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If you’re an avid scuba diver or adventure junkie, you’ve probably heard of, or maybe even experienced the Great Blue Hole in the Belize Barrier Reef (an UNESCO World Heritage Site). Around 10,000 years ago, the hole’s roof collapsed to reveal the previously concealed cave below. Measuring at around 1,000 feet in diameter (and around 412 feet deep), the cave sits in the Lighthouse Reef and it is close to a perfect circle. Read more
The Great Barrier Reef’s ecosystem is incredibly rich, and even though you might not be, it’s a world wonder simply not to be missed. Undoubtedly, you’re in for a splurge on the airfare to get Down Under, but, happily, once you touch down, there are plenty of value Great Barrier Reef activities that won’t break the bank. Base your stay, like I recently did, in the well-serviced tourist center of Cairns or on Fitzroy Island, just offshore, and look out for these great ways to encounter the reef on the cheap, along with a couple of budget-friendly lodging options. Read more
Sure, some art galleries are musts if you’re in the area – the Musée du Louvre in Paris, The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Museo Nacional del Prado in Madrid, to name a few. But when it comes to Barbados, no galleries particularly come to mind, until now. Read more
Firmly convinced that our primordial ancestors had every reason to sprout legs and lungs and crawl out of the mayhem that is the sea, I had never felt particularly inclined to reverse that trend. A mediocre swimmer at best, harboring a primal fear of being gobbled up by sharks, and having tuned in to one too many Discovery Channel specials about the veritable sea monsters trolling the ocean’s depths, I had resolved that I would happily stay on terra firma and leave the sea to those with gills.
Of course, having a couple of scuba diver girlfriends along with my boyfriend, John, harp on for years about the wonders that lie beneath the surface of the sea – “it’s like visiting another planet!” – I was, admittedly, intrigued. And then John pulled out the trump card: No true explorer (and gosh darn it, that I was!) could claim to truly know this planet – the Earth’s surface is, after all, 70 percent covered by ocean – without setting out undersea. Read more
This year, I spent my very first Christmas away from home, trading in New York’s brisk winter for the balmy beaches of Bali, Indonesia. A lifelong New Yorker, I’m used to having Christmas practically smack me in the face, with the city’s sensory seasonal overload oozing over-the-top holiday window displays; jingle bell-shaking, Salvation Army Santas vying for loose change; bustling Christmas markets and tree-hawking Canadian vendors cropping up on every other corner; and chilly temps only tolerable for their potential to deliver that coveted white Christmas.
In Bali – a predominantly Hindu island that’s part of a larger Muslim nation – setting out to find the spirit of a Christian Christmas required a decidedly more active approach, but with my boyfriend and I intent on celebrating the season in our own special way this year, rest assured, happy Bali-days were there for the taking. Read more
Get away to the Cayman Islands, known for idyllic beaches and world-class diving, and stay at a 4-star resort for $151 per night. This deal at the Westin Casuarina Grand Cayman Resort & Spa saves 20% on current hotel rates, and also includes $100 in hotel credit and $100 in vouchers for water sports excursions.
Travel now through December 21. Take in ocean and beach views from your guest room’s private patio; rooms also include LCD TVs, WiFi, plush bathrobes, and separate tubs and showers.
The Westin Cuasarina is ideally located on the famous Seven Mile Beach in the heart of Grand Cayman, and offers easy beach access as well as an outdoor pool, a spa, a fitness center, whirlpools, a diving center, water sports, and a kids’ club. The resort also features eight restaurants and lounges, including the AAA Four Diamond restaurant, Casa Havana. Use your water sports vouchers towards activities through Red Sail Sports like sunset catamaran rides, wave runner excursions, and Scuba diving.
Book online at the Westin Casuarina website and choose the “5th Night Free – Sunsational Savings” package. Or, call 866-716-8108 and mention the rate plan ZS5. A five-night minimum stay is required.
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.
Adventure seekers and Scuba diving enthusiasts looking for the best bang for their buck can direct their attention to St. Vincent and the Grenadines where the Summer & Fall Dive Special from the Mariners Hotel and Dive St. Vincent gets travelers an 8-night stay with 12 dives (gear included) for $999! Divers of all levels are welcome and are sure to be awestruck by these gentle Caribbean waters that abound with exotic marine life and unique topography caused by La Soufrière, Saint Vincent’s own active volcano. When the underwater exploration comes to an end and divers are ready to relax, the boutique, 20-room Mariners Hotel with a picturesque restaurant and beach bar awaits them.
THE VALUE: With this deal travelers get the equivalent of one free night’s stay and two free dives! Additionally, this offer includes daily breakfast, round-trip airport transfers, and a 20 percent discount on dinner at the French Verandah Restaurant!
THE CATCH: Sadly, airfare is not included.
THE DETAILS: To book your dive special, visit www.marinershotel.com.
WE’VE GOT MORE: Use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find cheap fares to St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Know before you go with our St. Vincent and the Grenadines Travel Guide.
If you’ve always wanted to learn how to dive, now’s the time to take the plunge. June marks the first annual Learn to Dive Month in the greater Fort Lauderdale area with enticing deals for wannabe divers: a reduced cost for training classes, a free graduation dive and buy-three-get-one-free offers at several hotels, with some rates as low as $69 per night.
The program, dreamed up by the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau, has more than a dozen dive operators – “all the big boys,” says Dave Carmichael, owner/president of Brownie’s YachtDiver stores, one of the participants – signed on and eager to teach new enthusiasts of the sport.
Little Palm Island, Florida
The Deal Save at least 40 percent on certain dates in July and August. Stay Little Palm Island Resort & Spa is a fine 5-acre island hideaway, just a boat or seaplane ride away from Little Torch Key. The resort’s 30 bungalows and suites are decked out in British colonial grandeur with outdoor showers, clawfoot tubs, verandas offering ocean views, and separate his and her bathrooms in the Presidential suites. Details Pay $595/night for bungalows (regularly $990 or more) on July 13, 14, 29, 30, 31, and August 1, 12, 13, 17, 26, and 27. Book It 800/343-8567 (code ShermansTravel); littlepalmisland.com.
Key West, Florida
The Deal Receive 20 percent off and savor a few free meals. Stay The Hyatt Key West Resort and Spa has 118 renovated rooms with balconies. Go parasailing, jet-skiing, or scuba diving. Or board a sunset cruise right from the resort’s dock. Details Reserve a room for 20 percent below the regular rate, and enjoy a free entrée with every one purchased at the resort’s seafood grill. Without the discount, rooms start at $255/night in the summer. The offer is good July 6 to September 30. Book by August 31. Book It 800/554-9288 (code SHRMN); keywest.hyatt.comnd.com.
From the Summer 2009 issue of Sherman’s Travel magazine.
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