A trip to Greece is often considered incomplete without a visit to Santorini. The whitewashed cliffs and blue-domed buildings are something everyone should see in person at least once in your lifetime, but with the popularity and beauty come the crowds. There are many other Greek islands that are stunning in their own right, and offer quintessential Greek experiences; because they are less busy, the atmosphere is usually more authentic and the locals more friendly. So save Santorini for another time, and hit up one of these lesser known Greek islands instead:
A favorite by Athenians, Evia is located not far from the coast, and has a plethora of relaxing opportunities and architectural monuments. During the summer months, Evia is busy with Greek vacationers, but if you are outgoing enough to introduce yourself, they sure know how to have a good time! Be sure to spend some time taking in the tides; Trela Nera is a natural phenomenon with some of the best viewing opportunities from the island.
If you are looking for tradition and history, Karpathos is your island of choice. You get a glimpse into Greek history here; villagers still wear traditional clothing and live in traditional houses. There is plenty of architectural history on this island, as well as unique and expansive landscapes- the mountains are well worth a visit, although they can be chilly!
A great opportunity for environmentalists is volunteering with sea turtles; Zakynthos offers many organisations where you can help protect these precious islands. The snorkeling is world class, and the island is beautiful and relaxing, although if you are looking for night life and culture this many not be your island of choice.
For those looking for more than beach life, Thasos is where to be. This place offers many outdoors, adventure options year round, although it is known for its mountain biking opportunities; experts and casual riders will both find enjoyment here! Thasos is the perfect local to enjoy on foot; there are so many breathtaking landscapes, you will surely be stopping often to take pictures. Thasos is not what traditionally comes to mind when considering Greek islands, but there is so much natural beauty and culture here that it should not be missed!
Greek music is some of the most intoxicating, local music in Europe; it has remained relatively the same for centuries. If you want an unbridled, musical experience, than head to Naxos, an island known for its musical prowess. While this island does offer beach life and Greek history, it is the music you come here for; there are free live shows nearly every night where you can soak in traditional Greek music and listen to old songs passed down for generations. Be warned, if you stop to listen in on a family event, you will be invited to stay, and given copious amounts of wine!
There’s nothing more comforting than a steaming bowl of soup on a chilly day, so as the seasons change in the northern hemisphere and the air starts to exhibit that nip we know means that winter is coming, we start to search for warmth anyway we can. For many, soup isn’t just a seasonal favorite but rather a go to meal any time of year, and each country/region/cuisine has their own local specialties. Chowders are notorious to the American East coast while in India you’ll find spice-filled delights like Mulligatawny and Rasam, so take a global tour this Fall without having to leave the comfort of your own home with these international soups that are guaranteed to warm and delight.
10. Bouillabaisse -France
If you’re looking for an impressive soup to serve to company or you’re crazy about seafood, this French soup is sure to satisfy. Bouillabaisse originates from the city of Marseille, France where fishermen would make this seafood stew using the left over fish they were unable to sell to markets or restaurants. The dish blends several types of local fish and shellfish such as mussels and crabs with fish stock and a selection of Provençal herbs and spices.
9. Caldo Verde -Portugal
This popular type of Portuguese soup combines potatoes, kale, olive oil and salt and will not only warm you but also fill you up on those cold Autumn evenings. Often, sausage or ham hock is added to the soup at the end of cooking to make it an even more filling meal. In Portugal, you’ll find this soup typically served during celebrations such as birthdays, weddings and festivals like the Festival of St. John of Porto.
8. Cullen Skink -Scotland
This thick Scottish soup is filled with smoked haddock, potatoes and onions along with milk or cream for a hearty satisfying soup that really ‘sticks to your ribs’. Cullen Skink originated in the town of Cullen in Moray Scotland but the dish is now a popular everyday dish throughout the northeast of the country. This soup is considered more assertive than an American fish chowder and heartier than a French bisque.
7. Fasolada -Greece
Fasolada is a traditional Greek bean soup that’s often called the “national food of the Greeks”. While recipes vary widely, the original version of ancient Greece blended dried white beans, olive oil and grains with vegetables like carrot, celery and onions and was served as an offering to the Greek God Apollo during the Pyanopsia festival in Athens.
6. Harira -Morocco
Harira is a popular tomato based soup from Morocco and Algeria where the dish is commonly eaten as a starter before a meal or as a light snack. The main components of Harira are tomatoes, lentils, chickpeas, onions, rice, meat (usually lamb or beef) and flour for thickening. Herbs and spices are also added and vary depending on region but typically they include parsley, coriander, saffron, ginger, pepper, turmeric and cumin.
5. Mulligatawny -India
Mulligatawny may be an English spin on an Indian tradition but it’s still delicious none the less! The funny sounding name comes from the Tamil words mullaga and thanni which translate to ‘pepper-water’. Today’s version of this soup typically consists of chicken broth, curry powder, nutmeg and blended lentils and vegetables. The original Indian dish this soup was based on wasn’t actually a soup at all, but rather a sauce that was served over rice.
4. Tom Yum -Thailand
This traditional Thai hot and sour soup is a favorite not only in Thailand but also in Laos and throughout other neighboring countries. The soups distinct base is made from stock that’s simmered with fragrant herbs and spices like lemongrass, kaffir lime, galangal, fish sauce and fresh chilies. Vegetables and meats are added and very depending on region and recipe but commonly you’ll find chicken, beef, pork and shrimp.
Laksa is a spicy noddle soup popular in the Peranakan style of cuisine which is a blend of both Chinese and Malay cuisines. The popular curry Laksa combines a rich broth of curry spices and coconut milk with rice or laksa noodles, vegetables and meat such as chicken, fish, prawns or bean curd puff. This satisfying noodle soup is popular in Malaysia but variants are also found throughout Singapore, Indonesia and southern Thailand.
2. Solyanka -Russia
Russia is known for hearty food and this popular spicy-sour soup is no exception. While there are 3 basic types of Solyanka, all of them contain pickled cucumbers with brine, cabbage and mushrooms. Meat Solyanka adds beef, ham, sausage or chicken along with tomatoes, onions, olives, capers, allspice, parsley and dill, while mushroom Solyanka sees layers of mushrooms and cabbage alternated and topped with grated lemon zest, breadcrumbs and butter before the soup is baked.
1. Clam Chowder -USA
Clam Chowder is an east coast favorite and one of the most popular soups in America. The New England clam chowder is a milk or cream based type that is usually a little thicker than other regional varieties and is usually topped or thickened with oyster crackers, a regional specialty. Diced potato, bacon, onion and celery are added to the clams and simmered until tender. In the New England region, adding tomatoes to chowder is frowned upon and in 1939, a bill was introduced to Maine legislature making tomatoes in clam chowder illegal.
Often falling behind the mainland and Santorini on popular Greek destination lists, the island of 620,000 is the largest in Greece and 5th largest in the Mediterranean overall. With an area of 8336 square kilometers, it boasts a landscape that varies from sandy beaches to rolling hills to breathtaking mountains, and oozes enough culture and local color to satisfy not only the museum aficionado in your midst, but also that guy who, somewhere along the way, attached himself to your group and now speaks only of locals, fishing boats and Ouzo. So here, folks, are the best things to see and do in Crete, and simultaneously, the main reasons that this island should become your next vacation destination.
10. Watch the Sunrise
While we generally equate vacations with sleeping in and moving through the day at our own pace, pulling yourself out of bed in the early morning to see the sun come up, at least once, is an absolute must. Whether you’re in the quiet Mediterranean villages of Chania or across the island in the bustling urban center of the island’s capital, Heraklion, the extreme stillness and serenity of the Cretan sunrise is a one-of-a-kind experience.
9. Spend the Day in Matala
Located 75 km from Heraklion, Matala is a tiny fishing village on the Bay of Messara that provides crystal-clear waters and a well-maintained beach. The village retains much of the same relaxed atmosphere that made it a popular haunt in the 60s and 70s (apparently Joni Mitchell spent a night in one of the caves). As well as allowing visitors to have a taste of its ancient past, the caves that rise high above the beach and plunge into the water on the north side of the bay are said to be either early Roman or Christian tombs.
8. Get Lost in the Local Agora
Agoras are essentially massive Greek marketplaces that can either be open-air or covered and since ancient times, have been regarded as the cultural hubs of a community. Today these marketplaces exist in some form all over the island, with the largest ones in Heraklion and Chania selling everything from fresh produce and meat to clothing and household essentials. Scattered with tiny cafes and raki (Cretan booze) bars, wandering through one of these agoras is a good way to get a genuine sense of Greek culture and way of life, as well as meet and hear the stories of a ton of different people, from locals to other tourists.
