Top Ten

Top Ten Travel Destinations for 2014

2014 is getting closer.  The summer of 2013 has come and gone but Spring Break and summer 2014 will be here before we know it and if you like to travel, no doubt, you will be looking into potential trips for the upcoming year.  Sometimes it can be difficult to decide where to go because there are so many things to consider such as the safety of many destinations and your personal budget.  The following list is about ten up and coming destinations that are going to be popular for the 2014 travel season and what they have to offer.

10. Nicaragua

Isla de Ometepe in Lago Nicaragua
Between Costa Rica and Honduras is the largest country in Central America, Nicaragua.  The Pacific Ocean and The Caribbean Sea border the country making it a prime destination for scuba divers and beach enthusiasts but that is not all the country has to offer. Once plagued by high crime rates, Nicaragua is seeing much better times and it is cheaper than ever for budget travelers to visit the country and not break the bank.  One thing many people don’t think of doing when visiting Central America is fishing but the country is home to two of the regions largest freshwater lakes and a prospering offshore fishery which means tourists can also enjoy this activity while in the country.  Imagine exploring a colonial town full of sidewalk markets and live music venues in Leon or admiring the city of Grenada’s unique architecture or finding the perfect souvenir at the Nica Markets.

If you are adventurous, you may want to try volcano boarding at Cerro Negro or hiking a volcano at night or surfing at San Juan del Sur.  If partying it up at festivals is your thing, there are many throughout the year including Carnival in March.  These are just some of the top things to see and do in Nicaragua. Beautiful scenery is a top criteria for many travelers trying to decide where to go and Nicaragua, with its lowland plains, central highland volcanoes and the Amerrisque Mountains, is one of the most geographically diverse countries in the Americas.  The people of Nicaragua embrace their unique and diverse culture too.

This multi-ethnic country is big on folklore, tradition, food, music and religious ceremonies.  The weather in Nicaragua is generally nice year-round but it tends to be cooler in the highlands and very hot in the lowlands with rain becoming more frequent in the months between May and November.  Whether you are a backpacker or someone looking for a relaxing beach getaway, Nicaragua is one place that should be high on your radar of potential places to travel to in 2014.

9. Cambodia

Kampong Kleng, Cambodia

For years, Thailand was the top Asian destination for budget travelers and backpackers but Cambodia is quickly becoming the new Thailand and will be one of the most sought-out travel destinations in the world by 2014.  Cambodia is situated in the southern region of the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia and its location allows travelers to enjoy other popular destinations in the region including Thailand and Laos because the countries are located so close together.  The people of Cambodia are probably the main thing that attracts so many visitors from around the world.  They are known for being well-mannered, soft-spoken and friendly.  They have much pride in their unique culture that includes a mixture of Theravada BuddhismHinduismFrench colonialismAngkorian, and modern influences from around other parts of Asia and the rest of the world.

The food, the dance, the music and the intriguing and sometimes turbulent history make Cambodia a place of unified diversity like no other on the planet.  The people of Cambodia have faced some tough times throughout history and this had made them strong in the face of hardships.  The landscape of Cambodia is as diverse as the people and their culture.  With a low-lying central plain, large lakes, the Mekong River Delta, the Dangrek Mountains and the Eastern Highlands, Cambodia is one of the most scenic countries in Asia.  The weather depends on the time of year and elevation.  Typically, the temperatures are quite hot most of the year with precipitation heaviest in September and October and the driest weather occurring in January and February.

There are many things to see and do in Cambodia.  Angkor Wat, the most famous ancient temple in the country, is best visited at sunrise.  Pub Street and Siem Reap Night Market is an exciting place with night clubs, restaurants and shops.  Tonle Sap Lake is home to the famous Floating Villages and it is worth it to take a boat tour to them.  The Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum is where you can learn about some of Cambodia’s most brutal moments in history.  The Killing Fields near Phnem Penh is a mass grave turned monument with remnants of one of the many killing fields that was unearthed and left as a reminder of what was lost.  Other must-do activities include taking a tuk-tuk around downtown Siem Reap and making the six hour drive from Siem Reap to Phnem Penh along a scenic and rural highway.

