The Best Hotel Hot Tubs In The World

Hotels are often praised for their outstanding accommodations and incredible dining, but what about the extra amenities that can make your vacation go from good to outstanding. Hotel hot tubs can play an important role in making your experience unforgettable. Forget the dingy hot tubs located beside the hotel pool and get ready to experience some of the best tubs in the world. From outdoor hot tubs that give views of mountains, valleys and wildlife to hot tubs that are built right into your room; these 15 hotel hot tubs will make you want to book your vacation today!

15. Amangiri, Canyon Point, UT

Set on 600 acres in Canyon Point and built right into the landscape, this luxury resort offers views over the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, perfect for travelers who love the desert. Along with a massive size swimming pool and incredible terrace, there is a beautiful hot tub located at the base of the rock wall.

King-sized daybeds and sun loungers provide the ultimate place to relax while not in the water. Whether you choose to visit in winter or summer, the hot tub is the perfect place to gaze up into the open sky and watch for stars at night. Guests here will also enjoy the water activities on nearby Lake Powell, exploring the national parks and experiencing the spa treatments.

Via Pinterest

14. Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort & Spa, Beaver Creek, CO

This luxury resort doesn’t just offer one hot tub but five, each with their own selling points, which make this resort one of the best to visit if you are looking to spend some time soaking. If you are looking for some adult only time make sure to wander over to one of the two adults-only hot tubs, if it is a view you are after, make sure to check out the one with a jaw-dropping view of the Vail Valley.

Our favorite hot tub here though is the one with the cascading hot waterfall, straight off the natural rock formation that surrounds the tub. If you are looking to get slope-side service, make sure to head over to the tub that comes complete with cocktails, a personal waitress, plush robes, hot towels and truffle popcorn. If you feel more like swimming and less like relaxing make sure to check out the year-round heated outdoor pool.

Via InTomorrow

13. Twin Farms, Barnard, VT

This all-inclusive Vermont resort is home to ten freestanding cottages that feel more like luxurious homes than rustic cottages. Most of these ten cottages also happen to feature incredible hot tubs. Located both inside and out, guests have their choice of accommodation when booking and whether you are looking for a sunken indoor hot tub next to a fireplace or an outdoor tub in a private screened porch, you are in luck.

Each cabin has been designed by professionals and it is no surprise that guests here come back year after year. Our favorite hot tub of all though is the one located inside the Aviary cottage. Guests who stay here will have the opportunity to soak in a tub that has been sunken in granite rock, with views of the New England forest from the huge window. A towering stone fireplace sits a stone’s throw away and you can assure you will never be cold here.

Via Andrew Harper

12. Regent Palms, Turks and Caicos Islands

Part infinity pool and part hot tub make up this incredible multi-million dollar paradise. Overlooking the North Atlantic and situated on the impressive Grace Bay Beach is a ten-person hot tub located inside the infinity pool on its own island. Wooden decking, sun pods, stylish loungers, chilled towels, fresh fruit and complimentary Wi-Fi set the stage for this incredible soaking experience.

The resort itself boasts 72 suites and is just steps away from white sand beaches and turquoise waters. Other amenities include a 25,000 square foot spa, floodlit tennis courts and an abundance of water sports including sailing, kayaking, and snorkeling. It’s easy to spend the entire vacation here poolside though, and whether you are relaxing in the hot tub or plunging into the warm pool, it’s absolutely breathtaking.


11. Matakauri Lodge, Queenstown, New Zealand

On the edge of Lake Wakatipu is an alpine cedar and stone lodge that offer incredibly beautiful suites, rooms, and guest cottages. It is here where guests will find an incredible hot tub overlooking The Remarkables mountains. The hot tub is surrounded by floor to ceiling glass doors which open to expose it to all the elements and with lit candles surrounding it; this is the perfect romantic destination.

An additional hot tub is located outside the spa, along with a sauna and heated swimming pool. If you are traveling with a family or group of friends, make sure to book the owners cottage where you will have access to your own private hot tub located on the balcony overlooking the beautiful surroundings.

Via Andrew Harper

10. Blancaneaux Lodge, San Ignacio, Belize

It is no surprise that this hot tub makes this list as it was actually designed by Oscar-winning production designer Dean Tavoularis. The lodge actually has a hydroelectric plant that heats the 11,000-gallon tub with the excess electricity it produces, and unlike a typical hot tub that has many bubbles, this one is just straight hot water. Housed in a tropical jungle, soaking in this tub is like escaping reality, even just for a short time.

What makes this hot tub so unique is the fact that it was constructed by local stone craftsmen with thousands of pieces of local granite. Guests here can enjoy drinks served to you by the bar; just make sure to let the bartender know you are heading down there in order to get the best service.


9. The Ski Dream Home, Park City, Utah

This opulent ski-in, ski-out home is located 8,000 feet above sea level atop Deer Valley Resort’s Little Baldy Peak and offers an incredible 12-person stone hot tub. Guests here won’t have to worry about being cold in the frosty weather with the outdoor fireplaces, heated wrap around decks and a heated outdoor pool. From the hot tub, guests will be privy to watching the sun turn the Wasatch Mountain Range into brilliant shades of purple while sipping on a cocktail from one of two bars located inside the house.

Other amenities in this luxurious house include six bedrooms, ten bathrooms, DJ booth, a home theatre, pool table and a full swing golf simulator. After spending days hitting the slopes via a privately heated ski bridge, make sure to relax in this ultra swanky, breathtakingly beautiful outdoor stone hot tub.

Via Luxatic

8. Conrad Maldives Rangali Island, Maldives

It is one of the most romantic hot tubs on this list, located at the ultra-luxurious Conrad Maldives Rangali Island hotel. The hot tub is situated outside the beautiful over-water spa and is meant for just two people, giving guests the utmost privacy. Overlooking the clear Indian Ocean, surrounded by vibrant coral reef and heated to 104 degrees; guests will have no reason to ever want to leave this hot tub.

You won’t have to worry about getting out anytime soon as hotel staff will provide you with fresh fruit juices and cool aromatic towels while you are soaking. Other awesome amenities at this resort include an underwater restaurant, an underground wine cellar featuring over 20,000 bottles of wine, holistic treatments from the beautiful spa and unique experiences such as swimming with whale sharks.

Via Simply Maldives Holidays

7. Doe Bay, San Juan Islands, WA

This rustic resort is tucked away on beautiful Orcas Island and the focus here is on reconnecting with nature. Three clothing-optional outdoor hot tubs are at the heart of the resort, overlooking the Salish Sea and out to the other islands of the San Juan Archipelago. The tubs can seat up to eight people and can be used by guests of the hotels as well as drop-in guests, for a fee.

Guests of this resort can choose from campsites, cabins or yurts as their accommodations and there are plenty of activities to experience on the island. Relax and renew your spirit with yoga or massages, before heading over to the sauna and soaking tubs which remain at a lovely temperature of 104 degrees all year around.

Via Everyone’s Travel Club

6. Nimmo Bay Resort, British Columbia, Canada

Guests of the Nimmo Bay Resort in British Columbia can soak their cares away in one of two red cedar hot tubs that are tempted at a lovely 104 degrees all year around. The setting itself is absolutely stunning and the views from one of the eight-person hot tubs are equally impressive; cascading waterfalls, lush green vegetation and the feeling of being tucked in the middle of nowhere.

Many guests here dare to take a plunge in the cold pool before hopping into the hot tubs for the ultimate cold-hot experience that is meant to invigorate your body and senses. The tubs are actually filled with the clear waters that fall from the top of Mount Stephens. Other activities at this all-inclusive upscale resort include heli-fishing, whale watching, paddle boarding, hiking, and kayaking.


5. The Hotel on Rivington, New York City

This hotel located on the lower east side is a secretive hot spot for anyone looking for incredible views, a great party, and an incredible rooftop hot tub experience. This 10 seat coveted cedar hot tub is the perfect place to enjoy some cocktails while taking in the view. The round cedar hot tub looks more like a bucket and only adds to this ultra-hip penthouse.

Surrounding this sleek hot tub is incredible extras such as an outdoor shower to cool off in the summer, an outdoor fireplace to warm your toes in the winter and some incredible themed party nights. This hotel boasts luxurious and sleek guestrooms, celebrity parties and a full-size pool table in the lobby.


4. Banyan Tree Lijiang Resort & Spa, Lijiang, China

Guests of this incredible resort won’t have to share a hot tub with anyone else, as each garden villa comes complete with its own two-person private hot tub. Hot tubs look out onto the famous Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and are heated to a comfortable 100.4 degrees. With world-class dining, an incredible spa and luxurious accommodations; this resort offers something for everyone to enjoy.

While soaking in the tub make sure to request some local plum wine or traditional Chinese tea. Other amenities at the resort include Yoga, outdoor tennis courts, a state-of-the-art fitness center and an abundance of tours and treks to experience.


3. The Molori Safari Lodge, South Africa’s North West Province

This five-suite lodge boasts one of the most impressive hotel hot tubs in the world. This in-ground tub can seat up to six people and visitors should prepare themselves for awesome wildlife viewing. From the hot tub, guests can watch as elephants, zebras, wild dogs and even lions graze nearby. The Molori Safari Lodge is located deep inside the Madikwe Game Reserve, a 185,329-acre reserve that is teeming with wildlife, and is malaria free!

Guests can not only enjoy this epic hot tub but are also treated to a personal butler who serves them traditional drinks and snacks while they are soaking. As an added bonus this beautiful hot tub is surrounded by an equally stunning infinity pool, gorgeous wood furnishings and comfortable chairs and couches.

Via XO Private

2. Hotel Villa Honegg, Lucerne, Switzerland

This outdoor hot tub is one of the largest on this list, being more like a steaming swimming pool than a regular hot tub. On the back lawn of this 1905 mansion is where this incredible hot tub is located, overlooking the pristine Lake Lucerne. In the winter time, the dramatic landscape includes snow-covered peaks while the summertime green grassy hills roll on as far as the eye can see.

This ultra-modern tub is sleek in design, with stainless steel railings and crisp cut corners, contrasting brilliantly with the surrounding stone. Other amenities at this beautiful hotel include a 20-seat cinema, e-bike rentals, salon and fireplace room, a nearby golf course and an excellent restaurant.

Via AWOL – Junkee

1. Fairmont Banff Springs, Banff, Canada

Known for looking more like a castle straight out of a fairytale rather than a hotel, Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel offers incredible luxury, beautiful surroundings, and one epic hot tub. This enchanted landscape is home to blue skies, towering mountains, huge pine trees and snow-capped peaks. In the middle of all of this sits an outdoor hot tub that begs to be soaked in. Whether you choose to visit in the summer or winter, guest will enjoy soaking in the healing waters while they breathe in the alpine air.

