These days, travelers will tell you that Tahiti is no longer a dream. True, it has an international airport, and smart hotels rise within sight of the coral reef. I have seen the changes over the years, yet the island is still beautiful and still rises suddenly green to the cloud-touched mountaintops. At least from the sea, before you come too close, you can still see Tahiti as Paul Gauguin saw it— in all its extravagance and romance—when he voyaged there from France to paint.
Drop-dead gorgeous Fiji is a filmmaker’s dream. Spy its Mamanuca island chain in Cast Away and Survivor; ogle its Yasawa archipelago in the 1980 version of Blue Lagoon. A dizzying amount of natural beauty — from mountains and mangroves to rivers and reefs — swathes Fiji’s 333 islands, and awe-inspiring wildlife (whales, sea turtles, dolphins, parrots) is the icing on the cake. For scenery with a side of luxury and exclusivity, reserve a bure (villa) at one of Fiji’s numerous private-island resorts.
The joy is to watch how these islands are transformed by changing distances, by sunlight, by clouds. On some, there is a sliver of beach, just enough from which to swim; others are edged with little villages built on boards, the houses tied together. All are tropical paradises: Koh Phi Phi, Koh He, Koh Racha, Koh Surin, Koh Dok Mai, to name some of the favorites. Koh Phuket serves as a good jumping-off point. After being devastated by the 2004 tsunami, these islands have made a comeback.

Flight New York - Washington (JFK - DCA) $117+ Flight Orlando - Washington (MCO - DCA) $117+ Flight Minneapolis - Washington (MSP - DCA) $123+ Flight New York - Washington (LGA - DCA) $137+ Flight Boston - Washington (BOS - DCA) $155+ Flight Boston - Washington (BOS - IAD) $161+ Flight Fort Lauderdale - Washington (FLL - DCA) $168+ Flight Chicago - Washington (ORD - DCA) $174+ Flight San José - Washington (SJC - IAD) $175+ Flight Denver - Washington (DEN - DCA) $179+ Flight Atlanta - Washington (ATL - DCA) $187+ Flight Miami - Washington (MIA - DCA) $191+ Flight Dallas - Washington (DFW - DCA) $196+ Flight Houston - Washington (HOU - IAD) $200+
Dubbed the Isle of Flowers and crowned by 4,583-foot Mount Pelee, Martinique may just be the Caribbean’s best-kept secret. Some exploration is required to uncover the island’s treasures, like the Balata Gardens’ Treetop Trail of suspension bridges, Saint-Pierre’s 18th-century theater ruins, and the poignant Anse Cafard Slave Memorial. This overseas region of France is also considered the rum capital of the world; follow the Route des Rhums to tour esteemed distilleries like Clement and Rhum JM.
Therefore, in hopes to defray some of the charges he must be at, he bought a sloop, loaded it with several sorts of goods, wherewith the Tonquinese usually trade to the neighbouring islands, and putting fourteen men on board, whereof three were of the country, he appointed me master of the sloop, and gave me power to traffic, while he transacted his affairs at Tonquin.
The Quisby $50+ Wyndham Garden Hotel Baronne Plaza $93+ The Whitney Hotel $99+ B on Canal $106+ Pelham Hotel New Orleans, La $116+ International House Hotel $118+ Royal St. Charles French Quarter/Downtown $119+ Royal Crescent Hotel $120+ Holiday Inn New Orleans-Downtown Superdome $122+ Chateau Hotel $122+ Holiday Inn Express New Orleans - St Charles $122+ Wyndham New Orleans - French Quarter $126+ French Market Inn $136+ Bienville House $141+
Described as the Philippines’ last frontier, Palawan boasts not one but two UNESCO World Heritage sites: Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park (don your dive gear), and the Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River National Park (climb in a canoe for a guided tour). Striking limestone formations like Ugong Rock and Karst Mountain Elephant Cave rise starkly from the rice fields of the interior. You can even find overwater bungalows on outlying islands, courtesy of El Nido Resorts.
The delicate Great Barrier Reef is the earth’s most extensive coral-reef system, supporting more than 1,600 species of fish, along with whales, rays, octopuses, dolphins and more. Nestled in the heart of this world wonder are the 74 Whitsunday Islands, all but four of which are protected national parklands. Bask in luxury at a high-end resort like Hamilton Island, and book a seaplane or helicopter flight to admire sights like Heart Reef and the swirling silica sands of Whitehaven Beach’s Hill Inlet.
Glass-bottom boats with thatched canopies ply shimmering lagoons. Tanned locals in pareus (sarongs) play ukuleles. Ridged velvet-green mountains punctuate the skyline. Palm trees reach higher than any roof. This is reality in the Cook Islands, a 15-isle archipelago marooned in the South Pacific. Go on a mountain safari on the main island of Rarotonga, or head to Aitutaki to stay in an overwater bungalow and motu-hop to deserted sugar beaches that beg to be Instagrammed.

