Where to Go for the Most Unique Experiences in Kauai

From its clear ocean waters to its verdant forests, Kauai has something for every vacationer. At Bluegreen’s Pono Kai Resort, a 13-acre oceanfront oasis along Kauai’s Coconut Coast, you can take advantage of numerous on-site amenities, such as putting greens and tennis courts, or visit Guest Services to reserve a spot at the next luau. Kauai’s famous beaches and sparkling waters are also perfect for surfing, snorkeling, and paddle boarding.

While you are staying at the Pono Kai Resort, be sure to enjoy all the sites and experiences that make Kauai special. Here are some of the most unique sites to explore:

Opaekaa Falls

Opaekaa Falls

Image courtesy Sarah Richter | Flickr

Widely known as one of the most accessible waterfalls in Kauai, Opaekaa Falls is conveniently located near the Pono Kai Resort in the Wailua area on the east side of the island. Just two miles up Route 580 from Highway 56, there is a roadside lookout point where you can admire the view of the falls and take pictures.

The waterfall is named Opaekaa, or “rolling shrimp,” because the creatures once populated the stream that feeds the falls. While visiting Opaekaa Falls, you can also walk above the lookout point to catch a view of the Wailua River valley and the surrounding plains.

Kilohana Estate

The Kilohana Estate is located just outside of Lihue, a 15-minute drive from Wailua. A restored plantation, the site features tours of a 16,000-square-foot 1930’s Tudor-style mansion. The historic 35-acre estate was once a sugar plantation that played a central role in Kauai’s business, social, and cultural life.

Surrounded by manicured lawns, the Kilohana Estate now offers tropical gardens, Gaylord’s restaurant, and distinctive shops, such as the Koloa Rum Company. You can also explore an old plantation village and tour Kilohana’s working farm with Classic Kauai Plantation Railway. Along with the regularly held Luau Kalamaku, Kilohana Estate often hosts weddings and other special events.

Nounou Mountain

For more adventures on the east side of Kauai, take a hike along the Nounou Mountain range, which is better known as the “Sleeping Giant” because of its distinct shape. Looking at the mountain range from a distance, many people see the shape of a human figure at rest. Hawaiian legend states that the giant slumbers because villagers long ago tricked him into consuming a large number of rocks concealed in poi and fish.

It’s less than two miles from the trail head on Halelilo Road in Wailua to the top of Sleeping Giant along the scenic Nounou Trail. At the top of the ridge, you are rewarded with stunning views of east Kauai.

Napali Coast

Napali Coast

Image courtesy Phillip MacAuliffe | Flickr

From Wailua, it’s only an hour’s drive to the Napali Coast on the North Shore of Kauai, where the 17-mile coastline has become one of the most famous sections of terrain on the island. The Napali Coast is renowned for its steep cliffs, lush hills, rugged valleys, and plummeting waterfalls.

If you’re interested in discovering the magnificent landscape on foot, you’ll need to start at Kee Beach and take the 11-mile Kalalau Trail—the only one through the Napali area—to its end at the quiet Kalalau Beach. Often a treacherous journey, hiking on the trail is discouraged in the winter, and camping permits are required if you spend more than one day on the trail.

Those who don’t want to hike the area can still appreciate the beauty of the Napali Coast by touring the coastline by water or air. Boat tours and guided kayaking trips offer breathtaking views of the sea cliffs, while helicopter tours deliver exquisite panoramas of the coastline.

Spouting Horn Park

In Spouting Horn Park on Kauai’s South Shore, you can discover one of the most photographed sites on the island, the Spouting Horn blowhole. The Spouting Horn blowhole is created by large swells on the Poipu coast that travel through a natural lava tube and explode out the top with “a hiss and a roar” that is part of a Hawaiian legend. According to the legend, the sounds are from a lizard that once defended the coastline and was trapped in the lava tube by a young boy.

Spouting Horn Park’s lookout point also offers spectacular sunset views and whale watching opportunities when humpback whales visit the coastline between December and May.

Kauai Gardens

As a tropical wonderland, Kauai has earned the title “The Garden Isle” and boasts three of the five National Tropical Botanical Gardens in the country. The north side of Kauai features the Limahuli Gardens, which is a 17-acre sanctuary for endangered native plants and agricultural terraces. On the South Shore, the McBryde Garden houses the world’s most extensive assembly of native Hawaiian plants and Allerton Gardens grows the giant Moreton Figs featured in Jurassic Park.

