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Choosing the best compact camera for travel is a decision almost as important as deciding where to take your next vacation. In choosing a camera, you’ll want to consider your budget, what special features are most important to you, and your photography style.

A few years ago, due to the increased quality of smartphone cameras, compact point-and-shoots were on shaky ground, with many companies slimming down their selection. However, the market for point-and-shoots has remained strong, no doubt due to their still superior quality, usability, and functionality.

To help you make the right purchase, we’ve compiled a list of the best compact cameras on the market for every budget as well as point-and-shoot tips and our complete compact camera buying guide!

Best Compact Camera 2019 [Complete Buying Guide] Best Compact Cameras Under $500 Sony Cyber-shot DSCWX220

For a camera pricing in less than $300, the Sony Cyber-shot DSCWX220 pulls its weight. The camera features 10x Optical Zoom, an 18.2MP sensor for great low light photography, and noise reduction technology. Additionally, the camera comes with WiFi capabilities, 10fps video, and a 360-degree panoramic mode. 

Canon PowerShot SX740

With 40x Optical Zoom, an optical image stabilizer, and zoom framing assist, you’re going to have a tough time getting a blurry image out of the Canon PowerShot SX740. The PowerShot also features 4K video and time-lapse, WiFi and Bluetooth, a 20.3 Megapixel sensor, and high-speed continuous shooting capabilities.

Panasonic Lumix DC-ZS70K

The perfect budget compact camera for selfie-taking and vlogging, the Panasonic Lumix DC-ZS70K features 20.3 Megapixels, 30X zoom, plus a 180-degree flip screen feature — meaning you can get some really uniquely-framed shots! The camera also has 4K video recording capabilities with a post-focus and internal focus stacking technology to help reduce any shaky shots. 

Sony RX100 II

If you prioritize image quality and post-processing options, then the Sony RX100 II, with its RAW shooting option, is for you. The camera also gives you functionality options such as full exposure control, a tiltable LCD screen, image stabilization, and built-in WiFi.

Best Compact Cameras $500 – $1000 Panasonic LUMIX DMC-LX10K

Just on the other side of $500, the Panasonic LUMIX DMC-LX10K comes with a large 1-inch, 20 Megapixel Sensor for excellent low-light photography, as well as a 3x (24-72mm) f/1/4-2.8 Leica Optical Zoom Lens. The camera is also outfitted for 4K video recording, exposure control, and has a large touch screen.

Ricoh GR II

The Ricoh GR II is the perfect mid-budget option if you want to start recording movies or vlogging. The camera captures full HD video in widescreen 1080p resolution at 30fps, the battery life will record up to 45 minutes, and the WiFi capabilities mean you can send your creations straight to your smartphone or computer.

Additionally, the GR II comes with an imagine engine that reduces noise and gives you high-res, color-rich images. Plus, the camera shoots in RAW format.

Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II

With a 1-inch, 20.1 MP sensor, you’ll be shooting high-quality photos with the Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II  in no time. Not only does the camera give you auto or manual focus options, but it also has a 4.2x Optical Zoom lens, built-in WiFi, and a flip-up LCD monitor.

Not to mention, if you’re not up-to-speed on editing photos after the fact, the camera comes with built-in presents, including Fine-Detail, Monochrome, Landscape, and Faithful.

Sony RX100 III

A step-up in quality and functionality from the Sony RX100 II, the SONY RX100 III features highly customizable, user-friendly settings. The camera gives you full exposure control, 1080 60p HD video, 2.9x Optical Zoom, expandable ISO, a 24-70mm equivalent F/18-28 lens, and a 1-inch sensor.

Read more: The Ultimate Packing Guide for Travel Photographers

Best Compact Cameras $1000 + Leica V-Lux (Typ 114)

Pricing in at a little more than $1100, the Leica V-Lux (Typ 114) has all the bells and whistles you could ever want in a compact camera. The camera comes with a 1-inch sensor that provides beautifully clear photos with high-resolution and natural coloring, customizable options for depth of field and focus, and 16x Optical Zoom.

Plus, if you’re a glasses wearer, it features individual diopter compensation for a natural shot every time.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1 RII

While not the cheapest option at over $2100, the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1 RII is the perfect high-end compact camera to buy if you’re truly looking to take your point-and-shoot photography to the next level. The camera features a 2.4MP full-frame Exmor R CMOS sensor, a 25mm f/2.0 lens with macro capability, an optical variable low-pass filter, and a retractable electronic viewfinder.

If you’re willing to shell out a few bucks for crystal-clear photos and options galore, then this is the camera for you.

Fujifilm X100F

Not only does it look sharp, but the Fujifilm X100F will give you sharp photos as well. The camera features a 24.3 sensor, an 8-way focus lever, and a built-in ISO dial that’s incorporated into the shutter speed dial.

Additionally, the camera includes HD video recording capabilities (with various film simulation modes), a super fast electronic shutter, and a real-time parallax corrector so you can capture exactly what you want every time.

What to Look For in a Point-and-Shoot Camera

Wi-Fi

Most new cameras come with a Wi-Fi option, which makes uploading photos to the internet, or sending them straight to your smartphone a breeze. That said, some older models won’t come with the option, so if you think it will be important to you, double check.

Read more: How to Take Great Travel Photos as a Solo Traveler

Zoom

Compact cameras will come with both optical zoom and digital zoom features. Optical zoom means that you can magnify an image without reducing quality, while digital zoom is when your camera zooms in on and crops a frame.

Due to this, you’ll want to prioritize your camera’s optical zoom abilities. For example, if your camera has 8x optical zoom, that means that by using it the objects in the frame will appear 8x larger.

Megapixels

On a camera, image size is measured in megapixels; one megapixel consisting of one million pixels.

This size refers to the quality of the image your camera can produce, and paying attention to this number is important if you prioritize clear, high-resolution photos, and if you want to make prints.

The higher the megapixel number, the better the photo resolution you’ll get.

Sensor Size

Directly related to the Megapixel number, the sensor size is important when purchasing a compact camera, as it refers to how much light the device can capture. The larger the sensor, the more light your camera can pick up, which is important when taking evening or low-light photos.

Point-and-Shoot Photography Tips

Read the User Guide

No matter your photography knowledge, I always recommend reading the user guide before using your camera. Doing this will allow you to understand each and every function your camera has so you can optimize and get the most out of your photos.

In particular, the user guide will help you to understand the settings of your camera, including the PASM dial — Program Mode, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, and full Manual. The dial will most likely also include features such as full auto, flash, macro, landscape, active, and portrait settings.

Which setting you choose will depend on your abilities as a photographer and whether you feel that the automatic settings are hurting more than they are helping. My recommendation is to get comfortable with the automatic settings and the feel of your camera, and then switch over to the manual settings for added customization.

Consider Lighting

Lighting is a huge aspect of photography, whether you’re using a small point-and-shoot or a professional DSLR setup. As mentioned above, your camera’s sensor size and the Megapixel number will have a lot to do with how your photos turn out in low light, but there are some things you can do to make your photos turn out well regardless. 

The first thing to do in low-light is to use a tripod. Tripods will reduce shake in your photos, including those pesky late-night light streaks.

Additionally, try and keep flash to a minimum when in low light. While turning on flash in low light settings might seem like a good idea, it tends to strip the photo of ambiance and make your subject look washed out. Instead, try and use whatever natural light is in the scene, or use a separate source to light your photos.

Know Your Formats

A lot of the high-end cameras listed above have multiple options for image formats, which will directly affect photo quality and resolution. JPEG is the standard for point-and-shoots, but having RAW capabilities will drastically improve the clarity of your photos, give you larger file sizes, and offer more options for photo editing.

The post Best Compact Camera 2019 [Complete Buying Guide] appeared first on Ordinary Traveler.

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Whether it’s a man-made or natural site, traveling to a new destination has long been a form of spiritual practice. Not only does travel refresh and renew our sense of wonder, it’s intrinsically attached to the idea of self-care and a deeper connection to the earth, other people, and the self.

Some highly regarded spiritual destinations have been constructed based on specific belief systems, and some are known as such simply based on energy and vibration. That said, many sites are still sacred to certain communities, with thousands of years of history and significance attached to them. Yet, as with so many communities who have deeper spiritual connection do, most spiritually-significant sites welcome people of all beliefs who are respectful and committed to a deeper understanding.

These top ten spiritual destinations around the world will help you find a deeper connection to the earth, other people, and to yourself!

10 Of The Most Spiritual Places On Earth Camino de Santiago, Spain

A world-renowned hiking trail in Spain, the Camino de Santiago was originally used as a route for pilgrims to reach the city of Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain, where (it’s rumored) Saint James is buried. Later, in the middle ages, the route became very popular when millions of Christians believed that by experiencing the route and landing in Santiago de Compostela they would be spared purgatory after death.

Today, hiking enthusiasts and spiritual seekers of all beliefs frequent the Camino de Santiago. While there are technically many routes that comprise the Camino, the most popular one begins in Saint Jean Pied-du-Port in France, and passes through Pamplona, Burgos, and Leon – a total of about 500 miles.

A route that is truly more about the journey than the destination, the Camino de Santiago tests the mental and physical strength of its travelers, granting each and every one a unique experience.

Read more: How to Be a More Responsible & Eco-Friendly Traveler

Varanasi, India

Known as the “Spiritual heart of India”, Varanasi is India’s oldest city, lies right along the banks of the Ganges, and is dripping in chaos and color. This historical city is said to be the place where Buddhism was founded, and today is a destination where many, including Buddhists and Hindus, go to pray.

Varanasi is a city where cows wander around freely, where bodies are cremated openly in the river, and where your ideas about life and death will be confronted, even if only by yourself.

Cape Reinga, New Zealand

Cape Reinga, traditionally known as Te Rerenga Wairua, is situated on the northern tip of New Zealand’s North Island. Sacred to the Maori people, Cape Reinga is regarded as the “leaping place of the spirits”, as they believe that the souls of recently deceased Maori use the cape as a place to depart earth and enter the afterlife.

Cape Reinga is a beautiful, enchanting environment. Waves crash into rocks as the Tasman Sea meets the Pacific Ocean, a lighthouse guides the way overhead, and the view goes on for miles. As this is a sacred place, the Maori ask that you do not eat at Cape Reinga, and that you leave the land undisturbed.

