Belize, a small country in Central America that shares a border with Mexico and Guatemala, is known for its lush rainforests and Mayan ruins. But it’s most famous for its snorkeling and scuba diving, which are among the best in the world: The barrier reef off shore is second only to the Great Barrier Reef off Australia, and visitors can see turtles (both green and leatherback), nurse sharks, stingrays, and a variety of tropical fish. Divers swarm the Blue Hole, a large sinkhole. The waters are clear and warm, but as in other reef destinations, the beaches are manmade; the reef prevents the breaking waves that create natural sand, and the seaweed can make swimming close to shore difficult.
Most tourists head to the Northern Cayes and Atolls, a string of small islands along the reef, where visitors will be a short boat ride away from world-class snorkeling and scuba diving. The Grand Caribe is a luxe family-friendly option in the area. Decor is high-end, and includes Brazilian tile floors, mahogany wood, and granite countertops. Plus, all units have private terraces with pretty pool or ocean views.
The inland Cayo District is the second most visited area, and home to beautiful countryside, lush rainforests, and perhaps the most impressive Mayan ruins in the country. When Prince Harry visited the area last year, he stayed at the rustic luxe Lodge at Chaa Creek. This eco-lodge sits on a private rainforest reserve, and myriad tours and outdoor activities are offered through the hotel. The more affordable Pook’s Hill also sits on a reserve, and offers on-site river tubing and bird watching.
- Oyster.com Staff
Jealous of your friends’ vacations? Find out how to combat this and more from this week’s roundup of our favorite travel blogs.
If you’ve been following recent tech news, you’ve heard about the new super-high-tech Google Glass prototypes. Could these headsets be a traveler’s best friend or a distraction? Peter Greenberg weighs in on these futuristic devices and how they could potentially help travelers.
You love hearing about your friends’ travel adventures, but at one point or another you’re bound to turn green with envy — especially when you hear about a friend’s sunny trip to Jamaica, when meanwhile you were digging your car out of the snow. Vagabondish offers their steps for overcoming this common travel problem.
It’s not often we get a glimpse of elephants, lions and zebras outside of the zoo. The Everwhereist took a once-in-a-lifetime safari through The Aquila Private Game Reserve in South Africa. She explains why it isn’t quite like The Lion King.
Spring is considered the best time for a ski vacation, so while many of us can’t wait for the warmer weather, skiers are looking forward to hitting those powdery white slopes. For the skiing enthusiasts looking to plan their next trip, check out the world’s best luxury destinations for spring skiing.
Get even more for your travel fix with This Week in Photos!
Ireland’s best-known nickname is the Emerald Isle, and one visit there will make it abundantly clear why: Ireland’s landscape is defined by rolling hills, dramatic green cliffs and lush forests. The country is also deservedly famous for its stunning coastal scenery, and the many famous outlooks include the Causway Coast, the Cliffs of Moher and Ballinskelligs Bay along the Ring of Kerry.
Ireland has a long, rich history, and many visitors are enchanted by its mystical Celtic past: It’s still possible to see beehive huts that once housed pre-Christian settlers; Druid stone circles; Iron Age stone forts; and gorgeous old castles. Visitors can even stay in historic castles during their visit. On a stunning lakefront, Ashford Castle was first built in the 13th century and today hosts plenty of celebrity guests. The Schoolhouse Hotel is more than 500 years younger than Ashford Castle, but it nonetheless has an historic vibe, housed in a building from the 1800s. This Dublin boutique features classic rooms with antiques, floral prints and canopy beds. If you’re looking for value, the Arlington Hotel , within a short walk of Temple Bar, is a popular choice among young travelers, and offers perks such as free Wi-Fi.
- Oyster.com Staff
Jamaica is a popular Caribbean getaway, and not just for college spring breakers seeking the nonstop all-inclusive booze-fest (which can easily be found). There’s also a different Jamaica: brilliant reggae, delicious jerk chicken from oil-drum pans, rugged cliffs, blue lagoons and overwhelmingly pleasant locals.
Parts of Jamaica are very easy (and thus relatively inexpensive) to get to. Visitors can fly directly into Montego Bay, which balances some of Jamaica’s classic luxury escapes, such as Round Hill Hotel, which features large, beautifully designed rooms by Ralph Lauren and breathtaking grounds, with more affordable all-inclusives, like the Iberostar, offering endless amenities (if a rowdier crowd).
With smaller-scale relaxation and better beaches, Negril is a bit out of the way (2 hours from the airport), but the drive is well worth it. Off the beach, bohemian bungalows like the Rockhouse Hotel, Tensing Pen, and the Caves are tucked among lush vines on limestone cliffs about 30 feet above the profoundly clear water.
- Oyster.com Staff
Whether you’re facing your fears, getting out of your comfort zone, or trying new things, traveling can be full of challenges. From losing their luggage, traveling for the first time, or even falling in love, travel bloggers this week share some of their most challenging experiences and why you should go for it anyway.
It seems like no matter how much we plan our travels beforehand, something is always bound to go wrong. Luckily, Vagabondish lists their 5 tips on preparing for the unexpected, so you’ll be able to handle whatever unlucky situation is thrown at you.
For a beginner traveler, the thought of going to a foreign country can be a bit daunting. Check out Unbravegirl’s post to find out what gave her the push she needed to start seeing the world!
