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The 6 Best Places to See Fall Colors

By Tobey Grumet
updated September 29, 2021
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A cheap and simple way to enjoy the outdoors and see the majesty of the country, leaf peeping is a time-honored tradition from coast to coast. Here are our six favorite places to do it.

Don’t mourn the end of summer. Swap out that bathing suit for a sweater, ice cream for apples, and make a date with mother nature to ponder the stunning colors of America’s fall foliage.

Given the overwhelming number of parks, mountains and forests to choose from, finding the right time and place to see these vibrant displays may seem overwhelming. To get you started, we’ve rounded up six of the best places to enjoy fall’s impressive hues. And though there is an estimated time for peak viewing, it’s all about the weather, so you may want to check the Farmer’s Almanac and The Weather Channel for a quick update before you head out.

Catskills, NY

New York is one of the most popular states to get a full glimpse of seasonal colors. And this mountain range in the state’s southeast corner is close enough to New York City to drive, train or bus to in just a few short hours.

The optimal viewing time in the Catskills is the end of September through October and though you can’t miss the breathtaking changes wherever you end up, we suggest a drive to the Kaaterskill Clove Experience, a hike to Mount Utsayantha or a trip aboard the Catskill Mountain Railroad. Weekend events, like the Hunter Mountain Oktoberfest and the Taste of the Catskills, are a great way to extend your foliage excursion and mix it up with both locals and tourists.

Gettysburg, PA

Combine your autumn viewing with some American history this season and head to Gettysburg around the third week of October until mid-November to enjoy peak foliage. The Gettysburg National Military Park and the top of the battlefield Little Round Top affords flamboyant views all the way to the Blue Ridge Mountains.

You can also choose to see the changing leaves on horseback from the National Riding Stables Horse Rescue or Hickory Hollow Farm, take a drive through Pennsylvania’s Apple Country or visit the Hauser Estate Winery for a taste of wine and hard cider, as well as a view from one of the region’s highest points. The National Apple Harvest Festival runs through the first two weekends of October and will give you a good reason to stay and enjoy the food, crafts, entertainment and, you know, all those apples.

Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway, NM

The mountains of northern New Mexico are a highlight for leaf gazing aficionados during the first few weeks of October, and this dreamily named route provides an 83-mile loop of what the southwest autumn has to offer. The drive is approximately three hours, though you’ll want to factor in time for stops along the way. The byway begins and ends in the artists’ colony Taos and makes its way through Questa, Red River, Eagle’s Nest and Angel Fire.

The sundry scenery includes Taos Pueblo, which houses the country’s first memorial to Vietnam vets, as well as Wheeler Peak, New Mexico’s tallest point, and Taos Ski Valley where you can enjoy the vivid views on a hike, bike or ski lift.

Lake of the Ozarks, MS

Mid- to late-October is the best tome to see the Ozarks hardwood forests and rolling hills burn with scarlet, ginger and gold on this vast shoreline ­– though it could easily stretch into November with an abundance of cool sunny days. Unfolding across four counties, this summer getaway comes alive in the fall, and there are plenty of ways to enjoy the brilliant scenery in the surrounding Ozark Hills.

Take a drive through the Sylamore District of the Ozark National Forest, stop at the Ameren Scenic Overlook, survey the surroundings with a round of golf at the Margaritaville Lake Resort or hop on a boat at Celebration Cruises to see the sites from the water.

Columbia River Gorge, OR

With over 80 miles of brightly tinted forests to gawk at, this scenic area located along Interstate 84 is at its peak for fall foliage from mid-September to mid-October. The drive is parallel to the Columbia River, but be sure to stop at the Crown Point Vista House for more expansive views of the Cascade Mountains or consider a hike on the popular Dog Mountain Loop.

Take a cheeky break for a beverage and panoramic vistas at one of the Gorge wineries or breweries or book a white water rafting trip down the Columbia River to liven things up.

Kancamagus Highway, NH

This 34-mile drive, nicknamed the Kanc by locals, provides an explosion of brilliant colored leaves come mid-September and lasting through early October. Because this highway cuts through the White Mountain National Forest, there are plenty of points to pull off and enjoy the breathtaking views.

