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Five Sunny Destinations in the UK for Your Winter Escapade

Five Sunny Destinations in the UK for Your Winter Escapade

 

Winter, the perfect season for a steaming cup of hot chocolate and the thickest duvet you can find at home. Many people would opt to stay in with the heater on, especially at night when the temperature is at its coldest. There are those, however, who try to escape the chill. Bundled up in their most comfortable winter gear, vacationers in the UK walk out of their doors in search of scenic views that are a lot less white and cold. So, to make things easier for you, here’s a list of destinations you can go to escape the cold.

North Yorkshire boasts of a steamy 12m outdoor pool warmer than any waters you would find in the Caribbean. At a delightful temperature of 34C (93F), it’s no wonder people drive up to the Feversham Arms hotel located in this county, about 30 minutes away from the coastal resort of Whitby.

If you want somewhere a bit warmer still, you have the Isles of Scilly where the Abbey Garden is. Find the most beautiful towering palms this side of Britain–palms you only normally see out of the country, and white sand beaches perfect to make you remember summer. Wait until New Year’s Day, and you would have the chance to see plant species of different kinds, reaching up to 200 all in all, some including exotic ones from Australia, Brazil, and New Zealand.

Five Sunny Destinations in the UK for Your Winter Escapade

If the thirst for summer in your spirit just couldn’t be quelled, Pembrokeshire has the St. Brides Spa Hotel located in Saundersfoot to cater to your special need. The spa’s glass walls let in the bright sunshine in January as you enjoy their scrumptious food at their beach-view restaurant. Outside, there is an infinity hydrotherapy pool heated to 38C (100F). The bedrooms will teleport you to a seaside world through the seashell and driftwood décor paired with carpets of the seagrass style.

Gwynedd, on the other hand, has the answer to those wanderers who seek to be inspired by architecture. The village of Portmeirion is an Italianate tourist village designed and built by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis. The architect himself said that the design was a tribute to the Mediterranean. Here, you can find the tropical atmosphere you seek through the exotic plants that the microclimate, enhanced by the Gulf Stream, has allowed to thrive. Stay in one of the South Sea hotels, Mermaid or Neptune.

Lastly, people who love the summer brightness can drive straight to East Sussex where Eastbourne, holder of the records for the most hours of sun in one month, can be found. The Grand Hotel, also known as the “White Palace”, offers modern luxuries such as a heated indoor swimming pool.

Five Sunny Destinations in the UK for Your Winter Escapade

Winter is coming so plan your vacation ahead. Make sure your travel gear is packed and your vehicles checked. If some of the locations we’ve listed are far from you, why not take a local flight and drive a rental car to get there? An affordable rental car can be easily booked and you can pick up a rental car at Manchester Airport or any other airports in the UK. This will make your winter escapade hassle-free.

 

Beach bliss and tranquility: find your oasis in the Sunshine State

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If you book flights to Florida you will be flying to an area than can boast of having around 600 miles of beaches.  This is the ideal state for sun and sand worshippers.  Some of the coastal spots in this densely populated peninsula are far from tranquil though but as long as you know where to look, you’ll be able to enjoy peace, quiet and total relaxation by the sea.

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Beach bliss and tranquility: find your oasis in the Sunshine State

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Anastasia State Park

Located on the east coast of the state, south of Jacksonville, Anastasia State Park is well worth checking out.  This laidback spot has four miles of beautiful beach for you to explore. Covering 1,600 acres in total, the park is also home to a tidal salt marsh and a maritime, upland hammock.

While there, you can take a refreshing dip in the Atlantic, fish, windsurf, hike, boat, observe the local wildlife and more. You can also hire a bike to get around. The fact that all water vehicles must be non-motorized helps to preserve the relaxed atmosphere of this wide beach.

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Beach bliss and tranquility: find your oasis in the Sunshine State

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Key Biscayne

Heading south down the east coast past Miami, you’ll find Key Biscayne. Despite its close proximity to the bustling Miami Beach, this area benefits from plenty of peace and quiet, in part thanks to the fact that it is located between two major parks.  Crandon Park, which lies to the north of the town and is a former coconut plantation and home to two miles of golden sands. To the south, Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park benefits from a mile-long beach complete with a 19th century lighthouse.

