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AFAR Explorer′s Wishlist
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La Gloria, Isla Mujeres, Q.R., Mexico
If you're not a fan of huge resorts and big hotels, Isla Mujeres is the perfect getaway from Cancun. Just catch the ferry to the island located 13km to the northeast of Cancun. The ferry ride in itself is enjoyable, as you float over shallow reefs...
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The Bora Bora St Regis is located on the reef that surrounds the central island, which is in the background of the picture. All of the rooms are over-water bungalows, and jumping off of the deck into the warm waters of the lagoon was an incredible...
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Cobá, Q.R., Mexico
Cobá holds the ruins of a large pre-Colombian Maya civilization located on the Riviera Maya. Lesser known than Tulum, the name Cobá means turbid (cloudy) waters - probably having to do with the five cenotes (underground rivers) in the region,...
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Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico
Isla Mujeres, home to a protected sea turtle hatching area, is the perfect place to visit for nature lovers. The turtle hatchery is dedicated to their conservation and ensures the population is sustained. The small place is typically crowd-free...
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Sagitario, Tulum, Q.R., Mexico
Located near the Maya ruins of Tulum, Centro Ecologico Sian Ka'an (CESiaK) is a nature lover's paradise. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage site and established in 1986 as part of UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Program, it is the largest protected...
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Byron Bay NSW 2481, Australia
Bring your hiking shoes to reach this gem because in order to get there you'd have to trek down a steep cliff to hit the surf. This beach is just located off of the Byron Bay lighthouse which is a huge tourist spot so you can't miss it.
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1090 Point Lobos Ave, San Francisco, CA 94121, USA
San Francisco's seven hills and extensive coastline offer plenty of impressive views; why not enjoy them with a delicious meal or bubbly drink? The Burger Bar on the top floor of Macy’s and the Rotunda at Neiman Marcus overlook Union Square....
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Carretera Federal & Cancún - Chetumal Km 230 307, 77780 Tulum, Q.R., Mexico
While not as large as other ancient Mayan cities in the region, Tulum draws in visitors for its stunning setting of centuries-old temples perched on a cliff by the Caribbean Sea. You’ll pass a large market with souvenirs, a casual Mexican...
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San Diego, CA, USA
Just a short drive north from downtown San Diego, the 2,000-acre Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve offers an idea of what Southern California looked like before its coastlines were developed. Experience the area by taking a short walk from the...
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47-48 Temple Bar, Dublin 2, Ireland
On Saturday nights most of the streets are pedestrian-only, live music spills into the streets, and the frothy stout flows free. Locals are spoiled in that they can revel on these ancient cobbled streets as frequently as they like, while the rest...
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You'll have never seen a place more green. Hundreds of shades of it, with waterfalls and babbling brooks. Gleninchaquin is something out of a dream—yet it's the beautiful reality in Southwest Ireland. This family-owned park, overseen by Donal and...
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1000 Howard Ave, New Orleans, LA 70113, USA
Discover a history that can be felt and a little local flavor with one of the many tours available or explore it all on your own. The beauty of this cemetery is a reflection of it's location. Worn and unkempt, its air of mysterious romanticism can...
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Castleholding, Co. Tipperary, Ireland
I had long been enamored of the stories swirling around the eerie Leap Castle in County Offaly. Notorious for being the most haunted castle in Ireland, Leap looms out of the rolling countryside, a crooked finger gesticulating at a leaden sky,...
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St Katharine's & Wapping, London EC3N 4AB, UK
Visitors to this turreted riverside castle enter a thousand years of history filled with cultural significance (but go early to avoid lines to see the crown jewels). Tudor fans can view the spot where Anne Boleyn was beheaded and the kinds of...
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1499 Post Alley, Seattle, WA 98101, USA
I have to be upfront, I don't believe in ghosts, but listening to these stories really made me want to. You meet at this little espresso shop where they serve Middle Fork and Caffe Vita Roasters. From there, your guide takes you around Pike Place...
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2461 San Diego Ave, San Diego, CA 92110, USA
The Ghostly Tours in History walking tour in the Gaslamp is a fun way to learn some of the interesting history of the area. The tour is only an hour long, and you will walk around a few blocks while the tour guide points out historic buildings...
