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32 Things Not to Miss in New Zealand

Here are 32 of the best things to do in New Zealand, one of the world's most beautiful travel destinations.

I recently spent two months there, road tripping around both the North and South Islands. I fell in love with the country more and more every day. For such a small place, it has an incredible amount of ecodiversity and I was overwhelmed by the sheer magnificence and beauty of it.

It's the perfect place for a road trip!

Before you leave to explore New Zealand, we recommend getting a good travel insurance e.g. the awarded Travel Insurance by WorldNomads which you can easily purchase online for the exact time needed.

 

Here's my pick of the best of New Zealand:

Adrenaline!

New Zealand is famous for its adrenaline culture, from skydives to bungee jumps to white water rafting. Queenstown is the capital of adventure and a great place to get your adrenaline fill. It’s the place where bungy jumping was born!
 
If action and adrenaline is what you're after, then why not book a 12 day New Zealand Action Adventure Tour.
 

Queenstown Luge

This certainly isn’t as heart-stopping as a bungee jump, but the Queenstown Luge is one of the most fun things to do in Queenstown. It also affords amazing views across the lake and mountains.
 

Milford Sound

Milford Sound is one of New Zealand’s most dramatic sights. It’s also one of the wettest with 182 days of rain per year! The best way to see the sound is on the water. You can do kayaking trips or take a cruise. Cruise Milford is great for knowledgeable guides and good prices.
 

Otago Central Rail Trail

Whether you join if for a couple of hours, or the full 150km track, the Otago Central Rail Trail is a beautiful way to see some of the central South Island by bike. You follow the old railway line from the days of the gold rush and pass through little historic villages along the way.
 

Hiking in Wanaka

Wanaka often gets overshadowed by Queenstown, but it’s a gorgeous place in its own right and the perfect place for hiking. Get the classic Instagram shot at the top of Arthur’s Peak or climb up to the glacier. Be sure to check with DOC /  iSite to see which routes are safe on any particular day. 
 

Driving the Mountain Passes

New Zealand is the ultimate road trip destination and some of the most gorgeous roads are the mountain passes, including Haast Pass and Arthur’s Pass on the South Island. Take your time and watch out for the brown signs that will tell you about viewpoints and sights along the way. 
 

Sunset on the West Coast

The rugged west coast is the perfect place to catch a sunset. Some of the best ones we saw were at Hokitika and just up the coast from New Plymouth. 
 

Pancake Rocks

New Zealand spoils you with natural diversity and the Punakiki Pancake Rocks are a perfect example. These unique formations are made even more spectacular by the powerful blowholes that thunder through the rocks at high tide. It’s nature at its most awesome.
 

Helicopter Ride on Fox Glacier

Landing on a glacier and taking a walk in the snow before heading back down to the sunshine is a memory you’ll never forget. Seeing the glacier from the air is an awesome way to get an understanding of the sheer scale of the thing. 
 

Lake Matheson Reflections

You need to cross your fingers for a still day on your visit to Lake Matheson. If luck’s on your side, you’ll be rewarded with an incredible view of Mount Cook perfectly reflected in the lake. It’s one of the most beautiful sights in New Zealand. Even when the water isn’t still, the lake is definitely worth visiting.
 

Swim with Dolphins in Akaroa

Akaroa is the only place in the world where you can swim with the friendly little Hector’s Dolphins. It’s a truly once in a lifetime experience. There are various cruises on offer throughout the day.
 

Cardboard Cathedral

After the 2011 earthquake destroyed much of Christchurch, the city set about re-building itself. An impressive transitional cathedral has been built, including 86 cardboard tubes, which has earned it the nickname “the cardboard cathedral”.
 

Wine Tour in Marlborough

New Zealand is famous for its sauvignon blanc and there’s no better way to sample it than taking a bike trip around the Marlborough region. The Explore Marlborough company is a great option as it includes a transfer from Picton to Marlborough, which allows you to enjoy as much wine as you like!
 

Kayaking in Abel Tasman

The Abel Tasman National Park is one of New Zealand’s natural jewels and the perfect place to hike or explore by kayak. Kaiteriteri Kayaks offer a great tour that combines half a day of hiking with half a day kayaking.
 

Visit Nelson

Nelson is the kind of place you can imagine living. It's in the perfect location next to the sea, small enough to have a great community, but big enough to have lots going on. While there, also head to some of the smaller places in the area, like the pretty Cable Bay.
 

Wellington Arts and Culture

Wellington is sometimes called the world’s coolest small capital and it packs in a lot of art and culture. Visit the Te Papa cultural museum or try to catch a gig or two while in town. It's also home to the Weta Workshop where you can take a tour of the world-renowned special effects company, most famous for Lord of the Rings.

 

Hiking in Tongariro

The Tongariro Crossing is one of New Zealand’s most popular day hikes. It’s not easy and requires a reasonable level of fitness, but the views are simply stunning. It's where some of Lord of the Rings was filmed, including Mount Doom.
 

Lake Taupo

Lake Taupo is the North Island’s answer to Queenstown and a great place to try some adventure activities, from bungee jumping to skydiving. Also be sure to visit the mighty Huka Falls.
 

Hot Springs

New Zealand has some gorgeous hot springs, including the Polynesian Spa in Rotorua, where you can relax in pools overlooking Lake Rotorua. It’s the ideal place to relax.
 

Indulge Yourself

Another great way to indulge in New Zealand is by taking advantage of its wealth of mineral-rich mud. The QE Health Spa in Rotorua has an awesome medicinal mud bath treatment that you can even enjoy as a couple.
 

Wai-O-Tapu

Wai-O-Tapu is Rotorua’s thermal wonderland where you can see some incredible natural wonders. There are colourful lakes, bubbling mud pools, and the Lady Knox geyser that explodes every morning.
 

Maori Village

Rotorua is the best place to learn about Maori life. There are two cultural centres, Te Puia and Whakarewarewa Village. The latter is a living Maori village where the local people show you around, and you can even try some sweetcorn cooked in a thermal pool.
 

Hobbiton

Lord of the Rings fans mustn’t miss doing a tour of Hobbiton, and even if you’re not a fan of Tolkein, you’ll still enjoy this. The film set has been left intact since The Hobbit was filmed and it’s fascinating to see how much detail went into the Hobbiton set. You feel like you’ve been transported to a magical land. 
 

