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Serene Scenes: My Top Picks for R&R Destinations

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Just looking at these images relaxes me.
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Kota Agung, Agung City, Tanggamus Regency, Lampung, Indonesia
Pulau Pisang is an island off of the South East tip of Sumatra. Hiring a tiny fishing boat to get there is only half of the adventure. The island has no motorbikes, no restaurants, and no place to stay other than with a local family in their...
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Göreme, 50180 Göreme Belediyesi/Nevşehir Merkez/Nevşehir, Turkey
Cappadocia is a historical region in Central Anatolia, in Nevşehir Province, Turkey. Like a lunar landscape, the region is home to a bizarre field of anthill-like cones and underground cities where Christians once hid to avoid persecution.
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560 Group One ,, Kok Chork Commune, Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia
We probably woke up later than we were supposed to. We caught a tuk tuk at the Shining Angkor Boutique Hotel (recommended, but not windowless room no. 1), drove into the park with our tickets purchased the day before, and briskly walked the long...
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Jl. Pantai Gili Trawangan, Gili Indah, Pemenang, Kabupaten Lombok Utara, Nusa Tenggara Bar. 83355, Indonesia
Gili T is the largest of the three Gili islands near Lombok. It has all the restaurant and nightlife offerings of Boracay in the Philippines but with the relaxed, friendly, tout-free vibe of the Perhentian islands in Malaysia. There are no cars or...
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Pecatu, South Kuta, Badung Regency, Bali, Indonesia
One of the best places to watch the sun set is from the cliffs of Pura Luhur Uluwatu, or the site of the old Uluwatu Temple on the island of Bali. The dramatic cliffs overlook the ocean, and arriving before sunset allows you to explore before...
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Oljato-Monument Valley, UT 84536, USA
Nuzzled up against the Arizona border about 100 miles west of Four Corners are some 30 square miles of the most iconic scenery in the American West. Monument Valley is one of those places that you’ll recognize as soon as you see...
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Tofino, BC, Canada
There are many wonderful beaches in the Pacific Rim National Park on Vancouver Island, but Schooner Cove is an extraordinary and accessible treasure, about twenty minutes south of Tofino. Small islets just off the coast at high tide become...
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Poovar, Kerala 695525, India
After two weeks of being held hostage by the urban chaos of Mumbai and Kochi, I was in serious need of sensory detoxification. I hired a car and driver and went 250 kilometers south of Kochi to a small coastal village called Poovar. There flows...
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British Virgin Islands
This family-run restaurant serves up some of the best conch fritters in the Caribbean. The relaxed vibe and plastic chairs make for an unusual place for a romantic dinner, but just add a sunset and a perfectly prepared lobster, and Cow Wreck...
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Padang Tengku, Pahang, Malaysia
Lots of people go to visit Tioman to go scuba diving, snorkeling, hiking, or just to relax... Travel guides suggest areas on the west and north end of the island, we chose to go totally south to stay at this gorgeous resort. Boy, was that a good...
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Jamaica
This is one of the greatest places on the planet. The waters are unbelievable shades of blue and green, and the sunsets are equally chromatic. The resort is positioned between two of the most highly rated resorts in Jamaica, but is a cheaper...
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Okavango Delta, Botswana
Botswana’s most famous crafts are baskets woven from fan palm fibers. They are dyed with natural pigments: blue from fever-berry leaves, dark brown from magic guarri shrubs, and yellow from the roots of red star apple trees. Some baskets take a...
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Dallas may not have the hills of Austin or the coastline of Galveston, but locals get their fix of natural splendor at White Rock Lake. Developed in 1911 as a water source for the city, the man-made lake is now the focal point for a 1,015-acre...
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Peyto Lake, Improvement District No. 9, AB T0L, Canada
This is another good stop along the Icefields Parkway in Alberta. It's a short hike from the parking area to this lookout. (Not sure how long it is, but my 5-year-old son managed it, walking on top of snow the whole way.) In the summer, the lake...
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Schroon Lake, NY 12870, USA
On my way to Montreal, I turned off on the NY thruway in search of gas in the town of Schroon Lake. I was captivated by the beauty of the large, clear lake as we approached the town. If it wasn't 20 degrees outside, I might have jumped in. Perhaps...
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Ko Lanta Yai, Ko Lanta District, Krabi, Thailand
For my money, this is the closest thing to a postcard-perfect paradise as there is in this world. Happy little clouds (-Bob Ross), blue-green ocean, mammoth limestone peaks, longtail boats swaying in the breeze, and an unending tropical sandscape....
