Divers and nondivers find plenty to do in Palau

Scuba diving enthusiasts often leave behind their loved one(s) to pursue their underwater passion. Known for its world-class scuba diving conditions, Palau tops the bucket list for most dive enthusiasts, but this Micronesian destination is also host to a whole range of land and above-water activities.

Options for those that do want to get their feet wet, but don’t want to go 20+ feet under include: beach bumming; snorkeling; Jellyfish Lake; and the Milky Way.  Above water and land options include mangrove or sea kayaking; sport fishing; Jungle Riverboat Cruise; Palau Eco Theme Park; Palau Aquarium at the Palau International Coral Reef Center; Belau National Museum; Etpison Museum; Dolphins Pacific; bird watching; visiting the Badrulchau (stone monoliths) and other historic sites; and the World War II Museum on Peleliu.

Beach Bumming

In the southern lagoon just minutes from the diving sites is a tiny star-shaped island called Carp Island. Popular with divers, it features modest cabins, a calm lagoon and a mile-long beach. While the divers play, many of their companions enjoy having the island to themselves, either kayaking, snorkeling, reading in a hammock or beach bumming. Each day is filled with panoramic sunsets, rainbows, and warm sea breezes. For more information, contact Carp Island Resort at http://www.carpislandpalau.com.


In Palau, see-through waters bequeath underwater visibility beyond anyone’s imagination. A prism of colorful coral reefs and virtually limitless variety of sea life set the stage in this tropical paradise.  From beginners to more experienced snorkelers, there are over 50 existing sites, each possessing distinct characteristics and individual personalities to appeal to everyone’s desires. Snorkeling is year-round in Palau and during the busiest season from January to April, spectacular sights such as migratory whale sharks passing by, sharks or mantas mating, and large schools of fish spawning can be seen.

The best locations for snorkeling in Palau are accessible by boat.  Often, dive centers can accommodate divers and snorkelers on some of the same routes.  These might be the best options for couples or families that want to spend time together on the water and yet fulfill the divers’ needs as well as the non-divers’ interests. There are several dive centers that offer dive and snorkeling equipment for rent.  For more information on dive centers and snorkeling options, visit http://bit.ly/1i6zHnZ.

Jellyfish Lake

One of the most spectacular adventures in Palau is the unusual Jellyfish Lake, where visitors can safely swim with jellyfish. This intriguing lake and its “residents,” namely the golden jellyfish (known as Mastigias) and the moon jellyfish (known as Aurelia), is a true rarity and has earned its distinction as the only place in the world where humans can safely swim with these typically dangerous creatures.  Why is this possible?! Over the course of millennia, the formation of the lake transitioned from a bay, connected to the ocean, to an enclosed body of water wherein the resident jellyfish have become virtually stingless because they are no longer threatened by any enemies.  Due to this evolution, adventure seekers have the rare opportunity to swim amongst these unique water creatures. For more information about Jellyfish Lake, visithttp://bit.ly/1nNhKdw.

The Milky Way

A special cove that the locals call the “Milky Way,” is Palau’s natural spa.  The bottom of this little bay consists not of sand but of white limestone mud, which gives the water a milky sheen. Rumored that the mysterious chalky mud makes an excellent rejuvenating facial, guides dive off, head down to the shallow floor of the cove and return with a huge handful of the white muck, for which they instruct their passengers to cover themselves. After soaking in the sun, while the clay dries and the minerals work their magic, it’s time to jump in, rinse off and relish in the benefits of the natural body scrub.  Typically, tour companies combine the Jellyfish Lake experience with the “Milky Way” since these attractions are both located in the Rock Islands.   For more information, visithttp://bit.ly/1i8jhff.


With well over 500 emerald islands set in crystal clear, turquoise lagoons, kayaking tours provide the perfect medium to explore Palau’s hidden network of marine lakes, untouched mangrove channels, marine tunnels, tropical beaches and marine caverns. No experience is necessary as tours begin with paddling instructions. Speedboat shuttles bring guests to and from the kayak sites in order to maximize the adventure while eliminating long, tiring paddle distances.  For more information on kayaking options, visithttp://bit.ly/1i6zHnZ.