Borobudur, Indonesia

Set against a backdrop of lush jungle, Borobudur is located on the Indonesian island of Java and was built from two million stone blocks in the shape of a giant mandala – a diagram of a perfect universe. In true Buddhist vision, the structure is a pyramid of steps that worshipers climb around clockwise, with the middle of the structure representing Nirvana.

Walking the steps at Borobudur is a symbolic pilgrimage that will have you deeply feeling the unique energy of the location. The views aren’t half bad either!

The Dead Sea, Israel

What is actually a big lake, Israel’s Dead Sea lies just a half-hour from Jerusalem, and is the lowest elevation on earth at 1290 feet below sea level. The water in the Dead Sea is ten times saltier than regular seawater, and the air surrounding contains a higher concentration of oxygen.

While the Dead Sea’s waters are undrinkable and are unable to sustain life, this location is believed to be one of the most healing places on earth. Its minerals (primarily magnesium, potassium, and calcium) and salts are often used for medical treatments – treating everything from skin rashes to arthritis.

Read more: The Ultimate Israel Travel Guide + Packing Tips

Angkor Wat, Cambodia

A historical group of temples built in the 12th century, Angkor Wat is the largest spiritual complex in the world, and was originally constructed as a Hindu temple that would hold King Suryavarman II’s remains. In time, the structure was transformed into a Buddhist temple and became Buddhist monk gathering place.

One of humankind’s most awe-inspiring constructions, the entire complex of Angkor Wat is energetic and thought provoking. For years, people from all walks have life have been traveling to the site to experience a deeper spirituality, healing, and energy.

Sedona, Arizona

Also known as a cathedral without walls, Sedona, Arizona is located about 100 miles south of the Grand Canyon, and is full of intense energy points, beautiful landscapes, and wellness centers.

Said to be home to a number of unmarked energy vortexes, the area was originally sacred to Native American tribes. However, over the years Sedona’s popularity has grown and it has now become a mecca for wellness of all kinds; crystals, aura-readings, card readings, spa’s, yoga, meditation, alternative medicine, mindfulness, and the like.

Machu Picchu, Peru

Located high in Peru’s Andes Mountains, Machu Picchu is a feat of engineering performed by the Inca Empire in the 15th century. The site is home to many temples, shrines, and caves, and is most renowned for their advanced civil engineering and way the buildings portray astronomical formations.

Climbing to Machu Picchu has been a journey of deep spirituality for people ever since the site was re-discovered a few hundred years ago. Many sites in the area used for healing and connecting to ancient energies.

Read more: How Ayahuasca Changed My Life

Uluru, Australia

Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock, is a 550-million year old giant sandstone formation in the northern territory of Australia. Sacred to indigenous Australians, the site is the subject of creation legends and is the cornerstone of the local culture. The area surrounding the mystical formation is home to ancient paintings and rock caves, and thus has been deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Often referred to as the spiritual heart of Australia, Uluru has been drawing in spiritual seekers for years. The site a great place to learn about indigenous Australian culture, witness ancient spiritual rituals, and become grounded and one with nature. However, out of respect for the locals and their beliefs, please do not climb Uluru.

Sanctuary of Apollo, Greece

The Sanctuary of Apollo, located in Delphi, dates back to around 1500 B.C. and is deeply steeped in ancient Greek mythology. Not only was the site of Delphi deemed the center of the world by the ancients, the site was home to the famous Oracle, which was often consulted about important decisions.

The Sanctuary of Apollo and the site of Delphi as a whole are sure to take your breath away. Set on the side of Mount Parnassus, the site has long been a destination for those seeking advice and divine energy.

The post 10 Of The Most Spiritual Places On Earth appeared first on Ordinary Traveler.

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Looking for the best places to visit in Hawaii?Hawaii is on nearly everyone’s travel bucket list, but every island has different, unique attractions. We’ve compiled our insider’s tips with the top places to see — and where to stay on each island!

10 Best Places to Visit in Hawaii (And Where to Stay!) Black Rock on Ka’anapali Beach (Maui)

If you’re a fan of anything fun, you need to go to Black Rock. Cliff diving, scuba, and snorkeling with tropical fish are just the beginning – sea turtles are usually spotted here and the stunning scenery is a photographers paradise.

Every night the Sheraton Hotel has a symbolic torch lighting/diving ceremony that symbolizes the site’s ancient legend that spirits jump off these rocks as a final passing. The torches at sunset are gorgeous, so make this a full day excursion.

Where to Stay on Ka’anapali Beach

The Ka’anapali Beach Hotel is an awesome mid-range resort just steps from the beach. 

The Sheraton Hotel is a luxury property that sits right on the foot of Black Rock.

Waipiʻo Valley (Hawaii, The Big Island)

Home of Hawaii’s tallest waterfall, the secluded Waipiʻo Valley is full of hidden gems not accessible to the public. Because it is a private property you must book a tour to gain access to it all; although we recommend KapohoKine Adventures, there are tour companies who offer horseback riding or ATV tours as well.

Where to Stay near Waipi’o Valley

If you’re looking to stay right near the Waipi’o Valley, then the mid-range, yet highly-rated, Waipi’o Lodge is the way to go.

Just an hour’s drive from the valley, the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel is a four-star property right on the Kohala Coast.

Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel has one of the few swimming beaches on this side of the island and it even has a few resident turtles to keep you company while snorkeling. I stayed here for three nights and did not want to leave!

Read more: Big Island Hawaii Travel Guide & Packing Tips

Shipwreck Beach (Kauai)

Although the real shipwreck for which it’s named for has long disappeared, Shipwreck Beach has awesome views and is a favorite for local surfers.  Swimming is only recommended for strong swimmers due to rough waters, but experienced surfers and boogie boarders may be up for the challenge!

Hiking the Maha’ulepu Heritage Trail is well worth it, and the golden sand beaches are perfect for sunbathing.

Where to Stay on Shipwreck Beach

The Grand Hyatt Resort & Spa is a gorgeous property that sits right on Shipwreck Beach and comes highly recommended by other travelers looking for a luxurious getaway on Kauai.

The Koa Kea Hotel & Resort, just 2.5 miles from Shipwreck Beach, is another luxury property that features an on-site restaurant and spa.

A little ways off the beach, The Kauai Inn is perfect for budget travelers looking to stay in a beautiful, highly-rated property with all the amenities.

Read more: How to Travel Kauai on a Budget

Road to Hana (Maui)

One of the top places to see in Hawaii is, without a doubt, the Road to Hana. Time to rent a Jeep, pack a bag, and hit the road! The drive to Hana takes about 2 to 3 hours (depending on where you’re departing from), but that’s with no stops – and trust us, you will want to stop.

Plan for a few days to really take in all of the sights of Hana has to offer and book a hotel reservation in Hana Town!

Dining, waterfalls, beaches, and trails are scattered along Hana Highway, so take your time and pick some places that seem to interest you most.

Where to Stay on the Road to Hana

The Travaasa Hana is a beautiful resort surrounded by 70 acres of natural gardens. The property often hosts wellness classes, cultural activities, and adventure excursions.

The Paia Inn is a great mid-range hotel that is a great launching pad for adventure activities.

Read more: The Ultimate Guide to Maui on a Budget

Na Pali Coast (Kauai)

One of the top places to visit in Hawaii is the Na Pali Coast. The magical 17-mile shoreline of the Na Pali Coast is so unique, in part due to its remote location. The only way to access this area is by water, helicopter, or your own two feet.

Take a swim in the Open Ceiling Sea Cave and check out the Waiahuakua stream, which ends tumbling off the mountain through the roof of a sea cave. Talk about an amazing photo op!

Where to Stay on the Na Pali Coast

If you are looking to spend some time on the north shore, (which I highly recommend!) the St. Regis Princeville is very close to the main trails on the Na Pali Coast and this resort is beyond stunning!

If you’re looking for something a little more all-encompassing, check out the Wyndham Bali Hai. This gorgeous mid-range hotel features full-feature apartments with kitchens.

Read more: The Best Way to See Kauai’s Na Pali Coast

Papohaku Beach (Molokai)

One of the largest white sand beaches in Hawaii is also one of the quietest, so if you’re looking to get away from the crowds for a while this is the place to go. You can soak in views of Oahu from the shore but getting in the waters is fairly dangerous and highly discouraged.

Where to Stay near Papohaku Beach

Papohaku Beach is a little off the beaten trail as far as close-by hotels go, so I recommend staying in a town nearby. The Hotel Molokai is a great mid-range hotel that is a quick 40-minute drive from Papohaku Beach!

Read more: Molokai, Hawaii Travel Guide + Packing Tips 

Manele Bay (Lana’i)

Another quiet getaway! Swim at Hulopoe Beach, golf at the gorgeous Four Seasons Resort, or explore marine life at the tide pools.

This family-friendly spot has picnic areas and gentle waters perfect for swimming; hula lessons and lei-making classes are offered by the Four Seasons for those looking for an authentic Hawaiian cultural experience.

Where to Stay in Manele Bay

The Four Seasons Resort in Lana’i is a luxury property that boasts both garden and ocean views.

Hotel Lana’i is a great place for budget travelers and solo travelers alike. 

Lahaina Shores is an awesome mid-range hotel that is located in the heart of Lahaina.

Read more: How to Choose the Best Hawaiian Island for Your Vacation

Kalaupapa (Molokai)

Although the famous Molokai mule rides are currently unavailable, this sacred Molokai village has a distinctly unique settlement history that will likely be fascinating to curious visitors.

The beautiful St. Philomena Church founded by a beloved Father Damien can be visited by booking a Damien tour, which also visits the final resting place of Father Damien himself. Research Kalaupapa’s history beforehand and prepare yourself for a spiritual, breathtaking journey.

Where to Stay near Kalaupapa

Once again, the Hotel Molokai will be your best bet for an excursion to Kalaupapa. That, or there are many vacation homes and guesthouses in the area for rent.

Read more: Molokai: It’s All About The Love

Pololu Valley (Hawaii, The Big Island)

The black sand beaches and black lava rock make for a gorgeous landscape, and the short (but steep) hike is very rewarding – bring lots of water and shoes with good traction, as the trail can be slippery. Stop by the small town of Hawi on your way for lunch and homemade fudge!