8. US Virgin Islands

US Virgin Islands
Although they are located in then Lesser Antilles of the Caribbean Sea, The Virgin Islands belong to the United States.  For a very small area, the Virgin Islands have a long history, a very pronounced culture made up of West AfricanEuropeanAmerican andDanish influences.  The US Virgin Islands have traditionally been more expensive to visit than some other Caribbean islands and have long attracted a more elite demographic.

Today, prices are lower than ever and the islands are quickly becoming a haven for budget travelers looking for a scenic, relaxing, culture-rich beach vacation.  Saint Thomas, Saint John, Saint Croix and Water Island are the main islands and are known for their white, sandy beaches particularly the ones located at Magens Bay and Trunk Bay.  The Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument, Buck Island Reef National Monument, Christiansted National Historic Site and Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve are the best places to really see and experience the land and learn more about the history and culture but there are many other things to see and do in The US Virgin Islands.  Maho Beach in Cruz Bay is a great place to spend a day at the beach and see marine life such as sea turtles, rays and starfish.

Hikers enjoy the Ram Head Trail in St. John for its spectacular views consisting of coastline and tropical vegetation.  Secret Harbor and Honeymoon Beach are uncrowded beaches that are home to some of the best snorkeling in the area.  Wayward Sailor offers daily sailboat tours, guided snorkeling adventures and eco-tours.  Magic Ice is the largest ice gallery in the world and includes beautiful sculptures detailing various aspects of local history, a slide and a wedding chapel.  The weather in the US Virgin Islands is nice throughout the year with hotter temperatures during the months from June to September and most precipitation falling during the months from September to November.

7. Portugal

Portugal has always been a widely visited country but, until recently, it was not as widely visited as other parts of Western Europe. Today, visitors from all over the world travel to the country to experience its colorful culture and explore it’s scenic landscape and 2014 is bound to be a record-breaking year for travel to the country as more and more people are taking advantage of lower prices and numerous deals.  Located on the Iberian Peninsula in the southern portion of Western Europe, Portugal is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean, making it a prime beach vacation destination on the continent.  These beaches, such as Falesia Beach, Praia Da Rocha and Praia la Luz are sandy, long and located in scenic areas along the coastline.
Whether you are looking for a crowded beach where you can meet lots of other tourists and locals or a secluded beach where you relax undisturbed, there are numerous beaches to cater to every type of beachgoer.  Unique geographical features such as the River Tagus, the rolling plains of the Alentejo region, the cliffs of Algarve, the volcanic lakes of Sete Cidades, the Sierra da Estrela, the valleys of Curral das Freiras, the river valleys of Northern Portugal and the forest in the Montesinho Natural Park region make Portugal a land of beauty and diversity and with ease of access to a variety of transportation methods, travelers can experience many of these natural wonders in a short period of time.  Portugal is also known for its unique Manueline architecture which can be mostly seen in the cities, especially in the capital city of Lisbon.  Visual arts, cuisine, music and dance are also a huge part of Portuguese culture and visitors can learn more about the culture and history in the many museums, restaurants, cafes and galleries that are located all over the country.

Many outdoor activities are enjoyed in Portugal including cycling, horseback riding, hiking, scuba diving, snorkeling, off-roading and fishing and there are numerous attractions located all over the country.  Oceanario de Lisboa features ocean-themed exhibits and aquariums which are home to a number of marine species.  Monte Cable Car offers a great way to get to the Monte Palace Tropical gardens while seeing some spectacular views along the way.  Ponte D. Luis I is an impressive bridge that joins Porto and Gaia.  Parque Aventura – Albufeira is an entertainment center featuring physically challenging activities and obstacles such as ziplining, skateboarding, rope bridges and much more.  Zoomarine Algarve is where you can watch dolphins, seals, sea lions and tropical birds do presentations and visit a state-of-the-art aquarium.  The Mediterranean climate of Portugal means the country is one of the warmest in the region but there are still some areas that get colder weather and lots of precipitation certain times of year.  The best times to visit Portugal are from April to June and from September to November.