7. Pose for Pictures at Balos Lagoon
Located about 50 km west of Chania, the lagoon at Balos Beach is one of the most photographed areas of the island. It’s not hard to see why, with picturesque scenery, white sands and crystal clear turquoise waters, this little bit of paradise is a must visit during any Cretan holiday. The lagoon also offers both large areas of shallow waters and deep areas ridden with aquatic life, providing activities for both children and adults and solidifying it as one of the best places for family fun on the Island.
6. Marvel at Panagia Kera
Found on the eastern side of Crete, approximately 70 km from Heraklion, Panagia Kera is a tiny and ancient church that contains the most beautiful Byzantine frescoes on the whole of the island. Stepping into the 13th-14th century building is overwhelming, with images depicting everything from Gospel scenes to the Second Coming taking up all of the interior walls. For the full experience, make a day trip out of it, and grab lunch at the neighboring Taverna before heading to check out Platanos Krasi, a world famous 2000 year old (estimated) oak tree in the nearby village.
5. Relax on Elafonisi Beach
Under a restrictive development order, this astounding inlet on Crete’s extreme southwestern coast remains virtually untouched, and retains its status as one of the most beautiful locations on the island. With crystal-clear waters along white and pink sand, the site overlooks the Libyan sea and provides an important destination for bird-watchers, acting at the final stop for many species migrating to Africa. The area also offers the unique chance to catch a glimpse of the endangered Bearded Vulture, for which an observation point is located just over the Agios Dikaios mountain.
4. Explore the Old Town of Chania
Found about 140 km east of Crete’s capital, Chania is undoubtedly the island’s most charming historic town. Wandering its streets you will be surrounded by a plethora of cobblestone walkways, ancient buildings of Roman, Jewish, Turkish and Venetian origins, and a hodgepodge of restaurants, shops and cafes. The town stands testament to its extensive history of surviving five occupations, with institutions of various cultures standing side by side and citizens co-existing at what can only be described as a laid-back leisurely pace. After a day of exploring, take in the unique atmosphere of this little corner of the world at Platia 1821 (1821 Square), which is riddled with a variety of open-air restaurants and is the hub of the town’s social scene.
3. Check out the Heraklion Archaeological Museum
As a precursor to visiting any of the island’s Minoan ruins, check out the newly renovated Heraklion Archeological Museum, which is home to 22 galleries exhibiting over 5000 years of history. One of the most important museums of this kind in the country, the institution houses the most extensive collection of Minoan art and artifacts in the world, consisting of upwards to 15,000 items from the Neolithic era to the Roman period. The most treasured items on display include the snake goddesses from Knossos, the “Prince of the Lilies” fresco and the Phaistos Disc.
2. Venture Back in Time at Knossos Palace
Found just outside of the island’s capital city, Knossos Palace is the largest excavated site depicting the grandeur and sophistication of Crete’s ancient Minoan civilization. Walking through the massive complex, which dates back to 1700 BC, visitors really develop a sense of appreciation for the advanced level of architecture and artistry developed by the ancient peoples; in fact, the site’s layout is so intricate it has sparked speculation that this was actually the legendary labyrinth of King Minos. Thanks to the restoration efforts of Arthur Evans, the site now showcases a variety of ancient points of interest, including original store houses, burial grounds, throne room and a bathing area, not to mention the distinctive red columns and impressive frescoes.
1. Explore the Samaria Gorge
Crete’s most popular hiking location, the Samaria Gorge, sees upwards of 1000 daily visitors during summer months, and is, quite simply, the coolest thing you can do while on the island. Hailed as Europe’s longest gorge, the Samaria Gorge trail starts with a steep stone decline (don’t worry, there are handrails) that stretches for 11 miles and ends with the rewarding sight of the Libyan Sea. The six hour (on average) trek features a river trail abundant with wildflowers, sightings of the island’s endangered wild goat, the kri-kri, and momentous stone gorge walls that envelope the trail and narrow in some places to a mere few feet. The beauty of this location and the sensation of being enclosed by a gorge is unlike any other hiking experience in the world, and is a must for any traveler who has even the slightest interest in having an adventure during their visit.
If you want to learn to dive the first thing you need to do is locate a reputable dive instructor. The gold standard in dive education is PADI which stands for: The Professional Association of Diving Instructors. PADI is the world’s leading scuba diving training organization and has courses for ages eight and up with certification courses for those age 10 and up. You can locate PADI-certified instructors and facilities in landlocked cities, YMCA’s and dive shops all over the world. If you are going to learn to dive why not do it in a place that you will always remember and take some time to also enjoy the surroundings. When planning your next vacation, why not also learn to scuba dive and give yourself another reason to look forward to that next adventure. We have compiled a list of some of the best places on earth to learn to scuba dive the PADI way while also experiencing a great vacation.
10. The Bahamas
The Bahamas is a popular destination and easily accessible for most Americans. There are several dive centers on the island including Stuart Cove’s Dive Bahamas. Stuart was a stunt diver in the James Bond movie “For Your Eyes Only”. After earning a reputation as a top-notch underwater stunt coordinator, he saved his money and in 1987 bought a dive boat. Subsequent stints in various resorts and his role as the go-to film underwater coordinator led Stuart to open a dive center. Offering various PADI certification classes and divemaster courses Stuart also takes certified divers on shark dives, has a kid’s certification course, and even has an underwater wedding venue if you want to have the wedding experience of a lifetime. When not diving, the Bahamas offers great beaches, nightlife, boating, fishing, the world’s deepest blue hole, and the third-largest reef in the world. A wild horse preserve, various nature preserves, and great weather. What more could you ask for?
Scotland you say? Scotland doesn’t necessarily come to mind when you think of scuba diving. For wreck divers, those that enjoy exploring sunken vessels and such, then Scotland is the perfect choice to learn to dive. Scapa Scuba is located in Orkney and the only dive shop in the area. Courses in open water diving, rescue diving and more are offered. One reason Scotland is an ideal place is that at the end of WW1, in 1919, the German Navy scuttled 52 ships at Scapa Flow and this makes for what is today one of the world’s best wreck dives. When not diving, explore some of the Neolithic remains in the area that date back over 5,000 years, a cathedral founded by Vikings or visit some of the nearby towns.
Learning to dive in Greece has two advantages, the opportunity to learn to dive while enjoying the Aegean Sea and, well, the fact that you’re in Greece. One of the places you can learn to dive is the Atlantis Diving Center, located in the Halkidiki region. The Halkidiki region is in the Northern part of Greece and consists of three peninsulas jutting out into the Aegean Sea. Here the dive sites offer underwater caves, reefs and a variety of sea life. When not diving you can visit unique historical sites such as Mount Athos which holds monasteries and has been continuously inhabited for 1800 years. Visiting Mount Athos is restricted to a certain number of visitors per day, males only and special permission has to be obtained. The city of Thessaloniki is nearby and offers a mix of old-world charm with modern city.
Costa del Sol is known for luxurious resorts and hotels, beautiful beaches, fine dining, and vibrant nightlife. Simply Diving, in Malaga Spain, has been operating in the area since 1999 and has a cadre of international instructors. The 5-star dive center has classes ranging from beginner to night diver, underwater photography, divemaster, and instructor training. Some of the dive sites visited are Gibraltar, the site of war vessel wreckage, and La Costa Tropical, Europe’s first-ever National Marine Park. When you’re not diving you can enjoy any of the popular tourist destinations in Spain. If you want to escape the tourist areas for a few days then head inland and visit one of the many small villages and towns where you can enjoy hiking and cycling through the countryside surrounded by olive groves and fields.
Located in the northwestern part of Peru, the town of Mancora is a popular beach resort destination and home to the Spondylus Dive Center. Spondylus was the first PADI-certified dive school in Peru and has all types of courses for children and adults. Popular dives include El Ñuro Beach where you can get up close to different marine life such as sea turtles, octopus, moray eels and different species of fish. Abandoned oil platforms have turned into artificial reefs and make for a unique experience also. For those that just want to have a fun day, a snorkeling tour can be arranged. Also, a day trip to the nearby Amotape Hills National Park provides the opportunity to do some river rafting and hiking. Mancora, known for being a popular beach and surf destination, has been likened to some of the popular Thailand beaches before they became overcrowded with tourists.
When you sit back and hear other divers talk about where they got certified you may hear of a tropical beach paradise, but you can have a different story. Lake Atitlan in Guatemala is off the beaten path for tourists and is one of the best-kept secrets among travelers. Surrounded by colorful Mayan villages the lake is located in the highlands and is the deepest lake in Central America. Formed by volcanic eruptions the region is part of the “Ring of Fire” around the Pacific Ocean. ATI Divers run courses at the lake where you can dive among volcanic formations such as cliffs and overhangs. When you’re not diving you can experience the non-commercialized area of authentic Mayan villages where the women still wear traditional dress. Take a couple of day tours while you are there and you will have a story to tell about where you got dive certified.
