Despite Its Tiny Size, St Barts Delivers The Ultimate In Chic Caribbean Delights.

The island has rightfully earned the nickname: “St. Moritz of the Caribbean.”  Only slightly more than 8 square miles it goes by more names than square miles, including its official name of St. Barthélemy,  given to it by 17th century French settlers and St. Bart, St. Barth, St. Bart’s and St. Barth’s.  For those “that know”  – the “official” Island name is St. Barts, with a silent “s”.

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St. Barts is also pretty close to officially being called “paradise”.  It’s only out of respect for island, a little superstition, favor to its people, and a belief that the Eagles were “right on” when they sang  the words …  “they called it paradise, I don’t know why. You call some place paradise, kiss it goodbye “… that we will refrain from adding another name.

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We can tell you about St. Barts that what you don’t find on the island may well be more important than what you do.

What you won’t find:

1.   No beach lined high-rise hotels.  Only one and two-story buildings are allowed.

2.   No fast food and fast talking time share salesman.

3.   No crime to speak of.

4.   Very few cars and little traffic.

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What you will find are:

1.  Countless, breathtakingly beautiful, soft, white sand beaches.

2. Exceptional duty-free shopping, sin hordes of tourists, as large cruise lines aren’t allowed to dock here.

3.  Cuisine that rivals the best in the world – with many chefs possessing the goal of making their mark on the gourmet food world stage.

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All this wonder causes challenges. The most complex may be deciding what beach to visit  – made even more complex because many of the beaches boast swimming pool like calm waters,  ideal for snorkeling, while other beaches feature waves that are perfect for surfing.  Your next challenge will be deciding what to wear and which restaurants to eat at.

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St. Barts is a beautiful island destination that has long been an escape for the rich and famous.  It will likely remain one for time to come, as prices are unlikely to decline.  The reasons for this are that all goods are shipped onto the island and the island caters almost exclusively to an upscale clientele.

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St. Barts is the place to visit if you are looking for glamour and glitz while simultaneously being touched by the inner Caribbean soul of sunshine and warm people. Once here you will discover a captivating and alluring destination, that’s casually elegant,  brimming with class, yet managing, perhaps because of its exclusivity and high prices – yes it’s one of the most expensive destinations in the world –  to be extremely laid back and intoxicating, in ways that will leave you desiring to return time and again, even if only in your imagination.

Photographs Copyright SaintBarth-Tourisme.com

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Eight Reasons Why Anguilla Will Steal Your Heart And Never Give It Back.

Bermuda,  Martinique,  the Exumas, and Barbados may “grab” the spotlight,  when it comes to Caribbean travel, though there is one island, that tends to be less in the spotlight,  that when you visit, will discover is more like that person you didn’t realize you’ve fallen for until it was too late.

There’s nothing flashy or brash about this little island paradise.   An understated, discreet and  charming feel pervades the culture.   Anguilla has managed to keep a relatively low profile while offering some big time attractions.

Here are just 8 of the many that will silently seduce you.

1. A cool vibe without trying.

When you arrive,  your first drive unveils a flat landscape of palms and scrub.  It’s quite unassuming and leaves you no clues that this may well be the best island in the Caribbean.  You’ll soon discover the beauty of no crowds, no cruise ships or hordes of spring breakers and the reason you escaped life to visit paradise.

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 2.   No shopping to speak of. This place is real and the food is to die for.

The people are genuine and so is what you find.   There are no lines of duty free stores.  Actually,  you won’t find any big time shopping at all.   What you will find are some of the most exquisite restaurants in the Caribbean – with not a single restaurant chain.

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3.  From $25,000 a night villas to $99 B&Bs.  

Anguilla is eclectic in many ways and this is just one.

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4.  The beaches are exquisite.

Thirty-three beaches are here, and each is sugar-white, with many stretching for miles or more.  Shoal Bay, in the northeast of the island, is a two-mile stretch that’s consistently been voted one of the best beaches in the world. Condé Nast Traveller describes Shoal Bay as ‘truly amazing… it manages to feel alive and animated without being in the least crowded or overbuilt.’

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5.  An island perceived as uber-high-end and perhaps the reason many stay away, is the reason you should visit.

