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7 Best Remote Islands for a Tropical Getaway

If you’re craving a sunny tropical getaway but turned off by crowded beaches and sky-high prices, consider skipping the oft-beaten path. There are plenty of remote islands where you can swap frigid temps for warm waters and bright skies—without facing the high-season crowds that swamp the most popular winter vacation destinations.

Best Remote Islands for a Tropical Getaway

There’s a whole wide world out there with plenty of beautiful, peaceful spots to explore, including some lesser-known Caribbean islands and many of the world’s most pristine tropical getaways. Here are seven remote islands to check out for your next beach vacation.

Montserrat

[st_content_ad]Located between Nevis and Antigua, the tiny, lush island of Montserrat feels a long way away from more popular Caribbean islands like Jamaica and the Dominican Republic. Though an active volcano has restricted access to the southern part of Montserrat, the northern half remains a gorgeous tropical getaway with a quiet vibe and plenty of activities for visitors to enjoy. You can view the volcano via helicopter, hike through miles of rainforest teeming with wildlife, veg out on a black sand beach, or engage in a variety of boating excursions and watersports.

Where to Stay: For sweeping sea views and a welcoming vibe, stay at the family-run Gingerbread Hill. Lodging options range from an affordable efficiency unit to the aptly named Heavenly Suite with its two private verandahs.

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San Andres, Colombia

San Andres is a popular vacation spot among Colombians and other South Americans, but it remains mostly unspoiled compared to many other less remote islands in the Caribbean. Located off the coast of Nicaragua, San Andres is tiny—just 10 square miles—but visitors will find plenty to keep them occupied. There are a variety of accommodations, including all-inclusive resorts, and activities include caving, snorkeling, scuba diving, and boating. Those who want to be less active can relax on pristine beaches and indulge in fresh local seafood. History buffs can also check out some lesser-known World War II sites while visiting the island.

Where to Stay: The laid-back Hotel Bahia Sardina sits right on the beach (spring for an ocean-view room). The on-site restaurant serves Colombian and international fare.

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Islas Secas, Panama

There is only one property on Islas Secas, an archipelago of remote islands off the Pacific coast of Panama, which is currently in a “preview season” with a grand opening date of January 2019. Most visitors stay in the nearby city of David and travel to Islas Secas via boat for day trips and eco-adventures. These remote islands have something for everyone; both beach bums and outdoorsy travelers can enjoy the stunning beaches or opt for a more active visit with boating excursions, jungle treks, wildlife hikes, water sports, and more.

Where to Stay: The rooms at Hotel Ciudad de David are chic, modern, and clean, featuring hardwood floors and complimentary Wi-Fi. Buffet breakfast is included.

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Bocas del Toro, Panama

On the opposite side of Panama, along the Caribbean coast, travelers will find Bocas del Toro, a province that includes a small chain of islands as well as a strip of mainland. The primary island is Isla Colon, where you can enjoy the restaurants, bars, and shops of the province’s capital city, Bocas Town. Throughout the islands are plenty of unspoiled beaches where you can while away long, sunny days, as well as options for watersports, snorkeling, and hiking. There’s even a national rainforest to explore on the nearby strip of mainland.

Where to Stay: The Tropical Suites Hotel is convenient to just about everything, from restaurants and shops to water taxis and the airport. Some rooms offer ocean views.

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Fernando de Noronha, Brazil

If you like your beach days with a side of undisturbed nature, Fernando de Noronha may be the destination for you. Located in an archipelago off the coast of Brazil, this remote island has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In fact, the entire island is actually a marine national park. Warm-water beaches teem with dolphins, sea turtles, and other sea life, making the island a prime location for divers. Even snorkelers will find plenty to see beneath the island’s many waterside cliffs and caves. There are also a handful of historic sites, some small museums, and an aquarium to check out when you’re not on the beach. Note that only 420 tourists are allowed here at a time, so you’ll want to plan your visit well in advance.

Where to Stay: Whether you choose a bungalow or a luxury apartment, you’ll enjoy incredible bay views at Pousada Maravilha. Treat yourself to a massage at the on-site spa.