Described as the Philippines’ last frontier, Palawan boasts not one but two UNESCO World Heritage sites: Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park (don your dive gear), and the Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River National Park (climb in a canoe for a guided tour). Striking limestone formations like Ugong Rock and Karst Mountain Elephant Cave rise starkly from the rice fields of the interior. You can even find overwater bungalows on outlying islands, courtesy of El Nido Resorts.
El Cortez Hotel and Casino $38+ the D Las Vegas $41+ Oasis at Gold Spike $46+ Plaza Hotel & Casino $48+ Palace Station Hotel And Casino $50+ Circus Circus Hotel & Casino $55+ Hooters Casino Hotel $59+ Downtown Grand Las Vegas $59+ Stratosphere Hotel, Casino & Tower, BW Premier Collection $60+ Westgate Las Vegas Resort and Casino $62+ Tuscany Suites & Casino $66+ Alexis Park All Suite Resort $67+ Excalibur Hotel and Casino $71+ Lucky Dragon Las Vegas $74+ Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino $74+ Luxor Hotel and Casino $79+ The LINQ Hotel & Casino $79+ Golden Nugget Las Vegas Hotel & Casino $79+ Harrah's Las Vegas Hotel & Casino $79+ Flamingo Las Vegas - Hotel & Casino $80+ Tropicana Las Vegas a DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel and Resort $83+ The Orleans Hotel & Casino $83+ SLS Las Vegas $84+ TI - Treasure Island Hotel and Casino $87+ Hard Rock Hotel & Casino $91+ Bally's Las Vegas - Hotel & Casino $95+ South Point Hotel, Casino, And Spa $95+ New York-New York Hotel & Casino $105+ Palms Casino Resort $113+ Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino $120+
El Cortez Hotel and Casino $38+ the D Las Vegas $41+ Oasis at Gold Spike $46+ Plaza Hotel & Casino $48+ Palace Station Hotel And Casino $50+ Circus Circus Hotel & Casino $55+ Hooters Casino Hotel $59+ Downtown Grand Las Vegas $59+ Stratosphere Hotel, Casino & Tower, BW Premier Collection $60+ Westgate Las Vegas Resort and Casino $62+ Tuscany Suites & Casino $66+ Alexis Park All Suite Resort $67+ Excalibur Hotel and Casino $71+ Lucky Dragon Las Vegas $74+ Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino $74+ Luxor Hotel and Casino $79+ The LINQ Hotel & Casino $79+ Golden Nugget Las Vegas Hotel & Casino $79+ Harrah's Las Vegas Hotel & Casino $79+ Flamingo Las Vegas - Hotel & Casino $80+ Tropicana Las Vegas a DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel and Resort $83+ The Orleans Hotel & Casino $83+ SLS Las Vegas $84+ TI - Treasure Island Hotel and Casino $87+ Hard Rock Hotel & Casino $91+ Bally's Las Vegas - Hotel & Casino $95+ South Point Hotel, Casino, And Spa $95+ New York-New York Hotel & Casino $105+ Palms Casino Resort $113+ Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino $120+
Holding the largest number of overwater bungalow resorts in the world (more than 75 and counting), the Maldives understands its best asset is the gin-clear, abundant waters of the Indian Ocean. When you’re not snorkeling, diving, or gazing at the rich marine life through the floor windows of your water-top villa, continue enjoying the underwater display while dining at 5.8 Undersea Restaurant, or even while getting pampered in Huvafen Fushi’s submerged spa.

El Cortez Hotel and Casino $38+ the D Las Vegas $41+ Oasis at Gold Spike $46+ Plaza Hotel & Casino $48+ Palace Station Hotel And Casino $50+ Circus Circus Hotel & Casino $55+ Hooters Casino Hotel $59+ Downtown Grand Las Vegas $59+ Stratosphere Hotel, Casino & Tower, BW Premier Collection $60+ Westgate Las Vegas Resort and Casino $62+ Tuscany Suites & Casino $66+ Alexis Park All Suite Resort $67+ Excalibur Hotel and Casino $71+ Lucky Dragon Las Vegas $74+ Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino $74+ Luxor Hotel and Casino $79+ The LINQ Hotel & Casino $79+ Golden Nugget Las Vegas Hotel & Casino $79+ Harrah's Las Vegas Hotel & Casino $79+ Flamingo Las Vegas - Hotel & Casino $80+ Tropicana Las Vegas a DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel and Resort $83+ The Orleans Hotel & Casino $83+ SLS Las Vegas $84+ TI - Treasure Island Hotel and Casino $87+ Hard Rock Hotel & Casino $91+ Bally's Las Vegas - Hotel & Casino $95+ South Point Hotel, Casino, And Spa $95+ New York-New York Hotel & Casino $105+ Palms Casino Resort $113+ Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino $120+


