Photo courtesy of Linblad Expeditions
A few weeks ago I wrote about seeing puffins in the wild, and what surprised me the most about these birds was how small they are. Being the size of a duck, puffins are bit difficult to observe from 15 decks up. This made me think about a number of other wildlife encounters that are best experienced on a small ship cruise. In fact, some of the best wildlife viewing around the world is on a small ship.
Why? Small ships get you up close to nature. Because they are smaller, these ships can navigate into areas that big ships just can't - areas that wildlife prefers as well - away from people and crowds. And equally as important, small ships tend not to follow strict itineraries. Captains have the flexibility to change course, so when Mother Nature does her thing, small ships can follow her time clock versus a set time clock.
This flexibility turns into some absolutely amazing adventures all around the world, like the itineraries below.
Photo courtesy of New Zealand Tourism (100% NZ)
I've always been active, and enjoy some form of activity when I travel. Not "uber" active, extreme sport active, mind you. It is vacation after all. I'm more of the soft adventure active. I love exploring areas I visit, whether its a walk through town, a short hike, eating at local cafes, getting away from the crowds, seeing wildlife, just experiencing the more authentic side of things. Of course starting and ending my day at nice accommodations makes the experience that much better. Based on recent travel trends, I'm not alone.
60 is the new 50 these days, right?
Trips that include hiking, biking, kayaking, paddle boarding, snorkeling or getting out on a skiff matched with cultural immersions and learning opportunities are growing in popularity, especially with the boomer population. But not just this group - families and multi-generational groups are onboard as well. Nothing like fun activities to bring family groups together!
Some companies have been in the active travel space for quite some time; other companies are getting ahead of the trend (or jumping on board) by adding active options to their existing itineraries. I for one am excited to see this. While I enjoy creating my own adventures, when I look at these trips, I would be hard pressed to create the same experiences.
Read on to explore some of my favorite active vacation options.
Is exploring nature and watching wildlife one of your favorite ways to vacation? Do you like to hike, paddleboard, snorkel, kayak? How about snapping pictures of whales, bears or flying manta rays? Maybe sitting back and watching beautiful scenery go by is more your style? If you said yes to any of these, you are in luck! Fantastic destinations on small ship cruises await you all around the world.
Aloha! Are you thinking about a trip to Hawaii? Having been several times myself, I understand the lure - beautiful beaches, peaceful, relaxing surrounds, stunning scenery, awesome sunsets, great food and so much more. And with so many wonderful islands to experience, how do you choose?
The answer is simple - explore multiple islands on a cruise. Whether this is your first visit or your tenth, cruising is a relaxing way to see the islands. Enjoy a week or more island hopping, visiting top ports and small bays, exploring national parks, experiencing local culture. Unpack once, no airport hassles - you know, just old fashioned down time.
It's a few days into 2016 and it's time to start planning your next adventures (if you haven't already started). So many ideas, so many places to explore and experience - the list is long!
By no means an inclusive list, check out these 52 inspirations to get your inner explorer "jump started".
There is nothing more spectacular than watching whales in their natural habitats, playing, breaching and well, just plain entertaining us. One of my fondest memories was watching a mom and her calf play for hours in Maui's Maalaea Bay.
From orcas and humpbacks to minke and sperm whales, these beautiful and majestic creatures can be found all around the world. Top destinations include:
Whether you are staying in Hilo or passing through, check out these restaurants. Friends who live in Hilo for 6 months out of the year frequently enjoy Café Pesto, Don's Grill and Lucy's Taqueria. Hilo Bay Café and Café 100 have also received high ratings by locals.
Pele, in the Hawaiian religion, is the Fire Goddess, the goddess of fire and volcanoes.
According to legend, anyone who takes black rock or sand from the Hawaiian islands will suffer until the native elements are returned. Research states that Pele considers the rock and sand her children, and punishes anyone who takes them with a streak of bad luck. Pele's Curse.
Like many others, I saw my first black sand beach on a visit to the big island of Hawaii. We went to Kaimu Beach, with beautiful black sand, palm trees right up to the water line and a ragged coastline of past lava flows.
We were fortunate to have visited this particular beach, because in 1990, shortly after our visit, lava from the Kilauea volcano engulfed Kaimu, the town of Kalapana and the surrounding area. Today, much of the original beach, bay and town are buried under 50-80 feet of lava. The area is still accessible and offers you a chance to walk on some dirt that is younger than 25 years. The power of Mother Nature.
I never realized how many black sand beaches there