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Cancun - Where to hit the beaches?

April 8th, 2010

Naturally, the beaches are the biggest draw in Cancun with their soft, white sand and brilliant turquoise-blue water. Cancun’s Hotel Zone is really just one long beach separated from the mainland by a system of lagoons. The dazzling white sand of Cancun’s beaches is light in weight and cool underfoot even in the blazing sun. That’s because it is composed not of silica but rather of microscopic plankton fossils called disco-aster (a tiny star-shaped creature). The coolness of the sand has not been lost on Cancun’s ingenious promoters, who have dubbed it “air-conditioned.”

All of these delightful beaches are open to you because all Mexican beaches are public property. Several of Cancun’s beaches are set aside for easy public access, but you should know that you have the right to walk and swim on any beach at all. In practice it may be difficult to approach certain stretches of beach without going through a hotel’s property, but few hotels will notice you walking through to the beach in any case.

Cancun’s hotel zone is shaped like the number seven, as you can see from the small map below.

Last Minute Travel to Cancun Beaches - Map

At the top of the “7″ is the Bahia de Mujeres – the northern end of the hotel zone. Beaches here are beautiful turquoise-blue with white sand, shallow for some distance out, and have little or no surf, making them great for swimming, snorkeling and other water sports.

To the right of the “7″ is the Caribbean sea. The beaches here also have beautiful turquoise waters and white sand, and also have surf. Be especially careful on these beaches fronting the open Caribbean, where the undertow can be quite dangerous at times. In general, the best Caribbean-side beaches are found from the Sheraton and south.

To the left of the “7″ is the Nichupte Lagoon. It is a salt-water lagoon, and is generally not good for swimming. During the day, the Nichupté becomes a water sports haven, and many marinas offer jet skiing, sailing, kayaking, parasailing, windsurfing, water-skiing, and jungle tours.

Yes, there are even crocodiles in parts of the lagoon! However, Cancun’s crocodiles are non-aggressive species that feed on fish and other small wildlife. It is estimated that no more than twenty-five adult crocodiles live in the 5,000-hectare-lagoon system, most of them in areas distant from tourist activities except where they are fed by restaurants as a tourist attraction.

Public Beach Access

While all beaches in Cancun are technically public (owned by the government), you may not be able to access the beach by walking through a hotel, which is private property. Visitors staying in hotels that are not on the beach can access the beaches at any of the 10 public-access entries to the beach.

Playa Ballenas – Public entrance is a sidewalk along the Meridien Hotel wall fence. Incredible views, and peaceful sunbathing. Keep an eye on the warning flags, however, as the currents can be quite dangerous any time of the year. At kilometer 14 in the Hotel Zone, in between Punta Cancun and Punta Nizuc.

Playa Caracol/Playa Las Palmas - Entrance is hard to locate. Go through the small wood gate next to Fiesta Americana Coral Beach. Also accessible through Xcaret bus terminal. Near Punta Cancun, ideal for children or beginner swimmers. One of the nicer beaches because of its flat shallow sand bed. Located at 8.5 km in the Hotel Zone.

Playa Chac Mool – Public entrance is across the street from Señor Frog’s. Public beach with changing area, handy restaurants. Be advised however that the currents are strong and it’s tempting to wade too far out into the shallow water. Good water sports area – sail-boarding, water skiing and parasailing. Located kilometer 10 in the Hotel Zone, near Punta Cancun.

Last Minute Travel to Cancun Beaches - Playa Los Delfines
Playa Delfines

Playa Delfines – Peaceful sunbathing and breathtaking views. However it also offers dangerous swimming conditions in the strong surf and sometimes treacherous currents. There are some stone benches for sitting and contemplating the sea, but no other facilities. At kilometer 18 in the Hotel Zone, near Punta Nizuc.

Playa Juventud – Here is a nice place for swimming and a good place for water sports. Located off of Kukulcán Boulevard at km. 3 in the Hotel Zone.