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Beach bliss and tranquility: find your oasis in the Sunshine State

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Sanibel and Captiva Islands

Lying off the southern tip of Florida, the Sanibel and Captiva Islands are well worth checking out too. It may be the $6 toll to gain access to these islands but it does help to keep the crowds at bay and the beaches here are ideal for a relaxing escape. Sanibel in particular is renowned for its beautiful sandy spots and it features an abundance of shells. Some of the beaches benefit from picnic tables and showers, and there are plenty of activities on offer, including fishing, shelling and bird watching.

Bear in mind though, pets on Sanibel Island must be kept on a leash, while no pets are allowed on Captiva beaches. Also, it’s forbidden to drink alcohol on the beach from November through May.

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Beach bliss and tranquility: find your oasis in the Sunshine State

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Don Pedro Island State Park

On the west coast of the peninsula, the Don Pedro Island State Park is a real highlight. Reached by ferry or private boat, this secluded spot is the perfect place to unwind well away from the crowds. If you’re lucky, you’ll even get to catch sight of endangered species such as gopher tortoises, American oystercatchers, bald eagles or West Indian manatees.

If you get bored of swimming, snorkeling, shelling and sunbathing, you can explore the park’s impressive nature trails.

All of these beaches make superb vacation spots and they prove that, even in the bustling Sunshine State, it’s possible to escape the crowds.

 

Images by Jonathan Goforth, Ines Hegedus-Garcia, Bruce Tuten and Karen Blaha used under creative commons license.

Maldives On A Budget

How to Visit The Maldives On A Budget

 

The Maldives are a cluster of 1,192 islands in the Indian Ocean that lay 250 miles south-west of India and is one of the most beautiful places in the world.  The islands are so picture perfect that even when you are there it is hard to believe it is real. The water is the perfect shade of teal and you can see your feet at the bottom even when you are standing up to your neck in the ocean. The sand is crystal white and the weather is tropically warm which makes for the ultimate island vacation. Only 185 of the Maldivian Islands are inhabited due to lack of land and the island nation is ranked as the third most endangered nation in the world due to climate change, which is creating rapid flooding. Mohamed Nashee, the islands former President has famously stated, “If carbon emissions continue were to stop today, the planet would not see a difference for 60 to 70 years. If carbon emissions continue at the rate they are climbing today, my country will be underwater in seven years.”

 


Maldives On A BudgetAlthough climate conditions are not on their side, the Maldivian government is working hard to save their beautiful country. Now they are working on creating floating islands to save their country as well as trying to eliminate all of their greenhouse gas emissions by 2019.

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The Maldives are paradise. With a huge growth in tourism the islands are housing more and more resorts. Over 100 of the 185 inhabited islands are resort islands, most of which only have one resort, which makes for the ultimate island holiday. Chances are, if you are visiting one of the private island resorts, you will have to take a flight on a Seaplane with Trans Maldivian Airways.

 

With such beautiful resorts you may think that in a trip to the Maldives would cost a fortune and while you can easily spend thousands on airfare and resorts there is a budget way to visit without sacrificing luxury.

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Maldives On A Budget

Jeff and I visited this past April and didn’t break the bank. There is one island that houses the countries only airport, which is just a 10-minute ferry ride to Male, the nations capital. There are a few local islands that have plenty of budget hotels. The ferry from the airport to Male is less than $1 USD.

 

The island of Maafushi is a local island that is about an hour-long ferry ride from Male. There is one ferry to and from Maafushi everyday. You can call any of the hotels on Maafushi and they will gladly provide you with all the information you need to get there. The ferry to Maafushi leaves Male at 3pm everyday and a return ferry departs Maafushi to Male at 7am everyday. the ferry from Male to Maafushi is only $3 USD one way.

 

The Beachwood Hotel is a great place to stay on Maafushi and runs about $90 a night. It is the only hotel with a pool on the island and they have a small van to drive you to the ferry or even to the beach. Because the Maldives are a Muslim nation there is no alcohol allowed on local islands. If you stay at a resort they do serve alcohol, but with such beautiful beaches the absence of alcohol wasn’t missed. Also, because the country is so conservative, the beaches on the local islands are sectioned off so that tourist can enjoy the beach with privacy and feel free to wear swimsuits and bikinis.

 Check out our review of The Beachwood Hotel! 

The Beachwood Hotel - Maldives

 

The local people on Maafushi Island are extremely friendly and helpful. You can walk around the whole island in about 20 minutes and see a glimpse into the local lifestyle. The Beachwood hotel also offers night fishing with the locals and was a great way to experience life on an island.  Jeff had so much fun he decided to go twice and even caught a barracuda! The next day the chef at our hotel cooked up one of the big fish for us and it tasted amazing!

