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Destination Tips

Wonderful Adventures Near Honolulu Hawaii

Paradise

There is no shortage of amazing activities in and around the bustling Honolulu, Hawaii metropolitan area. Located on the diverse island of Oahu, this Hawaiian paradise has something for everyone. Whether you want to catch a sporting event or concert in the city, participate in an exhilarating outdoor adventure, or simply relax on the tranquil beaches, Honolulu has all of your travel dreams covered. Here are some key things to consider before you set sail on your Hawaiian adventure.

Waikiki Beach, 1994

WHERE TO STAY:

Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort and Spa: Wake up in this resort just steps from the welcoming waters of Waikiki Beach. The world-class spa boasts sweeping views of the azure waters, providing the perfect backdrop as you enjoy a customized massage, facial, and more. Each of the spacious guest rooms features a private lanai, allowing you to soak up the smells and sounds of this paradise. Click here to visit their website and book your stay.

Halekulani: This ultra-premium hotel delivers a luxurious experience every step of the way. The guest rooms are known for their soothing white decor that perfectly complements the sparkling waters just outside your room. Three restaurants and two lounges make it easy to never have to leave this oasis.

Waikiki sunset

‘Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach: This newly opened resort is conveniently located in the heart of Waikiki. This resort features a rooftop infinity pool, a dedicated pool area for children, and a 230,000-gallon oceanarium located in the lobby. Combine this with a modern fitness facility and two full-service restaurants and bars and you have everything that you need to enjoy a wonderful vacation.

WHAT TO DO:

Pearl Harbor: No trip to Honolulu is complete without a visit to the venerable Pearl Harbor. There are myriad memorials and attractions to explore at this historic site, including the USS Arizona Memorial and the USS Missouri. This moving destination is a must-see for any American.

Waikiki Aquarium: This charming seaside aquarium is easy walking distance from many of the hotels of Honolulu. Explore a variety of native Hawaiian sea life such as jellyfish, Hawaiian monk seals, and tropical fish. Children will delight in the hands-on interactive exhibits while adults will appreciate its stunning setting right along the ocean.

Diamond Head: Towering over the beaches of Waikiki and the city of Honolulu, it is hard to miss this iconic volcano. Outdoor recreational enthusiasts relish the opportunity to hike to the top of the crater. Once there, you are rewarded with sweeping views of the city and its coastline. Be sure to pack along lots of water.

Diamond Head Volcanic Cone, Honolulu (503265)

The Pualeilani Atrium Shops: Shop ‘til you drop at this vast collection of more than 60 retail shops. This shopping destination is centrally located at the Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort & Spa. As one of the premier hotels in Waikiki, it is no surprise that this resort offers an impressive collection of boutique shops. The open-air atrium is the perfect place to wander the stores as you soak up the lovely Hawaiian vibe.

Photo Credit: All photos used via Flickr’s Creative Commons Licensing. (1) Waikiki Beach by Alan Light; (2) Waikiki Sunset by Kanaka Rastamon; (3) Diamond Head by Robert Linsdell
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Alles was man über das ESTA Visum für die USA wissen muss

august new york city concrete jungle

Eine der Fragen, die mir von meinen Freunden in Deutschland oft gestellt wird, ist: Was für ein Visa brauche ich, um in die USA einzureisen? Die gute Nachricht ist, dass man mit einem deutschen Pass KEIN Visum benötigt, um die USA zu besuchen, denn Deutschland ist in ein Programm für visumfreies Reisen integriert.

Das gilt übrigens nicht nur für Deutschland, sondern für fast alle europäischen Länder, einschließlich aller drei deutschsprachigen Staaten (Schweiz, Österreich, Deutschland). Diese Länder sind einem automatischen elektronischen Reisegenehmigungsverfahren, das als ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) bekannt ist, zugehörig. Dieses Verfahren wurde 2009 von den Vereinigten Staaten als erweiterte Sicherheitsüberprüfung für Reisende in die USA eingeführt. Für Reisende hat das Programm den Vorteil, dass sie die USA ohne ein Visum besuchen können, sondern stattdessen unter dem Visa-Waiver-Programm.

Im Folgenden findet ihr alles, was ihr über das ESTA wissen müsst: Wer es braucht, wie man es bekommt, und welche Dokumente und Reiseinformationen man benötigt, um es zu beantragen.

american flag tombstone

ESTA oder Visum?

Visum USA oder ESTA? Für die Regierung der USA ist das ESTA eine Maßnahme, Reisende herauszufiltern, die eine Bedrohung für die Vereinigten Staaten und seine Bevölkerung darstellen könnten. Dazu werden die Daten aller ESTA-registrierten Reisenden vor Reiseantritt mit den amerikanischen Fahndungs- und Strafverfolgungslisten abgeglichen.

Für Bürger der Länder, die am ESTA-Programm teilnehmen, vereinfacht sich die Einreise in die USA, da diese nun nicht mehr den langwierigen Prozess eines Visumsantrages durchlaufen müssen, der einen Besuch einer U.S. Botschaft oder eines Konsulates bedarf. Das ESTA ist außerdem wesentlich preisgünstiger als ein Visum.

ACHTUNG: Wenn man für länger als 90 Tage in die USA einreisen möchte, muss man nach wie vor ein Visum beantragen, auch wenn man aus einem Land kommt, das am ESTA-Programm teilnimmt.

Wer benötigt ein ESTA?

Jeder Reisende, der die USA via Flugzeug oder per Schiff bereist, muss im Besitz eines gültigen ESTA-Visums sein. Dabei macht es keinen Unterschied, ob man die USA aus touristischen oder beruflichen Gründen bereist. Ohne das ESTA wird Reisenden die Einreise in die USA NICHT gestattet, und dabei gibt es keine Ausnahmeregelungen. Ohne das ESTA darf man nicht einmal mehr ins Flugzeug steigen – und die Fluglinien sind sehr streng, was diese Regel angeht.

Das ESTA-Visum wird für alle Reiseteilnehmer benötigt, Kinder eingeschlossen.