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Santíssimo, Santarém - PA, Brazil
The Tapajós in Brazil, is a large river emptying into the Amazon River and is about 1200 miles long. The Tapajós region of the Amazon is home to a variety of animal and plant biodiversity as well as a dozen indigenous groups. It is one of the...
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Nong Chaeng, Bueng Sam Phan District, Phetchabun, Thailand
This is a beautiful sunset over a local Thai fishing boat off the island of Koh Lipe in the south Andaman sea. The sunsets in this part of the world are the most intense colors, deep pinks and purples. Just beautiful.
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Mormon Row, Moose, WY 83012, USA
The Moulton Barn is one of the most photographed structures in the U.S. Located on Mormon Row in the Grand Teton National Park it was built by John and Thomas Moulton. Mormon Row was an area chosen by early Mormon settlers for it’s fertile soil,...
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Porteau Cove Provincial Park is only about an hour drive from downtown Vancouver and a perfect west coast setting, sitting on the ocean's edge and with a backdrop of glacier capped mountains. It is a provincial campground perfect for tenting or...
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Miami, AZ 85539, USA
A drive looking for a great sunset took me to the small mining town of Miami, Arizona. Miami is known for its copper mines, large and small. Copper is big business in Arizona. After finding nothing of real interest as far as a sunset was...
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Pamukkale, 20190 Pamukkale/Denizli, Turkey
An afternoon well spent in Pamukkale. Walk barefoot on this calcium pools and then visit Hierapolis, an ancient Greco-Roman city. Go back to the calcium pools to enjoy the sunset and the light reflected in this wonderful scenario.
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4500 Solothurn, Switzerland
Solothurn is a small city along the Aare River and is regarded as the finest Baroque town in Switzerland. The old town traffic-free streets are a joy to wander, with many shops, boutiques, restaurants, cafes, and churches to visit. During the...
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Rovinj, Croatia
A year ago I took a short road trip through Istria, Croatia to explore the medieval hilltop towns, Venitian cities, sacred churches, and the famous wine, olive oil and truffles. It is an amazing area of Croatia just across the sea from Venice. It...
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66448 Church St, Ninilchik, AK 99639, USA
Set upon a bluff overlooking Cook Inlet, the Transfiguration of Our Lord Russian Orthodox Church in winter with two of Mt. Iliamna's peaks visible in the background. The church is one of the most photographed sites on Alaska's Kenai Peninsula and...
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Oregon, USA
We arrived at Crater Lake Lodge in the late afternoon with the sun almost set. At dusk, while the setting is spectacular, the light on the lake itself is most unremarkable. We enjoyed a late dinner at the lodge, a brief walk in the cold moonlit...
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Praia Castelejo, Portugal
While vacationing in the Algarve I wanted to visit a beach described as unusual and exotic. We left Lagos and traveled west past Vila do Bispo and followed the signs for about 15 minutes. We had heard that there was a beautiful beach in the area...
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Ban Chan Neu, Chom Phet Street, Luang Prabang, Laos
Last sunset of 2010 as seen from the Santi Resort and Spa in Luang Prabang, Laos. The sunsets in this town are spectacular--worthy of a UNESCO World Heritage designation in and of themselves!
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2640, Anguilla
Sometimes the best way to cool down in the Caribbean is to heat things up! And nothing spells relief like a dip in the Ani Villas hot tub – perched on the edge of a cliff overlooking secluded Little Bay Beach, Anguilla.
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Drapers, Jamaica
One of the most relaxing water rides you will ever experience is rafting on the Rio Grande (one of Jamaica's largest rivers). The journey weaves through the deep valleys and untouched hillsides sprayed with lush tropical forests and towering...
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Pichola, Udaipur, Rajasthan 313001
I'm propped up on cushions in my west-facing window seat like a pampered maharani. The sun god, to whom Udaipur's Maharana (or great warrior ruler) traces his ancestry, is bathing the hills behind the lake in wedding sari red. Below me, in the...
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50480 Houesville, France
Every year the Marais floods...during the summer this is vast rolling pastures with 100's of horses & cattle grazing - October to late March they flood and attract migratory birds...the skies reflect in the water - it's quite worth stopping off...
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Pakistan
Where fairies come down to bathe and fell in love with a prince, according to local folklore. Situated at 10,000 feet above the sea level, this breathtaking lake seems like a place where fairies would gather. An hour long strenuous drive away from...
