Monthly Archives: July 2016

Top Vacation Spots in California

California is the third largest state in the United States of America. This state is located on the west coast of the country and bordered by the Pacific Ocean. Some of the largest cities in California are San Diego, Sacramento, San Jose, Los Angeles, Long Beach, etc. The uniqueness of this state lies in the fact that it has mountainous terrain in the east, desert in the southeast, forests in the northwest, agricultural area in the central part of the state, and not to forget, the coastal belt. Due to such diverse climatic conditions, one can choose a vacation spot from numerous of them dotting this state.

Desert Hot Springs

With winter around the corner, you would naturally want to know about a tourist destination that would be suitable to start with. One of them is indeed desert hot springs. It is located in the southern California region. It has hot water aquifers. One can relax and rejuvenate at the spas, soak in the winter sun, etc. You can also enjoy the view of the snow laden Mt. San Jacinto. If you are fond of nature, then this is a must-visit place for you.

Venice Beach, Los Angeles, California

If you’re looking for real California living, visit Venice Beach in Los Angeles. Of course, you have the regular beach activities such as surfing, volleyball, snorkeling, sunbathing, etc.; but what attracts people to this beach is how it has so much more. You have the option to do all the water activities or skateboard, bike, rollerblade through the Ocean Front Walk.
There are tons of sidewalk sellers with handcrafted items and artwork for sale. You’ll see a group of people playing music and others dancing. Plus, the restaurants near the beach offer a range of cuisines for the tourists; there is a rooftop lounge where couples/friends/family can get the best view of Venice beach sunsets. You can even stroll through the Venice Beach Boardwalk and visit the Muscle Beach Gym; a sight never to be missed.

San Diego

Among the major attractions is the San Diego zoo. The animals in the zoo live in their natural habitat. There is the “SeaWorld” at the zoo, an attraction for all tourists visiting the zoo. There are the animal shows, as well as the water-themed rides. Apart from the zoo, there is the Belmont Park, Legoland, Balboa Park, etc., which are great places to visit.

Disneyland

One day is not enough to cover the Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure. Just inside Disneyland, you have the Main Street, U.S.A. (Disneyland Railroad, Main Street Cinema, Main Street Vehicles, The Disney Gallery, and Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln), Tomorrowland (Astro Orbitor, Space Mountain, Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, etc.), Fantasyland (Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan’s Flight, Mad Tea Party, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, etc.), etc.
You also have Frontierland (Fantasmic!, Big Thunder Ranch, Mark Twain Riverboat, etc.), Adventureland (Tarzan’s Treehouse, Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Forbidden Eye, etc.), New Orleans Square, Micky’s Toontown, Critter Country, parades, fireworks, and many more attractions. As for Disney California Adventure, you can visit Buena Vista Street, Paradise Pier, Grizzly Peak, Condor Flats, Pacific Wharf, Hollywood Lane, A Bug’s Land, Cars Land, and many more live entertainment.

Golden Gate Bridge

The Golden Gate Bridge is 1.7 miles long, 27.4 meters wide, and 227.4 meters high. This suspension bridge holds 6 vehicle lanes along with walkways for pedestrians and bicyclists on either side. There are specific entry times during daytime; check the times before you make plans. You can either drive or choose to walk or take a bicycle ride on the bridge. Apart from viewing the bridge from up close, you can also take loads of pictures of the bridge from the California Coastal Trail.

Tropical Vacation Destination

Spectacular sunsets, golden beaches, palm fronds swaying in the breeze, aquamarine waters, glorious sunshine; a tropical island vacation can be all that and more. So, if you are looking for tips on choosing a destination, here are a few options for you to check out.

Grenada And Carriacou Islands, West Indies

Situated in the West Indies, Grenada and Carriacou provide an experience of Caribbean life, without being as touristy as the other islands here. Grenada, which is also referred to as the spice island because of the abundance of cloves, cinnamon, mace, nutmeg and ginger available here, the aroma of which permeates the air, is relaxed and laid back island. With Carriacou, the smaller of the two being even more so. Here you will experience incredibly beautiful beaches, marvelous waterfalls, and fabulous natural beauty, along with activities like diving and snorkeling. It has great places to peel off all the hassles of everyday life and soak up the divine sunshine.

Mauritius

Located a little north of the Tropic of Capricorn, Mauritius is like a green emerald dropped in the middle of a turquoise blue ocean, the waters of which wash the coastline, turning them into spectacular white coral beaches, surrounded by a barrier reef. Streams and rivers flow down the mountain ranges, some of them part of a nature reserve comprising ancient forests where wild boar, monkeys, and deer dwell, along with a number of rare species of birds, like the Mauritian Kestrel. The reefs that surround Mauritius have created lagoons, where you can snorkel and swim safely to your heart’s content, along with coming across gamboling dolphins. Anybody venturing offshore, into the iridescent lagoons, is touched by enchantment!

