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The Best Places to Eat in the Maldives

Feast Through Maldives

Here are several establishments you should visit during your stay in the Maldives.

Ithaa Undersea Restaurant

The Ithaa Undersea Restaurant offers a unique, high-end dining experience that you’ll never forget. The restaurant claims it is the first all-glass undersea restaurant in the world with 180-degree panoramic views of the ocean. Located 16 feet below sea level, the Ithaa Undersea Restaurant is connected to the Conrad Hilton Rangali Island resort in the South Ari Atoll. The restaurant was named Ithaa because it means “mother of pearl” in the country’s native language of Dhivehi. The restaurant was crowned the “Most Beautiful Restaurant in the World” by New York Daily News in 2014.
The upscale restaurant specializes in contemporary European cuisine and serves four-course lunches and six-course dinners. Guests rave about their reef lobster stuffed with calamarata pasta and lemongrass veloute sauce entrée. You should also order the coconut crusted légine which is served with steamed sea beans, curry bisque, and spicy sea snails.
The setting provides a very cozy and intimate atmosphere, so this is perfect if you are traveling to the Maldives with a loved one. Be advised that the restaurant has a strict dress code so please wear slacks and a button-down shirt or a nice dress if you would like to be seated. Overall, the best part about dining at the Ithaa Undersea Restaurant is that you can watch sharks, dolphins, sea turtles and other fish swimming nearby while you eat.

Shell Beans

If you are looking for a casual yet trendy café, you should visit Shell Beans. The café has been operating for over a decade and has two locations on both sides of Malé island that attracts tourists and locals alike.
Shell Beans serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner so you can easily grab a cup of coffee or a quick meal before you go snorkeling or hop on a jet ski. Their large menu selection includes both traditional Maldivian food and international cuisine.
The café’s signature dishes include the Mediterranean beef stew and Chinese Chicken fried rice. If you’re homesick, you can order their classic American pancakes, chicken quesadillas, pasta, and pizza. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can get the Taste of Maldives for breakfast, which includes two eggs with fish and a fresh fruit platter. And if you’re in a rush, you can always place an order through the Shell Beans mobile phone app and pick it up when you arrive.

Subsix

Subsix is another restaurant known for its breathtaking underwater views. The gourmet restaurant is located 19 feet below sea level on the private island of Niyama. Subsix is very secluded, so much so that you need to charter a speedboat if you want to dine there! Once your boat reaches the restaurant’s landing, you will need to walk down a three-tier staircase to enter the subaquatic restaurant.
You will be impressed as soon as you step inside. The circular shaped dining room has the floor to ceiling windows provides a stunning panoramic view of the ocean, giving you the perfect opportunity to gaze at brightly colored fish, turtles, and eels while you enjoy a gourmet meal. From the sophisticated black color scheme to the capiz shells hanging from the ceiling and the furniture made to resemble sea urchins, Subsix is a sight to behold.
They are revered for their Spiny Lobster Medallion appetizer dish, which includes lobster cromesqui flavored with watermelon and drizzled in a balsamic glaze. Another meal that received rave reviews is their poached salmon with butter, chorizo, crushed potatoes, coconut, and tamarind coulis. Subsix also makes homemade ice cream, parfait, and other dessert treats. The restaurant also hosts an “Underwater Glow Party” every Wednesday and Saturday for guests.

Jazz Café

Another casual dining option in the Maldives is the Jazz Café. According to the locals, the owners of the restaurant were inspired by the famous American music genre and wanted to recreate the spirit of New Orleans by giving the café a jazz theme. The café serves as a cultural hub and is a popular hangout for local Maldivians and tourists due to its live jazz musical performances every week. They also have frequent open mic nights if you’re feeling brave and want to perform.
As soon as you enter you’ll be impressed with the café’s classic European style decor. Jazz Café serves international cuisine from New Zealand and Thailand as well as traditional Maldivian meals. Their breakfast, lunch and dinner menus include everything from hamburgers and French fries to lasagna and other types of pasta. They also have different flavors of smoothies and gelato for dessert!
The Jazz café is the ideal place to sit back and relax with your loved ones while listening to a live jazz band. You can either have a seat at their wooden tables in the main area or venture upstairs if you would like to look out over the city of Malé.
If you want a tranquil vacation, you should consider traveling to the Maldives. Tuna, spicy fried fish, lobster, and other seafood are a staple ingredient of Maldives cuisine. However, you can easily try international cuisine if you don’t like seafood. Luckily, there are many different types of restaurants available that can fit a wide variety of tastes and price points. As you just learned, you can eat comfort food in a small cafe and chat with the locals, or you can go to an exclusive underwater restaurant for a once-in-a-lifetime dining experience. The options are endless in the Maldives! Before you pack your bags, remember not to bring any alcohol. The Maldives is a Muslim nation where alcohol is banned for locals. Most of the resorts offer alcohol to its guests, but the government will confiscate it if you try to enter or leave the country with it.

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The Cuisine of Montreal, Canada

Feast Through Montreal, Canada

Let’s talk about some of the best places to go and the foods that you must try when you truly want to get a taste of Montreal!

What Types of Food is Montreal Known For?

There are some simply iconic foods that you will find in Montreal. It is what the city is known for, and it would be hard to find a local who doesn’t enjoy chowing down on just about everything on the list! In Montreal, you will find plenty of bagels, Steamé, which is a steamed hot dog, smoked meat such as brisket, poutine, and much more. Know that we know the best foods to eat in Montreal, we will discuss the best places to eat while you are there.

Fairmount Bagel

At Fairmount Bagel, you will find a breakfast staple that is not to be missed. As the first bagel bakery in all of Montreal, every bagel is rolled by hand and baked to perfection in a wood burning oven. The establishment is family owned and operated and welcomes all guests into an atmosphere that is warm and inviting. With a variety of bagels that include the original poppy seed, plain, onion, garlic, and more, you’ll want to stop here almost every morning to fuel up for the rest of your day!

Schwartz’s Deli

A tradition for over nine decades, Schwartz’s Deli is known for serving up smoked meat that will have your mouth watering. The meat is smoked daily and flavored with a secret blend of herbs and spices. The restaurant promises every guest a unique experience that they won’t ever forget. As a landmark of Montreal, people have come from near and far over the years to indulge in the most amazing smoked meat they have ever tasted. Come hungry, because you will find offerings such as a smoked turkey or salami sandwich, rib steak, a chicken combo and more. Don’t forget to compliment your entree of choice with Schwartz’s homemade french fries or coleslaw for a meal that is nothing less than perfect.

Garde Manger

This fine dining establishment has a romantic ambiance, making it the ideal place to relax and enjoy great food after a day of sightseeing. At Garde Manger, you’ll feel right at home as soon as you walk through the door. With a professional and attentive staff, all of your needs are immediately catered to. The atmosphere is serene, with dim lighting and an amazing menu. Get ready to try selections such as Pave de rump steak, Scotch fillet of beef, and Canard a l’orange. The dessert menu is outstanding, with guests choosing from treats that include specialty crepes, a selection of French cheeses, a cold meat platter, and a variety of specialty coffees. You’ll savor each bite more than the last!

