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Top Travel Destinations This Winter December 17, 2016

Posted by Abingdon in General Ramblings.
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Winter can be both magical and at times a little less than a winter wonderland. Which means it’s the perfect time to grab your Abingdon watch, suitcase, and travel somewhere new. Whether that means getting away from the cold or finding the best snow on earth, this list has an option for everyone:

Barcelona, Spain: Rich in history, culture, and more this is the place to go for a change of scenery and temperature. The beaches offer a beautiful view of the ocean for those who want to comb the beach in their leisure time. Gothic Quarter offers a plethora of historical sites that have been almost perfectly preserved. From 17th century cathedrals to Gaudi’s majestic architectural wonders. Where To Stay: Avenida Palace.

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Honolulu, Hawaii: Looking to stay local while beating the cold? Perhaps the most obvious but still an incredible choice. Known for their relaxing beaches and crystal waters it’s one of the best places to take a load off and sip some drinks on the beach. Scuba diving? They’ve got it. Great local food? They’ve got that too. They have everything needed for the makings of an easy vacation. Where To Stay: The Kahala Resort.

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San Juan, Peurto Rico: Old San Juan’s biggest winter event, San Sebastián Street Fest excites the senses with the smell of amazing food, street vendors, and most importantly music that makes you want to move day and night. The significance of this festival is to mark the end of the local’s holiday season. Where To Stay: El Convento.

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Park City, Utah: Love skiing? Then this is the place. Perfect for those with a serious thirst for some legit powder or snow bunnies looking for something a little more chilled out. The license plates say: “The Best Snow On Earth” and many Olympic athletes would agree this is the place for anyone to ski or snowboard with varying levels of skill or interest in the sport. The mountains are more than just a playground for snow lovers. The views are breathtaking and provide picture perfect moments.  Where To Stay: Deer Valley Ski Resort.

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New Taipei City, Taiwan: The Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival is one of Taiwan’s most popular Chinese New Year events. Instead of finding yourself in the cold this February venture into a twinkle lit wonderland as they simultaneously launch thousands of lanterns into the night sky. The lanterns aren’t the only thing that will make you wide-eyed, it will also be the first full moon of the lunar-year. What a way to start off your year! Where To Stay: Meander Hostel.

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Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park, South Africa: Perfect for true exotic dreamers and thrill seekers, this is the place to go to have a truly unique winter season unlike any other. It’s an easy day trip to see the “Big Five” (lion, elephant, Cape buffalo, leopard, and rhino) in the wild. In addition the wildlife preserve offers zebra, cheetah and other exotic wildlife and at close-up range. Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! This year instead of dreaming about adventure in the wild somewhere go out and get it in South Africa. Where To Stay: Concierge Boutique Bungalows.

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Dublin, Ireland: Last year they were named “The Best NYE Event” by Ireland’s Event Industry Awards. This live festival of culture, arts and entertainment is sure to never disappoint travelers. The festival includes 3D light projections, dancers, street performers, a 5K run and more. Where To Stay: The Dean Hotel.

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Merida, Mexico: This history of this incredible area is told through it’s food. And if you’re looking to try some exotic cuisine this winter beyond the traditional pumpkin spice Starbucks latte this is the place to be. There are a plethora of Mayan cooking classes which infuse your kitchen with new culture. Not to mention your get away from the snow this winter! Where to Stay: Hacienda Xcanatun Plantation.

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Ambergris Caye, Belize: Located six miles north of San Pedro which offers some of the most beautiful and vast stretches of sand you could ask for, this retreat is a great way to ‘get away from it all.’ In the heart of Mayan culture you’re sure to have something to do every day no matter what type of traveler you are. Historical sites? Check! Adventure hikes and dives? Double check! Where To Stay: Azul Resort.

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Adelaide, Australia: More of a party-scene type of traveler? This may be your favorite on the list thus far. We saved the biggest party for last. The music scene here is great, including local places to jam out, night clubs where dancing reigns supreme and more. Where To Stay: Sage Hotel.

