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[Little Cayman]: Avoid the crowds at these famed destinations

From Travel Pulse

Popular destinations are popular for good reason, but what about people who want to enjoy a great locale while encountering fewer crowds?

Or how about visitors who have done all there is to do on the mainline and want to branch out to new and exciting parts of their favorite destinations?

Like iTunes offering a selection of music for the already thoroughly familiar, I’ve compiled my own list of “Deep Cuts”—that is, lesser-known parts of already well-known visitor destinations around the world. Try nature-watching in a national park in a group of four instead of forty, having a black sand beach all to yourself or drinking in the tranquil cacophony of the Central American rainforest.

San Ignacio, Belize

The San Pedro that Madonna dreamed of in La Isla Bonita is the one in Belize, and it’s where the tourist crowds have followed ever since. For a change of pace, head away from the beach and into the rainforest.

San Ignacio, in the far west of Belize, is still just 30 minutes from Belize City by air or a 90-minute drive. Once there, revel in the rainforest, where the majority of the world’s medicinal botanicals are derived. Other activities include exploring the Mayan ruins at Xunantunich and Cahal Pech, canoeing the Macal River and communing with green iguanas.

When not busy exploring, time spent languishing at the intimate 26-room San Ignacio Resort Hotel’s private 17-acre estate is certainly not wasted, whether in the spa, plunge pool or simply enjoying soaring views of the lush foliage. It’s just hours from the rest of the country, and a world away from the crowds.

Waimea, Hawaii

If Honolulu is the Manhattan of the Aloha State, and Maui is the L.A, then where’s the country? The answer comes in the form of Waimea, on the island of Kaua‘i.

While the Garden Isle is hardly urban, there’s been an undeniably steady influx of development and tourism interest in the 25 years since Hurricane ‘Iniki swept through, causing damage that still haunts the island to this day.

To escape the traffic that often clogs the island’s single highway in the more populated areas, head West to Waimea, the driest part of this often rain-blessed island. Sunset views over the privately-owned island of Ni‘ihau are downright lurid, and the thoroughly pedestrian-friendly town site is host to a wealth of laid back, locally-owned shops and restaurants. Waimea is also the closest base to Koke‘e State Park for hiking and exploring the cool mountain valleys of the island’s interior.

Rent a 19th or 20th-century plantation cottage at Waimea Plantation Cottagesand cookout at a communal grill with the stars, surf and sounds of the nighttime fauna for company. It’s one place in these islands where a getaway is truly “away”.

Katmai National Park, Alaska

There’s a reason tourists flock north in the summer—22-hour days, abundant wildlife, and gorgeous scenery all around. It’s no wonder the most popular time to visit the last frontier is from May through September.

Denali, the highest peak in North America, is a primary tourism draw, and the vast majority of mass-market visitors will take a trip to or through Denali National Park via the litany of tour and cruise companies that provide rail and bus journeys to the park’s lodges. There’s a reason they’re so well-subscribed: Denali really is magnificent.

For a more in-depth experience, consider Katmai National Park, Southwest of Anchorage.

Because it’s so remote (and thus relatively expensive compared to other Alaska destinations), it sees only a fraction of the traffic that Denali and the well-beaten path between the cruise ports and Fairbanks do.

Katmailand is the only official concessionaire for the park. In addition to the area’s stunning natural beauty, visits generally focus on sport fishing and bear watching. Unlike Denali, some wilderness lodges in the area like Grosvenor Lodge max out at a grand total of six guests. While wildlife viewing can be hit-or-miss on the more-traveled itineraries, many visitors to Katmai report seeing bears within minutes of their arrival.

Little Cayman

The Cayman Islands are gorgeous islands in a gorgeous region, although the word has certainly gotten out. Georgetown, on Grand Cayman, is a popular cruise destination, with some days seeing as many as five ships at anchor all at once.

Although guests traveling to Grand Cayman will certainly have a more exclusive experience than a cruise visitor, those seeking true seclusion can take a quick flight on the country’s national airline to Little Cayman—the least populated of the Cayman Islands, with fewer than 200 full-time residents.

With little development, the island boasts one of the world’s largest reserves of red-footed boobies, as well as world-class diving and snorkeling. There’s a handful of lodging options ranging from simple to more luxe—like the beachfront bungalows at Southern Cross Club with vistas so private they feel like they have your name on them.


Think of a vacation in the British Isles, and the typical tourist zeitgeist tends to include symbolism that is utterly English: Stonehenge, Big Ben, the Tower of London.

But there’s brilliant culture to be had elsewhere on this history-laden island, and the uninitiated will find most of the rest of the significantly less expensive and less crowded than London.

Enter Wales—a principality that may have been ruled by the English crown for more than seven centuries but maintains a distinct culture and language to this day.

Cardiff, the national capital, is a center for arts and commerce, both historically and contemporarily, and is one of the United Kingdom’s hidden gems. It was a finalist for European Capital of Culture in 2008, and although it ultimately lost out to Liverpool, the attractions of the city remain just as vibrant (if not quite as universally popular as the rest of Britain) to this day.

Visitors to Cardiff will be able to enjoy their world-class culture and history in relative peace.

PHOTO: The San Ignacio Resort Hotel in San Ignacio, Belize is located approximately 90 minutes from Belize City. (photo courtesy of San Ignacio Resort Hotel)

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