India has a coastline of over 7,000 km so the chances of finding a good dive instructor are pretty good. One of the best places to learn to dive and also have a great vacation is the Andaman Islands located in the Bay of Bengal between India and Myanmar. Dive India offer courses from open water to instructor training. Diving among pristine reefs while also offering dives to locations far off the beaten path, Dive India is a good choice to learn to scuba dive. During your downtime, you can learn a little about the history of the area. A popular destination is the Cellular Jail in Port Blair. The jail was built by colonial British and used to house political prisoners during the era. You can also take an island hopping tour, or just enjoy the many beaches.
3. The Philippines
The Philippines is comprised of over 7,000 islands so you might think they have a few places to learn to dive and you would be right. With all of the places and options, the prices for learning how to dive have a wide range. One of the cheapest places is also one of the best places. Dumaguete is located in the province of Negros Oriental, the largest city in the province. Liquid Dumaguete is a 5-star PADI resort that not only offers courses but runs a resort on location. Why Dumaguete for diving? The reason is that it’s close to APO Island which is probably the most famous and best diving site in the region. Hard corals, schools of fish, sea turtles and an abundance of other sea life are encountered. Other popular dive site destinations are also available. The other reason Dumaguete is a great location is when you’re not diving the city awaits with all the hospitality of the Filipino people.
Thailand, the home of crystal clear blue water, white sand beaches and wild parties. Thailand is also the home to some of the best diving in Asia. Located on Koh Tao Island you will find the Crystal Dive Resort one of only a few 5-star PADI certified dive shops in the region. From beginner courses, refresher courses, and specialized training, Crystal Dive Resort offers everything you need to get certified. With 16 dive sites around the island you can experience all types of diving. You may want to take a day dive to Shark Island where you could spot reef and leopard sharks. Don’t want to encounter a shark? You might want to try the area around the Japanese Gardens where there is little current and a fairly shallow reef populated with various tropical fish. Being an island, the majority of activities revolve around diving, hanging out on the beach, or fishing, but there is always the nightlife. After spending the day diving you might want to take a plunge into the famous Thai nightlife.
Australia is home to the Great Barrier Reef, the largest living thing on earth. Selected as a World Heritage Site and visible from outer space the Great Barrier Reef is undoubtedly the most famous dive spot in the world. Where better to earn your PADI certification and also have the chance to see and experience such a wonder? From 30 species of whales, dolphins and porpoises to the more than 1500 species of fish, this is why Australia is our number one pick. Various sea turtles and coral species make for what has to be the most memorable dive of a lifetime. Pro Dive in Cairns is a 5-star PADI dive center and has been in operation since 1983. Pro Dive offers all the classes needed to get certified and for the more experienced, they have extended dive tours. Using their state-of-the-art dive vessels that have Wi-Fi onboard and comfortable quarters you can have an extended trip of three to seven days and hit all the great dive spots. Cairns is considered the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef but its tropical climate and laid-back atmosphere also make for a great vacation destination.
Getting engaged is a huge deal. Not only are you agreeing to spend the rest of your life with someone (which is no small undertaking), the engagement itself will be a story that will be told over and over again for the rest of your lives together. And every good story has to have not only great characters (in this case the future bride and groom), but a great setting to start it off on the right page. So to help create the plot of your fairytale story, here are some memorable spots in which to get engaged.
10. Siesta Key -Florida, United States
Siesta Key beach is known to be one of the best in the world, with its temperate waters, signature white sands and miles and miles of beach to walk. Siesta Key is also known to have some of the best sunsets in the world. Take your beloved for a stroll on the beach at sunset and pop the question against the fiery night sky.
9. Kylemore Abbey -Connemara, Ireland
Another castle to consider for the prince and princess in one of their most romantic moments. Kylemore Abbey in Connemara, Ireland. This castle has numerous restored rooms and six acres of walled Victorian gardens. There are sweeping views of the rolling Irish countryside. Think fresh air, a pastoral setting and history in which to chart your future.
8. The Jefferson Memorial -Washington, D.C., United States
Getting engaged is no small feat, and perhaps surrounding yourself with meaningful words and history will enhance the depth of the commitment and of your love. Engagements at the Jefferson Memorial in Washington D.C. are popular. After a stroll around some Washington landmarks, pop the question in the cradle of history, with thoughtful passages about rights and freedom taken from the Declaration of Independence upon the walls.
7. Venice, Italy
Again, it may be cliche, but Venice straight up just oozes romance. This city of waterways has amazing architecture, deep history, and a laid-back vibe that gives you time to pause and savour the moment. Floating in a gondola would no doubt make for a memorable proposal- but to make it even more romantic, have your gondolier stick to some of the side canals, for a more intimate moment.
6. The Pitons, St Lucia
The Pitons are black volcanic mountains, and provide a majestic backdrop for any engagement. If your partner is outdoorsy and enjoys fancies a hike, a proposal with a view atop one of the Piton spires could be a step in the right direction toward a ‘yes!’. If you are a little more sedentary, the Pitons themselves can be viewed from various locations and hotels around the island.
5. Quebec City -Quebec, Canada
With its European flavour, cobblestone streets and romantic bistros that line the street, this walled city is the epitome of romance. There are a few good spots to seek out for your proposal. The Joan of Arc Garden, located within the Plains of Abraham, with its numerous, vibrant flower beds is a popular spot. Another idea is at the Chateau Frontenac. This historic hotel has rooms with amazing views as well as boasting amazing, classic architecture.
4. Neuschwanstein -Schwangau, Germany
Want a romance with a fairy-tale ending? Start your marriage off with a proposal in a real-life castle. The Neuschwanstein Castle is a 19th century castle located in Southwest Bavaria in Germany. This popular castle ushers through some 6,000 visitors every summer. Why is it so romantic? It’s the inspiration from an actual fairy tale: Disney’s Sleeping Beauty fashioned their castle after Neuschwanstein. We’d say this proposal spot is definitely fit for any princess!
3. Central Park -New York City, United States
Any season will do for a romantic proposal in New York’s iconic Central Park, but the fall provides a pretty backdrop, with loads of trees tipped in vibrant oranges, reds and yellows. Pack a picnic and go for an afternoon stroll or even a horse-drawn carriage ride. A couple of the most popular proposal spots? The Bow Bridge or the Carousel at 46th St.
2. Paris, France
It’s a little bit cliche, but Paris really is the city of love. There is something indefinable in the air that communicates romance. The more obvious places to get engaged centre around the Eiffel Tower, either in a hotel with a view or at the Tower itself, or along the banks of the Seine River. Given the romance vibe in Paris, you could propose literally anywhere and have it be meaningful. Want something a little different, but with a spectacular view? Climb the 300 steps up to the dome in the Sacre Coeur Basilica, in Montmartre. The climb is a little daunting, the view is incredible.
1. Santorini, Greece
This group of small islands is one of the most scenic areas in Greece, and is considered one of the most romantic destinations in Europe. Santorini is actually perched on the rim top of an active volcano. The topography of this area creates some spectacular hillsides and cliffs, which provide wonderful views of the clear seas below. It’s also famous for show-stopping sunsets, which will create the perfect backdrop to pop the question.
Outdoor hotel pools don’t need to be square concrete blocks, littered with screaming children and leaves that haven’t been scrapped off the bottom, which are normally freezing cold. In fact, outdoor hotel pools can be downright beautiful. From the ever popular infinity pools that look over the sides of cliffs, to rooftop pools so high up you forget what lies below; these outdoor pools are wonderfully unique in their own ways. Discover 15 of our favorite outdoor pools, and before long you will be booking a night, just to try out the pool.
15. Hotel Caruso -Salerno, Italy
This open-air infinity pool is brilliantly blue in color and creates the perfect atmosphere for hotel guests to relax. The pool is set atop the highest point of Ravello, seemingly suspended in the clouds, halfway between heaven and earth. It overlooks the breathtaking views of the Amalfi Coast, one of the most beautiful places on earth. Getting to the pool is just as beautiful as the pool itself as guests will have to wander through a rose garden. Complete with medieval ruins towering beside the pool, you will simply feel as you have fallen back in time. Make sure to indulge in the fresh-fruit appetizers that will be delivered to you poolside, or request a pre-loaded iPod with your choice of music. A visitor here can even get an Evian vaporizer delivered to them while they are in the pool. This is luxury at its finest.
14. The Oberoi Udaivilas -Udaipur, India
Spread over a 50 acre wildlife preserve is this wonderful hotel in India that features not one but two impressive pools. Guests here will be privy to amazing scenery, wildlife and exceptional service. The first pool runs lengthwise along the interconnecting domes and corridors that make up the hotel. This 70-foot pool is for guests that are staying in one of the semi-private pool rooms that allow access to this wonderful pool right from the room door. Private pool rooms are also available for those guests wanting their own private 36 foot plunge pool complete with dining area. The main pool at this hotel is stunning in deep blue tiles, set within a Mewar style courtyard with lush green lawns. The sandstone and marble tile patterns set off the sapphire blue color and truly make it a majestically centerpiece for this hotel.