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Tuvalu

Encompassing some of the most remote islands on the planet, Tuvalu is an independent nation in the South Pacific. Its capital, Funafuti, features a conservation area where visitors can enjoy some of the world’s best diving and snorkeling. Five of the islands are atolls surrounded by magnificent coral reefs. There are also some interesting World War II relics around the islands. Tuvalu is difficult to get to and not particularly well developed, but for travelers who enjoy marine life and quiet beach days, it should definitely make your bucket list. Don’t wait too long to plan your trip: Scientists predict that climate change could cause these islands to disappear entirely within the next century.

Where to Stay: Tuvalu doesn’t yet have many lodging options, but Filamona Guesthouse Funafuti is the best of the bunch. Rooms are clean, comfortable, and air-conditioned.

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Palawan, Philippines

The Philippines are one of the least visited countries in Asia, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing for travelers. In fact, it means you can get a decent deal on one of the world’s most spectacular islands. Surrounded by crystal-clear waters and covered with lushly forested mountains, Palawan is home to the Puerto Princesa Underground River, the world’s longest navigable underground river and home to fossils that are tens of millions of years old. Visitors can explore small fishing villages, hike through jungles, and go swimming in lagoons and sinkholes. Despite its small size, Palawan offers various accommodation types including everything from luxury resorts to overwater bungalows and vacation rentals.

Where to Stay: Located right on the beach near the Puerto Princesa Underground River, Daluyon Beach & Mountain Resort is the perfect spot to relax. All rooms have minibars, DVD players, and private balconies.

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Shayne Rodriguez Thompson is the founder of FitMamiLife.com and a freelance writer with expertise in all things travel, food, and parenting.

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9 Ways to Find Cheap Eats Anywhere You Travel

After lodging and airfare—and sometimes even ahead of it—food is one of the biggest expenses for travelers. Eating out two or three times a day, every day, for an extended period can be cost-prohibitive for the average would-be traveler, especially when the budget has to stretch to feed multiple people. Fortunately, there are ways to find cheap eats no matter where you’re headed—even in some of the world’s biggest, most expensive cities.

[st_content_ad]And no, I’m not talking about cooking all or even some of your own meals, but rather budget-saving tips that will allow you to experience the local cuisine to the fullest. The nine tips below will help you discover cheap places to eat on your next vacation.

Use Discount Apps to Find Cheap Eats

A few weeks or even months before you embark on a trip, add your destination to all of your flash-sale and e-commerce apps, like Groupon and Living Social. Whenever you see a good dining deal, purchase it and save it to use during your trip. Many sites allow you to view these vouchers offline or even print them ahead of time, so even if you’re somewhere without Wi-Fi or a cell signal, you can still use them. These sites regularly offer deals that can save you anywhere from 10 to 50 percent or even more.

Choose the Right Hotel

I’m not suggesting you dine in your hotel’s in-house restaurant—those are usually expensive and subpar. What I do suggest is booking a hotel that offers complimentary breakfast and/or dining credits or coupons for local restaurants. Many hotels, hostels, and even vacation rentals include either a continental or hot breakfast in their nightly rates without charging more than other similar lodging options. And of course, bed and breakfasts, which are an affordable option in many places, always include breakfast.

Some hotels also partner with local restaurants to offer dining credits as part of package lodging deals. Don’t pass these up if they’re available.

Bonus tip: If the included breakfast is buffet-style, grab a few pieces of fruit or an extra yogurt for snacking on later in the day, and fill up your travel mug or water bottle before heading out.

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Look for Local Bakeries

Once you arrive and get settled in, take a walk around the neighborhood and take note of any bakeries that look inviting. Local bakeries usually offer a variety of breads, pastries, sandwiches, wraps, tea, and coffee at affordable prices. A hot coffee and a croissant or small sandwich can go a long way in fueling you up for a day of exploring—whether for breakfast or lunch—and usually won’t cost you much. Plus, if you visit the same place a few days in a row throughout your visit, you’ll notice the same local regulars—and maybe even start to feel like one yourself.

Explore Residential Areas

For good, cheap eats, ditch the pricey downtown restaurants and head to the outskirts of your destination city. Here, in more residential neighborhoods, you’ll often find excellent restaurants and bars that charge a fraction of what you’ll pay near the big tourist attractions. This may require you to walk an extra mile or spend a few bucks on public transportation, but the savings are usually well worth it. Chances are, you’ll also enjoy a much better meal than what’s typically peddled to famished tourists in the more bustling areas.

