destinations near and far

by Fiona Clarke

Living in the Valley we are accustomed to being land-locked. But  now adding triple-digit temps to the mix and with no relief in sight, the thought of a seaside vacation is beyond appealing. The soft, gentle breeze, the sound of the crashing waves and the salty smell of the ocean are calling. We take you to seven spots by the sea for relief from the desert summer.


The Rock Restaurant in Zanzibar takes sea-to-table to an entirely new level.

Located in the Indian Ocean, just off the east coast of Africa, the Zanzibar Archipelago is an equatorial paradise. A semi-autonomous part of Tanzania, it consists of a string of numerous small islands, the largest being Unguja. With almost no seasonal variation, the country is blessed with temperatures that range between 82 and 91 degrees Fahrenheit year-round. Rich with spices – clove, nutmeg, vanilla, black pepper and coriander  – the archipelago has earned the colloquial name Spice Islands. Surrounded by the clear Indian Ocean, diving, snorkeling, dhow sailing or simply lounging on the beach are a favorite pastime.


Visitors can explore Acadia National Park’s rocky coastline, mountains, forests, ponds, marshlands and fields.

Acadia National Park, which comprises 47,000 acres of land, is a national treasure. Visitors can explore its rocky coastline, mountains, forests, ponds, marshlands and fields. The diversity of native species includes whales, seals, moose, foxes, peregrine falcons, herons, salamanders and toads. Follow the park’s famous carriage paths, commissioned by John D. Rockefeller in 1915, to explore the island by foot, bicycle or horseback. Shopping, dining and lodging options are plentiful in nearby Bar Harbor, Southwest Harbor and Northeast Harbor.


The sunset over Lagos Beach, located in the Algarve region of Portugal, is breathtaking.

The sun-soaked, western sliver of southern Europe has much to offer: rich culture, beautiful architecture, a dazzling culinary scene and well-styled hotels. While scores of travelers are drawn to the vibrant cities of Lisbon and Porto, would-be visitors should also look to the south for a Portuguese holiday. The Algarve region is still enjoying relative obscurity, but with new resorts popping up along the coastline, a handful of Michelin-starred restaurants and a delicious type of wine you won’t find anywhere else, it’s only a matter of time before that’s no longer the case.


One of many waterfalls along the Hana Highway.

Maui’s Hana coast delivers black-sand beaches, plunging waterfalls and a doozy of a drive. Peel a fresh mango purchased from a roadside stand, get ukulele music going on the radio and embark on one of Hawaii’s greatest drives: the Hana Highway. Clinging to the cliffs, it slinks around some 600 curves and across 59 bridges, over half of which are just one-lane wide. On your left will be the azure ocean; on your right, rushing waterfalls, limpid pools, patches of taro plants and luxuriant jungles of bamboo and fruit trees. This serpentine coastal route offers a complete escape from daily life.


The Lone Cypress can be seen along the 17-Mile Drive in Monterey, California.

Find perfection on this celebrated route along the Pacific coastline. Whether you drive it, bike it or walk it, this stretch is glorious. The privately managed roadway winds between Pacific Grove and Pebble Beach, taking  you through a wind-sculpted forest of cypress trees to a rocky coastline dotted with some of the most magnificent homes on the planet. In spring, pull over at Fanshell Overlook to see harbor seals and their pups. Be sure to bring a picnic and spread out a blanket on the small beach at Spanish Bay, or splurge with a meal at the world-class Lodge at Pebble Beach.


The Belize Barrier Reef is the largest and most intact reef system within the Northern Hemisphere.

Spanning 185 miles of the country’s coastline, the Belize Barrier Reef is the largest and most intact reef system within the Northern Hemisphere. Comprised of seven key marine reserve zones, over four 400 cayes (islands) and three atolls, the reef’s crystal blue waters are a haven for its marine community and an enticing exploratory region for SCUBA divers and snorkelers. Discover the over 500 species of fish, 70 hard coral and 36 soft coral species among the many aesthetic views both above and below water. In 1996, this reef was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its significant habitats and natural development. Add the cultural appeal of the country and skilled local guides available for hire, and you’ve got yourself the dive trip of a lifetime.


The richness of Elba’s landscapes turns the island into a unique Tuscan destination.

The island is known for harboring the exiled French Emperor Napolean in 1814, but what really makes Elba special are its clear blue sea and beautiful white sand, granite and black pebble beaches. The extraordinary richness of its landscapes, both land and sea, turns the island into a unique Tuscan destination. Thanks to its rich seabeds housing varied species of marine life, diving and snorkeling are a popular pastime. Outdoor sports enthusiasts also can hike and mountain bike, play a round of golf, enjoy a day of sailing or completely relax at the thermal baths of San Giovanni.