13. Four Seasons Safari Lodge Serengeti -Serengeti, Tanzania
As if staying at a safari lodge isn’t enough of an amazing experience, the Four Seasons have upped the ante with this awesome outdoor pool. This large sparkling blue free-form infinity pool is among favorites of visitors to this awesome safari lodge. The pool is the perfect break from your safari adventure, although it may not feel like much of a break from wildlife sightings as you watch over the watering hole that brings elephants, lions and other wildlife up close and personal. Relax in the cool waters, grab a cocktail from sunrise to sunset or relax in one of the sun beds on the deck. Watching a sunset from here is a favorite activity as the sky turns a brilliant pink and orange while the sun disappears. At night enjoy a romantic dinner poolside, complete with candles, lanterns and excellent dining options.
12. The Library -Koh Samui Island, Thailand
Located just a few steps away from the white sandy beaches is a pool that shines so brilliantly red, one would think that the water is dyed to be that color. This signature red pool is absolutely stunning to the naked eye and swimming here is an unforgettable experience. We promise, you aren’t swimming in dark crimson blood, although we admit it looks like that from a distance. It is in fact the stunning mosaic tiles that make it look so red, as the combination of the red, orange and yellow present a dazzling spectacle of brilliant color. This shallow pool is perfect for relaxing and gazing out at the beautiful blue water. The Library is also the only five-star hotel in Chaweng Beach and in addition to the amazing pool, the hotel itself is wonderful.
11. The Sarojin -Phang Nga, Thailand
This enchanting hotel is only reached by a hidden pathway and borders on five national parks, as well as a long sandy beach. The pool itself is surrounded by lush green gardens and tropical foliage and shimmers a gorgeous turquoise color under the bright sun. Private cabanas are placed in the shallow waters and come complete with sun beds, umbrellas, curtains that can be closed for privacy, towels and bar service. The blue mosaic tiles, the large vases growing beautiful flowers and the steps leading into the deeper water all make this pool incredibly beautiful. With warm water, a serene setting and a private cabana; you may never want to leave this hotel.
10. The Grace Santorini -Santorini, Greece
This exquisite infinity pool is the largest of its kind in Santorini and offers breathtaking views of the sea below. In typical Santorini fashion, the pool is outfitted in white and blue, a perfect combination of simplicity yet style. Chairs and table are places around the pool, at staggering heights to allow for the unparalleled views of the surrounding hills and water. The pool features both a shallow and deep end, for any type of swimmer. Make sure to check out the infamous Santorini sunsets that occur nightly, either from inside the pool or from the chairs. Food and beverage service is available around the pool all day and evening, and visitors are encouraged to spend their days enjoying it.
9. San Alfonso del Mar -Valparaiso, Chile
It holds the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest crystalline pool, measuring over one kilometer in length, eight hectares and holds more than 250 million liters of water. Apart from the sheer size of it, the waters here are an amazing turquoise color and have the same transparency of those in the Caribbean. The water also happens to be an amazing 26 degrees Celsius in the summertime, the absolute perfect temperature for splashing around. The white sand beaches here are private to each of the buildings and recreate a tropical paradise. During the day you will find kids snorkeling, sailing in small boats and many recreational activities taking place in the biggest pool on earth. Make sure you book your room into one of the buildings that has access to the private beaches and pool, as some do not.
8. Amangani -Jackson Hole, United States
This legendary resort is Jackson Hole’s most exclusive resorts and it set seven thousand feet above sea level, carved into the hillside at Gros Ventre Butte. The 100-foot heated swimming pool operates year round and offers stunning views of Wyoming’s snow-capped peaks. During the summer visitors enjoy lounging in the crystal clear waters, taking in the surrounding scenery and watching out for wildlife, all with a cocktail in hand. During the winter guests take advantage of both the warm pool and the attached hot tub, which comes in handy after a long day of skiing in the area. At night the candles are lit and there is no where better to enjoy a bottle of wine than this awesome luxury pool.
7. B2 Boutique Hotel and Spa -Zurich, Switzerland
This trendy 60-room boutique hotel features open spaces and a fabulous rooftop pool. It was once a 150 year old brewery. The hotel has managed to keep the aged stone walls and has refurbished the valves and bolts as clever décor elements. The natural thermal pool on the roof is really what visitors here love though. This uniquely shaped pool offers visitors unparalleled views over the city of Zurich, especially during the night. The pool is divided into different zones, all featuring different jets that relax and unwind you. There are enough nooks and crannies here that everyone can have their privacy. Although there are no surrounding loungers or service staff; the experience is unlike any other rooftop pool experience.
6. Marina Bay Sands Tower Pool -Singapore, Indonesia
It is hailed as the world’s largest rooftop pool at its height and sits high above the city of Singapore on top of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel. If you don’t like heights, you may want to avoid this pool as it is 55 storey’s up in the air and more than three times the length of an Olympic pool. Did we mention that this pool is an infinity pool? This pool is part of the Sands SkyPark, a park that spans over all three hotel buildings and offers shops, restaurants and observation decks to the public. Building the SkyPark was one of the most expensive construction projects in history and once you see it, you can believe it. Unfortunately for the general public, the infinity pool is just open to hotel guests. With plenty of sun loungers, umbrellas, palm trees and dining choices, it is easy to spend an entire day on top of the world here.
5. Ubud Hanging Gardens -Bali, Indonesia
It is one of the most photographed pools in the world and it is no wonder why, as the architecture here is absolutely stunning. This pool won’t be for the faint of heart though as it jets out from the hotel, high above the treetops. It is a split-level infinity pool, the top half featuring a huge deck that flows out from the hotel. The bottom half is almost hidden from sight and creates the feeling of having a private atmosphere, complete with a waterfall. The curved pools were designed to replicate the steep terraced rice paddies that are such an iconic feature of this area of the world. There are a variety of benches and sun chairs around the pool and service staff is more than happy to bring guests food and drink. For the true romantic, you can even eat dinner on a floating dock in the lower level of this awesome infinity pool.
These pools are located on the rooftop terrace of this modern boutique hotel and offer guests stunning views of the surrounding mountains. The infinity style pools run the length of the rooftop with a bar and eating area running down the middle to separate them. One of the pools is warm and perfect for relaxing while the other is slightly cooler and draws more swimmers serious about swimming laps. The concrete canopy above ensures that you aren’t sweltering up here and there is no better place to grab a cocktail after your swim than from the friendly bartender up on the roof, willing to make you just about anything you desire.
3. Kempinski Hotel Ishtar -Amman, Jordan
This five star luxury hotel is situated on the edge of the famous salt lake, the Dead Sea and provides unlimited views across the sea. This resort doesn’t just offer one amazing pool though, it offers nine. The most popular pool here is the lazy river, which takes visitors around the resort. The sunken pool is the perfect place to relax, offering guests a fireplace in the middle and fringed with palm trees along the sides. The round infinity pool though is perhaps the most visually impressive and offers load of space to visitors looking to take a dip. All the pools here are surrounded by plush sun beds, extraordinary scenery and excellent service. It’s too hard to narrow down which of these pools is the best one, so we suggest trying them all.
2. Belmond La Résidence d’Angkor -Siem Reap, Cambodia
This colonial style hotel offers an escape from the city and features an authentic looking tropical pool. The saltwater pool here is surrounded by lush tropical gardens and soaring palm trees on one side, enough to make you forget that you are indeed in the middle of the city. There are enough sun beds on the other side for all guests and this tropical oasis manages to never feel crowded. The inviting lounge spills out onto the swimming pool terrace and most of the bedrooms horseshoe around the pool, giving lovely views to all who stay here. Most visitors love to pad around these tranquil grounds, sip a cocktail on the deck or go for a refreshing afternoon swim.
1. Hacienda Uayamon -Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico
This wonderfully unique property is set ideally close to the Mayan site of Edzna, on Mexico’s stunning Yucatan Peninsula. It is hidden away in thick jungle foliage and ancient ruins and was created to retain some of the original charm of the former cattle ranch it was once. The pool is actually situated in a ruined part of the building and was once the main room. It has since been flooded with water and has become one of the most beautiful swimming pools in the world, with its crumbling stone walls and topless pillars. The absence of a roof means that light pours in all day to this pool and more often than not guests can been seen lounging in the provided hammocks. This setting is sure to relax and inspire you as your worries drift away in the clear turquoise waters.
Planning your vacation is always one of the best parts about the vacation itself and if you happen to be taking a sailing trip in the near future, the first thing you have to decide is where you want to go. Are you looking for the crystal clear waters of the Caribbean, complete with palm trees and white sand? Or are you after a more rugged and wild adventure? From the Southwest Pacific to the Mediterranean there are hundreds of amazing places to charter a yacht. Looking at an array of factors we have narrowed the list down to our favorite 12 places to charter a yacht around the world.
