Located on the beautiful Adriatic Sea, Croatia has fast become a bucket-list vacation destination. Croatia offers something for everyone: you can soak up the sun on glorious beaches, explore national parks that will take your breath away, or dive into a rich history that goes further back than the Roman Empire. Here are the places to visit in Croatia at the top of our list:
Dubrovnik. Dubrovnik is one of those places that has something for everyone – especially if you’re a Game of Thrones fan as much of the show was filmed here. The main attraction is Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, from the medieval ramparts that give spectacular views of the Adriatic, to the churches, cathedrals and shops you’ll see as you explore the streets of this old city. Lapad Beach is great for sunbathing, and you don’t want to miss the sweeping views of the city and the coast riding on the Dubrovnik Cable Car.
Split. As the second largest city in Croatia, Split is able to balance its history with modern culture. Visit Diocletian’s Palace, another UNESCO World Heritage Site, which was built in the 4th century and is recognized as one of the best-preserved examples of Roman architecture in the world. Don’t miss the 7th-century Cathedral of Saint Domnius – the oldest Catholic cathedral in the world that remains in use in its original structure. Take a walk on the Riva promenade or relax on Bačvice Beach. For wine connoisseurs, visit Putalj Winery just outside the city for their winetasters tour.
Krka National Park. Croatia has 8 national parks, and Krka is one of the best. Known for its stunning waterfalls. The most spectacular waterfall in the park is Skradinski Buk waterfall, where you may be able to swim on a warm afternoon. Hike the many trails through the creeks, forests and other waterfalls, and take a boat ride to see the Visovac Monastery on its own island in the middle of the lake.
Pula. The Pula Arena is one of the most complete Roman amphitheaters still standing in the world. Originally used by Augustus Caesar for the gladiator spectacles, medieval knights used the space for their tournaments over 1,000 years later. The town is brimming with influences from the Roman Empire, including the Arch of the Sergii to commemorate a 30 BC battle with France, the Temple of Augustus that was converted into a church after the Romans adapted Christianity, and the Gate of Hercules which boasts carvings of the names of two Roman officials who established Pula. You can also see the influence of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the military forts surrounding the city.
Plitvice National Park. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Plitvice National Park is home to 16 crystalline lakes that are connected by a series of 90 waterfalls. The Explore the park on foot by way of its boardwalks through lush forest areas, or take advantage of the free buses and boat rides that are available throughout the park.
Rovinj. Set on a peninsula overlooking the Adriatic Sea, Rovinj is a picture-perfect town that reflects its history with the Romans, Venetians, Hapsburgs and more. St. Euphemia Cathedral dominates the Rovinj skyline, and the view from the bell tower is breathtaking. Walk down the cobbled streets of Old Town to glimpse into its Venetian past. Enjoy the beaches along the coast of the Adriatic. Or take a quick trip outside of town to explore the ruins of Dvigrad, a medieval town that was abandoned in the 1700s and never repopulated.
Zagreb. No trip to Croatia would be complete without a trip to the capital city of Zagreb. This unique city actually developed on two separate hilltops – Kapitol and Gradec – and the differences are apparent even to today. Kapitol was where the clergy was based, and the Zagreb Cathedral was its main landmark. On the other hill, Gradec was the more secular part of the city, where you can still see the influences of the artisans and tradesmen as you walk the cobblestoned streets. Visit the Gornji Grad district for a historical look at various churches and town squares. And if you need a break from the museums and hustle and bustle of the city, head out to Jarun Lake for some leisure time.
There is much more to see and do in Croatia, and Luxury Destinations Concierge is ready to help you plan your trip. Give us a call at 805-236-4437.
Located 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands have a uniqueness all their own. This archipelago of 19 islands was formed exclusively from volcanic and seismic activity and sits where three ocean currents converge. Combined with its isolation from other land masses has led to the unique development of both land animals and marine life. It’s no wonder that Darwin’s theory of evolution was inspired by his trip to the Galapagos Islands in 1835!