Cathedral Cove

One of the highlights of the Coromandel Peninsula is the stunning Cathedral Cove rock formation. It’s a 30-minute walk to get there along the coast. Once there you can swim and simply relax in the natural beauty.
 

Hot Water Beach

Up in the Coromandel Peninsula, there’s a beach with a hot spring running beneath it. You can dig a hole and create your own hot pool! Shovels are available for hire, but be carful as some of the areas are scalding hot!
 

Escapade NZ

Do you fancy yourself as a bit of a Sherlock Holmes? While in Auckland, try Escapade NZ, a fun escape room where you have an hour to solve a mystery puzzle before your time runs out. It’s great fun for groups!
 

Glowworms in Waitomo

Waitomo is the best area in New Zealand to go on a caving adventure and see glowworms deep inside the earth. Glowing Adventures is a great option as it’s run by a family who have a cave in their own backyard. This means you can skip the crowds that head to the main Waitomo Caves.
 

Waipoua Forest

Waipoua Forest on the North Island is home to the world's biggest and oldest kauri trees, including the incredible Tane Mahuta, Lord of the Forest. Go and be awed by the magnificence of nature.
 

The Cream Trip

While in the Bay of Islands, a boat trip is a must. One of the best options is The Cream Trip by Fullers Great Sights, which follows the old delivery route that boats took to transport post and other goods, such as cream. This trip is great as it combines all the highlights, including sailing through the hole in the rock, stopping at an island, and having the opportunity to swim with dolphins. They also have a cool boom net, which you can hold onto while the boat pulls you along!

 

Sailing with R Tucker Thompson

Another brilliant option in the Bay of Islands is a full-day of sailing on the R Tucker Thompson tall ship, where you can climb the rigging and enjoy a day of cream teas, champagne and swinging off a rope right into the sea. During the off-season, the boat is part of a youth development programme that teaches teamwork and leadership skills. All the profits from tourism go towards funding the programme. 
 

Surfing in Raglan

Raglan is New Zealand’s premier surf spot and the ideal place to learn. There are tons of surf schools, varying from one day courses to several month intensives. It’s also a cool laid-back town to spend some time soaking up the beachlife.
 

Take a Road Trip

Undoubtedly one of the best ways to see New Zealand is by taking a road trip around the country. The scenery is spectacular, the roads are quiet and every few miles, you see something that makes you say “Wow!”. Spaceships Rentals has some cool camper vans that are known as “the Swiss Army knife of camper vans” as they pack so much into a small space. They’re more like a car than a van, and the prices are really affordable. For something bigger, Britz has some excellent options, including the classic HiTop, or the slightly cheaper ActionPod, which is like a converted van rather than a purpose-made camper. If you don’t fancy getting a camper van then Omega Rentals tends to have the cheapest car rental options.
 
We highly recommend to get a good travel insurance e.g. the awarded Travel Insurance by WorldNomads which you can easily purchase online for the exact time needed.
 
 
Travel Tip shared by Victoria Watts Kennedy for Travel Dudes
 
Victoria's New Zealand trip was organized and managed in association with Tourism New Zealand. Travel Dudes maintains full editorial control of the content published on this site.

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20 of the Best Local Dishes to Try in Bali

When you're traveling, it's always nice to try the local cuisines of the destination.  Local food is often much different from what you're used to at home, and can be a pleasant surpise from what you're used to.

Meals may smell and look unfamiliar and may even be made with ingredients that you've never tried before.  Therefore, it can be a bit scary at first, but in my opinion you should always err on the side of trying the local dish.

During my stay at Bali, I tried many local Asian meals. The assortment of dishes in Bali is great. The Balinese people really know how to cook.

They have a wide collection of main courses, but also know how to satisfy your sweet tooth, because they have plenty of delicious snacks, cakes and desserts. I would like to share my top twenty local meals from my time in the country, which you should try in one of the warungs of Bali.

 

Top 20 Local Meals to Try in Bali

1. Babi Guling

Babi guling, or suckling pig, is one of Bali’s most famous and important dish. The whole hog will be barbecued and served to eat. Previously, babi guling was served only during the important Hindu ceremonies. It was offered first and when the ceremonies were finished, the babi guling could be eaten. Nowadays, the babi guling can be found widely served at warungs and restaurants specialising in this dish. Most of the time, the babi guling is served with lawar and steamed rice. The skin of the pig looks crisp brown and the meat has a tender and juicy taste. It is not my most favourite and delicious dish I know, but definitely the number one dish which you should try in Bali, because it is the most traditional and local dish you can find on this island.

 

2. Satay

Satay (or sate) consists of skewers of meat flavored with spices. The meat usually consists of chicken or pork and is wrapped around bamboo, sugar cane or lemongrass sticks. The satay will be grilled or barbecued and can be enjoyed with or without (peanut) sauce. During the day and night, you can find a lot of food stands on the street which sell the famous satay. To be honest, I almost never ordered the satay on the street, but always chose to eat it in a local warung or street. When you order the satay on the street, you have no idea how long it is already waiting in the sun to be eaten or how well the satay is baked.

 

3. Nasi Campur

This dish can be found served at many warungs and restaurants throughout the island. The dish is mainly white rice served with many different elements of Balinese delights. This meal is very varied and you will never get bored to eat this. You can buy take away packages of nasi campur, but there are also plenty of warungs who offer all the different elements and you can choose your own nasi campur. You pick which sides you want. I always really liked this meal, because you can choose the Balinese delights you like.

 

4. Jimbaran seafood

Jimbaran is a city in the southern part of Bali. The city has plenty of beachside cafés where fresh fish is served. You can find different fresh caught seafood, ranging from shrimp, clams, crabs, calamari, lobsters and a wide assortment of fish. The beachside cafés are very cozy during the night and the different cafés which I tried so far, do offer an amazing quality of seafood. It is definitely worth to go one evening to Jimbaran to try the fresh fish.

 

5. Lawar

Lawar is a dish which is composed of very finely chopped combinations of various ingredients, usually containing fine chopped meat, vegetables, grated coconut and spices. Sometimes lawar is prepared using fresh blood mixed with the ingredients to strengthen the flavor. Lawar is usually served on top of banana leaves. There are two main types of lawar, white and red. The white version usually does not contain any meats or blood.