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Maldives

 

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Overall our trip was perfect and we can’t wait to go back and enjoy more of the island life. Without airfare our whole trip cost us way less than we had anticipated and it was worth every penny! Don’t miss out on a chance to see this beachy nation!

 

 

Bio Photo Marina 150x150 Hotel Review: Park Hyatt Dubai Marina Dominguez is the co-founder of Latitude 34 Travel Blog as well as a photographer and documentary film maker.

As a maturing women, Marina has dedicated her life to travel and new experiences. After working a 9-5 cubical lifestyle, Marina sold everything she owned, left her job and begun a new life with her boyfriend and travel companion, Jeff Johns. Together they relocated to Phuket, Thailand and founded Latitude 34 in which they seek to share their alternative lifestyle with the world. 

Marina is a Visual Journalism graduate of Brooks Institute of Photography where she studied photography, videography and ultimately caught the travel bug. Through creating several international documentaries, Marina realized there was more to the world than work and wanted something more. 

The Complete Guide to Phi Phi Island, Thailand

Last year over 10 million tourists flocked to Phuket, Thailand in search of the perfect beach, delicious food and the perfect exotic vacation. And while Phuket has the beaches, the food and the feel of paradise, it has also developed tremendously fast in the past few years and is struggling the keep up with the constant horde of visitors it receives.

Only a two hour ferry ride off the east coast of Phuket lays the Phi Phi Islands. Made up of Phi Phi Don (the main island) and Phi Phi Lay (a smaller national park), they boast some of the more iconic Thai scenes anyone could imagine. Littered with gorgeous white sand beaches, the water is always that extra bright shade of blue and the snorkeling; diving and water activities are top notch.

In our “Complete Guide to Phi Phi Island” we will give you all the information you need for a complete trip to the islands  and all you need to know to maximize your time in paradise.

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The Complete Guide to Phi Phi Island, Thailand

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How to Get There:

First things first you will need to get transportation from Phuket or Krabi out to Phi Phi Don. Boats leave daily from Phuket, most days at 9am and 2:30pm. A one way ticket will cost you just 250 baht, which a round trip ticket costing 400baht (around $13USD). Tickets are sold on almost every single corner in Phuket and you will have no problem purchasing one. Any hotel will be able to get you one, or any street stand selling tourist activities, as trips to Phi Phi are among the most desired. Your ticket will include a transfer via mini bus from your hotel to the Rassada Pier.

Make sure to buy your ferry tickets BEFORE you arrive at the ferry. If you wait until you arrive at the pier to buy your ticket, you will pay 1,000 baht round trip, almost double what it would cost to get a round trip ticket and transfer to and from your hotel. We got burned by this once, it stings.

The ferry ride itself can vary from day to day as there are about 10 ferries of differing shapes and sizes that sail daily. Some have complete mini bars, comfortable inside seats and generally comfortable accommodations. Others are more bare bones and while they will still get you there, offer less inside seating, no chairs on the deck and less than desirable toilets.  But not to worry, the ride is only about 2 hours and then you are there.

TIP: Stop by one of the many pharmacies around Phuket and ask for Dramamine, or any other pill for motion sickness. A blister pack of 10 pills will cost you around 150B and often really help with the varying degrees of rough seas. Remember to ask for the non-drowsy kind, learn from our mistakes! 

Once you have landed at the pier in Phi Phi Don you will be required to pay a 20baht island tax. This money is collected by the local government to keep Phi Phi clean and beautiful and is hardly a hassle to keep the islands looking as beautiful as they do. Does the money actually go to keeping the islands beautiful – who knows.

The latitude 34 complete guide to phi phi, thailand

Where to Stay:

As you walk down the pier you will undoubtedly be bombarded by Thai locals displaying laminated signs showing pictures of every type of accommodation from high scale resorts (there are only a few) to simple island bungalows (there are tons). A simple fan room can go for as little as 400baht with a private double room with AC for around 900baht. If traveling with a group of friends, try finding a dorm room option. These rooms generally offer between 4-8 beds and can cost as little as 250baht per person (around $10USD).  If you are searching for a nicer hotel, you can find a handful of “luxury options” on the island complete with swimming pools, room service and a gym.

