15 travel movies to get you through quarantine
To get through the COVID-19 quarantine crisis, we polled our readers for some of their favorite travel movies. Here is a list of 15 movie recommendations to scratch your travel itch while you're stuck at home:
Eat Pray Love (rent on Amazon for $2.99)
Liz Gilbert had everything a modern woman is supposed to dream of having -- a husband, a house, a successful career -- yet like so many others, she found herself lost, confused, and searching for what she really wanted in life. Newly divorced and at a crossroads, Gilbert steps out of her comfort zone, risking everything to change her life, embarking on a journey around the world that becomes a quest for self-discovery. In her travels, she discovers the true pleasure of nourishment by eating in Italy; the power of prayer in India, and, finally and unexpectedly, the inner peace and balance of true love in Bali.
Under the Tuscan Sun (Hulu)
Frances Mayes is a 35-year-old San Francisco writer whose perfect life has just taken an unexpected detour. Her recent divorce has left her with terminal writer's block and extremely depressed. Her best friend, Patti, is beginning to think that she might never recover. "Dr. Patti's" prescription: 10 days in Tuscany. It's there, on a whim, that Frances purchases a villa named Bramasole--literally, "something that yearns for the sun." The home needs much restoration, but what better place for a new beginning than the home of the Renaissance? As she flings herself into her new life at the villa in the lush Italian countryside, Frances makes new friends among her neighbors; but in the quiet moments, she is fearful that her ambitions for her new life--and new family--may not be realized, until a chance encounter in Rome throws Frances into the arms of an intriguing Portobello antiques dealer named Marcello. Even as she stumbles forward on her uncertain journey, one thing becomes clear: in life, there are second chances.
Secret Life of Walter Mitty (FX Now) (Rent on Amazon for $3.99)
Ben Stiller directs and stars in THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY, James Thurber's classic story of a day-dreamer who escapes his anonymous life by disappearing into a world of fantasies filled with heroism, romance and action. When his job along with that of his co-worker (Kristen Wiig) are threatened, Walter takes action in the real world embarking on a global journey that turns into an adventure more extraordinary than anything he could have ever imagined.
Lost in Translation (Starz, rent on Amazon for $3.99)
After making a striking directorial debut with her screen adaptation of The Virgin Suicides, Sofia Coppola offers a story of love and friendship blooming under unlikely circumstances in this comedy drama. Bob Harris (Bill Murray) is a well-known American actor whose career has gone into a tailspin; needing work, he takes a very large fee to appear in a commercial for Japanese whiskey to be shot in Tokyo. Feeling no small degree of culture shock in Japan, Bob spends most of his non-working hours at his hotel, where he meets Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson) at the bar. Twentysomething Charlotte is married to John (Giovanni Ribisi), a successful photographer who is in Tokyo on an assignment, leaving her to while away her time while he works. Beyond their shared bemusement and confusion with the sights and sounds of contemporary Tokyo, Bob and Charlotte share a similar dissatisfaction with their lives; the spark has gone out of Bob's marriage, and he's become disillusioned with his career. Meanwhile, Charlotte is puzzled with how much John has changed in their two years of marriage, while she's been unable to launch a creative career of her own. Bob and Charlotte become fast friends, and as they explore Tokyo, they begin to wonder if their sudden friendship might be growing into something more.
Midnight in Paris (Showtime, rent on Amazon for $3.99)
This is a romantic comedy set in Paris about a family that goes there because of business, and two young people who are engaged to be married in the fall have experiences there that change their lives. It's about a young man's great love for a city, Paris, and the illusion people have that a life different from theirs would be much better.