 

6. Nasi Goreng

Most of the people know nasi goreng. It is pre-steamed rice stir-fried with a combination of meats and vegetables. Usually it contains of fried eggs, diced beef, strips of chicken, onions and a blend of sweet soy sauce or kecap manis and hot chili sauce. Most of the time, the nasi goreng is served with sliced tomatoes and cucumber, fried shallots, shrimp krupuk crackers and mixed pickles.

 

7. Mie Goreng

Like nasi goreng, mie goreng is also a well-known dish. It consists of fried noodles, onions, prawns, chicken, pork or beef, chili, tomatoes, egg and other vegetables. Mie goreng can be found everywhere in Bali, namely at street food stands, warungs or expensive restaurants.

 

8. Martabak

Martabak is a crepe-like dish with a filling of egg and other ingredients, such as onion, beef and seasonings. The filling is incorporated while the pastry is still being fried in the large flat woks. It is delicious and can be bought at the many street food stands.

 

9. Terang Bulan

This is the sweet variety of martabak. It is essentially a thick pancake with a filling, such as chocolate or banana, sandwiched between two pan-cooked buttery layers. These are most commonly cooked by street vendors in the evening. The taste is very sweet, but I love it! It is really delicious.

 

10. Bakso

Basko is a soup containing Indonesian meatballs. You can find the bakso at the street food stands or in the warungs. Depending on the bakso stand, you’ll find some noodles, tofu, and some herbs thrown in the soup. I don’t really like the bakso. The meatballs taste different than I am used to in the Netherlands. You should try the bakso and form your own opinion about it.

 

11. Gado Gado

This dish is a vegetable salad covered with a peanut sauce. Mostly it has mixed cooked vegetables and tofu, but it is also possible to eat the vegetables raw. Although this dish is not originally from Bali, gado gado is served in many warungs and restaurants. It tastes very good.

 

12. Tahu and Tempe

Tahu (tofu) and tempe (boiled soybeans pressed and fermented) can be find in every warung. They are mainly used as ingredients of meals or are served as a main course dish. The tahu and tempe can be cooked or fried. I personally like the fried tempe very much. Both tahu and tempe are a vegetarian dish.

 

13. Sayur Urab

Sayur Urab is a delicious and healthy dish of mixed vegetables. It can be served hot, but it’s more common to eat it cold, because the owners of food stalls will prepare the vegetables and spices in advance and then mix them together to sell later during the day. The main ingredients consists of bean sprouts and green beans. Usually this salad is a bit spicy.

 

14. Bebek betutu

The translation of bebek is duck. With this dish, the chili and garlic stuffed duck is wrapped in a coconut tree bark or banana leave and steamed. It tastes delicious.

 

15. Ayam lalapan

As you probably know, the meaning of ayam is chicken. If you order ayam lalapan, you will get fried chicken with tomato chili sambal.

 

16. Cap cay

Cap cay is a popular Chinese Indonesian dish. It consists of stir fried vegetables like cauliflowers, cabbage, carrots , baby corn and mushrooms. Cap cay is a vegetarian dish, but in many warungs and restaurants you can order cap cay including  chicken, beef or fish. I always ordered the cap cay with chicken. I love it!

 

17. Ayam koloke

This dish is delicious! It consists of deep fried sweet sour chicken, pineapple and sweet chili sauce.

 

18. Pisang Goreng

Pisang goreng is a snack food made of banana or plantain being deep fried in hot cooking oil. You can buy it at the street food stands or order it as a dessert in a warung or restaurants. At the street food stands you can choose a topping. Most of the time you can choose between cheese, chocolate or blueberry. When you order pisang goreng in a warung or restaurant, it sometimes will be served with ice-cream. I love pisang goreng, it is very delicious!

 

19. Bubur Injun

This dish can be translated as black rice pudding. It is black sticky rice mixed with coconut milk. The Balinese people eat it as breakfast, dessert or snack.

 

20. Luwak Coffee

This last dish is not really something you can eat, but I thought it should definitely be on the list of the local dishes of Bali. This one you can drink. In Indonesian they call it ‘kopi Luwak’. Luwaks are  weasel-like animals and they eat coffee berries. The animals eat the coffee berries, but they only poop out the coffee beans. Their coffee-bean filled turds are collected and washed. The harvested coffee beans are then roasted over a fire. In my opinion the coffee tastes the same as other coffees. You can try the ‘kopi luwak’ at one of the many coffee plantations of Bali. It is a bit expensive to try, namely around 50.000 Roepia (€3,50) per cup. However, at most of the coffee plantations you can try different kinds of tea and coffee for free. Only for the Luwak coffee you have to pay. Definitely worth a try.

 

Well, I am really in love with these 20 local meals. I hope you like them as much as I did.

Which one is your favourite?

 

Looking for accommodation in Bali? Check out our Bali Acccommodation Guide for a few tips.

 

Travel Tip shared by Girls Wanderlust
www.girlswanderlust.com

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Getting Off The Beaten Path on New Zealand’s South Island

After seeing Milford Sound, we decided to head south, instead of heading northwest to see more glaciers (like most tourists do).

With the help of the app CamperMate, we found some great spots to camp. On the way to Invercargill, we stopped at Colac Bay and found a secluded free camping spot with a sea view. It’s a pretty spot, but beware that the weather is unstable due to the closeness of the ocean. It can get windy and rainy, but if you are looking for a private spot with a view, Colac Bay is perfect.

On the way to the Otago Peninsula, we stayed at Bluff Camping Ground, a good site with clean amenities and unlimited internet (rare in NZ). The price is around $14 per person per night. It was a quick, pleasant stop before arriving at Kaka Point. There we stayed at Kaka Point Camping Ground. The price is around $12 per person with amenities (kitchen, showers, and toilets). The place was decent, but not super clean. Nugget Point, a viewpoint overlooking the ocean, is the natural attraction in the area. There's a lighthouse at the top of the hill, along with spectacular rock formations and thriving vegetation, with many different species of birds and sea lions.

 

The gem of this off the beaten path area in the south is the Otago Peninsula, for its unique access to wildlife.

