Archive | April, 2016

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Top 10 Places To Go This Summer

Posted on 30 April 2016 by admin

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Long Weekend in Riviera Maya

Posted on 30 April 2016 by admin

A beautiful beach on the Riviera Maya

With the dollar at record strength against the peso, the Riviera Maya, with its pristine beaches, delicious cuisine, and welcoming people, is a spectacular value for American travelers. This is one of Mexico�€™s most popular destinations, so it’s easy to reach; leave in the morning from most U.S. cities and you’ll be poolside by noon. Here’s how to get the most out of a three-day stay.

FRIDAY

The Mahekal Beach Resort in Playa del Carmen

A vacation in Riviera Maya begins in Cancun, where you’ll land, ideally in the morning. Try to get one of the first flights out from your departure city to avoid long lines at immigration in Cancun’s busy airport. Grab a taxi to your destination: Playa del Carmen.

It’s a straight shot south on Highway 307 to the lively town locals simply call Playa. Fronted by powdered-sugar beaches and the azure Caribbean, the vibe here is more adult and less manufactured than Cancun’s. And unlike the self-contained resorts along the highway, Playa has the singular benefit of a town. By staying in Playa, youâ��re not stuck in your resort.

The Mahekal Beach Resort (rooms from $275) is your home base for this weekend. The location is perhaps the resort’s best asset it sits right on the beach at the sandy terminus of Calle 38, and you can walk out the hotel��s front door and be in the heart of town in five minutes. Choose one of the oceanfront suites with white adobe walls, thatched roofs, hammock-equipped terraces, and linen canopy beds fit for conquistadors. Like giant chess pieces, the rooms are placed between lush gardens, three pools, three restaurants (rates include breakfast daily and dinner or lunch), bar, spa, gym, dive shop and lobby, where you’ll drop your bags.

Eat breakfast or lunch, depending on the time, at La Cueva del Chango (average main $10). The restaurant, located on Calle Ȇ, is just a block from the hotel and feels like it was carved out of the jungle. Standout dishes include dulce de leche crepes, or the quinoa-and-pepita-stuffed mulato chiles.

Next, get changed and catch some pool time. The Las Olas pool, which faces the beach, tends to attract the most families, so go there if you have little ones. The larger Fuego pool, located behind Mahekal’s new restaurant of the same name, offers more peace and quiet—and more comfortable loungers.

For dinner head to Fuego (average main $25). It opened in December and is not technically included in Mahekal’s meal plan (you get a $25 credit per guest), but it’s worth the surcharge for chef Crescenciano Nerey’s cooking. The lobster, split and grilled, comes smoky, sweet, and drenched in butter and lime. Pair it with an outstanding Akumal English porter from one of the Riviera’s craft breweries.

SATURDAY

Fuego Restaurant at the Mahekal Beach Resort in Playa del Carmen

Get up early, have breakfast at the hotel’s Las Olas restaurant (recommended: chilaquiles and cheese-stuffed Poblano peppers), and stroll on the beach before the crowds arrive. Back at the resort, grab snorkeling equipment from Mahekal’s dive shop and spend some time getting to know the tropical fish just offshore. Or head over to brand-new 2,500-square-foot Revive Spa (treatments from $60). Try to book the spacious VIP room (especially nice for couples), which features its own tub and outdoor shower—though it’ll be hard to pull yourself away from the co-ed whirlpool set beneath a soaring palapa and lit with a mobile of firefly lights.

Make dinner plans at Punta Bonita (average main $34), the beachfront restaurant at the Rosewood Mayakoba (rooms from $515). A 20-minute drive from Playa, Rosewood is one of three hotels in the sprawling Mayakoba development. Chef Juan Pablo Loza, a Mexico City native and Rosewood veteran, tends an impressive garden whose herbs appear all over Punta Bonita’s menu. The thinnest slivers of potent Mexican oregano perfume the lovely grouper ceviche marinated in sour orange juice and garlic oil. Palm-size leaves of the hoja santa plant release their root beer–reminiscent aroma into the mango crème brulee. Not only is the regionally inspired food here amazing (duck tacos served with three moles and house-made tortillas), but so is the Mexican wine list. Don’t miss the Polvo del Mar, a delicious blend of cabernet, syrah, and Nebbiolo made exclusively for Rosewood by Adobe de Guadeloupe in Baja.