Sports Fishing – Catch Your Dream!

While the diving spouse is enjoying underwater life, it’s a good opportunity for the “widow(er)” to try their luck at catching dinner. Many tour operators offer sports fishing tours, from trolling for big game like marlins, wahoo and tuna to bottom fishing for tasty reef fish. Night fishing is also a popular activity, especially on a full moon. For a list of tour operators that offer sport fishing tours, visithttp://www.visit-palau.com/thingstodo and look up sports fishing. As well, annual fishing derbies are listed on the www.visit-palau.comevents – a great way to test your skills against the locals.

Jungle Riverboat Cruise

The Jungle River Boat Cruise is one of Palau’s most modern eco-friendly tours, providing visitors with an ideal way to relax and see nature firsthand. Located in Ngchesar State, the Jungle River Boat Cruise takes passengers on a one hour journey that starts at the main dock and goes upstream to the ocean. During the tour, passengers get a chance to see crocodiles up close as well as indigenous birdlife and other local animals.  The Jungle River Boat Cruise facilities include a gift shop and two “summer houses” resembling Palauan “bais.” The facilities offer barbeque set lunches with entertainment, basket weavings and a tour through Micronesia’s second largest landmass, Babeldaob, in order to guide guests through local history, culture and nature.  For more information about the Jungle Riverboat Cruise, visit http://bit.ly/1yeDkNw.

Palau Eco Theme Park

While Palau is renowned for its water activities, the destination is also home to a relatively new sky adventure with a three-course zip-line over the Taki Waterfall Park in the State of Ngardmau. Opened just a few years ago, the Palau Eco Theme Park features a zip-line course that soars 250 feet above the ground, with platforms that take adrenaline seekers along paths that are between 300 meters and 340 meters.  For more information about Palau Eco Theme Park, visit http://bit.ly/1slW4KF.

Palau Aquarium at the International Coral Reef Center

The Palau International Coral Reef Center (PICRC) is Palau’s leading research and aquarium institution with a mission to be an international Center of Excellence to support conservation and management for the perpetuation of marine and associated environments through research and education that is significant to Palau and relevant to the world. The facilities include the Palau Aquarium, an interpretive center that is a unique attraction to both visitors and locals alike. In addition, PICRC is equipped to host visiting marine researchers and has conducted renowned studies such as coral spawning research. For more information, visithttp://www.picrc.org.

Belau National Museum and Etpison Museum

In existence since 1955, the Belau National Museum is the oldest museum in the Micronesian region. With indoor and outdoor exhibits of history, art, genuine artifacts and natural history, the museum still continues to further develop its programs and activities. Only a short walk from downtown Koror, the Belau National Museum also features a traditional bai, amphitheatre, restaurant and gift shop, Ulekdubs, where you can find carved hardwood sculptures and storyboards, local jewelry, books on Palau, T-shirts, woven bags and other handicrafts. There is also a research library and media archive. For more information, visit www.belaunationalmuseum.net.

Opened in 1999, the Etpison Museum is dedicated to the late President Ngiratkel Etpison and features two floors of Palauan and Micronesia artifacts, displays, photography and a gift shop. Exhibits and information are continually updated. The Etpison Museum is located about a fifteen minute walk from downtown Koror. For more information, visit http://www.etpisonmuseum.org.

Dolphins Pacific

Dolphins Pacific’s “Dolphin Bay” is a natural park that is the largest of its kind in the world. Nestled amongst the beautiful rock islands and just minutes via boat ride from the main town of Koror, Dolphins Pacific is a non-profit organization that is committed to environmental education.  Additionally, the attraction offers a variety of dolphin encounters, which aim to enlighten visitors of Palau while providing entertainment as well.  A popular activity for visitors to Dolphins Pacific is weddings at the park site, where dolphins salute celebrating couples. For more information, visithttp://www.dolphinspacific.com.


