Masaya Volcano National Park

The national park covers 54 square kilometers, which include two volcanoes as well as five craters. These volcanoes have erupted so many times throughout history including during the time of the Spanish colonization in the 16th century. The frequent eruption is the reason the Spanish conquerors called one of the active volcanoes the “Mouth of Hell” (La Boca del Infierno). They believed that the devil had something to do with the regular eruptions. Thus, they planted a cross called La Cruz de Bobadilla to exorcise such evil. Today, you can still encounter the cross that was named after the priest Francisco Bobadilla, and this structure has become one of the popular attractions in the park.

One highlight of a trip to Masaya Volcano National Park is the large impressive crater called Santiago. The crater is sandwiched between the Masaya and Nindiri volcanoes. Due to successive eruptions of the craters in the park during the 1900s, they eventually collapsed in 1985. These days, when you head over to the vicinity of the craters, you can still smell the sulphurous gasses as well as hear the lava flowing below the ground. The landscape in this volcanic area is filled with rocks and ashes. However rough the surroundings may be, it also has a certain serenity to it.

If you want to be a bit adventurous, grab the opportunity to peek over the edge of the Masaya Volcano. By doing so, you will see in full scale, its magnificent and powerful crater, which still emits sulfur gases and smoke. After marveling at the central crater, you can also hike over to the other craters and viewpoints. Such hikes are certainly worth it as the captivating volcanic surroundings will unfold before your eyes. Aside from the trails that lead to craters and lookout points, there is also one that leads to the Tzinaconostoc Cave, known as the haven for hundreds of bats.

Special trails which stretch from 1.5 to 6 kilometers, are all guided and have corresponding fees depending on the distance. Aside from the usual day tour, the park management also offers the nocturnal tour, which is quite unique and exciting. This night tour begins at 5 pm and ends at around 8 pm. The objective of the tour is to lead the participants first to the La Cruz de Bobadilla before sunset, and then proceed further to the crater area for wildlife observation, underground tunnel exploration and possibly, to watch the red, glowing lava flowing through the deep crater opening. This spectacular sight can only be seen at night.

Canary Islands

One of my favorite destination is none other than the Canary Islands off Spain. You can choose to get there by cruise, in which case, it is a good idea to engage the service of a cruise-only travel agent or an online agency that specializes in cruise vacations. They probably can give you better cruise holiday deals.

You can also get there by air. All the islands have airports. Most international flights and those from mainland Spain goes to Tenerife, Gran Canaria, and Lanzarote. You can also fly to the Canaries from most
European cities. If you are flying from North America, flights usually go to Madrid, where you can get a
connecting flight.

The Canary Islands were originally inhabited by an unknown aboriginal group, probably from North Africa.
It was in the 15th century that they were discovered by Frenchman Bethencourt. Some popular Canary Islands destinations to check out are: Fuerteventura, Gomera, Grand Canary, Lanzarote and Tenerife.

In my opinion, this place is one of the best holiday resort to get away from the winter. And, there are many activities to keep you and your loved ones busy! If you like golf, you can try the mini golf course. If biking or hiking is your thing, there are many tracks to wonder around.

One of my favorites is the Teide National Park. It is a marvel of nature with its stunning volcanic landscape.It is also home to Spain’s highest mountain, the dormant volcano Teide. There are numerous walking trails and a cable car to the top of the volcano. Truly awesome!

If you are into sea-sports, the Bahía de Pozo Izquierdo is the best beach on Gran Canaria for windsurfing. If snorkelling or scuba diving is your thing – you will be delighted to see grouper, barracuda, turtles, rays,
tropical fishes and the occasional shark. Needless to say, deep sea fishing and sailing is also fantastic!

If you are going to spend a week at Gran Canaria, go try out “ClubHotel Riu Vistamar”. While its pool area
can be busy, the hotel is very well maintained, and the food you get there – is well, heavenly! You get pancakes, cereals, toast and even champagne for breakfast! On certain days, you’ll even get smoked salmon. Quite frankly, I don’t mind having it everyday! Remember to attend the 6:30pm dinner to enjoy the night entertainment too.