In Dunedin, we stayed at the Dunedin Holiday Park, a good campsite with amenities and unlimited internet. The price is around $14 per person per night.

In the Otago Peninsula, you can join guided tours to see penguins, but we didn’t want to pay for a touristy experience. We wanted to see them in the wild. We did some research and read that you could spot them at sunrise or sunset at Sandfly Bay. They make their way to rest on the beach after several hours in the ocean fishing. We took our chances, woke up at 5 AM and made our way to the beach. After parking, there's a 15 minute hike to reach the beach.

Sandfly Bay is mesmerizing and it became one of my favorite places in the world.

It’s a long wild beach surrounded by sand dunes. Sunrise is magical. There is no one around, and the only sound is of the crashing waves and tweeting birds. We waited patiently for the penguins to show up, and they did. We watched them come out of the water and were fascinated by the sort of dialogue going on between the three of them on the shore.

They noticed our presence and quickly went back into the water. Please remember to keep your distance because if they see you they won’t come out of the water. We were far from them but they are smart creatures and will look around carefully before moving on. We also saw sea lions sleeping on the rocks.

The time spent at Sandfly Bay was special and one of the most vivid memories of our trip.

 

Okia Reserve is another cool hike in the area. It’s one hour and 30 minutes return (or two hours and 30 minutes loop). You will reach a long secluded beach where you can spot sea lions and wild birds.

Honestly, after seeing Sandfly, it’s hard to fall in love with other beaches. We loved it so much that we decided to wake up again at 5 AM to see the penguins again the day after. Back to Sandfly, we waited for sunrise, but our friends weren’t there to wait for us. The day before we had a perfect moment but this time everything was different.

We didn’t see the penguins, but we were happy to learn more about their habits looking at their footprints.

 

We made our way back to Christchurch (where we had to drop off our van) via Lake Tekapo because the sky was blue without clouds and we wanted to see the stars. The area is called International Sky Preserve because its deep dark sky makes it the perfect destination for stargazers. There were no clouds that night, but there was a full moon. It’s hard to find the perfect conditions, but the view of the starry sky was beautiful nonetheless. The day after we stopped for lunch at Motuariki Island view by Lake Tekapo. This viewpoint is further away from the touristy ones and we were the only ones there.

I highly recommend adding the Otago Peninsula to your Kiwi trip.

It’s the wild part of New Zealand, facing Antarctica. You can easily spot penguins, sea lions and unique species of birds.

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5 Reasons Why Croatia Makes for an Awesome Vacation

Not undiscovered but still a gem. “Croatia” – the name conjures something far away and exotic. 

My first trip to East Europe. A visit to Diocletian palace and King’s landing! 

The immigration officer at the Delhi international airport, however, shrugged when we told him our final port of destination, and added, “But why is everyone going to Croatia these days?” 

Umm, perhaps not that exotic!

 

There are several reasons why Croatia has become such a hot destination

Mediterranean climate, 2000 kilometers of coastline, an array of beautiful islands, stunning medieval towns of Split and Dubrovnik, the picturesque Plitvice National Park, a chance to jump across the border for a dash to Slovenia. What’s not to like!

The country met my high expectations and then some. It is a small country (I am from India, so it felt small, in comparison). Yet, we had to skip the Istrian peninsula during our two-week holiday. There is so much to see and experience. The warmth and genuine hospitality of Croatians make it decidedly suitable and enjoyable for families. We faced no issues in communication. Most people in the bigger cities speak passable English.

1. 2000 km of coastline and an array of beautiful islands

Croatia offers a stunning array of islands, each with its unique attractions. It becomes quite difficult to choose which islands to go to. The good news is that whichever one you choose would not disappoint you. Hvar, Brac, Korcula, Mljet, Rab are popular islands to explore.

We chose Hvar and Vis as part of our 2-week family holiday in the summer.

 

Hvar island

Hvar island enjoys a large number of hours of sunshine (more than 2500 hours per year), which gives it its nickname of Sunny Hvar. Its relaxed Mediterranean lifestyle, cultural heritage, delicious local cuisine and fine wines all make it a winner for a vacation of a lifetime.

And despite its reputation as a party town, I found that it offers a lot more. Rent a car in Hvar town to explore the island, look at old olive tree plantations and lavender fields. Stroll through small towns of Jelsa and Vrboska. Go into Hvar town for a sundowner.

Hvar does have some good beaches around the island - Dubovica, Lucisca, Saint Nedilja and Jerolim being the more famous ones. For the culturally inclined, a visit to the Fortica is a must. Even if you are uninterested in its history, the views looking down over Hvar and Pakleni islands are stunning.

 

Vis island

Home to about 3000 people, Vis is amongst the furthest inhabited islands and is not on the direct ferry route from either Split or Dubrovnik. That said, it has an interesting history. From 1950 until 1989, it served as the Yugoslav National Army’s base, out of bounds to foreign visitors. It still has the air of an unspoiled paradise.

Take the Military Tour in Vis - an experience unique to this island. Imagine going into a nuclear bunker! We visited a bunker dug 920 feet deep into a mountain, to protect Tito and the country’s ruling class from nuclear attacks. Other stops in this 4-hour tour included a submarine dock, cut deep into a mountainside, a house once occupied by Marshall Tito, Mount Hum for the best views on the island.

 

2. The stunning medieval towns of Split and Dubrovnik

Games of Thrones has been filmed all over the world, and in several other places in Croatia, but the outer walls of Dubrovnik look as if they were built for this TV series. With many GoT locations, a visit could leave you underwhelmed, yet the spots in Dubrovnik and the old town walls itself are very recognizable.

My top experiences in Dubrovnik included walking the walls in the old town, the sunset kayaking tour, a visit to the Franciscan monastery, taking a cable car and going up the Srd hill and soaking in the atmosphere in the lively bars and cafes of Dubrovnik. I would recommend staying in the old town itself.

We loved our brief stay in the old town of Split as well. It is quite an experience to live in the Diocletian Palace. This is a living city, its narrow streets, packed with people, cafes, restaurants, bars and boutique stores. Built as a military fortress, imperial residence and fortified town, the palace measures 215m from north to south and 180m east to west, altogether covering 38,700 sq meters. There are 220 buildings within the palace boundaries, home to about 3000 people.

