Today’s Photo of the Day was taken indoors but the bright lights and orange glow make it feel like a hot summer day, or perhaps the inside of a tanning bed. Either is likely at the Bulgarian resort town of Varna where Flickr user PMania85 captured this scene with an iPhone camera. The photo features one of the most popular summer spots on the Black Sea. Every year, thousands of Eastern Europeans flock to the Bulgarian coast to tan under the sun or under the lamp, but preferably both.
The Conrad Maldives Rangali Island hotel has announced that it is once gain joining forces with the Maldives Whale Shark Research Programme. This unique partnership gives visitors to the resort a rare opportunity to view and interact with those amazing aquatic creatures while research is conducted on their behavior, migration patterns, and habitat.
The whale shark is the largest fish on the planet, sometimes stretching as much as 40 feet in length and weighing over 20 tons. Despite their great size however, they are known to be docile and gentle creatures who inhabit warm ocean waters like those found in the Maldives. In fact, the island nation happens to be one of the few places on Earth where whale sharks are known to congregate year round.
For the 5th year in a row, the MWSRP will be working in conjunction with the Conrad Maldives hotel on their research project, which will continue through February. Until that time, the hotel is offering its guests daily excursions out into the Indian Ocean to view whale sharks in their natural setting. The price of those excursions is $200, which includes transportation aboard a speedboat/luxury cruiser to dive and snorkeling sites that are inhabited by the large fish.
For adventurous travelers who love interaction with unique animals, this is an amazing opportunity. Diving in the Maldives provides the chance to not only see the whale shark, but also manta rays, moray eels, grey reef sharks, and sea turtles. Having just returned from a trip to the Virgin Islands, during which snorkeling and diving were frequent activities, I can safely say that I would jump at the chance to do this as well.
[Photo credit: Jaontiveros via WikiMedia]
Labor 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.
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.
A new company is trying to get into the North Korea tourism game. Korea Pyongyang Trading USA, based in New York, is looking to diversify out of its current business – importing Pyongyang Soju from North Korea. Founder Steve Park has his eye on Mount Kumgang, the site of a resort that involved a joint venture between South Korean companies and the North Korean government. It went sour when a South Korean tourist was shot there in 2008.
It seems like an interesting business opportunity, given how interesting the hard-to-reach company is too many travelers. And, since it’s so hard to do business with the regime, competition is unlikely to be stiff. The regulatory red tape, on the other hand, is a different story.
South Korea is saying that Korea Pyongyang Trading USA will need to get permission from the U.S. government in order to get the operation off the ground. The Dong-A Ilbo reports:
A government source in Seoul said, “According to U.S. Executive Order 13570 (effectuated on April 19), all products, services and technologies brought into the U.S. require permission from the U.S. government,” adding, “If a company seeks to engage in the service business of Mount Kumgang tours with North Korea, it should win approval from the U.S. government.”
So far, the application hasn’t been submitted.
There’s a reason South Korea is weighing in on this. Inside Investor Relations explains:
This deal [with Steve Park] follows several years of difficulties over managing Mount Kumgang through an agreement with South Korea’s Hyundai Asan. The resort provided significant cash to North Korea, but the arrangement was terminated in 2008 when a North Korean soldier shot dead a tourist from Seoul. South Korean officials demanded an apology, and its northern neighbors say they will “deprive Hyundai of its exclusive right to the mountain tour project and seize all of its assets in the region.”
Is there an ownership or rights dispute in the works? According to The Dong-A Ilbo, officials in Seoul are struggling to accept that North Korea can yank Hyundai Asan’s “exclusive right to the tours.” Of course, there’s always a shot that the U.S. deal will fall apart (with North Korea, this is always a concern!). The Dong-A Ilbo continues, “The South Korean government understands that the North is taking steps to attract another foreign business other than the American company.”
The odds of this happening, however, seem low.
photo by yeowatzup via Flickr
Summer has officially started and for many New Yorkers, summer is synonymous with Coney Island‘s boardwalk, beach, and hot dog eating contests. Fortune Magazine has just republished a story from their archives about Brooklyn‘s famous “island” (really, it’s been connected to the mainland for many years and is an island only in name, though technically it is part of Brooklyn, which is part of Long Island) when a day at the beach cost only 10 cents (round trip!) in subway fare.
The fascinating and evocative article chronicles the history and then-current status of New York‘s “nickel empire” after its 1920s heyday and at the beginning of its decline that led to the closure of most of Coney Island’s original attractions.
Back in 1938, there were sixty bathhouses where you could rent a locker, use the pool facilities, and even rent a bathing suit for fifty cents or less (nowadays you can try to change in a municipal restroom, but the only pool will be the overflowing sinks). Though it may seem a world away from the Coney Island of 2011 (men in white sailor suits cleaned the boardwalk each night!), a lot of parallels can be drawn about the waning popularity of urban beach resorts and revitalization efforts of Coney Island then and now.
Other highlights of the article include:
-The saga of Feltman’s frankfurters, who could once serve 8,000 meals at a time until a young upstart named Nathan undercut the hot dog business by a nickel and took over the market.
-Observations from chief lifeguard of 37 years John McMonigle on beach rescues: ” The fat dames is different. Hell, you don’t have to worry about them — can’t swim a lick — but they go in, dog paddle around two hours, an’ never touch bottom. By God you can’t sink ’em.”
-The oddly intriguing practice of baby incubators on the boardwalk with a charge to view (Boardwalk Empire viewers will recall seeing this in 1920 Atlantic City). Turns out they were opened by a pragmatic and kindly doctor who treated poor and ill infants, using the admission fee to pay for the medical care and facilities.
-The difficulties of running a freak show, where acts included “The Spider Boy; Singing Lottie, Fat Girl (O Boy, Some Entertainer); Laurello, the Only Man With a Revolving Head (See Frisco, the Wonder Dog); Professor Bernard, Magician Extraordinary (He will fool you); Professor Graf, Tattoo Artist (Alive); and his star act, Belle Bonita and her Fighting Lions (Action, Thrills).”
Read the whole article (maybe on your way to Coney Island on the subway) here.
Photo courtesy Flickr user Albany_Tim.