TIP: There are no roads or cars on the Phi Phi Islands so wherever you stay just remember you will have to walk there. The lack of cars make the island experience much more enjoyable and bicycles are available everywhere. However, Phi Phi is small enough to walk anywhere, just remember you will have to carry your luggage or stay in a place that will wheel it around for you. 

For budget accommodations Latitude 34 suggests either Marine House or Ban Thai Guest House.  Both can be easily found off of the main walkway when you enter the island.

Marine House offers a quiet environment with private rooms and dorm rooms available. The kindly provide beach towels, which is super helpful when you forget yours and don’t want to spend the 300baht to buy one on the island. The staff is friendly, helpful and can do your laundry overnight if dropped off by 11am. Just remember to ask for bug spray for your room, sometimes a mosquito or two will find their way in.

Ban Thai is a very popular backpacker guest house run by Miss Lee, an energetic woman who will remember your name from the second you meet her until the minute you leave. Offering more rooms than Marine House, Miss Lee’s Ban Thai Guesthouse is a great place to stay with a group of friends as she has an abundance of twin rooms and is quite used to groups of young friends staying with here. Miss Lee has a row of computers available for those traveling light and without internet connection from day to day. 1 baht per minute.

Miss Lee is also very knowledgeable about all the local tours that are offered around the island. Whether you are looking to visit Maya Bay on Phi Phi Lay (the same beach made famous in the movie “The Beach”), take a day snorkeling trip on a long tail boat, an overnight scuba trip or a day long fishing trip, Miss Lee can set it up, reserve you a spot and make the planning effortless.

Our Recommendation: Both Phi Phi Charlie and Phi Phi Princess are owned by the same people and offer the perfect mix of location, comfort and amenities. While nothing fancy, their rooms are comfortable, have free wifi and aircon. An average double room will cost about $50 a night and adding an extra bed will cost you around $15. They also offer a family room which can sleep 4 people comfortably. Easily the best bonus to staying here is their amazing infinity pool looking out over the amazing Tonsai bay. Many chose to spend their hungover mornings and rowdy afternoons in the pool by the swim up bar, easily the best pool on the island and a great place to mingle with other travelers. The cost of the room includes a great breakfast buffet, thai and western food and both sets of rooms (Charlie and Princess) are a short 1 minute walk down the beach from Slinky Bar and Woodies, where you will most likely be ending you night.

TIP: Unless you are staying at a high-end hotel make sure to bring soap and shampoo with you, as many of the budget options do not provide them.

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Thanksgiving in Thailand, What We Are Thankful For

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What to Do:

As for activities and things to do on Phi Phi Don in the sun, the list is pretty endless. There are gorgeous beaches all over the place and its up to you how far you want to walk to find your perfect spot in the sand.  The twin beaches at the heart of Phi Phi Don are pretty spectacular but are always crowded with tourists from sun up to sun down. We suggest paying 100baht for a short 5 minute trip on a local long tail boat to drop you off at Long Beach, one of our favorite beaches on the world. Just as beautiful as the rest, Long Beach boasts way less tourists than many of the other beaches and is well worth the time to get there. You can walk to Long Beach from the main drag, but it will take about 20 minutes and is very hilly.

TIP: If you go to Long Beach visit the small restaurant on the sand and try their Penang Curry sandwich, its delicious!

The majority of visitors to Phi Phi are young backpackers and many are inspired to visit Phi Phi to visit Maya Bay and say they have been to “The Beach”. Speedboats and longtails make the trip all day long and you can rent them by the hour. The longtail boats seat about 6 comfortably and can be had for 1,000Baht an hour. The speed boats vary in size and how many people the can hold, and can go for up to 5,000baht an hour.

TIP: Bring snacks with you on any day trip to Phi Phi Lay. Remember, it is a national park and almost completely undeveloped. There is nothing more than a small set of bathrooms and a shack that sells overpriced canned beer and potato chips. Stop in one of the many mini marts before you leave and grab a back of goodies for the day.

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The Complete Guide to Phi Phi Island, Thailand

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If you want to maximize your time, or only have an afternoon to fit in all you can, we suggest taking an afternoon trip which will include a boat out to Phi Phi Lay for afternoon snorkeling (fins and masks included), a trip past the famous Viking Caves, a sunset trip to Maya Bay (so much nicer once all the tourists have left), a complete Thai meal on the boat and some include night snorkeling with phosphorescent plankton.  We recommend making sure it is NOT a full moon if you want to do the plankton snorkeling as the light, even at night, makes them almost impossible to see.