There are more billionaires per square foot who moor their yachts here and a number of them have their homes too. So while you’re likely to find yourself next to a celeb,  you’re also not likely who it is, and that’s the reason they come here.

6.  Idyllic  weather.

Many islands are mountainous, which means clouds and rain. Being flat, Anguilla has a much more level climate with less rain and plenty of sunshine.

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7.   World class snorkeling and diving.

The clear, azure waters offer up a large varieties of sea life to explore.  There are six marine parks and nine wrecks to dive, including that of a Spanish galleon.

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8.  Friendliest people on earth are said to live here – and why not?  

When you leave Anguilla you’ll very likely depart taking along new friends for life.

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There’s little question that  you’ll come up with many more reasons that make Anguilla one of the most beautiful, appetizing, relaxing, and friendly Islands in all the Caribbean.    So, if you’re interested is piqued  and you’re looking for a Caribbean getaway,  check out some of the villas and homes available in Blowing Point,  Shoal Bay, Meads Bay or Rendezvouz Bay located on Anguilla’s southern coast  home to the countries’ largest and most visited national park, spawning over 5,000 acres, it is an internationally renowned spot and one of the sailing world’s premier ports of call.  At the centre lies Rendezvous Bay, an untouched paradise that is visible only to those who sail by and perhaps by you.

.Photos Copyright the Anguilla Tourist Board

Most Luxurious Caribbean Island Vacations for 2014

We traveled the Caribbean,  read reviews,  talked to travelers,  drank many beach cocktails,  walked many sandy beaches, all for the sole purpose of uncovering what may just be the ultimate list of vacation rentals in the Caribbean. Yes, it was rough but as they say …. “someones goto do it.”

These choices are not based on affordability, in fact all are ultra-luxurious.  They aren’t based on being quirky and weird either.

These accommodations offer the ultimate in luxury, amenities and service – in many instances rivaling and exceeding the services offered by the world’s most exclusive hotels.  Hyperbole? We think not.

How many hotels have a full-time staff catering to the needs and whims of one party, one one island, for an entire week, month or year?

The List

Caneel Bay, USVI

There may be no finer antidote to over stressed life than an escape to this gorgeous place. Caneel Bay is a tech-free ethos and a sanctuary to life.

Over Yonder Cay,  Exuma Chain, Bahamas

Over Yonder Cay welcomes you and 27 other guests, in four villas and is best described as a unique private haven for people seeking an authentic,  barefoot luxury experience.

Peter Island,  British Virgin Islands

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Peter Island is the ultimate in island fantasies. This tropical island paradise may be reserved exclusively for you and your selected guests.

Guana Island, British Virgin Islands

Guana Island may just be the Garden of Eden. A lush, tropical oasis, Guana Island spans 850 acres, of undisturbed natural beauty and it can be all yours, with cocktails,  umbrellas and snorkeling gear.

 Caya Espanto, Belize

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The ultimate resort experience on your own private island. Casa Espanto offers you your own island paradise, total privacy and 5 star resort amenities.  It is  a place where paradise and luxury come together for the ideal Caribbean getaway. This place was especially created for travelers looking for the best that life has to offer.

Fowl Cay, the Bahamas

Enjoy a casual, carefree environment. Swing like a castaway in one of the hammocks, walk one of the beautiful beaches, while enjoying unrivaled tranquility. Then after your day is over, allow the sounds of ocean waves to lull you to sleep.   The team at Fowl Cay deliver the ideal blend of a vacation home experience combined with a full service resort.

These vacation opportunities and others can be found as part of VacationDigg’s Private Island Collection.

Nude Beaches, Free-Spirited or Therapy?

“The cure for anything is salt water – sweat, tears, or the sea.”   –Isak Dinesen

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Is baring it all considered taking a walk on your wild side?  No not always, in fact some people consider it a form of therapy as it can relieve stress and depression.  Think about it a little.  It takes you out of your everyday routine “for sure”, and gives you a chance to explore the outside world from a different view especially when you’re not in your everyday attire.  Theres scientific evidence that the salty sea air has many health benefits especially those that suffer with seasonal allergies.  Whatever the case may be it surely gets you out of what ever funk you might be in.  But would you? Could you? ….and where would you?  How about for Therapy?
Don’t most of us all enjoy and love the wonders of the sea? Is it because it has some potent power to make us think things we’d like to think about.  Does the waves enable us to reflect on deeper issues that allow us to see clearly or is it just plain fun and thats what makes it all worth wild.  In any case the beach is a good place to be and if you dare to bare it then heres a few places you might want to consider.