There is a remarkable ancient Roman courtyard, in the heart of the Diocletian Palace. Sitting on the steps in the Peristil, sipping a lemon beer or a glass of wine and enjoying the summer buzz would be my top experience in the old town of Split.

 

3. The picturesque national parks

The most popular parks are Plitvice Lakes National Park and Krk National Park. We visited Plitvice Lakes, and with some planning, luck and good tips from our B & B manager got to be away from the summer crowds for the most part.

Considered one of the most beautiful natural sights in Europe, Plitvice Lakes National Park plays host to more than 1 million visitors each year. Most people visit the park as a day trip from Zagreb or Split.

It is famous for its lakes arranged in cascades, that are all interconnected and follow the water flow. The lakes are renowned for their distinctive colors, ranging from azure to green, grey or blue. 18km of wooden footbridges and pathways snake around the lakes’ edges and across the rumbling water.

There are 8 different hiking routes – A, B, C, K1, E, F, H, K2 – that cover the entire park. Your route choice would depend on the distance you want to cover, easy vs moderate hiking options, whether you want to be closer to the lakes/waterfalls, your desire to be away from the crowds.

 

4. Good food

We didn’t try the traditional Croatian cuisine; it is too meat heavy for our tastes. But with a great deal of time spent in sea-side cities and islands, we did have a lot of fresh, grilled seafood.

Italian cuisine is quite pervasive in Croatia, and that hardly comes as a surprise, given that Croatia and Italy are separated only by the Adriatic Sea. This was helpful with feeding our 6-year old when she got bored of grilled fish.

We had a lot of wine, and I mean, a LOT. Mostly crisp whites. And also the delightful lemon beer.

 

5. Adventure activities

Croatia is a great destination for an active holiday. There are several fun activities like cycling, kayaking, diving and hiking to do.

With its long coastline and clear water, kayaking is a must-do in Croatia. And there are hordes of companies that can organize the kayaking experience for you, from most cities (Zadar, Split, Dubrovnik) and most large islands (Hvar, Vis, Brac, Korcula etc). Our sunset kayaking experience in Dubrovnik - a great way to feel up, close and personal with the Adriatic Sea, see the old town walls from outside, see some of the spots around the old town including the Lokrum island - was one of our best experiences.

With its dramatic landscapes and quiet back roads, Croatia is a lovely cycling destination. My husband had a fun time cycling solo in Hvar and Vis.

The Adriatic sea has really clear water, but don’t go expecting the variety of marine life that you get to see in the tropics. There are several diving centers, both in the coastal cities and the big islands. 

 

Hope you are planning your trip to Croatia now!

 

Travel tip shared by ZestInATote
zestinatote.com

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8 Tips To Overcome Your Fear of Flying

Flying can bring on extreme anxiety for many of us.

In fact, it used to be one of my least favorite activities until I overcame my fear of flying. The good news is that there are ways to overcome those scary feelings. You don’t have to simply accept flying anxiety as a way of life.

There are proven ways to cope with your fear of flying, and even eliminate it altogether. In this article, I’ll show you some quick and effective tips to help you get started on beating your fear of flying.

 

8 Tips For Dealing with Flight Anxiety

Choose the Best Seat on the Plane

Where you sit on the plane can have an effect on your level of anxiety. But there is no single right answer here. To know what seat works best for you, you have to look at what triggers your fear.

If turbulence is one of the things that sets off anxiety for you then you want to sit in the middle of the airplane. The part of the plane that is right over the wings is the area that gets the least affected by turbulence. The reason is that the seats in the middle of the plane are the closest to the plane’s center of mass. That is not to say you won’t experience any bumpiness at all if you sit in the middle of the plane, it will just be much less than the seats at the front or the back.

If the sounds in the plane trigger your anxiety, however, you’ll want to sit as close to the front of the plane as possible. The front of the plane is the quietest area as it’s the furthest away from the engine(s).

With almost all the air travel booking websites or agencies, you can pre-select the seat when booking your ticket. But don’t worry if you didn’t do this when you booked your ticket. Even after booking your flight you can contact the airline and select your seat, or do so when checking in for your flight.

And most importantly - don’t panic if you can’t get a seat where you want on the plane. Turbulence and airplane noises may trigger anxiety, but they are just a standard part of any flight!

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Bring Entertainment

When we fly there can be hours when we’re not doing anything. It’s during these times that we may find ourselves focusing on all the frightening sounds and sensations of the plane ride. By being unoccupied, our mind can run wild as we obsess about all the possible disastrous scenarios that could happen on our flight. Keeping your mind busy can really help to reduce your flight anxiety.

Here are some ways to keep your mind busy when flying:

  • Audiobooks

  • Listen to a meditation CD

  • Write in a journal

  • Computer games / Game apps on your phone

  • Podcast

  • Magazine

  • Adult coloring book (these can be quite therapeutic, and take a long time to complete)

  • Watch TV shows/ Movies

  • Book / Kindle

  • Calming music

  • Do a Project

​Staying productive on your flight is another way to keep your mind distracted by anxious thoughts. Use any activity that will keep your mind active, the bottom line is to get creative! Just make sure it’s an activity that doesn’t trigger more anxiety.

Here are examples of “work” you could do on your next flight:

  • Learn a new language

  • Office work that you are behind on

  • Write in a journal

  • Read about interesting attractions and activities at your upcoming destination

  • Write a letter or a postcard to someone

  • Create “to do lists” or set your upcoming yearly goals

  • Write a short story

  • Update/improve your resume and cover letter

  • Crossword puzzles

  • Paperwork (applications, filling in forms, etc.)

  • Solve Sudoku

  • Organize your photos

 

Avoid Caffeine

Caffeine is a stimulant — and that can be bad news for someone with flight anxiety. The jittery effects that caffeine has on your body resemble those of a frightening event. Studies have shown that caffeine can make anxiety worse and can even trigger a panic attack.

If you suffer from flight anxiety,  you should eliminate or at least limit caffeine products such as coffee, energy drinks, 72 hours before you fly.  And of course, try to avoid caffeine entirely on the actual flight itself. If you’re tempted to have a coffee, opt for decaf coffee or non-caffeinated herbal tea instead.