Also located on this magnificent property is the equally impressive Willow Stream Spa, offering its own indoor and outdoor hot tubs, along with numerous treatment rooms and mineral pools. There may not be anything more magical than soaking in the warm waters while taking in the views of this breathtaking landscape that surrounds you on all sides.


7 Ancient Ruins of Central America

Many of the peoples of Central America were prolific builders and empire-makers; when the Spanish arrived in the 16th century, they found bustling metropolises and impressive monuments. Today, the ruins of cities built by the Mayans, Toltecs, Zapotecs and others serve as a testament to their civilizations, and many of them are preserved as World Heritage Sites scattered throughout the countries of Central America. A great way to begin learning about these ancient cultures is to visit 1 of these 7 sites; if you’re lucky, you’ll get to meet some of the descendants of these amazing builders.

7. Caracol, Belize

Long thought to be a relatively unimportant Mayan city, Caracol has revealed itself to be one of the most influential political centers in the Maya Lowlands during the Classical Period of the Mayan civilization. The complex was larger than Belize’s capital city today and supported a population twice as large. The site was rediscovered in 1937 and archaeological work has been ongoing since 1985. Caracol was a dense city, with approximately 270 structures per square kilometer, which is denser than Tikal at its height. Caracol weathered the initial collapse of the Mayan empire, but was fully abandoned by 1050. When Europeans arrived, the site had already been disused for 500 years. The largest building at the site is Caana, the Sky Palace; the ruin is, in fact, one of the largest buildings in Belize.

Caana, Belize

6. Las Mercedes, Costa Rica

Las Mercedes was an important political center for the Indigenous peoples of Costa Rica. Associated with the Huetar, a Chibchan-speaking people, Las Mercedes was rediscovered in the late 19th century, when a railway connecting the capital city to Puerto Limon was built. The site has been excavated several times, although the earliest “excavations” were unscientific and many artifacts were removed. Las Mercedes was inhabited from around 1500 BC until 1500 AD, when the Spanish arrived. Glass beads at the site indicate the Indigenous peoples may have traded with the Spaniards. Spanning 25 hectares, the site has 3 large complexes, with a total of 15 platforms and many plazas, retaining walls and causeways. The causeways, which are paved, are a particular testament to the skill of the people that built them.

Photo by: International Expeditions / Jim O'Donnell
Photo by: International Expeditions / Jim O’Donnell

5. Joya de Ceren, El Salvador

Popularly known as the “Pompeii of the Americas,” Joya de Ceren is remarkably well preserved. Much like its ancient Roman counterpart in Italy, this Mayan farming village was covered in volcanic ash when the nearby Loma Caldera erupted, dumping between 4 and 8 feet of ash over the town. The inhabitants fled, but they left behind utensils, ceramics, furniture and even half-eaten food when they escaped the town. Excavations have uncovered about 70 buildings since the site’s 1976 discovery, all of which give us remarkable insight into day-to-day life and Mayan civilization in the late 6th century. Even the farm fields, which had been planted just hours before the eruption, have been preserved. Joya de Ceren was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993, and archaeological work has been ongoing since the late 1980s.

Joya de Ceren

4. Copan, Honduras

The ancient city of Copan lies in western Honduras, in the far reaches of the Mayan cultural region; in fact, Copan would have been almost surrounded by peoples from the Isthmo-Colombian cultural region. Nonetheless, the city was occupied for more than 2,000 years and, between the 5th and 9th centuries AD, became an important center of Mayan culture. The site contains multiple temples and the royal Acropolis, as well as a court for playing the Mesoamerican ballgame ōllamaliztli. Copan is famous for a series of stelae depicting rulers and Altar Q is the most famous monument in the entire complex. During the 8th and 9th centuries, the population of Copan declined, as did its influence. Today, Copan is the best-known Mayan site in Honduras, as well as a World Heritage Site.


3. Canta Gallo, Nicaragua

Nicaragua’s Indigenous peoples are most closely related to the Choco-speaking peoples of Panama and Colombia. Most of these groups weren’t prolific builders, unlike the Aztecs and Maya further north. That’s part of what makes Canta Gallo so special; it’s one of the few sites in Nicaragua where you can see the ruins of ancient pyramids built by some of the country’s Indigenous peoples. To get there, you’ll need to travel deep into the jungle of Indio Maiz in southwestern Nicaragua. The site is sacred to the Rama Indians, descendants of the Chibcha. Relatively little is known about Canta Gallo, but some believe it is a lost city. Since the area is remote, the ruins have yet to attract mobs of tourists, meaning that this is a site where you’ll actually be able to get up close to the ruins.

Photo by: Niina  / Bizarre Globe Hopper
Photo by: Niina / Bizarre Globe Hopper

2. Teotihuacán, Mexico

Is it possible to write about Central America’s ancient ruins without addressing Mexico? Although not usually classed as part of Central America proper, Mexico’s Indigenous peoples were drivers of empire and modern Mexico is littered with the ruins of civilizations like the Maya, Zapotecs, Aztecs and Toltecs. The inhabitants of Mexico’s most famous ruins, however, remain unknown; the Aztecs claimed common ancestry with the Teotihuacans, but the ethnicity of the inhabitants is the subject of debate. Perhaps a multi-ethnic center, Teotihuacan was at one time the largest city in pre-Columbian America and its influence was felt throughout Mesoamerica, from Tikal to Copan. Today, it is is famous for its pyramids, including the Pyramids of the Sun and the Moon, as well as the Avenue of the Dead and its multi-family residences.


1. Tikal, Guatemala

The ruins of Tikal are instantly recognizable from the famous Tikal Temple I, a 47-meter tall limestone step pyramid with a Mayan roof comb. The temple is also known as the Temple of the Great Jaguar. Of course, Temple I isn’t the only building at Tikal; there are many more buildings. Given that Tikal was once the most powerful city in the Mayan empire, the complex of temples, altars, palaces and pyramids only makes sense. The site is divided into several groups, including the Great Plaza located at the core of the site, the Central Acropolis to its south, the North and South Acropolises and the Plaza of the Seven Temples. Located in the Peten rainforest in northern Guatemala, this World Heritage Site is perhaps one of the best-known in Central America.

Tikal, Guatemala

The Best Places to Travel in January

It’s January. The holiday season has passed. The snow is piling ever higher and a wicked wind blows out of the north, bringing with it polar vortexes and wind chill factors enough to freeze your face in a matter of minutes. The nights are long and the days are frigid, even if they are sunny. You need to escape…but where? Try one of these 8 locations on for size, traveler, and get your bags packed for some nicer weather.

8. Belize

Mexico is the giant of Central American tourism, offering both cheap resort tourism for snowbirds and spring breakers, offering up opportunities to explore jungles, ancient Aztec ruins and contemporary Mayan culture, but Belize has many of the same qualities, but with fewer tourists. Lying along the Caribbean Sea, Belize is quite a bit smaller than the neighboring countries of Mexico and Guatemala, both in terms of area and population. In recent years, Belize has become a popular alternative for those looking to escape the droves of tourists in Mexico. Although Belize can cost a little more, it offers opportunities for travelers to explore extensive coral reefs, jungle and wildlife reserves and Mayan ruins. Belize is home to the largest cave system in Central America, if you’re up for some subterranean adventure. January averages temperatures of 24°C (75°F) and is part of the dry season, meaning you can expect sunshine.

Belize 2

7. Costa Rica

Costa Rica has been something of an anomaly in Central America; it has been democratically stable whereas other countries have faced upheaval and dictatorships, and Costa Rica has been pushing a green agenda to take care of its natural resources. The country aims to become carbon-neutral by 2021 and has even been named the greenest country in the world. For that reason, Costa Rica has become Latin America’s go-to for ecotourism, with a special focus on green tourism. Costa Rica’s most famous natural landscape is the cloud forests, tropical rainforests formed in the heights of the Cordillera mountains that traverse the country, and it’s marine ecosystems as the country is bordered by both the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. The country comprises less than 1% of the world’s landmass, but contains 5% of its biodiversity. January is dry season and average temperatures are about 27°C.

Costa Rica

6. Aruba

Just 29 kilometers north of the coast of Venezuela, in the Caribbean Sea, lies the island-nation of Aruba. Aruba is an interesting island: it forms part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and its citizens are Dutch. Aruba’s climate has helped its tourism industry as the island lies outside Hurricane Alley and experiences a dry climate, producing reliably warm, sunny weather year-round. The interior of the island features hilly terrain and desert-like scrublands dotted with cacti, while the south and western shores have white, sandy beaches that are relatively sheltered from the ocean. Although Aruba doesn’t celebrate its National Day until March, January 25 is the celebration of the birthday of Betico Croes, a proponent of Aruban independence and considered by some to be the “father” of Aruba as an independent state.


5. Cyprus

Want to get further afield and go trans-Atlantic for January? Check out Cyprus. Located south of Turkey, Cyprus has the warmest winters—and indeed, the warmest climate—in the Mediterranean European Union. Snow is only possible in the Troodos mountains, while most coastal locations experience pleasant 16–17°C weather throughout January. It may not be beach weather, exactly, but it is certainly warmer than some climates—and with almost 200 sunshine hours for the month on average, Cyprus can be a reprieve from the long, dark nights of more northern locations. Cyprus has a rich history, stretching from Greek to Byzantine to Ottoman empires, and many traditions to explore. Music, art and cuisine are all integral experiences for visitors. Not looking to escape winter? The Troodos mountains provide a great skiing experience, an excellent alternative to the busy Alps of western Europe.


4. Grenada

The island of Grenada and six smaller islands, located at the southern end of the chain known as the Grenadines, form the country of Grenada. Another southern Caribbean destination, Grenada is known as the “Island of Spice,” because it is one of the world’s largest exporters of nutmeg and mace. The island is cooled by the trade winds during the dry season. Beach tourism is centered on the capital of St. George in the southwest, while Saint David and Saint John parishes have witnessed the growth of eco-conscious tourism in recent years. Grenada has many idyllic beaches along its coasts, the Grand Anse Beach in St. George, a 3-kilometer long strip of white, sandy beach, is considered one of the finest in the world. Another major natural attraction is the island’s abundance of waterfalls, including the Annandale Falls, Mt. Carmel and Seven Sisters.
Grand Anse Beach

3. Canary Islands

Although part of Spain, the Canary Islands have a much different climate than most of the country. Temperatures average about 20°C on most of the islands in the chain, and January generally sees relatively little precipitation. Santa Cruz is the wettest island at this time of year, receiving, on average, about 1.25 inches of rainfall. The Canary Islands have plenty to recommend them aside from sunshine and warm temperatures. La Palma is home to cloud forests, similar to the forests of Costa Rica. Most of the islands, including Tenerife and Gran Canaria, feature black sand beaches. Tenerife’s nightlife at Playa de las Americas is legendary. Tourism is a well-developed industry and the island’s function almost like a Caribbean getaway for most of Europe. Perhaps the best part is that getting here won’t cost much more than flying to some Caribbean destinations.