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1400 Washington Ave, New Orleans, LA 70130, USA
New Orleans' cemeteries are part of the city's culture as well as its landscape—and St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 is the oldest and most famous. Opened in 1789 on the edge of the French Quarter, the cemetery is home to the tomb of Marie Laveau, a...
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429 Caroline St, Key West, FL 33040, USA
Taking a nighttime ghost tour of Key West is one of the best ways to see a unique side of the city. Throughout the tour you'll stop by haunted Victorian mansions, the original hanging tree, Key West's oldest mansion, and many more ghoulish sites....
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Malahide Demesne, Malahide, Co. Dublin, Ireland
A short train ride from Dublin, spend a day at Malahide Castle and Gardens wandering its wide open green spaces (260 acres). The Castle tour is short, but the information about the Talbot family, and the Castle's ghosts is pretty entertaining....
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1170 Tubbs Ln, Calistoga, CA 94515, USA
Some of the best Napa Valley winetasting experiences are to be had in the tasting rooms of the smaller wineries along the Silverado Trail. Envy Wines, just north of Calistoga (the northernmost part of Napa Valley), is a great pick if you want...
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5510 NE Breyman Orchards Rd, Dayton, OR 97114, USA
Red Ridge Farms has been growing grapes in the Dundee Hills for 40 years. In 2005, it added olives to its repertoire, becoming the only commercial producer of olive oil in Oregon. Call ahead to visit the mill and sample such varieties as Arbequina...
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3824 N Roosevelt Blvd, Key West, FL 33040, USA
Long associated with spring break excess and the literary world (Hemingway lived and wrote here for years), Key West is undergoing a sort of hipster sanding down: New cocktail lounges, third-wave coffee bars, and boutique hotels—including...
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601 Front St, Key West, FL 33040, USA
Key West’s small downtown is undergoing a renaissance of sorts, perhaps best characterized by The Marker, a new hotel opening in early 2015 that straddles the line between iconic and forward-thinking.
 
The wrapping is classic Key...
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It is irresistibly tempting to compare distiller Paul Menta to Captain Jack Sparrow. There’s the long, dark hair, the slightly Depp-ish eyes, and yes, a shared love of rum and open sea (Menta’s a competitive kiteboarder). Menta’s...
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907 Whitehead St, Key West, FL 33040, USA

Key West’s most famous literary resident, Ernest Hemingway, lived in this two-story Spanish-colonial villa for nearly a decade and composed several of his best-known works here. His second wife, Pauline, insisted they add a pool to the...

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400 Front St, Key West, FL 33040, USA
The Hog's Breath Saloon on the corner of Duval and Front Street in the heart of Old Key West has been in business since 1988. The Saloon was a hit from the day it opened. It's a place to enjoy lunch or relax after a day of swimming, fishing, or...
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58000 Card Sound Rd, Key Largo, FL 33030, USA
Alabama Jack's is a well known shack on the water on Card Sound Road in Key Largo that serves a good lunch. It is in the middle of nowhere just north of the toll bridge. Alabama Jack's is a great place for lunch. It specializes in fresh, fried...
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96 Madeira Rd, Islamorada, FL 33036, USA
the menu may be mostly deep fried, the drinks from a machine and the music (cover bands) stuck in the 80s but honestly there is no better place in the upper keys to hang out at sunset time. Go early to get your preferred table on the sand.
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Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, Florida, USA
You’ve been snorkeling off a tourist catamaran in Key West, and you’ve finned within the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary—but you’ve hardly scratched the surface of this vast, watery wonderland. Designated a marine...
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San Diego, CA, USA
If there's one thing San Diego is known for, it's the beautiful beaches. We have sandy beaches, rocky cliffs and long piers. Each beach has its own character and flair. Check out the Torrey Pines beach for dramatic cliffs and great hiking. The...
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Pamalican Island, Sulu Archipelago, Agutaya, Palawan, Philippines
Occupying its own island in the Cyuo Archipelago—where members of the animal kingdom outnumber humans by some comical order of magnitude—Amanpulo is the consummate artist’s escape. Adding to the resort’s castaway cred is...
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Kaihalulu Beach, Hana, HI 96713, USA
This was the end of the Hana Highway in Maui. Our guidebook told of a red sand beach, but it specifically left out information on how to get there, in an effort to keep people from spoiling it. Before our trip, I printed out some instructions from...