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Top 10 Places To Go Diving December 13, 2016

Posted by Abingdon in Diving.
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Looking for a new adventure for that thrill of adrenaline? Or simply looking to explore more of the world around you? For both of those goals and everything in between diving has what you need to make it happen. Don’t know where to dive? Let me help you out:

Egypt – Red Sea, Big Brother: If you’re an experienced diver this is the place for you. Needing an experience level of at least 50+ open water dives this is not for those that are just starting or simply want to ‘try something new.’ This is for true adventurers and thrill-seekers. The currents are wild and unpredictable, yet another reason why experience is necessary. However, if you have what it takes, this dive is totally worth it. Highlights include a steep sided volcanic cone dive and interaction with sharks.

Small island and reef in ocean, lighthouse and dive boats, top scuba diving location, Big Brother of The Brothers Islands or El Akhawein, Red Sea, Egypt, Africa

Bali – Liberty Wreck: Photographer? This will hands-down be one of your favorites. The water is clear and the abundance of life here makes for a truly tropical photo to bring home and show off. Part of what makes this location so picture-perfect is the still current and variation of dive levels. If you’re a pro or beginner diver (or photographer) there is an ideal option suited to your needs.

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Belize – Great Blue Hole: Edged with coral reefs this blue hole has amazing water clarity, giving you the best view of your underwater experience possible. Home to many sharks you will have the opportunity to get up close and personal with a shark. Looking for the best of this experience? Go April – June.

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British Virgin Islands – Tortola: Though this may be center of tourism do not let this discourage you from checking out this funky dive spot. The interior of the island has quiet beaches for those who want a calmer vibe. There is a variety of dive sites here which is perfect if you’re looking to get the most out of your dive excursion. Variance of skills, fish, and more.

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Australia – Yongala, Queens Island: History lover? Then this is the dive for you. Dive down to a shipwreck for a unique dive experience. Exploration within the wreck is prohibited but diving down and taking in the wreck first-hand is what it’s all about. Beyond the breath-taking ship you will find incredible coral formations, sharks, tropical fish and more.

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Bahamas – Andros, Ocean Blue Hole: With several levels of diving, this experience is perfect for those looking for something to challenge themselves or for newbies. Wall and cavern dives are both options, as you’re accompanied one-on-one. The ominous blue holes of the ocean offer more than majestic beauty from the outside. It’s everything these caverns hold on the inside that counts during the dive. Explore a whole new side of the Bahamas.

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Indonesia – Cape Kri, Raja Ampat: Touted as one of the best by many scuba publications this is clearly the place to be if you’re looking for visual eye candy. Over 370 types of species of fish reported to inhabit the area, making for an ocean wonderland that is well worth the cost. Don’t be surprised if you see a shark or two in these waters, perfect for the adventurer in you.

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Malaysia – Barracuda Point, Sipadan Island: World class dive site, this is a favorite among many. The drop off is at 800 meters, providing a truly wondrous underwater experience. Suited for different levels of divers the current can be mellow or, on occasion, strong for those that are into more intensive divers. The sealife is diverse including Coconut Crab, Buffalo Fish, and more!

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Micronesia – Blue Corner, Palau: A dive that’s more ideal for those with experience, this is one that you won’t want to miss. The array of sea life is vast, providing a visual experience that any diver would appreciate. One of the many beautiful creatures you may come across in this dive is sharks. The currents as a rule are strong which is yet another reason to be considered a dive best suited for experienced divers.

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Hawaii – Manta Ray Night Dive, Kaliua Kona: What makes this item on the list so unique is that this dive is one of the few that are conducted at night. You can either snorkel it or dive it; both experiences are definitely worth trying out. Lights are fixated into the floor which attract Manta Rays for close-encounters. However, the currents can be unpredictable which may make for rough diving or snorkeling. So, night adventurers, get your gear and get out there.

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Have you already been diving at one of these fantastic locations? I want to hear your story! Tell us about it in the comments below. My dive in Puerto Rico was one to remember, and it’s totally worth venturing into a whole new world in 2017. It’s a new year! Why not try to explore new depths of the world?

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(Abingdon Scuba Diving in Puerto Rico)