1. Big Island, HawaiiThe Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is located on Big Island and is home to two active volcanoes, including the world’s most active, Kilauea. Here you can witness an ancient process of destruction and creation as hot ribbons of molten lava flow into the sea, creating an enthralling spectacle. It is a place of stunning contrasts: from black sand beaches to verdant rain forests, from mysterious lava caves to spectacular snow tipped mountains. There are limited accommodation options in the Park itself, so for true indulgence retire to one of the premier 5 star resorts on the neighbouring islands.Halekulani, on Waikiki Beach, is famous for its warm hospitality, exceptional service and sumptuous cuisine. Relax in unrivalled opulence in this ocean side paradise.2. Galapagos IslandsFor a unique ecological experience, consider a luxury cruise in the famous archipelago of volcanic islands, the Galapagos. These seemingly barren black rocks host a miraculous array of animals, many highly adapted to the harsh conditions, which have fascinated visitors since Charles Darwin, some 200 years ago. Isolated from civilisation, theseamazing creatures are unflustered by human presence and you’ll be privileged with many close encounters. See giant tortoises, marine iguanas, flightless cormorants, 13 species of Darwin finches, penguins, sea lions and pink flamingos.From the rugged volcanic peaks of Cerro Brujo to serene inland lagoons, in the Galapagos you can experience one of the true great wildernesses and also enjoy a relaxing swim or walk along a secluded beach.3. Bora BoraStill in the Pacific Ocean, the remnants of an extinct volcano creates an entirely different world in the form of the exquisite Bora Bora. This is the ultimate luxury island holiday destination. Nestled within a turquoise lagoon and protected by an encircling reef, this sheltered oasis of wild beauty offers every sumptuous comfort you desire.The region is famous for its over-the-water bungalows where, from your private haven, you can soak in the extraordinary scenery, including the towering peaks of Mount Pahia and Mount Otemanu, lush forests, secluded white beaches and never-ending emerald ocean. You can snorkel alongside a cloud of rainbow tropical fish, or take a thrilling jetski ride and discover the tiny isles surrounding the lagoon, or simply find bliss with a spa treatment in a 5 star resort such as the Bora Bora Lagoon Resort & Spa.4. Sicily, ItalyThe largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, Sicily is also home to Europe’s highest active volcano, Mount Etna. Beyond the old lava flows and craters there is much to discover. The gentle mountain slopes support forests of oak, pine and beech, creating a haven for local wildlife and birds, and the fertile soil is also responsible for a fantastic range of tantalising local produce including wine and citrus fruit. The region is also rich in cultural history with many ancient Greek and Roman ruins. Hiring a sports car is a popular option to explore this diverse landscape, from the imposing mountain down to the popular beaches at its base, in style.5. Hakone, JapanHakone is situated in the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, which encompasses a number of popular Japan luxury travel destinations including Mt. Fuji and the Fuji Five Lakes. One of the many highlights of a visit to Hakone is Owakudani (Great Boiling Valley), a volcanic valley with active sulphur vents and hot springs. The cable car ride to the valley offers stunning vistas of the Hakone mountain range and across to Mt. Fuji. Cruises on the nearby Lake Ashi provide further opportunity to view the spectacular Mt. Fuji, along with the beautiful scenery of the lake itself and the Hakone Shrine nestled on its shore.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Karen Cooke is a professional consultant with Travel Associates, an
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