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Estació de Muntanya Vall de Núria, 17534 Queralbs, Girona, Spain
If nature is a religion then Vall de Núria is mecca. Situated in a small valley with a lake in the heart of the Pyrenees mountains, not far from the border of Spain and France in Catalunya - it is best known as a ski resort but delights visitors...
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Mandalay, Myanmar (Burma)
to make the sunset at the famous U Bein bridge near Mandalay got us there just in time. And boy was it worth the effort. Not only this beauty but a fabulous temple on the river nearby was lit in brilliant shades of gold and orange. Literally...
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Costa Rica
The thermal hot springs in Rincón de La Vieja at Rio Negro (Black River) may not be as well known as those in the Arenal area, but we had the pools and surrounding forest to ourselves. From where we stayed at the Hacienda Guachipelin Rincón de La...
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Punta Gorda, Belize
Being on the road traveling usually means backpacks, hostels, guest houses, hammocks, tents, bus stops, trains and glorious discomfort! Every now and then try to Stay in a dream place, just to experience that unique feeling you get when you see a...
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Access Lane To Caalan Beach, El Nido, 5313 Palawan, Philippines
I don't think there is anything better than an ocean sunset in a tropical paradise with an ice cold beer or pina colada. I feel lucky to have gotten to see the sun set in so many places, but El Nido might take the cake? The landscape here is...
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Wyoming, USA
Having been raised on National Geographic magazines, I have always been fascinated by western landscape of America. The jagged peaks of Tetons have been on my to-see list ever since I have known the works of Ansel Adams. Last labor day weekend, my...
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Jackson, WY, USA
Having been raised on National Geographic magazines, I have always been fascinated by the western landscape of America. The jagged peaks of Tetons have been on my to-see list ever since I have known the works of Ansel Adams. Last labor day...
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The Frangipani Tree, 812, Matara Road,, Unawatuna 80600, Sri Lanka
There I was, stuck between a rock and a hard place. I wanted to swim in the ocean, to cleanse myself of my misgivings in the salty sea, but I also wanted to lounge in the infinity pool, sip a fruity cocktail (without being judged), and swim a few...
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Iceland
One of the most popular day trips from Reykjavík, this dramatic and scenic rift valley is both the historical site of Iceland’s Viking parliament and a geological wonder in its own right. Among the highlights are the...
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Lago Peten Itza, Guatemala
After a morning of hiking to the top of the largest temple in the excavated Mayan city of Tikal, the gods answered our call for relief from the August Guatemalan sun with a symphony of a storm, highly electric and mesmerizing. We watched show...
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Lake Atitlán, Guatemala
Getting to Lake Atitlan is no easy feat. After flying into Guat City, it's another 4 hours by bus to Panajachel. Then, if your'e staying on the lake, which I recommend, it's a short (and sometimes rocky) boat ride from there. But upon reaching the...
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Lapa Rios, Provincia de Puntarenas, Puerto Jimenez, 1000, Costa Rica
The howler monkeys are my alarm clock. At 4:30am, I lay awake under the diaphanous mosquito netting covering the bed, watching the array of colors and clouds that will evolve into the perfect sunrise. The many species of birds begin to rouse the...
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Manuel Antonio, Provincia de Puntarenas, Quepos, Costa Rica
North of oft-visited Manuel Antonio on the Pacific side of Costa Rica, is a small cove with a public beach by the name of Biesanz. The beach is hidden from the cliffs high above where resorts are like stars in the sky, numerous and crowding. Hike...
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Granada, Nicaragua
An unusual cloud formation provided this striking sunset from our jet at 35,000 feet, en route from Nicaragua to Miami.
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Latin America
I didn't expect after spending the day hiking around Machu Picchu to experience another moment of breathtaking beauty. The town of Aquas Calientes exists among a raging river that demands your attention. While waiting for the train I looked over a...
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Grossglockner High Alpine Road, 5661, Austria
The Grossglockner is without a doubt one of Austria’s most impressive natural sights. It’s not only Austria’s tallest mountain, but also one of the highest peaks of the Alps. Once you have laid eyes on this giant, you will both desperately want to...
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Wenatchee, WA 98807, USA
Central WA is a beautiful place. It's where families are on camping trips and avid outdoors enthusiasts intersect. Blue Lake is a great place to stretch your legs from a long drive on Hwy 20. It is an easy 4.4 mile roundtrip hike in the shade --...