You can explore more Hawaiian flora at Smith’s Tropical Paradise Botanical Garden, Na Aina Kai Botanical Gardens, and the Kauai Coffee Plantation.

5 Outdoor Attractions to Enjoy in Wonderful Atlantic City

Renowned for its casinos and historic boardwalk, Atlantic City is a popular destination for travelers interested in an exciting East Coast getaway. You won’t miss a moment of the action when you stay with Bluegreen at Atlantic Palace, a contemporary 31-story resort situated on the Atlantic City Boardwalk with views of the Atlantic Ocean. On the Boardwalk, you will be surrounded by a wide range of diversions, including shows by the world’s best performers, luxurious spas, and cuisine prepared by some of the top chefs in the country.

However, Atlantic City offers much more than just gaming and lavish leisure opportunities. The city is also rich with sandy beaches and open-air attractions that let you really relax. To take a break from the casinos and other indoor activities, check out these five outdoor destinations:

The Steel Pier

Atlantic City Steel Pier

Image courtesy Kevin Jarrett | Flickr

A fun destination for visitors of all ages, the Steel Pier is located right on the Atlantic City Boardwalk and extends 1,000 feet above the Atlantic Ocean. The Steel Pier was first opened in 1898 as a theater and soon became famous for hosting some of the best entertainment in the world. For example, the Pier has presented legendary shows like the Diving Horse and renowned entertainers such as Frank Sinatra and The Beatles.

After a recent $23 million renovation, the Pier is now prepared for the modern visitor, with updated arcade games, delicious food, and 25 rides that range from gentle to extreme. The Pier also features an ocean-front family restaurant and bar that frequently features live entertainment.

From the Steel Pier, you can experience stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean and the Atlantic City skyline. Helicopter rides from the Pier are also available, giving you a birds-eye view of the shoreline, the city, or a combination of both.

The Atlantic City Fishing & Dive Center

Enjoy some fresh ocean air and take a tour with the Atlantic City Fishing & Dive Center. The Center offers a number of cruises and charters, including bottom-fishing and sport-fishing charters on boats that are inspected twice a year and certified by the United States Coast Guard.

On year-round charters, you can fish for various ocean species, such as shark, seabass and cod, while other sea life can be fished on a seasonal basis. For instance, winter flounder fishing charters are available in the spring and Mahi Mahi fishing trips are conducted between July and September.

The Atlantic City Fishing & Dive Center also offers sightseeing and party cruises so anyone can experience Atlantic City from a different perspective. Skyline tours journey along the picturesque coastline and sunset tours reveal the city in its best light.

The Jersey-Atlantic Wind Farm

wind farm

Image courtesy ToneOne | Flickr

Located at Atlantic City’s Wastewater Treatment Plant, the Jersey-Atlantic Wind Farm is the first wind farm in New Jersey. It features five, 380-foot turbines that can produce enough energy to power nearly 2,500 homes.

The wind farm works in combination with the Atlantic County Utilities Authority (ACUA) solar energy project to power the wastewater treatment plant, and since its founding in 2005, the farm has reduced ACUA energy costs by more than $3.8 million. The ACUA wind farm and solar project also prevent an average of nearly 9,000 metric tons of CO2 from infiltrating the atmosphere annually. According to the ACUA, the Jersey-Atlantic Wind Farm is unique as an urban, eastern, coastal, on-shore, industrial and multi-turbine wind farm.

The ACUA offers tours of the facility and will customize the experience based on the group’s interests and age levels. There are two tours available: one tour focuses on the Haneman Environmental Park and another tour explores the wind farm, the solar project, and the wastewater treatment center.

The Senator Frank S. Farley State Marina

At the Senator Frank S. Farley State Marina, experienced boaters can rent one of the marina’s 640 floating slips, which can accommodate yachts as long as 300 feet. The harbor is sufficiently sheltered, with no wakes and a minimal current, and dock attendants can even help boaters navigate the slip. As a registered marina guest, you have access to private showers, bathrooms, and the on-site fuel dock.

You can also visit the marina for a casual dining experience at The Deck, one of the two restaurants located in the two-story marina building. The Deck also hosts outdoor entertainment when the weather permits.