Wer in Deutschland residiert, jedoch keinen deutschen Pass hat, und aus einem Land stammt, dass NICHT in das ESTA Visa Waiver Programm integriert ist, muss nach wie vor ein Visum für die USA in der U.S. Botschaft oder im Konsulat beantragen. Nur Personen mit einem Reisepass für eines der Länder, die in das ESTA Programm integriert sind, sind berechtigt, ein ESTA Visum zu beantragen.

Welche Staaten gehören zum ESTA Programm?

Gegenwärtig sind 38 Länder in das ESTA Visa Waiver Programm integriert. Das schließt fast alle europäischen Länder ein, eine Anzahl asiatischer Länder, Australien und Neuseeland, sowie Chile als einzige Nation Südamerikas.

Die komplette Liste der Länder, die am ESTA Visa Waiver Programm teilnehmen, ist wie folgt:

  • Europa: Andorra, Austria, Belgien, Dänemark, Deutschland, Estland, Finnland, Frankreich, Griechenland, Irland, Island, Italien, Lettland, Liechtenstein, Lithauen, Luxemburg, Malta, Monaco, Niederlande, Norwegen, Portugal, San Marino, Slowakei, Slovenia, Spanien, Schweden, Schweiz, Tschechische Republik, Ungarn, Vereinigtes Königreich
  • Australien & Neuseeland
  • Chile
  • Folgende asiatische Länder: Brunei, Japan, Südkorea, Singapur, Taiwan

Grand Canyon

Wie man ein ESTA beantragt

Man muss das ESTA mindestens 72 Stunden vor der Einreise in die USA beantragen, aber es wird empfohlen, den Antrag auszufüllen, sobald man die Reise bucht, für den Fall, dass es eine Verzögerung bei der Bearbeitung des Antrages gibt.

Den ESTA Antrag auszufüllen, ist relativ einfach. Der gesamte Prozess wird online ausgeführt und sollte nicht länger als eine Viertelstunde dauern. Ehe man anfängt, den Antrag auszufüllen, sollte man sicherstellen, dass man alle benötigten Dokumente und Informationen zur Hand hat.

Was man benötigt, um das ESTA zu beantragen

  • Einen gültigen Reisepass
  • Kreditkarte, um das ESTA zu bezahlen
  • Persönliche Daten
  • Reisedaten (Adresse während des Aufenthalts in den Vereinigten Staaten – das kann Hotel / Airbnb, etc sein)

Zusätzlich müssen noch einige Fragen beantwortet werden, zum Beispiel über ansteckbare Krankheiten, die man hatte; Straftaten / Verurteilungen in der Vergangenheit; vorherige Besuche und Visa in den USA; Reisen in Länder, die auf der Beobachtungsliste der USA stehen: Irak, Lybien, Solmalia, Jemen, Syrien, Iran und Sudan).lufthansa A380 LAX

Braucht man ein ESTA wenn man auf Durchreise in ein anderes Land ist?

Ja, man benötigt auch ein ESTA, wenn man nur auf Durchreise in den USA ist – selbst wenn es sich dabei um zwei kurze Stunden handelt. Solange man auf irgend einem Weg in die USA einreist, muss man ein ESTA vorweisen können.

Wenn man einen Flug von Europa nach Südamerika findet, der über die USA geht, aber wesentlich günstiger ist al sein Direktflug, lohnt es sich in der Regel trotz des ESTAs über die USA zu fliegen. Das ESTA ist letztendlich nur eine Formalität.

Wie lange ist das ESTA gültig?

Das ESTA ist zwei Jahre gütig, und in dieser Zeit kann man eine unbeschränkte Anzahl von Reisen in die USA unternehmen, ohne jedes Mal ein neues ESTA zu beantragen – solange man sich an die Visumsbestimmungen hält (d.h. in der Regel 90 Tage für ein Touristenvisum nicht überschreitet).

Personen, die nicht regelmäßig in die USA reisen, aber schon einmal ein ESTA bekommen haben, sollten vor einer bevorstehenden USA Reise unbedingt prüfen, ob das alte ESTA noch gültig ist.

Ein ESTA verliert auch dann seine Gültigkeit, wenn ein Reisepass ausläuft oder man einen neuen Reisepass bekommt. In diesem Fall muss man ein neues ESTA beantragen, selbst wenn das alte ESTA noch gültig ist (jedoch registriert für die Nummer des alten Reisepasses).

Andere Umstände, die ein ESTA ungültig machen, sind: Namensänderung (z.B. nach einer Heirat), Geschlechtsumwandlung, neue Staatsbürgerschaft.

statue of liberty at sunset nyc

Kann man einen ESTA Antrag im Nachhinein ändern?

Ja, es ist problemlos möglich, online auf seinen bestehenden ESTA Antrag zuzugreifen und im Nachheinein bestimmte Daten zu ändern (z.B. E-Mail-Adresse; Telefonnummer; Flugdaten, Adresse während Ihres Aufenthalts in den Vereinigten Staaten).

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Travel on A Budget in South Africa with these Simple Tips

south Africa penguin

South Africa’s currency, the Rand, has seen a steady decline against the US Dollar over the past few years, meaning traveling to South Africa has become much cheaper. If planned in the right way, a trip to South Africa can be an incredible bargain now – even with a safari, which is usually pricey. Here are some tips to help you enjoy your South Africa Holiday whilst traveling on a budget.  