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Get the Facts on Air Travel

Even though our intuition can tell us that flying is dangerous, commercial flying is one of the safest activities you can do.

Getting the statistics on how safe flying is, will go a long way to reassure you that you are not in danger. Do a quick search on the web on commercial flight statistics and you will come across plenty of websites that will give you all you need to know regarding how safe commercial flying really is.

There are also online tools that show you all the planes that are in the sky at any given time. This information can help you understand how ordinary commercial flying really is.

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Use a Mindfulness Exercise

When we start to panic on a flight our mind can spiral into a state of frenzy. Our scary thoughts begin to take on a life of their own as we imagine all the things that could go wrong with our flight. When this happens using mindfulness exercises can help you stay calm and relaxed.

Use the following mindfulness exercise to calm your racing mind, by shifting attention away from scary thoughts to non-threatening things in your environment:

To do this exercise sit or recline comfortably, and take a moment to bring your full attention to each one of your senses:

  1. Seeing: Scan your environment and bring your attention to 5 things that you can see. Try to notice things that you don’t normally pay attention to like the details of the seat in front of you.

  2. Feeling: Focus on 4 sensations that you are currently feeling like the texture of your shirt, the temperature in the air or the pressure on your feet from the floor.

  3. Hearing: Listen to your environment and note 3 sounds that you can hear such as the hum of the air conditioner, or the distant chatter.

  4. Smelling: Notice 2 things that you can smell right now that you usually filter out. These scents can be subtle like the lingering smell of cleaning products or the plastic aroma of the seat cushions.

  5. Tasting: Focus on 1 thing that you can taste right now. If you have water or a drink with you, take a sip, or just notice the taste in your mouth.

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Exercise

Another way to combat your flying anxiety is to stay active and exercise regularly. This may sound obvious but it can really make a difference.

Exercise releases endorphins that work as an antidepressant and can release anxiety and make you feel good. Additionally, exercise can take your mind off of your anxious thoughts allowing you to shift your mindset away from negative thinking cycles.

Intense physical activity is not necessary either. You can gain the positive effects just by doing lighter forms of activity such as walking.

Here are some ways you can get exercise before and during your flight to help you stay relaxed:

  • Take a brisk walk around the airport terminal

  • Stretch at your seat on the plane, or stand up and stretch in the aisle

  • Walk to the toilet or galley area to increase your circulation

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Don’t Conceal your Fear

A big mistake that a lot of fearful flyers tend to do is not tell anyone that they are afraid. But flying anxiety is nothing to be embarrassed about, and concealing your fear of flying only makes it worse.  Remember, around 25% of the population suffers from some level of flight anxiety so there’s no need to suffer in silence.

When you get to the boarding gate, tell the agent at the check-in counter that you’re a nervous flyer. Once you board the plane tell the flight attendants as well. Ask if they would be able to “drop by” your seat every once in awhile to let you know that everything’s going as planned and the flight is carrying on normally. Don’t feel bad about asking them either, flight attendants are happy to help fearful flyers.

Also, don’t forget to let your seatmates know that you’re a nervous passenger. Speaking about your fear helps release bottled up tension - Remember, what you need is support!

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Talk to a Doctor

If you find that you’re struggling with your anxiety constantly then it is a good idea to talk to a doctor. Seeing a qualified professional in the mental health field can help you narrow down on the underlying causes of your anxiety and work through them using a variety of effective techniques.

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Summary

Fear of flying is a common, yet unnecessary phobia that you don’t have to live with. In this article, I’ve shared some effective tips that can greatly reduce your anxiety.

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10 Safest Destinations for Solo Female Travellers

Solo travelling is a symbol of freedom that leads to a fascinating experience.

You can follow your own schedule, choose your favourite destination and shorten or prolong the trip according to your desire. There is no need to consult anybody! But it’s widely considered that female travelling alone face dangers and risky situations.

Maybe it is true because women are the delicate creation of God Almighty and not daring enough to confront the hazards. But it doesn’t conclude that women should not travel alone and stay deprived of solo travelling fun. This world is full of peaceful places offering extreme serenity and enchanting beauty.

Here is the list of top 10 beautiful places which are the safest destinations for solo female travellers.

 

10 Safest Destinations for Solo Female Travellers 

  1. Iceland

Did you know that Iceland was ranked as number one peaceful country by Global Peace Index? Well, now you know! This state has a higher rate of gender equality that means our solo female travellers will be totally secured in this land. But this is not the only reason to visit Iceland alone. The city of Reykjavik is the biggest attraction for tourists for being the central point of Icelandic culture. Moreover, the Blue Lagoon Spa is one persuasive reason for a female to visit Iceland!

 

  1. Italy

Italy is a model of glorious Roman Empire. This country of ancient culture offers marvellous sightseeing such as the Coliseum and Roman Forum. The solo female travellers can explore this country while eating delicious pizzas and drinking filtered water from artistic fountains. The Italian people are also quite friendly and helpful.

 

  1. Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a small welcoming country full of warm-hearted people. It is a perfect place for adventurous solo female travellers. From diverse wildlife to beaches and rainforests, this place offers a wide area to explore nature. Whether you want you to spend a quiet vacation or attempt thrilling activities such as surfing, Costa Rica is just perfect for solo female travellers.

 

  1. Bali

Bali is a gorgeous island in Indonesia and a top most priority of tourists. This calm place has serene beaches, inexpensive accommodation, food and old temples exhibiting the pure Balinese culture. This place is quite safe for solo female travellers as it’s an epicentre of Indonesian tourism and government takes effective precautions to keep it clean of violence.

 

  1. Seychelles

Seychelles is an archipelago of 115 islands and situated in the Indian Ocean. Although it’s a perfect honeymoon spot, solo female travellers can also visit this country to witness the glittery sand of beaches and beautiful species of turtles and tortoises. 

 

  1. Scandinavia

The countries of Scandinavia are full of beautiful spots and attractive architecture. Denmark and Norway have been listed as the top two happiest countries in the world. Moreover, Denmark was ranked as the first peaceful country. Solo female travellers can plan trips to one of the Scandinavian countries in order to enjoy the safest journey.

 

  1. New Zealand

New Zealand is a country of some of the world’s most beautiful landscapes. From crystal glaciers to sunny beaches, this state offers irresistible sightseeing opportunities. Adventurous women can come to this place and get engaged in exciting skydiving and hiking. Moreover, the local language is English, therefore solo female travellers can communicate with friendly people easily and feel like home.