In the Southwest Pacific there are 300 stunning islands over a large area of ocean waiting to be explored. These islands are surrounded by an abundance of sea life, spectacular reefs, crystal clear waters and beautiful lagoons. Fiji is also known for having some of the most welcoming people around. The remoteness of Fiji makes exploring these water and islands unlike anything else in the world. Discover the land of amazing beaches, coconut plantations, tropical rainforests and underwater adventures. Experiencing Fiji is easy, as English is widely spoken and it is known to be very safe. If you are looking for those long sandy beaches with palm trees and coral reefs make sure to get to the Mamanuca Islands. If you want to experience the traditional way of life, make sure to head to Yasawa Islands where the amazing scenery and crystal clear lagoons go perfectly with the laid-back lifestyle here.
11. Seychelles Islands
The Seychelles Islands can best be described as paradise on earth with towering granite rocks, swaying giant palm trees and turquoise inlets that are framed with sparkling white sand beaches. These 115 islands lay off the east coast of Africa, just south of the Equator and are absolutely breathtaking. The outer islands are low-laying, mostly coral atolls and sailing is done mainly within the inner islands, all close together which make for easy island hopping. They are blessed to be situated in a balmy, calm part of the Indian Ocean and exploring these secluded islands is a once in a lifetime experience. Mahe is the largest and most developed isle and deserves to be explored at the mountains soar to almost 3,000 feet above sea level and the tropical forests are laced with hiking trails. Picturesque bays and coves line e 44 miles of coastline and boast 65 world-class beaches.
10. Tortola, British Virgin Islands
The British Virgin Islands boast that they have more yachts there than anyone else in the world, reminding everyone that this destination is the perfect place to charter a yacht. What makes this destination so perfect? To start, the consistent trade winds, line-of-site navigations and abundance of sheltered anchorages. The ideal blend of easy deep water island hops is perfect for the whole family. Combine all of this with crystal clear waters, picture perfect beaches, breathtaking rock formations, abundance of on-shore activities and a great selection of dining options, and you can see why so many people love to sail here. Make sure to visit Anegada with its pristine white sand beaches and colonies of pink flamingoes. If you are sailing as a family you won’t want to miss Marina Cay, a flower covered island nestled in the calm, sheltered warm water lagoon that is perfect for young children.
Thailand is truly an awesome destination for sailors from anywhere in the world. Sandy beaches, towering palm trees, mountain ranges and bright blue sea make for an unforgettable landscape. Chartering a yacht here allows you to find both peace and tranquility while still letting you indulge in the sensational nightlife. Each island will share the same tranquil waters but feature different beaches and amazing landscapes. Head to Phuket if you want to escape the busyness and explore the exotic flora and fauna, hidden coves and bays. Everywhere you go in Thailand expect wonderful food and the warmest of welcomes from the locals. They don’t call this place “The Land of Smiles” without good reason. Warm waters mean plenty of snorkeling and diving throughout the day and we promise a yacht trip here won’t be boring.
8. Sicily, Italy
Sailors are attracted to this part of the Mediterranean for its famous beaches, secluded anchorages and quiet fishing villages. You will want to spend some time in the port of Palermo as this ancient city begs to be explored. Visitors can expect historic squares, impressive cuisine and stunning architecture. Also found in Palermo are an abundance of galleries, museums and opera houses. Don’t miss out on heading to the Aeolian Islands which are located just 35 miles north of Sicily. This chain of volcanic islands offers seas as clear as the Bahamas, exceptional cuisine and breathtaking landscapes. Also plan on visiting Catania where you will have extraordinary views of Mount Etna, as well as Trapani and Marsala.
7. Whitsunday Islands, Australia
The 74 Whitsunday Islands are located along the northeastern coast of Australia, right in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef. Water sports along with snorkeling and diving excursions brings yachters from all over the world to experience these waters. The eight main islands here offer resorts but there are plenty of deserted islands and sandbars to visit as well. Make sure to anchor at Bauer Bay and walk to the top; as you will get the best view of the islands. Blue Pearl Bay is the spot you will want to anchor at if you want great snorkeling and plenty of whale sightings. Make sure you don’t miss Whitehaven Beach, considered one of the best beaches in the world. True to its name this beach offers pure white sand, some of the purest on earth and charms visitors with beautiful sunsets and breathtaking views.
6. French Rivera
This coastal region along the Mediterranean is just packed full of breathtaking beaches and stunning scenery. Full of sunshine all year round, to charter a yacht here will be an experience unlike any other. This area manages to do an incredible job of combining the rugged landscapes with the large cosmopolitan resorts of Cannes, Nice and Monte Carlo. For vibrant nightlife and exceptional cuisine, head inland to any of these places. To escape the crowds, yacht down to Port Cros and Porquerolles where the atmosphere is relaxed and gently swaying palm trees is all the action you will see. Historical architecture along this coast combined with white sandy beaches and small marinas make this one of the most fabled places to charter a yacht.
5. Canary Islands, Spain
Located just off the coast of Africa, the Canary Islands are a popular European vacation destination, especially for those looking to take to the seas. Unspoiled nature and favorable winds make this a year round destination. The islands are a mix of different cultures, people, historical influences and warm local hospitality. The best way to explore the islands is to travel to and from them by yacht. The beaches of Gran Canaria are among the favorite of all visitors as well as the bustling nightlife of Tenerife. The island of La Palma is what makes this destination stand out among the rest though, and some visitors here refer to it as the most beautiful place in the world. With sheltered marinas, breathtaking beaches and favorable winds; this is one of the best places to be on the water in the world.
Croatia is one of the Mediterranean’s hidden gems, offering over 1,000 islands and is truly a sailor’s paradise. The Dalmatian Islands are wild, rugged and mostly uninhabited and offer some of the best sailing in the area. Ancient villages steeped in history, pristine beaches and the isolated Kornati archipelago await you here. If you do plan on sailing here and want seclusion, plan on coming from in early spring where you can find your own private little cove. The water in April and May can be warm enough to swim in. If you are looking for exceptional cuisine, wine and culture; head on over to the West and South Istria where the people are proud to offer you these goods. Croatia happens to be a very popular spot for yacht owners who wish to keep their yachts in Europe but not in the EU, as it gives them a tax break.
Turkey boasts over 8,300 kilometers of coastline, four seas and an abundance of coves, inlets, bays, beaches and marinas. Sailing in turkey is amongst the best in the world due to the crystal clear blue waters, the steady winds and the abundance of beautiful beaches and secluded anchorages. Turkey has long since been the meeting point between the Far East and Mediterranean and the culture and cuisine in this country can reflect this. The stretch of Turkish coast line is divided in four different yacht charter areas; each offering their own unique experience. Head up the Ionian Coast if you are looking for the best climate and to discover the shores which brought forth the rich culture of the Ionians or if you feel like discovering mountainous shores head to the West Lycian Coast. Rock tombs make up much of the Easy Lycian Coast and the Carian Coast is the most popular sailing ground.
2. St. Martin
St. Martin has to be one of the most popular sailing destinations in the world and it’s no wonder why as this island is overflowing with beauty. The island is ruled by both French and the Netherlands and you truly get to experience two cultures in one place when you visit. When you charter a yacht here there are plenty of other islands to explore including St Barths, Anguilla and Saba. Expect beautiful deserted beaches full of silky white sand, exceptional waterfront restaurants and exceptional shopping. Explore the waters and learn why Saba is a diver and snorkelers paradise. The enchanting tropical scenery combined with enough nightlife, world-famous beaches and other islands to explore make this the number one Caribbean escape.
Greece boasts over 3,000 islands and islets and truly is one of the best places on earth to charter a yacht. The ancient archeology, stunning natural landscapes and rich culture draws yacht goers from all over the world. Some of the most popular islands to explore include Santorini, Mykonos and Crete. In Santorini you will find white washed houses, striking hillside towns and sunsets to die for. Crete offers visitors exceptional Greek food and the chance to go back thousands of years in history at one of their many archeological sites. Mykonos is where you will find the busyness of the Greek Islands, so head here if you want to experience the epic nightlife and packed main beaches. Sail through the ancient seas here exploring the many islands, both inhabited and not, under the glorious Mediterranean sun.
Athens has received a ton of bad press lately with all the fiscal turmoil in Greece, but Athens is a tough and gritty city, with lots of heart and perseverance. Much like the city, which on first glance appears cold and concrete, Athens requires time and love to really get to know and understand. Locals here are very friendly, and they are proud of their city; they love to show off what they think makes their city great. People are hesitant to visit Athens now, but they shouldn’t be; the locals are ready now more than ever to welcome you to their city. And what is more, the lineups won’t be as long, and the streets as busy, which means at times it can feel like you have the city to yourself- just you and the local Athenians.