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, a trip to the Galapagos Islands is certainly one that will be filled with wonders you have never seen before – and will want to see over and over again. Make sure you include these highlights on your trip:
Tortuga Bay. Tortuga Bay is one of the top attractions in the Galapagos for good reason: white sandy beaches, great snorkeling, and you’ll see your fair share of Galapagos’ wildlife. Playa Mansa is perfect for swimming, sunbathing and snorkeling. You’ll share the beach with some interesting animals, including a large marine iguana colony which are the only iguanas in the world that have learned to swim. Take the self-guided trail through the cactus forest, where you will learn more about the flora and fauna of the islands through informative signs along the way. In the water, keep an eye out for the sea turtles and whitetip reef sharks!
Rancho Primicias. Rancho Primicias is the place to see giant tortoises in the Galapagos. Located on Santa Cruz Island, Rancho Primicias is a privately-owned animal sanctuary where you’ll be able to see the giant tortoises up close and personal (just don’t feed or touch them). Explore the lava tunnels or climb into an empty tortoise shell!
Charles Darwin Research Station. To get a better understanding of the uniqueness of the Galapagos Islands, make sure you visit the Charles Darwin Research Station. Part of the Charles Darwin Foundation, its goal is to preserve and study the Galapagos habitats. The Fausto Llerena Breeding Center allows you to catch a glimpse of the differences in the various species of giant tortoises. The baby tortoise house is especially interesting as you will see them before they are resettled in their natural environments – over 7,000 have been successfully released into the wild. You’ll also see several types of iguanas and Darwin’s famous finches, as well as great examples of the islands’ vegetation.
Concha Perla. Located on Isabela Island, Concha Perla is a calm bay with crystal clear waters that is perfect for snorkeling. The marine life is amazing, and you’ll see penguins diving for food, swim with a variety of tropical fish, and play with the sea lions.
Los Tuneles. Also on Isabela Island, Los Tuneles is a microcosm of the Galapagos Islands. Formed by lava flow, its unique arches and tunnels above and below the water is home to many of animals we associate with the Galapagos Islands – penguins, sea lions, tortoises, black and white reef sharks, pelicans and even blue footed boobies. A must-see stop, even if you don’t snorkel as the waters are so clear you can see most of it from the comfort of a boat.
Puerto Baquerizo Moreno. The province capital of the Galapagos Islands, there is a lot to see in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno. Make sure you take a tour to Kicker Rock for the snorkeling and view. Or visit Frigatebird Hill if you are up for hiking and bird watching. If you want to lounge with the sea lions, head on out to La Lobería, where you’ll also spot wild iguanas, lava lizards, yellow warblers and frigates and more.
The Galapagos Islands is clearly a nature-lovers paradise. Let Luxury Destinations Concierge plan your trip to this wonder-filled destination. Give us a call at 805-236-4437.
When you think of Tanzania, two things come to mind: Mount Kilimanjaro and the Serengeti. While these both reflect the natural beauty of the land and its wild inhabitants, this East African country has so much more to offer. From pristine beaches to wildlife reserves and everything in between, it’s time to explore this unique destination.
Mount Kilimanjaro. Located in the northern part of Tanzania, Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest peak in all of Africa. As you climb, you’ll experience diverse climates – from rainforest and fresh meadows to desert and finally snow at the top. And, of course, you’ll most likely spot wild elephants, blue monkeys a tree hyrax, and more exotic animals. The climb is not for the faint of heart, and requires an experienced guide. There are 6 different routes you can take up Kilimanjaro, each with its own level of difficulty.
Serengeti National Park. No trip to Tanzania would be complete without visiting the Serengeti. It’s the oldest national park in the country and most famous for the annual migration of wildebeest and zebras across the Mara River into Kenya. Go on a game drive to see the Big Five and other animals and explore the majestic plains. You can even stay overnight in a safari tent to experience the “night life” in the wild! And if you are in to hippos, don’t miss an opportunity to visit the Serengeti Hippo Pool.
Zanzibar. Zanzibar is a semi-autonomous archipelago located off the shores of Tanzania. Known for its pristine beaches, this is a paradise for scuba divers and snorkelers. Make sure you visit Mafia Island, which is surrounded by a protected marine park and is best know for its clear waters, coral garden, tropical fish and being the breeding ground for the endangered green turtle. Or visit Pemba Island, where you can lose yourself in history by visiting main town of Chake-Chake and it’s 18th century fort and museum.