Alexander Tihonov /
Alexander Tihonov /

2. Barbados

This island in the Lesser Antilles has earned itself a reputation as a more exclusive and chi-chi getaway in the southern Caribbean. This is somewhat true: trips to Barbados are usually more pricey compared to places like Mexico and Dominican Republic. The dry season runs from December to May, and gentle breezes keep the island’s temperatures more moderate than some of its neighbors. The western and south shores are popular for beach tourism, while surfers would do well to visit the Atlantic coast, where tumbling waves make for ideal surfing conditions. The country’s coral reefs provide ample opportunity for diving and snorkeling. Another popular activity is shopping, as there are several shopping districts in the south of the island, many of them offering duty-free shopping. Golf and helicopter rides are also popular tourist activities.

Bridgetown Barbados

1. Curacao

About 65 kilometers north of the Venezuelan coast, you’ll find the island of Curacao. Along with Saint Maarten and Aruba, the island is part of the Dutch Caribbean and forms a part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Until 2010, it was known as the “island territory of Curacao,” one of five such territories in the former Netherlands Antilles. The island has a tropical Savannah climate and January marks the start of the dry season. The temperature hovers around 25°C and less than two inches of rain falls during the month. Curacao has been less reliant on tourism than other Caribbean islands, although it is popular with divers and snorkelers. Many coral reefs can be reached without a boat and the island’s southern coast features calm waters and numerous small beaches. If you’re looking for a less-frequented getaway, skip Aruba and spring for Curacao.



Outside Magazine’s Travel Awards

In March, Outside magazine minted the winners of their 2015 travel awards, passing out awards from best island to best Airbnb, hoping to inspire readers’ summer travel plans. Even with summer now drawing to a close in the northern hemisphere, it’s not too late to get outside and enjoy some of the best outdoor adventures, whether in some far-flung corner of the earth or in your own backyard. We’ve selected 15 of the best adventures you could still squeeze in to get the most out of your summer—or start planning for next year.

15. Montana’s Wild West Adventure

The 21st century has been the century of environmental concern. At first glance, enjoying America’s West like a 19th-century traveler seems far-removed from that concern, but it’s thanks to conservation efforts that you can enjoy a Wild West-style camping trip in northeast Montana. The area is home to a 305,000-acre reserve which conservationists are hoping to turn into an American “Serengeti,” where the deer and the buffalo do roam. Buffalo Camp has 11 campsites available for just $10 per night. If you’re looking for a little more luxury, Kestrel Camp offers travelers the option to rent 1 of 5 yurts, each equipped with air conditioning and a hot shower. Either way, you’ll sleep soundly after spending the day paddling the river or mountain biking by abandoned farms.


14. Roadtripping in India

The roadtrip is a classic way to spend an American summer; for many, it’s a rite of passage. But why stick to domestic shores when you could use your roadtrip to explore some of the world’s most stunning mountain views? Book a 10-day trip with Mercury Himalayan Explorations and see a new side of India, far away from throngs of people in busy urban markets and gawping tourist crowds. Your trip will take you through the foothills of the majestic Himalayans, replete with narrow, dangerous mountain roads and stunning views. Not up for mountains? The company also offers a trip through the sand dunes of Rajasthan. Don’t worry, though—a mechanic will be right behind you.

Photo by: Mercury Himalayan Explorations
Photo by: Mercury Himalayan Explorations

13. Conquer the San Juan Mountains

You needn’t go as far as India to encounter mountains, of course. The American West is full of soaring peaks, courtesy of the Rocky Mountains. To fully appreciate dazzling new heights, trek through the San Juan mountains on your bike. Start your trip in Durango, Colorado, and make your way some 200-plus miles to Moab, Utah. The trip isn’t for the faint of heart; the elevation rises to 25,000 feet between start and finish. The going is not easy, but for those who want a challenge, this is a rewarding one—the top of the mountains provides an excellent perch to get a new perspective on life. Once you’ve completed the trek, there’s no doubt you’ll agree that the stunning vistas are well-worth the effort.

San Juan Mountains Colorado

12. A New Spin on the Classic Safari

Much like the roadtrip epitomizes American summer, the safari is a classic way to explore Africa’s wilderness. The oft-maligned trip has been given new life in Kenya, thanks to Sandy and Chip Cunningham. The 11-day Ultimate Conservation Safari takes you to Campi Ya Kanzi, a 300,000-acre stretch of wilderness in the shadows of Kilimanjaro. You’re hosted by local Masai in a campsite that uses solar for its power needs. The trip also takes you to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust’s elephant orphanage, which reminds us of the harmful effects of poaching and the importance of protecting earth’s amazing creatures. This safari is all about learning all we can about amazing world around us in an eco-friendly and sustainable way.

Photo by: Ultimate Conservation Safari
Photo by: Ultimate Conservation Safari

11. Road Trip the Golden State—on a Bike

If you can’t get away to far-flung locales like India or Africa, you can take yet another spin on the classic American roadtrip. This one is eco-friendly, much like the Kenyan safari experience, and it will take you through all the Golden State has to offer, from the edges of the Pacific to dizzying heights in the mountains in the Sierra Nevada. California’s environment can be biked almost year-round, which means you don’t need to wait for summer to roll around (unless you want to do the annual Death Ride through the mountains). This can be an economical trip too—route maps are available free from organizations like the California Bicycle Coalition.

biking san francisco

10. Dive Deep in Cuba

Maybe you’re not the type who likes to climb tall mountains or drive (or ride) through the landscape. In fact, maybe you’re not interested in the terrestial landscape, and the depths of the ocean intrigue you. If so, then you’ll want to pay a visit to Cuba’s Gardens of the Queen National Park, a no-take fishing zone and marine protected area. Located 60 miles off Cuba’s coast, the park contains some 250 coral and mangrove islands. Only 1,000 divers per year are admitted to the area, where you can encounter some of the world’s most pristine coral reefs and swim alongside sea turtles, goliath groupers, whale sharks and sperm whales.

Giant Grouper

9. Cruise Doubtful Sound

Maybe you don’t like going under the water. Or maybe you’re hoping to hit up a more exotic locale. New Zealand’s Doubtful Sound is the place for you, with a 70-person cruise on a 3-masted sailboat. Book a tour with Real Journeys and you’ll cruise into the sound and experience its surreal landscapes: lush forests overhanging sheer cliffs with towering waterfalls pouring over the edge, pods of dolphins playing in the water below. You might even spot a Fiordland penguin. You’ll want to bring your camera for sure, although pictures may not be able to do the place justice. The more adventuresome might join other passengers in leaping into the water off the rear deck of the boat—but be warned, the waters can be cold!

Doubtful Sound

8. Paddle through Fiji

For many, Fiji defines tropical paradise. The island is rich in environmental treasures, not the least of which is the 18-mile-long Upper Navua River Gorge, 10 miles of which has been protected as a conservation area since 2000. Paddle along the palm-lined river and take in the sheer cliffs and the cascading waterfalls. The area is maintained by Rivers Fiji in conjunction with landowners, villagers, the Native Land Trust Board and a timber company. You can continue on to the Middle Navua by kayak, which will take a couple of days to complete. You’ll arrive in Beqa Lagoon, where opportunities for sea-kayaking and snorkeling abound. White sand beaches and coral reefs also beckon to travelers who want to balance adventure with relaxation.

Kayak Fiji

7. A Safari in Greenland

Greenland is probably one of the last places anyone would think of to go on safari, but the trek offered by Natural Habitat Adventures takes a page straight out of the safari handbook and offers guests hot showers and gourmet meals prepared by a chef. The company’s eco-base camp is located on the edge of the Greenland Ice Sheet on Sermilik Fjord, where 5,000-foot peaks plunge into the sea. On offer are opportunities to kayak alongside humpback whales, hike through 10 miles of tundra with a guide and visit Inuit villagers and experience their centuries-old traditions. Even though the temperatures in polar bear country remain low throughout the year, travelers will be awed by the beauty of the Arctic.

Photo by: Natural Habitat Adventures
Photo by: Natural Habitat Adventures

6. Experience Paddleboarding in Belize

Belize has long been a haven for snorkelers and divers, thanks to the country’s 180-mile-long barrier reef. Now Belize is also home to the world’s first lodge-to-lodge paddleboarding adventure. The trek, offered by Island Expeditions, takes you through the 118,000-acre Southwater Caye Marine Reserve. On the 6-day excursion, you’ll paddle 4 to 8 miles per day, making stops to snorkel with spotted eagle rays and barracuda and even snorkel at night to see coral in bloom after dark. Other stops along the way include a Garifuna fishing camp, Tobacco Caye and the private Southwater Caye with its 12 acres of white sand beaches against the backdrop of the calm, turquoise waters and the barrier reef.

Photo by: Island Expeditions
Photo by: Island Expeditions

5. Apres-Ski in New Mexico

You might not think of skiing when someone mentions New Mexico, but the state’s famous West Basin chutes, near Kachina Peak in Taos, have a bit of Old World charm. It might not be the Alps, but it’s about as close as you get in the southern Rockies; you can even stop at the Bavarian Lodge, a ski-in, ski-out chalet, to grab some authentic German fare before hitting the slopes or for apres-ski. Visiting before ski season is in swing? Not to worry; trails to Williams Lake and the 13,159-foot Wheeler Mountain, New Mexico’s highest peak, offer plenty of opportunity for some outdoor adventure.

Photo by: Bavarian Lodge
Photo by: Bavarian Lodge

4. Domestic Adventure in North Carolina

North Carolina is underrated when it comes to getting outside in the U.S. It has beaches and mountains much like California, minus the throngs of tourists and the elitism that pervades some parts of the Golden State. The Croatan National Forest offers paddleboarders 160,000 acres to explore, while the beaches offer up some of the East Coast’s best surf spots. Singletrack and road riding attracts world-class talent to the Blue Ridge mountains, where some train for races like the Tour de France, and the 13-mile Big Avery Loop offers mountain bikers a serious challenge. For hikers, 96 miles of the Appalachian Trail crosses through the state, and the Nantahala Outdoor Center offers up access to some of America’s best white-water adventures.