Standing high up on a plateaued rock, with amazing 360 degree views of the entire city, is the Athenian Acropolis, a historical site not to be missed in Athens. Structures dating back to the Classical period of Ancient Greece give us a glimpse of the detailed architecture prominent during that time. Hundreds of tourists make the pilgrimage daily to marvel at the most famous temple, The Parthenon, and the surrounding structures. Plan for a full day here; many people only visit The Parthenon, but the walk up to the building and the surrounding grounds and structures, like the Temple of Athena Nike, are just as impressive. There are a few concession stands available for drinks and snacks, but the prices are astronomical, so you are better off bringing your own water, as it is very hot during the summer months.
4. Plaka neighbourhood
If the Acropolis is the historical head of the city, the Plaka is the historic heart. Located to the north of the Acropolis, this recently gentrified district is now very popular with tourists. Charming and historic, the Plaka is bustling with pedestrians wandering the many little shops and restaurants, as well as some of the local Roman ruins. One could easily spend a few days exploring all the little alleyways and shops of The Plaka, but if you are short on time, visit near dusk when this area comes to life. With the spotlight on the Acropolis in the background, grab a table at an outdoor patio and watch this neighborhood come to life; locals are boisterous and friendly, tourists are happy and laughing, and the Greek food is scrumptious and plentiful.
Monastiraki, a district technically a part of The Plaka, is bohemian in feel, and constantly increasing in popularity among the tourists. The stores in this district are where you want to find and buy your souvenirs; antiques and clothing, locally made arts and crafts, and all the knick-knack knockoffs you can carry can be bought here. Although not actually a flea market, when people talk about the Greek Flea Market, the Monastiraki district is to what they are referring. There are definitely scams- crafts claiming to be local, but actually “Made in China”, but if you look and are cautious, you can absolutely discover local, handmade gems. People who visit this district come for the experience and the atmosphere anyways; the colors, smells and culture here are what make this area unique and exciting.
2. Lykavittos Hill
If you are looking for the best viewpoint in Athens, this is it. From the top of the hill, you can see the whole city, the Acropolis, the port of Piraeus, and on a clear day, the Peloponnese. The road to the top is winding, but paved and not too steep, and can be easily walked in less than an hour at an extremely leisurely pace. Or, you can take the funicular railway from the top of Ploutarchou Street in Kolonaki -a fun alternative for those who would rather not walk. Bring lots of water, as it is hot all year round, and there are no concessions until you reach the top. If you would like, have a drink at the café; the views are amazing and the souvlaki wrap is one of the best in all of Athens. After visiting the small chapel of St George, if you timed it correctly, you can stay and watch the sunset over the entire city- the colors dance over the sky and light up all of Athens.
1. National Archaeological Museum
Athens offers more than architectural wonders and historical landmarks; the birthplace of modern Western civilization is bound to house important and ancient artifacts of antiquity and influence. The National Archaeological Museum is one of the most visited in Athens; it is the largest archaeological museum in Greece and “one of the most important museums in the world devoted to ancient Greek art”. History buffs could spend all day studying the protected antiquities from all over Greece; even kids can find enjoyment looking at objects with such historical, cultural and artistic value, they have survived hundreds of years. Those interested in museums must not miss others in Athens, such as the New Acropolis Museum (which has a phenomenal restaurant), the Agora Museum and the Museum of Cycladic Art.
No need to worry, this article is completely safe-for-work. No photos of an embarrassing uncle who is all too comfortable in his own skin either (although you may want to send him this link once done reading). We North Americans may not be as accepting to the nude trend (at least we’re told not to be) but that is not how it works in the rest of the world. There are certainly a few in South America, but for the most part, Europe is where the “action” is.
Spanning the globe looking for a place to sport your birthday suit can be an intimidating task as most people may not want to ask “Where’s the closest nude beach?” Therefore, the purpose of this guide is to avoid that embarrassing question, but then again, nude beaches aren’t for the timid so ask that question anyway. We’ve got the answers, here are the top 10 places in Europe to strip off that last layer and be young, wild and free. Or something like that.
10. Wenningstedt-Braderup -Sylt, Germany
Off the northwest coast of Germany (near Denmark) is the island of Sylt. Among the plethora of family-friendly beaches, beaches for dogs/animals, there is of course nudist beaches tucked into this little known region of Germany, and Wenningstedt-Braderup is one of the latter. Wide and spacious, this beach is a forerunner in Germany’s “free body culture” movement also referred to as the FKK. Bare it all next to the North Sea in northern Europe. It might be a little colder due to its location on the top side of the country, but the sand and water are as remarkable as the freedom to let it all fly at this large open space. Among the nude beach however, the town of just over 1,400 has garnered over 1 million overnight stays, and is the fifth-largest tourist resort in the area. So, there is bound to be some company out near the water as well.
9. Playa de Ses Illetes -Formentera, Spain
Playa de Ses Illetes is a stone’s throw south of the party-crazy Ibiza, Spain. If in Ibiza to go wild, maybe a trip to the local nude beach will seem like a better idea to those who normally wouldn’t be so adventurous. It is such a small place; there is no way to get there through the air. Ferry, bus or cabs are the only available methods of transport in order to reach this location. Spectacular beaches with crystal-clear water will smack tourists in the face (figuratively speaking of course), and almost all of them are nude-friendly. A much more accepted social construct than over here. Playa de Ses Illetes is one of the most popular nude beaches in the area as the white sand and sparkling waters make it incredibly appealing to the eye even if the passersby are not. Be forewarned that July and August are peak months and are likely to be very busy.
8. Ilha Deserta -Olhao, Portugal
Where number nine on the list is a much more populous area due to its closeness to Ibiza, Ilha Deserta may offer a more tranquil experience given the fact the area is uninhabited. Just one restaurant exists there, leaving travelers alone to ponder their weird, naked thoughts. A 30-minute water-taxi ride is the way to get to the island whose name translates to “Desert Island”. While there is only one restaurant in the southern-most part of Portugal, that doesn’t mean there is nothing fun to do. Jamanta party boats can be rented for your friends, carrying up to 200 people. There are also nature tours and regular boat tours that are a bit more toned down. Portugal is a tolerant place with one of the most reformed criminal justice systems in the world, so it’s no wonder they are so free spirited when it comes to nude policy.
7. Filaki Beach -Crete, Greece
Crete is known for its incredibly picturesque beaches and beautiful sunsets with Filaki being one of those that stand out among a tough crowd. It is secluded enough to be private; at the end of a long, winding road and partially hidden by an overhanging cliff. It comes with plenty of sun beds, umbrellas and of course a snack bar. Filaki prides itself on being the only “Official” nude beach of Crete. Nudity is actually so accepted in the area that just down the road is the nudist friendly Hotel Vritomartis. While it is a fine beach, it is conveniently located close to a number of other nude-friendly beaches. Need more nude? A local tavern is noted as having almost completely nude clientele, some of which simply walk direct to and from the beach, to their cars and back without getting dressed. A nudist’s paradise, Filaki Beach in Greece is a standout on the list.
6. Guvano Beach -Corniglia, Italy
In order to get to Guvano Beach one must walk through an abandoned railway tunnel that has both entrance and exit visible at all times (a good safety feature if naked). It is not unlike others on the list in that it’s hidden away from the touristy spots, with a backdrop of cliffs and a secluded entrance way along the railroad tracks. It’s roomy out there, and the water is just as accommodating. Seeing is better than believing, as this remote Italian town is built on top of a cliff surrounded by beautiful forests and steep hills. It is recommended to stay overnight to explore all the region has to offer, and book a ferry or boat tour while there. Guvano Beach has less of a resort feel than other beaches on the list do, and more of a private secluded getaway feel, made for a secret agent or celebrity.
5. Plage de Tahiti -St. Tropez, France
France has several nude beaches and Plage de Tahiti is a shining example. Sitting on the French Riviera’s Mediterranean shoreline it’s simply an astonishing site. Picture-perfect sand and waves await visitors, and it’s said to be a favourite of some celebrities, so no cameras please. Lonely Planet describes it simply as a “magnificent sandy beach” but that doesn’t really do it justice. There’s a peer, several bars, restaurants and enough umbrellas to find one for your own. Nearby hotels make for a great vacation spot although, the sparkling waters of the Mediterranean can get a little bit pricey. Unless the chequing account agrees, don’t plan on staying long without putting a dent in the bank account as mentioned before, this is a popular area for celebs (especially around the time of the Cannes Film Festival) and the prices are very likely to reflect that.