Baker Beach, Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California, USA.

Bakers Beach right outside where the little cable cars climb halfway to the stars right outside of San Francisco.
If you’re out there early in the morning the fog may chill the air, but you won’t care because its San Francisco.  Views of the Golden Gate included.  What else could anyone want?  Except maybe a great body so the view isn’t only one sided. 😉

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Ochos Rios beach in Jamaica has 635 miles of coastline with warm, crystalline waters; rugged black-sand shores and tranquil waters with sugary coves perfect for little swimmers.  Sounds more like a delicious fat-free recipe. Maybe good enough to take the plunge.
This place just might want to touch you rather fancy while exploring it.
After all it’s not far from where Stella got her grove back.

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On the east end of Crete’s Plakias Beach is a favorite for nude beach-goers though if your not ready to let it all hang out, then this beach might not be for the shy.  However since it is pretty popular there are showers all along the beach and many parking spaces. Don’t forget the boom-box and sunscreen.

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The striking red sands of Red Beach in Santorini, Greece, welcomes those with a free-spirit.  The  volcanic island, Santorini is known for the red sand and its  horseshoe-shape with steep slope.  On the other side you’ll see a gentle downward slope to the sea, giving it the natural beauty look. Add yourself to the picture and it just might be a master piece of delight.

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Vancouver, British Columbia, is home to Wreck Beach, and is considered to be one of the world’s busiest beaches where clothes are optional.  The reason it’s so popular is because its right next to the British Columbia University campus and it’s quite typical to see close to 14,000 visitors flock for the right to bare arms, legs, and anything else that feels good.
I bet you don’t see to many students with books out there.

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If you’re searching for an all-inclusive nudist resort then look to the southern tip of the Riviera Maya.  Tulum Beach in Mexico would be the place to be.  This beach has limestone sands and crystal blue waters. The name Tulum comes form the word wall, and its beach ruins will have you looking up in wonder at the ancient pyramid-shamed Mayan ruins.   If the beach isn’t enough to keep you interested then the surrounding walls that are over 1,000-year-old sure will. That history lesson alone is something to marvel at. How did they build that place anyway?

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The nudist resort at Cap d’Agde, France, welcomes folks willing to bare it all.  The beach is sandy and beautiful and some ares very clean.  Though these waters can be very cold even during the month of June. However, it’s a great beach for the kids as there is very shallow waters for miles and lifeguards are often seen which makes it excellent for families. The far left side of the beach attracts a large number of gay sunbathers and the central part tends to attract a more youthful crowd which makes that side of the beach a little livelier.

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Samurai Beach, in Queensland, Australia is a perfect escape, for nature lovers and naturists.

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I can go on and on when it comes to this beach but no need to as these two picture alone speaks a 1000 words.  I mean….really?   It doesn’t get much better then that!

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Black’s Beach, a secluded beach in San Diego beneath the bluffs of Torrey Pines is the largest nude beach in the US.  Its quiet and lovely though you won’t see any  lifeguards and its the regulars that take care of the area and clean up in order to ensure its natural beauty.  Theres easy trails to get to the beach from the parking area and everyone keeps to themselves unless you ask for help.
Nature took a hold of its beauty as the view is amazing no matter where you’re standing.  Watching the cliffs, the hang gliders, all make the experience worth wild and special.
And if your suit doesn’t fit just right then toss it.

A few unspoken etiquette rules you should know before you visit a nudist beach.  It can keep you out of trouble.   

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Hey…just because my shell is bigger then most doesn’t mean you have rights to my pearl.