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California, USA
Upon my return from an annual camping trip in Northern California's Mount Lassen National Park, I read the news. It turns out the that fire raged over the ridge across the lake from us all week long was national news. This shocked me due to the...
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Bazaruto Island, Mozambique
One of Africa’s only surviving colonies of dugong, a cousin to the manatee, lives amid the Bazaruto Archipelago’s curling vines of seaweed. A team of conservationists based at Marlin Lodge monitors the creatures weekly. Guests can participate in...
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California, USA
“We wanted to go to Yosemite, but didn’t have time.” I’ve heard this refrain from several San Francisco visitors and they all have said it with regret. Yes, the reverent national park is outside of a short-drive comfort...
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Sarangkot, Pokhara 33700, Nepal
We rolled out of bed in the dead of night, hopped onto our mechanical bull - a 600cc whirling dervish of unsteady power - and rode off into the mountains. We arrived at SangKot, a favored sunrise destination for many people whom visit Pokhara, and...
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Gates Pass, Arizona 85745, USA
Residents and visitors alike drive out to the western edge of Tucson on most evenings. The area averages 350 sunny days a year, so viewing the sunset is almost always a possibility. Summer evenings are predictably hot, but you're in for a...
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Lake Maninjau, Tanjung Raya, Agam Regency, West Sumatra, Indonesia
This is what I think of when travel comes to mind. I think untrammeled territory, wide open country, bits and pieces of the world I've never seen before, people doing things I didn't know they still do or ever did, and a big, booming landscape....
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Phewa Lake, Pokhara 33700, Nepal
We weren't quite lucky to see the snowcapped covered mountains in the lovely lakeside village of Pokhara since we visited during monsoon season. But it was a perfect way to start our introduction to the area and cross over to the trail leading up...
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Phewa Lake, Pokhara 33700, Nepal
For stunning Himalayan views, hire a canoe and row across Pokhara's Phewa Lake before sunrise. There are usually plenty of eager locals at the boats docks who are more than willing to row you around the lake and position your canoe in just the...
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New Orleans, LA 70114, USA
If you're looking for some quiet time while visiting New Orleans (what?), consider heading across the river to Algiers Point—a residential section of New Orleans on the west bank of the Mississippi River, full of Creole cottages and other...
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Santiago de Cuba, Cuba
A trip to Santiago de Cuba wouldn't be complete without a visit to San Pedro de la Roca Castle, also known as Castillo del Morro. This imposing fortress on the bay protected the city from pirates and military attack and is considered both...
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Pindale, Myanmar (Burma)
One of the "long-tail" boats that the fishermen use in the shallows of the Irrawaddy River. The red sunsets are caused by the burning of wood for cooking.
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Jijoca de Jericoacoara - State of Ceará, Brazil
"Paradise Lagoon" near Jericoacoara Beach is warm, clear, and fresh water, and one of the coolest places to enjoy Brazil's hammock culture.
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29400 Ronda, Málaga, Spain
If you find yourself in the Andalucía region in Spain, take the time to stop in this quaint little town with historic bridges and white houses.
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Reykjavík, Iceland
We got to Reykjavik on a rainy night, and the first thing I saw and heard was a lot of people in the street partying and Cher's "Believe" blasting from some club, loud enough to hear it everywhere. I though then that this place was crazy, but then...
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Ardnagrena, Co. Cork, Ireland
County Cork, Ireland is filled with a lot of small harbor towns, villages really. There are a lot of sailboats bobbing around in the water. I stayed in Kinsale (I would highly recommend it as it is a good base for other parts of Cork and there is...
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Mt Moran, Wyoming 83414, USA
9 mile loop trail with beautiful views, and 1 sole backcountry camping site on the point of a small peninsula in Jackson Lake.
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Llanos Costa, Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico
Lighthouses are common in any coastal town or island. Many are still in working condition, others are simply sites for the eyes. Cabo Rojo is a must-visit cliff on the southwest corner of Puerto Rico. From here, your view of the Caribbean is...
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Kaneo Plaosnik Pateka, Ohrid 6000, Macedonia (FYROM)
The lakeside town of Ohrid is notable for having a lot of UNESCO churches. Long ago, it had 365 churches — one for each day in the year. The Church of St. John at Kaneo is surely one of the most beautiful. Just after sunrise, it's completely quiet...
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Oosterdokskade 143, 1011 DL Amsterdam, Netherlands
This is not a secret to locals, but off-the-beaten path (but still not too out of the way) is a place with a surprisingly tasty dinner for under ten euros. It's the library cafeteria. But seriously: That bowl of Thai noodle soup with...