Reading the recent criticisms of cruises might have you hesitant to jump aboard, but Emma’s Travel Tales explains why cruises should not be dismissed — it’s just as authentic as any other travel experience, plus it’s safer than crossing the street in NYC!
A starry-eyed heroine travels to a foreign country and finds the love of her life … Perhaps the plot of one too many novels and films, but does it actually happen? Find out if falling in love abroad is everything it’s cracked up to be in in Youngadventuress’s post about her own experience in Spain.
The words luxury and hiking don’t typically go hand in hand, but Ottsworld found this improbable mix. Located at the base of the Torres Del Pain Park in Chile, Ecocamp provides the best of both worlds with environmentally responsible tent-like furnished lodgings, guided hiking programs and solar-powered toilets — ideal for those who don’t like roughing it.
For more travel inspiration, check out This Week in Photos!
This island city, located off of South Carolina’s southeastern corner, is known as one of the best spots to vacation on the East Coast, but don’t mistake its panache for pretentiousness. This resort town is laid back, boasting calm public beaches and low-key seafood eateries.
Most of Hilton Head’s attractions are outdoors. Its championship golf courses have long been its claim to fame, but tennis and horseback riding are also big draws. Boating is a core part of the island’s history and lifestyle, and almost any type of boat is available for charter, from yachts to sailboats to fishing boats. Boaters have a great chance of spotting dolphins (sightings on dolphin tours are almost guaranteed), and everyone should make a point to see the iconic Harbour Town Lighthouse. Local forest preserves offer plenty of wildlife to observe, including snowy egret, otters, wild boars, and, if you’re up for it, even alligators.
Hilton Head has historically attracted an upscale crowd. Today, it’s a destination for the middle class as well, and has become a hot spot for families with young children. As a result, visitors will find ritzy, world-class hotels, affordable condo rentals, and kid-friendly resort options all on the same island. For those looking for that upscale vibe, The Inn at Harbour Town is located on a luxe property with 3 championship golf courses, as well as numerous tennis courts. Though the hotel’s beach club and pool are both just a short walk away, if you want to be right on the beach, the nearby Marriott is a solid option and features activities such as bicycles and volleyball courts. But the Disney resort is perhaps the most kid-friendly option, complete with 2 large on-site pools and a waterslide, several casual restaurants and plenty of watersports.
Last week, it looks like many of our Pinterest followers were daydreaming about frolicking through cascading water, surrounded by terraced waterfalls and lush green hills. We know because this scene, from Krka National Park in Dalmatia, Croatia, was last week’s most popular pin. We certainly can’t blame you — why do you think Croatia is featured in our ultimate Trip of a Lifetime giveaway? Keep entering – everyday – for a chance to win this $100,000 trip to the Adriatic, and your fantasy pinboard could become a reality.
With all the attention New Orleans has been getting lately, how could Bourbon Street not be the most popular pin on our Pinterest boards last week? Despite its raucous reputation – or perhaps because of it – Bourbon Street is a New Orleans must-see, even if you’re just going to “admire the architecture.”
Take a photo tour of the Big Easy or follow in Tony’s footsteps with his travel guide from the New Orleans episode of The Layover.
Whether you love it or love to hate it, Valentine’s Day is on everyone’s minds – even travel bloggers. This week, we rounded up our favorite love-themed posts from across the travel blogosphere.
Valentine’s Day may be more popular than you think. In fact, it is the second most celebrated holiday in the world. And just like there are so many ways to say “I love you” around the world, each country has its own traditions when it comes to celebrating V-Day. Check out Hopper’s post for a look at how some countries choose to express their love.
Hoping to really sweep your loved one off their feet? Select Renaissance hotels are offering a romance package that includes coating your hotel suite in flowers: 27,000 blossoms will cover everything from the bed to the walls. Read more about this over-the-top Valentine’s travel experience on Gadling.
For fun-lovers, Rio’s Carnival is the ultimate party. But if you’re looking for something a little less touristy and crowded, you don’t have to travel to Rio to be a part of the Carnival celebration. 2Backpackers offers their list of other great Carnival celebrations where you can still experience the constant parties, parades and performances.
When you’re a kid, Valentine’s is all about the heart-shaped lollipops, conversation hearts and, of course, chocolate. Now that we’re older….well, let’s face it, we still want candy. Check out some of the world’s largest candy stores to find the perfect sweet for your sweetie.
Stay up-to-date on events around the world with This Week in Photos!
Los Angeles has a reputation for being a company town, a place where everything revolves around the entertainment industry. Show business is indeed a huge part of the city, and it’s there for visitors to enjoy, from tours of movie studio back lots to celebrity sightings. But LA has so much more to offer. Scratch beneath the celluloid surface and you’ll also find rich cultural and culinary diversity, a thriving visual arts scene, and natural beauty, from beaches and mountains to great parks and un-Botoxed faces.
Hollywood and West Hollywood are great for both families and party people. Many of the city’s best known nightclubs, bars, and music venues are in the area, some within trendy hotels like the Hollywood Roosevelt. For families, proximity to major attractions like the Walk of Fame and Universal Studios Theme Park, coupled with some affordable, unpretentious hotels, like the Magic Castle, make Hollywood a great base camp.
Not surprisingly, true luxury can be had in Beverly Hills at large, iconic, amenity-filled properties like the Beverly Hills Hotel and Four Seasons Beverly Wilshire. There are also small, affordable boutique properties, like the Luxe Rodeo Drive, for those who want to spend less on their hotel and more on haute couture.
- Oyster.com Staff