  • Clothing is optional when visiting a resort as it was designed for people to shed their clothes and it’s what they want to do there. But staring is never an appropriate thing to do.
  • No taking photos or videos of other people or you just might be looking down at the sand. Most resorts are strictly against it and if your are caught doing this, expect staring down at the sand before you could say “holy-Sh!# Batman, why did you do that?”
  • You may take a picture of yourselves and even with your partners or group of friends if your party is at ease and willing.
  • Depending where you stay there are several laws banning any sort of lewd or crude behavior so be aware of them.
  • If is expected that you place a towel or something similar to it when siting down at a seat or in a bar or restaurant. This is for hygiene and is another one of those unspoken rule that everyone always follows.
  • Like anywhere else respect others and their privacy.
  • Remember that others are here to relax just like you so don’t worry so much about what everyone is doing. If it’s you’re first time no one knows but you and possibly your partner.  If you need a few hours to gather your bravo side then do it its all good.

The island mecca of Ibiza is losing its title as the hedonistic 18-30’s party capital of the world.

It’s no longer just a voyage of partying and ecstasy fueled 90’s raves, and the days of the 15 euro all-you-can-drink booze cruise have  -thankfully- been, well and truly, laid to rest.

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So what’s the draw? What is it that’s still attracting people en-mass to the mysterious isle each year?

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Millions of tourists spilled out of the Aeropuerto de Eivissa arrivals hall every month last summer and the numbers are expected to increase in 2014.

Could it be the magical magnetic pull of the legend of Es Vedra that is luring people here in such drastic numbers? Maybe. It’s evident to me though that there’s more here on offer and that Ibiza has evolved gracefully from the era of the cheap party holiday destination to a stunning world class resort with endless facilities, history, authentic Spanish culture, and yet the same laid back Mediterranean charm that captured the hippies back in the swinging sixties is still very much alive.

So, despite the shocking decline of the San An booze-cruise industry Ibiza is better than ever. There are private jets landed at the airport and a plethora of high-end chauffeur driven rides from Mercedes to Hummers to get you to the start of your holiday.

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The summer months see an endless stream of politicians, royals, and high profile celebrities pictured on beaches across the island, and in bars where drinks cost more than a budget airline flight ticket. It’s attractive.

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Everyone wants a slice of this new luxury Ibiza. You only need to look at the changing face of the beaches here to see why – they’re becoming lined with fancy bars offering champagnes, fine dining, and complimentary dingy service to and from your yacht, t’s easy to see the attraction.

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And where’s there to stay? Well if you want the privacy and seclusion highly guarded to the aforementioned well known island frequenters, and want absolute dictatorship over the poolside track playlist throughout your holiday then you absolutely must stay in one of the hundreds of exclusive villas in Ibiza that are on offer.

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You can have a stunning minimalist glass fronted mansion with infinity pool and endless sea views into the horizon, or stay in a traditional white-wash finca packed with typical Spanish character and acres of outdoor sunbathing space.

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If you don’t mind the company of others poolside then you might want to try Ushuaia, there’s also Ibiza’s one and only art boutique hotel, or maybe a spa retreat is more fitting for perking yourself up in the morning after one too many sangrias.

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Whatever your accommodation preferences you’ll be well catered for. There are businesses on the Island providing no other services but to simply make sure you have an unforgettable experience here and be there to arrange anything you could so desire during your stay on the Island. Local experts that can source even the most unusual of requests.

There’s a never-ending list of bars and eateries to fulfill every palate and the dress code here is just as varied. Bohemian traders hustle souvenirs alongside hippies who haven’t set foot on a high street since the sixties, all this just a stonesthrow from exclusive beaches with perfectly preened girls on plush white day beds. It’s a good mix. You can’t possibly avoid the good vibes.

If you’ve any time left after taking in all the good vibes then make sure you get some culture in your system. Dalt Vila in Ibiza Town is a UNESCO world heritage site. Ibiza is a tiny island with a massive old castle. It’s unusual but definitely a must-see.

So, we’ve established that there’s something for everyone in Ibiza. The Spanish are a welcoming bunch so whatever you’re here for you’ll be encouraged by all those around you to have the time of your life. Businesses here have really taken time to understand whats going on around them and have realised that the market is changing. They have adapted perfectly to the changes and the result is that Ibiza is thriving.

As long as the islands business owners keep providing what tourists want they’ll hopefully continue to arrive in the thousands.

Do you have what it takes to Step Into the Void?