Where to Stay near Pololu Valley

Staying on the Kohala Coast is a must during your trip to the Big Island of Hawaii. Once again, the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel is a property I absolutely adored!

And if the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel is all booked up, the aforementioned Mauna Kea Beach Hotel is super close by.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (Hawaii, The Big Island)

For those outdoorsy types, this national park will be a must-see. Deserts and lush rain forests make for an awesome hiking and biking experience, and that’s just during the day!

Go at night to see the glow from molten lava, and take in the view from above by helicopter with Paradise Helicopters tours in Hilo. They even offer extreme no-door tours for you adrenaline junkies!

Where to Stay near Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Kilauea Lodge is a mid-range property located just one mile from the National Park. This cute Inn features a hot tub and on-site breakfast.

Volcano Village Lodge is a highly-rated property just ten minutes from the park. Not to mention, it features garden waterfalls, koi ponds, and a hot tub.

Packing Essentials for Hawaii

Photo Equipment: I highly recommend bringing a GoPro for underwater photos (and a selfie stick!) and a nice camera for land activities. (See our complete travel camera buying guide here.)

Clothing: Sandals or flip flops (I love Rainbow sandals), a couple of swimsuits, sunglasses, and a sun hat are must-haves any time of year. I also highly recommend bringing water shoes.

Rash Guard: I always pack my long-sleeve rash guard on island trips. It protects you from the sun when snorkeling and provides a little warmth if the water is chilly.

Snorkel Equipment: You’ll save a ton of money by bringing your own and you won’t be stuck with old equipment. We brought this mask and these travel size fins.

Reusable Water Bottle: Refilling your water bottle not only saves money, but it’s so much better for the environment! We use this CamelBak water bottle at home, but if you want something more compact, this collapsible water bottle is perfect for travel days and hiking.

Carry-on Bag Essentials: Visit our Carry-on Packing Guide.

Plan Your Trip to Hawaii

After traveling consistently for over 10 years, we’ve come to trust and rely on a few websites to help us find the best deals on flights and accommodation.

Flights: Momondo is the first place we check when searching for cheap flights. It searches hundreds of sites for the best fare and includes both standard and budget airlines. The calendar feature shows the cheapest days to fly in your preferred month of travel.

Accommodation: Booking.com offers savings on hotels, apartments, and villas in 80,000 destinations worldwide. You can browse hotel reviews and find the guaranteed best price on hotels for all budgets.

Travel Insurance: We never travel without a travel insurance policy because it’s not worth the risk! We use and trust World Nomads, which we’ve used for the past 8 years.

The post 10 Best Places To Visit In Hawaii (And Where to Stay!) appeared first on Ordinary Traveler.

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Cruising the South Pacific with Holland America was a trip that was as adventurous as it was relaxing. Stopping at twelve ports throughout Australia, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Fiji, and New Zealand, the itinerary was perfectly paced with beautiful scenery and intriguing learning opportunities around every corner.

On this particular trip, we boarded the Holland America Maasdam, a medium-sized ship that had great food and entertainment options, and was sized perfectly for stopping at smaller ports.

Here’s what to expect on a 17-day Holland America cruise in the South Pacific!

17 Days in the South Pacific With Holland America The Itinerary

With our time at sea perfectly spaced between the days spent in each location, the 17-day South Pacific cruise was excellent for balancing adventure and relaxation.

We started our journey in Brisbane and spent a couple of days at sea before docking at both Noumea and Tadine, New Caledonia, after which we pressed on to Luganville, Port Vila, and Mystery Island, Vanuatu. Next, we headed to Fiji where we explored Lautoka, Savusavu, and Dravuni Island before sailing to New Zealand – namely, Waitangi (Bay Of Islands), Tauranga (Rotorua), and Auckland.

  • Brisbane, Australia
  • At Sea
  • At Sea
  • Noumea, New Caledonia
  • Tadine, New Caledonia
  • Luganville, Vanuatu
  • Port Vila, Vanuatu
  • Mystery Island, Vanuatu
  • Lautoka, Fiji
  • Savusavu, Fiji
  • Dravuni Island, Fiji
  • Waitangi (Bay of Islands), New Zealand
  • Tauranga (Rotorua), New Zealand
  • Auckland, New Zealand
The Ship

At 719 feet long with a capacity of 1258 guests, the MS Maasdam is a medium-sized ship that’s the perfect size to access off-the-beaten-path ports. While aboard, I found the ship’s size great for wandering around, and I especially appreciated the staff’s attention to detail – the zoo animals they made out of towels for us were adorable!

Explorations Central In-Depth Voyages

The MS Maasdam is the only ship in the Holland America Fleet dedicated to Explorations Central In-depth Voyages. These special voyages are tailored to your interests and stop at multiple ports in each region, allowing you to explore all aspects of the local culture.

Additionally, when you’re onboard, these voyages provide options for lectures, workshops, and performances to further educate you about the region.

Read more: The Ultimate Packing Guide for Travel Photographers (Tips From a Pro!)

The Cuisine

Holland America provides many fine dining options aboard their ships, as well as some great casual dining options.

Lido Market

With an array of food ranging from the classics to the more adventurous, Lido Market is great whether you want to grab a meal to go or dine in. They offer everything from sandwiches and salads to local dishes and hearty desserts.

Dive-In

Care for a gourmet burger and some delicious fries? Then Dive-In is the place to go. The restaurant offers a variety of casual options with high-end ingredients.

The Dining Room

Whether you head to The Dining Room for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, this restaurant delivers the goods. Not only are the chefs at The Dining Room world-renowned, they prepare everything from the staples to regional cuisine and vegetarian options.

Pinnacle Grill

A restaurant that focuses on premium ingredients, Pinnacle Grill is perfect for lunch or dinner aboard the ship. Their menu features selections based on prime catches from America’s Pacific Northwest.

Canaletto

Preparing dishes sure to be enjoyed by the whole family, Canaletto is a traditional Italian restaurant that features everybody’s favorite classics. They even make their pasta fresh every day!

Rudi’s Sel De Mer

If you’re in the mood for classic French cuisine, then Rudi’s Sel De Mer is worth booking during your cruise. This intimate French-Mediterranean seafood brasserie will delight both the classic and contemporary connoisseur. 

While aboard the Maasdam, you’ll find the Rudi’s Sel De Mer menu at Pinnacle Restaurant.

Read more: How to Pack for a Sailing Trip

The Rooms

Comfort and luxury are priorities aboard Holland America cruise ships, and this is especially evident in the rooms. Personally, I stayed in an Ocean View room during my time on the Maasdam, and I absolutely loved being able to wake up and immediately see the ocean every morning. Not to mention, the beds and linens provided by the ship are divine – every night was a great sleep!

In order to accommodate a range of needs, there are five room options on the Maasdam – Inside, Ocean View, Lanai, Vista Suite, and Neptune & Pinnacle Suite. Each of these options has varying degrees of amenities with further customization options included.

Things to do Aboard the Maasdam

I was very impressed by the entertainment offered on the Maasdam. Many of the options were exclusive to Explorations In-Depth Voyages, and they were all catered either to relaxation or to teaching the guests about the cultures and regions they were visiting.

There are also two different pool areas, with plenty of room to lounge. We woke up one morning to an entire zoo of towel animals made by the staff. I had no idea I could get so excited about towel animals but they were adorable!

Performances

The performances aboard the Maasdam were top notch and were tied into the local cultures of our destinations. These included drumming, dance, and vocal work.

Culinary Experiences

There’s nothing quite like learning about a destination through food. On each In-Depth Voyage, the ship will invite a guest chef aboard to teach you about the food traditions of your regions. These experiences include food tastings, wine pairings, and cooking demonstrations.

Presentations & Workshops

Having naturalists, photographers, authors, and historians onboard the Maasdam to teach us about our destinations was very cool. They gave presentations and led workshops to further our understanding of each region.

Read more: 10 Best Tropical Vacations for Couples

Digital Workshops

Holland America provides awesome digital workshops aboard the Maasdam, each containing photo editing, movie creation, digital organization, storage, and security tips. Each of these sessions are small in nature and are suited for those of any ability.

Greenhouse Spa & Salon

What’s the best way to relax after a long day of exploring? By visiting the spa of course! The Greenhouse Spa & Salon features heated lounges, facial treatments, massages, and so much more.

Just note that spa treatments are available at an additional cost.

Read more: 15 Affordable Tropical Destinations for Every Budget

Movies & BBC Earth Experiences

For those nights you just want to relax and hole up in your room, the Maasdam provides an extensive movie collection for you to enjoy. I was also pleased to learn that there was BBC Earth concerts and films to watch onboard.

Fitness Center

To offset all of that heavy duty relaxing, the Maasdam features a great gym! You can either work out solo or join one of the many fitness classes they have scheduled.

Read more: Top Honeymoon Destinations for Couples on a Budget

Plan Your Trip to the South Pacific

After traveling consistently for over 10 years, we’ve come to trust and rely on a few websites to help us find the best deals on flights and accommodation.

Flights: Momondo is the first place we check when searching for cheap flights. It searches hundreds of sites for the best fare and includes both standard and budget airlines. The calendar feature shows the cheapest days to fly in your preferred month of travel.

Accommodation: Booking.com offers savings on hotels, apartments, and villas in 80,000 destinations worldwide. You can browse hotel reviews and find the guaranteed best price on hotels for all budgets.

Travel Insurance: We never travel without a travel insurance policy because it’s not worth the risk! We use and trust World Nomads, which we’ve used for the past 8 years.

The post 17 Days in the South Pacific With Holland America appeared first on Ordinary Traveler.

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Purchasing a durable piece of checked luggage will not only save you from mini-meltdowns on the road, but it will also save you time and money in the long run. When purchasing luggage, you will want to choose a bag that is the perfect size for your needs, has ample compartments, looks nice, and that is well-made from a sturdy material.

Over my years of travel, I can’t tell you how many bags I’ve gone through, and I’m so tired of poorly-made bags that fall apart! However, because I’ve gone through so many suitcases, I’m now well-equipped with knowledge of which ones are poorly made and which are the most durable of all.

