You might fall in love with Indonesia's massive ironwood trees that tumble to empty bone-white beaches, but it's the smiles of the villagers that'll truly steal your heart. That's what happened to Claude and Petra Graves, who founded a Nihiwatu resort on the west coast of Sumba Island. Their passion for this impoverished island begat the Sumba Foundation, which has raised more than $2 million (a third contributed by resort guests) toward health and education initiatives. The catalyst that converts vacationers to philanthropists? You'll know when you join a six-person village tour in the highlands and dine on sweet potatoes while an elderly woman teaches you how to create a colorful and highly prized ikat weaving. Her betel-nut smile - as red as a valentine - will be the giveaway. Rates from $390. nihiwatu.com
After a long flight, five days of exploring and getting muddy in rice paddies, staff photographer, Zach Stovall, found peace and relaxation not only from the spas and resorts, but also from contagious smiles and spirituality of the Balinese people.
Some people actually do sail off onto the sunset. Take Mark and Liesbet Collaert. The Bay Area couple first sailed away from San Francisco in 2005, but their monohull boat wasn’t right. They set sail again in 2007 aboard their 35-foot catamaran Irie, and have been at sea ever since, visiting more than 100 islands. So we asked them: Which were your favorites? That drew a silence. So we shrunk our question. Here Liesbet ranks their Top 10 Caribbean islands. And yep, they saw most all of ’em.
Islands contributor Hart Roberts is big on fishing. But after a stay at Fly Fish Guanaja, he couldn't stop talking about the other offerings that make this private island a nature lover's paradise. From snorkeling to surfing (oh, and the best sunset views), here's why Guanaja is more than just a fishing destination.