After dinner, head back Playa and stroll along Avenida Cinco (â€�Fifth Avenue”), the lively, upscale drag of tree-shaded shops and restaurants that runs parallel to the beach. Do some shopping at boutiques like Tierra Huitchol (beaded sculpture from Nayarit’s Huitchol tribe), Nich Chiapas (jewel-tone moccasins), Hammacamart (hand-made hammocks), Maya-Xel (conch-shell lamps), and Guelaguetza Gallery (Mexican art) before calling it a night.

SUNDAY

A view of the sugary beach and clear, blue water in Tulum

You could do absolutely nothing on your last full day in Playa but lounge by the pool or on the beach. But if you’ve got the energy, consider a day trip to Tulum (Mahekal can arrange a rental for about $65, much cheaper than a taxi).

Tulum is famous for its sugary beaches, Mayan ruins, and the restaurant Hartwood (average main $25). It’s just an hour south of Playa, depending on traffic, but it’s nice to break up the ride with a visit to one of the area cenotes, the flooded underground caverns that pockmark the Riveria’s jungle.

Dos Ojos Cenote (admission $14) is about halfway to Tulum and one of the ten longest underwater cave systems in the world. You can make arrangements in advance or hire a guide on-site for a guided snorkel or SCUBA session in the pair of subterranean caves of crystal-clear water. It’s an unforgettable experience.

Continue on to Tulum and go right to the Ruins (admission 65 pesos; pesos accepted only), a vestige of the city’s history as a key Mayan trading post in the 1600s. Grab a quick salad or wood-fired pizza at beachside Casa Violeta (average main $8), but make sure you finish by 2 pm, which is when you must head to Hartwood to get in line for dinner reservations.

Yes, you read that right. Get in line to make dinner reservations. Exâ€�New Yorkers Eric Werner and Mya Henry’s al fresco restaurant is so popular that reservations must be made in person for dining that same evening. A host appears at 3 pm and takes names for the evening’s roster. It may feel like a waste of the afternoon, but dining at Hartwood is worth it.

Spend your time before dinner on beach or exploring funky eco retreats, yoga camps, and shops long so-called Beach Road. Grab a before dinner cocktail at stylish Gitano (average main $15), just a couple doors down from Hartwood

One of the vibrant culinary creations from Hartwoods ever-changing menu

Hartwood’s culinary creations are a vivid, thrilling celebration of this corner of the world. Signatures include the agave-glazed costillas (pork ribs) and wood-grilled octopus, but the blackboard menu changes daily. As the night goes on, dishes sell out, so it���s smart to aim for an early reservation.

Note: Parking along Beach Road is dreadful, so it’s best to use the lot adjacent the Secret Garden Hotel for 150 pesos.

WHERE TO STAY

In terms of location, value, and quality of amenities, Mahekal is the best place to base in Playa del Carmen. All rates include their modified meal plan, which includes breakfast and lunch or dinner and does not include alcohol. The staff is especially wonderful; their resort-wide catchphrase, “Welcome home,” feels less like a company gimmick than a genuine expression of hospitality.

WHEN TO GO

High season, which runs from the start of winter through Easter/spring break, coincides with the best weather in the region. It’s warm year-round, but the heat gets progressively oppressive in summer. The jungle environment means humidity is always present—steady ocean breezes help—and there’s always a chance of a drizzle or flash storm. The Mayan Riviera is in the hurricane belt, so consider insurance if you’re traveling August through October.

HOW TO GET THERE

As one of the most popular destinations in Mexico, Cancun has nonstop service from most major U.S. cities. It makes a particularly easy weekend getaway from East Coast gateways like New York, Philadelphia, Boston. and DC, with flights averaging about three hours. From Cancun, Playa del Carmen is 40-to-60 minutes’ driving, depending on traffic. Tulum is an hour and half to two hours.