A list compiled through experience, here are my top tips for purchasing quality luggage, and the most durable checked luggage you can find!

10 Most Durable Checked Bags in 2019 (Buying Guide) Most Durable Hard Shell Luggage Bellagio 2.0 Ultra Light 27 Inch Medium Spinner Trunk

One of my favorite suitcases of all time, the Bellagio 2.0 Ultra Light is made of an extremely tough polycarbonate exterior, is super lightweight for a hard shell case (it weighs just 8.8 lbs), and comes with a 5-year limited warranty.

While on the pricier side, this bag is absolutely elegant, comes with a TSA-approved combination lock, and is water-resistant to boot!

Perfect for: Stylish travelers looking to invest in a quality bag.

Compare prices here.

Delsey Helium Aero Expandable Spinner Trolley

Made from 100% polycarbonate, the Delsey Helium Aero not only has a sleek exterior but will last you years of travel. In addition to the durability, the Helium Aero is also known for its maneuverability — it has double spinner wheels that won’t strain your arm and allow for easy rolling.

Additionally, this hard shell suitcase features TSA-approved locks and an expandable main compartment.

Perfect for: Travelers prioritizing maneuverability.

Compare prices here.

Samsonite Winfield 2 Hardside 24″ Luggage

Samsonite is one of the best-known and purchased luggage brands, and for good reason — Samsonite is known for making quality luggage that stands the test of time. The Winfield Hardside 24” Hardside Luggage is made from polycarbonate that absorbs impact by flexing and then returning back to its original shape. It’ll take an extra level of abuse to put a dent in this one!

The case also features a brushed pattern that makes scuffs and scrapes a lot less noticeable.

Perfect for: Travelers wanting luggage that will last through the years.

Compare prices here.

Travelpro Maxlite 5 Expandable Spinner Luggage 29-Inch

A sleek polycarbonate hard shell case, the Travelpro Maxlite 5 is an extremely lightweight luggage option that will delight you with its impact-absorbing flexibility. Standing by their products, Travelpro offers a lifetime limited warranty that will cover the cost of airline-related repairs for one year after purchase.

Perfect for: Travelers looking to keep their haul as light as possible.

Compare prices here.

Victorinox Spectra 2.0 Large Hardside Spinner Suitcase

Made from the same company that manufactures Swiss Army Knives, the Victorinox Spectra 2.0 is made with break-resistant bayer polycarbonate that also features a scratch and scuff-resistant coating. In addition to its durability, the Spectra also features 360 degree maneuverability, an option to expand by up to 47%, and two main compartments.

Perfect for: Travelers wanting the option for a little extra space.

Compare prices here.

Nautica Flagship 28 inch Hardside Spinner Luggage Suitcase

With a textured ABS hard shell, the Nautica Flagship 28-inch is an extremely durable and maneuverable piece of luggage. The bag features an eight spinner wheel system, a 2” expansion option, TSA-approved locks, and a 5-year warranty.

For the durability and features, the Nautica makes a great mid-budget option!

Perfect for: Travelers wanting a durable suitcase on a budget.

Compare prices here.

Most Durable Soft Shell Luggage Briggs & Riley Baseline Expandable 25″ Upright

The Briggs & Riley Baseline is easily one of the most widely-recognized durable soft shells on the market. This suitcase is made from ballistic nylon, meaning it’s water, wear, dirt, and abrasion resistant, and the handle is made from aircraft-grade aluminum. Plus, the case features a hybrid fiberglass frame that is flexible and will help the suitcase keep its shape.

While definitely not on the cheaper end of the spectrum, this piece of luggage is worth every penny!

Perfect for: Travelers looking for a quality soft-shell.

Compare prices here.

Read more: The Best Travel Backpacks For Every Budget

Travelpro Platinum Magna 2 Expandable Spinner Suiter Suitcase

A soft-shell option from Travelpro, this highly-rated suitcase features high-density ballistic nylon fabric with a special duraguard varnish for extra protection. The Travelpro Platinum Magna 2 also comes with a leather top and supra zipper heads that are specially designed to resist damage from stress.

Perfect for: Travelers looking for a durable, stylish option.

Compare prices here.

Read more: The Best Camera Lenses for Travel Photography

Samsonite Aspire XLite 29″ Spinner Blue Dream

The Samsonite Aspire XLite 29″ Spinner Blue Dream is a highly maneuverable soft shell option with extra durability features. In addition to the standard Samsonite quality that you can trust, this bag is made of rugged polyester with a steel wire construction.

Perfect for: Mid-budget travelers looking for a quality soft shell suitcase.

Compare prices here.

Most Durable Duffel Bag Eagle Creek No Matter What Flashpoint Rolling Duffel

If you’re looking for something a little more casual that offers peak flexibility, you can’t go wrong with the Eagle Creek No Matter What Flashpoint Duffel. This duffel bag is made of bi-tech fabric, meaning it’s abrasion and weather resistant, and it even comes with a storm flap to keep it safe in extreme weather conditions.

The bag also comes with over sized, heavy-duty wheels with a kick plate, seam reinforcement, and, just like any good duffel bag, is collapsible.

Perfect for: Adventure travelers needing a little extra reinforcement in a bag.

Compare prices here.

What to Look For in Durable Luggage

Warranty

If you’re spending a pretty penny to purchase quality luggage, then I highly recommend you buy from a company that offers lifetime, or even limited, warranty. Warranty on luggage generally covers things like damage caused by airlines and general wear and tear.

Quality Zipper

Making sure your luggage has quality zippers is a super important, yet often overlooked, thing when purchasing a suitcase. After all, if something goes wrong with your zipper then you’ll be hard-pressed for a way to fix it if you’re at the airport or abroad.

Standard zippers usually come in either chain or coil, with chain being the more durable, reliable of the two options.

Quality Wheels

Before purchasing the luggage, make sure that the bag not only has four wheels, but that the wheels roll 360 degrees, are connected to the luggage by multiple screws, and are made of thick rubber or plastic.

Wheels are usually one of the first things to require repair on luggage (cobblestones + wheels do not a great match make). Due to this, know that if you do need to replace them, you can usually do so in most luggage shops or purchase a new set of wheels online.

Strong Materials

Hard shell suitcases are generally considered more durable due to usually being made out of polycarbonate, ABS, aluminum, and polypropylene. These materials handle the usual bumps that come with flying with ease and will keep your belongings safe.

That said, there are a lot of very durable softshell luggage options on the market as well. In purchasing a strong softshell option, look for ballistic and Cordura nylon.

How to Choose the Best Checked Luggage for You

Purpose

Before you purchase your luggage, consider what you’ll be using it for. Are you someone who travels mainly for business, do you like to take long-term sightseeing trips, or do you prefer more nature-based adventures? Each of these options will weigh into what kind of suitcase would suit your needs and be the most convenient for you on your trip.

Size

Speaking of convenience, size is a big factor in choosing checked luggage. If you take short business trips, then smaller, more compact luggage will probably do the trick. Conversely, if you’re on a longer trek, something larger and more flexible is probably what you’re looking for.

Color

Don’t let your bag get lost in a sea of other black bags on the carousel, and purchase a bag with a little color! I love buying uniquely-colored bags and then personalizing them with tags and other identifying features.

Expandability

Are you someone who tends to come back from a trip with way more stuff than you left with? If you are, I totally get you, and you’re either going to want to pack super light before you leave, or purchase a bag that expands.

Weight

Considering the weight of your bag without any items inside is important both if you’re someone who tends to overpack or if you like to keep your load as light as possible. Either way, just make sure you end up packing a weight that’s compliant with your airline so you can avoid those annoying overweight baggage fees!

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The best time to visit Norway completely depends on what you want to see. While the country is beautiful year round, your experience will differ greatly depending on the region, the activities, and the month.

Norway is a long, large country and is diverse in weather and tourism hotspots. Summer in Norway brings with it long days, great weather, lively scenes, and inevitably, higher prices. November through January tends to bring very intense snowy conditions and limited sun — conditions that some travelers will find harsh. Meanwhile, spring and fall are great for lower costs on accommodation, but it’s important to double check if your preferred activities will be doable, as many of them are seasonal.

See below to learn about the best seasons to see Norway’s most popular sites!

The Best Time to Visit Norway (Depending On What You Want To See) Visiting Norway in the Winter

A season that is generally shrouded in darkness due to Norway’s northerly geography, winter brings with it a calm, winter-wonderland paradise feeling that is hard to get in the livelier, tourism-heavy months.

Just remember that during winter, the temperature can get very cold (around -40C/-40F in some places), and if you’re headed above the Arctic Circle, know that there are months when the sun doesn’t rise at all.

Things to See in Norway During Winter

Northern Lights

One of the most magical experiences you can have in Norway, catching a glimpse of the Northern lights is worth braving the cold for. Due to darkness being an essential component to seeing the Northern Lights, you can generally catch them any time from October through March.

Also note that not all of Norway is prime Aurora Borealis territory. For the best chance of seeing the lights, you’ll want to head at least as North as Bodo, although your chances increase the more North you go.

  Snow Activities

If you’re headed to Norway on a ski or snowmobile trip, then you’ll find late February and early March to be optimal. Not only do these times have more daylight hours than December, January, but it’s also a prime time for snowfall.

Read more: What to Pack for a Trip to Norway

Visiting Norway in the Spring

A time in Norway full of blooming flowers, melting snow, and seasonal waterfalls, April, and May, and June in Norway bring with them a sense of renewal and freshness. However, Spring in Norway is notoriously fickle, and depending on what region you visit the warmer weather might start in Late February, whereas in other places skiing will still be in full swing late April.

Wherever you’re headed in Norway, be sure to check the forecast so you know what to expect!

Things to See in Norway During Spring

Cities

Whether you’re interested in visiting cosmopolitan Oslo, picturesque Bergen, or one of the other charming cities in Norway, activities will be plentiful and accommodation open no matter what time of year you visit. Winter is excellent for visiting cities if you’re looking to check out some winter sports and save money on accommodation, while summer has great weather and a livelier atmosphere.