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Employees at “Step into the Void” 

On the top terrace of the Aiguille du Midi mountain peak, high up in the French Alps,  overlooking Chamonix, stands a five-sided glass structure named “Step into the Void.”  Inspired by the Grand Canyon’s glass-skywalk, the Chamonix glass room takes things to an entirely new level – the Void!.  Rather than looking over a railing, here guests stand 3,396 feet in a completely glass box,  hanging over the valley below.

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During Construction of “Step into the Void.”
Photography Compagnie du Mont-Blanc Chamonix

“Step into the Void” is made of three glass walls, a glass floor and glass ceiling panels,  offering spectators the opportunity to manage, their vertigo and experience “space,”  all while admiring the outrageous views from a rather dramatic perspective.

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Chamonix ‘Step into the Void’ – architect’s design. Credit Compagnie du Mont-Blanc Chamonix

Safety is clearly of utmost importance.  Each of the glass panels is custom built,  12mm thick, and consist of three layers of glass that have been bound together. According to creators, the structure can withstand winds of more than 220km/ h and a maximum temperature of 60° so a few humans hanging in the room aren’t too much stress on the structure.

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Credit Compagnie du Mont-Blanc Chamonix

Designed by Pierre-Yves Chays,  “Step into the Void”  is reached by The Aiguille du Midi cable car. The summit of Aiguille du Midi is the closest point you get to Mont-Blanc without climbing it.   The  Aiguille du Midi is the starting point for the ascent of Mont-Blanc to the Three-Mont-Blanc Route and many other sports such as off piste skiing in the winter season, or hiking, and paragliding in the summer and autumn seasons.

Brave enough to “Step into the Void”?  Visit Compagnie du Mont Blanc and make your plans to visit Chamonix, France.

Beautiful Big Sur “OFF THE GRID” Vacation Rental is not for sissies!

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Photography thanks to Richard Wagnoe of Big Sur

Richard Wagnoe operates a salvage lumber mill for reclaimed redwoods in the hills of Big Sur, California. When mill workers aren’t staying in the trailers, that dot the land, Richard rents them to adventurers.

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Photograph thanks to Richard Wagnoe of Big Sur

Travelers to his 54 acres are immediately immersed in nature and surrounded by the elements –  the beautiful landscape,  water, gorgeous views, cool nights, and the fog that rolls in at different times of the day.  “This is a place for people looking to get  lost in nature,” says Richard.  “It’s pretty rugged – not quite as luxurious as a hotel however not quite like ruffing it camping. ”

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These off-the-grid accommodations are for those souls seeking an eco-adventure that begins when you meet Richard – at the gate to his property, from where you will travel up a rugged driveway terrain to your secluded destination.

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Your car will be left at the property gate – “so pack light” he says, because while the walk to your car from where you are staying is just 5 minutes,  going back to your abode, will be a lot tougher, as the climb is steep.

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=Plan on arriving in the afternoon, before sunset, as there are no lights on the roads.   This is a requirement as the road is impassable at night.  There are no exceptions.  Arrive late and no one will be at the gate to meet you.

5 “Big Sur Cabins For Rent is NOT for sissies. Off the Grid – is just that,” says Richard. “The restored trailers are warm, dry and lovingly restored. You’ll experience luxury views,  sleep on high thread count sheets,  get to choose whether to shower indoors or outdoors,  and enjoy the beautiful bath house with its luxurious amenities.”

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Richard has lived in the wilds of Big Sur & off-grid since 1991.  He is a shepherd to this land.  By trade a master, Richard is a stone mason, builder, carpenter and skilled horticulturalist.    Visit and you’ll get to enjoy the fruits of his labor.   The terraces, he has built to the fresh fruits and vegetables that he has planted on the land.

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Photograph thanks to Richard Wagnoe of Big Sur

 And when you depart,  as all must,  perhaps you’ll leave feeling the way Richard does about this spot:

“…the place [he has] come to love and create are gracious spacious and comfortable. A hot shower – or bath – overlooking an incredible view a place to cook an amazing meal, a warm, dry, quiet and peaceful place to sleep.”

Richard has placed the trailers with Privacy, Ocean Views and Natural Beauty in mind and is “offering you the chance to experience the magic of the land.”

For more information please visit: Richard’s website.