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A fascinating, stuck-in-time string of South Pacific isles, the nation of Papua New Guinea (colloquially known as PNG) is an anthropological never-never land, where a linguistically rich population, representing more than 800 languages and dialects, maintains a culture and traditions that seem altogether from another time and place (ahem, cannibals and headhunters figured prominently in the not-so-distant past!). Brimming with lush coconut palm-speckled coastlines and astoundingly rich reef systems – the diving and snorkeling counts amongst the world’s best – I recently touched down for an exotic taste of the tropics at Rabaul, aka the “Pompeii of the Pacific.” Read more
You’ve likely heard all about New Zealand’s wondrous Middle-earth-worthy landscapes, but its offshore seascapes don’t skimp out on the wow factor either. With pristine conditions that provide haven for a thriving marine wildlife, offshore New Zealand offers optimum terrain for coastal adventuring like whale watching, sea kayaking, and diving. Freshly back from getting my own fins wet, I’m here with three top picks for the ultimate coastal Kiwi escapes. Read more
Explore the lesser-known Southern Caribbean island of Bonaire, home to world-class scuba diving, sailing, and snorkeling. Stay at the Divi Flamingo Beach Resort & Casino from now through December 21 from just $129 per night — a savings of 30% on this hotel’s seasonal rates.
Situated on the Caribbean, the Divi Flamingo Resort serves as the perfect base for both an exciting scuba trip or a relaxing beach vacation. The Divi Dive Bonaire, a PADI five-star dive resort, is located directly on the property, and guests can book dive excursions 24 hours a day through the Flamingo front desk. Further excursions like guided snorkeling, kayaking, and sunset sails are also available.
For those more interested in kicking back, the Divi Flamingo features beach access, two freshwater swimming pools, a casino, and a spa and salon. Rooms offer garden or oceanfront views and private balconies.
Book online at the Divi Flamingo Beach Resort & Casino website or call 800-367-3484. This offer ends May 31.
Pre-dawn Cancun often evokes image of young partiers, embalmed in alcohol, taking the haggard walk of shame back to their hotel from the likes of Señor Frog’s. But this last August I ventured to the partiers’ paradise and discovered the true reason to be awake before the sun rises: for a chance to swim with the largest fish in the world, whale sharks.
I left my hotel at 6am, driving north through the hotel zone to the Solo Buceo diving company. Here, after booking in advance, guests pay a modest $165 before boarding the boat with nine other passengers and a crew of three. My group headed northwest, searching for the docile giants via GPS. The sharks come to the region on their southern migration in May and stay through early September, feasting on plankton and microorganisms in the warm Caribbean waters. After the tour companies initially locate the sharks in May, they can keep daily records of the sharks with each morning excursion, making sightings throughout the season a near guarantee.
For a brief few months each year, warm weather, long days, and generous vacation time conspire to open up a world of travel possibilities. From climbing the top of remote mountains to exploring breathtaking river gorges to biking quiet back-country roads, Smart Luxury Travel has selected 10 spectacular outdoor adventures. And to make sure there’s a trip to suit every taste, we’ve included a splurge option (for those who absolutely must have the most exotic and/or pampered voyage) as well as a great value (for those who don’t mind roughing it). Read on to discover our top picks – think kayaking through arctic waters, horseback riding in the Rockies, and catching waves in Costa Rica.
Use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find the lowest rates on flights, hotels, packages, and more travel deals.
Scoop up half-price rates at the 2-year-old Alexander Hotel on Cayman Brac, a 12-mile island off the coast of Grand Cayman. The boutique hotel sits on a salt water lake and has a courtyard pool surrounded by sand to give it a beachy feel (pristine shorefronts are only a few minutes from the hotel). Slick rooms come with full kitchens and free Wi-Fi. The booking details for this deal seem unnecessarily complicated, but here’s the gist: Book a deluxe queen or a deluxe twin between Thursdays at midnight through midnight on Saturdays, now through September 6, to snag discounted rates of $72/night (down from $157/night). Travel is valid this July through September 30.
We love Bonaire (an ABC island in the southern Caribbean along with Aruba and Curacao) for its superlative scuba diving, and Divi Flamingo Beach Resort & Casino is an excellent jumping-off point. Through December 23, the resort is slashing rates up to 30 percent (as long as you book by May 31). As an added bonus, book a seven-night stay for travel by May 31 or from July 1-October 31, and Divi will throw in a $200 air credit.
THE VALUE: Rates start at just $129/night!
THE CATCH: A seven-night minimum is needed to earn the air credit. Neither offer can be combined with the resort’s dive packages.
THE DETAILS: Check out Divi’s website to book the low rates, but you can only score the air credit by calling 877-459-3484.
WE’VE GOT MORE: For general trip-planning information, see our new Bonaire Travel Guide.
Use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find the lowest rates and travel deals on flights to Bonaire.
Dreaming of a warm weather getaway, but bored of the same-old water sports and sunbathing routine? Consider getting your PADI dive certification. It’s been on my travel wish list for some time, and after talking to PADI’s Theresa Kaplan, a Master Scuba Diver Trainer who has logged more than 3,000 dives in her career, I was ready to climb into a wetsuit.
As Kaplan puts it, “If you think about it, two-thirds of our world is covered in water. Less than one percent of the population will get to see that [from underneath]. Everybody can go to, say, Roatán and do the zipline tour and horseback riding on the beach. If you’re truly an adventure traveler, you’re missing out on a major opportunity [by not diving].”
Fellow ShermansTravel.com bloggers Donna Heiderstadt and Andrew Skwarek posted recently about the romantic and scuba-tastic aspects of the Great Barrier Reef, and I was all too happy to jump on the bandwagon last week when Tourism Queensland brought me to Australia for, among other experiences, a full-day reef cruise.
I was expecting the jaw-dropping beauty that Andrew encountered during his trip and found it during my excursion aboard the Calypso (www.tropicaljourneys.com), one of several reef tour boats operating out of Port Douglas. What I wasn’t expecting to find when I stepped out onto one the catamaran’s outdoor decks was a couple with two young kids.
Even with newfangled GPS gadgetry out there in increasing numbers, a good, old-fashioned map remains a staple for any self-respecting adventure traveler.
To that end, the National Geographic Society, the gold-standard source for maps for nearly a century, recently announced plans to expand its AdventureMaps line. The expansion will bring travelers a slew of new options for finding their way in increasingly popular adventure destinations such as Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa and Thailand. Countries and cities in Africa, the Middle East, South America, Asia, and Europe are also on deck for a total of 60 new destinations by the end of 2012, and 30 more by summer of next year.
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