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The Paradise of Palawan: An El Nido Travel Guide

Posted by on Apr 1, 2016 | 0 comments

The Paradise of Palawan: An El Nido Travel Guide

Located in the southwestern Philippines, the jungle island of Palawan has often been described as the country’s “last ecological frontier.” With artifacts dating back 50,000 years, prehistoric cave formations, secret lagoons and incredible flora and fauna, Palawan is the most biodiverse island in the Philippines.

The northern part of Palawan is considered the most scenic with the Bacuit Bay Nature Reserve surrounding the small fishing village of El Nido (my choice for our stay). Just offshore from El Nido, you’ll find spectacular islands and limestone rock formations dating back 250 million years.

Ranked as the best island in the world by Conde Nast Traveler in 2015, Palawan has been on my wish list for years. It’s just one of 7,107 islands in the Philippines but many would say it’s definitely the one not to be missed.

Since it’s not like me to miss out on any island much less one ranked as the “world’s best” I knew my husband Dave and I had to get there while we were in Asia last month. So after relaxing stops in Koh Lanta and Koh Lipe there was really only one question remaining…how do we get to El Nido?

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Thailand’s Best Islands (Part 2): Koh Lipe

Posted by on Mar 18, 2016 | 0 comments

Thailand’s Best Islands (Part 2): Koh Lipe

Our two-week trip to Thailand and the Philippines was off to an excellent start after a relaxing stay on the island of Koh Lanta. But by Day #4, we were excited to head south to our next Thai island, Koh Lipe!

Located in Satun province, Koh Lipe is Thailand’s southernmost island and often referred to as “the Maldives of Thailand.” I’ve been fortunate enough to see a dozen or so Thai islands and for my money, Koh Lipe just might be the most beautiful. Like Koh Lanta, Lipe was originally settled by Sea Gypsies who traveled the islands searching for the best fishing spots. Some remain to this day on the island’s eastern shores.

As Thailand’s tourism industry booms at record levels, Koh Lipe (like Koh Lanta) still feels relatively undiscovered. Perhaps because it’s a little harder to get to than Thailand’s mega-resort areas like Phuket, Krabi and Hua Hin.

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Thailand’s Best Islands (Part 1): Koh Lanta

Posted by on Mar 15, 2016 | 0 comments

Thailand’s Best Islands (Part 1): Koh Lanta

Last winter, Dave and I had such an incredible time on our trip to Thailand and the Philippines that we decided to continue the tradition again this year. On our last trip, we visited the island of Boracay in the Philippines and Thailand’s Krabi province.

This time we wanted to venture farther out in the Philippines to the tiny fishing village of El Nido on the remote island of Palawan. While in Thailand, our love for the Krabi province led us to explore more nearby islands in the hopes of finding a new island paradise. We chose two islands to visit – Koh Lanta and Koh Lipe – and two weeks ago we began our 16-day journey in Koh Lanta.

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Photo of the Day – Krabi, Thailand

Posted by on Feb 23, 2016 | 0 comments

Photo of the Day – Krabi, Thailand

With more than 130 islands grouped into four archipelagos, the southern Thailand beach town of Krabi is a terrific base for exploring all this spectacular province has to offer. From the main pier in Krabi, countless day trips are available out to idyllic islands via ferry or longtail boat. Often the ride is as incredible as the destination, passing lush jungle regions and 200 million-year-old limestone cliffs soaring up to 400 feet high. Two of my favorite day trip islands are the Phi Phi Islands and Hong Island. Made famous in the movie, “The Beach” a visit to Phi Phi Ley’s spectacular Maya Bay is a highlight of any trip to Thailand. And superbly-scenic Hong Island, just a 30 minute longtail boat ride away, is the largest of 4 islands making up the National Marine Park. This uninhabited island features soaring limestone cliffs and a vast interior lagoon (the “chamber” from whence its Thai name, “Hong” originates). You could spend weeks in Krabi visiting a new paradise every day.

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Photo of the Day – Innsbruck, Austria

Posted by on Feb 5, 2016 | 0 comments

Photo of the Day – Innsbruck, Austria

While visiting Germany last week, I decided to take a drive down to check out the alpine ski resort town of Innsbruck, Austria.

The provincial capital of Tyrol, Innsbruck is Austria’s 5th largest city and the biggest ski resort in the Alps. In the 15th century, Innsbruck was a center of European politics and many of the late-medieval style buildings still remain in the heart of the city’s picturesque old town.

As an internationally-renowned winter sports center, Innsbruck has played host to both the 1964 and 1976 Winter Olympic Games. To explore everything the city has to offer, book a room at the centrally-located Penz Hotel. The city’s first design hotel, this modern and luxurious property is situated in the heart of Old Town.

From the alpine views to the pastel-colored buildings lining the River Inn – a tributary of the Danube – Innsbruck Austria’s city center is well worth a visit before hitting the slopes.  

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Photo of the Day – Dunn’s River Falls, Jamaica

Posted by on Feb 1, 2016 | 0 comments

Photo of the Day – Dunn’s River Falls, Jamaica

Spanning a length of nearly 600 feet, Dunn’s River Falls is one of the Caribbean’s top attractions and a must-see for any visitor to Jamaica. From its summit at 180 feet, tiers of cascading limestone meander down to the Caribbean Sea forming a natural staircase. The falls plunge in some places and plateau in others creating natural pools shaded by lush green vegetation on all sides. At its base, Dunn’s River Falls flows across a beautiful beach and straight into the sea. Climbing the falls is a popular activity for visitors to Jamaica. Guides instruct groups of climbers to hold hands for balance and several human chains at a time make the ascent from the beach all the way to the top. While proper footwear is essential on the often slippery rocks, the climb itself is easily manageable for most visitors and takes about 90 minutes assuming a few stops for photos. But for those not up to the task of scaling the waterfall, there are numerous paths alongside it that allow anyone to enjoy the view.

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Photo of the Day – Stingray City, Grand Cayman

Posted by on Jan 29, 2016 | 0 comments

Photo of the Day – Stingray City, Grand Cayman

Located in the shallow waters off Grand Cayman’s North Sound, Stingray City is a string of sandbars that passes through a natural channel just inside the island’s barrier reef. As the story goes, the area became popular with the rays decades ago when local fisherman would stop in the calm, shallow waters to clean their day’s catch. When they tossed the fish guts and squid into the water it attracted the stingrays who eventually began to associate the sound of a boat engine with a free meal. Over the years, divers realized the stingrays could be fed by hand and today a variety of boats ferry visitors to the area to let them feed the stingrays and get a once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunity. It’s the rare chance to interact one-on-one with the friendly rays that makes Stingray City Grand Cayman’s most popular attraction. If you’re staying a few days on Grand Cayman, definitely try to visit when there are no cruise ships in port. Of course, if you’re visiting the island on a cruise ship like I was, well, you’ll likely have to suffer the crowds. But even with the throng of fellow tourists, I still felt Stingray City was well worth a visit.

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