Photo by: Nantahala Outdoor Center/ Charlie Williams Photography
Photo by: Nantahala Outdoor Center/ Charlie Williams Photography

3. International Adventure in Chile

If North Carolina sounds a little too pedestrian for your adventure, you can always seek out international adventure. One of the best places to find an outdoor excursion is in Chile, which is 80% Andes mountains. The country is home to some wild spaces, like the 650,000-acre Patagonia National Park in the extreme southern sub-arctic clime, or the 370,000-acre Yendegaia National Park, a former cattle ranch. Or check out the Atacama Desert, where you can ride through the almost-alien landscape on horseback and take in some of the clearest skies on Earth. Another option is the Vina Vik, a retreat and wine spa in Millahue Valley. There are 65 miles of vineyard roads to be explored in this 11,000-acre Andean retreat.

Patagonia National Park

2. Bicycle Adventures for Families

Maybe you want to take the family on the adventure of a lifetime and some of the trips mentioned just aren’t kid-friendly or are too costly if you need to foot the bill for multiple people. Bicycle Adventures is one of the best outfitters to turn to if you need a domestic trip for kids of all ages. Infants and toddlers can ride along in provided trailers, while younger riders’ bikes can be hitched to adult bikes. About 10% of their trips are geared specifically toward families with preteens. New multi-day rides through Oregon, Idaho and South Dakota follow car-free bike paths and take you near attractions like Mount Rushmore and the Trail of the Hiawatha. Kids will appreciate stops for ice cream, rafting and swimming.

Photo by: Bicycle Adventures
Photo by: Bicycle Adventures

1. Wilderness Travel’s Outfitted Trips

If you want to do something no one else has ever done, you’ll want to team up with Wilderness Travel. The team, based in Berkeley, California, has been pioneering trips that other outfitters later copy for some 37 years. Think kayaking trips through Tierra del Fuego at the southern tip of South America and organizing the world’s highest trek, through Tibet at 23,000 feet. All of the outfitter’s trips are designed to support locals and minimize the trip’s environmental impact as well. New trips available from Wilderness Travel include visiting little-known pyramids in Sudan, sea-kayaking and camping in Palau and tracking lions in Namibia with guide Flip Stander, who has spent decades living with the big cats.

Photo by: Wildreness Travel
Photo by: Wildreness Travel

Top 10 Tropical Islands You Have to Visit

There is something about a tropical Island that can turn even the most stressed out, overworked person into a relaxed and rejuvenated individual. Unlike taking a rushed weekend trip to a crowded beach nearby and staying in a chain hotel, the lure of a small resort surrounded by palm trees and clear blue water is a dream many people have. The Islands and beautiful beaches in Asia are some of the very best in the world and offer visitors everything from small secluded resorts on white sand beaches to social tourist hot spots with a party atmosphere. No matter what, you’ll be able to find an island that caters to your needs giving you a great experience with prices that will make your friends jealous. Quit dreaming and start planning that trip of a lifetime cause we’ve compiled an easy list of recommendations for the best tropical islands in Asia!

10. Tioman Island, Malaysia

Located in the South China Sea, a 40 minute flight from the capital of Kuala Lumpur, this 29,000 acre island offers coral reefs and clear water. Here you have the option of a simple hotel located in a seaside village or a resort on a secluded beach. Spend your time on the island jungle trekking seeing the exotic wildlife like monitor lizards and monkeys or visiting one of the many waterfalls. You can check out one of the villages and get to know the locals, do some duty free shopping or spend some time on the 18-hole golf course. Of course you are never far away from the beaches. Whether you like scuba diving, snorkeling or just reclining in a beach chair with a cool drink, the beaches are only a few steps away. Unlike some of the more crowded destinations, Tioman Island can be your relaxing trip of a lifetime.

Tioman Island

9. Panglao Island, Philippines

Unlike the more famous island of Boracay, Panglao Island is less crowded and less of a party atmosphere. Located off the Southwestern tip of Bohol connected by a bridge, the island is a great place for families and couples to relax and enjoy the laid back island life. Boats line up on the beach daily for island hopping and dolphin watching excursions. Nature preserves, cave tours and the UNESCO listed Chocolate Hills are easy day tours. Another great place to visit is the Philippine Tarsier Foundation where 331 acres have been set aside for the research and protection of the Philippine Tarsier, one of the smallest mammals in the world. Ecotourism, world heritage sites and beautiful white sand beaches make this Island one of our top picks and one you should definitely visit.

Panglao Island, Philippines

8. Akajima Island, Japan

An Island belonging to the Kerama Islands group in Okinawa, Aka Island can be reached by a one hour high speed ferry from the capital of Okinawa. Popular with Japanese tourists you won’t find many foreigners here. Visit the beautiful Nishibama Beach a one km stretch of white beach on the northeast coast, enjoy humpback whale watching, snorkeling and diving. Aka Island is popular with marine biologists due to the diversity of sea life and coral reefs. While most tourists visit on a day trip there are a few hotels and hostels where you can stay and relax for a few days. A small island, it is easily explored on foot. You might even catch a glimpse of the famed Kerala deer which swim between the islands. If you are looking for a quiet place to enjoy nature and get away from the crowds, Aka Island is a good choice.

Photo by: Jordy Meow via Wikimedia Commons
Photo by: Jordy Meow via Wikimedia Commons

7. Efate, Vanuatu

Efate has been the site of three international versions of the popular “Survivor” television show. Efate is Vanuatu’s third largest island and the most populous. With Eco tours, adventure activities such as jungle zip lines, scuba and snorkeling, markets and nightlife, it is no wonder Efate is a popular destination. For a glimpse of what ancestral islanders lived like, a visit to the Ekasup cultural village is a must. Learn firsthand from the village chief and his warriors about how it was when cannibalism was the order of the day. Visit the tranquil Mele Cascades waterfalls, take a volcano tour by air or enjoy one of the island’s beaches. There are also several fishing charters available if you’re looking to land the big one. There are several day tours available, water parks and various water sport activities to make your trip more memorable. Accommodations range from luxurious resorts and spas to budget hotels.

Efate, Vanuatu

6. Rarotonga, Cook Islands

Rarotonga is the largest of the Cook Islands, named after famed British explorer Captain James Cook, who visited the islands in 1773. Rarotonga has everything you would expect to find on a tropical island. Crystal clear blue lagoons, little traffic except for an island bus and some scooters, bone white beaches and coral reefs. Inland you will find a rugged tropical landscape teeming with wildlife and terraces where bananas, coconuts and pineapples are planted. The island is known for its beautiful white coral and limestone churches. If you happen to visit one for Sunday services don’t be surprised if you are invited to stay after for refreshments. A market day happens every Saturday where you can sample local food and buy some souvenirs. There is also a golf course, fishing expeditions and numerous diving sites to enjoy. With no streetlights, friendly people and beautiful beaches you may not ever want to leave.

Rarotonga, Cook Islands

5. The Maldives, South Asia

A tropical nation, the Maldives is made up of 26 coral atolls. Located in the Indian Ocean. You can take your pick of resort islands, private islands, city hotels or a cozy guest house. Scuba diving, golf and island hopping await you on what could be the trip of a lifetime. Enjoy dolphin and whale watching, take a day trip to one of the uninhabited islands for a private getaway, enjoy local food or spend the day shopping. For divers, a wreck dive at the site of the Maldives Victory, is a definite must do. A 60 meter long cargo wreck lying 20-30 meters deep is where you can explore the cargo holds and check out the sea life. Accommodations range from budget friendly, cottages perched on stilts over the water and super luxurious resorts. Spend your days diving, exploring the city of Male or relaxing on the beach. When nighttime comes, head out to one of the resort bars or take a walk on the beach,but beware the crabs tend to enjoy the beaches at night also.


4. Ambergris Caye, Belize

The largest island in Belize can be reached by plane or ferry. Besides having some fantastic beaches, Ambergris is home to the Belize Barrier Reef which is the second largest reef in the world second only to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. While diving, snorkeling and fishing are some of the main attractions you should also visit the Marco Gonzalez Maya site. There are over 19 sites on the island, but none had ever been preserved until 2009 when efforts to begin preservation started. The site is now a national reserve that has a visitor area along with continuing excavations. Relax on the beaches, dive the reefs or just sit and enjoy the atmosphere at one of the many beach bars on the island at the end of the day.

Ambergris Caye, Belize Cayes

3. Tahiti, French Polynesia

What would a list of the best tropical islands be without including Tahiti? The largest island in French Polynesia, Tahiti is another island on one of Captain James Cook’s travels. Tahiti also known as the “Queen of the Pacific” has been visited at one time or another by Spanish explorers, British explorers to include Captain Bligh and the HMS Bounty, French explorers, the Viceroy of Peru, whalers from Australia and missionaries from all over. They must have known something, and that is, Tahiti is a beautiful place. You can enjoy professional surfing competitions, several festivals throughout the year or if you’re brave enough – get a traditional Polynesian tattoo. You’ll have to spend time at one of the nature parks, enjoy the watersports, take a boat tour, visit some of the historical sites or just enjoy the beaches, Tahiti can be a dream vacation.

Tahiti, French Polynesia

2. Koh Lipe, Thailand

Thailand used to be a place where you could find secluded beaches and islands with little or no tourists. Recent movies, travel blogs and press have made Thailand more popular than ever. There is one place that you can still get away from the majority of the tourists and enjoy a tranquil tropical paradise. Koh Lipe is an island located on the southern part of the Thai Andaman Sea accessible by boat from either Bangkok or Malaysia. There are several beaches and nearby uninhabited islands reachable by long boat. Rent a long boat for a day trip and go island hopping where you can lounge on a deserted beach or go snorkeling on Sunrise Beach and get up close to schools of fish. Come watch the sunset on the beach or visit one of the island bars but don’t tell anyone, Koh Lipe is our secret.

Koh Lipe, Thailand

1. Bali, Indonesia

Bali is an island and province in Indonesia, also the country’s largest tourist destination. Bali offers coral reefs and dive sites, surfing, vibrant nightlife and activities for singles, couples and families. The majority of the population is Hindu and there are several temples worth visiting. Goa Lawah Temple or the Bat Cave as it is known as a popular destination along with Tanah Lot temple which sits on a rock and is completely surrounded by water during high tide. Go white water rafting, visit the waterpark or one of the nature reserves, go hiking, learn to scuba dive, surf or just enjoy the hospitality of the Balinese people. Bali is a large island with lots to see and do so if you plan to visit give yourself time to really experience and enjoy the island, and no, we won’t call your boss for you and tell him you won’t be back to work on time.