Many half and full day trips like this are available all over the island and range in price from 400b for a half day to 1,2000b for the plankton version.

Once the sun sets on the island, everything gets a bit more exciting. The volume gets turned up, and the main area of the island becomes the ultimate party playground. But before you go too crazy you’ve got to eat, and we have a couple places we would suggest to fill your stomach before you enjoy too many buckets on the beach.

Where to Eat:

Consistently rated number one is a small restaurant called Anna’s. It is located up the first side street off the main drag you find yourself on when you walk off the pier. Anyone who has been on the island more than 10 minutes will be able to show you the way. Despite its popularity, it is a small place, maybe 10 tables or so, and remains authentic, friendly and offers delicious western and Thai food. Free internet, delicious shakes and a wonderfully knowledgeable staff make this a great place for a quick bite to eat or a place to hang out for hours and relax.

The latitude 34 complete guide to phi phi, thailand

Breakers is as close as you are going to get to a true sports pub. Located next to the world famous Reggae Bar (which we’ll talk about next), they offer large comfortable wooden tables, an open atmosphere for anyone walking up off the street and have a wide selection of beers on tap. Their food is both delicious and fairly priced and an excellent place to meet friends, hang out and people watch or catch a game on TV.

TIP: Along with the sit down restaurants are endless rows of stalls selling all varieties of street food and no trip to Thailand would be complete without trying a few random things.  Meat on sticks is a great way to go, whether you are trying fried fish balls, spicy beef, chicken, pork, who knows, but it all tastes delicious. The kebabs and samosas are amazing as are the banana pancakes. Trust us, after a couple drinks you will try some street food, no matter how much of a stomach ache you think it will give you.

At this point we have covered getting to Phi Phi, where to stay, what to do in the sun and where to eat, so now comes the most exciting part… what to do at night!

 

Night Life:

Phi Phi is a constant party when the sun goes down, 7 days a week 365 days a year, and even if you are not a big partier, some things are not to be missed.

Most people coming to Phi Phi have come from Phuket, where the idea of going to a bar swarming with bar girls and lady boys has lost its charm (if it ever had any).  Phi Phi provides a much needed relief as there are no lady bars, bar girls or stripper poles in sight while offering some awesomely entertaining events in their place.

Before you head down to the beach for the real fun, make sure you stop into Reggae Bar, located right next door to Breakers. Offering anyone who wants to the chance to Muay Thai fight, you are sign up to fight a friend, your grandpa (yes, we’ve seen this), or a complete stranger. If you put your life on the line and enter the ring you are given the necessary safety equipment (headwear, gloves, shorts) and you will be given a free bucket of booze upon the completion of your 3 rounds in the ring. Buckets at Reggae Bar are 2 for 1, and are 400b each.

TIP: Buckets are popular all over Thailand as the fun and exciting way to drink your alcohol. The literally take a bucket, the kind you built sandcastles with on the beach when you were a kid, and load them up with an abundance of the alcohol and mixers of your choosing. Complete with multiple straws, it’s a fun way to share a drink with friends, but be warned, they are strong, you are drinking a literal bucket of alcohol after all.

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The latitude 34 complete guide to phi phi, thailand

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It’s wildly entertaining to watch two liquored up backpackers go at it in the ring, with rarely any idea what they are doing between them. Every 5 fights or so real muay thai fighters enter the ring and show off some amazing moves. Part acting and part real boxing it is some of the most entertaining muay thai we have seen as it is as hard hitting as the real thing with added excitement. We have seen muay thai fighters get thrown out of the ring as well as the poor ref getting a swift kick to the nuts.

When you have seen all there is to see at Reggae Bar, follow the crowds down to the beach and find yourself a seat on the sand in front of one of the many, many beach lined bars, each displaying their own fire show. “Poi” reigns king of late night activities and it is never boring to watch people play with fire. We recommend “Slinky Bar”, directly to your left as you walk on to the beach. Music pounding from all the bars, the stakes are quite high as performers juggle flaming torches, spin sparkling spools soaked in petrol and even balance on wires balancing flaming wheels on their heads. The shows start each night, 7 days a week, around 8:30pm and last late, late into the night.

If watching the performers isn’t entertaining enough for you, just wait until they bust out the flaming jump rope and flaming limbo pole, both designed for crowd participation. Those brave enough are welcome to try their hand at jumping a flaming jump rope and the super brave can even try the double flaming jump rope, or try going doubles with another brave friend.