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Pulau Perhentian Kecil, Besut, Terengganu, Malaysia
A visit to the Perhentian Islands is a must if you find yourself in Malaysia and want some beach time! If you want a nice quaint island stay on Perhentian Besar. If you are looking for more action then stay on Perhentian Kecil, but even Kecil is...
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Playón Chico, Panama
The family-owned Yandup Island Lodge is located on a private island across from the remote Playon Chico community on the Caribbean coastline of San Blas, Panama. The eco-lodge offers two tours a day: a visit to a beach on one of the archipelago's...
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Motu Piti Aau, Bora Bora 98730, French Polynesia
Visiting the InterContinental Bora Bora Thalasso Resort on assignment, I feel like the only single person from here to Guam. Every year, Bora is voted among the world’s top honeymoon destinations, and right away you realize everything is...
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Little Cayman, Cayman Islands
Despite its size (10 square miles) and population (fewer than 170 permanent residents), Little Cayman enjoys a worldwide reputation among serious divers. The island is renowned for its exceptional underwater visibility and vertigo-inducing walls,...
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Ningaloo WA 6701, Australia

Australia's Great Barrier Reef is, of course, world famous, but there's some impressive snorkeling and diving on the west coast of the country, too. Not far from Exmouth, Ningaloo Marine Park was named a World Heritage Site in 2011. The protected...

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George Town, Cayman Islands

As part of a cruise shore excursion I had the opportunity to go snorkeling with the Sting rays in Grand Cayman. I had managed to convince one of my co-travelers to go with me. She had never been snorkeling before and was a little nervous about...

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Cairns QLD, Australia
The gateway to Queensland’s tropical north, Cairns is a stylish city, which is also renowned for its relaxed, tropical climate and laid-back ambience. With islands, rain forests and, reefs on its doorstep, you can swim, snorkel, dive, and sail the...
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1320 W Bay Rd, West Bay, Cayman Islands
While Grand Cayman’s waters harbor legendary coral reefs, there’s another treasure waiting to be discovered below the surface in a marine park off Seven Mile Beach. About 60 feet down rests the intentionally submerged Kittiwake, a...
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I had some air miles that were due to expire really didn't want to go to the Caribbean but St Marten was the only available place given my time constraint.It was quite lovely and I am so glad that I went. Nice people, two countries in one and...
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5255 Lower Honoapiilani Rd, Lahaina, HI 96761, USA
People define Aloha in many different ways. I think of Aloha as a state of peacefulness that comes from an appreciation for the beauty and fragility of life, combined with compassion and respect for the people and creatures we live among. When I...
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Lower Bight Road, Grace Bay, Providenciales TKCA 1ZZ, Turks and Caicos Islands
With 21 suites, all of them larger than 1,000 square feet, set among grassy dunes on a less-developed swath of Grace Bay, Beach House is both intimate and roomy. Condo-like in their dimensions and layout, every suite has a kitchenette and a large...
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Pulau Perhentian Kecil, Besut, Terengganu, Malaysia
The Perhentian Islands in Malaysia have some of the best diving and snorkeling with crystal clear water, cheap digs and thumpin' bass if you need to party.
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Ambergris Caye, Belize
Rent a golf cart in San Pedro, grab a towel, and head off on a day of adventure. Locals will likely send you to the island's "Secret Beach" when asked where to head for a quiet day on some pristine sand. Bring a map and $10 Belizean ($5 U.S.) to...
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San Diego, CA, USA
The La Jolla Underwater Park is a great way to experience the world in the Pacific Ocean. There are artificial reefs, two canyons and a kelp forest. There are many places around the park to rent scuba and snorkeling gear, kayaks and wetsuits. The...
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Santa Cruz, Aruba
Turquoise waters and reclusive snorkeling conditions sound both ideal and cliched, but Mike's Reef in Aruba offers that definitive postcard-worthy aquatic experience. "My father started Tranquilo Aruba in 1977," says the son of founder Captain...
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Bermuda
Bermuda’s most famous beach sits on the island’s south coast, in the parish of Southampton. In the summer, Horseshoe Bay is the number one destination for many visitors to Bermuda, drawn by the crescent of pink sand and clear blue water. In the...