Reasons Boat Damage

After you purchase a boat, before you take it out, it is necessary to thoroughly read your boat and engine’s operations manual. Ensure that you follow all the instructions given in the manual carefully. One should be aware of all the operation know-how’s before setting out on a sail. One wrong move and it might lead to a major damage of your boat machine. Also, to prevent accidents, prepare a pre-departure checklist and include in it all the points that you have to make sure of before you start out. Make sure that all supplies, charts, tools are aboard. Take all the necessary things which you would need in emergency situation like cell phone – etc.

Sometimes, the boat you purchase may have a manufacturing defect. In other words, it may be damaged when you buy it. In such a case, you may contact the manufacturers and work out a solution with them, either to have the boat replaced with another one or to get it repaired. Usually, a boat looks perfect upon observation, but may have minor problems which would lead to major billings later on. To prevent this, a Marine survey should be done when one purchases a boat. Different types or surveys are available like pre – purchase survey, insurance survey, damage inspection, appraisal inspection – etc

The major cause for the damage of the boat is poor maintenance. It includes caring for your boat properly when not in use and operating it correctly when in use. For instance, if you have not stored your boat carefully in a covered place, you may find that it has been damaged by some mischievous boys or some rodents may have made their home in your boat. It prevents the boat from environmental damage as well. Dirt on the bottom of the vessel should be cleaned regularly. Too little oil can cause the metal to overheat and damage the motor. Care of the operating parts of the boat, the engine and the various screws and valves is very essential. Any lack of proper care of these parts may cause damage to your boat necessitating expensive repairs.

Prevention is better than cure. But, as boat damage is inevitable, in spite of all the care taken, once the major causes of damage to a boat are known, it is possible to prevent the damage by addressing each of these causes in a proper manner.

Burma And The Elephant Dance

For those not so familiar with Hinduism and Buddhism to understand why – particularly the white – elephant is sacred and so closely associated with Hindu and Buddhist beliefs it is important to know that, for example, the religious Indian figure that is always depicted with an elephant head is the powerful Hindu god Ganesha (in Burma known as Maha Peinne) one of the globally best-known (because of the elephant head) and most worshipped deities of the Hindu heavenly abode and that the later Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama, was according to legend conceived by his mother Queen Maya after a white elephant was presenting her with a lotus flower the common symbol of wisdom and purity on the eve of giving birth and after she had dreamed that a white elephant had entered her body. And what concerns the Burmese nat worshipper and the nat worshipping part of Burmese Theravada Buddhism there is the powerful guardian spirit of the elephants, Uttay Na, who is worshipped by everyone who has to do with elephants (this includes the people making the elephant figures for the dance competitions) and, last but not least, there are also the nats Ngazishin, Lord of the five white elephant as well as Aungbinle Hsinbyushin, Lord of the white elephant from Aungbinle.

Elephants have in the region that is nowadays Burma/Myanmar always played an important role in more than one way what is, among others, reflected in the fact that the white elephant is an accepted symbol of and omnipresent in Burma. White elephants are e.g. often guarding the entrances to Burmese pagodas and white elephants are also depicted on all Burmese bank notes (Burmese/Myanmar Kyat). Because of the low value of the Kyat coins do not exist otherwise there would certainly be elephants on.

In Burma, the land with the worldwide second largest population of wild Asian elephants (India has the largest) and largest number of captive Asian elephants, the elephant, in general, has been used as working or timber elephant, war elephant and the white elephant, in particular, belonged by law to the king and was used as royal mode of transportation when the king was hunting, travelling, rode into battles or took part in parades or processions; the more white elephants a king possessed the higher was his status and the more powerful he was; the elephant as royal status symbol.