The Civil Rights Garden

Image courtesy SortofNatural | Flickr

Image courtesy SortofNatural | Flickr

To experience more of the beauty and history Atlantic City has to offer, visit the Civil Rights Garden on Pacific Avenue and Dr. Martin Luther King Boulevard. The public sculpture garden honors the pivotal role Atlantic City played in the Civil Rights Movement with a tranquil arrangement of Gingko trees, flowers, and winding pathways. As a tribute to the leaders behind the Civil Rights Movement, the Garden also includes 11 granite columns and sculptures with inscriptions about notable people and historic events.

The Civil Rights Garden in Atlantic City is also the site of the annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day ceremony in January and other related events, such as the Fannie Lou Hamer commemorative ceremony.

5 Things You Need to Experience in the St. Pete Beach Area

Kayaks in St. Petersburg. The tour company offers guided or self-guided kayak trips through Weedon Island Preserve, a pristine area with lush mangroves and plenty of wildlife. The relaxing, two- to five-hour trips are available during the day or night. On a customized expedition, you can also kayak on the Suwannee River, visit the Everglades, or venture outside US waters.

RumFish Grill

shrimp scampiLocated on Gulf Boulevard in St. Pete Beach, RumFish Grill combines aquatic-themed entertainment with high-quality dining and shopping. RumFish Grill specializes in delicious seafood, but the grill’s primary attraction is a full-wall aquarium that was built by the professionals on Tanked, Animal Planet’s hit TV series.

In the 33,500 gallon tank, there is a wide range of fish native to the Gulf of Mexico, including grouper and a 4-foot moray eel. The aquarium is also home to coral habitats and another 20 species of fish, such as spotted trout, redfish, and snook. Informative displays offer more details about featured marine life, and educational tours are available for a more in-depth experience.

Beach Escape Game

For a one-of-a-kind interactive experience just off St. Pete Beach, visit Beach Escape Game and test your wits against a small group of family members or friends. You have one hour to solve puzzles, collaborate with your teammates, and crack codes to escape from one of the center’s themed rooms.

When you play in the Lost Treasure room, you are tasked with searching a ship wreck and finding the lost treasure sought by Captain Eli Godsey. If you don’t find the treasure in 60 minutes, you might have to walk the plank! Beach Escape also features a Honky Tonk room and an Espionage room.

Water Sports

With warm waters and consistent gulf breezes, St. Pete Beach is the perfect place to learn a new water sport, such as kiteboarding (also called kitesurfing or flysurfing). The Best Pro-Kiteboarding Center is a gear rental and instruction facility in St. Pete Beach that offers lessons taught by certified kitesurfing instructors. After completing the in-person instructional courses, students receive an ID card that states their ability level.

The smooth waters around St. Pete Beach are also ideal for stand-up paddle boarding. With Water Monkey, a stand-up paddle boarding company located 10 minutes from St. Pete Beach, you can rent gear, take an introductory lesson, and book a nature tour. The lessons are taught by professional instructors who cover the paddling boarding basics, from standing up on the board to using the paddle properly. On the two-hour guided nature tour, you can explore the beautiful Fort De Soto Park and encounter one of the most spectacular bird sanctuaries in Florida.

The Dali Museum

dali museumThe Dali Museum in St. Petersburg is one of the main attractions in the central Gulf coast area. Just 20 minutes away from St. Pete Beach, the museum features the work of the celebrated artist Salvador Dali, who is renowned for his unusual and highly technical sculptures, paintings, and interactive pieces. Many credit the Spanish artist with sensationalizing surrealism and pioneering a new era of creative expression.

At the museum, the galleries on the third floor display some of Dali’s paintings and other work, while the second floor houses an extensive library. The first floor has a theater, an art classroom, and a shop with a wide range of Dali-inspired merchandise.

A helical staircase in the museum also references Dali’s fascination with spirals and the double helical shape of DNA molecules. Outside the building, you can explore a labyrinth and meander through the Mathematical Garden, which examines the connection between nature and math.

7 Reasons Your Kids Will Love Beautiful Lake Lure

Staying with Bluegreen Resorts means that you have access to some of the best vacation destinations in the United States, from mountainous Aspen to colorful New Orleans. You can also stay at one of Bluegreen’s locations in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, such as Foxrun Townhouses in Lake Lure, North Carolina. In Lake Lure, you won’t have to drag the family around a busy city or try to navigate an overcrowded beach.