The Quisby $50+ Wyndham Garden Hotel Baronne Plaza $93+ The Whitney Hotel $99+ B on Canal $106+ Pelham Hotel New Orleans, La $116+ International House Hotel $118+ Royal St. Charles French Quarter/Downtown $119+ Royal Crescent Hotel $120+ Holiday Inn New Orleans-Downtown Superdome $122+ Chateau Hotel $122+ Holiday Inn Express New Orleans - St Charles $122+ Wyndham New Orleans - French Quarter $126+ French Market Inn $136+ Bienville House $141+

People rarely venture out to the Channel Islands from the California mainland, although it seems just a stone’s throw away. The most accessible, and famous, is Santa Catalina, which I reached in two hours by ferry from the port of Los Angeles. There I found a placid village called Avalon, a calm bay, and a famous prewar dance hall—round like a fortress—where the big bands once played.


Today Hawaii is a bold showcase for farm-to-table fusion cuisine, culturally conscious fashion and innovation. Visitors will find themselves spoiled for options between romantic boutique getaways and family friendly five star resorts. High-end retailers have put Hawaii on the map of world-class shopping destinations, and Hawaii’s passionate chefs have created a foodie frenzy here. As far forward as Hawaii has evolved, those looking for a walk back in time can still find Old Hawaii tucked away off the beaten paths. And the ancient stories still exist in the lovely hula hands of dancers who have given themselves as keepers of the culture.


A limestone spike rising dramatically from the emerald waters of Phang Nga Bay, James Bond Island (Koh Tapu — Nail Island in Thai) earned its moniker from appearing in two 007 movies: The Man with the Golden Gun (1974) and Tomorrow Never Dies (1997). Excursions depart from the popular resort areas of Phuket, Khao Lak and Krabi on photogenic longtail boats. On the tour, explore secret lagoons, craggy sea caves and a floating village.


Drop-dead gorgeous Fiji is a filmmaker’s dream. Spy its Mamanuca island chain in Cast Away and Survivor; ogle its Yasawa archipelago in the 1980 version of Blue Lagoon. A dizzying amount of natural beauty — from mountains and mangroves to rivers and reefs — swathes Fiji’s 333 islands, and awe-inspiring wildlife (whales, sea turtles, dolphins, parrots) is the icing on the cake. For scenery with a side of luxury and exclusivity, reserve a bure (villa) at one of Fiji’s numerous private-island resorts.

A group of 27 coral islands that form two atolls in the Indian Ocean, the Cocos Keeling Islands were virtually unheard of until beach activists Brad Farmer and Andrew Short named Cocos Keeling’s Cossies Beach as the best in Australia for 2017. Called the continent’s last unspoiled paradise, the remote destination is as special for what’s not there (high-rise resorts, chain restaurants, crowds, traffic) as what is — pristine white sand and a turquoise lagoon that’s home to 30,000 sea turtles.
The Hawaiian Islands are one of the most geographically isolated places on earth, over 2,400 miles and nearly 4,000 km to the closest landmass, which is California, USA. Born of a volcanic hotspot rising from the sea floor of the Pacific Ocean, the Hawaiian archipelago formed nearly 75 million years ago, with the eldest islands of the chain long since eroded and submerged beneath the sea’s surface to the northwest and the youngest of the islands still forming beneath the sea’s surface to the south east.
Flight New York - Washington (JFK - DCA) $117+ Flight Orlando - Washington (MCO - DCA) $117+ Flight Minneapolis - Washington (MSP - DCA) $123+ Flight New York - Washington (LGA - DCA) $137+ Flight Boston - Washington (BOS - DCA) $155+ Flight Boston - Washington (BOS - IAD) $161+ Flight Fort Lauderdale - Washington (FLL - DCA) $168+ Flight Chicago - Washington (ORD - DCA) $174+ Flight San José - Washington (SJC - IAD) $175+ Flight Denver - Washington (DEN - DCA) $179+ Flight Atlanta - Washington (ATL - DCA) $187+ Flight Miami - Washington (MIA - DCA) $191+ Flight Dallas - Washington (DFW - DCA) $196+ Flight Houston - Washington (HOU - IAD) $200+
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