The Seychelles’ towering beach boulders are a mainstay on computer desktops, but they’re more than merely aesthetic — they also fascinate geologists, who have identified the Seychelles as the only mid-ocean islands formed of granite. Other superlatives: The archipelago is the oldest on the planet, and it has the cleanest air. Naturally, celebrities flock here; if you want to vacation a la British royalty, stay on North Island, where Prince William and Kate Middleton spent their 2011 honeymoon.
These are the outriders of England, a clutch of tiny islands off Land's End, Cornwall, awash in the Atlantic and in a world of their own. Five are sparsely inhabited, and hundreds more islets, skerries, and rocks stretch out to the Bishop Rock Lighthouse. The next stop is America.Balmy Atlantic air supports the spring flower industry. Part of the Duchy of Cornwall, the isles are owned by Prince Charles.
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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The so-called pearl of the French Caribbean, Guadeloupe is a butterfly-shaped archipelago of five main islands where volcanoes tower and 200-plus beaches come in shades from black and white to red and pink. Basse-Terre’s tropical forest and the bay of Grand-Cul-de-Sac Marin were declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1993. From there, island-hop to discover Grande-Anse beach on Les Saintes; Marie-Galante’s rum estates (and old-fashioned oxcarts); and La Desirade’s 900-foot plateau.
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.
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.
Take everything you want Greece to be — olive groves and tavernas, fishermen and bakers leading quiet village lives, stone villas and cypress trees and brilliant bougainvillea — and put it on a tiny, Ionian island only reachable by boat: That’s Paxos. On the western coast, sheer cliffs, rock arches and 40 sea caves put on a stunning show. Daytrip to the neighboring island of Antipaxos for powder sand and water so aqua, it rivals the Caribbean Sea. 

Who hasn’t been spellbound by images of Capri’s electric Blue Grotto? This glowing sea cave impresses even veteran globetrotters — and it’s only the beginning of the island’s marvels. Ash-white limestone cliffs, hidden slivers of beach, a towering natural arch: It’s no wonder Capri has been a tourist hub since ancient Roman times. Tip: Climb up to the ruins of Emperor Tiberius’ Villa Jovis, circa A.D. 27, for a heart-stopping vista.

This unique history of formation and isolation has given rise to breathtaking and extraordinary wonders. Perfect white sand beaches, abundant reefs, towering waterfalls, lush valleys, snow-capped mountains and fiery hot volcanic cauldrons captivate the hearts of those who visit as well as those who call this beautiful place home. A special culture has evolved from the unique natural environment of these islands. Native Hawaiians are the host culture here, and the values of Aloha have laid the foundation for the Hawaii we have today. Since the 1700s, peoples of various cultures have been arriving on these shores, bringing their foods, their music and their ways of life. 

Every imaginable shade of blue manifests in the lagoon of Bora Bora, aka, the Jewel of the South Seas. Coral motus ring the main island like a sandy sash, and beneath the surface, dolphins, rays, sharks, turtles and colorful fish throng. Presiding over it all is the moss-green volcanic peak of Mount Otemanu, where god descended to the island on a rainbow, according to local lore. Timeless grass-skirted dancers and exotic overwater bungalows round out the sublime scene.
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.
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.
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+

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.
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.
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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+
Looking for last minute hotel deals or a list of year-round cheap hotels in a US city? Trust our travel writers & researchers to help you. Below is a list of guides for finding cheap hotels in the most popular cities in the US. In these guides you'll find information about the best time of year to travel, how to get a last minute hotel, average prices for boutique & luxury hotels, the general state of hostels, and even tips about booking Airbnb's.
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