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Eyrarbakki, Iceland
On a trip to the amazing Iceland this January, my husband and I ended our first day at the small seaside town of Eyrarbakki. I wasn't prepared for how beautiful the Icelandic coast would be. The sun started its slow descent right around 4:45 each...
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Paraty - State of Rio de Janeiro, 23970-000, Brazil
Rio is spectacular in it's own right, but once the hustle and bustle of the city wears you down, Paraty is the place to go. Located about 150 miles west of Rio, it can be reached by taking one of the many buses that run throughout Brazil. And for...
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Similajau, 97000 Bintulu, Sarawak, Malaysia
Taman Nagara is the "worlds oldest tropical rain forest"! It is literally prehistoric. They actually find new species of flora and fauna in this Malaysian wilderness every year and it already had tigers, peacocks, elephants, and exotic orchids....
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Hanalei Bay, Hawaii, USA
Kauai's Hanalei Bay may be one of the most magical places on the planet. I swear some of the locals start paddleboarding at sunrise and don't come back in until sundown. I've paddleboarded in calm waters, but this was my first time trying to...
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Grand Manan, NB, Canada
There's a little slice of New Brunswick, Canada, off the coast of Maine, and it's well worth a visit. Grand Manan Island is accessed by ferry from Black's Harbour NB. The island is only 34km long and 18km wide, so it doesn’t take long to explore...
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The Lime, Grenada
The quaint hotel, with its many small white buildings topped with coral colored roofs, leisurely reclines on the lush, green hillside just above Grand Anse Bay. Distinctive arches hint at spacious balconies. Before you even set foot on Mount...
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1 Green Pleasure Pier, Avalon, CA 90704, USA
For the time it takes most Angelenos to commute to work, you can be ferried into the alternate reality of Catalina Island, a romantic escape far from the daily traffic jams and urban sprawl. The evergreen-shrubbed hills spotted with an artists...
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Trenčín, Slovakia
has nothing to do with San Francisco. It has to do with this picturesque town in Slovakia. I believe there was a castle and a Christmas market, but I was too cold to think of anything but gluwein and a down comforter. After I snapped this photo I...
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Great Bay, Sint Maarten
I had miles to use and no time left, so I picked the first flight where I could get a seat and found myself in Sint Maarten. I found a fabulous little hotel and was lucky enough to be taken on a personal tour of the island by the owner on my first...
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Aurland, Norway
As an engineer and part-time photographer, I travel all over the world. I always try to see or capture the countries I am in whenever I can. One of my favorite travel destinations is Norway for the food, people and countryside. I have traveled to...
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1 Dame Mary Eugenia Charles Blvd, Roseau, Dominica
Dominica is a hidden jewel of Caribbean. The lack of long sandy beaches and unaccessible to large airplanes account for tourist underdevelopment. There are no large hotels, the roads are bad and most shops can not meet the needs of affluent...
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20420 Park Rd 22, Corpus Christi, TX 78418, USA
Dawn. I awoke to the slow swoon of warm waves against the rosy shore as shadows of a winged company swept low with their hunger. Hungry for breakfast. With near piercing stealth—the beat of wings, rapid aim—they picked the meal out of the waters;...
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A 33, Botswana
You don’t have to be in a large city to enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime happy hour experience. Sometimes all it takes is a nice glass of wine and impossibly beautiful surroundings. One such place is aboard the Zambezi Queen, a luxury riverboat moored...
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Being a native Californian, I'm embarrassed to say that this was my maiden voyage to June Lake. A pristine lake high in the Sierra Nevada mountains, near Mammoth ski area. There are plenty of rentals available and it was almost deserted this...
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78 Mã Mây, Hàng Buồm, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam
We had a great cruise with Handspan. Do your research before booking a Halong Bay cruise. To some extent, you absolutely get what you pay for. The day we embarked, several people died in the bay when the tender boat taking them to their boat was...
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Ham Tin Wan, Hong Kong
This is my favourite place in Hong Kong, perhaps even in the world. This beach is part of the MacLehose Trail that winds in and out of the coast of the New Territories for about 100 kilometres. You can catch a bus from Sai Kung town to Pak Tam Au...
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Isla del Espiritu Santo, Baja California Sur, Mexico
While sea kayaking in the Sea of Cortez, we took time out from snorkeling with the sea lyons, spotting manta rays and whales and just cruising, to spend a bit of time in our base camp on an inlet on the north west side of Isla Espiritu Santo. I...