 

  1. Amsterdam

Let’s go to the Venice of the north! Amsterdam is a welcoming city of attractive architecture, cultural museums and beautiful canals. It’s the best place for solo female travellers who are looking for music and parties. This friendly city will indulge the women travelling alone in its Dutch culture and history.

 

  1. Switzerland

Switzerland is heaven on Earth! It’s a seductive place offering an opportunity of sublime travelling experiences. The Lake Geneva and Aletsch Glacier are the top peaceful places solo female travellers must visit to enjoy the heights of relaxation. Moreover, Switzerland is the fifth top peaceful country according to the ranking done by Global Peace Index.

 

  1. Melbourne

From melodious music to delicious food and aesthetic culture, this dazzling city of Melbourne offers an unforgettable travelling experience. Besides sightseeing, shopping and catchy architecture, this city also provides safety to residents as well as tourists. In the glittery lights of Melbourne solo, female travellers can even walk alone at night with no threats. Moreover, the local language is English, therefore, women can get a quick help by communicating easily.

 

Well, now you have the list of safest destinations so what are you waiting for? Begin your solo journey today and visit each one of these places to experience an endless pleasure!

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10 Not-So-Famous but Fabulous Streets Of The World

There are cities across the globe that are alive and happening.

There are hardly any corners left that people have not flocked to and bragged about in their travel stories. So if you wish to visit a street that many of your friends might not be aware of, it can be quite a task. But why bother when we are around?

We give you a list of ten not-so-famous streets and places of the world where you can be the first of your pals to click that rare selfie. Read on to make your plans.

 

10 Fabulous Streets of the World:

Calle Flassaders: Barcelona

When going through the busy streets of this city one may not realise there are pockets in town that still can make for a nice peaceful walk accompanied with some shopping. This is a picturesque meandering alley that’s ideal to take a break from the rush.

 

Xuetang Lu: Beijing

The most important city of the most populated nation surprisingly has this corner that is so beautiful and calm. During the time of fall the beautiful trees around carpet the area with spade shaped yellow leaves making the place flaunt its true charm.

 

William J. Day Boulevard: Boston

Take a little rest if you are running too much and come here to chat with your buddy or walk solo in introspection. Your walk by the beaches will take you straight to Fort Independence for a pretty sight.

 

North Alta Vista Terrace: Chicago

The busy city of Chicago can at times make you sweat in spite of being the breezy city. So if you plan to take time out and catch the breeze, then come take a walk amidst this first ever historic district of the region.

 

Marylebone Lane:  London

Maybe you have gotten tired of the modern feel of the city of London as you travel. We can advise you to take a detour to this lane for an appealing time amid unique shops and a bohemian feel.

 

Downtown Container Park: Las Vegas

When you think of this trip the whole concept is to check in to the cheapest hotel in Las Vegas and make your way to the casinos and evening fun. But the city is open to a lot more experiences. Just off downtown visit this interesting shopping arcade set up in shipping containers. You sure will love this one.

 

Chung King Road: Los Angeles

Inside the ever colourful China town is this interesting art district. Culture and art enthusiasts can take a stroll here to find some intrigue for themselves. In the evening time you can also take a guided tour around the area.

 

Stable Road - Maui

There are times when all you need to feel good about life is to listen to the continuous sound of splashing waves. This road in the city will make you absolutely do that in peace by the beach.

 

Macondry Lane: San Francisco

If you are in mood for a little hike head towards this place at once when you are in San Francisco. The walk uphill will definitely fill you with some positivity in mind. Surrounded by private residences it makes for a nice time killer.

 

Omoide Yokocho - Tokyo

This is one city in Japan that stands for everything futuristic. So if the steely glaze of tomorrow tires you out then head here to find an amazingly lively street. Full of small eateries and pubs with very few people to accommodate, this place still has a lot to offer.

 

So now you know where to go for that little slice of peace in your favourite big cities. Maybe next time you are there share a unique story of your experience with us.

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Belgian Cities to Visit

Brussels is the bilingual capital of the country of Belgium, famous for its medieval towns with Renaissance architecture. 

Most of the trips to Belgium start and end in this beautiful city, but the country has so much more to offer.

Despite the fact that the country is small, just 30,528 square kilometers, it is densely populated with 11 million people of two major linguistic groups. The Dutch-speaking Flemish live in the Flanders region in the north while the French-speaking resides in the southern region of Wallon.

Apart from eating Brussel sprouts and indulging in the tasty beer and chocolates, you should also spare some time to wander around the country centering around the canals and cobblestone streets, marching into museums and waltzing with the warm and friendly natives.

You can plan your visit selecting destinations and setting out at your own pace. 

 

Here are 5 Cities to Add to Your Belgian Itinerary:

Antwerp

The destination for diamonds in Belgium, the port city of Antwerp is 40 kilometers north of Brussels, standing on the River Scheldt in the Flanders region.

It is a major cultural and trade center with multi-cultural groups of 170 nationalities. So you are bound to find somebody from your own ethnic region there.

For art aficionados, it is the venerated workplace of Rubens and Van Dyke. The Antwerp Fashion Museum is necessary place to visit for fashionistas. You can think of buying a diamond and do not miss the city’s famous jenever (gin).

 

Bruges

The “Venice of the North” or Bruges will imbibe you with the Viking spirit.

It has a lovely cross-stitch of canals and magnificent medieval architecture, especially in and around The Grote Market Square. You cannot miss the neo-gothic Provincial Court, striking Belfry Tower and other places like the nine hundred years old Saint John’s Hospital and the gigantic Gruuthuse Mansion.

 

Liège

Down south in Wallonia is Liège, the birthplace of Emperor Charlemagne of the by-gone era and the modern crime writer Georges Simenon, the creator of Jules Maigret.

You should visit the Palace of the Prince-Bishops, the courtyards, and orchards of the Coteaux de la Citadelle, and the biggest and oldest La Batte Sunday Market. For car racing enthusiasts, a trip to Spa-Francorchamps Formula 1 racetrack will be a pilgrimage.