Into the Wild (Showtime, rent on Amazon for $2.99)
Freshly graduated from college with a promising future ahead, 22 year-old Christopher McCandless instead walked out of his privileged life and into the wild in search of adventure. What happened to him on the way transformed this young wanderer into an enduring symbol for countless people. Was Christopher McCandless a heroic adventurer or a naïve idealist, a rebellious 1990s Thoreau or another lost American son, a fearless risk-taker or a tragic figure who wrestled with the precarious balance between man and nature? McCandless' quest took him from the wheat fields of South Dakota to a renegade trip down the Colorado River to the non-conformists' refuge of Slab City, California, and beyond. Along the way, he encountered a series of colorful characters at the very edges of American society who shaped his understanding of life and whose lives he, in turn, changed. In the end, he tested himself by heading alone into the wilds of the great North, where everything he had seen and learned and felt came to a head in ways he never could have expected.
Edie (Rent on Amazon for $3.99)
Following the death of her husband, Edie (Sheila Hancock) breaks free from years of his control and rebels against her daughter's wish for her to move into assisted living by embarking on an adventure she and her father had always longed for: a trip to the Scottish Highlands to climb the world famous Mt. Suilven. Along the way, she hires young camping shop owner Jonny (Kevin Guthrie) to be her guide. Despite the generational differences, Jonny encourages Edie to fulfill her dream.
7 Years in Tibet (Rent on Amazon for $2.99)
Jean-Jacques Annaud (The Name of the Rose, Quest for Fire) directed this Becky Johnston adaptation of Heinrich Harrer. In 1943, an Austrian mountain climber-skier (Brad Pitt) escapes from a British internment camp in India, travels over the Himalayas, arrives in Lhasato, and becomes friends with the Dalai Lama. Filmed in Argentina, Chile, and Canada.
Life of Pi (Rent on Amazon for $3.99)
Director Ang Lee creates a groundbreaking movie event about a young man who survives a disaster at sea and is hurtled into an epic journey of adventure and discovery. While cast away, he forms an amazing and unexpected connection with another survivor...a fearsome Bengal tiger.
Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (Rent on Amazon for $3.99)
When they turn 16, four lifelong friends are upset over the prospect of spending their first summer apart. As they scatter to different locations, their one bond is a cherished pair of jeans they've shared. Each will keep the pants for two weeks of her trip, passing them on to the next girl. Each faces serious coming-of-age problems, and somehow the pants help them through.
National Lampoon’s Vacation (Hulu)
The first film in the Vacation comedy franchise stars Chevy Chase as Clark Griswold, an ad exec who becomes consumed with taking his family cross-country to Wally World, a California amusement park. Less a vacation than a descent into a peculiarly American kind of hell, the Griswolds suffer through an endless series of catastrophes, culminating in a run-in with the law.
Up in the air (Amazon Prime, Hulu)
Ryan Bingham, a corporate hatchet man who loves his life on the road, is forced to fight for his job when his company downsizes its travel budget. He is required to spend more time at home just as he is on the cusp of a goal he's worked toward for years: reaching ten million frequent flyer miles and just after he's met the frequent-traveler woman of his dreams.
Cast Away (Cinemax, $3.99 Amazon)
An exploration of human survival and the ability of fate to alter even the tidiest of lives with one major event, Cast Away tells the story of Chuck Noland (Tom Hanks), a Federal Express engineer who devotes most of his life to his troubleshooting job. His girlfriend Kelly (Helen Hunt) is often neglected by his dedication to work, and his compulsive personality suggests a conflicted man. But on Christmas Eve, Chuck proposes marriage to Kelly right before embarking on a large assignment. On the assignment, a plane crash strands Chuck on a remote island, and his fast-paced life is slowed to a crawl, as he is miles removed from any human contact. Finding solace only in a volleyball that he befriends, Chuck must now learn to endure the emotional and physical stress of his new life, unsure of when he may return to the civilization he knew before. Cast Away reunites star Hanks with director Robert Zemeckis, their first film together since 1994's Oscar-winning Forrest Gump.
Mile, Mile and a Half (Netflix)
Filmmakers Ric Serena and Jason Fitzpatrick follow an ever-growing group of adventurous young artists on their ambitious quest to hike all 219 miles of California's John Muir Trail.
Expedition Happiness (Netflix)
Two free spirits, one dog. Traveling the vast spaces of an enormous continent in search of something more.