Drive yourself

Hiring a car in South Africa is definitely the best way to get around. Companies such as Europcar rental make it so easy for you to rent a car and enjoy your time taking a road trip around this beautiful country. It is also cost effective as you are not trying to navigate unreliable public transport or paying high prices for private tours. South Africa’s Garden Route is regarded as one of the most scenic road trips on the entire continent. If you’re traveling alone, check out BAZ bus, South Africa’s backpackers bus which runs between 40 destinations in the country.Addo Elephant Park, South Africa

Keep to a food budget

It can be expensive to eat out every day, and it definitely helps to have one meal in your hostel or vacation rental. Groceries are cheap, and you can have a good homemade breakfast each day before you head out. Visiting a grocery store is especially advised before doing a self-drive safari – the restaurants in the National Parks are overpriced, and you’re much better off packing picnic lunches. Then you can indulge in the delights of ice cream, street food and South African wine along the way as a treat.Vineyard in a glass

Choose guided game drives

Of course, during your trip you will want to enjoy an African safari – a bucket list item for many, for both the animals as well as the beautiful landscapes of South Africa. However, if you book all-inclusive packages at the national parks you will pay a premium rate that may not suit your budget. By staying outside Kruger or Addo National Parks and choosing day trips into the park in your own vehicle you will save a massive amount of cash for what will still be an amazing experience. Plan your trip wisely and you will get the most out of your visit for as little the cost. It is also cheaper to book your safari trips when you get to South Africa instead of booking it from the U.S. Check out these useful tips on how to safari in South Africa on a budget.Sunset giraffes

Pay for the big stuff

Some activities in South Africa come with a big price tag but are worth the money depending on your desires. So, if you are visiting with your heart set on Shark-cage diving in Gansbaai, bungee jump at Bloukrans Bridge or taking the cable car to the top of Table Mountain make sure to budget for this. South Africa has plenty of cool activities to offer, and on a once-in-a-lifetime trip, you don’t want to miss out on any of them.Lions Head and Table Mountain

Find budget accommodation

Decide which features you want in your accommodation before you book. There are plenty of options ranging from simple camping, hostels and self-catering apartments to hotels and lodges. Hostels are the cheapest option, but there are also great deals on vacation apartments and hotels – especially now thanks to the favorable exchange rate. If you’re planning to eat in some of your meals, make sure your hostel has a kitchen – or go for an Airbnb.Safari Tent Tlopi Tented Camp Marakele South Africa

South Africa has a reputation of being an expensive country – but with these tips, you can travel this fascinating country on a budget, and still feel like you’re not missing out on anything.

Clifton Hot Spot - South Africa
Have any tips to add? Feel free to share them in the comments.

Photo credit: All images used via Flickr’s Creative Commons Licsensing. (1) Elephants by Brian Snelson; (2) Stellenbosch vineyard by Neville Nel; (3) Giraffes in Kruger National Park by Sumarie Slabber; (4) Lions Head and Table Mountain by Jonathan Gill; (5) Safari Tent in South Africa by Amanda; (6) Clifton, South Africa by South Africa Tourism
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The Best Five Places In The World To See Big Cats In The Wild

Cheetah, Acinonyx jubatus, at Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, Nort

Seeing big cats in the wild is the dream of every wildlife lover, but it is also something that only very few people in the world ever get to experience. Not only aren’t there many wild cats left in the wild, but the places where you can see them roam freely aren’t easy to reach – they are far away, mostly ‘off the beaten trail’, and expensive to get to.

And yet there is something so captivating and majestic about seeing especially the five largest big cats – tigers, lions, leopards and snow leopards, and jaguars (those are the ones that can roar) – and smaller ones like cheetahs and pumas (those are the ones that aren’t able to roar) in the wild, that wildlife lovers add it to their bucket lists.

Lion

Every year, the population of big cats in the wild shrinks, which makes seeing them in their natural habitat even more exclusive. If seeing big cats roam freely is on your bucket list, here the five best places in the world to see big cats in the wild:

1 Lions, Cheetahs and Leopards: Tanzania and Kenya

If you want to see as many different big cats as possible in one trip, Africa is the place for you. On the entire African continent, there are now fewer than 25,000 left – a rapidly disappearing population because of hunters and a rising human population claiming their land, and you have to visit a wildlife conservancy to hear lions roar in the wild, or even better, watch them hunt. Seeing lions is almost guaranteed on any African safari, which usually promise sightings of the Big Five (elephants, lions, leopards, rhinoceros, African buffalo).

Cheetah Seq2 007

Tanzania is the African country that has the largest numbers in terms of wildlife, especially if you want to see cheetahs, which are the world’s fastest mammal, with sprints that can reach up to 70 miles per hour (114km/h). There are about 200 of them in Serengeti National Park, more specifically in the Namiri Plains (Namiri means Big Cat in Swahili). In addition to cheetahs, Serengeti National Park is home to 3,000 lions, and if you’re lucky, you’ll spot leopards there as well.

Another great place to see lions, leopards and cheetahs in Africa is Kenya’s Maasai Mara National Reserve, famous for its high population of wildlife and the fact that all of the ‘Big Five’ can be found here.

Like in Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park just across the border, you can witness the Big Migration here between July and October, when 1.5 million wildebeest migrate through the Mara Region. During that time, lions can often be spotted preying for wildebeest along the shores of the Mara River and you often even get to see them take down their prey.

Lion Cub with Mother in the Serengeti

To get a photo like the one above, make sure to invest in some very good camera gear – if you don’t come equipped with super zoom lenses, your wildlife photos won’t look anything like this. A very good camera, a zoom lens with stabilization, and a fast memory card (to capture every single moment quickly) are key.

2 Tigers: India

The tiger is the most awe-inspiring big cat – the largest in the world, weighing up to 660 pounds (300 kilos). Today, less than 4,000 tigers still roam freely, making it the most endangered of all big cat species. The best places to spot one are India and Nepal, particularly India, where the regional subspecies, the Bengal Tiger, makes up for the largest number of remaining tigers in the wild: there are reportedly around 1,700 tigers on the subcontinent.

The state of Madhya Pradesh in Central India has not one but two tiger reserves: Kanha Tiger Reserve and Bandhavgarh National Park. The tiger density in Bandhavgarh National Park is one of the highest in the entire country, with about 50 tigers, which means that here tiger sightings are almost guaranteed. Kanha Tiger Reserve has less tigers, but sightings are almost 100% guaranteed on a safari here as well.

April to June are the best months for tiger safaris, and the more days you can spare, the higher your chances for tiger sightings.

For other places to see tigers in India, check out this CNN article.

Beautiful animal

3 South America: Jaguars in Brazil, Pumas in Chile

If you are traveling to South America, you can see two different big cats on your trip (if you are lucky, of course!) – jaguars in Brazil and pumas in Chile.

To see jaguars, which are the third largest cats after lions and tigers, you will have to travel to one of the most remote places in Brazil: The Pantanal.

