ISLANDS recently launched the new “Ask the Editors” feature. This is your opportunity to pose an island question — whether it’s about the best room with a view in the Caribbean or where to find an undiscovered beach in Hawaii. Here on islands.com and in the magazine, we’ll highlight questions and answers that will help the most island travelers. Send your question directly to the ISLANDS editors at [email protected].
There’s an easy, direct flight to Nassau. Where is a tranquil place to stay?
“I recommend the One & Only Ocean Club, once a private estate home. A luxury car will pick you up from the Nassau airport and drive you 35 minutes to Paradise Island (the two islands are connected by a bridge). Check in and then check out. Your butler will do the thinking for the remainder of your stay. Spend your days lounging on the beach, far from the crowds of Atlantis and other mega-resorts. Book a four-hand massage at the on-site spa and make reservations at Dune for dinner. Order the roasted Bahamian grouper. Before eating, take pictures in the Versailles gardens and 12th-century Augustian cloister, shipped piece by piece from France. Call it the other side of Nassau.” If you need help planning your next island trip, check out islands.com/bahamas. — Ashley Fraxedas, Associate Editor
Tahiti is No. 1 on my bucket list. Where should I go on my first trip?
“Go everywhere. I boarded the small luxury cruise ship M/S Paul Gauguin for its signature seven-night cruise that anchored in Raiatea, Tahaa, Bora Bora, Moorea and Tahiti. There’s mind-blowing scenery everywhere you turn — it transforms as you move around by land or sea — plus great food and good moods. The thriving Polynesian culture celebrates joy, connection to nature and uncanny hip movements in the dance. it’s hard not to get caught up in the spirit. I loved it. And of course, on every island I wanted more time. Your first trip won’t be your last.” Find more of Matthew’s itinerary at islands.com/tahiti. — Matthew Miller, Features Editor
I’m looking for a different kind of trip this summer. Where should I go?
“Love lobster? Mini-lobster season in the Florida Keys is July 28 to 29. with perfectly sunny weather, no shoes required and a sort of treasure hunt, it’s one of my favorite events of the year. Start by getting a Florida saltwater fishing license (easy and quick online); then don a pair of gloves and snorkel and dive to catch these feisty, spiny crustaceans — they can put up quite a chase. Locals have their secret spots, so ask a dive operator, like the Florida Keys Dive Center in Tavernier, to show you the richest waters. But the best part, of course, is that first buttery, melt- in-your-mouth bite at night, knowing you really worked hard for your dinner.” Find more of Ashley’s itinerary at islands.com/florida. — Ashley Fraxedas, Research Editor
I’m going to Jamaica for a week. Should I stay at an all-inclusive resort?
“Do you have a choice? In January, I stayed at Couples Resorts in Negril and Ocho Rios, at the high end of the all-inclusive spectrum, and heard that an estimated 90 percent of Jamaica’s hotel rooms are all-inclusive. Driving past sprawling resorts with thousands of rooms, I believed her. If you want to lie on the beach and drink a lot, go all-inclusive. They have no-worries service down, and you can find good deals. But to see Jamaica, you have to get out on your own. Leave the resort. Hire a guide and visit waterfalls, roadside jerk shacks, little mountain towns. You can see a lot in a week, even if you sleep inside the resort gates and eat at the buffet.” Find more Jamaica adventures at islands.com/jamaica. — Matthew Miller, Features Editor
What’s the best way to have an adventure in Maui’s Upcountry?
“A bike ride down (not up) the Haleakala crater at dawn can’t be missed. It’s one of the most popular tours on Maui for a reason. Choose Haleakala Bike Company for the freedom to ride the 20-plus-mile route at your own pace, and stop at fruit stands, restaurants and shops whenever something catches your eye. For another Upcountry adventure that’s just as high-speed — but a lot higher up — go to Piiholo Ranch Zipline. Be sure to book the five-line tour, the only option that includes the property’s prize experience, a half-mile-long line. On this bird’s-eye-view tour, whiz past kukui-nut trees above valleys of tropical guava. Find more Maui adventures at islands.com/maui.” — Lori Barbely, Photo Editor
Sure, Venice is romantic, but is it a good trip for two single women?
“Venice is perfect for everyone — not just honeymooners. It’s safe and beautiful no matter what time of day. I suggest flying into Venice’s Marco Polo Airport to start your Italian adventure. stay at least three nights on the island — hike to the top of the Campanile, get a cappuccino at every cafe you pass, take a gondola ride through the tiny, back canals, listen to the dueling orchestras at night, always choose wine over water, and search for the perfect pasta. From Venice, you can head south to Cinque Terre, Florence, Rome, Capri, and all the vineyards and ancient ruins in between. Just thinking about it makes me want to book a flight. Follow my recent Italian itinerary at islands.com/venice.” — Ashley Fraxedas, Research Editor
For the ultimate in luxury, where can you rent a private home in the Caribbean?