6. Bolivia


South America has long been a popular travel destination but Bolivia is only recently gaining the popularity that other countries in the region have had for years.  The reason is cheaper prices and more political stability in the region, ease of access to neighboring countries which allows travelers to travel to Bolivia from nearby countries and lower crime rates.  Although Bolivia is a relatively small country, its people descend from many backgrounds resulting in a unique and diverse culture made up of AmerindiansMestizos,EuropeansAsians and Africans.

The food, the dance, the music, the art, the clothing, the various languages and even the architecture unite to create one of South America’s most diverse cultures.  Due to the fact that Bolivia is landlocked, a beach vacation is out of the question but there are many other outdoor activities to enjoy such as trekking, mountain biking, ziplining and rock climbing.  With a geographical location consisting of tropical rainforests, dry valleys, tropical savanna, large and small rivers, the Western and Central ranges of the Andean Mountains, Lake Titicaca, salt flats, plateaus and lowlands, visitors can participate in the above activities and many more while enjoying spectacular vistas and opportunities to view local wildlife.  The history of Bolivia is also very interesting and is displayed in a number of museums in every region of the country.

The friendly locals, who are proud of their heritage and culture, are more than willing to share their knowledge of their country with foreigners!  There are a number of must-see attractions around the country such as The National Folklore Museum in La Paz.  Tiwanaku is the site of some of the most mysterious ruins on the continent.  Valle de la Luna offers visitors the chance to see some unique geologic formations.  Santa Cruz Cathedral is a large and beautiful church that is a must-see, both inside and out.  Avaroa National Reserve is a great place to view several species of flamingoes in their natural habitat and see some of the countries unique landscape.  Tunupa Volcano rises above a beautiful village and offers great views of the surrounding area.  Visitors can even have the chance to participate in Shamanic Healing Ceremonies at Sasha Runa and if you are a biker and are not afraid of heights, it might be worth your while to try out the Death Road, said to be one of the most dangerous roads in the world.

5. Lithuania


Until recently, not many people were very aware of Lithuania but this country in Northern Europe is quickly gaining popularity with travelers of all ages and backgrounds.  Although Lithuania is a relatively small country, it is rich in culture comprising of elements from several ethnic groups including Ethnic Lithuanian, Polish, Russian and Ukrainian, and history going back to Prehistoric times. The climate of Lithuania is both Maritime and Continental with cold, damp winters and warm, dry summers.

The best time to travel to the country is between the months of June and September and while the winters are cold, summers are warm enough for tourists to enjoy the ninety-nine kilometers of sandy coastline, much of which consists of beautiful public beaches.  When it comes to things to do, there are many attractions all over the country.  The KGB Museum in Vilnius is dedicated to bringing awareness to a particularly dark part of history for the country.  St. Anne’s Church is a huge Gothic Cathedral that’s impressive both on the inside and from the outside.  Gediminas Tower offers great views from its observation decks.

A walk through Vilnius Old Town allows visitors to see exquisite architecture.  The Devil’s Museum offers bizarre  exhibits featuring devils from all over the world. Trakai Historical National Park features a castle and other medieval architectural wonders.  For outdoor enthusiasts, biking, boating, fishing and golf are popular activities and there are hot air balloon rides available in some areas.

4. Honduras


Another Central American country that is becoming very popular with travelers from all over the world and is set to be one of the most visited counties in the region for 2014 is Honduras.  Although bordered by the three countries of Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua, Honduras still has plenty of coastline along both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea which means one of the top attractions is its sandy beaches.  The country’s intriguing history goes back to pre-colonial times when the Mayans flourished as a civilization.