If you’re looking for the best of both worlds, I’d recommend visiting Norway’s cities in late spring when the crowds are slim, the streets are walkable, the prices are relatively easy on the wallet, and the flowers are in bloom.

Sami Culture & Reindeer

Norway is home to both wild and tame Reindeer, and while you can find the animals all over the country, I recommend digging into some local Sami culture while you’re at it. The Sami are an indigenous population throughout Norway, and Reindeer are part of their traditional culture.

To do this, I suggest visiting Norway in early spring when the days start getting longer and the snow is still on the ground for Reindeer sledding.

By the way, Reindeer is also a national dish, so prepare yourself for seeing it on the menu before you get too attached!

Read more: How to Travel in Norway on a Budget

Visiting Norway in the Summer

If you visit Norway during the months of June, July, and August be prepared for long days and warmer weather. The temperature often reaches 25C/77F, but it can change in an instant, so be sure to always carry a light raincoat and warm layers. During this season Norway becomes lively, with locals out and about and the major tourism season in full swing.

If you plan on visiting Norway in Summer, book your accommodation as early in advance as you can, as many popular places tend to sell out and hike up their prices.

Things to See in Norway During Summer

Midsummer Eve

Every year on June 23, Norwegians gather to celebrate Sankthansaften, or Midsummer Eve. Expect to come across many parties and bonfires!

Midnight Sun

A natural phenomenon that occurs above the Arctic Circle between late May and mid-July, the midnight sun is like an extended sunset and sunrise all at once. The sky casts beautiful colors, and the days are long so that you can pack in all your activities no matter the time.

Just note that the nights can get chilly above the Arctic Circle even in the summertime. Bring cozy sweaters and long pants!

Polar Bears

If you’re heading up to the Northern Norway archipelago of Svalbard, then going on a polar bear cruise is a must. The cruises tend to run from May through early September and are all about witnessing polar bears in their natural habitat.

While you’re in Svalbard, also consider going dog sledding, glacier trekking, snowmobiling, and dive into the local culture in the towns of Longyearbyen and Barentsburg.

Read more: The Ultimate Guide to Norway’s Fjord Region

Visiting Norway in the Fall

Beginning in September, Fall graces Norway with chillier temperatures and colorful leaves. During the Autumnal season, tourism takes a dip, meaning the sites are less crowded and prices tend to go down.

Fall is also the harvesting season in Norway, so expect a lot of fresh, local food that’s a little richer in keeping with the season.

Things to Do in Norway During Fall

See the Fjords

Some of the most dramatic sights in all of Norway, visiting at least a couple fjords is a must during your trip.

Depending on which fjords you visit (Geirangerfjord is a favorite), expect the scene to be very busy in the summertime, especially if the one you’re visiting is a cruise ship stop. To see a fjord in all of its luscious glory without the crowds, I’d recommend visiting in the early fall. You’ll still be able to go hiking and kayaking, and there won’t be any residual snow.

One of the longest and deepest fjords in Norway, Geirangerfjord is located in the southwestern part of the country, about 350 km north of Bergen. The fjord is one of the most popular in the country, no doubt due to the still water and 2000-meter tall mountains towering above.

Visit the Lofoten Islands

An extremely popular destination for fjords and local culture, the best time to visit the Lofoten Islands completely depends on what you plan to do and see.

There are cultural activities in the Lofoten Islands year round, although a lot of the main nature sites can be dangerous or hard to get to in winter, and the prices tend to skyrocket in summer. To still enjoy great weather and have opportunities for outdoor activities, fall is a great time to visit the Lofoten Islands.

Read more: The Best Photo Locations in Norway’s Lofoten Islands

Kystriksveien (Coastal Route)

The 630-kilometer coastal route of Kystriksveien is one of the most beautiful routes in the country, taking you from Steinkjer to Bodo. For extremely pretty views with just a touch of a chill in the air, drive in the fall when the leaves are changing color.

Some of the most popular stops on the route include the Coastal Museum Norveg in Rorvik, Torghatten Mountain, the Helgeland Bridge, Sognefjellet Mountain, and Svartisen Glacier.

Oslo-Bergen Railway (Bergensbanen)

Often referred to as Europe’s best train journey, the Oslo-Bergen Railway is a must for any railway lover. Connecting two of Norway’s most important cities, this 495-kilometer track will give you awesome views of fjords, fields, traditional fishing villages, and waterfalls.

The route is absolutely beautiful year round, but there’s just something about seeing all the pretty fall colors fly by the window.

Plan Your Trip to Norway

After traveling consistently for over 10 years, we’ve come to trust and rely on a few websites to help us find the best deals on flights and accommodation.

Flights: Momondo is the first place we check when searching for cheap flights. It searches hundreds of sites for the best fare and includes both standard and budget airlines. The calendar feature shows the cheapest days to fly in your preferred month of travel.

Accommodation: Booking.com offers savings on hotels, apartments, and villas in 80,000 destinations worldwide. You can browse hotel reviews and find the guaranteed best price on hotels for all budgets.

Travel Insurance: We never travel without a travel insurance policy because it’s not worth the risk! We use and trust World Nomads, which we’ve used for the past 8 years.

The post The Best Time to Visit Norway (Depending On What You Want To See) appeared first on Ordinary Traveler.

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The idea of traveling to a beautiful tropical destination when you’re on a budget may seem like a pipe dream. However, depending on where you’re headed and what style of trip you plan to have, taking a sunny vacation can be a lot more affordable than you think. I’ve compiled some of my favorite tropical destinations (some I’ve visited multiple times), that are awesome for every budget.

Whether you’re a splurger or a penny-pincher, here are 15 budget-friendly tropical destinations!

15 Affordable Tropical Destinations for Every Budget Palawan, Philippines

The Philippines’ largest and most biodiverse island, the archipelago of Palawan is home to crystal clear waters, limestone cliffs, and tons of nooks and crannies to explore (including an underground river you can’t miss). The beaches here are some of the best in the world, there is over 1200 miles of coastline, the diving is bucket-list level, and you’ll find very friendly people everywhere you go.

Palawan features both land and sea nature reserves, and as it’s a UNESCO heritage site, is mostly an untouched spec of land. Plus, Palawan is a place you’ll get a lot of bang for your buck, with a wide selection of basic resorts and hotels that go easy on the wallet.

Where to Stay in Palawan, Philippines

Hotel Oasis Port Barton is an affordable option featuring an airport shuttle, air conditioning, and continental breakfast.

Hotel Centro is another budget option that is highly rated, and features a restaurant, outdoor pool, and bar.

Read more: The Ultimate Guide to El Nido, Philippines

Riviera Maya, Mexico

Situated on the Yucatan Peninsula’s Caribbean coastline, the Riviera Maya is known for its beautiful beaches, turquoise waters, and delicious food. Here, explore the awe-inspiring Mayan ruins, go snorkeling or scuba diving, check out the towns and local culture, and spend long, lazy days chilling on the beach.

Riviera Maya features popular destinations such as Cancun, Playa Del Carmen, Tulum, and Cozumel, and more quiet places such as Puerto Morelos. Due to the diversity, the Riviera Maya truly has something for everyone, whether you’re looking to take a luxury vacation or stretch your pennies.

Where to Stay in Riviera Maya, Mexico

Hacienda Real del Caribe Hotel is four-star, yet affordable option right in Playa del Carmen. The hotel boasts a swimming pool, courtyard, and is close to shops and restaurants.

Ojo de Agua Beach Front Hotel is a highly rated budget hotel in Puerto Morelos. Situated just off the beach, the hotel has an on-site diving and snorkeling store and even a massage service.

Read more: Top 8 Reasons to Visit Riviera Maya, Mexico

Dominican Republic

Whether you head to the common resort town of Punta Cana, wander around Santo Domingo, or spend your days hanging with the starfish on one of the many secluded beaches, the Dominican Republic has a vibe for you. This lush tropical oasis is home to Los Haitises National Park (full of caverns and forests to explore), whale watching opportunities, and awesome surf.

The second largest Caribbean country, the Dominican Republic is easily accessible from Miami, New York, and many European cities. Not to mention, dollars are usually very strong compared to the peso.

Where to Stay in the Dominican Republic

Tropical Princess Beach Resort & Spa is a great, yet affordable all-inclusive in Punta Cana that features two swimming pools, entertainment, and three restaurants.

If you want to stay in Santo Domingo, Barcelo Santo Domingo is a great choice. Not only is it located in the old quarter, it offers an outdoor pool, hot tub, and even a casino.

Trinidad & Tobago

Tobago is serene, with pristine white beaches, excellent birdwatching, and ample opportunities for relaxation. Trinidad, on the other hand, is carnivals, shopping, and culture aplenty. No matter which of these two Caribbean islands you’re on, “bored” is not a word you hear too often.

In Trinidad & Tobago, try out the Creole cuisine, soak up some history at Fort George, relax on the beach in Store Bay, and visit the Asa Wright Nature Centre.

Where to Stay in Trinidad & Tobago

For a budget stay on Trinidad, check out Inn at 87. This cute inn near the Port of Spain is just minutes from Queen’s Park Savannah, and features air-conditioned rooms.

If you’d prefer to stay on Tobago, Half Moon Blue Hotel in Scarborough is a boutique option featuring an on-site restaurant and car rental service.

Read more: 10 Best Things To Do In Trinidad & Tobago

Kauai, Hawaii

While Hawaii doesn’t usually make the list for most affordable destinations, Kauai is a mostly-undeveloped haven that has options for all budgets. The fourth largest Hawaiian Island, Kauai is a nature-lover’s paradise with waterfalls, a jaw-dropping coastline, tropical rainforests, and so many activity options (definitely bring along some snorkel gear!)

In planning your budget trip to Kauai, I recommend avoiding holidays, and traveling during the relative off-seasons of September, October, April, and May.

Where to Stay on Kauai, Hawaii

Kauai Shores Hotel in Kapaa is an oceanfront option that features a private beach, 6-acre courtyard, and two outdoor pools.

Kauai Beach Resort is a slightly pricier option in Lihue. The property offers a free shuttle service to the airport, 4 bars and restaurants, and each room has its own private balcony.