Au Pied de Cochon

You do not want to leave Montreal without enjoying a meal at Au Pied de Cochon! Known for their poutine, a staple of the city, this establishment also features new menu items each season. The atmosphere is lively and friendly featuring an open kitchen, with each guest welcomed as if they were family. The portions are generous and expertly prepared. Enjoy a fulfilling meal with a group of friends, or an intimate dining excursion with someone special. Choose from dishes such as cassoulet, foie gras terrine, foie gras & pork, and much more. It is an experience like you’ve never before had!

L’Express

A restaurant that captures the intimate culture of Montreal, L’Express is based on the image of perfect French food. The surroundings are as unique as one could imagine, with a mirrored dining area and beautiful artwork adorning the walls. This restaurant is comfortable, with dishes that you simply must taste to believe! With a wine cellar directly below the dining area, it is a fun fact of the establishment to know that over 10,000 bottles are located beneath you as you enjoy your meal. Choose from items that include beef, chicken, and vegetable stew, freshly grilled salmon on a bed of spinach, roasted quail with wild rice, and much more. You’ll want to make sure to have dessert because selections include a lemon or chocolate tart, the house truffle, and rum baba. L’Express is one place that reflects what Montreal is all about.

Yulcite

The time will come when you need a coffee break, and Yulcite is just the place to do that! The surroundings are as peaceful as can be with bright sunshine streaming through the windows, and beautiful green plants hanging from the ceiling. Come in for a small bite to eat, a hot beverage, or a selection of gelatos and sorbets that are to die for! Weekend brunch is also offered, so stop by and indulge in homemade gravlax on St-viateur bagel, French toast, and other incredible treats. You’ll feel right at home as you converse with the friendly staff, and interact with the locals who frequent the coffee shop.
Montreal is a magical city, with so much to see and do! With plenty of diversity and a bilingual culture, it is an adventure that everyone must experience. The city is rich in history and has wonderful character as well. Overall, Montreal is a charming place to visit, and, as you can see, the cuisine is delightful. Be sure to visit all of the amazing restaurants to get the most out of what Montreal has to offer for the foodie who is looking for a one of a kind food tour of the city!

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Exploring the Culture of St. Petersburg

Bridge St.Petersburg Russia

A City With Many Influences

To appreciate St. Petersburg, it helps to familiarize yourself with the variety of cultural influences that have impacted the city over the centuries.
Soviet Architecture – As with anywhere in Russia, you’ll see vestiges of the communist era, when the name of the city was changed to Leningrad (it was changed back to its original name in 1991). One of the most prominent symbols of this period are the many statues of Vladimir Lenin around the city. One of the most famous of these is at Finland Station.
German Settlement on Vasilevsky Island – Germans played a large role in the early days of St. Petersburg, with numerous people emigrating from Germany in the 18th and 19th centuries. One of the largest settlements was on Vasilevsky Island where you can visit the Zoology Museum and the Academy of Sciences.
French in St. Petersburg – French culture also had a huge impact on the city’s culture. As novelists such as Tolstoy chronicled, Russian aristocrats often spoke French as a second language. While the French influence has declined considerably since the Imperial Era, there are still remnants of French Culture in St. Petersburg in the arts and architecture of the city. For example, there’s a substantial collection of French art at the Hermitage Museum.
The confluence of cultural influences has produced a city that’s at once Russian and European. The unique ambiance and mixture of old and new make it an unmatchable place to explore the arts, literature, and history.

Explore the Metro

One of the best ways to experience St. Petersburg is to travel by metro. The St. Petersburg Metro is one of the most beautiful in the world. Each station is like a room in a museum, with a variety of architectural styles, ornate decorations, and extensive historical information. In a city as large as St. Petersburg, the Metro is often an efficient way to get around. It’s also a prime example of the city’s artistic style.

Take a Literary Tour

Many of the great Russian novels of the 19th century, such as Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky and Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, are set in this great city. There are, of course, many more recent books set here as well. One of the best ways to get yourself in the right frame of mind for your journey is to read (or reread) some great books set in the city.
Volkovskoe Cemetery -This famous cemetery has a special section reserved for famous writers and other celebrities.
Literature Museum in the Pushkin House – This museum is devoted primarily to the writer Alexander Pushkin but also has artifacts and exhibits dedicated to other Russian authors.
Nabokov Museum – This museum is located at the birthplace of modern Russian author Vladimir Nabokov.
More literary destinations – You can also do your self-guided tour and follow in the footsteps of your favorite Russian literary characters or visit the sites of authors’ homes. For inspiration, Russia Beyond publishes a map of 10 Key Places from St. Petersburg’s Literary Map.

Museums and Historic Buildings

Here are a few of the great museums not to miss when in St. Petersburg.
The Hermitage Museum – Created by Catherine the Great in 1764, this is one of the iconic attractions of St. Petersburg. In addition to having a great art collection, it also houses the Winter Palace, where the Tsars of Russia lived. It is one of the world’s oldest, largest and most comprehensive museums, where you’ll find exhibits covering art from classical to modern times.
State Russian Museum – This is another very large museum that is dedicated to Russian art. It includes several buildings including the Mikhailovsky Palace, the Marble Palace, the Stroganov Palace, and the Benois Wing. Some of the most crowded exhibits are those dedicated to popular Russian artists such as Kandinsky and Malevich.
Peterhof Palace and Gardens – Peterhof Palace is about half an hour out of the city but it is a day trip well worth taking. The summer palace of Peter the Great, this impressive structure was inspired by Versailles in France. The grounds contain numerous beautiful gardens, paths, sculptures, and fountains. There are also great views of the Baltic Sea. You should have at least a few hours to stroll the gardens at a leisurely pace.
Mariinsky Theater – This is the place to come for a traditional St. Petersburg experience of theater, ballet, or opera. Open in 1860, many of Russia’s top plays and concerts have been performed here. The building itself is a work of art on both the inside and outside with its neoclassical design and huge stage and auditorium. It’s best to buy your tickets as far in advance as possible (you can order them online) as performances are often sold out.
Fabergé Museum – This is one of the world’s greatest museums devoted to decorative arts. It’s located in the beautiful Shuvalov Palace, which is itself a work of art. Among many other holdings, the museum has the world’s largest collection of Fabergé eggs. This is a great place to get a feel for the wealth and opulence of 19th century St. Petersburg.

Churches

St. Petersburg has some of the world’s most beautiful churches. While the Russian Orthodox Church was an offshoot of the Greek Byzantine Church, the architectural styles of St. Petersburg churches are quite distinct from those you’d find in Orthodox churches in Greece or Turkey, with a variety of influences.
Church of the Savior of Spilled Blood – One of Russia’s most ornate churches, but not one of the oldest, having been built in the early 20th century on the spot where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated. The church was closed during the Soviet era and converted into a museum. Aside from the remarkable architecture, you can spend hours appreciating the incredible mosaics.
Saint Isaac’s Cathedral – The largest Orthodox cathedral in the world, Saint Isaac’s is officially a museum rather than a church. However, services are still held here on major holidays. The church is beautifully decorated with paintings, an ornate stained glass window portraying Resurrected Christ, and mosaic icons. You can get spectacular views of the city if you climb to the top.
Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul – St. Petersburg’s oldest cathedral, consecrated in 1704, shortly after the founding of the city. The architecture of the church reflects the eclectic influences apparent throughout St. Petersburg. The overall style is Baroque, with elements borrowed from Dutch Protestant churches. One of the highlights of any visit to the cathedral is the Bell Tower. If you climb to the top, you’ll be treated to panoramic views of the city. The fortress walls are also quite impressive.

