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Chile’s Chiloé Island is no quick weekend getaway (unless you happen to live in Santiago), but its remote beauty is worth the trek halfway down the world. Until a year ago, the island was only reachable by boat, but in 2012 Chiloé welcomed an airport. The tiny but beautiful red terminal serves only one flight at a time, either to or from Santiago and only on LAN.
To set foot in Chiloé, you'll need to fly into Santiago and, there, transfer to a flight to Castro, Chiloé’s capital. The flight first stops in Puerto Montt, where once travelers picked up the ferry, before the flight continues on for about twenty more minutes to arrive in Chiloé. (This leg is so short that you won’t be able to go to the bathroom or turn your Kindle back on.)
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The famous stilt neighborhoods of Chiloe
One of the most beautiful things about Chile is the way the climate can vacillate from one extreme to a different extreme with just a change of region. While the Atacama Desert is predictably arid and Patagonia often buffeted by whipping winds, the island of Chiloé is known for gray skies and rainfall that wouldn’t be out of place in London. (After all, half the island is a rainforest.)
Since rain is a common occurrence in Chiloéand it often shows up at unexpected times, even when it’s been sunny all morningbe sure to keep a lightweight raincoat and hat around. If you’re planning to spend a lot of time outdoors, rain boots are also a good bet.
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There are some places that we encourage you to visit before they become overrun and overpopulated with tourists, before they change and lose pieces of their authenticity.
Then there's the Marshall Islands, which we're insisting you visit before they cease to exist. You know, those islands where we tested all the nuclear weapons back during the second world war? Well, looks like they're getting the short end of the stick again, and this time it might be fatal.
Last week, this string of islands in the South Pacific, about 2,500 miles southwest of Hawaii, told the United Nations that unless climate change action was taken immediately, rising sea levels will drown the country by the end of the century. That means the islands have about 87 years to live, and the situation would get pretty bad well before then.
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You guys, Pacific Islands are so hot right now! We mean both literally and figuratively, but we're going to focus on how travel to Oceania's tiny dots is making the bucketlist of more and more travelers. To reach them, however, it takes a lot of flying just to get your toes in the sand, but thanks to the governments of the Federated States of Micronesia, Palau and the Marshall Islands, flying to any one of the islands will be a lot easier with Fly Micronesia.
These island nations plan to collectively create a new airline with connections to Asia, eliminating the need of the bulk of passengers to connect through US ports in Hawaii and Guam (currently served by United's Micronesia unit). Flying a small fleet of Bombardier Q400 prop planes, Fly Micronesia plans to ease the bottleneck to and from the Western edge of the Pacific Islands, reducing some travel times by half depending on the destination.
Quick: what are the first three things that come to mind when you think of Sweden?
If they're some combination of Stockholm, meatballs, IKEA, and cold weather, then you're not alone. Most North Americans who visit Sweden go to the capital city or head north for the ice hotel and northern lights, but the best kept secret is that the southwest coast of the country is riddled with islands and coastal village towns.
True, summer in Sweden is short, but it can be very sweet. Here are a few musings about the lesser-known coastline to help you get acquainted:
ShoreTrips, which offers shore excursions and day trips for crusiers, has just introduced a variety of volunteer activities through their ShoreTrips Give program.
Volunteer opportunities last 3 or 4 hours and are available for individuals or groups on six islands -Antigua, Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Thomas, Tortola and Aruba - with three more Caribbean excursions to be added soon.
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Tucked away on Thailand's fifth largest island, Koh Phangan, are the usual tropical temptations: sandy beaches to soak up the best Equatorial sun Southeast Asia has to offer and backpacker-friendly beachside bars. But then, once a month, the island becomes host to tens of thousands of revelers during the Full Moon Party.
Currently the only way to reach Koh Phangan is via sea ferry from nearby island Koh Samui, but all that will change thanks to the deep pockets of Thai entrepreneur Sompphon Sooksanguan. The businessman is dabbling in aviation and has fronted 200 million THB of his own money (roughly, one fifth of the total cost) to build an airport to service the island and bring happy little party-goers to their destination.
The runway of Koh Phangan will hopefully have the capacity to bring in around 1,600 passengers per day come September 2014, with flights from Bangkok and other regional cities no more than 80 minutes away.
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The Vineyard Gazette of Martha's Vineyard, MA is 167 years old and, though newspapers fail left and right seemingly weekly now, this one is only picking up steam with every crank and bang in the Press Room. It's also one of the few to welcome public visitors for a tour and to observe the actual printing...for free.
With a print run of 10,000 per week, the Vineyard Gazette considers itself a "boutique newspaper," a true broadsheet for locals as well as the summer vacationers who spend the majority of the year pining for the day they may return for sun and sea. Reading the latest news about the island's bird population, therefore, isn't trivial but integral to keeping on "island time" even on the other side of the world. The latest headline? "Biggest-Ever White Shark Tagging Expedition Launched in Woods Hole.
Speaking of, the Gazette shared with us that they'll mail papers everywhere from as near as Cape Cod to as far as Singapore, though the latter will cost a couple hundred dollars a year thanks to the international delivery fees.
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While scrolling through Buzzfeed, like we do, we came across this picture gallery describing a tiny island just off Japan's main coast called "Bunny Island." Yes. The Japanese have an entire island where tourists can interact with wild yet tame fluffy rabbits that so overrun the area that it's reasonable to call the place "Bunny Island." Because of course Japan has that.
The island is technically named "Rabbit Island" - Okunoshima - and it has kind of a dark past. During World War II it was used to produce chemical weapons which the Japanese turned against the Chinese. Over six kilotons of mustard gas and tear gas were produced at a chemical weapons facility built on the island. As the war wound down, evidence of the project was largely destroyed or covered up. Today the island is a pristine park with a resort hotel, clear swimmable water, a golf course, and bunnies.
It seems like travel contests are popping up everywhere lately, but it can be expected since it is the height of summer travel. Even the folks in the thick of winter are getting into the action. More specifically, The Whitsundays, a group of islands on the southern edge of the Great Barrier Reef, are kicking off a contest.
One of the ultimate Australian vacation destinations wants you to get your creative juices flowing by helping to write a movie about the tropical islands, appropriately titled The Whitsundays, A Movie That's Waiting to Be Written.
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Remember The Hills, that faux-reality drama surrounding the minuscule details of privileged twenty-somethings living in Los Angeles? Yeah, well get set for what may be the east coast version, as ABC Family debuts The Vineyard. ABC is calling it a "docu-series," but the lives of the eleven main characters all revolve around their jobs on Martha's Vineyard, working at the Black Dog Tavern.
The show was filmed on Martha's Vineyard this last May and June, which means we may have inadvertently ordered from one of the stars when we stopped into the Tavern, but somehow we get the feeling that they actually spent very little time "working." Yes, we're majorly skeptical that this show will be worth watching, but then the scenery promised by its setting on MV could attract any fence-sitters.
It's Jersey Shore with blonde hair and boat shoes, and is aimed to appeal to the same demographic that so enjoyed peeking into those lives of summering youngsters years ago.
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Every culture has their traditions and ceremonies and, if you're lucky, there may come a time you're invited to participate. Deep in the South Pacific, for example, there's the Kava Ceremony, one which we were fortunate enough to join in on several times while in Fiji.
If you're a Fiji first-timer, here's a little background on what exactly kava is and where it comes from: Kava is the dried root of the yaqona plant and is strained through water to create a drink that serves as the center of a social gathering as well as a peace offering for new visitors and, occasionally, to unite feuding groups. While the actual drink is not alcoholic, the effects on some can become quite addictive.