4. Agesta Beach -Stockholm, Sweden
The official nude beach of Stockholm, family, friends and couples all hang out in this area at Agesta. This is where one is likely to be neck-deep in nudist culture. Play areas (whatever that means), picnic tables and barbecue areas are all available for groups to have a great time and enjoy themselves. While the country is more likely known for its love of hockey and cheap furniture, nudity is rather widely accepted in Sweden, and is certainly encouraged as a nudist destination for anyone visiting the capital city. This also means there’s no need to be embarrassed! It’s simply a part of life there. The beach is owned and operated by the government and is likely unknown (and rather unexpected for that matter) to foreign nationals. Stockholm buses reach the beach or you may even drive from the city and simply follow the signs or naked people to get to the correct destination. Stockholm can get cold, so bring appropriate clothing along, too.
3. Playa de los Muertos -Almeria, Spain
Hold onto your hats because Playa de los Muertos translates to “Beach of the Dead”. However, the Walking Dead isn’t filming here and the name doesn’t really have anything to do with it. This pebble beach has sparkling deep turquoise waters that give the feeling of tranquility at first glance. There aren’t many facilities on site, but this helps to keep the beach less busy in peak months; of course nudists will be there all year round. It’s a bit of a trek to reach the beach from the volcanic cliffs, but it is well worth it. In fact, many tourists advise bringing some snacks and drinks to ensure enough energy for the journey back! The downward adventure is not advised for children, the elderly or in flip-flops/sandals. It can get a bit slippery and it is harder to traverse on the way back up than it is on the way down.
2. Valalta -Rovinj, Croatia
Technically referred to as a “naturist campsite”, Valalta takes on nudity full bore. There exists a swim-up bar, a waterslide into a pool, and beer tasting at the on-site brewery. This is essentially an inclusive vacation resort… just with nudity! Thousands of nudists are present at any given time; however the facility is large and spacious enough to accommodate everyone. Different types of beaches including stone and sand make up this pleasant village with plenty of pools, restaurants and even a market for fresh food. Expect to make friends if planning to return, many of the guests have been visiting for generations and make it a yearly ritual to return with their families. So if that’s your thing, invite grandma, grandpa, even your brother and sister along for the family vacay. Croatia is a beautiful country and this resort is no exception.
1. Plage de Pampelonne -St. Tropez, France
As with most of the beaches near the beautiful backdrop that is the Mediterranean Sea, Plage de Pampelonne attracts the rich, famous and the nude. Nude or non-nude guests are welcome to reserve a beach bed or parasol to be both comfy and covered from the sun. It is also a bit of a legend that once the sun goes down, the beaches aren’t the only places that allow nudity but nearby clubs as well. Plush greenery and picturesque trails lead to and from the beach that make walking anywhere a delight. Several beachside restaurants give a resort feel, and there are cabins to rent in the area should one wish. The view is certainly spectacular as yachts float about adding to the glitz and glamour the water already provides, and to the many reasons this beach is number one on the list. Class, elegance and fun are at the forefront at Plage de Pampelonne, where nudity is simply accepted rather than a requirement or overbearing necessity.
Are you tired of visiting the same locations as millions of other tourists each year? Have you visited places like the Grand Canyon in the USA, Machu Picchu in Peru, and the Coliseum in Italy, but now feel yourself longing for something less ‘typical’? Our Earth is filled with an excess of far-fetched places, some we have all heard of, and some we haven’t. While locations like the Grand Canyon, Machu Picchu, and the Coliseum are all spectacular sites to visit, they are overrun by tourists each year, littering the beauty of their location. Maybe it’s time to start discovering destinations that are not on most people’s radar, but equally as stunning- if not more. Traveling somewhere beautiful and undiscovered makes for a special trip. There’s just something charming about going to a place that isn’t as well known. Here are 14 Breathtaking Places You Probably Didn’t Know Existed to add to your travel bucket list.
To visit the Isle of Skye in Scotland without experiencing the Quiraing seems entirely unthinkable. Part of the Trotternish Ridge, which was formed by a great series of landslips, the massive landslip in the Quiraing has created tall cliffs, hidden plateaus and peaks of rock. The Quiraing is the only part of the slip that is still moving and requires repairs each year. Parts of the distinctive landscape have earned particular names, such as the Needle, which is a jagged 120-foot high landmark pinnacle, a remnant of land slipping. Northwest of it is the Table, a flat grassy area from the summit plateau, with views of the marvelous Torridon Hills and the mountains of Wester Ross. Southwest is the Prison, a pyramidal rocky peak that can look like a medieval keep when viewed from a proper angle.
If you are fit enough, walk the narrow path and journey up and down the vertical slopes. Classed as medium in length, and hard in difficulty, it covers a distance of 4.2 miles, with the average time to complete the walk being roughly 2 hours with no stops. You are guaranteed wonder and amazement with some of the most incredible landscapes and beautiful sunsets found in Scotland- so don’t forget to bring your camera!
Hvítserkur is a rock that rises 50 feet from the sea, found on the eastern shore of the Vatnsnes Peninsula, in the northwest of Iceland. Hvítserkur, which means “white shirt” in Icelandic, comes from the color of the sea-bird excrement deposited on the rock from the several species of birds that reside on it. This unusual rock formation was once the plug of a volcano, but over the years the craters surrounding the rock plug gave way to the pounding Atlantic Ocean, leaving only the bizarre outcropping of Hvítserkur behind. To protect the rock’s foundations, the base of the rock has been reinforced with concrete, helping it stay in its place. At low tides it is possible to walk out beyond the protruded rock.
In 1990, the geological oddity was even commemorated on an Icelandic stamp. Since the rock has two holes at its base, some say it looks like a thirsty dragon drinking from the Atlantic Ocean. Icelandic legend says that the rock used to be a troll that forgot to retreat itself from the light and as a consequence was turned to stone during sunrise.
12. Hamilton’s Pool Preserve
Located about 23 miles west of Austin, Texas, this unique natural pool has been a popular summer destination for Austin visitors and its residents since the 1960’s. Hamilton’s Pool Preserve is a natural pool that was created when the dome of an underground river collapsed due to thousands of years of massive water erosion. Cultural remains date this site back over 8,000 years.
The Preserve consists of 232 acres of protected natural habitat containing a beautiful jade green pool into which a 50-foot waterfall drops into the canyon adding to a pool of water that never entirely dries up. The pool is surrounded by large chunks of limestone that rest by the water’s edge and large stalactites that grow from the ceiling above. Hamilton’s Pool Preserve contains lush plant communities and a plethora of wildlife species. Flora ranges from semi-arid species in the uplands to riparian species in the canyon. In the uplands of the preserve you can find juniper and oak savannah with a variety of native grasses and wildflowers. In the canyon, you can see several rare plant species including canyon mock-orange, red bay, and chatter box orchid. Fauna include a variety of birds such as the endangered golden-cheeked warbler and cliff swallows.
Namaqualand is an arid region of Namibia and South Africa, extending over 600 miles along the west coast. Namaqualand becomes a popular destination in early spring, for both local and international tourists; when for a short period of time, this typically arid area becomes covered with a kaleidoscope of color during the flowering season (early August to late September). This area receives very little rain throughout the year, however after the winter rains of May through July, the normally barren landscape becomes a canvas of a variety of different wild flowers with vibrant colors.
The wide variety of wild flowers is largely due to the varied topography in this region. For example, many fertile valleys contrast with the high mountains, the semi-desert plains of the north contrast with the unique sandveld region near the coast with its wetter areas. Certain flora is found nowhere else in the world except in this area. Some years are better than others, all depending on the winter and spring seasons. Countless paintings, poems, novels, and prose have been dedicated to this annual spectacle of color, and rightfully so.
10. Dean’s Blue Hole
While most other known blue holes only reach maximum depths of 360 feet, Dean’s Blue Hole, found in a bay west of Clarence Town on Long Island in the Bahamas, plunges a whopping 663 feet down below, making it the deepest known salt water blue hole. It is still unknown exactly how Dean’s Blue Hole was formed since it’s much deeper than most blue holes, but one hypothesis is that a much deeper cave slowed and moved upward as its ceiling eroded away.
The coral caves and sand banks on the side of the entrance are home to all kinds of tropical reef life, like shrimps, snappers, and groupers. Friendly sea turtles can sometimes be found in the hole taking a break from the ocean currents, and schools of tarpon fish hang in the hole’s shadows. In April 2010, professional and courageous diver William Trubridge broke a free-diving world record in the blue hole by reaching a depth of 302 feet without the use of fins. He decided to take it a step further in December of 2010, when he swam to a depth of 331 feet on a single breath while using only his hands and feet for propulsion!
9. The Flatirons
The Flatirons are rock formations near Boulder, Colorado, and is the perfect place for hikers and climbers. Although the Flatirons are made up of several small formations, there are five large, numbered Flatirons, from north to south, along the east slope of the Green Mountain, that are the most popular. Climbing options in the Flatirons can vary between obscure boulders and chunks scattered through the woods to technical summits and chillingly exposed towers. Climbing history dates back over a hundred years, and generations of the world’s best climbers have developed their skills on these Flatirons.