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20 New Things to Do at Walt Disney World

Posted on 30 April 2016 by admin

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Coolest Hotels in the Catskills

Posted on 29 April 2016 by admin

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Beyond Barcelona: 16 Spanish Destinations You Must Visit

Posted on 28 April 2016 by admin

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10 Best U.S. Summer Food Festivals for 2016

Posted on 26 April 2016 by admin

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Long Weekend in Cabo

Posted on 23 April 2016 by admin

Reliably sunny weather, stunning resorts, charming nearby villages, activities galore (whale watching, sport fishing, off-roading, surfing), and plenty of fish tacos make Cabo a favorite escape. Of all Mexico�€™s resort towns, this one, located at the tip of the Baja Peninsula, probably has the most American influence, thanks to 50 years of expat culture, easy access from the West Coast, and a healthy second-home market. Whether you snub or take comfort in that fact (It’s safe! Everyone speaks English!), know that Cabo�€™s easygoing mix of Mexican and American cultures feels informed by the spirit of adventurers and escapists, hippies and tycoons. As a vacation destination, itâ€�s very lovable. Here’s how to do it in a long weekend.

FRIDAY

Flora Farm

After landing at Cabo’s modern international airport, collect your bags and your pre-arranged transfer. Splurge for something private and avoid group transfers, which make multiple stops at different hotels and can make the already long drive feel interminable. 

What is collectively and colloquially referred to as “Cabo” is actually two distinct towns: San Jose del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas. San Jose, which is closer to the airport, has more of a “traditional” Mexican feel, with cobblestone streets and a plaza that hosts art walks against a backdrop of a gorgeous Catholic church. Cabo San Lucas, half an hour south, has a modern marina, mountains, popular Medano Beach, and a ramshackle warren of concrete bungalows filled with cantinas, clubs, and souvenir shops. Highway 1 connects these two main resort areas, bordered by car dealerships, granite-and-marble showrooms, mega-supermarkets, and seafront hotels in lushly landscaped developments. You can stay here, too, but unless you’ve booked at one the district’s major luxury players—One Only Palmilla; Esperanza, an Auberge Resort and Las Ventanas al Paraíso, a Rosewood Resort—you’ll want to base in San Jose or Cabo San Lucas.

For this itinerary, you’ll do a little of both. Since you’ll be itching to get to the pool after the morning flight, the first stop will be the Hyatt Ziva (rooms from $320), a family-friendly resort from Hyatt’s all-inclusive imprint. It’s not the sexiest choice, but it gets the job done with its comfy rooms (dark wood details, balconies), five pools, and surprisingly good food. You’re only here for one night, and it makes a convenient base from which to visit Flora Farms, a commune on the outskirts of San Jose that includes a restaurant, bar, grocery, boutiques, and design mag–worthy cottages—you have to be invited to buy one—woven through with organic gardens and mango orchards.

You’ll want to arrive early to catch the scheduled farm tour before dinner at Flora’s Field Kitchen (average main $30). Every well-considered detail—from the embossed coasters to the old-timey ice cream cart plunked in the middle of the lawn to the third-world-chic fixtures in the bathroom—seems designed to please the eye. The food is terrific, especially the pork chop cut from the farm’s heritage-breed hogs. It’s available in three sizes, and the small is more than enough to tide you over.

After dinner, cab into San Jose’s pretty downtown. On Thursdays (November through June), the town’s Art Walk brings dozens of painters, sculptors, and other artisans to set up stands in the plaza, but the place is hopping on Friday nights as well. Wander through the galleries, home décor shops, and jewelry stores on Calles Manuel Doblado and Antonio Mijares, then stop at La Tropical (southeast side of Plaza Centrál), a bare-bones plateria that looks like a garage lined with freezers and ice cream parlor paraphernalia. The best flavors are watermelon and pineapple. One pop should last you the mile walk back to the hotel.

SATURDAY

Grand Solmar

After breakfast Saturday, catch a cab to the other side of Cabo and check in at Grand Solmar, Land’s End Resort and Spa (rooms from $380), a crisp hotel/time-share complex in an unbeatable location. The resort’s multiple infinity pools spill down to a deserted beach hidden on the backside of El Arco, the dramatic rock formation at the very tip of Baja. The road into and out of the resort leads right to the marina, making this the only place to stay in either San Jose or Cabo San Lucas that offers a quick walk into town, as well as a beach that feels exclusive. Just remember: You might be tempted by its deep cerulean color, but this sea is treacherous. Swimming is a no-go.