The Maldives

If taking long walks on a serene beach, snorkeling in the blue crystal clear waters, swimming and relaxing in the comfort of a luxury hut in an island resort are your ideas of bliss, then Maldives is just the right place for you. Situated in the Indian Ocean, southwest of India and Sri Lanka, the Maldives comprises a group of islands. Regarded as the flattest islands on the planet with less than 10 percent of the whole area being land, only 200 of its 1100 islands are inhabited. Out of these, 87 are owned by private resorts. Apart from exploring the beach and relaxing luxuriously, you can make a trip to Male, the capital of the Maldives and check out the city mosque and local market for a flavor of their lifestyle. You can also rent a ‘Dhoni’, a traditional type of fishing boat, and take a trip around the island, or get an aerial view via a helicopter tour. Night fishing and diving are some of the other things you can do here.

Maui

Also known as the Valley Isle, Maui, an island of Hawaii, is a speck in the vastness of the Pacific Ocean, and yet has the potential of offering the visitors looking for a tropical island vacation an experience. It can offer a plethora of memorable moments such as floating weightlessly in the waters as rainbow hued tropical fish swim all around you, visiting the Haleakala, which is a dormant volcano looming on the horizon, and exploring the tropical jungle on the road to Hana. In addition, you can also enjoy watching the endangered sea turtles making their way to their nesting sites located in a wildlife sanctuary, watching a waterfall thundering down into a tranquil mountain pool, and exploring a whaling boat belonging to the 19-century.

Interesting Places to Visit in the Maldives

Indeed. With the Maldives on your mind, you can almost start adding a tune to the beautiful lines penned by Longfellow. Long touted as a premium honeymoon destination, these islands always charmed visitors with their jaw-dropping scenic beauty. Tourists from all over the world come here to enjoy long walks on white sandy beaches, and sunbathe languorously in the tropical sunshine.

That apart, the Maldives has a lot more to offer than your average island―it is home to some of the most luxurious resorts and spas, not to mention the famed undersea restaurants. Going beyond the obvious, it also has a forest full of tropical plantations, and even a Cold War era RAF base. Without further ado, let’s take a closer look at the best places to vacation in the Maldives, and just be mesmerized!

Interesting Places to Visit in the Maldives

Islamic Center in Malé

Must-see places in Malé include:
The National Museum, which houses thrones, palanquins, statues, and many other antiques belonging to the erstwhile Sultanate of Maldives.
The Sultan’s Park is the sprawling lawn that surrounds the National Museum.
The Hukuru Miskiiy, also known as the Friday Mosque, is the largest place of worship in Malé.

Malé’s Skyline

When you come to the Maldives, you’ll be landing here in Malé, in all probability. Take time out to enjoy this gorgeous little island, that is considered to be one of the smallest capital cities, with regard to size. This is also perhaps the only place in the Maldives where there is a lot to do and see, while you’re on land. I’m referring to Malé’s many museums, mosques, parks, and restaurants.

Aerial view of a Maldivian resort

• Besides Malé, Addu City, Naifaru, and Fuvahmulah, other cities like Kulhudhuffushi, Thinadhoo, Hinnavaru, Dhuvaafaru, and Dhidhdhoo are also worth a visit.

• Those interested in scuba diving should head to Ari Atoll, which has a lot of resorts dedicated to this particular water sport. It also ranks among the best destinations in the world for snorkeling.

• If you’re coming to the Maldives, you cannot miss the famous undersea restaurant at the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island Resort. You may even fancy a stay at the super-pricey Poseidon Undersea Resort (assuming you can afford it, of course).

Diving in the Indian Ocean

Addu Atoll, also known as Seenu Atoll, sits at the southernmost end of the Maldives. This is also the site of Addu City, one of the few inhabited islands. Addu used to be a secret Royal Navy base during WWII, and you’ll find the remnants in place here. You’ll also find some pristine beaches, typical of anywhere in the Maldives. But if you’re looking for something special, put on your diving suit, and take a dip in the ocean to see some brightly colored corals and a few unique whale and dolphin species.

On the beach in Naifaru

Naifaru has the one thing that draws people to the Maldives, which is romance, of course. You’ll find truckloads of it on this picturesque island, which is a perennial favorite among honeymooners. While you’re here, do nothing else except eat the delicious seafood, laze on the white sand, watch some awesome sunsets, and swim or snorkel to your heart’s content.