Birdwatching in Ngermeskang Bird Sanctuary

The dense forest of Palau’s largest and Micronesia’s second largest island, Babeldaob, as well as the outer islands of Peleliu and Angaur, contain approximately 186 species of trees from more than 50 different families. Living in these forests are 153 species of birds and nine-12 of these are endemic – only found in Palau. The Ngermeskang Bird Sanctuary, located in Ngaremlengui State in Babeldaob, is a part of Palau’s protected area network that is exclusive for bird watching and hiking.  For more information, contact the Ngermeskang Bird Sanctuary atngaremlengui@palaunet.com.

Day Trip to Badrulchau

Completed less than ten years ago, Palau’s Compact Road encompasses Babeldaob Island, opening up opportunities to visit sites of cultural/historic importance, such as the Badrulchau (Stone Monoliths), Japanese lighthouse, stone paths, stone faces and stone platforms. Just one hour south of Koror to Ngarchelong in the north, the highway runs through forest and savannah. One exciting feature of the highway is the experience of both the east and west coasts of Babeldaob with stops at markets for local food and refreshments. There are several rental car companies in Palau and many tour operators offer land tours in the various states.  For those that prefer off-road adventures, Fish n’ Fins offers all-terrain vehicle rentals. For more information, visit www.fishnfins.com.

World War II Museum on Peleliu

Known as the site for the bloodiest battle of World War II, Peleliu is full of war memorabilia, historical sites, buildings and memorials. Visitors can take a self-guided tour as there is plenty of World War II relics, but a guided tour quickly brings the history and battles to life. A number of tour companies based in Koror offer day trips via boat to Peleliu (one hour ride each way).  Once on the island, visitors will want to visit the Peleliu WWII Memorial Museum, which is a moving experience. It examines in detail through photos, articles and relics how war affected the island from the perspective of both the Japanese and American soldiers. In addition the museum provides exhibits on the island’s recovery once the war was over.

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Celebrity offers So Cal big savings on Caribbean cruises

By Sandra Barrera, Staff Writer

Luxury line Celebrity Cruises is combining a little-known Southern California deal with its popular “Pick Your Perk” feature to offer Caribbean-bound passengers savings of up to $1,425 per double-occupancy stateroom on its new “Solstice” fleet, with departures from Nov. 15 to April 12, 2015.

Prices start at $799 per person for a seven-night cruise.

Book by Aug. 31 with your travel agent or through Celebrity Cruises.

For more information, visit www.celebritycruises.com/socal, or call 888-283-6879.

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Huntington Beach gearing up for food, art and music festival Sept. 5-7

On Sept. 5-7, a legendary lineup of renowned anthemic rock musicians will take the stage oceanside at 21601 Pacific Coast Highway, for Surf City’s premier event – the Huntington Beach Food, Art & Music Festival.

Feel the sand between your toes as you rock out to classics by an All-Star band featuring members of Toto, Loverboy, Kansas, Chicago and Night Ranger. This family event will also host critically acclaimed musical acts such as Gin Blossoms, Michelle Branch, Jefferson Starship, Blues Traveler’s John Popper, and Don Dokken.

The Huntington Beach Food, Art & Music Festival will also feature national award-winning BBQ rib teams straight from The BBQ Championships in Reno, Nevada, representing more than 10 states and Canada, showcasing their finest culinary selections to taste. Foodies can also expect to experience some of the best food trucks that Southern California has to offer, as well as many other delicious local treats.

One hundred juried artists selected through an extensive process will showcase a wide variety of talents and mediums including jewelry, painting, woodworking and photography.

Event tickets are on sale now at http://www.hbfest.com and can be purchased as a weekend pass or for individual days. Event hours are Friday, Sept. 5, from 4-8 p.m. for art and food only; Saturday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. and Sunday, 11 a.m.-8:30 p.m. will feature art, food and musical performances.


