Month: July 2014

Boasting One of the Most Unique “Swimming Holes” in the World, Palau Celebrates the Globe’s Ten Best Places to Swim

There are many idyllic swimming destinations in the world, but Palau’s Jellyfish Lake ranks high as one of the most unusual.

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According to social media manager Jessie Cahill, “Because of the overwhelming intrigue in Jellyfish Lake and the many positive comments we receive from visitors, we decided to post a survey on the Visit Palau Facebook page to formulate a list of what our fans believe to be the Top Ten Best Places to Swim.”

The results are in and here’s what some of the most well-traveled adventurers find to be the most compelling “swimming holes” in the world.

  1. Jellyfish Lake, Palau, Micronesia — for those that want to take the “sting-ma” out of swimming with Jellyfish, check out this underwater wonder, where it is safe to dance through the water amongst millions of pulsating cloud-like creatures. Filled with two types of jellyfish, namely the golden jellyfish (known as Mastigias) and the moon jellyfish (known as Aurelia), this intriguing lake departs radically from convention. Over the course of millennia, growing in the safety of what became an enclosed body of water shut off from the neighboring Pacific, resident jellyfish have become virtually stingless, allowing adventure seekers a rare opportunity to swim amongst these truly unusual water creatures. http://visit-palau.com/thingstodo/search/search_results_dsp.cfm
  2. Pretty Girl Lake, Vancouver Island — An exclusive destination reserved for those that fly in on Atleo River Air Service, Pretty Girl Lake is only accessible by floatplane. At 1100 feet above sea level, this secluded locale is surrounded by old growth rainforest and boasts a small campsite, appropriate for an overnight. In addition to the private (skinny dipping-appropriate) “swimming hole,” couples can catch their own Rainbow and Cutthroat trout before snuggling up in the sun or for the evening. Part of the charm is the stunning floatplane ride over glaciers and Vancouver Island rainforests, but the real treasure is having the entire, intimate lake all to oneself and a special loved one. http://atleoairwatch.wordpress.com/2012/10/20/pretty-girl-lake-camp/
  3. Phi Phi Island, Thailand — Phi Phi’s beauty is a large chunk of the allure. The islands, when approached by boat, rise from the sea like a fortress. Sheer cliffs tower overhead, then give way to beach-fronted jungle. It’s love at first sight. The second part of the why-we-love-this-place story is attitude: few places on the planet are this laid-back. Of the two islands, one is completely free of human inhabitants (Phi Phi Leh), and the other is without roads (Phi Phi Don). There’s no schedule, no hustle-and-bustle, no reason to be in a hurry.   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phi_Phi_Islands
  4. Crater Lake, Oregon — Crater Lake has inspired people for thousands of years. No place else on earth combines a deep, pure lake, so blue in color; sheer surrounding cliffs, almost two thousand feet high; two picturesque islands; and a violent volcanic past. It is a place of immeasurable beauty, and an outstanding outdoor laboratory and classroom. http://traveloregon.com/see-do/oregon-heritage/history-heritage/native-american-heritage/crater-lake/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_term=CraterLake&utm_content=General&utm_campaign=7W_2014_US
  5. Blue Lagoon, Iceland — This geothermal spa is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Iceland. The warm waters are rich in minerals like silica and sulphur and bathing in the Blue Lagoon is reputed to help some people suffering from skin diseases such as psoriasis. The water temperature in the bathing and swimming area of the lagoon averages 98–102 °. http://www.bluelagoon.com/blue-lagoon-spa/prices-and-packages/experience-packages/?gclid=CJeayv2xmr8CFYqPfgodLFoAlQ
  6. Fallen Leaf Lake (South Lake Tahoe), California A hidden treasure nestled only a few miles from the heart of South Lake Tahoe’s Emerald Bay, Fallen Leaf Lake feels like a throw back in time when families vacationed in traditional summer cabins. While water skiing and sailing are popular pastimes in the mountain-fed lake, swimming across the one-mile width is an invigorating experience worth the journey down the one lane road. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fallen_Leaf_Lake_(California)
  7. One of the world’s saltiest bodies of water in the world, the Dead Sea is a hypersaline lake nestled between Jordan to the east and Israel to the west. At nearly 1,400 feet below sea level, the shores are the lowest land point on the surface of the Earth and the Dead Sea is the deepest hypersaline lake in the world with a depth of 1,240 feet. Due to the high salinity, a person is especially buoyant and can sit almost on the surface without sinking. The density of the saltwater is an awesome sensation. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dead_Sea
  8. In Zimbabwe, a surreal location called The Devil’s Pool is a small lagoon enclosed by rocks yet on the very edge of falling into a gorge and it is located at Victoria Falls, one the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. At 5,600 feet wide and 360 feet high, the water plunges down the largest waterfall in the world and the drop-off is mere inches from The Devil’s Armchair. When the river is at a safe level, between the months of September and December, people can swim in The Devil’s Pond close to the edge of the falls. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victoria_Falls
  9. Hulopoʻe Bay, Lānaʻi, Hawaii — The island of Lānaʻi is in itself a remote island, nine miles from the coast of Maui. As with everything in Lānaʻi, there is a unique kind of magic that lives in the Hulopoʻe Bay, including naiʻa (dolphins) that seem to always be on display, propelling out of the water. The beach is easily accessible, the water is warm and very clean, and the sand glistens. http://www.gohawaii.com/lanai/regions-neighborhoods/south-lanai/hulopoe-bay
  10. The Grotto—Bruce Peninsula National Park, Ontario — About four hours northwest of Toronto, Bruce Peninsula National Park sits on a thin stretch of land between Lake Huron on the west and Georgian Bay on the east. Over time, the water has eroded the shoreline’s soft limestone, creating overhanging cliffs and deep sea caves, including the famed Grotto. After a 30-minute hike past fields of rare ferns and orchids, swimmers can lower themselves down through a natural rock chimney and into the turquoise water below. The truly adventurous can then hold their breath, dive underwater, and continue through a sunlit tunnel out to the bay. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bruce_Peninsula
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Three Perfect Days in Pacifica, California