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Strada Comunale Serra, 1, 14055 Annunziata, Costigliole d'Asti AT, Italy
Winemaker Renato Ratti recently opened to the public his family’s 18th-century, 13-room villa in the Piedmont countryside. An old cellar stores decades’ worth of Ratti wines. Guided tastings can be arranged upon request, and bottles can be shipped...
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47900 CA-1, Big Sur, CA 93920, USA
Described by devotees as the most luxurious, one-of-a-kind lodging experience in all of California, the Post Ranch Inn was purpose-built to blend in with the Santa Lucia Mountains. Opened in 1992, and designed by famed Big Sur architect Mickey...
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México 307, 77710 Playa del Carmen, Q.R., Mexico
Secluded and service-oriented are the adjectives that best describe Rosewood Mayakoba, a resort in Playa del Carmen that opened in 2008. At 1,600 acres, the resort is expansive, offering plenty of room for guests to feel that they have their own...
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Osa Peninsula, Puntarenas Province, Costa Rica
Off the coast of Costa Rica’s remote Osa Peninsula, spend your days at sea counting humpback whales, identifying them by their markings, plotting their movements, and recording their sounds. Your work will help to determine if the same whales...
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Aswan Governorate, Egypt
The Great Pyramids of Giza are very impressive and rightfully earn their wonder of the world title. But then there's Abu Simbel. The site has, well, personality. Ramses II is present at every turn, as is his wife Nefertari. Four giant likenesses...
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Delos, Mikonos 846 00, Greece
Delos is an ancient Greek city near Mykonos that holds mythological significance as the sunny birthplace of Appollo and Artemis. A guided tour explains ancient metropolitan life and there is also a museum that displays excavated artifacts found...
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726 St Peter, New Orleans, LA 70116, USA
Preservation Hall occupies a worn Creole town house that was originally built as a home in the early 19th century, and that had evolved into an art gallery and performance space by 1961. (It was founded by a man of philanthropic bent who fretted...
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624 Pirate Alley, New Orleans, LA 70116, USA
The former home of William Faulkner (where he wrote Soldiers' Pay), this tiny bookstore is full of rare and first editions, plus New Orleans literature, and new bestsellers.
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800 Decatur St, New Orleans, LA 70116, USA
Café Du Monde is always open; it’s the clientele that changes—from visiting families and local pensioners early in the morning, to couples in the evening, to Bourbon Street refugees looking for coffee and ballast in the...
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734 E 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90013, USA
You don't need to work hard to explore New Orleans' diverse architecture. Take a walk around the French Quarter and you'll see Creole cottages and pre-Civil War townhouses with wrought-iron balconies. Hop on a street car and take in the antebellum...
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511 St Louis St, New Orleans, LA 70130, USA
Stock up on provisions, find yourself a picnic blanket, and take advantage of New Orleans' many stretches of green. Hit up Johnny's Po' Boys in the Quarter for fried oysters, meatballs, or even hamburger meat on Leidenheimer French bread and grab...
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2815 Frenchmen St, New Orleans, LA 70122, USA
Located in a warehouse in New Orleans' Ninth Ward, the Old New Orleans Rum Distillery was the brainchild of a local artist in 1999. The distillery survived the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and is still going strong and are now being...
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718 St Peter, New Orleans, LA 70116, USA
No trip to New Orleans would be complete without a visit to Pat O'Briens for a Hurricane. The story goes that in the 1940s, because it was difficult to import scotch during WWII, bar owners were forced to buy large amounts of rum and the...
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130 Roosevelt Way, New Orleans, LA 70112, USA
A Sazerac is composed of whiskey and absinthe, and nowhere sports classier digs for this signature cocktail than the Sazerac Bar of the Roosevelt Hotel in downtown New Orleans, where the low lights flow over heavy wood tables and the big leather...
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Mardi Gras World, located in the Port area of New Orleans near the convention center, is a fun stop any time of year. Your tour starts with a brief history of Mardi Gras, a chance to try on some of the elaborate costumes and a taste of New Orleans...
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144 Bourbon St, New Orleans, LA 70130, USA
Bourbon House is one of New Orleans' best restaurants, serving fresh seafood (oysters topped with caviar!) and dishes made with local ingredients. In fact, over 70% of ingredients are sourced within 150 miles. Moreover, Bourbon House is passionate...