Read more: How to Travel Kauai on a Budget

Belize

A country on the eastern coast of Central America, Belize is a super friendly destination full of national parks, Mayan history, and beautiful coast. While there, I recommend taking a helicopter tour over the Great Blue Hole (or grab your mask and go scuba diving), relaxing on Caye Caulker, kayaking along Glover’s Reef Atoll, and exploring Lamanai, a Mayan archaeological site.

For such a small country, Belize packs a punch, so my recommendation is to plan time for an equal amount of relaxation and exploration!

Where to Stay in Belize

For an affordable stay on Caye Caulker, try out Blue Wave Guest House. This quaint property is just steps from the beach and offers free WiFi and a sun terrace.

Located in San Ignacio, Cahal Pech Village Resort is a rustic option with great views, an on-site restaurant, and lots of activity options.

Read more: 10 Budget-Friendly Honeymoon Destinations

Thailand

A country as historic as it is modern and as urban as it is natural, Thailand is full of beautiful temples, awesome beaches, friendly people, and drool-worthy cuisine. Like many places in southeast Asia, a dollar will go a long way in Thailand, and you can easily find yourself spending just a few bucks a night on accommodation.

If you spend time in Thailand’s cities, such as Bangkok or Chiang Mai, expect a fast-paced experience with every amenity within arms reach. Or, if you want a slower, more nature filled experience, then head to one of Thailand’s many islands (Koh Tao, Koh Lipe, and Koh Phangan are all beautiful).

Where to Stay in Thailand

Located in Old Bangkok, Prince Palace Hotel is a 5-star option for a very affordable price. Overlooking Mahanak Canal, the hotel provides an outdoor pool, massage treatments, and a business center.

Castaway Resort in Koh Lipe is a tropical getaway featuring airy bungalows and a bar.

Read more: 10 Best Islands to Visit in Thailand

Rincon, Puerto Rico

A town on Puerto Rico’s west coast, Rincon is most well-known for its beaches and great surf, and is also known as the surfing capital of the Caribbean. Generally uncrowded, expect Rincon to be a quiet, relaxing escape where you can spend your days surfing, scuba diving, hiking, and exploring Puerto Rican culture in the downtown center.

Where to Stay in Rincon, Puerto Rico

Casa Verde Hotel in Rincon is a highly rated hotel just steps from the beach and one of Rincon’s most famous surfing spots.

Serenity Rincon is another great hotel located on a hillside away from city life.

Negril, Jamaica

A town in western Jamaica, Negril is perfect for both relaxation and adventure alike. Seven Mile Beach is known as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, jumping off the cliffs at Rick’s Café is pretty much a rite of passage, and you won’t regret the many jerk chicken opportunities.

For a great day excursion, head out to Ys Falls, just an hour and a half out of Negril. These waterfalls feature swimming pools, a rope swing, and even a zip line overhead.

 Where to Stay in Negril, Jamaica

White Sands Negril is a popular hotel with a variety of accommodation options. The property also has a pool and game room.

Charela Inn is an elegant option with a French-Jamaican restaurant, live entertainment twice a week, and is just steps from downtown Negril.

Roatan Island, Honduras

If you can picture orange sunsets, white sandy beaches, stunning coral reefs, lush jungle, and colorful Honduran culture, then you’ve got Roatan Island in a nutshell. At 31 miles long and 5 miles wide, Roatan is the largest of the Bay Islands, and is well-developed for tourism.

On Roatan, hang out with the sloths and monkeys, eat freshly-caught seafood, snorkel at starfish alley (just don’t lift them out of the water!), and shop for local handmade crafts.

Where to Stay on Roatan Island, Honduras

Paradise Beach Hotel is a popular option in West Bay. The resort has all the amenities and features two outdoor swimming pools.

A slightly more affordable option, Half Moon Resort in Half Moon Bay is surrounded by tropical vegetation, and all rooms come with a hammock.

Little Corn Island, Nicaragua

One of Nicaragua’s most beautiful, and famous, destinations, Little Corn Island is just 50 miles off the mainland, and clocks in at just 1.5 square miles in size. On this car-free island, you can expect farmer’s market stalls, locals playing baseball, incredible snorkeling, and sailing excursions.

Not to mention, Little Corn is a great place to go if you want to practice yoga, or get a massage or facial!

Where to Stay on Little Corn Island

A very affordable, more rustic option, The Lighthouse is a chalet that has a restaurant and terraces.

Hotel Los Delfines is a beachfront property that’s very close to restaurants and shops.

Read more: The Ultimate Packing Guide for Travel Photographers

Panama

Panama, also known as the gateway to South America, is a diverse country full of historic cities and towns, lush jungles, and beautiful beaches. While most famous for the Panama Canal, I’d recommend checking out the charismatic Casco Viejo in Panama City, the San Blas Islands, a coffee plantation or two, hiking a volcano (with a guide), and exploring Bocas Del Toro.

Of course, these are only suggestions, get out and explore!

Where to Stay in Panama

An elegant option in Panama City, Plaza Paitilla Inn features a bar, outdoor pool, gym, and panoramic views of the city.

Oasis Bluff Beach is a 5-star, yet affordable option in Bocas Del Toro. The property features a bar and each room has either a garden or a sea view.

Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam

Located in the south of Vietnam and easily reachable via plane from Ho Chi Minh City, Phu Quoc island is a serene escape that remains largely untouched. While the northern part of the island is largely a UNESCO-status national park, you’ll also find beach bars, cafes, traditional villages, and local markets to explore.

Where to Stay on Phu Quoc Island

Lahana Resort Phu Quoc is surrounded by lush greenery and is a great eco-friendly option in Duong Dong.

Phu Quoc Dragon Resort & Spa is right on Ong Lang Beach, has an on-site restaurants, and offers free use of bicycles to its guests.

St. Lucia

While somewhat remote, St. Lucia is a diverse nation that accommodates a variety of budgets (also, it’s one of my faves — I’ve been multiple times!) In St. Lucia, expect to explore old sugar plantations, visit Castries Market, hike around Pigeon Island National Park, get a mud bath at Sulfur Springs, and go snorkeling.

A good budget tip for St. Lucia is to book your visit in May and June, when you’ll get gorgeous temperatures yet miss the hustle and bustle of the December – April high season.

Read more: St. Lucia Travel Guide & Packing Tips

Where to Stay in St. Lucia

Bay Gardens Marina Haven is a highly rated property in Gros Islet. Located just steps from Rodney Bay Marino, the hotel features an outdoor swimming pool, and its own car rental.

Bay Gardens Hotel, also in Gros Islet, features a Creole-style rum shop, a restaurant, and a weekly cocktail party for guests.

Bali, Indonesia

A popular escape full of temples, volcanoes, meditation retreats, nightlife spots, beach resorts, rice paddies, and quaint B&B’s, Bali is a beautiful island in Indonesia that has something for everyone. The food is varied, the atmosphere is welcoming, and the exploration opportunities are plentiful.

That said, Bali is the most popular destination in Indonesia, so if you’re looking for something similar but a bit more quiet, try out the Gili Islands, Nusa Penida, or Lombok.

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A Northern Californian city bursting with culture at every turn, San Francisco is home to some of the most iconic landmarks, activities, and neighborhoods in the country. Yet, while San Francisco fits itself into just 46 square miles, there’s so much to do and see in the city that picking just one neighborhood to base yourself in is a big decision.

We’re sharing our insider tips on where to stay in San Francisco — and we’ve gathered our top picks for the best hotels in each neighborhood!

Where to Stay in San Francisco (The Best Hotels in Each Neighborhood) The Mission District

The oldest neighborhood in San Francisco, the Mission district was once an eclectic neighborhood with heavy roots in the Latino community. Once a working-class area, the Mission has changed a lot in recent years due to the tech boom. While there are still remnants of its humble, yet extremely artistic past, today the mission is where to go if you want hipster bars and boutiques in a district that still feels like it has a bit of an edge to it.

While in the Mission District, hang out and have a picnic at Dolores Park, eat at one of the many taqueria’s, and go thrift shopping.

Where to Stay in The Mission District

For budget travelers heading to The Mission, check out Nineteen 06 Mission, a cute little Bed & Breakfast that keeps energy-efficiency at the forefront.

For a great mid-budget stay, check out The Inn San Francisco. This cute B&B offers rooms with Victorian decor and a daily breakfast buffet.
 

The Castro

The historic center of San Francisco’s LGBT community, you’ll know you’re in The Castro neighborhood when you see one of the many rainbow flags blowing in the breeze. Located in the Eureka Valley, The Castro is one of the safest areas in San Francisco, and although it may be a lot tamer and gentrified than it was in its heyday, is still a vibrant community filled with bars and restaurants for all tastes and styles.

While in The Castro, catch a film at The Castro Theatre, where a wide selection of movies are screened, or go hiking up one of the Twin Peaks, where you’ll catch awesome 360 views of the city. Also, for a little piece of political and LGBT history in The Castro, stop by the Human Rights Campaign (located in the space that was once Harvey Milk’s Camera Shop) where all proceeds from the HRC go to supporting organizations that carry on Harvey Milk’s legacy.

 Where to Stay in The Castro

For a budget stay in the Castro, check out The Willows Inn, a no-frills, yet highly rated hotel.

For a mid-level option, try Beck’s Motor Lodge. This charming motel provides free parking and a spacious sun deck.

Read more: 20 Best Things to Do in San Francisco


 

North Beach

An area with a rich Italian and artsy heritage that’s adjacent to China Town, North Beach is a colorful community that by day is filled with art galleries, boutique shops, and an array of restaurants. However, by night-time, North Beach turns into nightlife heaven, with every kind of bar and nightclub you could ever imagine.

In North Beach, hang out in Washington Square Park, go see Beach Blanket Babylon (the world’s longest-running musical), check out Coit Tower, and have pizza at one of the many Italian restaurants. Additionally, for a dose of Beat writer history, go book shopping at City Light’s Bookseller and Publishers, one of the most famous and historic bookstores in the country.

Where to Stay in North Beach

For a great mid-level stay in North Beach, consider Hotel Boheme. This atmospheric hotel will have you feeling as though you stepped right into the 50’s and 60’s.

Another great mid-level hotel is the Washington Square Inn. This warm Inn overlooks Washington Square Park and features all the amenities.
 