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Located just 15 minutes from San Francisco, the beautiful beach-front town of Pacifica is the perfect destination for a quick three-day getaway.

For the best values, visitors are advised to opt for a mid-week visit, during the busy summer months. Otherwise, the fall is a lovely, quieter time to get lost in all that Pacifica has to offer for a weekend away.

While there are so many attractions and things to do in Pacifica, it’s important to build in plenty of quiet time to unplug, unwind and chill. So, take it easy and understand that this list of suggestions for three perfect days in Pacifica is merely a summary of some of the visitors’ favorite pastimes.

Day One

  • Check into one of six hotels, there’s something for everyone’s taste and budget (please see hotel reference guide below)
  • Enjoy lunch at Nick’s and be sure to order the signature grilled crab sandwiches or one of the hand-cut steaks.
  • Take a guided Silicon Segway tour around the town and along the ocean bluffs to get your bearings and background of the area.
  • To rejuvenate, take a brief power nap or leisurely walk along Rockaway Beach.
  • Have a pre-dinner glass of wine, complemented by live music at A Grape in the Fog.
  • Book a table with a spectacular, panoramic view for the sunset and dinner at Moonraker Restaurant, Pacifica’s find dining restaurant.

Day Two

  • First thing in the morning, head out to the Pacifica Pier with fishing gear, crab trap, tackle and bait, which are all available for rent at Coastside Bait & Tackle. They also provide instruction about set-up needs to catch fish and crab (in season). As a public pier, a fishing license isn’t required.
  • For a hearty breakfast, check out the menu at Valamar Station, which features large portions of the best, freshest fare.
  • Hike/walk the gentle path of the new Devils Slide Trail. Interpretive signage and stunning views of the Pacific are the focus.
  • Enjoy a spot of tea and light snack at Lovey’s Tea Shop where the mismatched china and quirky décor are easy on the eyes. The options for tea are out of this world and the menu features everything from hearty pub fare to gluten-free options…and all the tea you can drink.
  • Rest up with a quick nap or read a book on the beach.
  • For dinner, head to the new Puerto 27 Peruvian Kitchen and Pisco Bar and be sure to sample a variety of menu items, tapas style.
  • Check out who’s performing in town at pacificaperformances.org. The theatre features everything from opera to tango, blues and folk.

Day Three

  • Enjoy breakfast at the Salada Beach Café where choices range from healthy to hearty.
  • Take a private art class with Janet Barker on one of Pacifica’s dramatic beaches. Be sure to set up your appointment with this “art-trepreneur” ahead of time. This is an ideal activity for those that want to bring home their painting as a memento from their Pacifica getaway.
  • Lunch al fresco at the Surf Spot and enjoy fresh seafood dishes and salads.
  • Then, as the getaway winds down, take a pick from the several adventure options…a leisurely hike at Mori Point; powering up and down some of the most intriguing mountain bike terrain in California; paddle boarding at Linda Mar Beach; hitting the links at the Alister MacKenzie-designed Sharp Park Golf Course; or surfing the popular beaches of Pacifica (surf lessons are available for those that need a refresher).