The Brazilian Pantanal is the world’s largest inland wetland area, spanning an area estimated at between 54,000 and 75,000 square miles (140,000 and 195,000 square kilometers). It is located in the southwestern part of Brazil, reaching all the way into Bolivia and Paraguay. The two Brazilian states that make up the Pantanal are Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul. For jaguar spotting, Mato Grosso wins by a large. Between July and September, during the dry season when water is low in the Cuiabá River, many jaguars come out to hunt during the day and enjoy chilling along the river. Excursions are usually done by boat, which allows for fantastic undisturbed wildlife watching. During the dry season, visitors report up to three jaguar sightings in a single day, and often you can witness a hunt firsthand!

Jaguar (Panthera onca) male back in the water

If you have time for another elusive wild cat, head down to Chile from here to see pumas in the wild. They are known to be extremely fast and can run as fast as 50 miles per hour. Not only that, they also can jump 18 feet (around 5.5 meters) in the air.

You can see pumas in the far south of Chile, in Patagonia. Torres del Paine National Park, named after the imposing Torres Del Paine massif, is where they live – but you can hardly ever see them without a guide who knows their favorite hangout spots, since pumas are very shy animals. The closest airport, Punta Arenas, is four hours south of here, which makes you aware of just how isolated this part of the world is.

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4 Snow Leopards: Northern India

To see snow leopards in the wild, you will have to make more of an effort than for any of the other big cats. Because of their low numbers (it is estimated that there are between 4,000 and 6,400 left), it is extremely rare to see them in their natural habitat, and your best chances are in Hemis National Park, a high-altitude National Park in the eastern Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir in Northern India. Hemis National Park is home to around 200 snow lions, but seeing them is not an easy task. It involves high-altitude camping where temperatures drop to -13Fahrenheit (-25 Celsius) at night and hour and hours of scanning the snowy slopes in hopes to spot the rare white coated cat, and for many lovers of big cats, a trip to see one represents the ultimate challenge. No motorized vehicles are allowed inside the park, which means the only way to get around is to trek, and due to the park’s remote location, it is quite difficult to get here – flights only connect Leh, the closest town (3 miles from the park) with larger cities such as Delhi, between June and September, but the best season to spot snow leopards is winter, between late January and March.

Since trying to see snow leopards in the wild is not an easy undertaking, I recommend you check out Bloomberg’s What to Know Before You Go Tracking Snow Leopards at 13,000 Feet.

Snow Leopard

5 Leopards: Sri Lanka

Seeing leopards in the wild was one of the highlights of my Sri Lanka trip for me, and I can highly recommend an open-jeep safari to anyone dreaming of a leopard encounter. The wild population of leopards here is estimated at 700 to 950 individuals – quite a large number considering the small size of the country. These amazing animals with their distinctive yellow coats, covered with dark spots, can reach up to almost 220 pounds (100 kg).

You have the best chance to see these majestic cats in the wild in Yala National Park, which is known to have the highest density of freely roaming leopards in the entire world. The closest town to the park is Tissamaharama, but there are several hotels right outside the park, and if you want to go all in you can stay in a luxury resort, the Wild Coast Tented Lodge, right inside the park. There are no fences or boundaries, allowing you to watch wildlife right from your breakfast table.

The best time of year to see leopards in Sri Lanka is between March to October when the water tables are getting low and many animals come out to the lakes to drink. Even though the odds to see leopards in the wild here are extremely high, it is advisable to plan in a couple of days so that you can go on safari more than once, increasing your chances to spot one or several of these beautiful cats.

Sri Lankan Leopard

Photo Credit: All photos used via Flickr’s Creative Commons program. Title photo of cheetahs by Derek Keats; Lion by Mario Micklisch;
Cheetahs in Mara, Tanzania by Nick Ward; Lion mother with cubs in Serengeti National Park by David Dennis; Indian Tiger by Brian Scott; Jaguar in Pantanal by Bernard Dupont; Puma in Chile by Murray Foubister; Snow Leopard by Nathan Rupert; Sri Lankan leopard by Shanaka Aravinda

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Top Six Greek Islands To Visit

sunset

Everyone has seen photos of the picture-perfect scenery that made the Greek Islands famous: whitewashed buildings in small, dreamy villages, views over the azure blue waters of the Mediterranean, secluded beaches, breathtaking sunsets over the sea. A trip to the Greek Islands, known for their stunning natural beauty, is a dream trip for many people. But did you know there are 230 inhabited islands in Greece? And different island groups, such as the Cyclades and the Dodecanese? So how do you decide which island(s) to visit? I compiled a list of the six best Greek Islands to visit, and I chose islands that you can easily visit during one single trip to Greece – so if you do have a couple of weeks to spare, I highly recommend an island hopping trip covering all six islands.

The showstopper: Santorini

If there’s one Greek island you’ve heard of, it is Santorini, the most famous of them all. You might be put of by the large number of tourists that visit Santorini every year, but remember: Santorini is popular for a reason. The white buildings with their bright blue roofs, perched onto hillsides with sweeping vistas over the Aegean Sea, are what this island is known for. Even though these days it is hard to find an untouched corner on the island, Santorini has been able to maintain its traditional Greek-ness.

Spend at least a couple of days here to take in the jaw-droppingly beautiful sunsets from Oia in the far north of the island, visit Fira, the capital, with its spectacular clifftop setting and delightful whitewashed buildings, stop at Red Beach with the remarkable backdrop of towering red rocks, and Eros Beach in the south to get away from the crowds.

How to get there: Santorini is a quick 30-min plane ride from Athens, but during high season, many European cities offer direct flights to Santorini. From Santorini, you can take a ferry to Naxos (about 1 hr 45 mins) or to Mykonos (about 2 – 2.5 hrs). You can find detailed information about all the ferry connections between the Greek islands here.

Where to stay: The best towns to stay in are the enchanting cliffside towns: Oia, Fira, Firostefani and Imerovigli. Be aware that the first two are especially popular and can get very crowded in the summer months. If you want a base away from the tourists, opt for the inland village of Pyrgos.