Downtown

A San Francisco neighborhood that is home to high-rise office buildings, restaurants, and galleries alike, Downtown (also known as the Financial District) is where to go for Michelin-star restaurants, towering buildings, and swanky cocktail bars.

While staying here, be sure to check out the Cable Car Museum, The Metreon (if not for the shopping, for the largest IMAX in North America), and stop by the War Memorial Opera House, home to the San Francisco Ballet and the San Francisco Opera.

Where to Stay Downtown

For a great mid-level downtown option, check out Hotel Des Arts. Sure to delight any art lover, this more modest hotel is home to a free continental breakfast and an on-site French-style Brasserie.

Another awesome mid-level stay is the BEI San Francisco. This modern property features bright, airy rooms, and an Asian breakfast buffet. Plus, all guests receive free access to the fitness club!

For an upscale downtown stay, consider The Donatello Hotel. This Italian-inspired hotel features beautiful rooms and an awesome restaurant, the Zingari Ristorante.


 

Haight-Ashbury

Best known as being the hub of the 1960’s counterculture movement, Haight-Ashbury (or, The Haight) has gone through a bit of a change of identity in recent years, yet is still able to be a colorful community with bohemian charm. Here you’ll find great vintage shops, bookstores, and record stores nestled in between high-end boutiques.

In Haight Ashbury, head out to Golden Gate Park for an afternoon (and visit Hippie Hill if you’re interested in drum circles and the like), go shopping, catch a concert at Amoeba Records, and take yourself on a self-guided mural tour.

Where to Stay in Haight-Ashbury

A Haight-Ashbury staple, the mid-level Stanyan Park Hotel is just steps from Golden Gate Park. This pretty property features Victorian-style rooms and a wine and cheese hour in the evenings.

Read more: Northern California Packing Guide for Women

SoMa

SoMa, or South of Market, is a large district near the downtown area that stretches from Market to Townsend between the Embarcadero to Eleventh Street. The area is full of high-end nightspots, warehouses, art galleries, and parks.

I’d recommend heading to the California Historical Society to catch up on your Golden State history, paying a visit to the Cartoon Art Museum, heading to one of the many breweries, and hitting up the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Where to Stay in SoMa

A great mid-level stay in SoMa is the Pickwick Hotel. This property features light-colored rooms and a great restaurant and bar, also called SOMA.

For a luxurious stay check out the St. Regis. This classy property features a full on-site spa and an indoor infinity pool.

Another beautiful luxury property is Hotel Via. This beautiful hotel, while closer to South Beach, features bright rooms (with custom-made furniture no less), a communal workspace, and a fitness center.

Nob Hill

Found between Polk, Post, Mason, and Washington streets, Nob Hill is one of San Francisco’s most swanky and well-known neighborhoods and is full of high-end luxury hotels and gorgeous mansions. The area has a very distinct old-timey vibe to it, with a lot of vintage shops and cafes.

Nob Hill is also home to many famous landmarks to check out, including the gorgeous Grace Cathedral, the Argonaut Book Shop, and The Masonic concert hall.

Where to Stay in Nob Hill

For a mid-budget stay, consider the Nob Hill Inn. With Edwardian-style decor, this cute property is close to a ton of attractions.

The Fairmont San Francisco is the crown jewel of Nob Hill luxury properties. This beautiful hotel features a full-service gym and spa and offers panoramic views of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Pacific Heights

Full of gorgeous Victorian houses and artful boutiques, Pacific Heights is one of San Francisco’s most picturesque neighborhoods and is a beautiful place to walk around and gaze at the brilliant architecture. Due to its status, Pacific Heights has a more laid-back, quiet atmosphere that’s great for families.

While in Pacific Heights, I’d recommend doing some high-end shopping (or window shopping) at some of the great boutiques in the area, taking in the SF views at Alta Plaza Park, and take the stairs at Broadway and Lyon.

Where to Stay in Pacific Heights

For a more modest stay in Pacific Heights, check out Laurel Inn. This cute hotel provides bright rooms in a central location.

For something ritzier, consider Hotel Drisco. This historic property includes a free gourmet breakfast, evening wine and cheese, and an on-site fitness center.

The post Where to Stay in San Francisco (And The Best Hotels in Each Area) appeared first on Ordinary Traveler.

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Surrounded by absolutely beautiful 13,000 – 14,000 foot mountain peaks, the quaint town of Telluride, Colorado is an outdoor-activity mecca that is a must-see for any nature enthusiast. Originally a mining town that was founded in the early years of the Colorado Gold Rush, Telluride is just eight blocks wide and twelve blocks long, meaning its fabulous history and adventures are well within reach.

Whether you plan on visiting for the scenery or a specific event, there is no denying Telluride’s authentic mountain-town charm. This Telluride travel guide covers the best time to visit, where to stay, things to do, what to pack and more!

Telluride, Colorado Travel Guide + Packing Tips The Best Time to Visit Telluride

While the tourist high seasons and most expensive times of year to visit are through the summer and winter, these are also the best times to visit Telluride, Colorado. Visiting in the summer will have you experiencing lush nature and renowned festivals, while visiting in the winter is awesome for skiing and snowboarding. However, if you’re looking for off-season rates and less crowds, I highly recommend visiting in the fall.

How to Get to Telluride

If you plan to fly into the area, the primary airport servicing Telluride is Montrose Airport (MTJ) and is a direct stop from roughly 12 airports around the country, give or take a few depending on the time of year. That said, Telluride does have its own airport — Telluride Regional Airport — that is serviced by a few charter airlines.

To get from Montrose to Telluride, there are a few transport services, including shuttle buses and Lyft.

Getting Around Telluride

While renting a car at the airport will allow you to see more of the surrounding area, because of the transportation services, a car in Telluride is not necessary. For the most part, exploring the town can be done on foot or, if you feel like speeding things up a bit, I recommend renting a bike.

Read more: The Ultimate Packing Guide for Travel Photographers

The Climate in Telluride

While getting an average amount of precipitation in the summer, the temperature remains tepid and rarely goes over 80°F. However, in the wintertime Telluride is frozen and gets a ton of snow, which is what makes it such a popular skiing destination.

Top Things to Do in Telluride

Hiking

During my time in Telluride I wanted to experience the scenery from the trails, so I took advantage of the spectacular hikes in the region. Some great day hikes include Bear Creek Falls (2.5 miles each way), Bridal Veil Falls (1.8 miles each way), Blue Lake (5.25 miles each way), Ajax Peak (2.5 miles each way), and Jud Wiebe (3 mile loop).

Skiing & Snowboarding

Due to its mountainous location, Telluride is a hotspot for people wanting to enjoy some awesome slopes. To get to the chalets, hop on the gondola — this will take you from the town up 9,500 feet and into Mountain Village, where you’ll have access to the Telluride Ski Resort.

Via Ferrata

If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, hire a guide and head out on Telluride’s Via Ferrata Route. Your guide will provide all the equipment and knowledge surrounding your tour to make sure you stay safe.

River Rafting

While the exact timing depends on the snowmelt, river rafting season in Telluride typically begins in May and runs through June, and offers either beginner or intermediate rapids. There are a few options for rafting companies to go with, some even offer multi-day adventures.

River Tubing

Tubing season begins when river rafting season ends, and is one of my absolute favorite summertime activities. Before you head out on the water, head on down to BootDoctors, where you can rent a tube for $15. While you’re there, remember to ask about the water conditions.

Read more: How To Book The Absolute Cheapest Flights To Anywhere

Stand Up Paddleboarding

Another activity that can be booked through BootDoctors, SUP tours in Telluride can be done on Alta Lakes, Down Valley Park, or Woods Lake. That said, if you’re an experienced Stand Up Paddleboarder, head on down to the San Miguel River where conditions are a little more advanced.

Mountain Biking

Although Telluride’s scenery includes mountains, you don’t need to be super fit or have mountain biking experience to take advantage of the trails. To experience this, you can either rent a bike and head out on your own, or take a tour with Telluride Outside.

A tip for those heading out by themselves, take the Gondola up the hill. That way you don’t have to strain going up the hill and you can just enjoy the ride down.

Where to Eat in Telluride

The Butcher & The Baker

Offering a host of delicious organic menu items such as blueberry pancakes, soups, salads, sandwiches, and bagels, The Butcher & The Baker is a great place to go for a delicious and fresh breakfast or lunch.

Pescado

A high-quality sushi bar, Pescado offers classic Japanese dishes as well as more eclectic menu options. If you’re feeling adventurous, dive into the wasabi-flavored ice cream.

Brown Dog Pizza

If you’re looking for top-notch pizza, Brown Dog Pizza in Telluride is the place to go. Their square Detroit-style pizza won first prize in the 2013 International Pizza Expo and the 2015 Pizza World Championships.

Siam

A family-run Thai joint that offers both traditional dishes and modern Thai fusion, Siam is the place to go if you’re looking for a mean curry and a relaxing atmosphere.

Read more: Packing Light: How To Pack For Carry-On Only

Where to Stay in Telluride

Hotel Telluride

A cozy luxury hotel offering unreal views of the mountainside, a spa, sauna, and easy access to the gondola, Hotel Telluride is the perfect place to come back to after a long day of exploring.

The Peaks Resort and Spa

For those of you looking to be able to ski in and out of your accommodations, look no further than The Peaks Resort and Spa. This mid-range property offers a helicopter for heli-skiing, an indoor and outdoor connecting pool, restaurants, lounges, and even an oxygen room.

Telluride Packing Essentials

Winter Gear: If you come to Telluride for the ski-culture, be sure to bring a pair of snow pants, ski goggles, a beanie, snow boots, and a pair of heavy-duty mittens.

Summer Gear: Sunscreen, sunglasses, a swimsuit, and a wide-brimmed hat will have you all set for your summer in Telluride. Additionally, remember to bring a light sweater or jacket as nights here can get chilly.

Hiking Equipment: If you plan on spending time on the trails, a moisture-wicking top, hiking poles, hiking shoes, and hiking socks are absolutely essential.

Plan Your Trip to Telluride, Colorado

After traveling consistently for over 10 years, we’ve come to trust and rely on a few websites to help us find the best deals on flights and accommodation.