Another example that perfectly demonstrates the importance the possession of white elephants was given is the names of Mon and Burmese queens and kings. For instance, the Mon queen Shin Saw Bu had the title ‘Mistress of the White Elephant’, the Burmese Kings Kyawswa I of Pinya claimed the title Ngarsishin (Lord of Five White Elephants, King Kyawswa II of Pinya claimed the title Laysishin (Lord of Four White Elephants) and King Sin Phyu Shin’s name means Lord of the White Elephant.

The latter is of course part of Burma’s history but the former (working and timber elephant) is still very much part of present-day Burma; as is the Kyaukse Elephant Dance in Burmese Kyaukse Shin Ka.

The small town Kyaukse where as the name implies the Kyaukse Elephant Dance is originated from is situated in central Burma 25 miles/40 kilometres south of Mandalay, the capital of the last Burmese kingdom and 20 miles/31 kilometres south-east of the ancient Burmese capitals Sagaing, Ava and Amarapura about halfway between Sintgaing and Suu Lay Kone at the National Highway No. 1 and the railway track connecting Rangoon/Yangon with Mandalay. The ‘town’ Kyaukse is actually one of four townships that make up the Kyaukse district. These 4 townships are Kyaukse Township, Sintgaing Township, Myittha Township and Tada-Oo Township.

When approaching Kyaukse (township) two white elephant statues welcome you and it is no accident that these elephants are standing there. However, the reason for their being placed there is like so many things in Burma’s history hidden behind a thick screen of myth and legend what, by the way, provides ample room for interpretation.

One of the various legends explaining these elephants existence has at its centre the Pagan/Bagan king Anawrahta who reigned from 1044 A.D. to his death in 1077 A.D. His death was as legend has it (another legend) caused by a wild buffalo called Cakkhupala that was actually not a buffalo but a former enemy of Anawrahta who appeared in the form of a buffalo. However, the more probable cause of his death is assassination.

According to the ‘Kyaukse Legend’, Anawrahta has returning from China from where he brought some Buddha relics made camp with his entourage someplace close to what was later to become Kyaukse. The relics – so it is said – were so valuable to him that his intention was to place them in a pagoda build especially for them at a suitable place. The question to be raised at this point in time is why he did not bring them to Pagan and find a place worthy of them there?

The same question is – by the by – to be asked with respect to the history of the – as many people say – ‘5 Buddha images’ (which is not true because they are 1 or 2 Buddha statues and 3 or 4 disciples) now housed in the Phaung-Daw-Oo pagoda at Inlay lake. These Buddha statues were – again as legend has it – left behind hidden in a cave nearby the lake by the Pagan king Alaungsithu (who reigned from 1112 A.D. to 1167 A.D.) when he came back from a journey to the Malayan peninsula. Why did he not bring them to Pagan but hid them in a cave at the Inlay Lake? But now I am off topic.

Back to Kyaukse and the elephants where instead of waiting till his return to Pagan king Anawratha put the relics on his favourite white elephant’s Thanmyinzwa back in order to have the elephant lead him to a place where to build the pagoda for the relics.

As one of several slightly different versions of this legend has it the elephant wasting no time led Anawrahta to a hillside situated east of what is nowadays Kyaukse where he first knelt down at the Tha Lyaung Hill and then continued to the Pyat Khar Shwe Hill where he knelt down the second time. The question was now where to build the pagoda, at the place of the elephant’s first or second and last stop? Anawrahta’s answer to this question was to build a temple at the Kha Yway Hill and a pagoda at the Shwe Tha Lyaung hill. However, this part of the legend is not tally with the reality. There is indeed a temple in Kyaukse – the Tamote Shinpin Shwegugyi Temple – that was originally a one storey structure built by Anawrahta in Pagan style (a second storey was added by the Pagan king Narapatisithu) but this temple is not located at the Kha Yway Hill but some but 8 miles/13 kilometres north of Kyaukse (township) in Tada Oo township not very far from Mandalay International Airport. Also, the distance of 8 miles which is quite a lot sets me thinking. From this inconsistencies follows that there is some confusion regarding the names and locations of the temple or pagoda.