The culture is a mixture of European, Amerindian and African influences rich in folklore and colorful celebrations and festivals featuring local food, dance and music.  The geography of Honduras includes mountains, narrow plains, scenic coastline, lowland jungles, valleys and rivers which makes the country a hotspot for outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy activities such as scuba diving, climbing, hiking, windsurfing, ziplining, bird watching and fishing.

There are many attractions located in various regions of the country.  Blue Harbor Tropical Arboretum in Roatan are beautiful tropical gardens.  The UNESCO world-heritage site of Rio Platano Biosphere Reserve is located in La Mosquitia and allows visitors to explore some of the natural wonders of the country.  Gumbalimba Park offers ziplining, nature trails and a beach and is home to a number of animal and bird species.  Bay Islands Underwater Museum tours are given via snorkeling excursions where you can see Mayan artifacts, shipwrecks and a number of marine species. Float Utila is the world’s biggest floating tank and visitors can embark on a unique and thrilling adventure.  Parque Nacional La Tigrais a beautiful park with many miles of hiking trails, waterfalls, scenic viewpoints and opportunity to view local wildlife.  Iglesia de la Inmaculada Concepcion is a spectacular Spanish Colonial Cathedral.  The climate of Honduras is mostly tropical but it tends to be cooler in higher elevations where there is more of a temperate climate.  The best time of year to visit is between the months of February and June when there is less precipitation and the temperatures are warm.

3. Mexico Yucatan Peninsula

Mexico Yucatan Peninsula

With so much negative news coming out of Mexico in recent years, it’s no wonder certain parts of the country are seeing fewer tourists.  That being said, there is one area of the country that is seeing more tourists than ever and that is the Yucatan Peninsula which includes the states of  YucatánCampeche, and Quintana Roo and is home to the Riviera Maya, Cancun and some of the regions most impressive Mayan ruins.  This peninsula is located in the southeastern portion of the country and runs between the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea.  The region is most well-known for its long beaches that line the many miles of coastline.  The soft, white sand and warm, crystal blue waters make the region one of the top beach destinations in the world.  In my opinion, one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever laid eyes on is one located near the Mayan ruins of Tulum called Playa Santa Fe.  The island of Cozumel is home to some of the best snorkeling and diving in the world.  Did I mention there are also opportunities to dive with whale sharks and this is one of only a few places in the world where this can be done.

The other thing that the Yucatan Peninsula is known for is the Mayan ruins such as Coba, Tulum and Chichen Itza located in the state of Quintana Roo.  Of course, we all know Cancun is a top destination in the area but for tourists looking for a more relaxed and less crowded vacation, the town of nearby Playa del Carmen is popular and many of the world class resorts are located in that area.  It is very easy to get around various areas of the country.  For example, ADO offers a coachline bus service that travels between various towns in the area.  One can travel from Playa del Carmen to Tulum or Coba for a mere few dollars on an air-conditioned, full service, comfortable bus.  Mexico is well-known for its colorful Spanish culture consisting of lively music and dance and delicious and flavorful food.  The country’s history is long and it is easy to learn all about it by visiting one of the many museums or by simply engaging very friendly locals in conversation.  The people are proud and love to learn about the tourists as much the tourists want to learn about them.  There are many things to do while visiting the Yucatan Peninsula.  Casa de los Venados is a great place to see traditional Mexican art and crafts.  Uxmal is the ruins of another ancient Mayan city waiting to be explored.  LabnaHa Cenotes & Eco Park is a nature and wildlife area in a park filled with tons of things to do including a chance to zipline.  Tulum Monkey Sanctuary is another nature and wildlife area with Spider monkeys and many other local animal species.

Explore caverns and caves at Grutas de Calcehtok.  There are also a number of outdoor adventure activities to participate in including nature walks, jungle treks, canopy tours, surfing and parasailing.  The best time to travel to the Yucatan Peninsula is between the months of December and April.  May is the start of the rainy season which can see lots of rain mixed with very hot temperatures and hurricane season is between the months of May and November so, although one can get really good deals during that off-season, it is best to avoid the area at that time as these storms can be very dangerous.