What to Know: Book your flights and ferry tickets as early as possible – both sell out during the summer months. A popular thing to do is to take a donkey ride up to the hilltop town of Fira, but be aware that these donkeys live in poor conditions.

The ‘happening place’: Mykonos

Santorini is the best place to start your Greek island hopping adventure, but Mykonos is an island that has a completely different feel. In short, Mykonos has it all – here you find beaches, party and traditional Greek life in the smaller villages that are scattered around the island.

In high season, this is Greece’s party island, but if you leave Mykonos Town, you can escape the crowds. Mykonos Town’s narrow cobbled alleys are best visited before noon, when most tourists are still in bed. That’s when you get to experience how truly charming this town still is, despite hundreds of thousands of tourists visiting the island every year. While Santorini is unbeatable when it comes to spectacular views, Mykonos wins when it comes to beaches. Kalo Livadi is the largest beach on the island, located on the south side, but only a 20-minute drive from Mikonos Town – the island is compact and easy to explore by car or scooter. Other beaches worth visiting are Ornos, Elia Beach, Agios Ioannis beach, Platis Gialos and Paraga Beach.

How to Get There: You can fly from Athens to Mykonos (40 mins), and during the summer months, many European cities offer direct flights as well. If you are island hopping, take the ferry from Santorini (2.5 hours). There are also daily ferry connections from Naxos (45 mins), Ios (1 hr 50 mins), Santorini (2 hrs 40 mins) and Crete (about 4 hrs 30 mins).

Where to stay: Mykonos Town is the happening place, but beware that in addition to all the tourists staying there, you’ll have to deal with the cruise ship crowds that arrive on a daily basis during high season. If crowds and noise into the wee hours of the morning aren’t your thing, you might want to stay on one of the beaches instead, for example Agios Stefanos or Ornos. Super Paradise and Elia are the most popular gay beaches. Ano Mera, a small village seven kilometers from Mykonos Town, is the best place to stay to get a true feel for traditional Greek island life.

What to know: If you’re looking for a good day-time party, head to Super Paradise Beach. If you’re not into partying, skip Mykonos in July and August.  Lonely Planet has an excellent guide to Mykonos for first-timers.

The perfect island for relaxing: Kos

Kos is located further southeast in the Aegean Sea, not far from the Turkish coast, and after Rhodes the second most popular of the Dodecanese island group. Kos is known for its stunning 112-kilometer-long coast line that boasts around 20 serene beaches. The most significant landmark on the island are the ruins of the Asklepion, which were healing temples in ancient Greece. Kos Town is the most touristy town on the island with plenty of bars, restaurants, shops and hotels, but the other villages on the island have places to stay and tavernas to drink and eat as well.

How to get there: There are regular flights from Athens to Kos, and during the summer months also direct connections to several European cities. If you want to island hop, there is a ferry service from Santorini to Kos (4.5 hours), but it only runs twice a week, so plan accordingly.

Where to stay: Kos is home to a number of beautiful little villages, such as Kardamena, Antimachia, Pyli, Marmari, Tingaki, Kefalos, Mastihari and Zia. It’s up to you if you want to stay on the coast or in one of the typical Greek villages in the center of the island. There are plenty of hotels all over the island, including several upscale all-inclusive resorts right by the ocean, such as the Akti Palace near Kardamena.

What to know: Kos is a relatively flat island, which makes it perfect for cycling. If you enjoy a good, scenic bike ride, this is your island!

The most traditional island: Naxos

If you are looking to experience authentic rural Greek life, you will adore Naxos. This island has gorgeous beaches, interesting ruins and ancient cities, and dozens of traditional villages – 46 to be precise. You can simply spend your days driving around the islands, stopping in one of the villages for a coffee or a beer, wander around the tranquil streets, marvel at the pristine stone churches and spend the rest of the day relaxing on a secluded beach. Not many visitors take the time to actually stop in the villages rather than just pass through them, which is why most of them still feel completely untouched by tourism.

How to get there: You can fly from Athens (40 mins) or arrive by ferry from Paros (25- 45 mins), Mykonos (45 mins), or Santorini (2 hrs).

Where to stay: Naxos, the main town, is a popular base for visitors, as are the western beaches, like Plaka, Agia Anna and Agios Prokopios.

What to know: Don’t miss Naxos’ Temple of Apollo: Portara. The giant marble gate and only remaining part of an unfinished temple of Apollo that dates back to 530 BC. Also worth visiting is the temple of Demeter just outside the village of Sangri which was builti n the 6th century BC. The village of Kinidaros has the best bakery on the island, Chalki has the best artisanal jam. At the Vallindras distillery in Halki you can try the local citron liquor kitron.

The best beach getaway: Milos

Milos’ claim to fame is the statue of Aphrodite, also known as the Venus De Milo, which can be found in the Louvre Museum. While the island might have lost its most famous inhabitant, it is still home to 70 (!) scenic beaches and a coastline that is swoon-worthy in many parts. Don’t miss the unique cliff structures at Sarakiniko Beach, the crystal clear waters at Kleftiko Beach, the narrow swimming hole at Papagragas Beach, Sikia Cave (only accessible from the sea) and the remote Agathia Beach. You can spend a week here visiting three beaches every day and still only see a small portion of the island’s diverse beach-scapes, which range from golden sand to black sand, from rocky to shell beaches, from long-stretched bays to tiny coves, from turquoise to cobalt blue waters. Milos is still a bit under the radar, which means you have to share these lovely beaches with considerably less visitors than some of the more famous neighboring islands.

How to get there: There are ferries between Milos and Santorini (2.5 hours), Milos and Folegandros (1 hour), Milos and Naxos (around 4 hours).

Where to stay: Adamas is the busiest settlement and port of Milos, with a nice promenade and many hotels and restaurants. Pollenia is a smaller fishing village, quieter than Adamas but still with many restaurants and amenities. Plaka offers a picture-perfect Greek village and the best sunsets on the island.

What to know: Don’t miss Paliochori (three beaches with colorful rock fromations and sea water that is heated by underwater mineral springs in various places), the distinctive white volcanic rock at Sarakiniko Beach, and the sea cave of Papagragas with its crystalline waters. The sunset in the quaint village of Plaka is often compared to Santorini’s famous sunsets. The villages of Klima and Tripitis are also worth a visit.

