If you’re looking for a vacation close to home, Bermuda is an excellent choice. With stunning beaches, deep turquoise waters, and a rich history, there’s plenty to see and do one a trip to Bermuda – whether it’s for a 3-day weekend getaway or a longer, relaxing vacation. Here’s what’s at the top of our list for any stay in Bermuda:
With its breathtaking landscapes, stunning beaches, cultural centers and rich history, it’s no wonder Spain is one of the top European vacation destinations. Whether you’re looking to immerse yourself in the country’s history, relax on the beach, have an outdoor adventure, or just explore the bustling cities of Spain, there’s something for everyone. Here is just a small glimpse of the best places to visit on your next trip to Spain:
Just a hop, skip and a jump across the Pacific sits the beautiful country of New Zealand, known for its rich landscapes, and diverse culture and history. Whether you are ready for an adventure-filled vacation or just want a leisurely trip through the countryside, there is something for everyone in New Zealand. Here are our must-see stops:
Portugal is one of the most-visited countries in Europe – and for good reason. It’s ideal climate, beautiful countryside and rich history make it a perfect vacation destination for everyone. Here’s our list of the best places to visit on your trip to Portugal:
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 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.
Sometimes you need a diversion away from the tried and true day trips to amusement parks, beaches and the like. Here are some fun “alternative” day trips to take if you are in Northern California.
Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park (North Bloomfield, CA). Malakoff Diggins is a park like no other. Located in the Sierra Nevada Foothills, it’s the home to California’s largest hydraulic gold mine. Here, you can walk back into history and experience the historic gold rush of the mid-19th century. Instead of panning for gold, miners here set up huge water hydraulics that literally washed away the mountains just to find gold. What’s left are large cliffs that define the area.
Mystery Spot (Santa Cruz, CA). Discovered in 1939 by a group of surveyors, the Mystery Spot in Santa Cruz is a gravitational anomaly where your perceptions of gravity and physics will be questioned. Here, balls roll uphill and chairs sit on walls. It’s one of a dozen or so places in the US where the optical illusions make visitors do a double-take. No one knows for sure what causes it, but speculations run the gamut from UFOs and aliens to a magma vortex or a hole in the ozone layer. Whatever the cause, this is certainly worth the trip.
Old Faithful Geyser of California. While not as big (or well-known) as Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park, this geyser in Calistoga shoots steam about 75 feet into the air every 30 minutes. It’s also a great predictor of area earthquakes – when the eruptions are delayed or diminished, chances are good that there will be an earthquake within 500 miles in the next few weeks. While there, don’t forget to visit some of the local wineries.
Safari West African Wildlife Tours. If you’ve ever wanted to go on safari in Africa, the Safari West African Wildlife Tours in Santa Rosa, CA may be the next best thing. This former sheep ranch has zebras, cheetahs, giraffe, and more. The 3-hour tour led by an experienced guide takes you through the 400-acre preserve. Afterwards, you can see some animals up closer. If you are adventurous and want more than a day trip, you can stay overnight at the preserve in an authentic safari tent! Advanced reservations for the tour are required, so make sure you plan ahead.
Point Reyes National Seashore. A visit to Point Reyes National Seashore is jam-packed with things to do. Take a drive along the Cypress Tree Tunnel. Visit the historical Pointe Reyes Lighthouse. From the lighthouse, walk down the road to the Sea Lion Overlook and catch a glimpse of sea lions sunning on the shore. If you’re ambitious, hike to Alamere Falls where the water falls over cliffs to the beaches below. And don’t forget to take a drive down the Cypress Tree Tunnel!
Bumpass Hell and Sulphur Works. If you’ve ever wanted to explore the wonders and mysteries of volcanoes, this is the place. Located in Lassen Volcanic National Park, the Bumpass Hell and Sulphur Works areas are teaming with boiling springs and mud pots, hissing steam vents and roaring fumaroles. These are all an indication of the volcanic activity below Lassen Peak which last erupted in 1914 and is currently dormant.
Need help planning your day trip in Northern California? Give Luxury Destinations Concierge a call at (805) 236-4437. We’re happy to help you plan a great day!
If you are getting bored looking at the four corners of your home, it’s time to mix it up and take a walk around some of the most spectacular cities in the world! No, you don’t need to get on a plane for these trips, but you could get on your treadmill and get some exercise while watching these virtual walking tours:
Paris, France. This 12-mile walk will take you to the Louvre, up the Champs-Élysées, past Notre Dame (before the fire) and the Eiffel Tower, and through the streets of Paris. The cool thing about this video is that it has time stamps for the main sites, so if you just want to see the Arc de Triomphe , you can virtually run there! (It’s at the 25 minute mark).