After spending the morning by the pool, toss a change of clothes in a duffel bag and head to Esperanza, which reopened last summer after a head-to-toe renovation necessitated by 2014’s Hurricane Odile. Head to lunch at the resort’s new Pesca Ceviche Bar (average main $17) for hamachi, avocado-and-apple tostadas anointed with habañero oil, and mackerel ceviche with passion fruit and jalapeno. After lunch, visit the Spa (treatments from $165), which floats in a koi pond, for a Cabo Thai massage. The massage therapists at Esperanza are the best in Cabo, and the amenities here are sterling, from the welcome drink (detoxifying aloe vera tonic, for example) to the toiletries in the locker rooms (Jack Black skincare line) to the lightweight, weather-appropriate robes. Before or after treatment, the Water Passage ritual awaits: a steam room, whirlpool, and waterfall circuit meant to stimulate the lymphatic system.

Hang around Esperanza after your massage—stroll the beach, have a cocktail, or browse the Vilebrequin bathing suits, linen button-ups, or animal-print caftans at the resort’s curated Solana Boutique. When your stomach starts grumbling again, hop in a taxi for dinner in town at Maria Jimenez (corner of Calle Narciso Mendoza and Calle de Revolucion de 1910), a cozy family-run spot where the corn tortillas are made to order and the pescado del dia is often snapper bathed in cilantro-butter sauce. The portions are generous, and the prices are low. You’ll eat way too much, but since you’re staying at the ideally located Solmar, you have the option to walk it off on the 2-mile hike back to bed.

SUNDAY

Todos Santos

There are so many activities available in Cabo, paralysis of choice can set in. Do you go deep-sea fishing or deep-sea diving? Is it better to ride horses or ride ATVs? Swimming with dolphins at the marina’s aquarium, five minutes away, or swimming with whale sharks in La Paz, two hours away? Around the marina, vendors will flock to tourists. Avoid them—if activities are your beat, book through Solmar’s concierge team for the best rates and most reliable operators.

However, the best full-day or half-day side trip you can do in Cabo involves none of these things. Instead, pick up a rental car at Playa Grande, Solmar’s sister resort next door, with a rental desk in the lobby. Set your GPS to “Todos Santosâ�� and steer the car north, out of town, and onto Highway 19.

Todos, you’ll find when you arrive about ȍ minutes later, is the picturesque Mexican town of your dreams, with cobblestone streets, roaming strawberry vendors, and stucco buildings draped in fuchsia and tangerine blankets of bougainvillea. There’s a plaza, a church and a community center, and plenty of restaurants. On the main drag, Calle Benito Juarez, you’ll find the Hotel California popularized by the Eagles song, as well as a string of boutiques selling damiana-leaf lotions, sugar skull-print pillowcases, tooled leather handbags, and some extraordinary art and sculptures. Todos has long been a haven for artists and expats, but so far has maintained a low-key, undiscovered vibe.

After working up an appetite, head to lunch at Boyitacos (Calle Juarez 4), the best place for fish tacos in Todos, followed by a perfectly calibrated margarita at the monastic La Copa bar inside the handsome Todos Santos Inn, a converted circa-18Ȧ sugar baron’s estate. Then it’s time to get back to Cabo San Lucas to a catch a nap before dinner at The Cape, a Thompson Hotel, whose signature restaurant, Manta (average main $26), is helmed by Mexico City all-star Enrique Olvera (more recently of New York City’s Cosme). At the restaurant, whose glass walls overlook the sea, Asian ingredients meld with local seafood: chocolate clams with yuzu and soy, for example, or fish tacos slicked with black miso. The four-course tasting menu is a bargain at $66. The money you’ll save on a trip to Cabo this year, with the dollar so strong against the peso, may just be the best souvenir you’ll bring back.

WHERE TO STAY

Esperanza

At every budget and style point, Cabo offers a plethora of hotels. Whether you stay at a spring break flophouse, five-star editorial darling, or destination-wedding factory, location is key since a vacation here invariably involves driving. Unless you have the budget to stay at Esperanza (rooms from $550), Palmilla (rooms from $590), or Las Ventanas (rooms from $925) and don’t want to leave, pick a resort in San Jose del Cabo or Cabo San Lucas—or split your time between the two, as this itinerary suggests. Grand Solmar, whose design eschews colonial grandeur for neutral palettes and clean lines that mimic Cabo’s soberly beautiful landscape, has the footprint of a mega-resort (and the spacious rooms that come with it), but lacks the associated surplus of nap-ruining kiddos.

WHEN TO GO

While summer can see super-high temperatures, strong breezes and low humidity keep even the warmest times of the year comfortable in Cabo. Winter is popular with snowbirds for obvious reasons, as are the weeks surrounding spring break. Rain is rare; this is a desert after all. Nighttime always brings the possibility of light jackets and sweaters.