9 ways to teach your kids about the world without leaving home
Do you want to travel the world with your kids but find yourselves limited by finances, school holidays, illness, or your family’s environmental impact? While you may struggle to completely replicate the incredible experience of travel, there are plenty of ways you can introduce your kids to the world without even leaving your home. As Marcel Proust said, "The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes." Use these ideas to have family adventures from home, while leaving no carbon footprint. There are many great resources to help families explore the world from home © Teresa Short / Getty Images1. Read fact books and atlases From Dr Seuss to Percy Jackson, Harry Potter and beyond, fiction is a fantastic way to take kids on a journey to faraway places. But in terms of properly learning about the world, nothing beats a really good atlas or fact book. Thankfully, any decent bookshop has a wealth of beautifully-illustrated, carefully-researched and well-designed children's non-fiction books about our wonderful world. We’re not just talking about our own range of Lonely Planet Kids books here. Keep younger children busy with Usborne’s Lift the Flap Picture Atlas, while older kids will love learning about how geography has shaped the political world with the children’s version of Prisoners of Geography. Maps is another one to treasure with detailed pages of cultural information overlaid onto regional maps. If you’re looking for more ideas, family travel bloggers at ytravelblog have put together 12 suggestions for books about maps for kids. Get creative with junk modelling, or build landmarks with blocks © Cavan Images / Getty Images2. Get crafty and creative Toddlers exploring new lands in cardboard boats, younger children fashioning landmarks with play dough, wooden bricks or Lego, and tweens and teens making laser cut models or 3D puzzles from kits; whatever age your kids are there are ways to create something fun together which tells them a bit more about the world. To get you started, our Cardboard Box Creations book has lots of ideas for junk modelling, the Brick City series shows you how to make landmarks from New York, London and Paris from Lego and you can even build your own History or Dinosaur Museum. Both Lego’s Architecture series and CubicFun’s three-dimensional models are big hits with older children – and making these together is a lovely way to bond with your increasingly independent tween or teen. If you want to keep things simple, get the kids making their own map or drawing a landmark. Colouring in a world map on a doodle pillowcase is a surprisingly educational and mindful activity for the whole family. Learn about a culture through its food © Zurijeta / Shutterstock3. Take a culinary tour Is there a better way to get to know another culture than through its food? If you can’t get first-hand experience of these new tastes then bring them into your own kitchen. Use kids cookbooks such as The Around The World Cookbook or follow the BBC show My World Kitchen where children from different countries show you how to make a typical dish. Make it even more fun by turning your kitchen into a local cafe or street food hut, complete with menu (and prices in the local currency), music and appropriate cutlery and crockery. Start simple with a gingham tablecloth, some croissants and milky chocolat chaud to take you to Paris and progress to making sushi, mastering chopsticks and a more mindful eating experience in Japan. 4. Dance to kid-friendly tunes from around the world Put on some tunes from around the world and have a dance. Luckily for you we’ve got just the playlist to get your family started on their global musical tour. You could also pick a country you want to visit and teach yourselves a dance using a bit of inspiration from YouTube. 5. Try language apps and online quizzes With apps and gaming there are plenty of opportunities to learn while you have fun. Stack the States or Stack the Countries, Flags of the World, Animal Quiz, Duolingo (for language learning), DimDomWorld Map all come recommended and we’ve not even got started on virtual reality. The sky is the limit when it comes to online opportunities to learn about the world, just make sure you spend some time on the device with your kids so you know what they are doing. Bergen in Norway, the inspiration for Arendelle in Frozen © Tatyana Vyc / Shutterstock6. Get the television on While we know we should be avoiding too much screen time for our kids, there’s no denying that children can accumulate a lot of knowledge by watching and playing on screens. Something as simple as family movie night complete with themed