Tag Archives: Puerto Rico
Do you like to experience something new every time you travel? Indeed, most travellers do, and worldwide, there are only a few places that are unique, be it an area where there are absolutely no flora or fauna, a place where there are spectacular formative mountain structures, or man-made features that are simply out of this world, such as hotels shaved from ice. You definitely cannot find each and every attraction in another location.
Rare Plant and Animal Species in Madagascar
The Republic of Madagascar is an island country in the Indian Ocean off the south eastern coast of Africa. It is so isolated that it has always been seen as unique and mysterious.
Due to the island’s prolonged isolation from other continents, Madagascar is home to a vast array of plants and animals, many found nowhere else on Earth. About 80% of them are endemic, including the lemur, the carnivorous fossa and three avian families.
More than 10,000 plant species are native to the country, and 90% of that are found nowhere else in the world. For instance, seven plant families are only found here, the highest number of any biodiversity hotspot in the world, and three-fourths of Madagascar’s 960 orchid species are only found there. Many native plant species are used as effective herbal remedies for a variety of afflictions.
The Salt Plains in the Salta, Argentina
The second largest country in South America by land area, Argentina’s Northwestern Salta province is one area worth visiting.
The Salt flats, or Salinas Grandes, a salt desert in the Córdoba and Santiago del Estero provinces in Argentina, covers an area of about 8,290 square kilometres. The salt flats are hexagonal, crystallized crust of salts over a large expanse of water, and this area is of industrial importance for its sodium and potassium mines.
Surrounded by high mountains, the Inca tribes were thought to originally inhabit the area, which offer a unique cultural history as well.
Mosquito Bay in Puerto Rico
The bioluminescent Mosquito Bay in Vieques, Puerto Rico is one of the world’s few remaining bioluminescent bays, and it has been officially declared as the brightest recorded one in the world by the Guinness Book of World Records 2008. At night, organisms named Pyrodinium bahamense, or dinoflagellates, which are responsible for this amazing natural phenomenon, glow blue-green when agitated, like fireflies in the ocean, and you can row out to the middle of the bay and take a swim in a starfield – an experience you will never want to miss.
Being small and shallow, the Mosquito Bay is the perfect environment for the dinoflagellates, as they can be trapped and protected in the bay, making it very bright, and the mangroves surrounding the bay provide the perfect nutrition for them.
Ice Sculptures in Harbin, China
Harbin, the capital and largest city of Heilongjiang, Province in northeast China, is the tenth largest city in China. Well known for its bitterly cold winters with average temperature of 21.2 degree Celsius, or -16.8 degrees Celsius in winter, this place is famous for its beautiful ice sculptures in winter.
The Harbin International Ice Festival, which has been held since 1985, is one of the world’s fourth largest international ice festivals, along with Japan’s Sapporo Snow Festival, Canada’s Quebec Winter Carnival, and Norway’s Ski Festival.
The Harbin Ice Festival features illuminated full-size buildings made from blocks of 2-3 feet thick crystal clear ice directly taken from Songhua River which passes through the city. Winter activities in the festival include Yabuli Alpine skiing, winter-swimming in Songhua River, and the ice-lantern exhibition in Zhaolin Garden.
Volcanoes, Geysers and Ice Hotels in Iceland
Iceland, a European island country in the north Atlantic Ocean on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, is highly geologically active with many volcanoes. It is also home to many geysers, including Geysir, from which the English word is derived, and the famous Stokkur, which erupts every 5-10 minutes.
Also, there is a growing business in the country’s tourism industry – the art of housing people for a night in rooms made of sculpted ice. They were rebuilt every winter, as they cater to customers who are on the lookout for a unique accommodation experience. Nothing beats spending a night in an icy cold, sculpted ice hotel, the oldest and most famous of those are at Jukkasjärvi, Sweden.
Dragon’s Blood Trees in Socotra
Socotra, a small archipelago in the Indian Ocean, lies 240km east of the Horn of Africa. Being isolated, and with its fierce heat and drought, the island has a unique and spectacular endemic flora, and a third of its plant life is also found nowhere else on the planet. About 307 out of 825 plant species on Socotra cannot be found nowhere else on Earth.
One of the most striking of Socotra’s plants is the dragon’s blood tree, a strange-looking, umbrella-shaped tree, with red sap that was thought to be the dragon’s blood of the ancients. It has been sought after as a medicine and a dye, and today, it is mainly being used as paint and varnish.
Other endemic plants in Socotra include the giant succulent tree Dorstenia gigas, Moraceae, the cucumber tree, and the rare Socotran pomegranate. If you like eco-tourism, there is no better place on earth than Socotra.
Takstang Monastery in the Kingdom of Bhutan
Bhutan, officially called the Kingdom of Bhutan and it is the last remaining kingdom in Asia, is located at the eastern end of the Himalayas and surrounded by India and China. In 2006, Business Week magazine rated Bhutan the happiest country in Asia, and the eighth-happiest in the world, based on a global survey.
