Have you been thinking about planning a getaway or a vacation sometime this year? How about this summer? If so, then we have some escapes you'll be drooling over. ISLANDS research editor Ashley Knaus dug-up these awesome recommendations that we hope will aid in your islands travels for 2009. (To find more travel deals, click here.)
Why Here - Diversity. This long and narrow, 160-mile-long Greek island is the fifth largest in the Mediterranean -- so big that the island boasts two climates: temperate in the north and subtropical in the south. Traveling across Crete, you'll traverse the island's soaring mountains, natural harbors, coastal plains & sandy beaches. See the Mediterranean maquis landscape give way to palm trees and cedars. Once the center of the Minoan civilization, Crete offers a Greece for everyone.
When to Go - September. Locals tell us September is their favorite month -- warm waters and barely any crowds. In addition, September sits pretty between the end of high season and the start of fall, with average temperatures at a comfortable 75 degrees.
What to Budget - $5,500 (five nights, two people). Fly on Delta to Athens (ATH), then on Aegean Airlines to Heraklion International Airport (HER) on Crete. cretetravel.com
Why Here - Mini lobster season. Get a sneak peak at -- and satisfy your year-long craving for -- Florida's tender spiny lobsters on the last Wednesday and Thursday every July (this year July 29-30) before the commercial season starts. The largest lobster caught during the past two years was found in 6 feet of water off the coast of Key West and weighed about 7 pounds. To catch your record-setter, be mindful of the weather and moon phases and choose wisely between spots on either the Gulf or the Atlantic side. Locals have their favorite secret spots, so follow their lead. Some 250,000 lobsters are caught during the two-day season, but be sure to keep within the limit of six crustaceans per person per day.
When to Go - July. Ocean breezes keep temperatures in Florida's practically Caribbean extension moderate year- round. So travel during the summer shoulder season, when July's temperatures don't get much above 80 or below 73. Don't worry about summer storms -- despite the Keys' tropical personality, the storms are short and sweet. When you aren't catching lobster, scuba dive and snorkel the days away in the islands' rare, living-coral reefs. Water ski on the islands' calm Gulf side or deep-sea fish for wahoo and dolphin in the Atlantic. Just remember: The Keys are best explored by boat. No boat, no problem; charter companies are everywhere.
What to Budget - $2,500 (five nights, two people). For the northern Keys, fly into Miami (MIA) and drive south down U.S. 1. The Key West airport (EYW) gives quick access to the southern Keys. There's a wide range of accommodations. Don't forget boat rental. fla-keys.com
Why Here - Exotic seclusion. This archipelago of 115 granite and coral islands is about as dreamy as it gets. Lying off the eastern coast of Africa, the Seychelles offer some of the most pristine beaches and clearest lagoons in the world -- perfect for snorkeling, diving, sailing or just soaking in the equatorial sun.
When to Go - October. Northwest trade winds in October bring calm seas and warm, 8- to 12-knot Indian Ocean breezes: perfect weather for everything water-related.
What to Budget - $10,000 (five nights, two people). Airlines such as Qatar Airways and Emirates fly to the Mahé airport (SEZ) with connections available through Dubai. Then choose a high-end resort. seychelles.com