2. Dominican Republic

Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic has always been a popular beach vacation destination for travelers from all over North America and the country will remain a top destination for 2014.  While many of the travelers to the country will be opting for the all-inclusive beach vacation at popular resorts in well-known tourist areas, more travelers are starting to take advantage of the many things the country has to offer outside the resorts and are moving toward more independent methods of travel that will take them to areas a little more off-the-beaten path to participate in less traditional activities.  Located in the Greater Antilles in the Caribbean Sea, The Dominican Republic encompasses half of the island of Hispaniola.

The country is most well-known for its long, white, sandy beaches and world-class resorts but is also known for its colorful and lively culture with a large focus on music and dance.  The geography of the country is quite diverse in the interior, away from the coast.  A number of mountain ranges, valleys and lakes create a landscape suitable for many outdoor activities including hiking, horseback riding, golfing, biking and climbing.  Visitors can participate in scuba diving, snorkeling, fishing and other water sports along coastal areas of the country.  The tropical climate and average annual temperature of twenty-five degrees means the country is a haven for outdoor lovers.

Must-see attractions and historical sites are located all over so there is never a shortage of things to see and do, no matter where you are.  Damajaqua Cascades in Puerto Plata is a group of scenic waterfalls and visitors can just admire the falls or participate in a guided canyoneering adventure.  Isla Saona is a national park consisting of a beautiful beach area.  National Park of the East is another national park that allows visitors to experience pristine natural areas of the country.  Tainopark is a museum dedicated to the Taino people and how they lived and went about their daily lives.  Catedral Primada de America in Santo Domingo is a beautiful cathedral and architectural marvel.  Park of Three Eyes of Water near Santo Domingo is a group of caves and unique geographical formations.  Some of the more popular beaches in The Dominican Republic include Bavaro Beach in Punta Cana, Ryanna Sun, La Romana, Bahia de las Aguilas,  Macao Beach and Paradise Island & The Mangroves in Punta Rucia.

1. New Zealand

New Zealand

New Zealand has always been at the top of many traveler’s bucket lists and while many people have traveled to the country in the past, for the most part, airfare is too expensive for most people.  Today, that is changing and 2014 is going to be the year that sees many people who once thought they would never see the country packing their bags and heading there.  Prices are much lower now than they were a few years ago and New Zealand is becoming known the world over for its spectacular scenery, low crime, friendly people and adventure tourism.

After all, the extreme sport of bungee jumping was invented in New Zealand so that should say something about the type of adventures one can have in this far away land.  River rafting, back country exploring, ziplining, rock climbing and many other adventures await and for those travelers who prefer more low-key and relaxing activities, there are plenty of those too.  The Auckland Museum is a great place to start to learn all about New Zealand’s history, culture and geography. Rangitoto Island is a volcanic island where one can bird watch, hike, climb, fish and swim.  The Auckland zoo is home to species of wildlife from around New Zealand and the world.

Banks Peninsula in Christchurch is home to some interesting geological formations and beautiful bays.  Lake Pukaki is a great place to spend the day relaxing on the banks of one of New Zealand’s most scenic lakes.  A trip on the Christchurch Gondola offers up some fantastic views of the area.  Golf is a popular activity in the country and there is plenty of opportunity to take a scenic drive through the Waitakere Ranges or along the Twin Coast Discovery Highway and see some of New Zealand’s natural landscape.

New Zealand is also known for its beautiful, sandy beaches famous for having warm waters and suitable conditions for surfing and other water sports but if there is one thing that New Zealand is known best for, it’s the spectacular scenery that can be found all over the country.  Towering mountains, green valleys, rocky coastline, clear lakes and raging rivers make the geography of New Zealand one of the most beautiful landscapes in the world. The weather is nice throughout the year too with February and March being the warmest and driest months and June, July and August being the coldest.

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