One of its most famous attractions and one of the most venerated places of pilgrimage in the Himalayas is the Taktsang (which means “tiger’s lair”) Monastery, most notably known as Tiger Nest Monastery. Hanging on a high cliff, visitors must climb the slope on foot or by mule to reach it.
The monastery was built in 1692 by Gyalse Tenzin Rabgye, who is believed to be the reincarnation of Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche), whom is said to fly here from Tibet on the back of a tigress. He then meditated for three months in the cave at Taktshang, before being subjugated to the Eight Categories of evil spirits and converted the valley to Buddhism.
Guru Rinpoche then returned to Tibet and transmitted his teaching to his disciples. One of his disciples Pelkyi returned to Taktshang to meditate, and he named the cave where he meditated as Pelkyi’s Cave.
Pelkyi is believed to have gone to Nepal where he later died. His body miraculously return to Taktshang Monastery under the grace of deity Dorje Legpa and is now sealed inside the chortle standing in the room on the left at the top of the entrance way.
Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, Alberta, Canada
Located about 18km north and west of Fort Macleod, Alberta, Canada, is one of the world’s oldest, largest and best preserved buffalo jumps known to exist – the Head-Smashed-In. For 5,500 years, the native Americans killed bison by chasing them off this cliff and then carve up the bison carcasses in the camp below.
Named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981 and home of a museum of Blackfoot culture, the Head-Smashed-In buffalo jump is a remarkable testimony of prehistoric life. The interpretive centre contains five distinct levels depicting the ecology, mythology, lifestyle and technology of Blackfoot peoples within the context of available archaeological evidence, presented from the viewpoints of both aboriginal peoples and European archaeological science.
The Ancient City of Ephesus in Turkey
Ephesus, an ancient Greek city and later a major Roman city, is located in the present-day Selcuk, Izmir Province of Turkey. It was one of the twelve cities of the Ionian League during the Classical Greek era, and in the Roman period, it was for many years the second largest city of the Roman Empire.
Ephesus was famous for the Temple of Artemis, one of the seven wonders of the Ancient World, which is represented by one inconspicuous column. Ephesus was also one of the seven churches of Asia that are cited in the Book of Revelation, and the Gospel of John may have been written here.
Also, the Library of Celsus, which once held nearly 12,000 scrolls, was originally built in 125 AD in memory of Tiberius Julius Celsus Polemaeanus, an ancient Greek who served a governor of Roman Asia in the Roman Empire. He paid for the construction with his own money, and is buried in a sarcophagus beneath it.
Today, the ruins of Ephesus are a favorite international and local tourist attraction, partly owing to their easy access from Adnan Menderes Airport and via the port of Kusadasi.
Throat Singers of Tuva, Siberia
A rich throat singing tradition survives in Tuva, southern Siberia. Throat singing, also called “chömei” (“ö” is pronounced like “o” and “e” simultaneously), means that a singer elicits a fundamental tone that allows overtones to be extracted. It is a style that simultaneously combines two or more pitches over a fundamental pitch to create sounds mimicking nature. A singer can simultaneously sing with two, and sometimes even with four voices.
Throat singing is very popular among the Siberian male herdsmen because they have little variation in their daily activities, and they are able to practice in the broad, open fields while they work, hence amusing themselves and their families.
Although Siberian groups today make use of stringed instruments, drums, and voices in ensembles, the ancient tradition of single vocalists still survives.
The Poseidon Undersea Resort
The Poseidon Undersea Resort, the world’s first luxury underwater resort which gives you an amazing view of the ocean floor in a room made mostly of acrylic glass, is located in Fiji.
You will arrive at the resort in a private plane from a Fijian airport to the Poseidon Mystery Island. It is an out-of-this-world experience, with an underwater library, a wedding chapel, restaurants, and more, all only 40 feet below the surface of the sea!
The brainchild of American submarine engineer Bruce Jones, a night’s stay will set you back by approximately US$1500 for a standard 550 sq. foot suite, and each guest will have a personal Triton submarine at their disposal for exploring within the lagoon.
Check it out here.
Grenada Underwater Park
Grenada Underwater Park, located at Molinere Bay, Grenada, two miles north of the capital St Georges on the west coast of the island, is home to 65 sculptures, occupying an area of more than 800sq metres.
The work of British sculptor Jason Taylor, divers and snorkelers are amazed and fascinated by his art pieces, which end up creating artificial reefs, drawing new life into areas which have been damaged by nature, thus enhancing the marine environment.
Now, snorkeling or diving in the Sculpture Park is considered a ‘must-do’ by many visitors to Grenada. All the sculptures are sited in clear, shallow waters to allow easy access by divers and snorkellers. Those in glass-bottomed boats can also view his amazing creations.
Check out his artworks.
Jules Undersea Lodge
Jules Undersea Lodge, the world’s first underwater hotel, is named after the author of the famed maritime tale ’20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.’ It was a former research laboratory in Puerto Rico before being converted to a tourist haven at the bottom of the Emerald Lagoon in Key Largo, Florida Lagoon in 1986.
