Labor Day island getaways from Wanderfly

labor day islandLabor Day is fast approaching along with the official end of summer. If you haven’t had enough sun yet, maybe it’s time for one more weekend of lying on the beach, fruity cocktail and fun book in hand? We asked our friends at Wanderfly.com, a web travel tool that helps you choose a vacation spot, for some Labor Day island getaways offering deals for the long weekend.

Domestic: Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Hilton Head is a 45-minute drive from Savannah, Georgia (one of our favorite romantic destinations), with miles of public Atlantic beaches, dolphin cruises, and renowned golf courses. Not bringing your private yacht? ResortQuest will pay for your gas ($150 credit card) on Labor Day stays of 3 nights or more, plus free tennis and discounted golf.

Caribbean: St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands
Feeling decisive? If you can book by tomorrow, you can save 35% on stays at Bolongo Bay Beach Resort in St. Thomas. They’ll also throw in a free sunset sail and cocktails at their beach bar. Summer is the low season for most Caribbean islands, but a tropical weekend knows no season. Check out more of Wanderfly’s picks for St. Thomas here.

Europe: Iceland
So Iceland might not be known for sandy beaches or fruity cocktails, but relaxing in the geothermal waters of the Blue Lagoon works pretty well too. Iceland Air is offering a free stopover in Iceland on flights booked to European cities such as Stockholm and Amsterdam. Just have time for one destination? Reykjavik is only about 5 hours from the East Coast with direct flights from New York, Boston, Washington D.C., and Orlando, as well as Minneapolis and Seattle.

If you’ve had enough sun, Wanderfly has plenty of other travel ideas. Visit their site and tell them what you’re looking for (with interests from art to extreme adventure) and how much you want to spend and they’ll give you personalized recommendations. Stay tuned for more Labor Day travel ideas on Gadling.

Hilton Head Island photo courtesy Flickr user Lee Coursey.

For Sale: one tropical island in Fiji

Do you have 25 million Euros burning a hole in your pocket? (That’s $33 million for U.S. readers!) Then perhaps you’d consider bidding on your very own tropical paradise, which is up for auction on eBay. The 225-acre island is located near Fiji, and is approximately 1 mile long and 1/3 of a mile wide. It reaches elevations of 150 feet and is surrounded by a 5000 acre lagoon that promises underwater visibility to 200 feet and year round temperatures of 80ºF.

That’s not all you’ll get for your hard earned money however. The island is also home to a “world class” resort. Well, it will be a world class resort when it is finished. It is currently about 80% complete, with another six to nine months of construction time necessary to finish it all up. The resort offers some nice amenities however, including a dining pavilion, full spa, and 21 guest villas, complete with fancy furnishings and hot tubs for two. Access to the island is gained via a 3400 foot long airstrip, which runs right by the 9 hole golf course.

Adventurous travelers will find plenty to do on the island, as the waters are excellent for diving and snorkeling, and there are nine caves available to explore should you choose to go spelunking. Prefer to just sit on the beach sipping a fruity drink? You can do that too, while spotting local wildlife, which includes the leather back sea turtles and rare coconut crabs.

Seems like quite the deal if you’ve got the spare change available. Sadly there is no “buy it now” discount on this eBay item.%Gallery-65115%

Iceland Express will offer low-cost flights from Newark to Reykjavik

I’m kind of obsessed with Iceland. Ask me about the country and get ready to endure my lengthy soliloquy on why I love it so much. It’s one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen, and I’d feel pretty comfortable saying that even as I travel to more destinations, I’ll always consider it so.

Drive a few minutes away from Reykjavik and you’ll see mountains topped with snow, former lava fields covered in moss, volcanic ash beaches, and waterfalls in every shape and size. At Thingvellir National Park, the earth is shifting and dozens of little earthquakes happen every day. At the Blue Lagoon, people soak in steaming neon blue waters even as fat snowflakes land in their hair, and in random fields all over the country, horses will literally come running up to you to socialize. Horsies! Plus: Best. Hot dog. Ever.

Ever since I visited in March, I’ve been plotting my return. Trouble is, the tickets are just so expensive. Because Icelandair is the only carrier that goes from the US to Iceland, they can charge pretty much whatever they want. While they do have sales often, tickets from JFK to Reykjavik regularly range from $500 (in winter) to as much as $1200-$1500 during peak times.

But perhaps finding a cheaper fare may get easier. Iceland Express, a low-cost carrier that already operates flights from several European cities to Reykjavik (often for as low as $200 round trip) will begin flying from Newark to Reykjavik in June. Flights are available for purchase now and seem to be slightly cheaper than Icelandair. For dates I checked in August, flights on Iceland Express were $534 compared to $730 round trip on Icelandair.

Iceland by the numbers

After reading Brenda Yun‘s piece on Iceland (the most recent Photo of the Day), memories of the Blue Lagoon‘s warm waters rushed back to me … as it did yesterday, when I saw Slate’s coverage of the country’s economic collapse. When I came home from Iceland back in June, I joked that its population was roughly the size of my neighborhood’s. Thanks to Slate, I have confirmation. Thanks to Nathan Heller, I can now say with confidence that Iceland’s population of 313,000 is slightly less than that of Manhattan‘s Upper West Side, which, I learned, is around 2,600 miles away.

Reinforcing the notion that now is the time to visit Europe’s most remote corner, the Blue Lagoon’s average temperature is 100 degrees, even in winter! So, make their loss your gain. Hey, had the locals heeded the word on the street, they would have known that the economy was about to tank.

When the waters have worked their magic, head back into Reykjavik to witness the street protests that have occurred every Saturday since the middle of October. Despite the cold, outraged locals gather to call for the jobs of the leaders who sent the economy swirling down the drain.

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