Experience the Vibrant Culture of St. Petersburg

We’ve covered some of the ways to experience the unique and diverse culture of St. Petersburg. Few cities have aesthetic values built into so much of everyday life, from the buildings and squares to the Metro. You can spend many days or weeks exploring this large and multifaceted city. While you can visit St. Petersburg as part of a wider tour of Russia, make sure you leave yourself enough time to take in some of its unrivaled charms.

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The Adventurer’s Guide to Costa Rica

Surf in Costa Rica

Whether you’re into water sports, hiking (or zip lining) through jungles and rainforests, or exploring volcanoes, Costa Rica has an incredible number of opportunities to experience thrills and challenges.

Ziplining and Canopy Tours

You can go ziplining in many places. However, there aren’t many places where you can experience the kind of natural wonders that surround you in Costa Rica. This is an adventurous activity that people of all ages and physical conditions can enjoy. Here are a few of the country’s best zip lines, canopy tours, and aerial trams.
Canopy Safari is one of the oldest zip lining tours in Costa Rica. They also offer many other activities in their incredible rainforest location, including rafting, a Tarzan swing, and walking tours. They have a Serpentarium, butterfly garden and a Cayman pond on the premises as well.
Jaco Aerial Tram Tour is an aerial tram is good for people who are reluctant to try ziplining but still want to get amazing views of rainforests and jungles. Of course, you can also do both if you’re so inclined! The Jaco tour provides great views of the ocean as well as the forest.
Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is renowned for its incredible diversity of plants and animals. It’s especially great for bird watchers, with more than 400 species of birds including the Quetzal, which is only found in this region. You can observe this amazing reserve for yourself by ziplining or taking an aerial tram tour, which gives you a bird’s eye view of this unique spot. Another favorite activity in reserve is hiking on the Sky Walk Suspension Bridges that are located throughout the forest.

Water Sports

Wherever you go in Costa Rica, you’ll be close to water. It has coastlines on both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean, making it one of the best places in the world to enjoy beaches and water sports. As you venture inland, you’ll also find an abundance of rivers, lakes, and waterfalls. Here are just some examples of where you can find the best water-based activities.

Rafting

Costa Rica offers world-class rafting in a unique tropical environment. You can choose between day trips and multi-day adventures along the country’s many rivers. You can also select trips based on your experience and how challenging an experience you’re seeking (rapids are classified between Class I to Class VI).
Corobici River Float in Guanacaste. This river is classified between Class I and II, making it a good choice for beginners and anyone who wants a relaxing yet beautiful journey with lots of incredible wildlife, especially birds.
Rio Pacuare This river offers a moderately challenging Class III rafting adventure through a rainforest that flows towards the Caribbean. You also have great views of the majestic Talamanca Mountains.
Naranjo River is Class IV+ river is for you if you want serious whitewater action in addition to beautiful scenery. This river presents challenges such as canyon walls and many technical narrows that will test your skills.

Snorkeling and Diving

If you want to get a close-up view of the incredible marine life in the waters around Costa Rica, make sure you go snorkeling or diving. Scuba diving gives you the fullest experience, but you need to be certified. There are, however, quite a few diving schools where you can get your certification. Snorkeling is a simpler way to get a memorable look at the pristine waters.
Gandoca Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge is one of the best places for snorkeling and diving in the entire Caribbean. In addition to an incredible diversity of fish, you’re likely to encounter dolphins, sea turtles, and manatees.
Manuelita Coral Garden is a protected area has gentle waters, making it a good choice for novice divers. The coral reef attracts many large sea creatures such as black tip sharks, hammerheads, marble rays, and others.
Caño Island Biological Reserve offers amazing diving and snorkeling in the Pacific Ocean all year round. You can find many experienced diving tours in this area. The most famous diving spot is called Devil’s Rock, which has a dramatic underwater landscape of peaks and valleys.

Surfing

You can enjoy spectacular surfing in many parts of Costa Rica, on both the Pacific and Caribbean beaches.
Nosara is a region is popular for holistic and yoga retreats as well as surfing. Playa Guiones is the main surfing beach. It’s also a protected area for sea turtles and other wildlife, so it’s good for encountering wildlife.
Puerto Viejo is one of the best surfing spots on the Caribbean coast. This area attracts many top surfers who come to test their prowess against the legendary Salsa Brava surf break.
Dominical is popular beach town by the Southern (Pacific) coast. The ocean here can produce powerful waves, so it’s not ideal for beginners. However, there are some spots where the waters are calmer. You can also enjoy the bars, eateries, and shops in this trendy area.

Explore Wildlife

If you visit Costa Rica, you’re bound to see lots of beautiful and exotic animals such as birds, fish, reptiles, monkeys, and many others. If this is one of your priorities, however, you can make it a point to visit national parks and other areas known for the species that most fascinate you. The following are some suggestions for finding particular types of animals.
Birds – Costa Rica is famous for its biodiversity. There are an estimated 850 species of birds alone. Fortunately, you can’t help but see many beautiful tropical birds when you’re anywhere in this country. However, some of the best spots for bird watching include the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve (mentioned in the section on ziplining), Palo Verde National Park, and Los Quetzales National Park, where you have the best chance of seeing the Quetzal, Costa Rica’s most iconic bird.
Big Cats – Costa Rica has a few big cats such as ocelots and jaguars. They are hard to spot in the wild, though you might be lucky and spot one in a rainforest. One place to see big cats is at a wildlife sanctuary such as the one at La Paz Waterfall Gardens National Park.
Monkeys – There are many species of monkey in Costa Rica. Some of the most common are Howler monkeys, spider monkeys, capuchins, and spider monkeys. One of the best places to see monkeys is the Corcovado National Park.
Three-toed Sloth – These tree-dwelling animals are found in rainforests. If you want to see lots of sloths and learn all about them, visit the Sloth Sanctuary in on the Caribbean coast.
Reptiles – You’ll see lizards and snakes everywhere in Costa Rica. Geckos and iguanas are especially numerous. If you’re not an expert, be wary of snakes as some are deadly. It’s wise to learn a little about Costa Rica’s snakes, especially if you’re venturing into forests and jungles. Other common reptiles include sea turtles, crocodiles, caimans, and black ctenosaur lizards.