The Sabbaday Falls includes a 45ft drop and perfect picnicking options and you can stop at the Lost River Gorge and Boulder Caves to wander off on a hike. Or hop on the 80-passenger cable car at the Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway to see the spectacular foliage from the air – all the way to Maine, Vermont and Canada.

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AdventureBudget Travel Lists

6 Glamping Sites That Will Change the Way You Look at Nature

If you’re keen to enjoy the great outdoors but not interested in roughing it, then glamping is for you. Thanks to upgraded accommodations and actual beds, glamping is a more luxurious experience, with amenities that may include running water, electricity, personal chefs, fine linens, and en suite bathrooms. Plus, you don’t have to worry about packing toiletries, bedding,and towels – it’s all part of the package. From deluxe safari tents to small cabins and bungalows, this classy getaway not only lets you gently commune with nature, it also allows you to participate in activities you may have missed if you were staying at a hotel. Ready to upgrade? Here are six top picks for when tents and sleeping bags just won’t do. 1. Wild Lotus Camp, Antigua (@wildlotuscamp/Instagram) This family-owned glamping business offers large, sturdy upscale tents on Valley Church Beach, just steps from the Caribbean Sea and protected rainforests. The tents, located in a private garden surrounded by exotic flowers and plants, feature a double bed, a seating area, and solar-heated shower and lighting. The secluded Deluxe tent comes with a rum-stocked minibar, a Bluetooth speaker, fold-away bikes, and snorkel gear. But the real draw here is wild turtle season. At its height from July to October, you can watch turtles hatch on the beach outside your tent, then swim with them in the clear turquoise water. Or take in the landscape with a climb to the peak of Mount Obama (named after the 44th US president), the island’s highest point in the Shekerley Mountains. The Nest Beach bar, located on the shoreline, serves meals and cocktails, and a short walk takes you to Sheer Rocks and Dennis’s Cocktail Bar for romantic dinners, especially during sunset. wildlotuscamp.com 2. Sandy Pines Campground: Kennebunkport, ME Located near Goose Rocks Beach and Dock Square, this seaside campground is the epitome of high-low accommodations. Meant to evoke an old-school tableau of New England communal camping, Sandy Pines is a family-friendly destination teetering on the Atlantic. For true glamping, 16 luxe safari tents are available; each has a different design theme and includes a king-size bed, deck, mini-fridge and beverage cooler, and a combination heater/fan. For something more low-key, check out one of the 12 wooden A-frame Hideaway Huts, each equipped with a full-size bed and fire pit. This year, Sandy Pines unveiled six unique retreat options, including a decked-out Airstream, a glass house, and a Conestoga wagon. Entertainment, like bocce and badminton, movie nights, and even a Kid’s Kamp, ensures that everyone keeps busy. Resort-style amenities like the heated saltwater pool and laundry facilities add to the sense of luxury. The property’s Grand Lodge is a hub for the glamping community, while the General Store sells groceries and essentials like bug spray, sunscreen, charcoal, and propane. Make your way to the snack bar for freshly baked goods and sandwiches, plus local beer and wine. sandypinescamping.com 3. Eastwind Hotel & Bar: Windham, NY (Courtesy Eastwind Hotel & Bar) A lively and welcome addition to New York’s Catskill Mountains, Eastwind deftly straddles luxury and nature with design-forward glamping accommodations alongside a boutique hotel. The three Scandinavian-inspired Lushna wood cabins are standalone A-frame units with insulation and a glass window for panoramic views. Built on stilts, these tiny cabins include a queen-sized bed, private bathroom with sauna, posh Frette linens, and Wi-Fi. A BBQ kit is available on request to use at the fire pit on the property. Glampers also have access to all the hotel’s amenities, such as the Salon, a cocktail and coffee bar set in a sprawling living room–like space with huge windows, couches, a dining area, and an expansive outdoor deck. Seasonal prix-fixe