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Take A Tropical Island Escape
If you’re dreaming of swaying palm trees and beautiful beaches, start planning your next tropical island trip. Putting together a tropical island vacation is simpler than you may think. Small ship cruises and ferries make it easy to get to some of the most unspoiled tropical spots, so there’s a little slice of paradise is just waiting for your visit.
Here are five tropical island destinations that are a perfect choice for your next vacation:
1. Tahiti & the South Pacific. Some of the world’s most beautiful tropical islands are located in French Polynesia and the South Pacific. Paul Gauguin Cruises' luxury cruise ship, the m/s Paul Gauguin, is one of the best ways to explore the stellar landscapes, culture, history, and natural wonders found in this region. This ship was specifically designed for the shallower waters that are prevalent in this area, so guests are able to access smaller ports that are not possible to visit on larger ships. Paul Gauguin’s signature 7-night sailing captures the best of French Polynesia, leaving time to linger in paradise for a few days either before or after the cruise. Although all of the Tahiti & South Pacific itineraries are great choices for exploring this relatively untouched region, the best voyages for journeying to remote destinations are the line’s 10-night Society Islands & Tuamotus sailings. Guests sailing on this extensive itinerary visit lush Huahine, breathtaking Bora Bora, Rangiroa - home to tiny villages and black pearl farms, and Fakarava - designated by UNESCO as a nature reserve. This voyage is a bucket list travel opportunity for scuba divers as well. For more information, visit http://www.pgcruises.com.
2. Grenadine Islands. Set in the crystal clear turquoise waters of the southern Caribbean, over 30 palm-studded islands make up the Grenadines chain. It’s easy to get away from the crowds here. The Grenadines are pristine gems, each little isle lovelier than the last. Star Clippers’ Royal Clipper ship sails to these islands from Barbados from late fall through spring, visiting Grenada, St. Vincent, Bequia, Martinique, St. Lucia, and Tobago Cays, a national park offering exceptional snorkeling. There’s even a “Captain’s Best” beach day at a deserted Grenadines islet of the Captain’s choice. On a Star Clippers tall ship cruise, guests also have the opportunity to climb the mast and lay in the bowsprit net above the ocean in solitary enjoyment. Star Clippers’ graceful sailing ships accommodate less than 200 passengers and allow adventurers to access ports that cannot be accessed by large cruise ships. Star Clippers offers an extensive free water sports program as well as special activities such as beach barbecues and pirate night parties under the stars. For additional information, visit http://www.starclippers.com.
3. Lanai, Hawaii. Hawaii’s warm aloha spirit is alive and well on the stunning island of Lanai. Home to scores of towering Cook Island pine trees and just 3,200 residents, unspoiled Lanai is filled with breathtaking beaches and beautiful landscapes worth exploring. Two of the most notable of-the-beaten-path beaches are dreamy two-mile long Polihua Beach and Kaiolohia, an eight-mile long strand known as Shipwreck Beach. Green turtles (honu) are often seen sunning themselves on the sands and occasionally endangered monk seals can be spotted there as well. Don’t miss the otherworldly landscapes found at Keahiakawelo (Garden of the Gods) and Lanai City’s shopping and dining spots. Other favorite spots are Puu Pehe, also called Sweetheart Rock, and Hulopoe Bay by the spectacular Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay. These waters are great for snorkeling, swimming and water sports such as SNUBA. Hulopoe Beach was named as America’s Best Beach by “Doctor Beach,” Stephen Leatherman – and it’s a well deserved title. It’s easy to take a day trip to Lanai on the EXPEDITIONS ferry service, which departs Maui’s Lahaina Harbor five times each day. Daily scheduled flights from Honolulu International Airport and Maui’s Kahului Airport are available as well. Once there, you’ll definitely want to stay awhile or return to Lanai for a longer visit. For more information, visit http://www.gohawaii.com/lanai.
4. Costa Rica & Panama. The San Blas Islands used to be a popular port of call years ago when cruise ships were much smaller. Now that large mega-ships are the norm in the cruise industry, relatively few itineraries include these tropical islands. Those lucky enough to visit the San Blas Islands have the opportunity to meet the indigenous Kuna residents of this archipelago and learn about their fascinating culture. Variety Cruises calls on the San Blas Islands on their “Treasures of Costa Rica and the Panama Canal” sailings. Two additional itinerary highlights include a full transit of the Panama Canal and visits to Granita de Oro and Coiba Islands in Costa Rica. Coiba Island, the largest isle in Central America, is a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site and Granita de Oro is a paradise for divers and snorkelers. Variety Cruises is the world’s largest small ship cruise company, operating a fleet of small yachts and ships ranging in size from 4 to 36 staterooms. The ships’ small size provides guests with an intimate cruising experience. On this cruise, it also enables great views of the locks and gates as the ship moves through the Panama Canal and allows guests to visit one of the less populated San Blas Islands. For more information, visit http://www.varietycruises.com.
5. St. John, USVI. Located just a quick ferry ride from heavily populated St. Thomas, St. John is one of loveliest island gems in the United States. Laurance Rockefeller recognized the island’s stunning beauty many years ago. In 1956, he donated 5,000 acres of land on St. John to the U.S. National Park Service on the condition that it could not be developed. As a result, St. John has maintained much of its scenic charm. The Virgin Islands National Park comprises the majority of the land on the island and includes such dazzling beaches as Trunk Bay, Hawksnest Bay, Cinnamon Bay and others. While it’s easy to do a day trip to St. John, it’s far better to stay there and spend several days exploring the island, snorkeling, hiking, and enjoying the tranquility. St. John features two top resorts, Caneel Bay and the Westin St. John, as well as a wide variety of vacation homes. Travelers on a budget should check out Cinnamon Bay Campground and Concordia Eco-Resort. For more information, visit http://www.visitusvi.com/stjohn/homepage.
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