The latitude 34 complete guide to phi phi, thailand

After the crowd has gotten their thrills from the jump rope of death, they will bring out the flaming hoop and flaming limbo pole. If you are sensing a theme here, its high stakes drinking.

Egged on by friends and a free shot for attempting either, sit back and relax watching dozens and dozens of wobbling kids jump, swerve, stumble, fall and fling themselves through the burning obstacles and dance the night away.

TIP: Once the tide goes out, it goes OUT. When you arrive at the beach past dark you will not be able to see the water at all as it has gone out sometimes up to 100 yards. (if you aren’t American and speak in meters, that’s the length of a football field… real football, American football.) Take a stroll out as far as you can walk, enjoy the striated beach below your feet and watch the pulsing lights and listen to the conflagration of music from way out in the wet sand, it’s a very cool experience.

So that’s it! You’ve got all you need to know for a complete trip to Phi Phi. You know how to get there, where to stay, places to eat and how best to enjoy yourself. If you find yourself in Phuket or are planning a trip to Thailand in the future, we highly suggest taking a trip to Phi Phi and enjoying one of the coolest beach communities we have come across. Whether you want to party til the sun comes up, relax at a quiet beach or finally conquer your fear of scuba diving, Phi Phi offers it all, all while preserving that perfect image of paradise you’ve had in your head for years.

So have fun, be safe, bring your sunscreen and take the leap!

Cheers!


The Complete Guide To A Fun-filled Miami Vacation

The Complete Guide To A Fun-filled Miami Vacation

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Have you ever wanted a holiday involving not just sun, sea, and sand, but somewhere with plenty of activities on offer too? If you have, Miami is the ideal destination. South Beach is likely to live up to every stereotype you have of Miami, from the golden sands and turquoise ocean, to the surfers, models, celebrities and rollerbladers. Simply put, there are plenty of other things to see and do whilst you are there. Of course, there are many cities in Florida to get away from it all and relax, but if you want fun, shopping, the beach and the parties, Miami has got you covered. Just pack your sunglasses and suntan lotion and you are ready to go.

The Complete Guide To A Fun-filled Miami VacationWhat is there to see and do in Miami?

Many marine animals call the Miami shores home, however if you want to see the animals up close, consider a visit to Miami Seaquarium, which has everything from dolphins and killer whales through to crocodiles and tropical birds. Miami Seaquarium tickets are easy to purchase at discounted rates ,there are many reputable online sellers out there that sell them. While you might be close to the beach and sea, there is no better place to witness sea life up close than to visit an aquarium. I remember being a small child and visiting Florida, and I was absolutely absorbed by the sea life and see some of the more interesting looking fish and animals I had ever seen. So whether you are a family with small children, a couple on a romantic holiday or traveling solo, a trip to the aquarium is a must.

Monkey Jungle is home to nearly 400 primates, running free on a 30 acre reserve, and the only protected habitat for endangered primates in the USA to be open to the public. The primates get to run free, whilst it is you that is caged! Don’t let this put you off – there are plenty of opportunities for you to interact with the monkeys, and you can even feed them.

Whilst the rest of the Florida Keys are a little too far away to visit in a day, the northernmost island, Key Biscayne, can be easily reached from Miami. One of the most beautiful areas of the United States, the Florida Keys are sure to make you ohh and aww as you snap countless pictures of the gorgeous surroundings. You can easily visit Key Biscaybe via the picturesque Rickenbacker Causeway which connects the two together. A small island of only 12,000 people, the scenery is stunning and a wonderful day trip from Miami.

Of course nothing beats a day (or days) at the beach. While the thought of Miami beach might make you dread the crowds, take some time to explore a bit more and find a beach a bit more relaxed if that is what you are looking for. However, if you love the crowds, the partying and friendly people, pull up a chair in the sand on Miami beach and have a wonderfully (and hot!) beach day. If you have never experienced Florida heat and humidity before, be prepared. Miami is hot, especially in the summer, and it is not a dry heat. The air is thick, wet and humid. So while you might not plan on going for a swim when you go to the beach, always pack your suit, as we think you will quickly change your mind after being outside for only a couple hours, if that!