Saturday Evening Suppers and a bar menu with small plates are available. Eastwind also has a year-round calendar of programs and activities, like concerts and foraging walks. To explore the surrounding Catskills, take a refreshing hike to Kaaterskill falls and Saugerties Lighthouse, or hang out at one of the plentiful water holes like Woodstock’s Big Deepa. eastwindny.com 4. Leanto Orcas Island: Washington Orcas Island’s modest glamping grounds are situated near the south-end loop of Moran State Park. An ferry ride from the port city of Anacortes lands you on the 5000-acre island, which boasts five freshwater lakes and more than 30 miles of hiking trails. Sunrise Rock and Cascade Falls are walking distance from each other, but if you want to catch a panoramic view, the summit of Mount Constitution is about five miles away. There are five glamping sites to choose from, the smallest featuring one tent with a queen-size bed and the largest offering two tents, one with a queen-size bed and the other with two twin daybeds. All accommodations also come with a table and chairs, dresser, and luggage rack. Outside there are Adirondack chairs, a grill and fire pit, a picnic table, and tents are equipped with flashlights and lanterns. There is no running water on the site, so you’ll be sharing the grounds’ toilets and coin-operated showers with the visitors on the old-school camping grounds. Meals are not included, though grilling utensils are available for loan, and you can add the “morning coffee” option when you book if you need that initial shot of caffeine. There are plenty of restaurants and markets on the island if you want a night out or need to replenish supplies. stayleanto.com. 5. Collective Governors Island, a New York City Retreat: New York, NY (Courtesy Collective Retreats) Just a few minutes by ferry from both Manhattan and Brooklyn, Collective Governors Island, a New York City Retreat, lets you escape the bustle of the city and sleep under the stars – albeit in a luxury tent inspired by Scandinavian minimalism. Governors Island, a former military base that opened to the public in 2004, is filled with historical buildings, pop-up art and cultural exhibits, and green space like the Hills, which feature four giant slides and British artist Rachel Whiteread’s permanent installation of a New England-style concrete cabin, not to mention dazzling skyline vistas. The Collective is nestled on the western side of the island, and its accommodations are contained on a central lawn. All tents include plush beds, electricity, WiFi, and a French press for coffee; Journey tents are the basic option, but you can upgrade to the higher-end Summit tents, which come with 1,500-thread-count sheets, private decks, and en-suite bathrooms. At the highest end are the Outlook Shelters, non-tent shelters that feature larger floorplans and stunning views of the NYC skyline. Have dinner at the quaint Three Peaks Lodge, a restaurant offering a farm-to-table cornucopia, or opt for something more casual and grab the BBQ-in-a-Box or a wrap, salad, and juice from Magic Mix Juicery. Nighttime brings campfires, s’mores, and the knowledge that you’re safe from run-ins with bears or moose in this urban enclave. collectiveretreats.com. 6. Under Canvas Grand Canyon: Valle, AZ (Courtesy West Elm) A 25-minute drive into the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park, Under Canvas is the perfect way to get up close and personal with one of the Seven Wonders of the World. An extravagant campsite with nearly 100 safari tents offers access to varied activities, like horseback riding and hiking through the campgrounds, which cover 160 acres of juniper forest. The two main tent styles – the Deluxe and the Stargazer – are furnished with a king-size bed and feature ensuite bathrooms, wood stoves, and private decks, but the Stargazer stands out for its groovy viewing window. A third option, the Suite Tent, has an additional lounge area with a queen-size sofa bed for a family or group. Package options include guided tours by foot, bike, helicopter, and jeep, plus meals served at the camp’s fast-casual restaurant. (Boxed lunches are available for those planning to spend the day out and about.) The communal firepit offers gratis s’mores and a prime view of the stars. undercanvas.com.