Instead, you’ll discover a plethora of relaxing retreats and natural attractions that are perfect for the whole family. From natural waterfall slides to zipline tours, it won’t be hard to entertain the kids and get back to nature while staying at Foxrun Townhouses. Here are seven reasons why your kids will love visiting Lake Lure:

Lake Lure Beach and Water Park

lake lure

Image courtesy Donald Lee Pardue | Flickr

When the weather is warm, the 100-yard beach and inviting waters of Lake Lure are understandably some of the main attractions in the area. The whole family can swim and play in the cool lake, picnic on the clean beaches, and visit the Lake Lure water park. At the water park, kids will enjoy hours of fun with games and a water slide. While you soak up the sun at the lake, you can also savor the beauty of the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains.

Canopy Ridge Farm

Spanning 120 acres on the east side of Lake Lure, Canopy Ridge Farm offers exciting zipline tours through Hickory Nut Gorge and kayak adventures on the lower Rocky Broad River. The 90-minute zipline tour takes you flying through lush forests, and each line delivers a unique experience for constant entertainment. For example, the Zip Zilla is designed for speed and soars through the trees for more than 1,000 feet.

Canopy Ridge Farm’s guided kayak tours are also great for adults and kids above the age of five. On the 90-minute tour, you’ll paddle through a gentle section of the river, with minimal class 1 and class 2 rapids and a few fast moving shoals. The scenic river tour is perfect for paddlers of all experience levels.

Pearson Falls

pearson falls

Image courtesy Kat Jenkinson | Flickr

To further discover North Carolina’s stunning water features, you can drive a short way to Pearson Falls, located between the towns of Saluda and Tyron. The cascading waterfall is part of a 268-acre bird and wildlife sanctuary that features spring-fed streams, thick green forests, and stunning rock formations.

While there is an entry fee, the park is a prime picnic destination, and most kids will be able to easily navigate the quarter-mile trail to the 90-foot waterfall. Climbing and swimming are prohibited to protect the terrain and sensitive ecosystems around the waterfall.

Green River Cove Tubing

While in the Saluda area, visit Green River Cove Tubing and take a trip down the Green River on an inner tube. Green River Cove Tubing supplies the tubes, transports you to the start site, and picks you up at the end of the trip.

At just $9.00 per person for three miles, or $14.00 each for six miles, floating down the gentle Green River is an ideal way for the whole family to cool off in the summer heat and relax for a few hours. The company only requires that kids be at least 42 inches tall or five years old.

Cedar Creek Stables

horse-837220_1280Open year round, Cedar Creek Stables is known for having gentle horses, seasoned guides, and 350 acres of picturesque trails around Lake Lure. Cedar Creek offers a number of different trail rides that are between one and two hours long, allowing you to ride through the forest and summit a mountain ridge for a panoramic view of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Although kids must be at least six years old for trail rides, Cedar Creek Stables does offer pony rides for kids under the age of nine.

Lake Lure Adventure Company

With Lake Lure Adventure Company, water lovers will be able to enjoy all the best water sports on Lake Lure, including wake boarding, water skiing, and paddle boarding. The company’s USA Water Ski-certified staff can teach the basics to beginners, or help experienced wakeboarders and water-skiers learn new skills.

For a more relaxing day on the water, try renting a pontoon boat or booking a guided fishing trip. An experienced fishing guide will show you the best fishing spots on the lake, which is stocked annually with bass, trout, catfish, and bluegill.

Sliding Rock

A 60-foot long natural water slide, Sliding Rock is located in Pisgah Forest and has become one of the most popular water destinations in North Carolina. Each minute 11,000 gallons of water rush over the waterfall into a cold, six-foot deep pool below, creating a truly unique and exciting way to cool off on a hot summer day.

Since the slide is part of a Forest Service recreation area, there are lifeguards on duty between Memorial Day and Labor Day each year. You can also visit the nearby Looking Glass Falls on your trip to Sliding Rock.

How to Experience Colonial and Pirate Life in Nassau

Bluegreen Resorts offers luxurious and unique vacation destinations across the United States, as well as in Aruba and the Bahamas. In the Bahamas’ capital of Nassau, Bluegreen Resorts will help you discover relaxation and adventure while staying at the Blue Water Resort at Cable Beach. You can relax surrounded by the sparkling blue waters and white sand beaches of Cable Beach, or venture away from the resort to explore the other delights Nassau has to offer, including food tasting tours and duty-free shopping.