Visit Volcanoes

Costa Rica is full of volcanoes. There are, in fact, more than 60 in total. Hiking a volcano is an adventurous activity you can try in almost any part of the country. Before planning your trip, be sure to check on the volcano’s current status. Climbing an active volcano adds some extra adventure though even inactive ones are well worth exploring. Here are a few of the most popular volcanoes to visit.
Turrialba Volcano – If you want to hike a volcano close to San Jose, the capital city, this is the closest. However, for safety reasons, the national park in which the volcano is situated is not always open to visitors.
Arenal Volcano – At more than 5,000 feet, this is Costa Rica’s most famous volcano. Currently inactive, the last eruption was in 1968. One of the advantages of visiting this volcano is that you can also enjoy bathing in some of the numerous hot springs in the area.
Irazú Volcano – This volcano is quite close to San Jose and is Costa Rica’s tallest active volcano at over 11,000 feet. It last erupted in 1994.

Lots of Opportunity for Adventure in Costa Rica

We’ve looked at just a few of the many types of adventure you can find in Costa Rica. Aside from the unparalleled natural beauty and wildlife, you can find world-class resorts, top quality cuisine, a growing arts scene, and versatile nightlife. Few countries offer a greater diversity of activities and attractions. There are many reasons to put Costa Rica at the top of the list for your next adventure tour.

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Quebec City Cathedrals: A Canadian Treasure Hunt

Quebec City Cathedral

You don’t have to be on a spiritual quest to enjoy these amazing places. History buffs, art lovers, musicians, and ghost hunters all love to visit cathedrals when they are traveling. If you’re curious, in Quebec City, Quebec, there are an abundance of gorgeous cathedrals to visit that will inspire you with their soaring spaces and untold treasures.

The Cathedral-Basilica of Notre-Dame de Québec

The Cathedral-Basilica of Notre-Dame de Québec first opened it’s doors in 1664. Some of the most noted architectural features are its two asymmetrical towers, a neo-classical facade, and a baldachin of gold which appears to float over the main altar. Bask in the colorful glory of the incredible stained glass windows, as well as three Casavant organs.
The cathedral has seen its share of trials and tribulations. During the British siege in 1759, the church was bombarded and burned down, and then rebuilt exactly according to the original plans. It burned down again in 1922 and again was rebuilt exactly as before.

Standout Experience

Visitors can see the “Holy Door”, one of the only seven Holy doors in the world officially recognized by the Vatican. It is a very significant symbol of a spiritual experience, giving pilgrims the chance to collect lost parts of their lives. The Holy Door has a life-size relief of Jesus Christ in it, whose hands are worn from thousands and thousands of pilgrims touching them over the course of the centuries. Currently, the door is closed until next Jubilee in 2025.

How to Visit

The best way to enjoy this cathedral is through a self-guided tour. A map will guide you to all the cathedrals highlights and give you in-depth information on them. Visitors can explore daily from 7:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. weekdays, 7:00 a.m. until 6 p.m. on Saturdays, and 8:00 a.m until 5:00 p.m. on Sundays. Quebec City’s Notre-Dame Cathedral is located at 53 Rue Sainte-Famille, Québec, QC G1R 3V6, Canada.

The Cathedral of the Holy Trinity

This is the cathedral of the Anglican Diocese of Quebec. Tucked in the heart of Old Quebec, The Cathedral of the Holy Trinity was built between 1800 and 1804 in the British Palladian style of architecture. The classic, austere exterior, gives little hint to the marvels that exist inside. The carved white columns and soaring proportions are just the first thing that catches the eye. An amazing array of stained glass, sculpture, and artwork awaits while strolling the interior of the cathedral.

Standout Experience

Listening to the famous bells at the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity is and experience that is not to be missed. The bells began ringing in 1830, and they are the oldest bells of their kind in Canada. They were forged by Whitechapel Bell Foundry, the same London foundry that made Big Ben and the Liberty Bell. The Quebec City Guild of Change Ringers, a team of 8 people, is required to ring all eight of the heavy bells. For the full effect, visit on special occasions like Christmas, New Year’s Day, and Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day.

How to Visit

Over 150,000 people visit the cathedral each year, and there are several types of tours available. The public is welcome to take free, self-guided tours any time the cathedral is open, mid-May through mid-November, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Guided tours are available for $6 mid-May through mid-November, Monday – Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and on Sundays from 12:30pm to 16:30 p.m. It is also possible to arrange a group tour any time of the year with a reservation.

Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré Basilica

This cathedral is 19 miles outside of Quebec City, and according to over a million and a half visitors each year, it’s worth the trip. According to the Catholic Church, Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré Basilica is said to be the place of many healings and miracles in its 350 year history. It is one of the only 5 national shrines in Canada, and is one of the oldest pilgrimage destinations in North America.
The cathedral’s soaring towers can be seen for miles around. They stand above the St. Anne’s Fountain, near the site where a crippled man was said to be healed by placing three stones in the church’s foundation. The fountain was installed in 2008 as part of the 350 year anniversary celebration of the cathedral. Another unique site is the “Scala Santa”, a staircase that is an exact replica of the Scala Santa in Rome that Jesus ascended to meet Pilate.

Standout Experience

There is nothing like this cathedral’s basilica anywhere else in the world. The Romanesque Revival cathedrals historic basilica will leave you amazed. The roof rises 100 meters into the air, and it is decorated everywhere you look with stained glass windows. There are over 240 stained glass pieces depicting an incredible array of scenes and stories. The basilica’s copper doors were created by the artist Albert Gilles, and the sanctuary itself is filled with additional sculptures and paintings dating back centuries.

How to Visit

The public and pilgrims are always welcome to the cathedral, located at 10018 Ave Royale, Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré, QC G0A 3C0, Canada. You can visit the Basilica, Shrine Store, Information Center, and other chapels and shrines year round, 8:00 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. The information center is open July through May, and the Monestary’s Reception Desk is open year-round to answer visitors questions..
Any trip to Quebec is greatly enhanced by taking a tour of the city’s magnificent cathedrals. They are an intimate part of Quebec City and the surrounding area, tying visitors to the past with their architecture, craftsmanship. Canada is an an amazing country to visit and full of surprises, and the cathedrals of Quebec will take truly your breath away.

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The Best Things to Do in Wellington, New Zealand

Wellington is a city that is full of amazing sights and things to do. You can almost feel the magic around you as soon as you arrive. As the country’s capital, it sits at the Southern end of the North Island, and has a mix of culture and cuisine that is not to be believed! The list of things to do is historical and unique, letting visitors get a feel for quite an interesting culture. Wellington features amazing restaurants, exquisite culture, and more. From the beginning of the trip until the last second, you are sure to have the adventure of a lifetime.

Explore Cuba Street

To begin, you’ll definitely enjoy the coolest street in all of Wellington. Cuba Street, with its bohemian vibe, is a registered historic area where everyone goes in order to sightsee, socialize, or just take in the culture. Named after a ship in 1840, the street offers plenty of musical events and art. For retail therapy, visit the north end of Cuba Street, and if you are in the mood for the entertainment side of things, wander down to the “top” or Southern end. Bring the camera, because photo opportunities are quite plentiful here. Don’t forget to snap a picture or two of the Bucket Fountain, a statue that has come to be known as one of the most recognized landmarks in New Zealand. You can experience Cuba Street all on your own, or be part of a guided walking tour to ensure that you don’t miss a thing.