Budget Travel Lists

Discover These 10 NYC Museums

The Met and the Guggenheim are world-famous—worthy of a pilgrimage, some would say—but New York's museums extend far beyond the 28-block stretch of Fifth Avenue that's official recognized as Museum Mile. Smaller institutions throughout the city's five boroughs bring various aspects of local history, industry, and culture to life. From Midtown Manhattan to Staten Island to the Bronx, here are 10 gems that shine. Shining a light on maritime history: National Lighthouse Museum Everyone knows that New York City has historically been a center of finance, art, and theater. It’s nautical history, however, remains a bit under the radar. That heritage comes to life at the National Lighthouse Museum on Staten Island, just a quick walk from the ferry terminal. Located in a 1912 foundry building on the former site of the once bustling US Lighthouse Service’s General Depot (one of the six remaining buildings from the original 18), the largely self-guided museum explains everything you never thought there was to know about lighthouse upkeep, the life of lightkeepers, and the physics of light projection. You’ll never look at nautical navigation the same way again. Picture perfect: Museum of the Moving Image It's no stretch to think of the Museum of the Moving Image like a mini-Smithsonian Institute, what with its all-encompassing collection that represent American culture. The museum, which opened in Astoria, Queens, in 1981 in the former home of the once illustrious Astoria Studios, features about 130,000 objects relating to film, television, sports and news broadcasting, and even video games. Plus, there was a recent exciting development: A Jim Henson exhibit, once a temporary display of all things Muppets and Sesame Street, became a permanent part of the museum's collection in 2017. Add that to everything from costumes from Gone With the Wind to vintage cartoon and comic book memorabilia to old-fashioned film and recording equipment and vintage movie theater furnishings, and an afternoon here presents a vivid portrait of America’s love affair with entertainment. It all adds up: National Museum of Mathematics (Courtesy Museum of Mathematics) Algebra and geometry might not be part of your most riveting high school memories, but the family-friendly Museum of Mathematics, a two-story tech-forward playground that opened near Madison Square Park in Manhattan in 2012, wants to change your opinions of algorithms, physics and optics. Committed to showing how so many of the glorious things we take for granted are a direct consequence of an intricate natural numbers game, it offers interactive exhibits are designed to illuminate how shapes, angles, curves, and motion work. That’s no small undertaking, but with exhibits like a pixilated floor that reacts to movement and a rectangle-wheeled tricycle that moves smoothly along a corrugated track, odds are you’ll walk out excited to talk about paraboloids, catenaries, and tessellation. Logically. Next stop: New York Transit Museum (Demerzel21/Dreamstime) Between delays and overcrowding, the New York subway system gets a bad rap. But when you stop and think about the fact that the 150-plus-year old system with 472 stations—the most of any mass transit operation in the world—runs 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year, delays are a small price to pay to ride on this remarkable network. The New York Transit Museum, located in a 1936 subway station in downtown Brooklyn, features vintage cars dating back to 1907 and permanent exhibits that pay tribute to engineering, construction, employees, and many other aspects that ensure the system keeps people moving. Historical artifacts, old signage, video footage, photography, and structures like vintage turnstiles collectively tell the dynamic story of this system that has helped define New York City. Temporary exhibits cover topics like the subway’s role in comic books. And yes, the museum is walking distance from four subway stations and six different lines, so be sure to take the train here. Coming to America: Tenement Museum Few images of late 19th- and early 20th-century American history are more iconic than those of immigrants arriving at Ellis Island. The Tenement Museum offers a snapshot of their lives once they settled in New York City. Located on the fast-gentrifying Lower East Side in two tenement buildings, a National Historic Site that housed an estimated 15,000 working class people between 1863 and 2014, the museum presents interactive exhibits and displays that tell vivid stories about families adopting new identities and making new lives for themselves. Throughout fives floors of exhibits, you’ll learn about garment factory workers, kosher butchers, and shop owners, transmitting a vivid sense of what it was like to be a stranger in a strange land. There’s also a variety