As a town that dates back to the 1600s, Nassau also boasts a number of historical landmarks and attractions that illustrate the city’s past as a colonial settlement and haven for pirates. Here are some of the top historical and pirate-related sites to visit in Nassau:

Pirates of Nassau Museum

sailboatIf you’re fascinated by pirate history, the Pirates of Nassau Museum is the perfect place to learn more about the pirates who gathered in Nassau during the so-called “Golden Age of Piracy” between 1690 and 1720. Nassau was a prime operating base for pirates because the waters were too shallow for large war vessels, giving the pirates a tactical advantage in their speedy and shallow draft vessels. Pirates in Nassau also enjoyed easy access to the merchant ships using nearby trade routes. As such, Nassau assembled the largest concentration of pirates of any site in the New World and supported a thriving community that grew up around the market for pirated goods.

At the Pirates of Nassau Museum in downtown Nassau, you will embark on an interactive pirate experience that starts with the sounds of the ocean, a moonlit dock, and pirates reveling in a tavern. You’ll also get to climb aboard a replica pirate ship to discover the life of a Nassau pirate.

Fort Fincastle

Named after the British captain who commissioned the structure, Fort Fincastle was built in 1793 to defend Nassau Harbor from pirates and Spanish and French forces interested in controlling the Caribbean. The fort was constructed on New Providence Island’s highest point, Bennet’s Hill, to provide expansive views of Paradise Island, the city of Nassau, and the open seas. With its strategic location, the fort primarily served as a watch tower, and its cannons were never fired. Fort Fincastle is open seven days a week for tours so you can further discover its role in Nassau history.

Queen’s Staircase

queen's staircase

Image courtesy Henk van Kampen | Flickr

To reach Fort Fincastle, you need to climb the 102-foot Queen’s Staircase, which is one of Nassau’s most popular attractions. The staircase was hand-carved by hundreds of slaves over the course of 16 years. Using hand tools and pick axes, they dug out the solid limestone and used the excavated stone for Fort Fincastle.

The staircase was named the Queen’s Staircase decades later in honor of Queen Victoria. It continues to serve as the shorter route to Bennet’s Hill and as the pathway to Fort Fincastle.

Fort Charlotte

As the most sizeable of the three forts built in Nassau, Fort Charlotte features a drawbridge, waterless moat, dungeons, and ramparts. The fort was built by the commanding British captain, Lord Dunmore, in 1789 and named after the wife of King George III. Just a short walk from downtown Nassau, Fort Charlotte offers beautiful views of the harbor and daily tours that highlight the fort’s historical context.

Parliament Square

Located in the heart of downtown Nassau, Parliament Square is a collection of distinctive pink-painted buildings where the government of the Bahamas conducts matters of state. Parliament Square exemplifies Nassau’s colonial history, as the buildings were originally constructed by Loyalists from North Carolina in the late 1700s and early 1800s.

In Parliament Square, you’ll find the Senate Building, the House of Assembly, and the Supreme Court of the Bahamas. You can watch lawmakers at work in the House of Assembly, or check out the marble statue of Queen Victoria that was erected in 1905 outside the Senate Building. At the rear of the Senate Building, Bahamian judges and lawyers with the Supreme Court wear traditional British robes and wigs in a nod to the country’s colonial past.

Blackbeard’s Tower

Blackbeard's Tower

Image courtesy Bard Heird | Flickr

On an island renowned for its pirate lore, Blackbeard’s Tower is one of the more legendary—albeit disputed—pirate sites. Local lore says that the crumbling stone tower was the lookout point for the infamous Edward Teach, who became known as the pirate Blackbeard while stealing goods and gold in the early 1700s. However, historians point out that the tower was most likely built long after Blackbeard’s death in 1718 during a failed conquest. Either way, it’s worth visiting the site that has become a symbol of piracy in Nassau.

Balcony House

Believed to be one of the oldest residential structures in Nassau, Balcony House was built around 1788 and restored in 1994 for public tours. The historic house features a detached stone kitchen, a front balcony partially braced by wooden knee brackets, and a mahogany staircase that may have been recovered from a ship. Located on Market Street, the house is open to the public between Monday and Friday each week.