Photo Of The Day: Galapagos Crab

The unique diversity and one-of-a-kind wildlife of the Galapagos Islands makes it a hotspot for traveling nature lovers from around the globe. In today’s photo, taken by Flickr user wesleyrosenblum, we find a brilliant red crab in close-up on the island of Santiago. This eye-popping crustacean’s wild crimson and orange hue photographed against the otherworldly black volcanic rocks almost had me convinced I was looking at an alien on some distant planet.

Taken any amazing animal shots during your travels? Or perhaps just a shot of your own backyard? Why not add it to our Gadling group on Flickr? We might just pick one of yours as our Photo of the Day.

25 newly-discovered travel destinations from Wanderfly.com

newly-discovered travel destinationsIf you’ve checked out Wanderfly, the new travel planning and booking service that suggests destinations and activities based on your interests, you know they’ve come up with some unique and untouristy destinations. Now they’ve gone beyond the beaten tourist track with 25 newly-discovered travel destinations. Why just see the Great Wall of China when you could see a whole city full of kittens in China (far greater if you ask us!)?! Fan of Dolly Parton? Thousands go to Dollywood, why not relax on a man-made archipelago in the shape of Dolly and Kenny Rogers at Islands in the Stream in Dubai? Can’t get enough of that rascal Charlie Sheen? Intrepid adventurers can get inside his brain and see what all that tiger’s blood does.

The Wanderfly researchers teamed up with Whim Quarterly to unearth these new places and the best activities to do. The new destinations were chosen for their interactive experiences to give travelers the most authentic experience. “We challenge any traveler to find even a single destination that can compare to these unearthed gems,” says Wanderfly co-founder Christy Liu. “Paris? London? Cleveland? With respect to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, they all pale in comparison to such places as ObeCity, Funkytown, and Your Mom’s House.”

For more on these exciting new discoveries, visit Wanderfly.com and click the crazy kitten on the home page and then Get Going. But hurry, some of these destinations may only be available on April 1st.

Maldives President proposes green tax for tourists

The Maldives, an archipelago of over 1000 islands in the Indian Ocean known for their stunning beauty and expensive, luxurious resorts, aren’t exactly cheap to visit. And they aren’t about to get any cheaper. The President of the Maldives has proposed a $3 per day “green tax” on tourists.

The tax would help fund the President’s plans for fighting climate change and for making the Maldives a carbon-neutral country within the next decade. He has a vested interest in stopping global warming – the Maldives are the lowest-lying islands on the planet, with an average elevation of only 7 feet above sea level, and it is estimated that they could be completely submerged by rising sea levels within the next ten years.

With an average of 700,000 visitors, who each stay around three days, visiting the Maldives annually, the tax could provide the country with over $6 million per year for environmental initiatives. With most resorts in the Maldives costing $500 (or much more) per night, $3 per person, per day is a small price to pay to help protect this vulnerable country from the dangers of climate change.

Chillin’ in the Stockholm Archipelago

I had a little too much fun when I visited Stockholm at the end of last summer. After sampling more than my fair share of Swedish meatballs, downing some aquavit and partaking in the city’s surprisingly debaucherous nightlife, my liver and my body needed a break.

My salvation came in the form of a wonderful five-syllable word you might remember from grade school geography class – the archipelago. For those not familiar with the term, an archipelago is a word typically used to describe a small cluster of islands (extra points if you pronounce it correctly). The city of Stockholm sits on a string of 14 islands that form a small part of the vast archipelago that stretches out into the Baltic Sea. For no more than the price of a Swedish crayfish lunch, a fleet of ferries will transport you to one of the many sparsely populated, pine-tree covered islands that populate the chain outside the city center.

I decided the island of Vaxholm sounded interesting and hopped on a late morning ferry. The ferry trip is a pleasant one, offering a visual smorgasbord of the many sights that make Stockholm famous. As our ferry steamed out of Stockholm, I was treated to panoramic vistas of the harbor behind me, the city’s brightly-hued orange and yellow structures glowing against a luminous sky dotted with clouds. Along the way, we passed all manner of sailboats and cruise ships, each one flying the famous blue and gold cross of the Swedish flag. The views on the ferry trip alone made the journey worthwhile.

Less than an hour later, we arrived at Vaxholm. Vaxholm is one of the more populated islands in the archipelago, boasting its own fortress and a small city center. The visit proved to be the perfect antidote to busy Stockholm. I strolled around Vaxholm’s tiny downtown with a few friends, stopping to return some Swedish fish to their native habitat. After a leisurely lunch at a cafe along the island’s rocky shore, we were ready to head back to the city.

This non-event of a day trip is exactly why I liked Vaxholm so much. Just like my ferry trip, I found the island visually striking, dotted with colorful wooden cottages and scenic views of the sea beyond. And unlike Stockholm, there’s no must-see tourist site, making it the perfect spot to find a nice rock in the sun, grab a cold beer and watch as the sailboats pass you by. If you’re really looking to get away, you can even head farther to the north or south, where you’ll find plenty of wild, sparsely-inhabited islands where you can live out the Walden fantasies of your dreams.

If you find yourself in Stockholm this summer, set aside a day trip to visit the archipelago – you won’t be disappointed.

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