of neighborhood walking tours, including one that samples the area’s ethnic foods and one that points out historic sites that played into the daily immigrant experience. Be a part of it: Museum of the City of New York (Courtesy Filip Wolak) For a deep dive into the history of this ever-changing metropolis and work by some of its most renowned residents, the Museum of the City of New York is hard to beat. Housed in a 1932 Georgian Colonial-Revival building in East Harlem, the institution is a tribute to the city's status as a hub of urban creativity. With an impressive collection of some 750,000 objects spanning photography and sculpture to costumes and theatrical memorabilia, there’s too much to display at one time, but with rotating exhibits drawing from such a varied collection, there’s bound to be something for everyone here. Broadway nerds will thrill to Eugene O’Neill’s handwritten drafts and Gershwin Brothers’ memorabilia, while those fascinated by the details will appreciate maps and ephemera from the 17th century on. You can even see hand-painted casts of famous New York boxers’ hands in the sculpture collection. Northern exposure: Museum of Bronx History Aside from pilgrimages to Yankee Stadium and the other Little Italy, Arthur Avenue, the Bronx doesn’t get much non-local love. And that’s a shame, because the Museum of Bronx History is well worth the trek north. Located in a 1758 house – the borough’s second-oldest – with original details like oak and pine floorboards and hand-forged nails, the building that holds the museum survived a two-day, one-block move in the 1960s and is now as much an attraction as its contents. Opened in 1968, the museum’s main level features two galleries with rotating exhibits and a permanent display in the front parlor that digs into the Bronx backstory, from the arrival of the Dutch to the booting of the British. Get on board: Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum (Tomasz Wozniak/Dreamstime) It’s not often that you get the chance to live out your Top Gun fantasies and learn about America’s history of science and service at the same time, but at Manhattan’s Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, you can do just that. A legendary aircraft carrier that faced kamikaze attacks and torpedo strikes during World War II, tracked Soviet submarines during the Cold War, picked up NASA astronauts on their return from space in the ‘60s, and served three tours of duty in Vietnam, the Intrepid is now docked on the Hudson River, where it hosts more than a million visitors a year. Explore the ship from top to bottom – or, to be specific, from the flight deck to the third deck – to get a feel for life as a recruit. And be sure to allow time for the rest of the museum’s collection, too. Featuring an array of carefully preserved and restored aircraft, there are plenty of superlatives to see, including the world’s first space shuttle, the first aircraft to break the sound barrier on its maiden voyage, and the plane flown by the first President Bush during World War II. A family affair: Museum of the American Gangster From Al Capone to The Godfather, little holds a place in the American imagination like the Mafia, and at the Museum of the American Gangster in the East Village, you can descend into the criminal underworld – for an afternoon, at least. A former speakeasy turned shrine to organized crime, the two-room museum investigates the role of illegal enterprise in the development of cities like New York and Chicago, from politics and culture to myths and urban legends. Plus, it boasts a collection of artifacts that would make even the most hardened mobster jealous, from the shell casings from the shootout that ended Bonnie and Clyde’s bank-robbing spree to the death masks of John Dillinger. No vows of loyalty required for entry. Fun and games: Coney Island Museum (Courtesy Norman Blake) Home to a world-famous hot-dog eating contest, a legendary boardwalk, a long-running, near-legendary sideshow, and a 91-year-old wooden roller coaster that’s earned a spot on the National Register of Historic Places, Brooklyn’s Coney Island has served as a respite from city life since its inaugural hotel went up in the 1920s. You can learn about its storied history at the Coney Island Museum. Founded in 1981 and located just across the street from a subway terminus, this small second-story establishment is like wandering into an eccentric uncle’s attic. Past the funhouse mirrors, you’ll find a treasure trove of vintage ephemera and antique collectibles – photos, ticket stubs, postcards, game signage, and actual cars from decommissioned coasters – as well as exhibitions detailing the amusement parks that came before, and the neighborhood’s evolution from upscale retreat to freak-friendly phenomenon to G-rated vacation destination. It’s the perfect place to embrace your weird side.