Shopping

No trip to the Miami would be complete without doing some shopping, and you would be surprised at some of the savings you can make compared to buying products back home. Miami’s Dolphin Mall is great shopping destination, boasting a combination of traditional and outlet shops. The greater Miami area also offers a great number of discount outlet shopping malls, so while the upscale, high end fashion shopping might be not be for you (it certainly isn’t for me as I have the fashion sense of a toddler). The outlets offer an astounding selection of stores, all walking distance to each other, if a day at the outlet malls is something that appeals to you. While Miami is known for its sunshine, depending on what time of year you visit, you might get caught on a rainy day, in which case visiting the outlets might make for a great afternoon.

The Complete Guide To A Fun-filled Miami VacationWhat to Drink

Who doesn’t want to relax by the beach in beautiful Miami and enjoy a nice cocktail? db Bistro Moderne in the heart of downtown to try their amazing White Cosmo. While it might cost $16 in the evenings, $9 at happy hour is almost a steal. For the guys looking for a killer stiff drink try the Dewar’s Smash at Gotham Steak. The Dewar’s Smash will set you back $14, but we couldn’t image you’d be standing if you drank more than a couple. This manly drink not only gives you the scotch you love, but also adds in the mint, lemon and sugar so many drinks in Miami are known for. You can stumble into almost any bar or restaurant in the Miami area and find some amazing drinks, especially during happy hour. So don’t be shy, sit back, relax and enjoy a drink you two, you deserve it. 

Whilst Miami offers plenty of opportunities for getting some well-earned rest and relaxation, don’t forget to make the most of the many other things that there are to see and do whilst visiting. Miami Seaquarium and Monkey Jungle are favorites amongst children, but can be enjoyed by people of all ages. For the sports lovers, a trip to see a basketball or baseball game might be of interest. And while I personally can’t stand Lebron James and the Heat, there is nothing more entertaining than a good basketball game! For those visiting in the summer months, the Miami Marlins have weekly home games between April and, lets be honest, September.

So as great as all of this is, Miami is so much more than South Beach, take the time to explore a little further and rent a car if you need to. Renting a car if only for a day can be a great way to get a bit further out of the city and into the real Florida. And lets be honest, if you take the girls to the outlet malls, you’re going to need a rental car just to bring back the bags of clothes to your hotel. As much as lounging on the beach and spending the evenings in bars and clubs is many people’s idea of a perfect holiday, there is much more to Miami and you shouldn’t miss the chance to explore it!

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Images provided by Ines Hegedus-GarciaGabriel Kaplan and Wicker Paradise via Flickr and the creative commons license. 

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.H . jeffjohnsheadshotJeff Johns is the co-founder and editor of Latitude 34 Travel Blog. Through 65 countries on 6 continents he has accumulated a seemingly endless stream of odd information, interesting stories and helpful tips and tricks to better travel. Jeff’s goal is to visit all 204 countries on Earth before he is too senile to remember them all. A graduate of the Visual Journalism program at the Brooks Institute, his true passions lay in honest visual storytelling, documentary filmmaking, Thai food and a good laugh. Together with his girlfriend Marina, they run Latitude 34 Travel Blog as a source of helpful information for those who love to travel or those who simply dream of it. If you have a comment or suggestion, send them an email at hello@latitudethirtyfour.com and they’ll respond super fast!

Webloyalty Predicts your Travel Plans for 2014

Webloyalty Predicts your Travel Plans for 2014

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With so many people struggling with the economic struggles of the last few years, we are excited to speak with Webloyalty about their predictions for travel trends in 2014. We actually ended up moving abroad for a full time life of travel instead of cutting back our holiday time each year. The fact is, that while many countries are struggling financially, the vast majority of people still find the time and the money to travel. So what are the trends suggesting people will do with their vacation in 2014 and where will they go? We were interested in what Webloyalty found and where people were most likely to go this year. So, where are you going in 2014?

 

Webloyalty research reveals that 68% of people in the UK plan to take some sort of holiday or break this year. Here are the most popular choices:

  • Beach holiday abroad (26% of us are planning one of these)
  • Day trips in the UK (20%)
  • City break abroad (17%)
  • Staycation in the UK (17%)
  • Active holiday abroad (6%)

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Webloyalty Predicts your Travel Plans for 2014

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The Webloyalty study clearly shows the change of behaviour between 2013 and 2014. For example, more people are going abroad, and less people are staying in the UK. This may reflect a change in attitudes towards disposable income following the recession, but could also indicate more flexibility around travel deals and cheaper flights.