Be that as it may, the Shwe-Tha-Lyaung (the reclining Buddha) pagoda is ever since its completion the venue for the annual Shin-pwe, the Elephant Festival with the elephant dances that takes place in commemoration of the pagoda’s construction and also – although to a much lesser extent – the elephant nat Uttay Na.

The elephant dance festival is celebrated on the day before the full moon of Thadingyut, the Light Festival in October.

Since long real elephants are replaced by artfully crafted artificial elephant figures or costumes. Inside these figures are 2 men performing the elephant’s movements.

The basic elephant comprises two skeletons (one for the body and one for the head) made of bamboo and a skin made of paper mâché and pieces of black or white cotton cloth and textile such as, velvet and satin. The paper mâché parts get after being properly dried a final coating with black or white paint what also serves the purpose of surface protection. Although the white elephant is the royal variety are for practical reasons most of these elephants black.

Once the two pieces that make up the basic elephant are ready they are richly and colourful decorated ‘royal-elephant-style’ with e.g. glass gems, artificial pearls, gold foil, sequin and embroidery. Elephants decorated mainly with sequin (what takes longer to do and is more expensive) are judged in a separate competition.

In order to make the skeleton that gives the body the shape and stability needed fresh green bamboo stripes that have for reasons of higher pliancy been soaked in water are used. Because the hindpart of the body must provide sufficient space for two dancers and their movements its form is bulky, of simple shape, made in open-belly style and has a hole for the head that is worn and operated by the front-dancer. Imitations of the elephant’s legs are textile tubes worn by the dancers ‘trouser style’. The head with tusks is a real piece of art and modelled lifelike of paper mâché. Attached to the head are the ears of cardboard covered with textile and a trunk made of bamboo rings sewn into a textile tube. As a finishing touch the name of the elephant dance team is put on the sides of the elephant’s body. This is done either by painting it directly on the elephant figure’s surface (skin) or by way of e.g. attaching an embroidered piece of fabric.

Making these 2-piece elephant costumes requires a high level of craftsmanship and is done by family businesses in Kyaukse that are specialising in this craft and are famous for their skills all over Burma. They do not only make the elephant figures for the elephant dance and dance competition but also, for example, models and statues by customer specification and all kinds of small and medium sized multi-purpose paper mâché figures such as elephants, Happy Owls’, horses and so on. They can be used for decoration purposes, as children toys, for offerings, can be sold as souvenir to tourists, etc. The knowledge and skills needed for this art and craft are handed down from generation to generation. Each business has their own tricks, which belong to the strictly guarded family secrets.

The schedule and procedure of the building of an elephant figure is taking place based on religious considerations. According to these it is in order to guarantee greatest possible success important to, firstly, choose an auspicious date and day for the beginning of the work. Once this is decided upon it is equally important to make prior to the beginning of the work on the elephant figure flower and candle light offerings and say prayers. Work on the elephant must not start after noon (12:00) because this is believed to be inauspicious. Building an elephant figure can easily take months from start to finish.

Inside the elephant outfit two men are dancing to the often especially composed tunes of dobat and bon shay (long drums). This is no easy task as to gain and maintain the necessary synchronisation and elegance of movements to perform the different occasionally downright artistic figures of the elephant dance well requires precise timing and rhythm of the two dancers. What concerns the dancing part the dancer in the back plays the main role whereas the movements of the head are performed by the front dancer. The dancers practise up to one year (with the old elephant costume) to perform the physically very demanding traditional Burmese elephant dance steps and movements perfectly because much is at stake in terms of fame, glory, popularity and money.

Competitions are held in four disciplines, which are ‘Traditional elephant dancing competition’, ‘Child elephant dancing competition’ (under ten), ‘Best traditional elephant figure’ and ‘Best sequin elephant figure’.