Go to the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

One of the most enriching things you can do is visit the Te Papa Museum. You’ll see collections that add to the whole tone of what New Zealand is all about. The museum prides itself on featuring the most abstract, significant cultural property, and the exhibits are nothing short of amazing. The interrelated thematic areas include the history and culture of Matauranga Maori, the culture of the people of New Zealand, the natural environment of the country, as well as art and design.

Take a Ride on the Wellington Cable Car

For one of the most fun experiences that you will have during your entire trip, plan to take a ride on the Wellington Cable Car. As New Zealand’s only functional cable car, you can get views of the city that you won’t find anywhere else in all of Wellington. Known as an “escape from the hustle and bustle of the city”, you can take in the tree-lined botanic gardens as you ride high up above everything. Spend some time at the cable car museum, where you can see the original machinery for the system that operated for over 75 years.

Do a Karori Cemetery Tour

There is no better way to dig into the deep history of Wellington than to take part in the Karori Cemetery Tour. The second largest burial ground in the entire country, the cemetery was established over 110 years ago and is now the burial ground for thousands of people. The tour will allow you to explore all of Karori Cemetery’s heritage values, and learn about the lives of prominent individuals through their graves and memorials. The expansive area features scenic and rolling landscaping, as you hear all about themes such as the “flu epidemic” and people who were “accidentally killed”.

Eat Fabulous Food

Dockside Restaurant & Bar

Located on Queen’s Wharf, Dockside Restaurant & Bar is situated in a historic waterfront shed with spectacular views. With a menu that changes on a daily basis, guests can be sure they are always getting the freshest and finest meals possible. The restaurant has a maritime theme, adding to it’s fun and casual feel. Guests will choose from menu items such as Mussels in Steamed Coconut Milk, Pan Roasted Salmon served with Grilled Calamari and Roasted Chicken Thighs with Lemon. Be sure that you do not forget dessert, because here at Dockside Restaurant & Bar, you’ll find Soft Coconut Cake with Mango Gel, Bananas Fosters with Rum Caramel, Apple, Blackberry, and Cinnamon Oat Crumble, and more. The only problem you will have is deciding which scrumptious menu items to choose.

The Larder Restaurant

When dinnertime comes, visitors to Wellington are typically looking for the best places to go. To truly get a taste of the city, we must discuss The Larder Restaurant. Providing a relaxed atmosphere, the owners of this quaint restaurant want every guest to feel as comfortable and welcome as possible as they enjoy mouthwatering food and professional service. The menu changes seasonally, and dishes utilize the best products available. The owners believe that all parts of the animal should be used in the recipes they create, providing a unique approach to cooking. Come see for yourself when you try the Pappardelle with Lamb Meatballs, Risotto prepared with Parmesan and Prawns, Gremolata Crumbed Lambs’ Brains, and much more. It is a meal that you won’t be forgetting anytime soon, as this establishment lets you capture the culture of Wellington right from the start.

Whitebait

This harborside restaurant is known for having some of the best local seafood in all of Wellington. The high-ceilings and sophisticated environment at Whitebait are only the beginning, as the head chef takes pride in every single ingredient, herb, and spice that he uses. You’ll only be offered the finest dishes possible, and they will be served with great pleasure from a staff that goes above and beyond to cater to your needs. Selections include a four-course land and sea dinner with dishes such as Raw Oyster, Rock Lobster, and Ruakaka Kingfish. Dessert is something special, with treats such as Ricotta Ice Cream and Raspberries with Champagne. When you want to have a meal of what is quite possibly the best seafood you will ever enjoy, Whitebait is the perfect place to do just that.
Wellington, New Zealand is a city that is to be enjoyed in so many ways. The locals take pride and delight in their wonderful landmarks, and visitors are encouraged to enjoy everything as much as possible. During your trip to Wellington, be sure to visit all of these incredible places, so that you can fully experience all that New Zealand offers!

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4 Great Ways to Experience Downtown Melbourne, Australia

Choosing to visit Melbourne, the capital city of Victoria, Australia, for a nice respite won’t leave you disappointed. This popular cultural hub boasts many accolades and offers a multitude of exciting destinations to visit. One of the best areas to explore is downtown Melbourne.
Downtown Melbourne almost completely surrounds the Port Phillip Bay and has the perennial Yarra River running through it and into the bay. It’s also where Melbourne was first established by settlers in 1835. Suffice it to say, this coastal town with 4 million residents has many attractions to visit within its downtown area, yet to narrow it down some, let’s explore four great ways to experience downtown Melbourne Australia.

Shop, Eat, and Appreciate Art at the Centre Place Laneway

The Centre Place Laneway is one of the many exciting destinations to visit in the heart of downtown Melbourne. The lively blue cobblestone laneway is designated as a pedestrian district where visitors can enjoy the unique shops, cafes, and artwork on their way to other close-by downtown Melbourne destinations. The local feel is palpable when walking through Centre Place, as apartment balconies above the shops rise multiple stories high, locals take their favorite spots at the cafes and bars, and ever-changing artwork depicts the native cultural flavors.
When you’re done with your coffee and crepes at a quaint Centre Place cafe, you can move on to explore the many small and large destinations within the downtown Melbourne area. Some of the most noteworthy are Flinders Street Railway Station, Yarra River, Degraves Street, Campbell Arcade, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Federation Square, and Princess Walk.
To get the full experience, you’ll want to spend at least a day or two in this area of Melbourne. You can start with a visit to the Centre Place laneway, then move a block south towards the Yarra River and experience the underground Campbell Arcade and Flinders Street Railway Station, where your City Circle Tram awaits.

Take the City Circle Tram Tour

Another great way to experience downtown Melbourne is by riding on the City Circle Tram. You can get on the largest urban tram network in the world at Flinders Street Railway Station and fast-track your exploration of downtown Melbourne. The City Circle Tram tour is free and runs throughout the day, allowing passengers to get on and off quickly to explore different parts of the city. There are two types of trams that service the City Circle Tram route, including the retro heritage maroon colored trams with gold trimmings and the standard modern trams with green and white colors.
Instead of driving, taking a taxi, or walking around the large downtown area of Melbourne, you can use the trams to get around with a great view and in local style. Besides being an experience in itself, the City Circle Tram offers local information and maps for destinations, events, shops, restaurants, etc.
Perhaps, after enjoying the morning at Centre Place, you can hop on a City Circle Tram and travel a mile west to visit Docklands Park or watch a soccer event at Marvel Stadium; or, you could travel southeast about a half a mile over the Yarra River to visit the historic Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria.