PACIFICA LODGING

Pacifica offers six lodging options in the budget to moderate price range and all are within walking distance to Pacifica’s beaches. Four are located at Rockaway Beach. The largest with 97 guest rooms is the Best Western Plus Lighthouse Hotel, a full-service hotel situated on Rockaway Beach with spacious accommodations, beautiful ocean views, a swimming pool and the upscale Moonraker restaurant. The Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites Pacifica provides very comfortable accommodations with ocean views and a complimentary hot Express Start Breakfast Bar. Offering a dash of Victorian charm is the pet-friendly Pacifica Motor Inn and adjacent to Nick’s Restaurant is the Sea Breeze Motel, which is very convenient for those looking to dance the night away at Nick’s. Situated across from Linda Mar Beach is another full service hotel called the Pacifica Beach Hotel. Under new ownership, the hotel now includes several remodeled rooms, offering spectacular ocean view rooms, Jacuzzi tubs, indoor swimming pool and the new Peruvian Restaurant, Puerto 27. Further north near Sharp Park is Americas Best Value Inn, which is a short walk from Pacifica Pier and the golf course.

Accommodations:

America’s Best Value Inn Pacifica: (877) 784-6835/www.pacifica-bestvalueinn.com

Best Western Plus Lighthouse Hotel: (650) 355-6300/ www.bestwesternlighthouse.com

Holiday Inn Express & Suites: (650) 355-5000/www.hiexpresspacifica.com

Pacifica Beach Hotel: (650) 355-9999/www.pacificabeachhotel.com

Pacifica Motor Inn: (800) 522-3772/www.pacificamotorinn.com

Sea Breeze Motel at Rockaway Beach: (650) 359-3903

Travel Tip: For more information about Pacifica, log onto VisitPacifica.com. Also highly recommend is the iPacifica mobile app for Apple or Android devices, which provides information on dining, shopping, galleries, lodging, weather and more.

Background: Pacifica. California

The natural beauty and unparalleled serenity of Pacifica, California has attracted travelers to this coastal gem for more than 100 years. Located just 15 minutes south of San Francisco, Pacifica feels worlds away but is convenient to some of the most vibrant, international communities on the West Coast. Easily accessible from Highway 1, Pacifica’ rich cultural heritage and bohemian personality make it a unique destination worth discovering.

Pacifica’s ethereal beauty is enhanced by its Mediterranean style weather. Refreshing temperatures range from 15-20 degrees cooler than the central coast, drawing visitors to Pacifica’s shoreline to ‘cool’ off during the hot summer months with its natural air-conditioning and attractive oceanfront accommodations. Likewise, Pacifica’s equally-appealing winter travel season provides a dramatic setting for those interested in off-season values and romantic departures.

Of the many diversions, Pacifica boasts some of the most breathtaking panoramic vistas atop a wide range of hiking trails and walking adventures along the expansive beaches dotting the destination’s shoreline. Additionally, the destination features a range of recreational options, including surfing, boating, scuba, fishing and paragliding, birding, cycling, golf, tennis, archery and horseback riding.

According to the National Marine Sanctuaries of the West Coast, Pacifica is known to be the fourth richest area in the world for marine mammal life.

For more information about the destination of Pacifica, California, please visit http://visitpacifica.com.

Explore San Francisco’s Many Free Walking Tours with Hyatt Regency San Francisco’s Explore Package & Walking Guide

As the only luxury property on The City’s waterfront, Hyatt Regency San Francisco is offering its popular Explore Package in conjunction with a series of free walking tours. This list of suggestions was accumulated with input from the National Parks, the hotel’s concierge staff and San Francisco tourism resources.

“Explore” Package

Enjoy the excitement of the City by the Bay with the hotel’s Explore Package, which includes overnight accommodations in newly renovated guestrooms, 15% off food and beverage at Eclipse Restaurant located in the Guinness Book of World Records largest atrium lobby and two San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) passes, which provide unlimited daily use on the iconic cable cars, historic street cars, busses and trolleys.  Rates start at $229.

Walking San Francisco’s Most Beloved Destinations

Here is a summary of some of the most idyllic options for those that want to get out of doors while in the city-by-the-bay. Please read on…

Lands End

UnknownSometimes considered the wildest, rockiest corner of San Francisco, Land’s End is a historical hike that begins at Point Lobos and is an ideal location to watch the spectacular sea lions bark on the rocks below. This is a nice retreat from the busy city life where outdoor enthusiast can get lost in the dramatic cliffs, open terrain and 30-mile, panoramic views of the California coast. While here, hikers can also visit the ruins of Sutro Baths, a large public bathhouse that was constructed in 1896. There is also a Labyrinth, shipwreck remains and the Palace of the Legion of Honor to round out the adventure. This relatively easy hike is roughly 3.4 miles long and normally takes 1-3 hours. For more information, check out http://www.everytrail.com/guide/lands-end-san-francisco.