 

Ardennes

The rugged hills of Ardennes are the paradise of hikers. The dense forests, caves, and cliffs are infested with wild boars (Obelix of Asterix would love them), lynx, deer and other animals.

The caves of Han-sur-Lesse, the castle of Bouillon and the Labyrinth of Barvaux would absorb you totally.

 

Charleroi

The shutterbugs should not miss Charleroi, the biggest city in Wallonia.

The old Carmelite monastery there hosts the largest Museum of Photography in Europe, covering the history of photography from its origin to current date. The Saint-Vierge-Marie Church, the 17th Century Cartier Chateau and the Glass Museum are other places of interest.

These are just some of the options. There are more if you have time and energy. The country may be small, but the vistas are aplenty and with a rental car, you will easily reach all the corners of the country and enjoy the trip.

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A Few Tips For Visiting Jordan

I really loved my recent trip to Jordan, hence I have compiled some travel tips for those who are interested in exploring the ancient ruins.

 

Planning for a Trip to Jordan

Key Places of Interest in Jordan

A smooth sailing trip requires some advance planning. Well in my experience Jordan is very safe and a great place to visit and I would recommend it for travelers i.e. single, groups, families and couples.

My keen interest in history gave me all the more reason to visit discover historic places such as Jerash and Petra and the natural wonders like Wadi Rum and the Dead Sea. As a whole I found Jordan very approachable and hospitable which is more important when a stranger plans to visit a new country.

 

Demographics of Jordan

Jordan is a small country located in the Middle East with a rich and varied culture. The capital city Amman has a population of over 4,007,526 people residing (as per 2016 records).

 

Planning a Trip to Jordan

To get the best out of your Jordan trip you should create a rough outline of the places you wish to visit based on your interest.

Since I was tight on budget I took a little more time to research and make the bookings. The foremost thing I was booking was the flight to Jordan.

Hence I was looking for flights to Amman one of the major gateways to enter Jordan. With some research I could manage to get a cheap air ticket to Amman.

One thing you should keep in mind is that you will not be able to cover the best of Jordan in a few days - you’d have to spend weeks to cover the entirety of Jordan.

 

Travel Essentials

Regardless of the time of the year you wish to visit Jordan there are few essentials you’ll need there.

  • Sunscreen lotion
  • Reusable water bottles
  • Hiking shoes
  • Comfortable clothing
  • Ginger chews to get rid of motion sickness

 

Jordan is Expensive

The economy of Jordan is low compared to other countries hence tourism is expensive here.

A normal lunch at a street side restaurant or café will be priced outrageously in Petra. The local restaurants are priced a bit high for what they are.

On the contrary I got a chance to grab amazing falafel, some fruits and bottle of water at a very nominal price. Hence no complains.

We had shuffled through a lot of itineraries before finalizing our’s, however, Amman & Petra were two of the major places we wanted to visit.

 

The Sights We Visited 

  1. Citadel – Amman
  2. Royal Automobile Museum – Amman
  3. Jordan Museum – Amman
  4. Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts – Amman
  5. Roman Theatre & Folklore Museum – Amman
  6. Obelisk Tomb and Bab Al-Siq Triclinium – Petra
  7. Rosy Treasury, Al-Khazneh – Petra
  8. Monastery, Al-Deir – Petra

With some advance planning Jordan is an easy country to visit.

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A Rewarding Fishing Experience in Miami

Miami is one among the most beautiful and diverse cities in the United States of America.

The city has a reputation for being the sport fishing capital of the country. For this reason, the experience of going on a deep-sea fishing trip, in a Miami Fishing Charter boat, off the Miami Coast will offer you a rewarding as well as an exciting fishing experience.

The combination of being able to stay near to the beach yet catch some big fish varieties, make the city the most sought-after place for deep-sea fishing.

 

Tips to Appreciate Miami as the Sport Fishing Capital of the USA:

Why a Deep-Sea Fishing Trip in Miami is Interesting?

When it comes to sport fishing, Miami is considered a paradise for those who want to be involved in deep-sea fishing activity. This is because the city offers the greatest inshore fishing for almost every Atlantic game fish variety.

Anglers from all parts of the continent travel to Miami to get an interesting fishing experience. They take pleasure in catching Swordfish, Sailfish, Mahi, and Wahoo in an exciting milieu.

Whether it is summer or spring, you can see a huge number of drifting pelagic fish varieties in Miami. It is regular during the hotter months to encounter gigantic schools of Mahi.

During the daytime, you can be involved in a kite fishing activity or in a swordfishing activity.

Most Miami fishing companies, including Fish Jumanji, offer the best and the most inexpensive fishing charter boats for deep-sea fishing. 

Whatever the size of your group, you will get a suitable deep-sea vessel in Miami to make your fishing experience comfortable, convenient, as well as exciting.

 

How Can You Find Affordable Fishing Charter Boats in Miami?

After the advent of the Internet, finding a Miami fishing charter boat that fits your budget has become simple. All you need is to find a reliable charter company that offers you an experienced as well as a professional crew at a good price.

Most reliable charter companies in Miami offer boats to allow people to carry out fishing throughout the year. The design of these boats will make them suitable to perform deep-sea fishing in all weather conditions. You can get an interesting as well as a thrilling offshore fishing experience, as well.

As Miami is famous for both onshore, as well as offshore fishing, you have to book your boats well in advance to avoid the last minute rush.

 

What Facilities Can You Expect in a Fishing Charter Boat?

Every fishing charter boat in Miami comes with a skilled captain as well as with the required fishing tools to make the fishing activity of visitors comfortable and safe.

Whether you are a novice or an experienced angler, you will get an appropriate vessel to make your fishing experience a memorable one.

Each boat will come with an experienced fishing crew that specializes in fishing all fish species. This means that you can get guidance from the team to catch your favorite fish species, including tuna, sailfish, Wahoo, mahi-mahi, etc., effectively.

Every Miami charter company will try to ensure that your fishing experience is successful as well as fun with their professional crew.  You can find many affordable charter businesses, such as Fish Jumanji, in Miami to make your fishing activity an affordable one.

 

Whether you are longing for a deep-sea fishing venture or you are in are on a hot chase for big game rewards, such as marlin, swordfish, sailfish, and mahi, you will have an outstanding deep-sea fishing experience in Miami. 

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