Experience the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria

Any vacation to Melbourne should include a visit to the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, which is one of the area’s biggest and most historic attractions. This is a special reserved area covering 38 hectares (118 acres) of land and drawing in over 1.8 million visitors a year. The Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria was preserved by the early settlers of Melbourne back in 1846; this large green area in the midst of downtown Melbourne creates an intriguing contrast between the brick and concrete of the city and the neatly carved out natural beauty of the botanical gardens.
There are many interesting sections of the gardens to explore; if desired, you could make this relaxing destination a day-long affair. After exploring the busy downtown area, you’ll appreciate the calm, beautiful environment the gardens offer, including small lakes, 12,000 species of plant life, large scenic lawns, various trees, wooden walkways, and much more.
You can also sit down at one of the two cafes located within the garden: The Terrace and Jardin Tan, where you can get organic, French-Indochina flavored food while enjoying the lush tropical surroundings. Afterward, you can decide whether to take a guided tour, shop for souvenirs, take a nap on the Eastern Lawn, or get back on the tram to visit the next location, perhaps the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Check Out the Melbourne Cricket Ground

If you really want to get a taste of Melbourne, you’ll have to visit the Melbourne Cricket Ground, (a.k.a. “the G”). Even if you’re not interested in Australian Rules Football, cricket, tennis, or rugby, you’ll enjoy the historical significance associated with one of the largest and oldest sports stadiums in the world.
The G was built in 1853 and has a seating capacity of around 100k, making it the 10th largest sports stadium in the world. Notably, this is the home of Victorian sport, a major part of Australia sport, the birthplace of cricket in 1877, the home for Australian football since 1859, and the location of the National Sports Museum. The entire area around Melbourne Cricket Ground is sports oriented and full of notable destinations. This includes Melbourne Park, which is where the Australian Open tennis tournament is held; also, Richmond Football Club Museum, Olympic Park, Rod Laver Arena, Tennis World (National Tennis Center), and more.
The center of it all is the G, which offers visitors more than just sports, including cinema night, concerts, guided tours, museums, cafes, pubs, beer gardens, and souvenir shops. This special destination in downtown Melbourne offers you a great way to experience the best of Australian sports, and with the G located just west of Flinders Street Railway Station, you’ll find it easy to circle back around to where you started on your City Circle Tram ride.
These four great ways to experience downtown Melbourne should give you a rough outline for your adventures. Along the way, you can fill in the blanks with a multitude of additional unique and exciting destinations, cafes, shops, and activities. In the end, experiencing the heart of downtown Melbourne will give you a greater understanding of what this unique city in southeastern Australia is all about.

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Best Camping Locations in the Orlando Area

Camping in Orlando

For those who love the outdoors, this is great news. While Orlando does have much to offer for outdoor lovers in the way of amusements, sunbathing, and water fun, there is a whole other side to this amazing city, and that other side is the camping locations. Let’s take a look at some of the best camping options in the city of Orlando and the surrounding area so that you can really get in touch with nature on a whole new level.

The Campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort

Families, couples, and singles can have a truly unique camping experience when they visit the Campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort! Spend some time camping in this re-creation of an American Frontier, where you will enjoy the amenities that made Disney World famous in a different atmosphere. You’ll find 750 acres of campgrounds, in addition to recreational activities that include pony, wagon, and carriage rides, the Fort Wilderness Archery Experience, Campfire Sing-a-longs and much more. It doesn’t matter if you are an expert camper or if this is your first time ever on a camping trip, as this campsite caters to people of all levels. Rent a golf cart or ride a bike along the trails as you take in everything that is offered. Now, you can experience Disney World in a way you never imagined as you have the time of your life on this ultimate camping expedition!

Moss Park

At Moss Park, you’ll experience camping at it’s best. Located in the heart of Orange County, Florida, this campsite is great for families, couples, and small groups who want to see wildlife and the beauty of nature in one of the best environments in the entire Sunshine State! Have the best of both worlds as you enjoy the fun of the wilderness or choose to spend some time at the beach area that is located within the park. Go fishing or hiking, or spend some time singing around the campfire. The amenities are wonderful, accessible, and accommodating, ensuring that your camping trip goes as smoothly as possible. The atmosphere is peaceful, completely letting you enjoy everything that surrounds you. Partake in the Scandinavian sport of orienteering, something that you won’t find at many other places! Go kayaking on the lake, hiking along the trails, or enjoy some bird watching at one of the best-kept secrets of Orlando! Tent and RV camping are both available for convenience. Great for leisure and intermediate campers, this is a place you will surely want to come to time and again!

Winter Garden RV Resort

This is camping, Florida-style! Everyone from single people to large families or groups will enjoy coming to Winter Garden RV Resort, as there is so much to see, do, and enjoy. With over 350 sites, the grounds offer amenities such as swimming, games such as shuffleboard, and many other outdoor activities. Set up camp and get in tune with nature, as you will be surrounded by pine trees and wildlife in its natural habitat. Intermediate and expert campers will feel most comfortable here. There is no shortage of things to do at Winter Garden RV Resort, as you embark on a camping trip that you won’t soon forget.

Orlando/Kissimmee KOA Holiday

Whether you choose to stay in a fully furnished deluxe cabin or set up a tent at one of the sites, you’ll want to soak up everything that Orlando/Kissimmee KOA Holiday has to offer! As one of the best campsites in Central Florida, this Kampgrounds of America location appeals to everyone from children to adults. All levels of campers will feel right at home, as the campgrounds offer a castle-themed playground and jumping pad for the little ones, a pool, hot tub, and sauna, bike rentals, and more. Enjoy a game of horseshoes, and don’t forget to stop by the general store to pick up supplies for making s’mores by the fire! With plenty of recreation and welcoming surroundings, Orlando/Kissimmee KOA Holiday will soon become one of your favorite places to enjoy the camping trip of a lifetime.

Orlando NW/Orange Blossom KOA

Another Kampgrounds of America location in Central Florida, Orlando NW/Orange Blossom KOA is a place where families, couples, and groups can create wonderful Florida memories! Amenities for campers of all levels include a pool, dog park, bike rentals, and much more. Meet new friends and bond with those you came to the campsite with as you participate in activities such as corn hole tournament boards, or gather at the playgrounds for some fun. You’ll see some of the most amazing wildlife that you could have ever imagined as you observe cardinals, raccoons, Eastern box turtles, and sandhill cranes. Keep an eye open for the turkeys, green tree frogs, and armadillos, and don’t forget to have the camera ready! Your camping adventure will be nothing short of amazing at Orlando NW/Orange Blossom KOA, thanks to the well-maintained grounds, fishing, boating, and overall wonderful outdoor nature experience. This campsite is truly relaxing and as friendly as can be! You and your group will have a personal experience at this location that is known for being a “slice of paradise”!
Now, you know exactly where to go when you want to experience Orlando from a different perspective! These wonderful campgrounds offer an experience like no other, as you step away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, and kick back in the true tranquility of nature. You’ll find peaceful, open spaces that allow you to enjoy Florida like never before. Enjoy your love for the great outdoors, taking in all of the scenic beauty that surrounds you at these hidden gems throughout Orlando and the surrounding area!

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An Ecotourist’s Guide to 3 of Panama’s Most Awe-Inspiring Natural Wonders

Panama Eco-tourism

One of the most exotic locations to experience natural pampering with a unique cultural twist is the southernmost Central American country of Panama. This breathtaking region links to South America via its border with Columbia and its singular sustainable customs showcase amazing eco-adventures, intriguing historical sites, and magnificent ocean backdrops.
Here indigenous and Latino communities welcome those seeking a one-of-a-kind scenic escape highlighted by superior wildlife conservation and stellar outdoor activities and accommodations. Take a look at why Panama is inspiring an increasing number of visitors to experience her awe-inspiring sights, sounds, and eco-friendly scenes that are spread across nearly 30% of the country.