The money prizes awarded to the victors and 2 runners-up in the respective discipline are ranging at the time of this writing between Burmese Kyat 200.000 (app. US Dollar 200) to Burmese Kyat 1.000.000 (app. US Dollar 1.000). This is for the people of Kyaukse and the Kyaukse district who in their majority do not always find it easy to make ends meet a lot of very welcome money; a windfall, as it were. But this is not all. The victorious teams will during the year of their victories be invited to other events and get the opportunities to show off their skills and bask in the glory of being champions. Their first show after the victory will be to dance the next day – the full moon day – at the pagoda on the hill’s top what is a great honour. And, last but not least, they will go down in the ‘Kyaukse Elephant Dance’ history.

The ‘Kyaukse Elephant Dance Competitions’ begin in the early morning of the day before the Full Moon Day of Thadingyut on the market place of Kyaukse situated at the foot of the Shwe Tha Lyaung hill, which the ‘elephants’ have to surround three times. This for two reasons; firstly, to equal the ‘Three Jewels’ in Theravada Buddhism; the Buddha (The Enlightened), the Dharma (Buddha’s teachings) and the Sangha (Buddhist monk community) and, secondly, in order to give the jury and the spectators sufficient opportunity to closely inspect the elephant figures and make photos if they so wish; e.g. family members of the contestants, tourists and journalists certainly do.

There are usually more than 50 teams from different towns and villages that are competing for the championship title. Virtually all of these teams have very beautiful elephant figures that easily survive the dance competitions undamaged and dancers who are performing their dances perfectly so that it must be really difficult for the judges of the juries that are made up of pagoda trustees, Kyaukse town and township officials as well as other dignitaries to decide on who are the winners, who are the runner-up and who does not even make it into the group of the ‘Top-Three’.

Main criteria for the performance appraisal are e.g. general appearance, quality of the elephant figures in terms of craftsmanship, quality of the decoration, quality of the dance performance, the quality of the music and singing that accompanies the dance performance and the quality of the teamwork (dancers, ‘mahout’, musicians and singer).

For those teams that do not make it into the top groups the disappointment is certainly deep; after all the sweat shed during numerous exhausting training hours and the lots of money spent for the elephant outfit. But there are next year’s competitions to look forward to; this year it did not work out well but next year it surely will.

The festive award ceremonies take place in the evening and all participants and spectators go home to prepare for the next day when the pagoda festival takes place.

Before continuing with the following, the full moon day I would like to draw your attention to the many elephant dance teams that are not taking part in the competitions but do instead – led by their ‘mahout’ – dance from house to house and shop to shop in the town to entertain the people and ask for donations. Well, actually it is the ‘elephant’ that is asking and not the dancers what as you can imagine has a very positive effect on the peoples readiness to donate. Not to mention these elephant dance teams would be grossly unjust because they are integral part of the festival and are much liked by the people of Kyaukse and visitors from other places. I like to say that when the ‘professionals’ who are taking place in the traditional elephant dance competitions are ‘playing opera’ the ‘amateurs’ who are dancing through the streets much to the delight of the people are ‘playing musical’. One of my favourite pieces is ‘The Drunken Elephant’. For these elephant dance teams it is more about fun, enjoying the peoples’ being happy with their performance and the (sometimes not so) small money they get from them in exchange for the pleasure they are giving.

The next morning at ‘Full Moon Day’ the winner teams of the elephant dance competitions and literally thousands of devotees are setting off to circumambulate the pagoda clockwise three times, make their offerings comprising food, water, incense sticks, candles, small white paper umbrellas and small paper mâché elephants and watch the elephant dance performances.

Complete Vacation Experience

Most cruises are in a way all inclusive, because the price usually includes all the basic stuff like rooms, basic meals, etc. But all inclusive cruises take it a step further and their programs feature full trips and excursions at the cruise destinations, meals and fancy dinners, aboard-cruise activities, beverages and night entertainment. More expensive packages go as far as providing alcohol, shore excursion, scuba equipment and more.

You should keep in mind what type of vacation you are going to have in order to choose the right all inclusive cruises. There are packages to meet every need: family cruises, adult-only, golf cruises, honeymoon cruises, spring break cruises and many more. You definitely won’t run out of options.