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1433 St Charles Ave, New Orleans, LA 70130, USA
There are three old streetcar lines that run in New Orleans. We enjoyed a ride down St. Charles, the oldest of the lines. The trains were beautifully worn originals and gave us a glance at the front of many beautiful old homes. There were also a...
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900 Dumaine St, New Orleans, LA 70116, USA
Here, you'll enjoy authentic Creole and Cajun cuisine made with fresh, local ingredients. Everything on the menu is made from scratch except for the French bread, and even that has a local twist, as the restaurant grills it to give it a nice...
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700 Decatur St, New Orleans, LA 70116, USA
A National Historic Landmark that has also been named one of America’s Great Public Spaces, Jackson Square is the historic heart of New Orleans. Under the French, it went by the name the Place d’Armes and it wasn’t until the...
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Bourbon St, New Orleans, LA, USA
Some find this narrow, neon-lit French Quarter street appealing, others appalling. But it’s worth a stroll either way. It’s as if all the sins of mankind and then some were rounded up and corralled here—tawdry strip shows, cheap...
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617 Ursulines Ave, New Orleans, LA 70116, USA
This gem in a quiet stretch of the French Quarter earns the French word for bakery—patisserie—for its true-to-Paris pastries. The flaky croissants come in all types, from plain or savory to filled and sweet. Whatever you order, you must get one on...
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615 Toulouse St, New Orleans, LA 70130, USA
Flashdance on the big screen, go-go dancers, 80s music – so worth the $5 cover. Also: Confirmed my theory that everyone in New Orleans knows how to dance.
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777 Bienville St, New Orleans, LA 70130, USA
A festive supper to celebrate the end of Advent and the arrival of the New Year, Réveillon is a New Orleans Creole tradition that's been revived by the city's restaurants—and you don't have to fast (as was customary) or wait until after midnight...
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Hāmoa Beach, Hawaii 96713, USA
Legendary travels scribes from Michener to Twain have written of the beauty of lonely Hamoa. Sandy, sheltered, and dripping in palms, this remote stretch of shoreline on the eastern tip of Maui can make a case for Maui's best beach. Nevertheless,...
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Isla Contoy, Quintana Roo, Mexico
An easy day trip from Cancun, Isla Contoy is a small island nature reserve with beautiful beaches and more than 100 species of birds. Bird watching tours can be arranged through travel agencies and hotels, as the island is uninhabited, and...
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A short boat ride north from San Pedro will deposit you onto a portion of Ambergris Caye that feels worlds away from any town or city. Once ensconced in a private bungalow on a private beach, there isn’t much to distract the guest from complete...
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HI-560, Kapaa, HI 96746, USA
With sand between your toes and frothy waves running over your tired feet, enjoying a long walk on the beach with your beau is about as romantic as life can get. Many hotels make it easy on couples, thanks to their convenient waterfront location,...
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El Limón 32000, Dominican Republic
The 86-villa Balcones del Atlántico opened two years ago in Las Terrenas in the mountainous Samana Peninsula in the Dominican Republic. This is one of the most postcard-perfect spots in the northern Antilles. The remote setting is mythical. The...
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Swingdale Ln, Cayman Islands
While the Cayman Islands may have tons of activities and beaches perfect for families and small children, there is one off-the-beaten-path beach on Little Cayman that is extremely romantic and secluded. Point of Sand, located on the eastern tip,...
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Val Des Pitons Forbidden Beach La Baie de Silence, St Lucia
For a taste of Miami by way of St. Lucia, look no further than Sugar Beach. Set on a white-sand crescent between the Piton mountains—within a 100-acre former sugar plantation studded with shady palm trees—the resort’s...
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Sec Gozalandia, San Sebastián 00685, Puerto Rico
As with many other natural wonders in Puerto Rico, there isn't a clearly defined marker. Normally, to find Gozalandia, you would first have to visit it with a local, because getting directions there can be complicated. Lately, there is talk...
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Laughing Bird Caye, Belize
On approach, Laughing Bird Caye is breathtaking: a narrow island, lined with multiple palm trees, with a single thatch hut where a resident park ranger awaits to welcome and inform visitors. It's not so bad once you've arrived,...
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SP94, 07021 Arzachena OT, Italy
There are few places that blend dramatic scenery, old-world history, and stellar food culture as beautifully as Sardinia. In early summer, wildflowers color the island, cherries are at their juiciest, and many regions are surprisingly tourist...