Jefferson Starship
Gin Blossoms
Blues Traveler’s John Popper & Band Featuring Sheila E, and Martin Guigui, James Wormworth, Mike Merritt (Conan O’Brien Show Band)
Mark McGrath

Michelle Branch
Don Dokken
Gary Wright
Al Stewart
Missing Persons’ Dale Bozzio
All-Star Band with performances by:
Bobby Kimball – Original Lead Singer, Toto
Mike Reno – Loverboy
Kelly Keagy – Night Ranger
Dave Jenkins – Pablo Cruise
Jim Peterik – Survivor
David Pack – Former Lead Singer, Ambrosia (Napa Crossroads Live)
Bill Champlin – Formerly Of Chicago

For updates or announcements related to The Huntington Beach Food, Art & Music Festival, please visit http://www.hbfest.com or like on Facebook at http://on.fb.me/XNuzvZ. Follow via Twitter @ HBFoodArtMusic #HBfest

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Viking River Cruises offers 2 for 1

Viking River Cruises offers  2016 EARLY BOOKING DISCOUNT 2-FOR-1 CRUISES—OFFER EXPIRES AUGUST 31, 2014

Viking Homelands

Stockholm to Bergen • 15 Days • 11 Guided Tours • 8 Countries
Explore four unforgettable Baltic capitals: Stockholm, Sweden, the cosmopolitan city that has it all, including great architecture and a booming nightlife, with a laid back Scandinavian feel; Helsinki, Finland, selected as the World Design Center in 2012, one of Europe’s cultural and artistic capitals; Tallinn, Estonia, where elegant church spires and guild houses recall a medieval past; and Copenhagen, Denmark, the capital of the happiest country on Earth (according to the UN’s 2013 World Happiness Report), as well as one of the greenest capital cities in the world.



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Hotel del Coronado offers Labor Day package in San Diego

Hotel del Coronado shines at dusk in San Diego. (Photo courtesy of Hotel del Coronado)

Hotel del Coronado shines at dusk in San Diego. (Photo courtesy of Hotel del Coronado)

For those looking to celebrate a long, Labor Day Weekend with a glimpse into classic Victorian architecture dating back to the holiday’s origin without sacrificing the modern amenities of today, Hotel del Coronado is offering two packages for some end-of-summer savings.

Del Beach & Breakfast Package

Start the day with an ocean-view breakfast, and then lounge all day on the new “Del Beach” and enjoy the warm sun and sparkling blue waves while sipping a cocktail or enjoying a beach lunch. The “Del Beach & Breakfast” package includes:

15% off overnight accommodations (two night minimum stay)

  • Daily breakfast buffet for two at Sheerwater (includes tax and gratuity)
  • One full-day rental of two luxury lounge chairs and a half-moon cabanette at Del Beach
  • Promo Code: DELBEACH1

 Del Perks Package

Get some added perks included in your room rate when you stay two nights or more! With the “Del Perks” offer, your room rate includes your:

 Daily resort charge (a $56 value based on a two-night stay)

  • Overnight self-parking (a $74 value based on a two-night stay)
  • A daily $50 resort credit (a $100 value based on a two-night stay)
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Grand Tetons: Snake River raft tour was one of trip’s highlights

By Steve Scauzillo, Staff Writer

This park has 300 historic buildings. One place that fits that category and then some is Jenny Lake and lodge. Named after the trapper Beaver Dick Leigh’s wife, Jenny, the lake, lodge and visitor center blend into the idyllic setting.

If you get there early, grab a boat ride to Hidden Falls. Or just wander the lake’s gentle shores. You might catch a family of deer grazing near the boathouse.

The raft tour of the Snake River was one of the highlights of our trip. No rapids, just smooth sailing with an expert guide who pointed out the nesting bald eagles overhead.

My wife also spotted a river beaver on the muddy bank. Tours are available for $65 for adults out of Jackson Lake Lodge. You don’t have to be fit to do this. All we did was sit and let the man with the oars steer us into hours of tranquility.

I saved the best for last: A tour of Oxbow Bend, the most photographed area in the United States. In fall, the gold and burnt orange leaves shimmer against the backdrop of Mount Moran and the whole Teton Range.

Be sure to ask for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Ranger. He adds music from Bob Dylan and The Byrds to an engrossing evening of history, politics and nature.

When you’re planning your trip to the Gran Tetons, just remember to tell your travel agent: It’s the place with the unusual name. It was named by French trappers who missed their women.