Accessible via trailheads in Chautauqua Park, there are dozens of named formations and established routes numbered in the hundreds to the thousands. A significant number of the routes finish on high summits and should not be missed if you enjoy climbing long and reasonable routes with worthwhile finishes. Certain climbs, the First and Third Flatirons for example, can be very crowded on weekends, but it’s easy to find solitude in the multitude of other less visited cliffs. Noteworthy summits in the Flatirons, aside from the numbered Flatirons themselves, include: the Devil’s Thumb, the Maiden, the Matron, Seal Rock and the Amphitheater towers.
The bluer-than-blue waters of this small Portuguese town are home to a mind-blowing sea grotto. This grotto, or algar in Portuguese, is found on the Algarve coast of Portugal –the country’s most southern coast. The grotto is located 500 feet to the east of the small beach and little fishing village of Benagil. The sea cave has two magnificent entrances, a huge collapsed roof, a secluded beach of sand and a circular inner grotto.
Access to this beautiful place is only by water. The first, easiest and most comfortable, is by commercial boat. Tours leave from several beaches nearby and some include this and other caves around the area as well. If you do take the tour however, you are not allowed off the boat. Another great option is renting a kayak. Many of the same companies that provide the boat tours also rent the kayak equipment. This option is recommended for those that want to go more inside the grotto and take some breathtaking pictures.
7. Whitehaven Beach
A postcard perfect beach, Whitehaven Beach is a 4.3 mile stretch along Whitsunday Island, Australia and is the largest of the 74 islands in the Whitsundays. The turquoise, blue and green water, and the fact that the sand is 98% pure white silica give this place a brilliant, near luminescent color. The crystal clear aqua waters and pristine silica sand make it the most photographed beach in Australia. At the northern end of Whitehaven Beach is Hill Inlet, a stunning cove where the tide shifts the sand and water to create a beautiful fusion of colors. As the tide shifts, the white silica sand and shades of turquoise blend flawlessly to create a breathtaking view of swirling Whitsunday colors. It definitely defines nature at its best and provides the greatest sense of relaxation and escape for tourists from all over the world.
Whitehaven Beach is just a thirty-minute trip on a high-speed catamaran, and Hamilton Island offers several Whitehaven Beach day trips and Whitehaven Beach tours. Visitors can also choose to take a scenic helicopter tour and seaplane flights over Hill Inlet to give visitors an amazing aerial view of the magical water and sand dance below them.
6. Vatnajokull Ice Caves
Quiet a mesmerizing wonder of nature; the Vatnajokull ice caves are located inside an Icelandic glacier. Located on the south-east of the island, Vatnajokull itself is the largest and most voluminous Icelandic ice cap, and without a doubt one of the largest in area in Europe, so it’s no wonder visitors want to enter this massive glacier and explore its ice caves with their blue color and intriguing light. Created by the forces of the Vatnajvkull ice cap, the ice caves emerged as a result of its glacier meeting the Icelandic coastline. The cave’s ice dates back centuries, and its weight has pressed out all remnant air, so the resultant formation’s texture and colors are both brilliant and out of this world. The jewel-like interior of the ice caves makes adventure seekers feel as though they are in some sort of fairy tale world.
During the winter months is the best time to visit this attractive phenomenon, in terms of accessibility and also in terms of safety. However, it is always a risk to enter an ice cave and that risk increases late in the winter. Extreme caution is advised when visiting these caves and visitors should be accompanied by a tour guide and proper safety equipment. Conditions can also be different between caves and further safety equipment might be required.
5. Lake Natron
Dry, desolate and hauntingly beautiful; wild and remote Lake Natron lies in the northeast of Tanzania in between the Ngorongoro Highlands and Serengeti plains. Situated at the base of Africa’s only active volcano Oldonyo Lengai, meaning Mountain of God, Lake Natron is one of the most alkaline lakes in the world. The alkaline water in Lake Natron can reach a pH as high as 10.5 and is so alkaline in fact, it can burn the skin and eyes of animals that aren’t adapted to it. The water’s alkalinity comes from the sodium carbonate and other minerals that flow into the lake from the surrounding hills, hot springs, and small rivers. Since it is a shallow lake in a hot climate, its water temperature can reach as high as 106 degrees Fahrenheit.
Many rumors surround Tanzania’s Lake Natron, claiming the lake turns animals to stone. While the temperature and pH do indeed make it a dangerous place for a lot of creatures, the myths are only partly true. In fact, the lake is home to millions of tiny crustaceans, and during breeding season, the lake attracts more than 2 million lesser flamingos that use the shallow lake as their primary breeding ground in Africa, making it one of the most important flamingo breeding grounds on Earth.
Mount Kelimutu, located on the island of Flores, is an Indonesian volcano and home to three summit crater lakes. Kelimutu itself means Boiling Lake and often visitors can see wreathes of steam rise from the surface of the lakes. The summit can be accessed via trek by those adventurous enough to hike to the crest of Kelimutu. Although they are all located on the same volcanic peak, each lake is distinctly a different color and fluctuates between shades as well. Although no extensive scientific evidence has been done, it’s assumed that the color variations are due to underwater fumaroles. These are openings in the planet’s surface which let out gas and steam that creates an upwelling and constantly change its appearance. As a result, the visitor is never quite sure what color the lakes will be when they reach the top.
The three crater lakes all have different names and for centuries the locals have believed that the lakes are the spiritual resting place of their ancestors. It is said the lakes change color according to the mood of the spirits. The Lake of Old People is where it is said the spirits of the old who have led honorable lives go to rest. The Lake of Old People is typically blue. The Lake of Young Men and Maidens is characteristically green. The third, the Enchanted Lake can often be seen as blood red or even olive green. Supposedly, this is the lake where the evil people go, regardless of age or sex.
3. Lake Resia
Bordering Austria and Switzerland, Lake Resia holds Italy’s most famous drowned town. The 3.7 mile long Lake Resia, with its majestic background of the Vallelunga Valley, looks something like out of a postcard, but the history behind it is far less pleasant. More than 60 years ago, after the end of World War II, the city of Curon was flooded by a power company’s plan to join two natural lakes to create a giant dam. Now, the only visible remnant of the sunken town is the Romanesque bell tower of a submerged 14th-century church. Below the waters of Lake Resia, the remains of over 163 buildings are now home to fish and other creatures, rather than people.
Nowadays, visitors and tourists can hike or bike along the stunning mountain path surrounding the lake (which is also known as Reschensee or Lago di Resia). During the winter months, the waters above this sunken town freeze, allowing visitors to walk on water and to access the only visible relic of Curon. Prior to demolition and creation of the lake, the bells of the church were removed, but rumor has it that during the winter months the church bells still sound. Spooky!
Gullfoss, translated to “Golden Falls”, is one the most visited tourist attractions in Iceland, and by far Europe’s most powerful waterfall. Part of The Golden Circle tourist route in Southern Iceland, the three primary stops of the route are Thingvellir National Park, Gullfoss Waterfall, and the geysers Geysir and Strokkur. Gullfoss is situated in the upper part of the River Hvita (White River); the water cascades down two distinct drops in succession at right angles of each other, one 36 feet high, and the other 72 feet high, into a 1.5 mile long canyon below. The rock of the river bed was formed during an interglacial period. On a sunny day, the mist clouds surrounding the thrashing falls are filled with tons of rainbows, providing a marvelous display of color and motion.
Gullfoss almost disappeared due to the desire for hydroelectricity by various foreign enterprises at the beginning of the 20th century. The daughter of the farmer who owned the land opposed this and even threatened to throw herself into the falls. She fought bravely against the use of the falls for hydroelectricity for decades, and thanks to her extreme efforts, The Ministry of Culture and Education finally signed an agreement creating a nature reserve around Gullfoss in 1979. There is even a memorial near the falls commemorating the farmer’s daughter.
1. Melissani Cave
Located on the Greek island of Kefalonia in the Ionian Sea, in Greek mythology, the site is also known as the Cave of the Nymphs. The cave has a lake inside of it, and on the outside, the cave is surrounded by lush green vegetation. The cave itself is B-shaped with dual chambers, which are separated by an island in the center. The roof of one of the chambers is caved in, allowing sunlight to enter the sky-blue colored lake, creating a magical illusion that the whole cave of Melissani is lit with blue light and that boats are floating through the air. The cave is 11.5 feet long, 118 feet high, and 131 feet wide. A balcony was built on top of the cave for tourists to get a spectacular view of the inside from the top.
Legend has is that the nymph Melissani committed suicide in the lake because Pan, god of the wild, shepherds, and flocks, and companion of the nymphs, would not reciprocate Melissani’s love. Dolphins are also associated with this myth, having been used by the nymph to carry messages to her beloved Pan. After her death the dolphins turned into stone in the cave, and you can quite clearly see the shapes of dolphins in the stalactites within the cave.