The hidden gem: Folegandros

Folegandros means ‘iron hard’ – and looking at this barren island where you find barely any trees it is easy to see where the name comes from. Folegandros is often compared to Santorini, because just like on the most popular Cycladian island, you find villages with whitewashed houses and bright blue doors here, and stunning vistas over the azure blue Mediterranean. The reason Folegandros isn’t overrun with tourists yet is that it is harder to get here – no direct flights, and ferries aren’t as frequent as on the more popular Greek islands. If solitude, an island off the tourist path, and traditional villages are what you are looking for, Folegandros is for you. Chora, the main village on the island, offers plenty of opportunities to just sit and watch the world go by – in one of the three squares, one of the many tavernas, or one of the many cafes. For a spectacular photo opportunity, head up to Panagia church for sunrise or sunset.

How to get there: Ferries run between Folegandros and Santorini (1 hour), Folegandros and Milos (between 1 hour and 2.5 hours), Folegandros and Mykonos (4-5 hrs), Folegandros and Naxos (4-5 hrs)

Where to stay: Chora, the main settlement on Folegandros, is the best place to stay because it has lots of bars, cafés and restaurants. The quieter port village of Karavostasis also has a few hotels and vacation rentals.

What to know: Don’t expect sandy beaches here – most of the beaches are rocky and pebbly, and reached by walking down rocky footpaths. Ambeli, Livadaki and Katergo shouldn’t be missed. Angali beach and bay is also worth a visit.

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Top things to do in Arusha, Tanzania

corn field

Tanzania’s Arusha region is conveniently situated near to the iconic Serengeti National Park, one of Africa’s sacred gems.

It’s used by many as a starting point for those heading out to visit a host of Africa’s main attractions, such as Kilimanjaro and Meru.

However, the city itself has some sites of its own well worth exploring, and this article highlights the most interesting ones-whether you’re just passing through or if you’re planning on sticking around for a while.Mount Meru

Rent a bike

While this may not seem like the most exhilarating escapade on the face of it, a bike is the perfect mode of transport to navigate around Arusha, as it allows you to peacefully observe the many tribes that coexist in the region.

A bike ride around the villages- either by yourself or as part of a cultural Africa tour- can really broaden the mind and expand your knowledge of African tribal culture.Tanzania

Ngorongoro conservation area

National Park trips have traditionally been expensive to tourists visiting Africa but with safari vacation specialists like Tanzania Odyssey offering a range of packages to suit all budgets and tastes, a trip today won’t break the bank.

The Ngorongoro conservation is now cheaper to visit and far more accessible than ever before. The area serves as the ideal destination to experience breathtaking sunsets and sunrises while camping in the great outdoors.

Even if you’re visiting Arusha for a limited time, make a visit to Ngorongoro a priority.Road to Arusha

Tanzanite experience

Africa is famous for its diamond mines, and among the beautiful stones that can be found in this materially rich continent is tanzanite.

Many shops in Arusha sell tanzanite stone, which is sourced from the nearby Kilimanjaro area. However, the tanzanite experience offers a museum tour which allows you to discover more about the origins of this precious stone- a great educational trip.

Cultural heritage centre

This is your go-to place if you’re hoping to purchase gifts to take home to friends and family. The Cultural Heritage Centre boasts an array of exotic souvenirs in a relaxed atmosphere.

However, prices here can be slightly higher than elsewhere, so be sure not to pay over the odds for your purchases.mjc-100408-1666

National natural history museum

If you’re interested in archaeology, this is the perfect place to feed your passion. The Natural History Museum in Arusha is home to several artefacts and information regarding the evolution of the human race.

The museum is located in an old German fortified living compound which dates back to 1900, and it offers a truly unique experience.

Maasai women fair trade centre

The MWEDO (Maasai Women Development Organisation) was founded in order to support craft makers in Tanzania, who sell high-quality products to fund local education.

They currently run a series of projects in Arusha in a bid to develop the community for the benefit of its citizens, ensuring the local area remains a safe, warm and welcoming place to visit.Arusha, Tanzania

Photo Credit: (1) Mount Meru by Roman Boed; (2) Tanzania by Neiljs; (3) Road to Arusha by Ronald Woan; (4) Tanzanite Stone by Melanie Cook; (5) Maasai Woman in Arusha by Myjolnyr

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7 Brilliant Destinations for a Group Holiday

new york friends

Travelling with a group is a lot of fun. Don’t try to make your itinerary too complicated as this can be difficult to deal with people that probably have different interests. Here are seven brilliant destinations for a group holiday.

St Anton, Austria

Since the papers have been raving about the snow in the Alps this winter, I’ve increased this list to 7 with a seasonal addition. If your group is looking for a winter trip, St Anton is an excellent choice. I lived in Tyrol for a while, it is a stunning place at any time of year and this is by far the region’s most popular ski resort. You can ski or snowboard 305km of trails and 200km off-piste on top of that. And if, like me, you’re not a fan of being tied to wooden boards, you can explore cosy cafes, hiking routes and wellness centres. Be sure to visit the Museum which tells of local history. Even if you’re not keen on history, it is in a very picturesque chalet building, used in the film Chalet Girl and has a nice restaurant. You can book out your own chalet for the group to crash out in and enjoy cosy fireplaces, hot tubs and wonderful mountain views. Also be sure to check out the après ski in the Mooserwirt and Krazy Kanguruh, which are two of the most popular mountain bars in the world!

***Photo Credit: Arlberger Bergbahnen AG

Split, Croatia

Split is a town that is located on the Dalmatian Coast of Croatia and it is popular for its beautiful beaches and the Diocletian’s Palace, a fortress like complex at the center of the city. The Palace was erected in the 4th century by a Roman Emperor and is a popular tourist attraction. The palace has over 200 buildings within it including shops, cafes, bars, houses and hotels. Take a stroll along Riva, a seafront promenade lined with palm trees, restaurants and a square with white marble flooring. Spend a day at Marjan, a popular trekking attraction with trails, forests, and spectacular views of the city. The beaches are stunning so be sure to visit Bacvice Beach and Firule Beach to bask in the sun.
Split

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The Cotswolds, England

The Cotswolds is the largest AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) in England and is an excellent destination for a group holiday. There are many spectacular buildings that showcase different eras of architecture that you can visit. The Cotswolds are also known for fine cuisine for meat eaters and vegetarians alike. England is a vegetarian friendly country so if you have a vegetarian in your group, then they will be happy here. If your group enjoys walking and spending time outside in the countryside, then the Cotswolds is the perfect choice.