Don’t miss this place.

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Grand Tetons: Lots of easy hikes in this national park

By Steve Scauzillo, Staff Writer

If you enjoy hikes but aren’t the most athletic, there are a lot of easy ones in Grand Tetons National Park. We checked out the list of hikes with the friendly ranger at the Colter Bay Visitor Center.

The next day, my wife, Karen, and our 21-year-old son, Andy, were 10 minutes into a woodsy jaunt along Jackson Lake when I yelled out: “Deer!”

The doe shot me a look with her big, black eyes and then moved on.

Later, we arrived at our destination: Swan Lake. Here, a family of white swans took up residency at the far end of a blue kettle lake half-covered in green lily pods. The distant sound of the birds’ honking told us this was their home — we were only guests.

Jackson Lake is controlled by Jackson Lake Dam. So with the drought, the water levels were low. When the Congress preserved the lake as part of the park, it did so knowing that a large portion of the water belonged to the Idaho potato farmers.

Naturalists wanted to renege on the agreement but the farmers held firm. After much debate and bitter fights, the 484-square-mile park became one of the first with a dam on a river to be preserved. A compromise, indeed, that took three acts of Congress starting in 1929 and ending in 1950.

Jackson Lake Lodge is part of the history of the Grand Tetons. The view from inside the main room envelopes you like a warm bath. Your eyes travel past the floor-to-ceiling windows into the 40-mile Teton mountain range outside.

There’s a short, 1-mile hike outside the wood veranda that’s perfect for burning off the calories from breakfast at the lodge’s famous Americana restaurant, the Pioneer Grill.

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Grand Tetons: L.A. families can fly or drive to Wyoming

By Steve Scauzillo, Staff Writer

You don’t have to rough it or learn how to honk like a goose to enjoy the Grand Tetons.

First, you can drive or fly. It is in Wyoming, so it’s not too far. Flights to Jackson or Boseman, Mont., are convenient. You can hire a car service from the airport.

My family and I made it part of a two-fer with Yellowstone, which is less than an hour’s drive away.

After checking out bubbling geysers, waterfalls and ambling bison at Yellowstone, we hopped in the rental car and drove this gorgeous big-sky country into Teton.

Confession: I liked Grand Teton Park better than Yellowstone. Teton is balm for the anxious soul. It’s less crowded and more beautiful.

We went in the off-season, when fall breezes brought a chilly snap to the fresh air. They also delivered thunderstorms and hail, but that didn’t last too long, and by the next day, gave way to blue skies and cotton-ball clouds.

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Grand Tetons: Put this national park on your must-see list

By Steve Scauzillo, Staff Writer

Fishermen, hunters and naturalists don’t need to read what I’m writing about because chances are they’ve been there.

They’ve fished its lazy rivers. Hunted for game. Peered through binoculars in the freezing cold for a glimpse at the fleeting pronghorn elk.

It’s Grand Teton National Park.

This preserved, not totally pristine but picturesque wonder of the national park system receives plenty of popularity from the specialized outdoor adventurers but might be overlooked by family vacationers.

They’d rather go to Yosemite National Park, the Grand Canyon, one of those awe-inspiring parks in Utah and of course, Yellowstone National Park. But you might want to put Grand Teton on your list of must-see natural places, even if pitching a tent or bird-watching in the rain ain’t your thing.

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Quick guide to skiing in Chile

Destination.com offers this quick guide:

Are you a snow sports fan visiting Chile soon? Well, we’ve got some options for you to have fun skiing and they’re all near Santiago, so you can also get your fix of urban tourism and make the most of your trip.

Near Santiago you’ll find 5 snow sports centers, with great access and equipment:

Valle Nevado: 44km away from Santiago. It has 39 trails divided in children, begginers, advanced and experts.

El Colorado and Farellones: these are 2 centers interconnected, 32 km away from Santiago. El Colorado has 70 trails and Farellones has 4.

La Parva: located 38km away from Santiago and it has 24 trails; they offer arrangement to combine its trails with the ones in Valle Nevado.

Portillo: located 164 km away from Santiago, it has 35 trails.

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