HOW TO GET THERE

American, Alaska, Delta, Southwest, United, Virgin, and Spirit all fly nonstop to Cabo from several major U.S. cities. Seasonal additions expand the number of airports with nonstop service. Flights from California and Texas are frequent and cheap. Midwest flyers can avoid connections by departing from Chicago or Denver. On the East Coast, fly out of Baltimore (Southwest), Newark (United), or Charlotte (American). For private airport transfers, Transcabo offers reliable service for about $30 per person round-trip. 

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20 Best Under-the-Radar Things to Do in Paris

Posted on 23 April 2016 by admin

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How to See South Africa’s "Marine Big 5"

Posted on 23 April 2016 by admin

You’ve likely heard of Africa’s traditional �œbig 5” (lions, leopards, elephants, hippos, and buffalo), the coveted wildlife-spotting checklist for anyone headed out on a land-based safari. But here’s an unexpected twist for your next African wildlife expedition: the “marine big 5.” South Africa is the perfect launching point for ocean safaris that set out to encounter Africa’s great white sharks (you can even go cage diving with them!), southern right whales, dolphins, seals, and penguins. This veritable �€œSerengeti of the sea” is best accessed from the Western Cape Province (with Cape Town as its capital), set at the southernmost tip of the African continent, where the Atlantic and Indian oceans collide to create a thriving underwater jungle. We have the scoop on spotting these five magnificent creatures of the deepâ��all you need to do is buy a plane ticket and pack your binoculars.

SOUTHERN RIGHT WHALES

Southern Right Whales

While great whites are mammoth, they pale in comparison to the colossal size of many whales. The Western Cape is a pilgrimage point for whale watching, by both land and by sea—so much so, in fact, that parts of the coastline have been designated as part of a national “Cape Whale Route,” and there’s even a 35-mile-long �€œWhale Trail” trek here. The well-touristed seaside town of Hermanus is the hub of regional whale-watching activity. From June to December, hundreds of the giant, rotund, and calloused southern right whales come to the calm of Walker Bay from Antarctica to mate, rest, calve, and nurse their young in safe harbors�”and, in turn, put on a spectacular show of blowing, breaching, lobtailing, and other aquatic acrobatics to the delight of shore-side spectators. Visitors can also look out for Hermanus’s unusual “whale crier” (who sounds his kelp horn to announce the whales�€™ presence), a dedicated whale museum, and the annual Hermanus Whale Festival (held in September). 

For whale-watching encounters by boat, you can try well-reputed outfits like Southern Right Charters, right in Hermanus. You might even consider a sea kayaking whale tour with Hermanus’s Walker Bay Adventures, or seek an aerial perspective of the cetaceans from above spectacular Walker Bay, with an airborne whale-watching tour from African Wings. For land-based viewing outside of Hermanus, other celebrated Western Cape vantage points include the scenic sand dunes of De Hoop Nature Reserve, and the limestone cliffs of the village of De Kelders.

While the southern right whales are most famously spotted, migrating humpbacks, elusive Bryde’s, and even orcas sometimes make an appearance, too.

DOLPHINS

Dolphins

The waters off of the Western Cape get regular visits from three species of dolphins: the famously agile and curious bottlenose; the shyer and more elusive humpback; and the ever-gregarious common dolphins. A lucky spotting of common dolphins might mean a pod numbering in the hundreds—they’re delightfully playful, and will often take great pleasure in surfing the wake of your boat. While you might spy dolphins frolicking in waves from shore, it’s a much likelier occurrence from aboard a boat. Try Ocean Safaris in Plettenberg Bay, where you can have a go at a dolphin-spotting trip by sea kayak with Dolphin Adventures. While dolphins are present year-round, you might want to time your visit to coincide with the annual sardine run (between May and July) when they truly abound, hot on the trail of the tasty fish. 