Florence, Italy. This is a slow, meandering walk through the streets of Florence, Italy. You get to experience the sights and sounds of the city on a warm July afternoon, starting at the Santa Maria Novella Train Station and finishing at Piazzale Michelangelo. Walk through the Duomo, climb Giotto's Bell Tower, see a replica of the statue of David and much, much more.
Tokyo, Japan. Ikebukuro lies in the north-western corner of Tokyo, and this quick walking tour takes you through parks as well as the busier streets of the area with shopping, restaurants and entertainment galore.
Vancouver, British Columbia. Explore this city on a beautiful fall afternoon. This virtual tour shows you the hustle and bustle of downtown Vancouver.
New York City. This tour takes you all over Manhattan at different times of the day. See Times Square, Central Park, Harlem, Soho and more as you explore the streets of this historic city.
Trakai Trails, Lithuania. If nature is more your style, take this hiking tour of the Trakai trails in Lithuania. Through forests and sand dunes, this virtual hike will get you back in touch with nature – and make you fall in love with Lithuania!
Redwood National Park, USA. This hike through the Redwood National Park is a spectacular 1-hour walk through the forest. Set to music, it is well worth watching.
Pyramids of Giza Walking Tour. Have you ever wanted to visit the pyramids in Egypt, but never thought you’d have a chance? Now you and virtually be there with this walking tour! You’ll explore the Giza pyramid complex, “ride” a horse and even see the Sphynx!
Tunnel of Love, Ukraine. If you are in the mood for a romantic afternoon walk, then this virtual tour is for you. The Tunnel of Love in Klevan, Ukraine is actually old train tracks that have been taken over by nature – and the result is spectacular!
We hope these “walks” inspire you to start dreaming of your next vacation. When you are ready for your next in-person trip, give Luxury Destinations Concierge a call at (805) 236-4437. We’ll help you plan an unforgettable trip!
Tahiti, the largest of 118 islands that make up French Polynesia, has always been associated with the exotic – pristine beaches, beautiful blue waters, secluded hide-aways, friendly people, and more. No wonder the likes of painter Paul Gauguin and author James Michener were enchanted with Tahiti and its surrounding islands. It’s time to take a closer look at what makes Tahiti so enticing:
Papeete. While many may pass up staying directly on Tahiti for Bora Bora or even Moorea, don’t miss out on exploring the Tahitian capital of Papeete. Here, take time to visit the Marche de Papeete – the main marketplace – where you can find handicrafts and souvenirs, taste the local food, and just take in the ambience of Tahiti. Don’t miss the Robert Wan Pearl Museum where you can see how black pearls are made. You can also explore the Parc Bougainville and the grounds of the Presidential Palace.
The Circle Road. Take an opportunity to explore the Circle Road, which is a 120 km road around the island. During your trip, stop to see the botanical garden and waterfalls at the Grotto de Marea, which rumor has it was one of Gauguin’s favorite swimming spots. A little further along the road is the Gauguin Museum to learn more about his time in Tahiti and French Polynesia. If you love to surf, you may want to stop at Tahiti Iti, where the waves rival those in Hawaii. Don’t miss the Arahoho Blowhole, where the force of waves crashing against the rocky shoreline creates a natural geyser-like phenomenon. And if you are a fan of the Mutiny on the Bounty stories, stop by author James Normal Hall’s Home to find out more about his life as an author.
The Belvedere. For a spectacular view of Tahiti and its signature mountains, the Belvedere overlook is not to be missed. From this vantage point, you can even see Moorea island! While, you’re there, have lunch at Le Belvedere restaurant (French, of course!).
Mount Aorai. If you are looking for a bit of adventure, consider hiking up to the summit of Mount Aorai, the third highest peak in Tahiti. While it’s a challenging and dangerous climb, it is one of the most rewarding. The complete hike is about 11k, but it is recommended that you do it in two stages, staying at one of the refuge huts along the way.
Papara Beach – Plage de Taharuu. A visit to Tahiti wouldn’t be complete without a stop at Plage de Taharuu – one of the best black sand beaches on the island!
Bora Bora. If you’re looking for paradise, don’t miss visiting neighboring Bora Bora. Whether it’s hiking, bicycling, spending time on the beach or visiting the famous Bloody Mary’s restaurant, Bora Bora is a relaxing distraction that you won’t forget.
Moorea. Moorea, the Magical Island, is just that, and needs to be part of your trip to Tahiti. Relax on the beaches, explore the island on foot or by bicycle, tour the juice factory (which makes liquors too!) and drink in the flora and fauna of the region at the tropical gardens near Opunohu Bay.
The best way to see Tahiti, Bora Bora, Moorea and the rest of French Polynesia is by cruise ship. Why not see Tahiti in style on a Paul Gauguin Cruise? Let us help you plan your Tahiti trip today. Give us a call at (805) 236-4437.
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