Bali, Indonesia

The 10 Best Scuba Diving Locations in the World

There is no better way to explore the underwater world of marine animals, shipwrecks, fascinating coral towers, limestone formations and schools of colorful fish than scuba diving. Whether you are a beginner or an expert with decades of experience, the amazing underwater world you can discover around the planet is absolutely mind-blowing. From hammerhead sharks to manta rays to ancient cenotes; these 10 locations around the world are the best of the best.

10. Cozumel, Mexico

Divers will certainly have their choice of dive operators on this island as there are more than 100 offering everything from deep dives, wreck dives, night dives, and underwater photography dives. This world-class diving site offers everything from swim throughs to tunnels to walls of coral to cenotes to sharks to rays. It is best to dive here in the summer when the water temperature is warmer and the hotel prices are cheaper. Cozumel is also known for its incredible visibility and deep dives. Divers can expect up to 100 feet of visibility. There are plenty of dives both for the beginner and advanced but visitors should be aware that the current can be especially strong in some sites and diving experience is recommend for these. With the 600-mile long Maya Reef that stretches from Cozumel to Central America, and boasts an abundance of colorful fish and coral, it is easy to see why Cozumel is a premier diving spot.

Cozumel, Mexico

9. Hawaii, U.S.A

This Pacific paradise attracts divers from all over the world, both beginners and experienced. The remoteness of Hawaii means fewer fish species than waters like the Caribbean, but offers the chance to discover marine life found nowhere else on earth. One of the most popular dives in the world occurs off the island of Kona, the manta ray night dive. Divers descend into the darkness while giant manta rays swim overhead, most describe it is as truly magical. Diving off Lana’I is popular amongst those looking to discover new fish and rare invertebrates while Moloka’i offers divers the chance to catch a glimpse of the rare Hawaiian monk seal and hammerhead sharks. Kaua’i is home to an abundance of collapsed lava tubes and huge green sea turtles that aren’t afraid to get their pictures taken. Divers who are in the water from December to April may be able to hear the song of the humpback whales as they migrate through these waters.

Kauai Sea Turtle

8. Great Barrier Reef, Australia

The Great Barrier Reef is so large that one can actually see it from space and has been known over the years for being one of the world’s most premier diving spots. It stretches 1,430 miles along Australia’s northeastern coast and offers over 4,000 separate reefs, cays and islands. It could truly take more than a lifetime to explore this entire reef which features over 1,500 species of fish and shipwrecks. It is the world’s largest and healthiest coral reef system that teams with biodiversity and an array of species you won’t find anywhere else. Divers here will come face to face with large sea turtles, reef sharks, sea snakes, barracudas and dolphins. The size and variety of this reef makes it perfect for any type of diver and visitors won’t be hard pressed to find an operator in one of the many seaside towns.

Great Barrier Reef

7. The French Polynesian Islands

It has long been known as a destination for honeymooners and other species of lovebirds, but besides the gorgeous white sand beaches over the water bungalows and framed palm trees lays a world to discover under the water. There are over 118 islands and atolls throughout this vast area and with 11 of them offering diving centers; it is easy to be overwhelmed with choices on where to dive. Fortunately there is an array of varied dives, from the shallow lagoons for beginners to the drop-offs and passes for the advanced divers. Moorea Island is also known as ‘Shark World’ and is famous for its hand-fed shark and stingray dives. The atoll Rangiroa is also known for both its calm lagoon that teems with marine life and it’s thrilling passes that feature sharks, big fish species and turtles. These waters explode with colorful coral, fish, sharks and other marine species that proudly show themselves off. No matter where you dive, this promises to be unforgettable.

Diving French Polynesia

6. Roatan and The Bay Islands, Honduras

This popular diving spot has been attracting divers for decades as it feature amazing shipwrecks and endless colorful coral. It is here that the world’s second largest barrier reef is located and divers will be privy to swimming with eagle rays, schools of colorful fish and the all mighty whale sharks. Utila is where divers will head if they want to swim with these majestic creatures and it is one of the only places year round that the whale sharks can be seen. This destination is inclusive for all levels of divers and whether you are just getting your feet wet, or you have been diving for years, there is an experience here for you unlike anywhere else in the world.

Whale Sharks -Honduras

5. Malaysia

It is blessed with some of the richest waters and diving here offers experiences unlike any other in the world. Sipadan, the little island off the east coast of Borneo is what most divers come to experience. It lies in one of the richest marine habitats in the world and boasts an extremely high number of turtles, grey and whitetip reef sharks, and large schools of bumphead parrotfish, barracuda and trevally. Layang-Layang is another reason to dive in these waters as this little speck of an atoll is fringed by some of the best coral fields in the world along with its huge schools of scalloped hammerhead sharks. Where you want to dive and what you want to see will determine the best time of year to visit these waters as different seasons bring different water conditions.

Diving in Sipadan

4. Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

It is where Charles Darwin came up with his theory of evolution, a place where countless mammals, reptiles and birds thrive and its waters are some of the most pristine areas left to dive in this world. These waters work best for experienced divers as currents are strong and conditions are often choppy. The tiny Darwin Island is an excellent choice for divers as the waters are full of fur seals, sea lions, whales, marine turtles, marine iguanas and schools of sharks. Isabela Island, the largest island in the Galapagos is home to penguins that shoot by you, sea lions, sea turtles, and a challenging underwater volcano that is swarming with Galapagos sharks, along with schools of hammerheads and barracudas. July to November is when divers choose to head here as the sharks tend to be the most active and plentiful. These waters deserve at least two weeks to explore and promise to surprise you at every twist and turn.

Diving Galapgos Islands

3. Turks and Caicos

It boasts some of the clearest water in the world and with so many islands that are uninhabited; it makes for a perfect place to escape the crowds of the Caribbean. Turks and Caicos is not only known for its brilliant turquoise water but also for its incredible wall diving. It is here you will dive into the world’s third largest coral reef system and find drops that plunge hundreds of feet into the deep. The Columbus Passage, a 35-kilometer channel that separates the Turks Islands from the Caicos Islands is a water highway for migrating fish, rays, turtles, dolphins and Humpback whales from January through March. With incredibly calm waters and an abundance of marine life, every dive here promises to be thrilling.

Turks and Caicos

2. Belize

Belize is most widely known for its famous dive spot the Blue Hole, an underwater sinkhole that descends over 400 feet. To dive the Blue Hole it is recommend that you are an experienced diver and you are well prepared for this magical experience. The Blue Hole doesn’t teem with colorful fish or coral; in fact the only marine life you might see deep in the depths of this hole is a hammerhead or reef shark. Instead you will dive into an ancient geographical phenomena complete with an array of limestone formations and bizarre stalactites. If you want colorful fish and coral, Belize offers plenty of that along the reef and is home to many species of sharks, rays, barracudas and many species of fish. Belize is known as a destination for the more adventurous divers and you will certainly benefit if you have some experience under your belt before you travel to this country.

Pete Niesen /
Pete Niesen /

1. The Red Sea, Egypt

For many people, Egypt is known for its incredible above the water attractions and although one should not discount the ancient monuments and pyramids, it is below the water that is the real jewel of the country. Divers here are privy to hundreds of miles of coral, millions of fish, warm water, great visibility, sheltered reefs, walls, coral gardens and wrecks. This destination is also known for having an excellent availability of instructors which makes the Red Sea a perfect spot for learning how to dive. Drift dives are quite common in the Red Sea due to currents as are night dives amongst towering coral and schools of fish. Whale sharks, moray eels, barracudas and tuna are all spotted throughout these waters. The warm water temperature year round makes diving here at anytime an unforgettable experience.

Diving Red Sea, Egypt

10 Things to See and Do in Belize

This tiny country that is sandwiched between Mexico and Guatemala is quickly becoming one of the hottest eco-tourist destinations in the world. Here is where you will find amazing preserved ancient Mayan cities, lush tropical jungles and stunning white sand beaches with brilliant blue waters to swim in. Throw in the fact that English is the official language, the weather is beautiful all year round and there are hundreds of islands to visit just a boat ride away and it’s no wonder people are flocking here year after year. From beaches to ruins to the famous Blue Hole; here are 10 awesome things to see and do in Belize.

10. Take a Helicopter Ride

There is diving into the Blue Hole, another experience unlike any other and then there is flying over the Blue Hole, an experience that will absolutely blow your mind. If you have never taken a helicopter ride, Belize is the perfect country to do so. Flying over the Blue Hole can be costly, but seeing the near perfect circle of indigo surrounded by coral reefs is truly breathtaking. Helicopters will hover allowing you to take fabulous photos. Other helicopter tours are offered throughout the country taking visitors above the city itself and the barrier reef. The pilot will also take you over many of the islands just offshore. Keep your eyes peeled for dolphins and divers on these tours! Whether you are floating through the air above the world famous Blue Hole or discovering what the reef looks like from above, we can promise it will be a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Blue Hole, Belize

9. Visit the Ruins of Lamanai

It is one of the biggest and best excavated Mayan sites in Belize and worth a visit if you are in Belize. The ruins are known for both their marvelous architecture and the stunning scenery they are set in. They are surrounded by dense rain forests overlooking the New River Lagoon and most visitors choose to get there by boat. Visitors will enjoy the beautiful jungle, wildlife and local archaeology as they make their way to the ruins. Many of the ruins here are open to tourists and can be climbed, giving panoramic views of the surrounding area. Beautiful trails lead from ruin to ruin while spider and howler monkeys can be seen all over the place. If you are interested in the fascinating history of the Maya civilization, Lamanai is not to be missed.

Lamanai, Belize

8. Head to the Beach

The country itself has over 240 miles of coastline and hundreds of islands and therefore no surprise one of the top things to do here is hit the beach. The Placencia Peninsula is the longest stretch of beach in mainland Belize and dubbed as “barefoot perfect”. It stretches across three villages, offers restaurants and nightlife and all of the beaches here are public. If you are looking for something a little quieter, head to Half Moon Caye where Caribbean waters, a crescent shaped beach and white sand set the stage for a magical day. Part of the Caye is a protected turtle nesting site while the other half is home to a littoral forest with a protected red-footed booby sanctuary. There are countless beaches in this country, whether you get there by boat, plane or foot and be sure take some time to explore more than just one of them.