CAPE FUR SEALS

Cape Fur Seals

Seals might be among the more commonly spotted marine mammals on this list, but chances are you’ve never seen them in numbers quite like this before. Expect pure cacophony in the massive congregations of Cape fur seals (also called South African fur seals) that congregate off of the Western Cape’s coast. For some of the most impressive viewing, head out on a boat tour and get a closer look at these big-eyed, playful creatures, where their bobbing heads, sunning blubber, and playful antics are sure to amuse your eyes (if not your nose). You’ll find plenty of them around Gansbaai, Hout Bay, Plettenberg Bay, and Cape Town (you can often spot them right on the VA Waterfront) any time of year. Try trusted boat operators like Dyer Island Cruises, which takes guests out to Geyser Rock, with its colony of some 60,000 seals and pups; or, embarking from Simon’s Town on the Cape Peninsula, Simon’s Town Boat Company sails to Seal Island in False Bay, with a similarly massive population. You might even consider snorkeling or swimming with the inquisitive and silly seals—hook up with an operator like Animal Ocean (in Hout Bay) or Offshore Adventures (in Plettenberg Bay) for the unique opportunity.  

AFRICAN PENGUINS

African Penguins

Don’t miss the dapperly dressed, black-and-white African penguins, a happy addition to the marine big 5 scene. You’ll find a gathering of these endangered birds on protected Dyer Island—a prime but, unfortunately, depleted breeding ground for them—in the company of other seabirds like the Cape cormorant. Get there with Dyer Island Cruises, who also run the nearby African Penguin Seabird Sanctuary, where visitors can learn about penguin conservation and rehabilitation efforts. You might also spy some of the monogamous breeders waddling about with their clan back on land, with prime viewing spots at Boulder’s Beach in Simon’s Town (on the Cape Peninsula), or at Stony Point, in the seaside town of Betty���s Bay.

GREAT WHITE SHARKS

Great White Sharks

Chances are, if you’ve ever seen a TV special covering great white sharks, the most spectacular footage was sourced from around South Africa’s notorious “Shark Alley,” wedged between Dyer Island and Geyser Rock. You can get there via a 20-minute boat ride from the Western Cape fishing village—and â��great white shark capital of the world”—of Gansbaai. This precarious channel, teeming with penguin and seal colonies (tasty shark bait), is home to one of the largest concentrations of great whites in the world, making it the best place on the planet to come face-to-toothy-face with these impressive predators year-round.  

Embarking from Gansbaai, Dyer Island Cruises runs leisurely marine wildlife cruises that might come across them, but your significantly better bet is to hook up with a shark cage diving operator. While some of the practices behind adrenaline-spiking shark cage diving are controversial (like baiting), if you’re determined to take the plunge, the operators behind Marine Dynamics are the most reputable, noted for their eco-friendly practices and conservation efforts. Onboard their custom-built 40-passenger catamaran, thrill seekers gear up in provided wetsuits. No diving experience is required since the eight-person, stainless-steel cage is never fully submerged, so guests can simply don masks and snorkels to stare down the feared-and-revered marine beasts. You’ll have the company of shark experts, including a marine biologist, to field any questions and help locate the giant and formidable hunters. For guests who prefer to stay on the boat, the top deck offers a perch for viewing and snapping pics.

WHERE TO STAY

Grootbos Private Nature Reserve

From its perch between the marine wildlife meccas of Gansbaai and Hermanus, Grootbos Private Nature Reserve (a charter member of the recently launched National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World collection) is the perfect place to lay down your safari hat between ocean expeditions. With lodging, meals, and most activities included (from $318 per person, per night), guests at the upscale 39-room eco-resort can appreciate their time on terra firma, too, thanks to the lodge’s 6,200 acres of private and peaceful fynbos-covered grounds overlooking the marine-wildlife wonderland of Walker Bay. Sign up for activities like horseback riding, 4×4 “flower safaris,” and hikes through ancient milkwood forests. The roomy suites, split between two lodges (the family-friendly Garden Lodge and more sophisticated, adults-oriented Forest Lodge), come with separate living and sleeping areas, working fireplaces, and private balconies or decks overlooking the bay. 

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5 Hidden Gems on the Amalfi Coast

Posted on 22 April 2016 by admin

The famous Amalfi Coast towns of Amalfi, Positano, and Sorrento are undeniably beautiful, but they’re also touristy and extremely crowded in the summer. For a real taste of la dolce vita, skip the big tourist attractions in favor of the region’s smaller, under-the-radar gems—from fishing villages hidden in the cliffs to Amalfi’s little-known wine country. 

