Planning a Trip Portugal

Great Waterparks in the Algarve

The Algarve is the name given to Portugal’s stunningly scenic south coast. It is a place of world class beaches, impeccable golf courses and quaint hillside villages, and with the heavenly year-round temperatures this destination has firmly established itself as one of the best getaways on the planet. There are numerous areas to stay – some quiet and peaceful; others loud and boozy – and Algarve accommodation ranges from gleaming five star hotels to basic beachside campsites.

Apart from bronzing yourself on the idyllic beaches and whacking golf balls down verdant fairways, there is an incredible amount of things to do in the Algarve. Boat trips, walking and cultural excursions always feature heavily on holidaymakers’ itineraries, but these things can sometimes get a bit – whisper this – boring. Waterparks aren’t boring (especially if you’re traving with kids). They’re a bit brilliant really, wouldn’t you agree? I hope so, because I’m about to tell you about some of the best ones the Algarve has to offer.

Zoomarine, located a short drive northwest of Albufeira, is one of the Algarve’s top attractions. Open from March to October, the park wows its guests with a wildlife extravaganza. A favourite is the dolphin show, during which the trainers have the smiley creatures jumping through hoops to please the crowd. There is also a 4D cinema in which you can watch polar bears sliding down glaciers, you can try to resist ducking as monkeys launch apples in your direction and you can try to keep your eyes open as great white sharks baring hideous rows of jagged teeth swim towards you.

Slide and Splash
Slide and Splash, located 25 minutes outside the town of Lagos (which sits on the western fringes of the Algarve) is by far the best waterpark in the whole region. It boasts an Olympic sized swimming pool, every type of slide you can think of and 25,000 square metres of grassy areas. You can chill out with a cocktail and a burger under a shady palm tree or take the plunge down the Kamikaze – an enormous slide that sees you reach tremendous speeds before being spat out into a large pool. There are plenty of kiosks selling ice creams and drinks and also a stylish self-service restaurant for those who are feeling extra peckish. The lifeguards manning each ride and the general safety of the place makes this an ideal day out for families with young children.

Aquashow, situated just outside the town of Quarteira, had to be included in this rundown simply for the Water Roller Coaster, which holds the coveted title of being the biggest in Europe. The kilometre-long ride will see you go in and out of the water, fly round sharp corners and reach speeds of 70 kilometres per hour – all in your trunks and bikinis. Other attractions here include the White Fall (an exhilarating donut ride), the Wild Snake (a fantastic waterslide) and an enormous wave pool.

A day out at a waterpark is a great excursion for adults and children alike. While there is plenty to keep you occupied on a holiday in the Algarve, few things are more fun than spending hours zooming down slides with the sun on your face, or staring in wonder at wild animals trained to do unusual things.

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Things to Do

Budget Vacation in Hawaii?

Could you really plan a vacation in Hawaii on a low budget? How can that be possible? Well, it can be done but you’ve got to do your homework before even starting to book the accommodation and flight.

Definitely it’s not enough just to find cheap tickets to Hawaii . Currently, several major US airlines offer Hawaii flights on sale for departures until August. You just need to find the best option for you. For example, a round-trip flight from LAX into Honolulu in late-March starts at $610 per person (on United or Continental). Or you can fly in mid-May for just $382 per person (on Hawaiian Airlines).

When you look up accommodation, consider renting a vacation apartment. You can buy food at the farmers markets in Hawaii and save money in the process. Plus, farmers markets are excellent places to get to know the locals.

If you prefer a hotel, rooms in 2-star hotels start at $67 per night. If you book in advance, you can find discounted rates and hence pay $95 per night for a room which would otherwise cost $191 per night.

Of course, we all head to Hawaii for the beaches on Honolulu but there are quite a lot of other things to do. Don’t forget to plan at least a day of sightseeing and check out the Iolani Palace, Hawaii State Art Museum, Bishop Museum, and Kawaiahao Church. And if you are after the night-life you should know that there are excellent live performances in the Hawaiian bars.

Articles Honduras travel guide

Traveling by Bus in Honduras

In most of Central America, there’s really no other way to get around (unless you want your own rental car) than by bus. The good news about bus travel in Central America is that it’s very cheap, sometimes shockingly so. The bad news is that it’s not the most comfortable, convenient way to travel. It’s no different in Honduras.

If you’re willing to ride the ubiquitous “chicken bus” – those rickety, cramped, old American school buses that serves as local transport in much of Latin America, you can travel from place to place for just a few dollar.

However, this is not recommended for any long distance bus trips, as you’ll find that unless you are seriously strapped for cost, the discomfort is not worth the savings. Instead go one step up to a cheap tourist bus – even these can get you across the country (and even to Guatemala or Nicaragua) for under $20.

Though the cost is a bit higher, you’ll find the trip much more comfortable and efficient. The buses generally stop less along the way, and many have bathrooms, tvs, and even air-conditioning – certainly an improvement over sharing the bus with farm animals.