snacks, can provide the chance to transport the whole family far away from your home for a couple of hours. Think of Indiana Jones and the Middle East, Frozen and Scandinavia, Ratatouille and Paris, Rio and Rio de Janeiro, to name but a few. Common Sense Media has an extensive list of educational TV shows for kids, but obvious places to start are the Planet Earth or Nature series. With smaller children you can’t go wrong with the British series Go Jetters, where four explorers travel the world learning all about major landmarks. Map puzzles help children see how parts of the world fit together © Camille Tokerud / Getty Images7. Complete a map jigsaw As much as we appreciate the benefits of technology in terms of learning about the world, when it comes to family bonding nothing can beat a digital detox and time spent together on a more "traditional" activity. Working on a jigsaw together can create a strong sense of teamwork. For younger children choose a world map, solar system or even simple animal pairs which gives you a chance to talk about what you see as everything comes together. Older children will relish the challenge of more and smaller pieces, and might enjoy identifying the landmarks at the end in this 1000pc one from Ravensburger. 8. Try your luck with world-themed board games Risk and other games involving world domination are a good way to develop a (slightly skewed) sense of geography in older children. Train enthusiasts will love Ticket to Ride, which comes in all sorts of variations for different parts of the world. You can create your own little vexillologist with Flags of the World, consolidate their knowledge of the US with Scrambled States and make them a super quizzer by focussing on the geography questions with the family edition of Trivial Pursuit. Sustainable travel goals for 2020 Sustainable travel goals for 2020 Make meaningful travel goals for 2020 - from escaping the crowds to travelling by train. 9. Get fancy with some dress up Lastly, if you want to feel really good about your parenting, one of the best analogue games you can play is to dress everyone up as explorers (or Greeks, or wizards, or whatever your dressing-up box or household can find) and go marauding around your home finding objects that show you something about the world. Reconvene and get everyone to tell you what they know about their object, create a story about it, or simply use it as something to research and learn about. This article originally ran on our sister site, Lonely Planet
Weird American pit stops: why you need to see this toxic open-pit mine
There’s something remarkably apocalyptic and American about a Superfund toxic waste site that moonlights as a tourist attraction, but that’s exactly what you get from the Berkeley Pit in Butte, Montana. It makes for a fascinating stop on your Montana road trip. The Berkeley Pit was once called “The Richest Hill in the World” for the sheer amount of ore and valuable copper that was mined from it. Now, the Berkeley Pit is a giant hole in the ground filled 1800 feet deep with toxic acid. When the copper mine closed in 1982, rainwater continued to fill the pit, mixing with the heavy metals and minerals found in the rock, and producing an acid so strong that birds die instantly if they happen to land on it, something that has unfortunately happened several times in the history of the pit. The water is an eerie still green color that reflects the sky. At random intervals, loud booms and bangs can be heard from the various technologies installed to keep the birds away. Because the pit contains such a mix of toxic heavy metals, it is a great worry that the pit will ever overflow its boundary into the Columbia River watershed nearby. This would poison Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, as well a river that supports over 8 million people. Needless to say, it would be catastrophic if this were to happen.This is why the Environmental Protection Agency has earmarked hundreds of millions of dollars to clean up the Berkeley Pit. Starting in 2019, a treatment plant located nearby is able to clean 7 million gallons of water a day, removing heavy metals and toxins; lowering the overall water level, and protecting the public. For $2.00 from March to November, tourists can see the Pit from a tourist vantage point, complete with audio narration about the history of the “attraction”. The Berkeley Pit is located in Butte Montana, just off of I-90 and I-15. You can read more about the fascinating history of the Berkeley Pit, as well as ongoing cleanup efforts, here: https://pitwatch.org/
How rum is making at comeback at these 6 distilleries