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Ask the Locals

There’s no better way to find cheap eats in your destination than to ask someone who lives there. If you’re too shy to strike up a conversation with someone on the subway or at a bar, you can ask a tour guide or hotel worker. Just be sure to tell them that you don’t want to go where they usually send tourists, since they often give stock answers or suggest places their hotel or tour company is affiliated with. Instead, ask where they eat when they go out. Let them know you’re looking for cheap eats and you want to see where the locals like to dine.

Don’t Be Afraid of Street Food

Every traveler has heard horror stories about food poisoning and the dreaded traveler’s tummy, but the vast majority of street vendors feed hundreds of people every day without a problem. Street food is notoriously cheap and offers some of the most authentic food you’ll find in just about every locale.

To protect yourself, queue up at the busiest cart, since locals won’t wait in line for food that doesn’t have a great reputation and a busy vendor’s food isn’t likely to sit around long enough to go bad. Pack some tummy meds just in case—but chances are, you won’t need them at all, and you may even score an amazing meal for just a couple of bucks.

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Visit Farmers’ Markets

In some destinations you’ll have to take to the streets to locate a good farmers’ market, while in others there are markets so famous you’ll come across them when you’re researching sights to visit on your trip. From breads and cheeses to locally grown produce and prepared foods, farmers’ markets offer any number of choices to fill your belly without breaking the bank. Grab your purchases and find a local park or town square to enjoy them in while you people watch.

Stop at a Grocery Store

You probably don’t like the idea of cooking on vacation, but grocery stores are an affordable place to pick up things like coffee, soups, sandwiches, pastries, and other grab-and-go options for a quick, cheap vacation meal. Of course, you’ll also get a peek at how the locals do their shopping, and you’ll likely find a few authentic treats and regional specialties to try out for yourself that you might not otherwise have stumbled across.

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Try New Things

Lastly, always be willing to try something new. You don’t have to relegate yourself to eating at the local Mickey D’s outpost every day in order to save money. Armed with an open mind and an adventurous palate, you’ll be able to find plenty of cheap places to eat when you’re traveling, no matter your destination. Just be willing to eat like the locals wherever in the world you end up.

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Shayne Rodriguez Thompson is the founder of FitMamiLife.com and a freelance writer with expertise in all things travel, food, and parenting.

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Airport

Amping Up Your Airport Experience

It can be tough to escape the drudgery of an airport layover, especially for seasoned travelers who’ve seen and done nearly everything imaginable. Sure, you can hop a train or take a taxi to the city center for a little sightseeing (time permitting, of course). But honestly, sometimes that’s just too much effort after an eight-hour flight. Do we really have to resign ourselves to spending hours in a rock-hard chair listening to the same songs on our iPods over and over again?

Virgin Atlantic doesn’t think so. The airline, which is known for its less than traditional approach to flight service, recently installed an industry-standard recording studio in its Clubhouse lounge (open to Upper Class passengers and Flying Club Gold members) at London Heathrow. Musically inclined passengers can record, edit and mix a tune before e-mailing or uploading it to record companies, broadcasters, producers, etc., all while waiting for a flight.

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After hearing about this out-of-the-box service, we couldn’t help daydreaming about other swanky amenities that could make an hours-long layover more pleasurable than painful. As we noted in Best Airports for Layovers, there are already some pretty neat options out there.

At Hong Kong’s International Airport, for example, passengers can step outside to play a few rounds of golf at the USGA-approved nine-hole Sky City Nine Eagles Golf Course. Travelers at Singapore’s Changi International Airport can also soak up some vitamin D before boarding as they stroll the airport’s five themed botanical gardens, which are home to a variety of flora as well as more than 1,000 live butterflies. At Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, travelers can brush up on Dutch culture at the Airport Library, which features about 1,250 books, including Dutch fiction that has been translated into 30 languages. And in Zurich, the airport rents bicycles, inline skates and Nordic walking poles so passengers can explore the surrounding areas while they wait.

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With airports like these setting a precedent for innovation, we can’t help but hope that one day they’ll all be the standard rather than the exception. And while they’re working on it, maybe they could think about featuring dine-in movie theaters, bowling alleys, cooking classes and or even roller coasters.

Which amenities would you add to our airport wish list?