Communing with Nature at Coiba Island National Park

The 38 islands off of Panama’s Pacific Coast play host to many of the country’s 10,000 native plants, 1,500 trees, and over a thousand bird species, garnering them the nickname ‘The New Galapagos.’ They are part the Gulf of Chiriquí’s Coiba National Park Marine Reserve, a 430,000-acre natural wonder where 700 marine species and numerous mammals thrive amidst a breathtaking background of white sand beaches and crystal clear aqua waters. UNESCO named Coiba Island a World Heritage site in 2005 because of its untouched biodiversity, and its central location makes it an off-the-beaten-path locale that’s still less than 200 miles from the bustling capital of Panama City.

Eco-Activities at and around Coiba Island

The diverse marine life at the islands makes scuba diving a favorite activity, and visitors have been known to encounter curious sea turtles, eels, white-tip reef sharks, and a wide array of colorful tropical fish. One of the favorite spots for both snorkeling and diving is Granito de Oro Island because of its unique volcanic formations that create a protected coral reef environment. On the east side of Coiba Island sits the enormous 350-acre Bahia Damas Reef, home to hammerhead sharks, manta rays, Pacific-spotted dolphins, and even humpback whales that have been known to interact with swimmers.
Wildlife also abounds in Coiba’s abundant rainforests, where coconut palms sway gently next to huge Espave trees. The park includes many miles of hiking trails that allow you to spot animals such as howler monkeys, scarlet macaws, white-tailed deer, and black iguanas. Coiba Island itself is a bird lover’s paradise and is home to several species found only in the region, such as the rust-colored spinetail and brown-backed dove. The island of Rancheria (aka Coibita) even houses a small research outpost of The Smithsonian Tropical Institute. The park’s numerous fun scuba diving, bird watching, hiking, and wildlife accredited eco-tours offer exciting day-trip and overnight adventures that will guide you through an impressive array of immersive ecological experiences.

The Nearby Eco-Retreats of Santa Catalina

The newest regional hotspot, Santa Catalina, is just an hour and a half boat ride from Coiba Island and is home to several restorative mind-body accommodations, including the community-centric Santa Catalina Retreats. Here, world-class yoga and surfing experiences await, as do connective adventures with the people in this relaxing, holistic fishing and farming village. Enjoy an oceanfront escape that combines modern, sustainably-built accommodations, adventurous wellness activities, fresh multicultural cuisine, and relaxed local rhythms. Santa Catalina is the primary jumping off point for the day and overnight trips to the beautiful landscapes of Coiba National Park.

Enjoying Biodiverse Adventures at the Panama Canal Watershed

The enormous Panama Canal Watershed was created when the mighty Chagres River was dammed near the entrance to the Atlantic Ocean in 1914 to create a canal passage that ran to the Pacific Ocean. It encompasses over 800,000 acres of pristine landscapes and provides drinking water and hydroelectric power to key parts of the nation. While the surrounding environment may have shifted course due to its creation, the canal mimics the natural opening that was present for millions of years.

Eco-Activities within the Canal Watershed

Today visitors can find numerous eco-adventures at and around the canal zone, including an amazing journey to Chagres National Park. Located just 30 miles from Panama City on the east side of the canal, this enormous nature preserve spans 300,000 acres and offers a diverse array of exciting outdoor experiences. The park’s namesake river showcases exciting Class II-III whitewater rafting experiences, and seasoned hikers can also experience historic guided tours along the legendary 16th century Camino Real (Royal Road) a Spanish route that takes you through rainforests and rugged mountain passes of the region. Here you’ll enjoy hands-on cultural and historical exploration as well as hospitality from the indigenous people who live along the trail.
Not to be outdone by its eastbound neighbor, the west side of the Panama Canal boasts its national park, known as Soberania. One of its major attractions is its diverse bird population, which is especially prominent along the famed Pipeline Road. The Audobon Society recorded a world-record 525 species at this location, including ground cuckoos, colorful trogons, brightly-marked toucans, crested eagles, and Broad-billed motmots. The 100-foot observation tower at the Panama Rainforest Discovery Center allows for optimal viewing these avians as well as sightings of two-and-three toed sloths, tamarin monkeys, coatimundis (raccoons), and over 100 other mammals, such as the forest’s elusive wild jaguars.
Kayakers can enjoy day trips along the 165 square miles of beautiful Lake Gatun, a waterway that was created when the Chagres River was dammed over 100 years ago. A boat trip from the park across the lake takes you to Barro Colorado Island, one of the oldest tropical research centers in the world. Visitors can also visit two other amazing research preserves: Punta Galeta sits along the Caribbean coastline at the northern tip of the canal minutes from Panama’s sixth largest city of Colon, and Punta Culebra Nature Center is located at the Pacific entrance to the canal in Panama City.

Eco-Friendly Watershed Lodging

Inside Soberania National Park sits the rich cultural, spiritual, and ecological warmth of the Gamboa Rainforest Resort. Here, you’ll find an open environment where the local Embera and Wuanaan people provide educational and artistic exhibits highlighting their holistic interactions with the environment. The resort also showcases an innovative wellness spa, an aerial tram, Lake Gatun boat expeditions, and Panamanian eco-guides with expert knowledge of the area. These innovative accommodations are just half an hour from Panama City and within minutes of the Canopy Tower Eco-Lodge, where wildlife watchers can get a ‘bird’s eye view’ from their treetop level bedrooms. Voted by the Ancient Forests Foundations as Best Ecolodge, the Canopy Tower offers a healthy mix of local and American family-style dining and a culturally rich, environmentally-integrative approach to tourism.
For those interested in staying closer to Chagres National Park, Los Altos de Cerro Azul overlooks the park and provides many unique bed and breakfasts, lodges, and hotels that blend seamlessly into the surrounding natural landscapes. Fan favorites include the Mandalas Lodge and La Semilla Ecolodge, where trekkers receive a refreshing welcome and a relaxing experience that includes an enchanting bird observatory, a rejuvenating Turkish bath, miles of local trails, and day trips to nearby Lake Bayano.

Hiking The America’s Largest Inhabited Volcano at El Valle

A short trip west along the Inter-American Highway from Panama City will take you to the lush mountain panoramas of the Anton Valley. Here you’ll find the majestic village of El Valle, which is located within the crater of the second largest inactive and inhabited volcano in the world. The valley is teeming with enchanting cloud-encased mountain peaks that reach up to 3,800 feet, and pre-Columbian stone petroglyphs which have yet to be deciphered. Multifaceted experiences await you in and around this timeless and vibrant Panamanian village.

Eco-Activities of El Valle

El Valle provides an eye-opening view of Panama’s unique ability to combine serious sustainability with even more serious fun. One of the visitors’ most talked-about experiences is the canopy zip lining tour that winds through the valley’s forests and over the amazing 115-foot Chorro El Macho Waterfall. Here you can catch sight of the native blue Morpho butterflies swooping over the pool below the falls, as you swing through the region’s unique ‘cloud forests’ which form when the fog lifts off the fauna and flora that’s spread across the jungle floor. Mountain climbers can try their stamina on the valley’s highest peak, Cerro Gaital which stands at approximately 3800 feet, a height at which you can get a stunning view of the village’s volcanic crater.
Besides world-class mountain hiking and breathtaking waterfalls, El Valle is also home to a thermal hot springs, an orchid center that features environmental presentations, fun horseback riding, and biking adventures, and even a one-of-a-kind sojourn into ‘The Valley of the Square Trees‘, where right angles replace circumferences, and researchers trying to solve the puzzle of a phenomenon seen nowhere else in the world. With her numerous jaw-dropping treasures, El Valle holds a little something for every eco-lover on your list.