Half Moon Caye

7. Dive the Blue Hole

The Blue Hole descends over 400 feet and only experienced divers can sink into this world famous sinkhole. Snorkelers can explore the surrounding coral reefs but only experienced divers can descend along the wall down to 130 feet. Here is where you will find an array of limestone formations and bizarre stalactites. There are no colorful fish or coral down in these depths but you may be privy to a hammerhead shark or two that like to hang around. Other marine life that likes to hang out down there is barracudas, rays and reef sharks. There is nothing quite like the silence that surrounds you when you are 130 feet deep, surrounded by the stalactites of the collapsed prehistoric cavern. This is a dive you have to check off your bucket list.

Pete Niesen /
Pete Niesen /

6. Tube the Caves Branch River

There is nothing quite like floating seven miles underground in the river of caves with only a headlight to guide your way. The adventure starts with a 20-30 minute hike through the jungle lead by a guide you have hired beforehand or one of many that hang around the entrance. The guide will provide you with interesting facts about the flora and fauna on your way to the river. When you reach the river, the tubes are tied together and off you go immediately into the caves. The cave formations are unique and inside you are privy to waterfalls, rock formations and crystals. The water is cool and refreshing and the cave portion lasts about 30 minutes. The tour ends with a final tube ride through the river where it is possible to spot toucans and howler monkeys. Inner tubes, hard hats and lights are all provided by the guides.

Tubing River

5. Stay in a Jungle Lodge

Belize is certainly the place to visit if you are looking for a stay in a unique lodge in the heart of a jungle. This country is home to many eco-lodges whether you are looking for a romantic getaway, a family vacation or something of luxury. When you think about a jungle lodge in this country, think about world-class spas, infinity pools overlooking the treetops, elegant thatched cabins, exotic birds flying overhead and delicious food. Depending on what you are looking for, you can find a jungle lodge right on the river where zip lining and canoe adventures await, or one tucked deep in the jungle that demands a helicopter ride to reach it. Staying at one of these unique lodges means everything is taken care of and you can simply sit back and relax.

Photo by: Belize Hub
Photo by: Belize Hub

4. Visit the Zoo

The history of the zoo is an interesting one. It was created back in the 1980’s after a documentary being filmed about the animals of Belize left many of the animals too tame to be reintroduced into the wild. Sharon Matola who was in charge of taking care of these animals decided to start the zoo and made it into something of a rescue facility. The Belize Zoo is known for displaying species that are endemic to the region and housing animals that were orphaned, injured and bred in captivity. Taking a night tour at the zoo is highly recommended as many of the animals are nocturnal. One of the most amazing things about this zoo is the interaction between the zoo animals and wild animals from the surrounding jungle. Don’t be surprised to see snakes, birds and iguanas roaming the grounds as well as howler monkeys talking to their nearby jungle relatives.

Photo by: Bjorn Christian Torrissen via Wikimedia Commons
Photo by: Bjorn Christian Torrissen via Wikimedia Commons

3. Escape to the Islands

Visiting the islands and islets of Belize is a must for any traveler who is craving white sand beaches, brilliant blue water and a place to relax. Visitors have their choice of hundreds of islands, over 450 to be exact, and some are much more accessible than others. Caye Caulker is a popular spot for backpackers and those not wanting as much luxury. Here no cars are allowed and people get around by golf carts and foot. If you want something a little bigger with more options Ambergris Caye is where you will find more hotels, water sports and plenty of restaurants and bars. If you are looking to escape reality and curl up in a hammock under the sun you should head to Tobacco Caye where this tiny island is only home to a handful of locals who are willing to rent out their guesthouses.

Caye Caulker, Belize

2. Climb Ca’ana

Caracol is the most spectacular Mayan site in Belize and it is here where visitors will find the large pyramid of Ca’ana. There are actual 35,000 buildings on this site and many have not been excavated yet, but the ones that have begged to be climbed. Ca’ana is the highest of them all and it is a grueling trip to the top. What makes the trip worth it though is the view from the top. The pyramid stands 143 feet high and is the highest man made structure in Belize. The stairs to the top look like they are made of giants and climbing them is certainly an adventure in itself. Once at the top you have striking views of the jungle and the treetops, keeping your eyes peeled for jaguars, monkeys, toucans, tapirs and scarlet macaws.

Ca'ana Pyramid, Belize

1. Snorkel in the Hol Chan Marine Reserve

Belize’s oldest marine reserve provides an unparalleled diving and snorkeling experience while protecting marine life along the north section of the Belize Barrier Reef. To get here visitors have to hire a boat and a guide and trips usually run twice a day, once in the morning and once in the afternoon. The marine reserve is essentially divided into four zones, the first being the Hol Cut Chan. Here divers and snorkelers will find a huge abundance of colorful and friendly fish. Rays, lobsters and eels also make an appearance in these waters. The second and third zones are home to sea grass beds and mangroves. Shark Ray Alley is the fourth zone and divers are guaranteed to see a school of nurse sharks that loiter around in these waters. Stingrays also call this place home and while not dangerous, it is important to remember these are all wild animals.

Hol Chan Marine Reserve

10 Private Islands You Can Own Today

Owning your own private island is the ultimate dream for many people. Lucky for them, it no longer has to be just a dream. If you happen to have a few million sitting around in the bank it is actually quite easy to buy an island. Don’t despair if you don’t have quite a million dollars though, there are actually some affordable islands for sale across the globe. What are you waiting for? Empty out the bank account and go buy one of these 10 private islands that are for sale right now!

10. Pink Pearl Island -Nicaragua

If you have ever wanted to own an island and make money doing it, Pink Pearl Island may be for you. Located just 3 miles off Nicaragua’s Caribbean Coast, the area is known for its excellent diving and sport fishing. The island is currently operating as a tourism business but can be turned into your own private residence easily. It features a cylinder main house, three cabanas, a fisherman style shack and a bar/restaurant. The best part about this island may just be the absence of mosquitoes and sand flies. Throw in a heart shaped swimming pool with a fresh water pump, stunning ocean views, a pier to dock your boat and its own well to supply water and you have yourself a pretty amazing slice of paradise. Did we happen to mention that the owners of this island are also throwing in their 25 foot, 150 horsepower speedboat in?

Photo by: Islands
Photo by: Islands

9. Mccaffrey Island -Oregon, USA

If you would prefer to purchase an island a little closer to home, Mccaffrey Island may be just what you are looking for. Listed at $1.25 million this island comes complete with a gorgeous five bedroom house, sandy beach and its own well. It is located on the Yaquina River only 6 miles by boat to the open ocean. The island features apple trees which the deer frequently visit, a covered deck, complete with a fire pit and the most gorgeous scenery and sunsets. The island was truly built to be enjoyed by people who love nature and are looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, but with the conveniences making it feel like home.

Yaquina River

8. Nukudrau Island -Fiji

This island is located in the largest bay in the Southern Hemisphere, Natewa Bay and surrounded by crystal clear waters of the South Pacific. It is an undeveloped island currently separated into 25 individual lots, letting buyers decide whether to keep the island to themselves or develop into a resort. What surrounds this island is simply magical; amazing snorkeling, diving, fishing and a resident pod of dolphins that will delight you. This blank canvas allows your imagination to run wild and if you have big enough pockets, you could build your dream home. The seven peaks that rise up out of the sea on this island are the perfect spot to build on. The island is a total of 46 acres and the price unfortunately is not listed, so if you are serious about owning this island it is best to contact the seller.

Fiji Island

7. Pate Island -Ontario, Canada

All you will need to bring to this island is your groceries as the home; all its furnishing and appliances are being sold along with the island. Located on Georgian Bay in Ontario this island is 4.5 acres and offers some of the best sunset views in the whole country. The house is a three bedroom, two bathroom cottage style, complete with a stone fireplace, open concept kitchen and cedar wraparound porch. The far end of the island boasts a sheltered harbor that features a boathouse and ‘U” shaped docking pier. All the docks lead to deep clean water and the scenery surrounding this island makes it easy to understand why people love the area. The price tag is currently at $1.3 million and once you see this island, you will understand why.

Georgian Bay

6. Pumpkin Key -Florida, USA

If you want to go all out and spend a hundred million dollars; this would be the island to buy. Pumpkin Key is located in the Florida Keys and just a short boat ride away from Key Largo or helicopter ride to Miami. This private island is a total of 26 acres and includes one main house, a dock masters cabin and two caretaker cottages. It also happens to have tennis courts and golf cart paths throughout. This island is surrounded with ocean that is teeming with marine life such as dolphins, sport fish and lobsters. World renowned snorkeling, scuba diving and sport fishing is just outside the doors. Buying this island also means access to Ocean Reef, a private and prestigious club that offers dining, shopping and its own private airstrip.

Key Largo

5. Mowgli Island -British Columbia, Canada

If you aren’t keen about hurricane season, tropical weather and too much sunshine; there is still an island for you. Located within the Southern Gulf Islands sits Mowgli Island; a nine acre gem that will quickly get snatched up. This island features sandy beaches, an ‘L’ shaped dock for year round mooring of vessels and an incredible house. The house features four impressive bedrooms and a separate bunkhouse for guests, as well as 1,000 square feet of deck that surrounds the house. It is nestled right into the trees and features many windows allowing for the most natural light to shine through. A pier extends into the water and many different shorelines can be explored. Impressive scenery, an award winning house and a beautiful country; what more could you ask for.

Photo by: Private Islands Inc.
Photo by: Private Islands Inc.

4. Temple Island -Queensland, Australia

Coming in just shy of a million dollars, this property was reduced for quick sale and is expected to be swiped any day now. Situated about two miles off the coast of Queensland, this island offers everything you need. A private airstrip making it easy to get to, a four bedroom home set on top the highest vantage point on the island and white sand beaches. Temple Island is home to sea turtles during nesting season, plenty of orchids, rainforest and a slew of oyster whales. They will even throw in the 1986 Range Rover that is on the island; although we cannot be sure if it still works or not. One of the best deals in Australia is Temple Island coming in at $850,000. Scoop this island up before it’s too late.

Queensland Shore

3. Isla Paloma -Panama

For just $400,000 dollars you can be the owner of the quarter acre Isla Paloma, located just off the northern shore of Panama. The island is located in calm waters, surrounded by barrier islands and comes complete with a house already on it. It features a white sandy beach, and is surrounded by a shallow lagoon. Views are of the mountains, oceans and incredible sunsets. The house is completely furnished and features two bedrooms plus a loft and is move-in ready. Did we mention this island also features a party shack, boathouse and swim dock. It  also boasts that it is spider and snake free due to its size and proximity to other islands. The only things you will find here are colorful exotic birds and a couple of local geckos. The only question here is why hasn’t someone snatched up this amazing island already?