Playa Langosta – Excellent swimming. Situated in the middle of the north end of the Hotel Zone and facing Bahia de Mujeres, you can find some of the best swimming that Cancun has to offer at Playa Langosta. Lots of beach restaurants and bars. Located at km. 5 of the Hotel Zone. A dock with shuttles to Isla Mujeres and other tours located here too

Last Minute Travel to Cancun Beaches - Playa Tortugas
Playa Tortugas

Playa Tortugas - Public entrance is next to Fat Tuesday’s. Good swimming here, and perfect for water sports. A number of restaurants and refreshment bars located here too. Located at kilometer 6.5 in the Hotel Zone. Dock offering shuttles to Isla Mujeres and other tours

Playa Las Perlas – Another nice place for swimming and a good place for water sports. There are restaurants and bars on the beach. It is located at kilometer 2.5 in the Hotel Zone.

Playa Linda – Excellent swimming. Close to downtown and facing Bahia de Mujeres. Some of the best swimming in all of Cancun. Restaurants, changing rooms. Playa Linda’s dock is the departure point for submarine and dive tours. Located at kilometer 4 in the Hotel Zone.

Playa Marlin – Public entrance behind Kukulcán Plaza. Sunbather’s delight. Well known for its incredible, expansive views and peaceful sunbathing. Keep an eye on the warning flags however, as the currents can be dangerous. Located at kilometer 13 in the Hotel Zone, in between Punta Cancun and Punta Nizuc.

Photo Credits:
Playa Delfines - Playa Tortugas

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Free Performances at Lincoln Center

February 22nd, 2010

Lincoln Center

New Yorkers in the know take advantage of many great free cultural offerings around town when they want a low cost night of fun. Budget conscious travelers may want to check out what these great cultural institutions have to offer as well.

Every Thursday of the year you can find free performances at the Lincoln Center. Target® Free Thursdays at the Lincoln Center’s new David Rubenstein Atrium will feature national and international tourist artists as well as local featured artists from groups like The Juilliard School. Seating is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis. Check out the calendar of free performances.

In the summer there is often a free performance in Central Park no matter what day you’re in town. SummerStage and the city parks foundation website will shortly have their summer schedules up.

Groups with young children, or the young at heart, may enjoy the The Forbes Galleries located in the heart of Greenwich Village. The Galleries feature unique collections of toys and trophies. The exhibits includes a rare look at the evolution of the Monopoly board game. Open free to the public 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. on Tuesdays through Saturdays. Please note that Thursdays are reserved for group tours and advance reservations are required.

Last Minute Travel has just refreshed its list of New York hotels and has lowered its prices on 15 of our best value properties. That makes now the perfect time to make plans for your vacation to the Big Apple.

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/listenmissy / CC BY-ND 2.0

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Travel Savings abound when planning Last Minute Travel

February 15th, 2010

Jason Rich of the New York Daily News writes about how you can still save big on your vacation even if you’re making last minute travel plans. He advises you to be flexible on your dates and airport. Often a change to a nearby airport or a departure a few hours earlier or later will save you big bucks.

If you can be flexible on your accommodation you can find big savings as well:

“By keeping the name of the hotel, for example, quiet until after you book, we are able to offer incredible discounts,” said Lauren Volcheff, vice president of marketing at LastMinuteTravel.com. “We do, however, provide everything else you need to know before booking, including available dates, a detailed description of the hotel, price, a star-rating and its location. All that’s missing is the actual name of the hotel or resort.”

I would also add to be sure to keep an eye out for specials. For instance, extending your stay by just one more night may save you a lot on travel. Of course, we’re happy that Jason thought of LastMinuteTravel.com when considering price savings for travel.

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Kings Dominion’s 305-foot tall Roller Coaster “Intimidator(TM) 305″ Capped

January 18th, 2010

Intimidator 305 Roller Coaster

Roller coaster fans, get ready to make your way to Doswell, VA, outside the state capital of Richmond. The last piece of track was lifted into place Jan. 9, 2010 for the biggest and most thrilling ride yet at Kings Dominion. Intimidator(TM) 305 is a mammoth 5,100-foot long steel Giga-coaster, that takes its name from one of stock car racing’s most beloved and tenacious drivers, Dale Earnhardt, “The Intimidator(TM)” along with the height of the coaster’s lift hill, 305 feet.

Intimidator(TM)305, only the second Giga-coaster ever built in North America, will be the tallest and fastest roller coaster of its type on the East Coast. The lift hill will stand a towering 305 feet at its highest peak, close to the height of the park’s signature Eiffel Tower, and will descend 300 feet at an 85 degree-angle and thunder along the track at speeds in excess of 92 miles per hour during its three-minute race to the finish.