Stone Town. On Unguja, the main Zanzibar island, lies Stone Town, the oldest part of Zanzibar City. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Stone Town is rich in its heritage that is a mixture of Arab, Persian, Indian and European cultures. Some of the highlights as you visit this area include the Arab Fort which was built in the 17th century atop an older Portuguese church (which you can still see remnants of in the walls of the fort), the Hamamni Persian Baths which were the first public baths in Zanzibar from 1870 to about 1920, the Malindi Mosque – one of the oldest mosques in Stone Town – and more. Don’t miss the House of Wonders overlooking the waters in Stone Town to get a glimpse of Swahili history and culture.
Prison Island. Once the home to prisoners, Prison Island, also known as Changuu Island, is home to a colony of endangered Giant Aldabra tortoise – some of which are over 200 years old. The beautify beaches and clear waters of the island make for a great day of swimming and snorkeling. If you’re interested, you can visit some of the cells that housed prisoners in the 19th century.
Selous Game Reserve. Selous Game Reserve is the largest game reserve in Africa, and is one of the best places to experience the beauty of the country and its wildlife. Here, you can enjoy a walking safari that will bring you up close and personal with elephants and lions. Or take a boat safari cruise on the Rufiji River to spot the many animals drawn to the water. Of course, you can always take a game drive to spot the wild dogs, hippos, Cape buffalos, an endangered black rhino and more. If you’re really adventurous, try an overnight fly-camp to experience an evening under the stars – complete with your own chef.
As you can see, there is much to explore in Tanzania. Let Luxury Destinations Concierge plan your trip to this beautiful African destination. Give us a call at (805) 236-4437.
When you think of a vacation in Africa, one of the first things that comes to mind is a safari adventure – and the best country to do that in is Kenya. There are so many ways to see the beauty and majesty of this country that you’ll want to return to this country over and over again. Here are just a few places that should be at the top of your list when you visit:
Masai Mara National Reserve. Masai Mara is probably the most popular safari destinations in the world. Here, you can see the “Big Five” animals that Africa is known for - the African elephant, lion, leopard, Cape buffalo, and rhinoceros – as well as wildebeest, giraffes, zebras, ostriches and many more. One of the most spectacular things to see at Masai Mara is the Great Migration, as thousands upon thousands of wildebeest, zebra and gazelle make their trek from the Serengeti in neighboring Tanzania across the Mara River into Kenya in July/August and return to their home in October.
Amboseli National Park. With a backdrop of Africa’s most iconic mountain, Mount Kilimanjaro, Amboseli National Park is one of Kenya’s best safari parks. Home to over 1000 elephants, it’s the best-known free-ranging elephant population in the world. A UNESCO biosphere reserve, you’ll find over 400 bird species, lions, zebras, crocodiles, mongoose and more. Enjoy the spectacular views along the savannahs and up Kilimanjaro.
Mombasa. After spending time on safari, take in some Kenyan culture in Mombasa. Spend time exploring the history of the city, with visits to the 16th century Fort Jesus or explore Old Town where you will get a taste of the melting pot of Arab, Asian and European cultures in this coastal city. Relax on one of its beautiful beaches. Go scuba diving or snorkeling at Mombasa Marine National Park. Or take a trip to Wasini Island for a look at the ancient Swahili villages and explore the Shimoni Caves.
Nairobi. Of course any trip to Kenya should include a stop in its capital, Nairobi. While there, visit the Bomas of Kenya where you can see replicas of traditional homesteads, or bomas, from 23 of Kenya’s ethnic groups and learn more about the culture of Kenya. If you want to see giraffes up close and personal, make sure you visit Giraffe Manor and the Giraffe Center, a nature sanctuary for giraffes. Don’t miss the Kazuri Bead Factory on the Karen Blixen Estate (of “Out of Africa”) where beads and pottery are made by over 300 mostly single women as a way to help them be self-sufficient.