“I just stayed at the grandiose six-bedroom La Casa estate home at Jumby Bay resort on Long Island, right off Antigua’s north coast. I felt like I was in a tropical fantasy, complete with a private chef, massage therapist and Pilates instructor. The house overlooks your own private beach and Pasture Bay, just minutes from water adventures at Hell’s Gate and Great Bird Island. At night, after mixology lessons and pan-seared fresh wahoo, you can watch the turtle team collect data for the island’s hawskbill turtle research project. That’s the beauty of an island rental house — care-free amenities and lots of activities alongside the privacy of home.” — Ashley Fraxedas, Research Editor
What’s the best quick getaway for great value and adventurous fun?
“Try Ambergris Caye, Belize, but opt for a day on the mainland on your way through Belize City. Maya ruins abound, and cavetubing with the folks at Caves Branch Adventure Company & Jungle Lodge is a must. So is a stay in their treehouse suites. Then hop on a plane to san Pedro, on Ambergris Caye. Just offshore, snorkel with nurse sharks and stingrays at Shark Ray Alley, or dive the Great Blue Hole, a 400-plus-foot-deep limestone sinkhole. To recover, catch a ferry to sleepy Caye Caulker. The region is English-speaking and just a half-day trip from most major hubs; the exchange rates are great as well. Check out travelbelize.org.” — Eddy Patricelli, Editor-In-Chief
I’m going to the Canary Islands. What’s the one thing I have to do there?
“Drive up Teide Peak. The biggest island in the Canaries, Tenerife, is known for its luxury resorts and raucous nightlife. But the real star of the isle is this 12,198-foot mountain. It’s the highest point in Spain and the country’s most visited national park. Trade your swimsuit for a fleece jacket before you make the trek up the volcanic peak — and don’t for- get your camera. As you drive the winding roads leading to and through the park, landscapes will change dramatically, from a misty laurel forest to an icy black-rock desert. Stay at the Gran Melia Palacio de Isora for easy access to Teide — as well as all the luxury that Tenerife is known for.” — Adrienne Egolf, Associate Editor
I want to hike Puerto Rico’s El Yunque rainforest. What’s the best way?
“Book a tour through the Rio Mar Beach Resort & Spa, a great launching point from which to explore El Yunque National Forest. The resort’s on-site tour company has friendly locals ready to share their knowledge with you. On the five-hour tour, learn about yagrumo and Taino weather trees, listen to the endemic coqui frogs and try to spot the rare Puerto Rican Parrot. But the high- light for me was the breathtakingly green hike to La Mina waterfall, where you can cool off with a quick swim (bring your waterproof camera). To refuel after your tour, try the beef mofongo at Don Pepe Restaurant back at the resort. Find more at wyndhamriomar.com.” — Ashley Fraxedas, Research Editor
If you had to pick a favorite Hawaiian island, which would it be?
“My favorite Hawaiian island depends on what I remember when you ask me. Oahu has Honolulu culture and amazing vistas. I got to know people best on Maui and still keep in touch with some. And I had my best single adventure climbing Mauna Loa on the Big Island. But for sheer awe before natural beauty, Kauai always comes to mind. It’s hard to pick a trail there and go wrong, whether the destination is a waterfall, a secluded beach or a passion-fruit tree deep in the forest. The middle of nowhere never looked this good. The Grand Hyatt Kauai makes a grand base of operations. Or for the feel of old Hawaii, rent a cottage at Waimea Plantation Cottages. Just like Kauai, neither will disappoint.” — Matthew Miller, Features Editor
What’s your best all-inclusive Caribbean resort for value and fun?
“LaSource resort, Grenada, where your only daily obligation is a spa treatment. Snorkeling, diving, golf, sailing, wind- surfing, tai chi, yoga, tennis and fencing are optional, provided on-site each and every day, and include an instructor. To be sure, none of these activities entail additional costs. You can also forget all-inclusive bracelets, bland buffets and your wallet. The resort is naturally secluded on Pink Gin Beach, and the food is fresh, locally grown and delicious. Tipping is a no-no. So is a rental car. A limo ride to and from the airport, five minutes away, is provided. Rooms are just as accommodating and decadent. Rates for all this start at $275 a night. Find more at theamazingholiday.com.” — Eddy Patricelli, Editor-In-Chief