Flights: Momondo is the first place we check when searching for cheap flights. It searches hundreds of sites for the best fare and includes both standard and budget airlines. The calendar (or “map”) feature shows the cheapest days to fly in your preferred month of travel.

Accommodation: Booking.com offers savings on hotels, apartments, and villas in 80,000 destinations worldwide. You can browse hotel reviews and find the guaranteed best price on hotels for all budgets.

Travel Insurance: We never travel without a travel insurance policy because it’s not worth the risk! We use and trust World Nomads, which we’ve used for the past 8 years.

The post Telluride, Colorado Travel Guide + Packing Tips appeared first on Ordinary Traveler.

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Due to the beautiful weather, laid-back ocean vibes, and great activities, the Caribbean is a region that I find myself returning to time and time again. However, not all Caribbean islands are created equal in terms of safety, and it definitely pays to know the particular risks of each island and take precautions.

That said, no matter where you travel in the Caribbean, common sense security practices will go a long way in making sure you stay safe. Remember to plan your trip around hurricane season, be cautious when flashing around valuables, don’t leave your personal items unattended, stay near well-lit and populated areas at night, purchase travel insurance (we use World Nomads), and know the local emergency numbers to call in case of any issues.

Chances are, you’ll have a great time in the Caribbean if you stay aware of the possible dangers. These are the safest islands in the Caribbean (which are perfect for families, couples, and solo travelers) and the best places to stay on each island!

10 of the Safest Caribbean Islands (And Where to Stay!) Aruba

Located outside the hurricane belt just off the coast of Venezuela, Aruba is an extremely safe destination that pretty much guarantees excellent weather no matter when you visit. Getting around Aruba is simple in that the island is compact and modern. Plus, between the beaches, adventure activities, and cultural experiences you won’t run out of things to do!

In regards to safety, use common sense in Aruba and don’t leave your belongings unattended or flash around valuables. Other than that, be sure to stock up on sunscreen, as those UV rays are pretty intense.

Where to Stay in Aruba

For a luxury stay in Aruba, I highly recommend the Renaissance Aruba Resort, while if you’re looking for something more affordable check out Talk of the Town Beach Hotel.

Read more: 10 Best Things To Do In Aruba

Turks & Caicos

In terms of both overall crime and crime against tourists, Turks & Caicos ranks as one of the safest islands in the Caribbean. Made up of an archipelago of 40 islands, you can expect a wide range of activities on Turks & Caicos including whale watching, kiteboarding, snorkeling, sailing, having a barbecue, and checking out the local history.

It’s important to note that the majority of people reside on the main island of Providenciales, and as such most of the crime does happen there, although it’s still very safe. South Caicos, North and Middle Caicos, and Salt Cay report very little crime against tourists.

Also, be aware that Turks & Caicos doesn’t have any widespread public transportation, so take caution when getting around. Although there are taxi’s, always be sure to confirm the price of the ride before you get in the vehicle as the drivers might try to hike up the fare once you get to your destination. In addition to the taxi’s, you’ll also spot minibuses, or “jitney’s”, although they’re mostly for local workers and are best avoided. I find the easiest way to get around is by renting a car.

Where to Stay in Turks & Caicos

Ocean Club West Resort is a beautiful luxury accommodation that won’t disappoint, while La Vista Azul Resort is a great mid-budget location in Turtle Bay.

Cayman Islands

Located in the western Caribbean Sea, the Cayman Islands are made up of Grand Cayman (the largest, main island), Cayman Brac, and Little Cayman, and has everything from luxury villas to secluded beaches. You’ll find relaxing resorts and awesome scuba diving On Grand Cayman, great fishing on Cayman Brac, and diverse wildlife such as Iguanas and Red-footed Boobies on Little Cayman.

While crime against tourists in the Cayman Islands is rare, watch out for large cruise-ship crowds, as they’re rather busy and pickpocketing can happen. Additionally, if you plan on spending time in the water, watch out for Scorpionfish and Jellyfish, which will give a painful sting if you touch them and tend to disguise themselves quite well.

Where to Stay in the Cayman Islands

For a luxury stay on Grand Cayman, the Kimpton Seafire Resort is highly rated, while Sunshine Suites Resort is great for a mid-range stay.

St. Maarten

A beautiful Caribbean Island governed by both the French and the Dutch, St. Maarten is a luxurious destination where you’ll find excellent shopping, nightlife, beaches, lagoons, and mountains. While it may be a very small island, what it lacks in land mass it makes up for in beauty and activities.

St. Maarten is also a very safe island to visit, with crimes against tourists relatively low. Nevertheless, passport theft, petty theft, and car break-ins have been reported, so be sure to keep your eye on your valuables, lock up what you’re not using in a safe, and don’t leave anything of value in cars.

Where to Stay in St. Maarten

Princess Port de Plaisance is a gorgeous luxury resort in Philipsburg, while Sea View Beach Hotel or Alicia’s Inn are great if you’re traveling on a budget.

Barbados

A Caribbean cultural mecca, Barbados has incredible food, history, music, great surf, and lush nature. Whether you’re into discovering the UNESCO-affiliated capital of Bridgetown, lounging on the beaches, or dancing the night away, Barbados has a scene for you. Plus, the people here are notoriously friendly.

While violent crimes against tourists are rare, have your guard up against petty theft, especially when in crowded areas, and if you want to enjoy some nightlife, plan on going with a group to avoid potential theft.

Where to Stay in Barbados

Accra Beach Hotel is a beautiful high-end accommodation option in Bridgetown, and All Seasons Resort is a great mid-range option. 

St. Lucia

No matter how many times I visit St. Lucia, it never fails to wow me. Not only does the island have a picture-perfect coastline, it’s filled with lush nature and mountains that tower over the sea. When in St. Lucia, I recommend visiting Pigeon Island National Park, Castries Market, Tet Paul Nature Trail, and the luxurious Sulfur Springs.

In terms of safety measures to take on St. Lucia, try to avoid walking alone in isolated areas or at night, take taxi precautions, and if you rent a car, don’t go offroading unless you have a 4×4 as roads tend to be narrow and rough at times. Also be aware that wearing camouflage in St. Lucia is banned, as it’s thought of as imitating military personnel.

Where to Stay in St. Lucia

The Landings Resort & Spa, Ti Kaye Resort & Spa, and Anse Chastanet Resort are all beautiful luxury properties. For something more mid-budget, check out Coco Palm.

Read more: St. Lucia Travel Guide & Packing Tips

Anguilla

One of the most idyllic, laid-back islands in the Caribbean, Anguilla is about 12 miles north of St. Maarten and is mostly a luxury destination where water-sports reign. Expect a lot of snorkeling, scuba diving, glass-bottomed kayaking, water-skiing, and sailing on your visit. The island is also known for its live music – whether you’re into reggae or something a little softer, you’ll find a nightlife spot.

Due to the high standards and precautions taken by locals, crime against tourists is very low. On your trip to Anguilla, your biggest concerns will be to not travel there during hurricane season and to confirm the price with taxi drivers before you get in the car, as there is no public transportation.

Where to Stay in Anguilla

Zemi Beach Resort & Spa is a top-rated luxury option in Anguilla, while Carimar Beach Club is great for mid-budgets.

Martinique

A beautiful, natural island that’s part of the Lesser Antilles, Martinique is a heavily French-influenced destination with azure waters, palm trees, and rugged volcanic regions. However, while the island is definitely known for its beauty, it also has amazing cultural experiences and dining. When in Martinique, hike to Mount Pelee, a volcano that will give you awesome views of the ocean, scuba dive at Diamond Rock, and laze around on Les Salines beach.

Fun fact, in 2016 Martinique was designated the safest destination in the Caribbean by the Caribbean Tourism Quality Index. Yet, while Martinique is fairly safe, be sure to exercise normal precautions. Also, as a note to keep in the back of your mind, it’s best not to be alone in areas such as Fort-de-France after dark, as muggings have happened in the past.

Where to Stay in Martinique

Le Cap Est Lagoon Resort & Spa is a highly rated luxury option in Martinique, while Karibea La Valmenière Hotel is a great middle of the road property in Fort-de-France.

St. Barts

Only 18 miles off the shore of St. Maarten, St. Barts is a high-end destination known for its designer boutiques and picturesque beaches. On the island do some designer shopping, head to a beach club, laze around on beautiful Colombier Beach, head into the capital city of Gustavia, or try out some water sports.

While there are no specific precautions to take against violent crime or petty theft, exercise normal precautions in protecting yourself from any incidents. Honestly, besides potential one-off occurrences, the biggest things to look out for on St. Barts is protecting yourself from bug bites and the harsh rays of the tropical sun.

Where to Stay in St. Barts

Le Sereno and Hotel Christopher Saint Barth are beautiful luxury options in Gustavia.

Bonaire

While Bonaire is well-known for its sustainable tourism efforts and laid-back vibe, it’s also known for being a very safe island. The island is pristine and offers so many awesome activities such as caving, horseback riding, sailing, hiking, and of course, diving. In fact, Bonaire is world-renowned as being a top diving spot!

To keep yourself safe on Bonaire, be aware that break-ins and robberies have been reported, so always make sure to lock your doors and keep valuables safely stowed away. Additionally, when you’re in the water beware of the fire coral and sea urchins as they’re super painful to step on and will put a damper on your trip.

Where to Stay in Bonaire

Ocean View Villas, Kas Hamaka, and Bridanda Apartments Bonaire are all great apartment options in Bonaire. If you’re looking for a great dive resort, then check out Courtyard by Marriott Bonaire Dive Resort.

Read more: Bonaire Travel Guide + Packing Tips

Caribbean Packing Essentials

Sun Protection: I don’t recommend heading to the tropics without a sun hat (or baseball cap), a pair of quality sunglasses, and reef-safe sunscreen.

Water Gear: I never go to the Caribbean without a swimsuit, quick-drying towel, rash guard, snorkel set, and a cover-up. Also, because of the stinging fish and urchin hazards, you’ll want a pair of rubber-soled water shoes.

Bug Protection: Bug spray, and light long-sleeved clothes for the evenings are musts in the Caribbean.

The post 10 of the Safest Caribbean Islands (And Where to Stay!) appeared first on Ordinary Traveler.

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