Budget Travel Lists

7 Off-Season Getaways You Should Book Now

September signifies a new start to the year for some; the kids are in school, back to the grind at work and the summer is over. But is it really? The official end of summer is September 21st, so squeeze every last drop out of summer 2019 by taking advantage of these travel deals where the prices drop drastically post Labor Day and run through the rest of fall. Whether you’re looking to enjoy a long weekend (I’ve got my eye on you, Columbus Day) or you’ve saved up a week of your vacay to take advantage of quiet beaches and resort towns. Here are a few to consider this fall for an endless summer quest. Ocean City, MD While Ocean City is energetic, loud, and busy during the summer, it's open, quiet, and gorgeous in the fall (mid-September through late November) and September is commonly known as the “Locals Summer.” Around then, visitors can take advantage of discounted rates and lots of valuable seasonal perks at the Dunes Manor. They can also enjoy sunny days and beautiful breezes as they stroll on the Atlantic Avenue boardwalk, which stretches for 2.5 miles and begins at the edge of the Dunes Manor’s property. Ocean City has many exciting events that take place from September through autumn, like Island Wine Fest, O.C.Toberfest and Sunfest, where you can expect four days filled with music, food and activities for all. Breckenridge, CO Just ninety minutes from Denver, Breckenridge, Colorado, is an excellent example of a destination where there deals are to be had after the kids are back in school. That paired with cooler temperatures and fall leaf-peeping colors make it a desirable budget destination during off-peak season. The lodging is less expensive post-summer and before ski season gets into swing. For example, the LOGE Breckenridge has 38 rooms with deals for as low as 100 bucks per night. They also have fire pits right outside next to some of the best trails access outside of Breckenridge, including the famed Colorado Trail. Located at 9,600 ft. above sea level, this charming and historic town is one of the first in Colorado to say hello to fall. Miners came to Breckenridge in search of gold, and much of the town’s Gold Rush history can be experienced on the town’s 60+ miles of interconnected trails. Perfect for post-Labor Day hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding. Block Island, RI A quick ferry ride from mainland Rhode Island or from the tip of Montauk, New York, Block Island has a charming old-timey feel where small, family-run businesses reign supreme. Though many visitors flock to Block Island in the summer, local insider intel has long advised that September through October is prime time. There’s more availability with the same quintessential summertime New England feel. The island is significantly less crowded in the fall, pushing the hotel prices down significantly. The Harborside Inn offers prices under $200 through the weekend, but they also offer a “Discover Block Island” Midweek Package for two nights at $369 in September. This deal includes two round-trip ferry tickets with beverages, a welcome gift bag and dining vouchers worth $100 at Mohegan Cafe & Brewery in Old Harbor. You’ll also have access to bikes and beach chairs for your entire stay. More than 43% of Block Island is preserved in perpetuity as open space, making it the perfect beach destination to explore by bike! Sag Harbor, NY It’s well known that the Hamptons are the playground of the rich and famous. And while that contributes to higher prices during the summer, why not just skip the crowds and high price tags and head to Sag Harbor during shoulder season for a quiet retreat in this beach haven? Relish in local wineries, shopping, museums, clamming, boating, and local year-round restaurants. Book a weekend at Baron’s Cove in Sag Harbor; prices drop in the fall to under $200 per night. Get major nautical vibes from the sweeping views of the majestic marina from your hotel room or from the on-property restaurant. They even have a pet-friendly program, so you can bring Fido to run on the beach. Don’t worry; they supply the bowls, bed and treats! Cape May, NJ Cape May is a charming seaside getaway offering the perfect beach-town trip in the fall. Explore this Victorian town by foot or bike and enjoy mouth-watering, farm-to-table dining, family-friendly fun and shopping (hey, the best sales are in the off-season!). Hotel pricing plummets in September to around $125 per night or less depending on your location. For one, the Beach Shack (cutest name ever?) has affordable rates at this whimsical hotel with a Hawaiian-themed atmosphere. The property is also home to the Rusty Nail, Cape May’s legendary hangout for lifeguards, surfers and other beachgoers. Get ready to relax, the hardest decision you’ll be making is if you should swim in the pool or ocean. Am I right? Brainerd, MN Hello, Minnesota! Crunching leaves, crisp air, trickling rivers and beautiful overlooks: there’s no denying that Minnesota is one of the best places to experience fall. And many resorts in Minnesota drop their rates this time of year, making it easier on the pocketbooks to experience all the season has to offer. Madden’s Resort on Gull Lake offers visitors a chance to soak up the remaining days of summer with prices as low as $119 per night. Pass your time on the lake with boating, fishing or paddle boarding and pretty much any water activity you can imagine. Outside of lake attractions, you can go zip lining, visit local breweries or go biking and hiking through the many trails in the Brainerd Lakes Area.