The trains, fashioned after Dale Earnhardt’s signature black car, will roar through six airtime humps plus three high-speed turns and have you screaming for another lap around the track. Lots more information, including construction photos, blogs, live webcam and more at www.intimidator305.com.

Intimidator(TM)305 is scheduled to open with the park on April 2, 2010. Book your hotel stay today to get an early start on all the other coaster fans who will be racing to ride The Intimdator(TM)305.

Tip: Spend an extra day in historic Richmond, VA and be sure to visit the Edgar Allan Poe Museum.

In addition to Intimidator(TM)305, America’s Top Dog, Snoopy, has arrived at Kings Dominion! Snoopy, along with Charlie Brown, Woodstock and the entire PEANUTS Gang are settling into their new home, Planet Snoopy (formerly known as Nickelodeon Central/Hanna Barbara).

Kings Dominion’s guests can enjoy over 60 rides, slides and attraction all season long with a Kings Dominion Season Pass. Season Passes include entrance into the Kings Dominion, access to Intimidator(TM)305 and 14 other amazing roller coasters, WaterWorks, a 20-acre waterpark, and Haunt, the Mid-Atlantic’s largest Halloween themed event.

Kings Dominion will open in 2010 daily for spring break week on Friday, April 2 through Sunday, April 11 and weekends April 17 through Monday May 24. Daily operation begins Friday, June 4. WaterWorks Waterpark opens Saturday, May 29.

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How to Avoid Baggage Fees

January 13th, 2010

With the news this week that Delta and Continental have raised the price of their baggage fees (again), it’s time to look seriously at alternatives to checking in luggage.

Loyalty has its rewards - many airlines will wave or discount baggage fees for its rewards club members. Check and see if you have enough points to qualify. If you’re close, consider taking some last minute travel and joining the world of Frequent Flyer hypermilers. You know those folks who think nothing of booking an extra flight to France to keep that Elite status. Well, they share their secrets on websites like FlyerTalk.com and FrequentFliers.com

Pack fewer things - If everything fits in your carry-on luggage, then there are no fees. Once you get over only having two pair of shoes on your trip, you can follow the advice of other travel experts who have learned to whittle down their packing list. Some good places to start are websites like Onebag.com and Travelite.org.

Ship it - Even if you are able to fit everything into your carry-on luggage, there are still certain items you can’t carry through security. For that you can use the USPS Priority Mail Flat Rate box. You can fit a lot of clothes and travel kit items in the 12″ x 12″ x 5-1/2″ flat rate box. The cost of 2-3 day shipping is less than $15, which is less than the cost of checking that extra bag. Just make sure you’re not shipping anything the USPS prohibits and that your destination will hold packages for future arrivals.

Leave it there - Are you a frequent visitor to one destination? Use a service to store your goods and deliver them to your hotel for your arrival. In Orlando you can use Owner’s Locker. They pickup, store, and deliver whenever you come to play at the theme parks.

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/striatic/ / CC BY 2.0

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Travel Scam Alert - Your friend was not mugged

January 8th, 2010

A friend sends you a desperate email from overseas. They’ve been mugged and are asking for your help so they can pay their bills and get a flight back home. The email is coming from your friends account, and it does sound legit, but you didn’t even know your friend was on vacation. Be careful before sending cash, you’re this far from becoming the victim of the latest internet scam.

In the latest trend, scammers have been hacking their way into web based email accounts (like Hotmail, Yahoo, and Gmail) by guessing a users password. They then send out a ‘cry for help’ email to everyone in the address book. The hope is that someone can be convinced into sending cash using a wire service.

Here’s one email I received from a friend’s hacked account:

I’m writing this with tears in my eyes,my fam and I came down here to London,England for a short vacation unfortunately we were mugged at the park of the hotel where we stayed,all cash,credit card and cell were stolen off us but luckily for us we still have our passports with us.

We’ve been to the embassy and the Police here but they’re not helping issues at all and our flight leaves in less than 3hrs from now but we’re having problems settling the hotel bills and the hotel manager won’t let us leave until we settle the bills.

Am freaked out at the moment..