Quick: what’s the first thing that comes to mind when someone mentions rum? Chances are you think about sticky-sweet, umbrella-garnished beach drinks, fraternity parties, or Coke. But in 2020, this historic spirit is more diverse, sophisticated and, most importantly, funner than ever before, as American small distilleries produce a variety of styles – both classic and creative. Their spirits can hold their own against time-tested legacy brands. Like any craft spirit, rum is arguably best enjoyed at the source, where you can talk to distillers and see how it’s made. Here are a few to check out around the US and Caribbean when you’re passing by. 1. Lassiter Distilling Company: Knightdale, North Carolina Yes, the Caribbean is the heartbeat of the rum industry and rum was a cornerstone of Colonial New England’s economy, but here’s a little lesser known fact: before the pilgrims arrived at Plymouth Rock, rum was drunk all along North Carolina’s coast. The region was a hub for the sugar trade, after all. That’s one of the nuggets of info you’ll learn when you visit Lassiter Distilling Company, a rum-focused distillery in Knightdale, a charming town just off Route 64, which connects Raleigh to the beach. Among the many independent businesses that have sprung up here in the past few years is Lassiter, which is located in a gorgeous old railroad depot. Drop in on a Saturday for a distillery tour or schedule a visit for another day in advance. The husband and wife distiller/owners turn out a silver (unaged) rum, one that’s aged in classic American white oak and a clever Rum au Café that's infused with Raleigh Coffee Company coffee beans, each of which you can sample as part of the free tour. Got time? Stick around for a rum drink at their small yet elaborately designed tiki bar, which is open Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. Potted plants dot the tasting room of Lyon Distilling Co. © courtesy Lyon Distilling Co.2. Lyon Distilling Co.: Saint Michaels, Maryland When Lyon Distilling launched in 2013, it completed a drinking trifecta. Now travelers can visit a brewery, a winery and a distillery, all within Saint Michaels, a one-square-mile town on the Chesapeake Bay’s picturesque eastern shore. Located 45 minutes from Annapolis and 90 minutes from Washington and Baltimore, the town attracts makers of all sorts, like boat-builders and brewers. That, along with the fact that the bywaters of the Chesapeake were a rum-running hub during Prohibition, convinced co-founder Jaime Windon that this was an ideal spot to open a distillery and make maritime spirits. “The proper shore is 90 minutes from us. With all the sailors coming through there, making rum feels right on Bay,” Windon says. Situated in a former flour mill, Lyon turns out dark and unaged rums, over-proof expressions, and several special products, like limited-edition holiday releases and coffee rum, a rich, enchanting spirit flavored with fresh ground coffee from a local roaster and cocoa shells from a DC chocolatier. Free tours with tastings are offered every day at 2PM. 3. Hye Rum: Stonewall, Texas Tourists have long traveled to Texas Hill Country, birthplace of Lyndon B. Johnson, to visit his ranch. This region, which extends to parts of Central and Southeast Texas, is covered with rocky soil, the kind that lends itself to fine vintages in Europe. Accordingly, it’s long been a draw for winemakers, and there are presently more than 65 wineries along the 25-mile strip of Interstate 290 that connects Fredericksburg to Johnson City. But that’s not why we’re here. Hye – population: 100-plus – sits along that stretch and in addition the nearly dozen wineries you can visit there, you’ll find Garrison Brothers, a whiskey distillery, and Hye Rum, a distillery that opened in 2017. It’s set in a quaint house that co-owner Stephanie Houston describes as “slightly larger than a tiny house.” They produce five different French-island-inspired rums with molasses from Louisiana. Visit for a tour with the distiller then settle in at the low-key bar with a flight of rums, each of which delivers bold flavors befitting of the Lone Star State. A souvenir tasting glass is part of the package. Cocktail classes are also on offer. 