Reykjavik, Iceland

Iceland’s capital city Reykjavik is a popular destination for a group holiday with its stunning beaches and museums that trace the country’s Viking history. You can visit the Golden Circle which showcases the Gullfoss waterfalls, geysers and Thingvellir National Park. Reykjavik is also known for its pub culture and the parties begin around midnight after people have had their share of alcohol. The Nauthólsvík is a beach with a manmade hot spring and is a popular attraction to spend a day with a group. You can also visit Laugardalslaug, a large Thermal heated swimming pool that is heated all year round.
myvatn nature baths

New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans lies beside the Mississippi river and is a popular destination for a holiday due to its round the clock nightlife, fine cuisine and vibrant live music scene. It is popular for its late winter festivals: Mardi Gras and New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. You can spend your time in Bourbon Street with lively bars and cafes and is also a home to Creole and Cajun restaurants. The Frenchman Street in Faubourg Marigny is a popular destination to watch live bands performing Jazz, rock and blues music. A few other attractions are the Aquarium of the Americas, Audubon Zoo, Lake Pontchartrain and Mercedes-Benz Superdome.St Louis Cathedral

Sicily, Italy

Sicily is an Italian Island that is popular for its historic site The Valley of Temples, ruins of 7 monumental Doric Styled Greek temples. Be sure to visit Mount Etna, an active volcanic mountain, where you can indulge in activities like trekking, skiing and exploring caves. Be sure to hang out at Scala dei Turchi Beach where you will see spectacular views of the surrounding cliffs. You can rent a large Sicilian villa for your group to relax in and enjoy the beautiful views of the surrounding scenery.maltese winesNapa Valley, California

Napa Valley is a wine region in California and has over hundred vineyards set with a background of rolling hills. It is also famed for its gourmet food and some of the finest wines to taste. You can visit the Robert Mondavi Winery which hosts several live events and also has wine tasting throughout the year. You can have a wine tasting on the Napa Valley Wine Train with views of the vineyards. You can visit the town of Calistoga popular for its mud baths and hot springs. You can also visit Castello di Amorosa which is a Tuscan inspired castle for a wine tasting and dining.paradise ridge winery santa rosa

***Photo Credit for St Anton photo: Arlberger Bergbahnen AG

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Bora Bora – You Will Never Want to Leave This Place

koh poda beach coconut

Imagine stepping out of a private jet instead of the cheap flights to be greeted by a crowd of locals. Imagine being welcomed with a garland that smells heavenly and a mock-tail that tastes mouthwatering. Imagine sailing down a compact boat and letting your fingers sweep past the clear blue waters of the ocean below. Imagine waking up to the melodious call of the birds and letting the warm sunshine leave a peck on your cheek. Does it not sound heavenly to you? This heaven is no more a dream today. With Bora Bora becoming one of the most coveted tourist destinations in the world, you can now experience the mirth of heaven standing humble on the earth. Read the article to find out why escaping the hidden boundaries of Bora Bora is out of the question!

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    • Unnaturally Beautiful Surroundings: Bora Bora is the queen of French Polynesia. Hence, you can surely try to image how beautiful the surroundings can be. As a tiny island situated far away from the hectic life that people are leading in the world, Bora Bora is a natural paradise. This island has a shimmering coastline that kisses the intense blue waters of the ocean. Lined with green foliage, swaying in the breeze, that takes the tourists to the pollution-free interiors, Bora Bora is a gem. The birds singing a melodious strain are a wonderful sight. The small huts and the locals dancing in glee will surely make you feel rejuvenated.
    • A Homely Stay: Bora Bora has an excellent climate that attracts tourists who live especially in the snow-clad places. This beach is blessed with ample sunshine. To sustain the temperature, the resorts and hotels on this island offer small huts with thatched roofs to the tourists. Most importantly, Bora Bora gives you the feeling of a homely stay at the seven luxurious resorts that have been constructed there in the past few years. You have surely seen several photographs of houses standing on stilts while the peaceful blue water is giving them a mirrored appearance. These huts are the first of their kind in the world and are definitely a major tourist attraction.

Bora Bora

  • Chance to Dress like a Diva All the Time: All of us are so busy running from home to work and back to home again that we don’t feel like dressing up even if we have a date during the weekdays. At Bora Bora Island, you will be able to look like a princess every day. You can walk the cane bridges barefoot and wear a floral tiara. You can even get a black pearl ornament customized to wear as a necklace or a wrist band. Moreover, as the climate is tropical all the year round, you can walk on the beach in cool summer attire that will help you to capture fantastic photographs to take back home.
  • A Chance to Meet the Turtles: Bora Bora Island being a volcanic caldera has a generous lagoon that has managed to catch the attention of every traveler. This lagoon is on the list of those tourists who have a fascination for adventure sport. From snorkeling to underwater diving to swimming, Bora Bora Island will satisfy your hunger for adventure. There is also a commercial aquarium called Bora Bora Lagoonerium where you can swim underwater alongside the sea creatures

Snorkeling in Bora Bora: A bucket full of fish

In terms of both hospitality and beauty, there are practically no islands in the world that can compete against the impeccable beauty of the Bora Bora Island. Thus, the next time you think of boarding cheap flights to top islands, travel to Tahiti by an international flight and take a local jet to Bora Bora then. You will definitely enjoy the warm welcome of this paradise.

