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.
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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.
The Island of Hawaii (i.e., the Big Island) contains 10 of the world’s 14 climate zones — the only spot on the planet with so many condensed into one small region. Lush tropical terrain rules the green, wet, windward side of the island (see Akaka Falls and Waianuenue/Rainbow Falls), while more arid beauty is on display at Hapuna Beach Park. You can even enter an ice climate at the mystical summit of Mauna Kea volcano, as well as Lake Waiau, one of the highest lakes in the United States.
Flight New York - Chicago (LGA - ORD) $57+ Flight Tampa - Chicago (TPA - ORD) $71+ Flight Denver - Chicago (DEN - ORD) $81+ Flight Houston - Chicago (HOU - ORD) $85+ Flight Houston - Chicago (IAH - ORD) $85+ Flight Boston - Chicago (BOS - ORD) $96+ Flight Dallas - Chicago (DFW - ORD) $97+ Flight Minneapolis - Chicago (MSP - ORD) $97+ Flight Washington - Chicago (BWI - ORD) $101+
Found Places Boston Fenway Inn $28+ The Farrington Inn $50+ Hi Boston $52+ Ramada by Wyndham Boston $79+ Comfort Inn Boston $96+ DoubleTree by Hilton Boston Bayside $100+ Best Western Plus Boston Hotel $102+ Boston Lodge and Suites $107+ Hampton Inn & Suites Boston Crosstown Center $122+ Boston Omni Parker House Hotel $125+ Boston Hotel Buckminster $126+ Yotel Boston $136+ The Boxer $138+ Aloft Boston Seaport District $141+
Europeans flock to the Canary Islands in winter in search of a little sun. Temperatures range between 70°F and 75°F through January and February.On Tenerife stands one of Europe’s loftiest peaks, Mount Teide, snowcapped in winter against a deep blue sky. You can watch whales or sail over to Gomera, which was the final stop Columbus made before he set out and discovered America.
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Nicknamed “The Helen of the West” (an allusion to the beauty of Helen of Troy), St. Lucia stuns with its signature feature: the UNESCO-listed twin Pitons. Reaching heights of about 2,500 feet, the voluptuous volcanic spires complement the island’s other attractions, including verdant jungles, sparkling silver-sand beaches, haunting sugar-estate ruins, and a mineral-rich natural mud bath. Meanwhile, the island’s most famous resort, Jade Mountain, is an architectural gem in its own right.
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.
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.
Flight Houston - Fort Lauderdale (HOU - FLL) $85+ Flight Houston - Fort Lauderdale (IAH - FLL) $85+ Flight Atlantic City - Fort Lauderdale (ACY - FLL) $89+ Flight Atlanta - Fort Lauderdale (ATL - FLL) $99+ Flight Denver - Fort Lauderdale (DEN - FLL) $107+ Flight Philadelphia - Fort Lauderdale (PHL - FLL) $107+ Flight Cleveland - Fort Lauderdale (CLE - FLL) $112+
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