Some travelers argue that by not riding the local buses, you’ll miss out on an “authentic” local experience. Luckily traveling on a budget in Central America often provides plentiful other opportunities to travel slowly, get to know the locals, and have a genuine cultural experience. So if you’d rather have a more comfortable seat, or are on a tight timetable, opt for the nicer tourist bus instead. It still won’t bus your budget and you’ll arrive to your destination rested and (relatively) on time.

Photo by LShave

Articles Panama

Bucket List Travel: Cruising through the Panama Canal

“A man, a plan, a canal: Panama.” Every schoolchild in the US learns about the Panama Canal, that marvel of modern engineering that allows ships to shortcut between Central and South America rather than take the long way around. And thousands of visitors come each year to see the famed locks in action; some even choose to get an up close view of the locks as they cruise through on a boat.

If you’re thinking about booking a cruise through the Panama Canal, there are a few things to consider. The first is whether or not you actually want to transit through the 50-mile canal. It takes about 12 hours to go through the three sets of locks, and while some might be captivated by the process, others might find a full day of crossing a little too relaxed. Some cruise ships are now offering a partial crossing, which stops after one set of locks and allows passengers to get off the boat for a day of shore excursions that they would otherwise miss.

The next consideration is how long you want to cruise and where you want to go. The most popular Panama Canal route starts in Florida or the Caribbean and lasts anywhere from 9-14 days, with several “at sea” days. But some smaller ships offer shorter cruises that go through the Canal and then make stops in Panama, Colombia or Costa Rica. Small-ship cruising is an entirely different experience from setting sail on a large ship, so check out all the options and weight the pros and cons before you decide what size ship is right for you.

The final consideration when planning a Canal cruise is flights. Since many Panama Canal cruises start and end in different spots, you’ll need to investigate open-jaw options when booking your cheap flights to Panama, or book each leg as a one way. A cruise through the Panama Canal makes an appearance on many a travel “bucket list,” and planning a trip though the landmark is easier than you might think.

Photo by Corvair Owner

Las Vegas Los Angeles Things to Do

Valentine’s Day Getaway to Vegas

For anyone who’s already in LA in mid-February, the idea of needing to plan a warm-weather getaway over Valentine’s Day is probably a bit silly. There’s plenty of sunshine blanketing Los Angeles and much of southern California during February, so you could easily enjoy a romantic walk on the beach with your sweetheart with just a short drive – but if you want to plan Valentine’s Day travel anyway, why not go play in Vegas?

There are all kinds of reasons to love Vegas for a getaway destination from Los Angeles, especially around Valentine’s Day. It’s not overly hot in Sin City in February, and yet it’s generally warm enough to enjoy the outdoor pools. That may not sound so different from February weather in LA, but Vegas certainly offers plenty of activities and attractions that LA doesn’t.

Getting from LA to Las Vegas is easy – there are lots of flights every day from LA’s many airports, and if you fancy a road trip it’s not even that far to drive. Hotel rooms in Vegas may go up in price over Valentine’s Day, but for a romantic splurge it can be worth it to get a room that’s a little more deluxe than you might otherwise. There are a few things you can do to get an upgrade on a Vegas hotel room – the best options usually involve being a frequent visitor to one particular hotel or getting that hotel casino’s “player’s card,” but it’s worth considering if you go to Las Vegas often.

Valentine’s Day is on a Monday this year, so if you’re taking a long weekend trip to Sin City you might have to get a little work done on the holiday itself. If you do, you may be pleased to know that there are a few places where you can get free WiFi in Las Vegas – including McCarran Airport. Of course, unless you’re planning on relocating and finding a job in Las Vegas after your significant other dumps you for spending too much time online during your weekend trip, you might want to make sure you’ve booked a table at one of the most romantic restaurants in Vegas as a just-in-case peace offering.

photo by SimonDoggett

Alaska travel guide

What has the marmot done? Is Spring coming?

February 2. Every year this date is very important for those who believe in weather predicting traditions . In many European countries, they look to see whether the bear sees its shadow. If it does, it gets scared and goes back to hibernation for another 40 days. Argh! Update from Romania: it’s snowing and the bear hasn’t seen its shadow. So we can hope spring is coming!

Alaskans, on the other hand, are very careful to watch the marmots’ behavior on this particular day. The routine is the same as in the case of groundhogs, hedgehogs and bears: if the marmot sees its shadow, it’s six more weeks of winter.

After reading “Northern Lights” (by Nora Roberts) I’ve decided that regardless of the weather predictions, I’d love to spend a vacation in Alaska. Sure, it’s cold in the winter and spring is not exactly very warm either, but Alaska is a magical place.

And it’s also located pretty far for the rest of the US states. So, looking for a cheap flight into Alaska can be a bit tricky. But Alaska Airlines typically has excellent deals for those wanting to fly to the frozen state.

With the flight booked, make sure to also look for discount hotels , which aren’t that hard to find. You can find rooms in Fairbanks for rates starting at $58 per night (2 persons) , but the rates do depend a lot on the location of the hotel.

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