Photo by: Private Islands Inc.
Photo by: Private Islands Inc.

2. Jewel Caye -Belize

This 2+ acre private island is currently on the market for $3.15 million. This pristine islands sits smack down in the midst of the azure waters of the Cockney Range Area. It is home to two master houses, one on each side of the island and each over 2,000 square feet. Both have lofts and tons of balcony space; perfect for family and friends. Two more duplexes and a total of three homes for crew are also located on this island. But that is not all. Along with plenty of space for visitors this island is home to a 120 foot pier that stretches out over the water and opens up to the main kitchen, bar and convening area. Step off the ladder into the clear waters that are loaded with visible coral, a snorkeler’s paradise. The island is also equipped with WiFi, satellite TV and electrical systems powered by solar panels. This island truly leaves no stone unturned.

Photo by: Private Islands Inc.
Photo by: Private Islands Inc.

1. Johnny’s Cay -Bahamas

This island paradise is 4.46 acres and can be yours for the price of just $5.95 million. It is also located just a seven minute boat ride away from all the conveniences of Hope Town. There are two houses already on this island, a main house that boasts an open concept layout with high ceilings, large windows and two bedrooms alongside a guest house with an extra two bedrooms for visitors. Two white sandy beaches provide ample room to stretch out and relax and enjoy the calm, deep and protected waters. A man built marina is already on-site, perfect for parking your boat. Ocean views, water sports and a private island to yourself, what more could anyone need.

Photo by: Joao Carlos Medau via Flickr
Photo by: Joao Carlos Medau via Flickr

12 Amazing Caves You Have to Visit

Caves are eerie and mysterious. The splendor of a cave is uniquely individual and each cave offers a story. Some caves are famous, while others are only now coming into discovery. Under the earth, separate eco systems covet vaulted chambers, underground rivers and sacred surprises.  Adventurers can explore diverse caves with a dark history or witness glowworms lighting the chambers. One of the few places left to pioneer are the caves of the world; discoveries are abundant in current day explorations. Some of these caves will leave you in awe, majestic in their own way. Beneath our feet remains another world of intricate, hidden gems. No one really knows how many caves there are in the world, but the ones that are known call to even the most timid. If you have never visited a cave, the time is now. The amazing journey of caves begins here with our favorite 12 caves you have to visit.

12. Carlsbad Caverns -New Mexico, USA

Considered one of the most famous caves in the United States is Carlsbad Caverns. It is one of the oldest cave systems in the world. These legendary caves are located 27 miles from the city of Carlsbad in the Guadalupe Mountains of New Mexico. It is estimated that over 225 million years ago, Carlsbad Caverns was once a sea. Discovered by a little boy, Jim White, he would use his homemade wire ladder to explore the caverns. Take a guided or self-guided tour of the expansive caverns and enjoy the many chambers and rooms this cave has to offer. The appropriately named ‘Big Cave’ is the biggest cavern, with the some of the most colorful rock formations ever, while ‘Left Hand Tunnel’ will take you to amazing cave pools and fossils. Located deep within the Carlsbad Caverns is a mesmerizing place called the ‘King’s Palace’, a series of four chambers opening to a peculiar rippled rock formation known quaintly as the Queen’s Draperies. Carlsbad Caverns National Park entertains over 300,000 visitors a year. The reason Carlsbad is so famous? It hosts over 119 chambers of caves under the quiet of the desert terrain.

Carlsbad Caverns

11. Puerto Princesa Underground River -Palawan, Philippines

Be first in line to view the world’s longest underground river and navigate through a fascinating blend of bat habitat and amazing geology in the Puerto Princesa caves. Take a short jungle walk and see the different species of animals along the way.Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River National Park has one of the most impressive cave systems, featuring intact old-growth forests, spectacular limestone landscapes, distinctive wildlife, and pristine beauty. It is located outside of the Philippine Archipelago on the coast of Palawan. The highlight of this river system is that it directly ends flowing into the sea. This mysterious cave site is a full ‘mountain-to-sea’ ecosystem, with a global phenomenon called tidal influence distinguishing these caves from any other famous caverns. Inside the caves, eye-catching rock formations create distinct forms like mushrooms, horses, a half face of Jesus, and fish. It is the first national park created and maintained by a local government unit, as a symbol of commitment by the Filipino people to hold onto their natural heritage. The Filipino people serve the park to keep it protected at all times. In 2012, this captivating underground river was officially established as one of the great new 7 wonders of nature.

r.nagy /
r.nagy /

10. Blue Grotto Caves -Capri, Italy

The Blue Grotto Caves of Italy are an absolute must-see for any visitor. This cave is situated on the northwest corner of Capri Island and draws a surplus of interested crowds to its iridescent blue waters constantly. This is no surprise as the experience is best described as surreal. In ancient times, people believed the Blue Grotto held magical healing powers and would frequent the caves to prolong their youth. The mystical water color can be compared to a blue sapphire or topaz gem. As your boat enters the cave, you must lay down flat to be sure you make it through the low ceiling opening. The best time to visit the Blue Grotto caves is in the late afternoon when the sun will shine directly on the outside of the cave. The brilliant turquoise water presents many different splendid ocean views. Inside the main cave, there is another chamber called the blue cathedral which extends into many smaller chambers. Anything submerged underwater will take on a strange discoloration, almost making objects reflect a silver iridescence. This cave offers a feeling of zen and purity; it is easy to see why the ancient Romans used the grotto as a healing pool and fountain of youth.

Blue Grotto Caves

9. Škocjan Caves -Trieste, Slovenia

The Skocjan Caves look like something out of the “Lord of the Rings” movies with vast underground gorges and halls. They are a network of 11 caves with swallow holes and natural bridges. The Skocjan Caves Regional Park is located on the main Karst plateau about 15 km from Italy. Karst formation caves are very distinct to Slovenia, with few in the world like this it’s only here that you can marvel at the world’s largest underground wetlands. The Skocjan Caves are actually an underground canyon with a river carving the rocks along the way; the water noise is a bit fear-inducing when the guards shut off their lights. Early explorers only had a small flame to use to navigate through this enormous cave system. The old carved stairs used by the explorers still exist for an eye-opener to see just how hard it was for these brave pioneers. This massive environment is surrounded on the outside by an ecosystem rich in diversity of plant life and animals. There are thousands of other caves in this area to explore when you are finished in the daunting Skocjan Caves.

Škocjan Caves

8. Barton Creek Cave -Belize

Outside of San Ignacio, Belize is an exciting remote cave once used by the ancient Mayans for ceremonial and burial purposes. Barton Creek cave visits involve spending an hour paddling canoes down an ancient Mayan waterway leading inside the mountain caverns. Meander along the route and you will get to see skulls and true artifacts as you move in between the stalactites and stalagmites. This cave offers high ceilings and cathedral chambers making it a beautiful setting in which to photograph. It is as if you were transformed into another time. The energy of the Mayan history is felt deeply in this underground cave; the remains of human sacrifices and pottery shards are an important link to the historic Mayan culture. On the way to the caves, which is about a 45 minute drive, you will pass through a traditional Mennonite village in Upper Barton Creek. Across the way is a clear, running creek abundant with native wildlife, such as howler monkeys. You will hear them, and maybe even see them as they rest in the deep mountain forests. This cave is uniquely historical and hidden deep in the rainforest jungle of Belize.

Barton Creek Cave

7. Onondaga Cave -Missouri, USA

Missouri is often referred to as “The Cave State” because it boasts over 6,000 cave formations within the state. Onondaga cave is one of the coolest caves in Missouri with its active flowstones, where water is busy building the formations. Stalagmites and dripping stalactites help make this cave a national natural landmark. The crevices which make up the Onondaga cave are the direct result of time laden, old river streams running constantly underground. Without realizing it, you are basically walking on water over roaring rivers invisible to the eye, covered by mounds of soil and rock beds. Karst is terrain based on soluble bedrock layers and is an integral part of many of Missouri’s caves. It is characterized by deep hollows, springs, sinkholes, eroded rolling hills and natural bridges. Missouri caves all are notably Karst. Karst was originally a name from Slovenia, typical for their own cave formations. The park itself offers beauty on the surface with Vilander Bluff Natural Area providing a panoramic scene of the Meramec River. The lovely Meramec River is formed by the many springs, both underground and above.

Onondaga Cave

6. Fantastic Cave Pit -Georgia, USA

The largest cave in America is the Fantastic Cave Pit in Georgia. It has a mind-blowing depth of 586 feet. To give you an idea of just how huge this cave is, it can hold the Washington Monument, and is twice the height of the Statue of Liberty. Throw a stone and it takes 8 full seconds to reach the bottom. Fantastic is known as one of the two Ellison caves in Georgia’s Walker Country; the other one is called Incredible and measures 440 feet deep. The only way to see Fantastic Cave Pit is to rappel down, passing by the layers upon layers of rocks known to be millions of years old. The steep vertical pitch is frightening and exhilarating all at the same time as you take this twelve mile long adventure into pitch black. The amazing cave is not for the weak of heart or those with a height phobia, as this cave will test you on every level. Fantastic is a striking natural cave created by the limestone massif. This pit is only for experienced climbers, and even the most experienced of them have been challenged resulting in injury and even death. If you are into extreme spelunking, with caution, this is the cave for you.

Photo by: Second Globe
Photo by: Second Globe

5. Lascaux Caves -Motignac, France

This is not a spelunking cave; this is an amazing archaeological find in the world today. The Lascaux caves hold detailed drawings from over 17,000 years ago. It was in 1940 in Dordogne France, in the little community of Montignac, four boys and their dog found a long forgotten cave full of archaeological revelation. The Lascaux cave has been called the “Sistine Chapel of Prehistory.” The iconic workmanship and art techniques of animals, enigmatic signs, and human representations have brought millions of people to see for themselves. In fact, after its discovery the public swiftly piled into the prehistoric cave, almost completely demolishing the paintings. Today, to keep the paintings protected, tours only provide Paleolithic facsimiles and life-size replicas. This cave raises new questions about our understanding of our prehistoric ancestors. Rumors of a second cave of pre-historic artwork in Dordogne are being taken seriously after a 51 year old family secret was revealed to authorities. A woman in her 70’s revealed her now-deceased husband came across a cave in 1962 with prehistoric frescos, but he quickly covered the entrance so he wouldn’t be bothered. If authentic, this could shed even more light on our prehistoric past. The jury is still out on this one.