Budget Travel Lists

​The 10 Most Beautiful Coral Reefs in the World

For snorkelers and deep-sea divers, coral reefs are the ultimate treasure troves. Also called the "rainforests of the sea," coral reefs are rich ecosystems that are teeming with underwater gardens, colorful rock formations, and diverse marine life. Coral reefs are found in more than 100 countries, according to Coral Reef Alliance, a nonprofit that focuses on protecting reefs around the world. Need a little help narrowing down your options? Here is Budget Travel’s list of the most beautiful coral reefs around the globe. The West Bay in Roatan, Honduras The second-largest barrier reef in the world is a must-see. Only yards away from a one-mile beach of white sand and palm trees, the West Bay is filled with canyons and crevices, hard and soft corals, and vibrant yellow and purple sea fans. It’s also one of the best-preserved coral reefs in the Caribbean. Raja Ampat in Indonesia Located at the intersection of the Indian and Pacific Oceans, the Raja Ampat archipelago is home to one of the most colorful coral reefs in the world. Fed by nutrients from deep-sea currents, Raja Ampat – the most biodiverse coral reef ecosystem in the world – is known as the “Crown Jewel” of the Coral Triangle, an area of tropical marine waters in the western Pacific Ocean. Gordon Reef in Egypt Banner fish, parrot fish, cornet fish, and blue-spotted sting rays are just a few of the many marine animals that inhabit Egypt’s Gordon Reef. Keep your eyes peeled for sleeping reef sharks, and don’t miss the remains of the famous Loullia shipwreck, which ran aground on the northern end in 1981. Due to the shallowness of the water, the luminosity is exceptional. Aharen Beach in Okinawa, Japan Snorkelers and divers alike travel here to glimpse the beauty of this reef’s white-sand ocean floor, bright coral formations, sea turtles, and schools of tiny, colorful tropical fish. Underwater life thrives in this reef, which is notably well preserved. Kimbe Bay in Papua New Guinea Also located within the Coral Triangle, Papua New Guinea’s coral reef is dominated by stunning, rainforest-covered volcanic peaks that rise steeply from the water, some reaching over 2,000 meters above the surface. Spadefish, jacks, and barracuda roam the waters of these colorful corals. In addition to checking out the area’s diverse marine life, visitors should view some of Papua New Guinea’s aviation wrecks from World War II (the area sustained heavy Allied bombings), which are easily viewed through the Bismarck Sea’s clear blue waters. Rainbow Reef in Fiji Luminescent corals are the prized possession of Fiji’s Rainbow Reef. Home to millions of beautifully colored reef fish and sea anemones, these waters are brimming with 300 types of hard coral. Fiji is particularly famous for its butterfly fish, and the entire 27 species can be found swimming in Rainbow Reef, which is also home to Taveuni’s Great White Wall, a world-class dive site composed of soft, white corals and colorful sponges that stretches down about 25 meters below the water’s surface. The Maldives One of the best year-round diving destinations in the Indian Ocean, the Maldives is also one of the most intricate marine ecosystems on the planet. The archipelago attracts more than 1 million tourists a year, and for good reason: its chain of 26 coral atolls are, put simply, a tropical paradise bursting with fish life, including manta rays, sea turtles, and giant clams. The caveat? Since 2014, the Maldives have experienced widespread and, in some cases, severe coral bleaching as a result of rising sea water temperatures. The upshot: a number of marine life preservation organizations have banded together to address the reef’s coral bleaching issues. The Great Barrier Reef in Australia The world's largest coral reef is one of the most sought-after tourist destinations around the globe. Indeed, it’s one of the seven wonders of the natural world. Its sprawling reef system, which stretches over 1,400 miles, supports a range of marine life, including endangered species like dugongs and green sea turtles. The Great Barrier Reef also contains more than 400 types of coral and around 240 species of birds. Apo Reef in the Philippines Spread over 13 square miles, Apo Reef is the world's second-largest contiguous coral reef system. The channel is home to about 300 species of colorful marine life –including tropical aquarium fish, snappers, and yellowmargin triggerfish – and roughly 450 species of coral. Its pristine waters make for ideal snorkeling and scuba diving. The Hawaiian Coral Reef The Hawaiian Islands is home to more than 410,000 acres of coral reef in the main islands alone. Its clear waters feature over 500 species of algae and a dazzling array of colorful marine life, including the Humuhumunukunukuapua‘a, a triggerfish that is Hawaii's state fish. One-quarter of its marine life is endemic to Hawaii, meaning they can’t be found anywhere else in the world.