All guests need a scuba diving certification – it can be done in three hours – as they will need to don scuba diving gear in order to enter their rooms. The lodge features a 2-bedrooms and 1 bath retreat that can be rented for a night. Guests can enjoy all the conveniences of modern life such as air-conditioning, hot showers and a DVD player 21 feet below the surface, and preview the massive ocean life through 42-inch windows.
The Hydropolis was due to open in 2006 but as of August 2010, there has been no construction, or construction planned yet. However, the Hydropolis Underwater Hotel and Resort, when completed, will be one of the most spectacular underwater hotels in the world.
Located 66 feet beneath the Persian Gulf, situated off the coast of Dubai, the resort will feature Plexiglas walls and dome ceilings which will allow guests to get up close and personal with the variety of fish and sea creatures in the ocean.
With an area of about 260 hectares, the resort is divided into three sections – a land station, a connecting tunnel and more than 200 suites within a leisure complex. Other amenities include hydrotherapy, spa facilities, ballrooms, nightclubs, restaurants, a library, museum, and king’s suites, which showcase opulence at its best.
Red Sea Star Restaurant
Claimed to be the world’s first ever built underwater restaurant and the only night-time underwater observatory, the Red Sea Star Restaurant in Eliat, Israel’s southernmost city, is submerged 6 metres under the Red Sea.
Featuring a marine-themed interior design, the restaurant has many large windows where visitors can enjoy an amazing view of the sea while dining. Every table has at least two personal windows through which guests can observe the underwater paradise.
In the night, the underwater garden surrounding the restaurant is lit using special soft lights and specific wavelengths, offering guests a unique “dry diving” experience as they eat.
Dubbed one of the most romantic places in the world, the Red Sea Star Restaurant has a capacity of 105, and 62 panoramic windows for a magnificent view of the underwater world.
New Underwater Hotel in Istanbul
Visitors to Istanbul will soon have a chance to view the most spectacular ocean views on the planet. A seven-floor, seven-star hotel is being built underwater on what was formerly a tobacco factory. There will be exhibition halls, and restaurants, and all rooms will be sea facing.
The Istanbul hotel, which is built under the city centre, is set 12m underwater on the sea floor of a 5,000-acre lagoon. The panoramic-view underwater rooms, for up to 144 guests, will be complemented by 457sq m beach front bungalows with private plunge pools and verandahs.
You will be able to see the Istanbul Bosphorus Strait directly from your bedroom, and underwater meetings and business events are now possible!
Hotel Conrad Rangali Island Maldives
The award-winning Conrad Maldives Rangali Island Hotel, located in the Alif Dhall Atoll of the Maldives, is the ultimate honeymoon destination. With over a thousand islands, stunning reefs, and warm waters, the Indian Ocean is also one of the world’s best diving locations as well.
For memories that are to be etched into your minds forever, choose the honeymoon suite, and spend a spectacular night underneath the sea with panoramic views of the marine life.
Shark Reef and Aquarium at Mandalay Bay
The Shark Reef and Aquarium at Mandalay Bay is an excellent showcase for adults and children of all ages who love the underwater life. You can simply walk into a world of sunken ship and treasures, into a unique assortment of sea creatures such as the rare golden alligator, water lizard, ravenous piranhas, sharks, sea turtles, crocodiles, jellyfish, stingrays and many other species of fish.
There is also a shallow petting pool of stingrays and crabs for you to get in close contact with these interesting sea creatures, and at the Shark Reef, you come upon a shipwreck area with sunken treasures, surrounded by glass and a plethora of underwater sea life.
Vanuatu’s Underwater Post Office
The world’s only underwater post office, Vanuatu’s Underwater Post Office is situated within the Hideaway Island marine sanctuary, and is staffed by personnel who have completed their Open Water dive training at Hideaway Island.
Both divers and snorkelers are able to post special “waterproof postcards” to their friends and relatives. During operating hours, instead of being stamped with ink, the Post Office has developed a new embossed cancellation device to cancel or emboss the cards. After office hours, the post cards can be posted in the underwater post box attached to the post office, or taken to the main post office in town. All postcards are guaranteed to receive the special cancellation from this unique underwater attraction, before being delivered.
So grab a mask, fins and snorkel, and visit the Underwater Post Office, and discover unlimited fun and unforgettable adventures!
Bali Underwater Wedding
Where else to have the most romantic wedding but in Bali, the most beautiful and idyllic place in Asia? The tropical climate and mystical ambience makes the country the perfect location for your wedding or honeymoon.
Enjoy your dream wedding, with a full day of boating in Bali and choose from the most suitable of ceremonies offered. The underwater wedding can be organized for certified divers and people who have never tried scuba diving before, although non-certified divers will be required to have an Intro-Dive course before the actual wedding day. The ceremony will be concluded in a pool setting then.