Lamu Island. If you’re looking for a relaxing getaway, spend some time on Lamu Island. Explore Old Town Lamu, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where you can see the influences of Arabic and European cultures. Discover the beautiful marketplace in Shela Village. Check out the coral-stone ruins of the 17th century City of Takwa. Or just walk the idyllic sandy beaches and take in the spectacular view.
There are so many more national parks and historic and cultural things to see and do in Kenya. Why not start planning your trip now? Luxury Destinations Concierge is ready to help. Give us a call at (805) 236-4437.
The Caribbean promises warm waters, sunny days and sandy beaches for all vacationers. There is just so much to see and do in the Caribbean that it can be difficult to decide where to start. We thought we’d give you a quick overview of some of the major islands so that you can home in on where you want to spend your Caribbean vacation:
St. Lucia. Whether you’re looking for a luxurious resort vacation or an opportunity to hike the rainforest or explore the beautiful coral reefs, St. Lucia has something for everyone. Take time to climb to the volcanic summit of Gros Piton or get up close and personal with the volcano at the Sulphur Springs where you can experience its heat and see the boiling magma. If you want to see a little history of the island, visit Pigeon Island or Morne Fortune where you will get a taste of colonial times on the island. Don’t miss the Botanical Gardens of the Soufriere Estate for the beautiful plants and flowers of the rainforest with the roaring Diamond Falls near its center.
Antigua and Barbuda. The country of Antigua and Barbuda is certainly known for its beaches. In fact, it has 365 of them! While it is a huge draw for vacationing here, there is certainly much more to do than lounging in the surf and sand. Spend some time exploring history at Nelson’s Dockyard where ships have been docking for over 250 years and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Or explore the sugarcane plantation known as Betty’s Hope, where you will see the remains of windmills that were used to process the sugarcane and extract the juices to make rum, the slave quarters and more. You can also swim with the stingrays or hike along 17-mile Beach for its spectacular views.
Aruba. Aruba really does have something for everyone: you can hit the casinos and nightlife, relax on the beaches, hike the rock formations, dive to explore shipwrecks and coral reefs, or discover the history of this Dutch island. One of the prettiest beaches to relax on is Palm Beach, with its 2-miles of white sand and blue waters – everything you would expect of a tropical beach getaway. The ruins of Bushiribana and Balashi will give you a glimpse into the Aruban gold boom of the late 19th century, with remains of the smelting works – and the fortifications to keep the pirates out! Take a hike through the Arikok National Park, visit the Butterfly Farm, or snorkel off of Boca Catalina.
Curaçao. If you are looking for something a little different, then Curaçao may be the place for you. Its Dutch heritage is apparent throughout the island – and there is no shortage of things to do. Explore the capital city of Willemstad and you will think that you are in the middle of a Flemish village in the Netherlands. On the other end of the spectrum, you get a true glimpse of the Caribbean life through color and creativity at the Curaçao Carnival in the spring. Don’t miss the stalactites and stalagmites of Hato Caves, where you can explore what was once home to the native Indian tribespeople and a refuge for slaves that escaped the plantations. Take a safari through Christoffel National Park to see native flora and fauna. And if you want to relax on the beach, visit Blauwbaai, where you’ll enjoy the best snorkeling and swimming on the island.
St. Martin – St. Maarten. The island of St. Martin-St. Maarten is one of dueling cultures – French and Dutch. One of the top attractions on the island is Loterie Farm, where you can spend time hiking or ziplining through the lush forest, lounge at the cabanas or enjoy the obstacle course. If you’re ambitious, you can hike up to Pic Paradis, the highest point on the island that offers incredible views of the shoreline and surrounding jungle. For those looking to sample the local twist on the Caribbean’s favorite liquor, head over to the Sint Maarten Guavaberry Company where you can taste various concoctions that include the island’s guavaberry and rum. Head over to Fort Amsterdam or Fort Louis for a little history from the Dutch and French perspective, and then spend time relaxing on the picture-perfect beaches of Mullet Bay.
The Caribbean is full of possibilities for your next vacation. Luxury Destinations Concierge is ready to help you decide what’s best for you. Give us a call at (805) 236-4437 to start planning!
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