Other variants include, “I’ve lost my wallet on my way to the hotel” or “Our rental car was broken into and everything was taken”. Other ways to tell it’s a scam - they usually don’t address you by name and the spelling, syntax, and grammar are off.

So, if you are the recipient of one of these emails, call your friend (don’t use the email account), make sure they’re okay, and tell them their email has been hacked. If you are the owner of a web based email account, make sure your password is sufficiently strong enough to not be guessed. Some combination of letters, numbers and special characters usually does the trick.

Illustration Credit:http://www.flickr.com/photos/23905174@N00/ / CC BY 2.0

JFrost Tips

Playa Delfines

June 25th, 2008

Playa Delfines

Playa Delfines is one of the less crowded beaches in Cancun Mexico, if you are looking for a Spring Break hot spot, this beach is not for you. This beach is more for avoiding the crowds, tanning and relaxing. Not the best place to swim because of the strong currents, swimming in these waters is dangerous. One of the highest points in Cancun, this beach has some of the best views. See a more relaxed side to Cancun and visit Playa Delfines.

Tips for visiting Playa Delfines

  • Free admission.
  • Restrooms at location.
  • Pack a lunch or bring a snack as there are not many places to eat near by.
  • Parking is limited so it would be a good idea to take a taxi or to take the bus.

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Utrechtsestraat Amsterdam

June 20th, 2008

Utrechtsestraat Amsterdam

Known for it’s trendy, hip fashions specifically for women, this street is typically less crowded than De Negen Straatjes or Kalverstraat. Lots of places to eat to choose from and excellent shopping basically sums up this place. You can find anything from fashionable clothing to gadgets and good food.

Two places to check out in Utrechtsestraat Amsterdam

  • Be sure to check out Pasja for some funky clothing fashions
  • de Keuken offers specialty kitchen products and a small, quaint restaurant

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De Negen Straatjes ‘The Nine Little Streets’ in Amsterdam

June 18th, 2008

De Negen Straatjes ‘The Nine Little Streets’

In the heart of Amsterdam you can find ‘The Nine Little Streets’; Amsterdam’s prestige shopping. Located between Raadhuisstraat and Leidsestraat, you can find anything from vintage stores to specialized theme stores. The coffee is amazing and the shops have a variety of specialty items, here are some examples:

  • Like shoes? Shoe designer Yvette Riemersma has a shop called Antonia by Yvette filled with this seasons latest fashions.
  • Enjoy the artwork of Bilal Chahal at BIHP, the Bar and restaurant that offers lunch, dinner, high tea, fine wines and cocktails.
  • Onitsuka Tiger Store Amsterdam carries imports from Japan such as sport shoes, clothes and accessories.
  • Marlies Katy Smit’s store, MK Jewelry has must see Designer Jewellery and Bespoke Jewelry. There are also Jewellers and Diamond Specialists.
  • Claire V is a designer boutique of designer silk and embroidered silk bags in the season’s best colors.

Interactive Google Map of de Negen Straatjes ‘The Nine little Streets’ in Amsterdam

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Canal Ring in Amsterdam

June 16th, 2008

Canal Ring in Amsterdam

In the 17th century, the Canal Ring became a very wealthy place. Famous merchants, extremely wealthy bankers and other very wealthy business owners built their magnificent homes here. The most prestigious residents built their homes on the Golden Bend or the Gouden Bocht. This area is located where all three canals intersect with Nieuwe Spiegelstraat. The Canal Ring is located Soutwest of the city center of Amsterdam. Also know as Grachtengordel, there are three main canals that make up this ring of canals:

The Princes\' Canal (Prinsengracht) Amsterdam

The Princes’ Canal (Prinsengracht)

The Emporer\'s Canal (Keizersgracht)

The Emporer’s Canal (Keizersgracht)

The Gentlemen\'s Canal (Herengracht) Amsterdam

The Gentlemen’s Canal (Herengracht)

The Canal Ring offers shopping, dining, museums and many other attractions.

 

Tips for visiting Canal Ring in Amsterdam

  • Bring an umbrella and a wind proof jacket as the weather in Amsterdam is known for changing often and very quickly.
  • Wear a good pair of walking shoes that will withstand the cobblestone streets.
  • There are a lot of people on bicycles, watch out for them when crossing the street.
  • Use a good map. Below is an interactive map of the Canal Ring by Google Maps:

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