 

How to Finding the Right Travel Agent

Planning a fulfilling vacation can be a challenging task; however, the introduction of several travel websites, have seemingly made it much easier for people. While numerous people opt to choose their destination and make all the bookings online, it is needless to say that even the best laid plans with regard to a self-booked holiday may go haywire and lead eventually to sheer disaster, due to reasons such as insufficient research, etc. In such a case, you not only end up ruining all your fun, but also your time and money. The best way to avoid this unpleasant, unwanted situation is to hire a good, reputed travel agent who will be able to help you plan your entire trip, and also make sure that it is completely free of hassles.

Some people think that planning a vacation on your own helps save a substantial amount of money, as it automatically eliminates the use of travel agent, the so-called middleman. While this might hold true in certain cases, we say that planning your vacation via a travel agent can actually help you obtain better, cheaper deals, thus, saving you from breaking the bank. An experienced travel agent will also be able to aid you in designing a feasible and practical itinerary, and provide tips with respect to choosing accommodations, renting private vehicles, and so on. Plus, you will get personalized attention while planning your vacation, as all your queries will be addressed then and there. However, it needs to be remembered that there are several traps out there in the market and so, it becomes extremely important to make a good and a wise choice from the countless travel agencies that are there.

Do In-depth Research
With numerous established travel agencies and many more coming into existence each day, it may become rather confusing to choose the ones that suit your needs. Adequate and in-depth research is the solution to this problem. Use the Internet, inquire with your friends and acquaintances, and refer to local magazines and newspapers. If you know people who have hired any travel agent in the past, it is also a good idea to get in touch with them, and inquire about the services offered, money charged, priority given to customer satisfaction, and so on.

Narrow Down Your Search Results
Shortlist the ones that best suit your needs and demands and only then, go ahead and contact them. Your narrowed down list should depend on several criteria such as the services offered, the overall experience, the money charged, the location of the agency, and so on. No matter which of the above parameters (or others) you lay most emphasis on, do not forget to check the agent’s reputation and goodwill in the market.

Pen Down Your Expectations
Before going out to search for an appropriate travel agent to help you plan a perfect vacation for you, it is vital that you know exactly what you want, or what kind of services you expect from the agency. Unless you are absolutely sure about your own needs and demands, it will be very difficult to find the right travel agency. Note that some travel agents specialize in organizing some specific kinds of vacations, such as family tours, pilgrimages, wildlife safaris, etc. So, it may also be vital to recognize the exact nature and purpose of your holiday, before starting with your quest.

Check if the Agency is Registered
You have conducted an in-depth research and have shortlisted some of your prospective travel agents, it is now time to check which of them are registered with the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA). ASTA is an organization that regulates the practices and activities of travel agents throughout the United States. A registration with ASTA indicates that a given travel agency has a good market standing. On the contrary, if it is unregistered, it indicates that either the agency holds a bad reputation or it is a completely new establishment that lacks adequate experience and knowledge.

Get in Touch and Ask the Right Questions
After checking the registration details, you can now get in touch with the agencies that you feel are the best for you. These days, most travel agents have their own websites, and you can contact them via email; however, speak to them or meeting face-to-face is a much better idea. It is essential that you ask the right questions like how the agency obtains discounts from travel providers, or how they earn their commissions, etc. A good travel agent will be more than happy to answer all your queries satisfactorily and patiently. It is best to stay away from the ones who avoid answering your questions, or are not patient or courteous enough.

Review the Written Agreement Carefully
First and foremost, making a written agreement with your travel agent is very important. It not only binds both the parties on certain terms and conditions, but also ensures that complete transparency is maintained in the entire dealing. When your travel agency makes an agreement, it is very important that you read and understand it properly. If you have any doubt, it is advisable to even consult a contract attorney and get the agreement reviewed. Look specifically for restrictive clauses, and inquire if the agency can amend some of them, according to your convenience. Moreover, ensure that the agency provides you with a written agreement before you make any payments so that you can rethink on your decision, if required. Do not hire an agency that asks you to pay before making an agreement, or does not make a written agreement at all.

Let the Agent Ask You Questions
While conversing with a prospective travel agent, it is essential that he/she gets to know about your needs and expectations. For this, it is obvious that a good travel agent will ask you certain questions about your travel destination, the duration of your stay, your overall budget, and so on. You, on your part, will need to be as frank and honest as you can so that he/she gets a clear idea about the kind of vacation you are looking forward to. Remember that an experienced travel agent will always ask you questions, and tell you what is possible and what is not. Avoid the one who does not do so.

Ask for Personal References
In order to confirm that you are about to hire a right travel agent, do not hesitate to ask him/her for references of previous customers. It is an extremely good idea to contact some of these people personally, and ask them about their experiences with the agent and the agency’s services. While a good travel agency will have nothing much to hide, and will happily provide you with personal references, the one that hesitates or avoids doing so, should not be hired.