4. Havana Club: Havana, Cuba Since the Obama administration relaxed restrictions on travel to Cuba, Americans have headed posthaste to this tropical island to ogle at its colorful architecture, abundant vintage cars, and so much else. The food, of course, is a big draw for many, but for some, the most compelling lure is the preferred spirit of one of Cuba’s most legendary residents, Ernest Hemingway, who penned seven books just outside Havana. The historic and massive Havana Club distillery, which sits in the nation state’s capital, is not open to the public, but you can learn about the rum-making process – from sugar farming to barrel aging – and its history in great detail at the Havana Club Museum of Rum. Located in a colonial townhouse built in the 18th-century, the museum’s exhibits provide a closeup view of the many crafts involved in rum production, from building stills and constructing barrels to distillation. And, of course, you can experience the consumption part for yourself in the 1930s-era tasting room. A bottle of Montanya on the taproom bar © courtesy Montanya / Nathan Bilow 5. Montanya Distillers: Crested Butte, Colorado Situated in the West Elks, a little mountain range in the Rockies, Crested Butte is an incredible Colorado ski town and the wildflower capital of the United States. It’s also a mountain biking mecca and home of Montanya Distillers, a destination not only for its lively bar and restaurant, complete with live music, but for the in-depth lesson you can get on a tour about the quirks and beauty of making rum at 8800ft. Montanya’s staff, from founder and owner Karen Hoskin to the distillers to the bottling line, is 64% women, which is unique among the many producers in the world. Their special release, Valentina, highlights this, as every step in the process involved women. Whether or not you tour the distillery, a flight of Montanya rums, which are made with molasses from Louisiana-grown sugar cane, is complimentary. Come for the samples, stay for dinner and a cocktail. Come for the samples, stay for dinner and a cocktail and live music. The cozy wood- and brick-heavy tasting room/eatery is a lively local hangout. 6. MISCellaneous Distillery: Mount Airy, Maryland Meg McNeill, co-owner of MISCellaneous Distillery in rural Maryland, an hour north of Washington DC, describes her Popi’s Finest Rum as “rum that thinks it’s whiskey.” Like bourbon, it’s aged in new American oak barrels, which imbues Popi’s with its oaky flavors. See for yourself on one of the tours they offer every weekend. Tours are free, but a $5 recommended donation is passed on to a local charity. Go to learn about the distillation and aging process, stay to create your own cocktail with a variety of made-in-DC mixers like Element Shrubb’s inventive vinegar-based drinks (honeydew-jalapeno, anyone?) and natural syrups from Pratt Standard Cocktail Company. In addition to aged and silver rums, the distillery produces whiskey from grains harvested from the surrounding rural property, as well as vodka, gin, and bourbon. They all meet the approval, by the way, of husband-and-wife owners’ pup Jaimee, a friendly Bernese mountain dog. Got one of your own? Feel free to bring him along for a play session.
4 reasons why you should travel to the Bahamas this winter
Hurricane Dorian was the worst tropical storm to strike the Bahamas in the country's history. The effects of the storm, from severe wind damage to flooding, left scars on the archipelago that will take years to heal, but the Bahamas is on the rebound and ready to see visitors again. Traveling to the Bahamas this winter is not only more affordable than usual, but visiting this season also directly helps a community working hard to resume life after Hurricane Dorian’s devastating destruction. Here are the top four reasons you should visit this Caribbean archipelago this winter. 1. You can give back on Grand Bahama Hurricane Dorian caused catastrophic damage on Grand Bahama, but today the island is largely up and running and ready to accept visitors. Grand Bahamas is a great destination for travelers who want to give back. The dog- and cat-loving world rallied around the Humane Society of Grand Bahama during and after Hurricane Dorian. Six shelter workers and one volunteer rode out the storm inside the shelter until it flooded and their own lives were put in danger (they had to swim out to safety). But by staying so long, they saved the lives of many animals who would have otherwise perished (sadly, many still did). The animal shelter itself was severely damaged, but thanks to a global fundraising effort is slowing start to re-build. They are happy for volunteer help with the animals — you can take a dog or two for an outing or socialize at the shelter with the cats. The shelter welcomes volunteers 11am-2pm Monday to Saturday. Many of the shelter’s staff lost everything in the storm, and donations of new or lightly used clothing are also welcome. How to get there: The airport in Freeport has re-opened and there are flights on BahamasAir and Silver Airways to and from Fort Lauderdale most days of the week. The ferry between Freeport and Fort Lauderdale is also operating again, as is the cruise port. Many of the hotels and restaurants have opened their doors again. Where to stay: Many of Grand Bahama’s hotels have re-opened, including the all-inclusive Viva Wyndham Fortuna, which saw major renovations post Dorian. Rates are also down about 25% and the property is located on a pretty stretch of sand on the island’s south shore. Other lodging options include Pelican Bay, Lighthouse Pointe at Grand Lucayan, Bell Channel Inn and Castaways Best Western. 