When choosing all inclusive cruises for your vacation, be sure to check all the offers available according to your budget. There are a lot of options because there are a lot of cruise ships as well. Searching in internet can result in a whole set of varied offers that you can then search more deeply. You may also like to contact a travel consultant who will be of immense help to find the perfect all inclusive cruises for your vacation.

In the end, remember that all inclusive cruises are the perfect way to have a no worries cruise vacation. Just take your time choosing the right package for you and you are guaranteed to have the time of your life.

Overview of Travel Advisors

If you happen to like any travel advisor, you would want to take his advice for all your trips. It therefore becomes very imperative for the travel agent to offer personalized services to every client, in addition to the regular bookings, for building a strong relationship for future business. It has often been seen that people recommend their very own travel agent to their friends and relatives, especially if they get additional discounts for these recommendations. It is a good career choice for those people who get pleasure out of working with people and maintaining good interpersonal relationships.

Travel advisors have in-depth information of various places, vacation ideas and tourist attractions, and besides making reservations for the vacation, he also suggests the best time for visiting a particular place. He is also aware of the most preferred tourist places and some unusual places, away from main towns and roads for those who want an adventurous or one of a kind vacation. Quite often, they get to know deals and discounts which other people may not be aware of. It always pays to check with them before booking a vacation.

The travel advisor will solve any issues concerning visa requirements and currency exchange even after your travel itinerary has been finalized and all your reservations have been made. He can help with making a change in reservations, and propose you to take travel insurance for the vacation, should there be an unexpected illness. He can be contacted to solve any other problems that may arise during the vacation.

Alaska Glacier Cruises

What if I told you that you could do something truly unique and adventurous, something that the whole family would love? What if I told you that there was a family cruise destination so breathtakingly beautiful and teeming with wildlife that you could spend days captivated at the rail of a cruise ship and still not get enough? Would you be interested? Sure you would.

Few people have visited Alaska without having been changed by the experience. Much of the terrain consists of gorgeous, formidable glaciers and ice fields which cover over 5% of Alaska’s land surface.

This natural beauty can be seen from many top tourist destinations of Alaska including Juneau, Valdez, Seward and the Matanuska Valley, but is usually only fully appreciated with an up close and personal view that only a cruise through the inland waterways can afford. From this vantage point you will stand spellbound by tidewater glaciers that reach over 100 ft. in height and the antics of wildlife such as humpback whales, orcas, sea lions, dolphins, brown bears and bald eagles.

In Alaska, there is a multitude of attractions that will keep you coming back for more. Cruise the smooth inland waterways of Alaska and come surprising close to the sheer ice faces of these magnificent, natural phenomenons; port at luxuriant destinations complete with fine dining and unique entertainment; and make memories that will last a lifetime.

The truth is: The popularity of Alaska glacier cruises is growing in leaps and bounds due to the awe-inspiring beauty of Alaska’s glaciers and the affordability and wide range of cruise packages available. You can choose from one-day inland cruise packages which are as priced as low as $50 per person to a luxurious six night cruise on a deluxe designer yacht for as little as $4,000 per person. Of course there is a wide range of cruise options that fall between these two extremes. Take for instance the seven day voyage available through a well-known cruise provider. For under $2,000 per person, this trip affords passengers the opportunity to cruise several top Alaskan inside passages aboard a luxuriant cruise liner and port at several top destinations.