Photo Credit: All images used via Flickr’s Creative Commons Licensing. (1) Bora Bora by Hervé; (2) Le Meridien Bora Bora by Benoit Mahe; (3) Bora Bora underwater by Jürgen Lison

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Enjoy the flavor of the Caribbean on a Cruise

Dream Beach

The Caribbean is one of the most popular and exciting cruising destinations in the world as it guarantees you cone of the best spectacles and experiences. You have an opportunity to choose between the Eastern and the Western circuits which are still the most dominant cruising circuits in the region.

The two circuits have a lot of similarities in terms of year-round temperatures, sea time, outstanding snorkeling and diving, and historic cultural landmarks. However, the Western circuit has a slight edge over the Eastern circuit in terms of attractions and activities. The following are some of the major reasons why one should consider a Caribbean cruise:

Multiple Excursions and Adventures

There are many instances when you feel that you do not have a sense of adventure, but cruising across the Caribbean can help you rediscover your sense of adventure. Each Caribbean port offers you a list of things to do including excursions to rediscover your adventurous nature. Example of such excursions and adventures include;

  • Zip-lining in the thick jungles of Antigua
  • Cave tubing in Belize
  • Swimming in Grand Cayman with stingrays
  • Exploration of the ancient Mayan ruins located in Cozumel
  • Relaxing under the waterfall in Ocho Rios, Jamaica
  • Shore excursions in New World plantation houses

tubing

The physical activities associated with such adventures promote optimal health by boosting your mood and energy levels.

The winter sun

A Caribbean cruise gives you an opportunity to enjoy the winter sun. This is a perfect opportunity for you to escape winter and go to the Caribbean to enjoy some natural light and absorb healthy sun. Natural sun helps your body to produce Vitamin D which is good for your mood and health.Being out at sea helps you calm down as you enjoy fresh ocean air. The Celebrity Caribbean cruise destinations are the most exciting for families that want to enjoy themselves on a small budget. Apart from the comfort, they also offer an all-inclusive entertainment and dining for families as they enjoy the amazing winter sun along the Western Caribbean coast.

Rejuvenating Spa Opportunities

A Caribbean cruise provides you with a perfect opportunity for rejuvenation as you refresh your body, spirit and mind. Examples of luxury spa treatments that are available on a Caribbean cruise include:

  • Soothing facials
  • Acupuncture treatments
  • Scrubs
  • Body wraps
  • Massages
  • Pedicure
  • Manicure
  • Salon services
  • On board workouts

You can pamper yourself onboard a Caribbean cruise as you take advantage of the many opportunities to look your best.

Convenient Home Ports

A Caribbean cruise in the western circuit is characterized by convenient home ports that are located along the Gulf Coast in the Southern parts of the Unites States. Passengers can embark in any of the ports to enjoy the Royal and Carnival Caribbean. Some of the notable home ports that are convenient for a Northern American winter travelers include

  • Miami in Florida
  • New Orleans in Louisiana
  • Mobile in Alabama
  • Houston in Texas
  • Galveston in Texas

In conclusion, a Caribbean cruise guarantees you an amazing experience if you are in need of adventure and exploration. Some of the major attractions include; convenient home ports, winter sun, ancient monuments, outstanding water sports. The Caribbean Islands are incomparable and it is a good idea to make plans for a cruise in the region.ajaccio yacht & cruiseship

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6 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your St. Lucia Vacation

Sunset

If you’re looking for a great vacation spot in the Caribbean, check out St. Lucia. This popular destination offers beautiful beaches, lush rain forests, and favorable exchange rates. But before you head out the door, let’s look at some things to do before you visit.

Accommodation

The choice of places to stay includes everything from inexpensive motels to luxurious resorts. Choosing a hotel or Airbnb costs relatively little with single rooms beginning at $50 per night. But for those wanting pampering and relaxation, check out the Serenity at Coconut Bay hotel and resort. Included with the many amenities are suites with butler services. This adults-only resort also offers poolside attendants at all five of the pools, cabanas, and a water park for channeling your inner child.St. Lucia

Volcanoes and More

Long dormant but still exciting is Soufriere Volcano. This beautiful area features waterfalls, sulphur springs, geysers, mud baths, and nature trails. At Hummingbird Beach, let a local take you out on a speedboat instead of paying tourist prices for the official excursions. You’ll enjoy the ride and get the inside scoop on the island as well.Petit Piton, St Lucia

Rainforest Adventure

The Bois D’Orange Swamp and Boriel’s Pond areas are rainforests offering a splendid place for bird watching. Local species include the St. Lucian Parrot, the White Breasted Thrasher, and the St. Lucia Peewee. If you’re looking for adventure, try zip lining through the canopies of the rainforest. Visit the nearby Morne Fortune (or Hill of Good Luck) where you’ll see an old fortress began by the French and finished by the British during the 17th century.

Hiking the Trails

If hiking is something you enjoy, visit the trails of The Barre De L’isle Rain Forest including a steep climb up the Morne la Combe. The hike takes about three hours but it’s worth the view. For a special treat, stop at Diamond Falls. This 50-foot tall waterfall features water full of many different minerals and volcanic material giving it beautiful color.St. Lucia Pitons

History and Local Culture

See Castries, the capital of St. Lucia. It’s a wonderful place for learning the history of the island with historical sites like La Toc Battery, the Cathedral, and the Central Library. Stop by Castries Market, where friendly vendors like talking about their wares on Saturday morning. If you’re hungry, try the roadside stands for cheap and delicious food featuring beans, plantains, rice, sweet potatoes, and coconut along with pork, beef, chicken, or fish. There’s plenty of fruit for munching too. Enjoy a tasty meal for around $5 for lunch and $15 for dinner and avoid the pricey touristy restaurants.

Saving Tips

If you’re looking to save money, visit the many duty-free shops where designer goods, perfume, and jewelry come with huge discounts. Plus, travel during the off-season beginning in late April and running through October. Prices plummet about 30 percent during this time of year.Rodney Bay

No matter what your interests, there is something for everyone in this island paradise. Your best adventures come from taking in the nature and beauty of St. Lucia.

Photo Credit: All photos used via Flickr’s Creative Commons Licensing. (1) St Lucia by Michael Sean Terre7ta; (2) Petit Piton by Simon Phipps; (3) St Lucia Pitons by Pablo Marx; (4) Rodney Bay by Andrew.

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