2. Experience Bimini blue on a budget As a result of the hurricane, hotel prices across the islands have fallen in an effort to draw in visitors. As such, now is a great time to visit some of the more traditionally expensive Out Islands, like beautiful Bimini. The water around Bimini is so well known, it has its own color named after it: Bimini blue. It's the kind of place where life still moves slowly and locals get around by golf cart. Bimini was also once a favorite retreat for Ernest Hemingway, who came to write and indulge in his other passion, sport fishing, which is something else Bimini is known for. How to get there: Bimini is the closest Bahamas island to the mainland US and is easy to access from Miami via airplane or a high-speed ferry service that makes the trip in just two hours. If you fly, you’ll arrive on South Bimini. Most of the accommodation is on North Bimini, which is just a short ferry ride away. Where to eat: At the end of the day head to the Bimini Big Game Club Resort & Marina for a cold beer and fish sandwich at Sharky’s Bar & Grill. Located right by the pier overlooking the marina and the bonefish flats beyond, you can often see massive bull sharks swimming in the water just in front of the restaurant. You can also stay here, although the resort is definitely geared towards anglers. Where to stay: Here you’ll find the Hilton at Resorts World Bimini is the island’s only large resort and offers some great deals, especially if you stay mid-week when the vibe is much more laidback anyway. On the weekends the property has a party vibe when Floridians pop over on the ferry from Miami. The resort features luxe suites with floor-to-ceiling windows and amenities like a rooftop swimming pool, live action casino and 10 restaurants, bars and cafes. The property can also arrange day trips that include snorkeling in and around a partially submerged shipwreck (an old rum runner known as the SS Sapona). 3. Nassau is easy to get to Nassau is the capital of the Bahamas and actually located on New Providence Island, but everyone seems to refer to the area as Nassau. At first glance, with its throngs of cruise ship passengers, careening jitneys and vendors selling straw-goods, Nassau might not be the Caribbean escape many are looking for. But that urban bustle is exactly why we love it: it's been been a hustler hideout since 18th-century pirates were dropping their doubloons on rum and excitement. If you're looking for a classic Bahamian beach, look no further than Cable Beach, just three miles from downtown Nassau. How to get there: Nassau is the easiest island in the Bahamas to access from the mainland US with direct flights on multiple airlines. Outbound US travelers get to clear US Customs and Immigration on the ground in Nassau, which eliminates having to go through customs and border control in their arrival city. Where to stay: If you’re looking for an all-inclusive property with good food on a lovely stretch of white sand on Cable Beach then check into the Melia Nassau Beach - All Inclusive. Part of the Baha Mar development, the resort has ocean facing rooms and suites to choose from as well as 7 restaurants and 4 bars onsite. 4. Cat Island is still pristine, undeveloped Bahamas As an antidote to the hubub of Nassau, Cat Island sits in the Caribbean relatively untouched by tourism. Another of the Bahamas' Out Islands, Cat Island, located some 130 miles southeast of Nassau, is still mostly undeveloped and known as one of the more budget-friendly islands. Derelict plantation ruins dot the islands, and the Hermitage atop Mt Alvernia forms the main historic site. Elsewhere, beaches are blissfully free of big-name resorts. How to get there: There are two airports on Cat Island, Arthur's Town Airport and New Bight Airport, which serve chartered and scheduled flights. There is also a mailboat service from Nassau to points around the island but it only runs weekly. Where to stay: Check out the Pigeon Cay Beach Club, which has just 11 cottages right on a gorgeous three mile long white sand beach and a shabby chic hippie vibe. It isn’t fancy, but they do have WiFi now. Breakfast and dinner are served at the honor bar and you can also cook in your cottage’s kitchen. Explore the island by bike, canoe or kayak, which are all on offer to guests.