Eco-Friendly Mountain Accommodations

The year-round spring-like temperatures make El Valle an ideal place to stay in Panama, and one of the most celebrated accommodations in the region is The Canopy Lodge. Built into the hills of the vibrant valley, this nature lover’s retreat allows you to experience the region’s mysterious cloud forests right outside your bedroom window, and take an extraordinary multi-day bird watching tour to the area’s most famous sites. The lodge also features its library, family-style dining, and environmentally-integrated swimming pool, and is just steps from Chorro El Macho waterfall. Many other ecologically-conscious accommodations also dot the landscape of this magnificent mountain town.
If you’re ready to bring more light, laughter, and community-engaging natural adventures into your world, there’s an abundance of eco-friendly adventures that await you in Panama. The country’s breathtaking mountains, rain forest, oceans, and islands offer you unparalleled cultural and outdoor experiences amidst a landscape of unbridled natural beauty and awe-inspiring ecological delights.

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7 Great Ways to Enjoy Hamilton Island in Northeastern Australia

Australia is home to many awe-inspiring destinations, including the natural wonder of Hamilton Island in Queensland. This beautiful resort island offers travelers a unique getaway full of exciting activities and amazing sights. As the most populous island within the Whitsunday Islands, Hamilton Island offers both luxury and natural wonder for visiting guests.
From renting a buggy (golf cart) to visiting the Great Barrier Reef, visitors to Hamilton Island have many ways to enjoy this special year-round travel destination. To highlight the best choices, let’s explore seven great ways to enjoy Hamilton Island.

1. Visit the Great Barrier Reef

Hamilton Island is situated alongside the Great Barrier Reef, which is the largest coral reef system in the world and the largest living thing on Earth! This natural wonder is a world-renown destination that stretches out 1,400 miles along Queensland’s coastline, including through the Whitsunday Islands.
As can be imagined, visitors have many options for enjoying the Great Barrier Reef from Hamilton Island, including with guided tours by boat, seaplane, helicopter, and underwater. Whatever vantage point visitors choose to enjoy the Great Barrier Reef; they’ll have the chance to experience and enjoy the magnificent views and awe-inspiring environments this unique destination has to offer.

2. Play Golf at Hamilton Island Golf Club

After relaxing in one of Hamilton’s luxurious accommodations such as the Qualia Resort, Palm Bungalows, or the Reef View Hotel, visitors can grab their golf clubs, jump in their buggy, and head to the Hamilton Island Golf Club for 18 holes and some amazing views.
Designed by hall of fame golfer and five-time British Open winner Peter Thomson, this 18-hole Par 71 links style golf course is sure to challenge even the most competitive golfer, especially, with the tough holes along the island’s cliffs. The Hamilton Island Golf Club is located only a ferry’s ride away on Dent Island, due west of Hamilton Island. The breathtaking views of the Coral Sea and surrounding islands, from this lush and verdant course perched atop the island’s rolling hills and cliffs, are sure to inspire both golfers and sightseers alike.

3. Visit Whitehaven Beach

Located along Whitsunday Island, Whitehaven Beach is well-known for its pristine white beach sand and turquoise colored waters. Only 30 minutes away from Hamilton Island, Whitehaven Beach is accessible by catamaran, helicopter, seaplane, or sailboat.
Visitors can enjoy snorkeling, swimming, walking the beaches, sightseeing, and more when exploring Whitehaven Beach in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef. Regarded as Queensland’s cleanest beach, this beautiful destination will give visitors plenty of picture perfect memories to capture and remember.

4. Take a Day Trip in the Air or by Sea

As alluded to before, visitors to Hamilton Island have many choices for how they want to take in the beautiful surroundings, including by seaplane, sailboat, catamaran, helicopter, or ferry boat.
The fun and excitement of taking a day trip by sea or air are sure to satisfy the innermost desires of travelers seeking adventure, and the stunning magnificence of the Great Barrier Reef and surrounding seas and islands will only accentuate the day’s activities. With these day-trip options by sea or air, Hamilton Island uniquely gives travelers the ability to see the surrounding beauty from every perspective and angle.

5. Explore Hamilton Island with a Buggy or ATV

One of the best ways to get around Hamilton Island is by renting a buggy; visitors can hop in their buggy and travel around the island to enjoy great food, live music, beaches, spas, wildlife centers, natural trails, shops, sightseeing vantage points, and more.
Traveling in their buggy, visitors can explore the 1.9 sq. mile Hamilton Island at their own pace and in style; and with only a little over 1,200 people residing on the island, the streets won’t be too crowded either. The open buggy will allow visitors to feel the warm air and be part of the local environment on a more intimate level.
As for those who want to go off-road to explore the less-visited wilderness areas of Hamilton Island, they can take an off-road adventure tour with an ATV, where they can either drive or be a passenger on their way to Resort Lookout – one the highest vantage points on the island.

6. Explore WILD LIFE Hamilton Island

When visiting Australia, visitors shouldn’t miss the opportunity to see the native wildlife this amazing continent has to offer, including koalas, eastern grey roos, saltwater crocodiles, dingoes, southern, cassowaries (pre-historic birds), and cockatoos.
This special wildlife center located in the heart of Hamilton Island offers visitors daily tours and hands-on experience with Australia’s indigenous wildlife. Visitors can take a trip in their buggy to have breakfast with the Koalas, or otherwise enjoy WILD LIFE Hamilton Island, as part of their daily adventures on the island.

7. Relax at Qualia Spa

One of the more luxurious settings on Hamilton Island is the world-class Qualia Resort, which includes a hotel, spa, and fine dining restaurants. Qualia’s spa treatments and wellbeing therapies are sure to pleasure the senses and help visitors relax while they enjoy the luxurious indoor and outdoor settings.
Large windows and open spaces surrounded by hardwood, marble, and tropical landscapes will help visitors relax at Qualia Spa while enjoying the awe-inspiring views of the surrounding islands, Coral Sea, and Great Barrier Reef.

Conclusion

When it comes to finding the perfect travel destination, Hamilton Island is as close as it gets. The optimal weather, breathtaking views, world-class destinations, and exciting activities it offers are sure to satisfy and exceed even the most experienced traveler’s expectations. Although these seven great ways to enjoy Hamilton Island merely scratch the surface with the choices visitors have, they do sufficiently highlight how special this Australian destination really is. The Hamilton Island Race Week and The Australian Ballet are two other examples of noteworthy happenings to enjoy on this Queensland island in Australia.
Suffice it to say; travelers won’t be disappointed in their choice to visit Hamilton Island, as it is second to none when it comes to world-class travel destinations.