How much are you planning to spend?

People are clearly inclined to splash out on travel this year, as 35% of respondents said they would be spending more on their holidays in 2014, compared to 2013. 27% of us will be spending more on flights and 21% of people will be spending more on accommodation.

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Webloyalty Predicts your Travel Plans for 2014

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Holiday Irritations

When it comes to complaining about their trips, UK travellers came up with some gems when Webloyalty compiled this research study.  Some results were to be expected, for example 16% of us dislike airport queues and 14% of people complain about lack of leg-room on a flight. However the more unusual complaints included “bad weather” (11% complained about this), “insects” (7.5%) and also “rude waiters” (3%) and “over-attentive waiters” (2.5%).

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Thoughts about Flying

When asked about flights, a whopping 47% of respondents agreed that “flying is a means to an end so I try to save as much money as possible on flights”. On the other hand, 13% of us are planning to use more high priced airlines such as British Airways over the next year.

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This Webloyalty research study looks at Travel and Leisure Habits in 2014, investigating what we’re planning for the holiday season:  Travel & Leisure 2014: A Webloyalty Research Report

For more travel and retail research, follow Webloyalty’s blog www.webloyaltyuk.com or Twitter: @WebloyaltyUK

Beyond the beach and bars: The real Majorca

Beyond the beach and bars: The real Majorca

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Beyond the beach and bars- The real Majorca_01The Spanish island of Majorca has been an extremely popular holiday destination for quite some time. Although it is easy to associate this sun-drenched Mediterranean archipelago with holiday resorts and package deals, you might not know that Majorca has a rich and intriguing past with plenty of cultural delights left to explore.

Few can argue with the island’s favourable yearlong climate and thanks to its Mediterranean location, you can be sure that the cuisine will be top notch too. But what lies past the shore and the cocktail bar? For those who are prepared to search beyond those enticing Majorca deals and beach resort holidays, a whole alternative island can be found.

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.Beyond the beach and bars- The real Majorca_01

Castles and Ruins

Evidence of habitation in Majorca can be traced back to the Palaeolithic period (6000-4000 BCE), with the Romans also occupying the island in 123 BCE. Therefore, there are plenty of castles and ruins to explore.

The Roman remains of Pollentia in the north of Majorca are a truly impressive sight to behold. Alongside a museum, three areas are open to the public – the theatre, the forum and the residential area of La Portella.

Some of the other most notable sites, such as Parc de la Mar, Castel de Bellver and Palace de L’Almudaina, can be found in the capital city of Palma. However, the quaint rural village of Sineu encapsulates the region’s traditional charm and is steeped in history. Be sure to sample its authentic gastronomy cellars that serve typical Majorcan fare.

 

Nature Parks and Reserves

In addition to the imposing Tramuntana Mountains that scale the island’s west coast, all four corners of Mallorca benefit from stunning scenery, while there are protected natural parks in abundance too. So fans of the great outdoors can go walking, hiking or cycling both on and off-road.

Take advantage of the 3km way marked trail at La Reserva Park in Puigpunyent, which leads you through some fantastic mountain scenery in less than two hours. Along the way, you’ll come across a number of natural wonders from waterfalls and springs to olive trees and wildlife.

Pedal-powered aficionados should definitely check out the east coast’s Cala Millor, as its shoreline routes are truly breathtaking. There is also the opportunity to visit Llevent Natural Park, where steep hills in protected surroundings provide more of a challenge.

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Beyond the beach and bars- The real Majorca_01

 

Sailing and Watersports

Whether you want to relax on the deck of a yacht or get wet and wild in the mild Mediterranean water, Majorca has something for every seafaring individual.

Protected bays and calas in Puerto Pollenca and Port d’Alcudia offer the perfect environment for beginners to learn sailing without having to worry about strong winds or waves. However, if you simply want to sit back and let an experienced sailor take you on a maritime journey, plenty of tours are available.

You can also take part in some scuba diving, fly boarding, wake boarding, motor cruising, kite surfing or parasailing, as a multitude of waterspouts activities are on offer all over the island.

Majorca may not spring to mind when contemplating an outdoor or cultural adventure, but this small-sized Spanish paradise offers more than meets the eye. Along with Canary Islands like Tenerife and Lanzarote, Majorca’s natural topography and history is helping to reinvent the island as a destination for all types of traveller.

 

Images by Cristian Bortes and Tobias used under creative commons license. 

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