CONCA DEI MARINI

Conca Dei Marini

The tiny, quaint fishing village of Conca dei Marini is often overlooked by tourists en route to the larger and more famous Amalfi Coast towns of Amalfi and Positano (the village is nestled between the two). Unlike the other towns, Conca dei Marini doesn’t feel like a tourist destination at all. The village is a cluster of old, cream-colored houses tucked at the base of a cliff, curling down toward a small bay that flows out into the Tyrrhenian Sea. There are a handful of excellent mom-and-pop restaurants (Risorgimento does a great seafood risotto), a small church, a 16th-century watchtower, and a quiet, tourist-free beach.

Don’t miss: Grotta dello Smeraldo, a spectacular 100-foot-tall sea cave carved into the cliffs by the shore, named after the water’s unearthly shade of emerald green.

MONTASERO SANTA ROSA

Montasero Santa Rosa

Perched on the hills high above Conca dei Marini, you’ll find the jewel that is Monastero Santa Rosa, a 17th-century convent-turned-luxury hotel. Only four years old and with just 20 rooms, it doesn’t have the renown of Ravello’s Hotel Caruso or Positano’s beloved La Sirense—yet. But what it does have is an intimate charm you won’t find at any other hotel on the Amalfi Coast: the chiming of the monastery bell at your arrival, home-cooked meals made with garden-fresh tomatoes and artichokes, bowls overflowing with Amalfi lemons in every room, and staff that make you feel like family. The icing on the cake? An infinity pool, perched at the edge of a cliff, that boasts the best views on the coast.

Don’t miss: Al fresco dining at the hotel restaurant, Il Reffetorio. Chef Christoph Bob uses only organic, local ingredients—sourced mainly from the hotel’s own herb and vegetable garden—in his Mediterranean-style dishes.�

DA ADOLFO TRATTORIA

Amalfi Coast

Like any tourist destination, the Amalfi Coast abounds with overpriced, mediocre restaurants that cater specifically to outsiders. Skip the English menus and head straight for Da Adolfo, a casual trattoria on Laurito beach, a 10-minute boat ride from Positano. It would be generous to call the 40-year-old eatery shabby-chic—think barefoot waiters, sand-between-your-toes dining, paper tablecloths, and chalkboard menus. But the food sings of Amalfi flavors: grilled mozzarella on lemon leaves, spaghetti with fresh octopus and zucchini, anchovies tossed in green peppers, and mussels in a tangy tomato sauce. Washed down with a carafe of chilled white wine, one meal will make up for every overpriced, inauthentic restaurant youâ€�ve ever visited. 

Don’t miss: A breezy, post-lunch snooze on the lettino, or beach bed, provided by the restaurant. (Necessary after one too many shots of homemade limoncello.)

PRAIANO

Praiano

Like Conca dei Marini, Praiano is a tiny but beautiful fishing village overlooked by tourists. In contrast to Conca dei Mariniâ€�s fairly uniform, cream-colored cityscape, Praiano boasts pretty pastel cottages, colorful mazes, and majolica-tiled votive shrines, constructed by local families to protect their houses. The town is known for its steps—there are steep stairways all across Praiano, which lead down to peaceful Vettica beach, 300 feet below the town’s center, and all the way up to Piazza San Gennaro, where you can enjoy a sweeping view of the Amalfi Coast and Capri. But what you’re really here for are the sunsets—they are, according to locals, the best on the Amalfi Coast thanks to the town’s optimal west-facing position.

Don’t miss: La Cala Gavitella, the only beach on the Amalfi Coast that stays unshaded until sunset.

CANTINE MARISA CUOMO

Furore

With Italy’s abundance of world-class wine regions, it’s no surprise that Amalfi’s small stretch of coastal vineyards flies totally under the radar. But that’s slowly changing, thanks to Cantine Marisa Cuomo, a winery in the cliffs of Furore—a town tucked between Praiano and Conca dei Marini—that makes wines as beautiful as the landscape itself. Here you’ll find crisp, fruity whites made from little-known native grapes like Fenile, Ginestra, and Ripoli, and vibrant, sun-kissed reds made using the local Per ‘e Palummo grape. Wine aside, the estate is worth a visit for the views alone—25 acres of lush, terraced vineyards overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea. Bellissima.

Don’t miss: The award-winning Furore Bianco Fiorduva, a zesty, almost tropical white wine made from Fenile, Ginestra, and Ripoli grapes. (Skip the fridge magnet—this is the best souvenir you can bring home.)

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