The sunny South shore of the island of Kauai (known as the “Garden Isle”) in the tropical state of Hawaii in the United States is home to Poipu Beach. Poipu Beach is consistently ranked as one of the world’s top 10 beaches due to its pristine white sands, swaying palm trees, and sparkling blue waters. The activities to be enjoyed in the area are seemingly endless and include kayaking, scuba diving, snorkeling, hiking, surfing, mountain biking, deep-sea fishing, horseback riding and ATV tours. There are also two 18-hole golf courses. The classic beach is popular for weddings and honeymoons. There is a large variety of accommodation in the area, including the exceptional Villas at Poipu Kai. The Villas at Poipu Kai is a new boutique condominium resort with 3-4 bedroom poolside villas, 2-4 bedroom garden villas, and a stunning private home on the villas property.
In Arizona, near the border with Utah, in the United States, you can find a stunning sandstone rock formation called The Wave. The Wave is on the slopes of the Coyote Buttes, which are in turn located in the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness, on the Colorado Plateau. This formation is actually sand dunes calcified in vertical and horizontal layers, and the fascinating color bands are iron oxides, hematite, and goethite. The Jurassic-age Navajo sandstone making up The Wave is estimated to be 190 million years old. Getting to The Wave requires a moderately difficult 3 mile hike from the Wire Pass Trailhead. Due to the delicate nature of this formation, visitors must arrange a day permit in advance and pay a $7 fee per person. Only 20 of the highly sought-after permits are issued for each day. More info on permits can be found on the Bureau of Land Management website. Camping is not allowed in the permit area, and the closest accommodation can be found in the small towns of Kanab, Utah and Page, Arizona.
The incredible moonscape hills and the impossibly beautiful cities of Turkey’s Cappadocia region are a sight to behold. Located in the center of Turkey, the Cappadocia region includes the towns of Avanos, Göreme, Nevsehir, Ortahisar, Uçhisar, and Ürgüp. Popular activities in the region include visits to the underground cities, viewing the ancient Christian cave art, exploring numerous hiking trails and volcanos, seeing the “fairy chimney” rock formations, and taking sunrise hot air balloon rides for a view of the breathtaking landscape from above.
The stunning Plitvice Lakes National Park lies in the Lika region of Croatia. The park is surrounded by the mountains Plješevica, Mala Kapela, and Medveđak, which are part of the Dinaric Alps. The 16 blue-green Plitvice Lakes, which are separated by natural dams of travertine, are situated on the Plitvice plateau. Waterfalls connect the lakes, and the tallest waterfall is Veliki Slap at 70 meters (230 feet) tall. The Plitvice lakes area boasts a large variety of interesting and colorful flora and fauna. Visitors can enjoy walking and hiking the many pathways and trails, or exploring the lakes by boat. The park itself has 3 hotels and a campsite, otherwise visitors can find accommodation at any of the number of villages and cities nearby.
The Dolomites are a section of the Alps mountain range in Italy. Besides the spectacular views, visitors to the Dolomites can enjoy skiing, snowshoeing, snowboarding, ice skating and sledding in the winter months, and hiking, mountaineering, mountain biking, base jumping, paragliding and hang-gliding in the summer. The Dolomites were recently declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in August, 2009. Marmolada, the Dolomites’ largest peak, stands 3,344 meters (10,972 feet) tall. The Dolomites span three Northeastern Italian provinces: Belluno, Bolzano-Bozen and Trento. Accommodation can be found in any of the many cities and villages in the area.
On the Havasupai Indian Reservation within Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona you will find the gorgeous Havasu Falls. The picture perfect falls features a blue-green pool below which is excellent for swimming. Havasu Falls is fairly difficult to reach by foot, requiring a drive to Hualapai Hilltop and then a 16 km (10 mile) hike to the Falls via the tiny village of Supai which is 3 km (2 miles) from the falls. For those not up to the long hike, a helicopter ride to Supai can be had, followed up by a horseback ride to the falls. Visitors can camp near the falls, and the village of Supai has one lodge and one cafe. Otherwise the best options for accommodation can be found 177 km (110 miles) away in the town of Seligman. The area also features four other waterfalls: Navajo Falls, Supai Falls, Mooney Falls, and Beaver Falls.
A short distance from Antigua, Guatemala, lies Lake Atitlan (known locally as Lago de Atitlán). The large lake is surrounded by three volcanoes: Volcán Atitlán, Volcán San Pedro and Volcán Tolimán. Lake Atitlan is an endorheic lake, meaning it doesn’t flow into a sea. The area surrounding Lake Atitlan is home to many small villages, the people of which practice Mayan culture and wear traditional Mayan dress to this day. There are also a number of Mayan archeological sites in and around the lake. For tourists, the best places to stay are in Antigua, or the town of Panajachel which is on the lake’s shore. A variety of accommodations can be found in either town. Visitors can trek up the volcanoes, enjoy a boat trip on the lake, and visit the nearby Atitlan Butterfly Sanctuary.
The towering red sand dunes of Sossusvlei in the Namib Desert are one of the most spectacular sights to be seen in Namibia. Sossusvlei itself is a clay pan fed by the Tsauchab River. In addition to the sea of red sand dunes, Sossusvlei is also home to the Dead Vlei, meaning “dead marsh”, an eerie white clay pan filled with dead Camelthorn trees. This area is contained within the Namib-Naukluft Park which is in turn a part of the Namib Desert, the oldest desert in the world. The best time to visit Sossusvlei is at sunrise or sunset when the colors are the most vivid and the sun is not too hot. Accommodation near the area ranges from luxury resorts, to mid-range lodges, to numerous campgrounds.