Golden Gate Bridge Walk

Unknown-1The Golden Gate Bridge is the icon of San Francisco and is considered to be one of the most beautiful bridges in the world. Luckily, visitors have the opportunity to walk across the 1.7 miles span of this bridge, which opened to the public on May 28, 1937 at a cost $35 million dollars. For those that want a longer walk, there is a trail up to Hendrik Point, which features a phenomenal view of the bridge and the San Francisco skyline. For more information, check out http://www.everytrail.com/guide/walking-the-golden-gate-bridge.

One Perfect Day in San Francisco

San Francisco may be as diverse a city as they come. The city boasts vast culture, art and history. For one perfect day, enjoy this 7.1 mile tour that will highlight the locals’ favorite diversions. It begins at Tartine Bakery, which is one of the best bakeries-cafés in town. Next, Stow Lake, where adventurers can rent rowboats and paddle boats. For lunch, walk a short few blocks to check out the vicinity surrounding UCSF at Irving Street & 9th Ave where there’s a diverse group of several ethnic restaurants. Then, return to Golden Gate Park for a visit to The Academy of Sciences Museum, a world-class science museum that has visitors lost for hours. Finally, finish at Haight-Ashbury, which takes visitors back in time to the hippie culture of the 60s. For more information, check out http://www.everytrail.com/guide/one-perfect-day-in-san-francisco.

Downtown Architecture Walk

For those interested in a walking tour through the heart of downtown San Francisco, check out Crocker Galleria, Hallidi Building on 150 Sutter St, Wells Fargo Banking Hall, 111 Sutter St, City Group Center Greenhouse, The Crown Zellerbach Paper Co. Building and Shell Building. These buildings offer unique architecture that are not found anywhere else, and are considered to be some of the most important buildings in the world. Even though it’s only a half a mile walk, architecture buffs can get lost here for hours just admiring the beauty this historic area. For more information, check out http://www.everytrail.com/guide/san-francisco-downtown-architecture-walk.

Touring Chinatown

Unknown-2Tourists and locals alike are drawn to the irresistible charm that Chinatown has to offer. The entryway to this historic neighborhood features a green-tiled gate at the intersection of Grant and Bush streets at which point visitors are drawn into one of North America’s most populated Asian communities with the authentic ambiance of shops, restaurants, grocery stores, delis, bakeries, fortune cookie factory, tea and herbal shops, galleries, souvenir haunts and more. At 1.2 miles long, it’s the largest Chinatown outside of Asia. For more information, check out http://www.everytrail.com/guide/chinatown-san-francisco-walk.

Union Square and SoMa

Built in 1850, with a history from the Union troops of the Civil War, Union Square is the place to gravitate to for shopaholics, theater enthusiasts and people watching addicts. Some of the most reputable retailers include Macy’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, Tiffany’s, Williams-Sonoma, Nike and Neiman Marcus. Or, for those that enjoy the more exclusive boutiques, head to Maiden Lane for the more intimate, chic boutiques and cafes. Before or after shopping, take the cable car or head to south of Market Street (SOMA) to enjoy museums, park life, a great variety of food and drinks and several family-friends sites. To properly prepare for this outing, prepare for a half-day with a 1.6 mile long journey. For more information, check out http://www.everytrail.com/guide/san-francisco-s-union-square-amp-soma.

Reservations and Information

The above Explore Package is available through December 30, 2014 (with the exception of blackout dates) and is based on availability. Rates will vary according to dates of reservations. For reservations and additional information, visit http://www.sanfranciscoregency.hyatt.com or call (800) 233-1234.

About Hyatt Regency San Francisco

Situated on the Embarcadero Waterfront, across from the iconic Ferry Building Marketplace, with ferries to Sausalito, Tiburon and Alameda, Hyatt Regency San Francisco is the city’s most accessible hotel. The hotel is at the beginning of the California Street Cable Car line and is also in close proximity to the Embarcadero Center’s shops and restaurants, Financial District, Downtown, Chinatown, North Beach, Union Square, South of Market, AT&T Park (home of the SF Giants) and Embarcadero’s waterfront walking and jogging trail. As the city’s largest luxury waterfront hotel, Hyatt Regency San Francisco boasts 802 newly renovated rooms and suites. Guest services and amenities include Wi-Fi service throughout the hotel, 24-hour automated business center and newly constructed 24-hour StayFit @ Hyatt Fitness Center. Situated in the soaring atrium lobby of the hotel, amidst magnificent trees and trellises that create a serene and relaxing environment, Eclipse Restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner featuring classic interpretations of local cuisine.