where he either did or did not suck her toes in a hot tub, depending on whether you believe the New York Post). So what makes these resorts special enough for the likes of Hollywood royalty (and in some cases, royalty royalty)? We’ll give you the inside scoop.
When Eliot Spitzer and girlfriend Lis Smith vacationed together at Half Moon, Jamaica in early January, they made headlines for some racy hot tub behavior (specifically, Spitzer was reported to have sucked on Smith’s toes). The report turned out to be unreliable, but we imagine the pair had a lovely time at Half Moon even without the toe-sucking. The 400-acre resort has two miles of pristine beach, a dolphin lagoon, horse stables, and a spectacular spa; it’s fit not only for American political royalty (JFK and Jackie stayed here long before Spitzer) but actual royalty (Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip, and The Prince of Wales have also visited). Read More »
This year just might be the year that you finally go on that once-of-a-lifetime trip. Right? Even if it’s not really in the cards – or the budget—there’s nothing to stop you from at least planning your dream trip. Just the way you’re planning to lose that holiday weight. And quit smoking. So go on – make it your New Year’s travel resolution to stay at one of these gorgeous, truly special hotels. We have a feeling it will be a whole lot more fun than tackling the other items on your resolution list.
Jade Mountain is consistently rated as one of the best hotels in the Caribbean (and often as the best hotel in the Caribbean) – and it’s not hard to understand why. This ultra-romantic resort offers decadent suites, most with private infinity pools and all with jaw-dropping views of the iconic Pitons and the Caribbean Sea. Guests can also expect organic cuisine, doting service, and plenty of privacy and tranquility. Read More »