Photo by: Scoop Whoop
Photo by: Scoop Whoop

4. Fingal’s Cave -Staffa, Scotland

Located on the island of Staffa, a complete volcanic island is Fingal’s Cave. The calling card of this striking cave are the spectacular basalt columns. The entire cave is of different sized colonnades, nature’s gift to us. Even the cliffs of Staffa carry the basalt columns as walls around the edges. The series are equally spaced into prismatic columns and result in an extraordinary pattern. The columns have three to eight sides, with six being the most common. The cavern has a large arched entrance over the sea, but boats cannot enter here. There is a walkway overland that is led by a row of fractured columns into the cave allowing you to walk deep inside the 227-foot cavern. It is an odd scene to take in, with every column absolutely chiseled and exact; you would want to explore the reasons behind this strange perfection. Fingal’s Cave makes an impact immediately on the wandering explorers visiting this unique place. It is a solemn reminder of all the unbelievable, unimaginable wonders that exists in our world. It is baffling, extraordinary and causes our spirit to stir. This is a far-reaching experience and for cave-lovers, it should be on the bucket list.

Fingal’s Cave

3. Cave of the Swallows -Aquismon, Mexico

Cave of the Swallows (Sotano’ de las Golodrinas) is one of the deepest freefall caves in the world. It is a sinkhole cave that gets wider as you get closer to the bottom. The bottom is comparable to three football fields deep or 1,214 feet to be exact. If you were to jump in, it would take you twelve seconds to hit the bottom. During rainy season several waterfalls take the plunge directly over the edge and into the cave. Certain temperatures and even dampness can cause the cave to actually form clouds in the upper part. This enormous pit is home to hundreds upon hundreds of birds (hence the name). The dance begins promptly at sunrise, with little grey spots circling way below. The spots get bigger and bigger until thousands of white-collared swifts rise up from the cave. In a primeval ritual, the spiraling birds can almost be hypnotic. Even a more elegant bird lives in the Cave of the Swallows, beautiful green parakeets also do their ritualistic dance. The first know effort to explore the sinkhole was done by Texas cave explorers in 1966. It wasn’t until 1969; they knew just how deep this cave actually was. Times have changed, and extreme sports activity, including spelunking, keeps enthusiasts rappelling their way into the mysterious land of birds.

Photo by: Xtreme Spots
Photo by: Xtreme Spots

2. Glowworm Cave -Waitomo, New Zealand

This cave could be considered something right out of a fairy-tale scene; thousands of tiny glowworms illuminate the cavern like a starry night sky, except it is all a show done underground. Standing somewhere in the deep limestone shaft you will be left speechless. Glowworms are native to New Zealand and typically found in a variety of habitats especially caves. They use the bio-luminescence of their web silk and mucus to capture their prey. In Glowworm Cave, you can expect to see millions of glowworms, all about the size of a mosquito. Floating on a guided boat slowly and gently through this new land, gives you a new perspective on reality; there is magic still to be found. There is a true gem left to explore. This cave gives a whole new meaning to magic. Only 5 minutes from the Waitomo Glowworm Caves is Aranui Cave. It has a natural entrance and is the most delicate, tiniest cave of Waitomo’s three caves. Inside, you’ll find an alluring collections of flowstones, stalagmites, and decorative formations. Visit both caves for an easy 2 for 1 experience. These star bright little creatures offer an opportunity to find the magic of a fairy-tale in real life.

Photo by: Huff Post/Reddit
Photo by: Huff Post/Reddit

1. Cave of Crystals -Chihuahua, Mexico

Nothing quite compares to Cueva de los Cristales, or Cave of Crystals. In 2000, a pair of brothers discovered the limestone cavern almost 1,000 feet below ground in the Naica mine. Massive crystals were discovered, prompting scientists to wonder how they grew so big. It takes approximately 20 minutes to get to the cave entrance via a winding mine shaft where you descend into darkness and humidity. By the time you reach the entrance, no doubt you’ll be glistening with sweat. Then you see them…enormous pillars of light, some several feet thick. In fact, there is every shape of crystal possible, and a mystical experience begins. Imagine a crystal so big you could sit your whole family on it; or a few dozen tiny slivers of crystals being born out of a main one, resembling a hair brush. This is essentially the Cave of Crystals. This cave requires special equipment for exploration, as the magma can make the environment a dangerous one for those exposed for more than 10 minutes. It’s a worthwhile trip however as the crystals are said to be more than 500,000 years old. This cave is the number one cave to see because of the absolute grandeur of life happening within.

Photo by: Nat Geo
Photo by: Nat Geo

World’s 10 Most Dangerous Dive Spots

Scuba diving is a popular recreational activity among adventure seekers worldwide. The isolation, serenity, and calm of the dark quiet waters offer an unusual escape from the world above.  Many recreational divers are quite content to remain at shallow levels exploring reefs and other interesting sea life. Some dive enthusiasts will attest to the desire to dive deeper to chart new unexplored places underwater and see things that have never been seen before. It’s this very desire that drives divers to take on some terrifying and dangerous challenges like the ones featured here.

10. Jacob’s Well (Wimberley, Texas)

On the surface, Jacob’s Well located southwest of Austin Texas just looks like your average backcountry swimming hole. Below the surface, there’s an entirely different story. A deep network of at least 4 main chambers offers some of the most dangerous cave diving in the world. Diving to the first and second chambers isn’t usually a problem, except for a few tight passageways. It’s the loose gravel and small space of the network’s third chamber that has caused many problems. Once gravel and silt are stirred up it’s almost impossible for divers to know which way to go causing them to panic and use up their air tanks faster. At least 8 people have sadly lost their lives in these chambers.

9. Coco’s Island (Costa Rica)

One of the main reasons this Costa Rican diving destination is so dangerous is its remote location. The Island which is entirely designated as a National Park lies 340 miles off the Pacific coast of the country and takes over 35 hours by boat to get to. The other reason for its dangerous reputation is the high number of sharks in the waters around the island. The many species of sharks including hammerhead and white tip reef sharks as well as giant manta rays, dolphins, and sea turtles are the main attraction for divers from all over the world.

8. Blue Hole (Lighthouse Reef, Belize)

The Blue Hole in Lighthouse Reef off the coast of Belize offers beautiful clear waters, marine wildlife, and some of the deepest diving around. With a depth of 407ft, divers who visit this site push to challenge themselves and go deeper, trying to see things previously unexplored. This is where the danger sets in. The walls of the hole are sheer until a depth of 110ft after which, divers will encounter jagged stalactite formations on the hole’s limestone walls. In 2012, the Blue Hole in Belize was named #1 on Discovery Channel’s “The 10 Most Amazing Places on Earth”.

7. Cenote Esqueleto (Tulum, Mexico)

Cenote Esqueleto or more commonly known as “Temple of Doom” is another popular and dangerous cave diving site. This one lies just beyond the famous Tulum Ruins in Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula. This site features numerous caverns and tight passageways which can all spell danger even for experienced divers. There’s no ladder down into the cave network so the only way down is to just jump right in. Once below it’s easy to get disorientated, lost, and run out of air down here, as was the case for a father and son dive team in 1996.

6. Devil’s Caves (Ginnie Springs, Florida)

Ginnie Springs is a popular cave diving destination about 35 miles northwest of Gainsville Florida. The temperatures in these crystal clear waters are a balmy 72 degrees Fahrenheit year-round removing the need for a thick wetsuit. Little Devil, Devil’s Eye, and Devil’s Ear are the most notable and dangerous sites in the springs. Beware, this serene-looking spring has a very deceptive and strong flowing current, making for some dangerous diving. Especially at the vortex opening to the Devil’s Ear where divers gear is often shifted around.

5. German U Boat (New Jersey)

60 miles off the coast of New Jersey lies a remarkable World War II relic, a German U boat that was first discovered in 1991 by an American diver who had learned about the vessel’s possible location. The remains of U-869 were discovered at a depth of 240ft (73m) which is a dangerous depth for any diver. 3 Divers involved in the discovery of the boat actually died while exploring the area soon after it was found. The deep depths coupled with cold water temperatures and strong currents all make this an extremely dangerous dive spot.

4. The Shaft Sinkhole (Mount Gambier, Australia)

Mount Gambier in South Australia is home to some of the best (and most dangerous) cave diving around. The area is full of freshwater lakes, caves, caverns, and sinkholes that tempt brave adventure divers from around the world. The Shaft is a notorious sinkhole dive spot aptly named as the entrance is a tiny manhole that leads to a 25ft descent to the water. Beneath this long, dark entrance lies a huge network of clear water passageways. Unfortunately, there have been many fatalities in this dive site due to its depth and complexity.

3. Eagle’s Nest Sinkhole (Weeki Wachee, Florida)

Another dangerous dive spot in the Sunshine State is Eagle’s Nest Sinkhole. Located in the remote western area of Weeki Wachee, this site is reportedly 1035ft (315m) in-depth, making it dangerous for even the most skilled divers. The deeper scuba divers go, the more they start to experience Nitrogen Narcosis which causes them to experience a sense of euphoria and disorientation which can cause divers to lose track of their tank levels or become lost. Such has been the case at this Florida dive spot where several divers have lost their lives pushing the limits.

2. Samaesan Hole (Samae San Islands, Thailand)

Samaesan Hole in the Gulf of Thailand is a popular deep diving spot. It’s also a very dangerous one for a few different reasons; first of all, the depth. At 280ft (85m) this should only be attempted by deep dive professionals with all the right equipment. Another danger is the strong currents of this dive area. One diver recounts a time where he surfaced from his dive miles away from the hole and had to be rescued by a passing deep-sea trawler. The last and maybe most dangerous aspect of the Samaesan Hole are the unexploded bombs littering the sea bed all around this area as the site is a former military explosive dumping ground.

1. Blue Hole (Dahab, Red Sea)

The notoriety of this dive site amongst the diving community gives it the top spot on the list. It’s also earned the title of “World’s Most Dangerous Dive Site” because of the high number of fatalities that have occurred here, giving it the ominous nickname “Divers Cemetery”. The Blue Hole itself is a submarine sinkhole approximately 463ft (130m) deep. The draw of this treacherous dive site is reaching “The Arch” which divers can swim through to open water. The issue here is The Arch is 184ft (56m) down, which is well beyond the PADI maximum recreational dive limit of 131ft (40m). At these depths, many divers become confused causing them to miss the opening and swim down even further beyond safe limits.  An estimated 150 people have died while diving in The Blue Hole in the last 10 years.