Choosing the Right Cabin in Cruising

  • PRICE. Rooms on the top decks are pricy. Do you want this luxury or would you rather spend your money on other things? We wanted a comfortable cabin with enough space to move about and dry our laundry. When our travel agent called and said he could upgrade us to a more expensive cabin with a veranda we turned down the deal.
  • POSITION. Your travel agent will supply you with a plan of the ship. Study the plan carefully before you reserve a cabin. Our cabin was in the middle of the ship and on the same floor as the lifeboats, which made the lifeboat drill easy. The door to the promenade deck was just a few feet down the hall and we walked as often as we could.
  • CONVENIENCE. It’s convenient to have a cabin close to elevators and stairs. One of the things we liked best about our cabin was that it was close to the laundry. Our ship would do our laundry for $32 but we could do it ourselves for a $2.00 washing machine fee and $1.00 dryer fee. We would put a load in the washing machine, go back to our cabin and watch television for a while, and then dry our clothes. Passengers who were not close to the laundry had to wash their clothes at odd hours. Do not reserve a room across from the laundry because you will probably be disturbed.
  • VIEW. Some of the rooms on large ships have no windows at all. Do you want a cabin with a view? You may choose a lower deck cabin with a porthole or an upper deck cabin with a rectangular window. We chose a cabin with a window because we wanted natural light, wanted to see other ships, and wanted to see geographical changes. There were times, however, when we had to close our drapes because so many people were walking by.
  • TRAVEL COMPANIONS. If you are traveling with friends you probably want a cabin on the same deck and/or hallway. Your travel agent will be glad to arrange this for you. Our friends were just a few doors away and we often met them for lunch and activities. Being near each other helped us to coordinate our shore plans.

Isla Mujeres Mexico

This former fishing island stretches to only about 5 miles, and is half a mile wide. You can reach it by traveling 8 miles across the Bahia de Mujeres from Puerto Juarez in Cancun. Because of its small size, it is easy to navigate around the island, including the downtown area. Even though people have a tendency to make Isla Mujeres just a day trip destination, the island can actually hold its own as the prime tourist island.

Those who are seeking for a quieter, more serene yet beautiful environment will absolutely adore Isla Mujeres. An added plus is that the island is actually more affordable than Cancun. The highlight of the island stay is definitely the beaches. Most of these sandy stretches feature crushed corals and turquoise blue waters. Some travel experts even argue that these beaches are better than those found at other premier Mexican vacation spots like Holbox or Cozumel.

Some of the best beaches on the island are on its northern most tip. The sandy stretch at this area is called Playa Norte (North Beach). This popular white sand beach is equipped with bars, restaurants and hotels. Playa Sol is the less-crowded neighbor to Playa Norte and is known for its stunning sunset views. When you head out to the southern end of the island, you will find Punta Sur beach with its old lighthouse, modern art sculpture park and Mayan temple.

There is also no end of activities to keep you entertained while on Isla Mujeres. Scuba diving and snorkeling are highly enjoyable activities as the waters surrounding the island are teeming with tropical marine creatures and colorful reefs. Some of the best places to dive include the reefs of Manchones, Punta Norte, the Cave of the Sleeping Sharks and two sunken ships. On top of this, you can also go sailing, kayaking, take fishing excursions, or arrange a trip to see up close the marvelous underwater sculpture museum of the artist Jason de Caires Taylors. This underwater display is the largest of its kind in the world. On dry land, one exciting thing to do is to rent a bike, a golf cart or scooter and drive around the island.

If you are visiting with small children; they also will love experiencing the Isla Mujeres Turtle Farm, an endangered sea turtle hatchery and rehabilitation center, run by the government.

About Sunken Ships

A lot of sunken ships explored in the recent years have provided a glimpse at the lives of a by-gone era. The Mary Rose, a ship that sailed in the 1500’s offered valuable information regarding seafaring, warfare and life itself during that time. The SS Thistlegorm, aside from being an interesting dive spot provide a habitat for many types of marine life and actually supports the ocean’s ecosystem. And the universal appeal of pirates’ treasures buried in the ocean together with the sunken ships. Because of the rich history and valuable treasure that may be acquired in sunken ships, more and more organizations are seeking to protect sunken ship sites, however, the fact that these lie on the oceans signifies that no country or no one has jurisdiction over sunken ships. Thus, anyone who has the resources may actually just dive and loot sunken ships. The Sub-Aquatic Cultural Heritage Protection Convention ratified stricter measures in preserving and protecting sunken ships which are proven to be rich sources of historical and cultural information.

Sunken ships are actually the remains of a ship that has sunk because of a crisis at sea. The reasons behind the ship’s sinking vary, of course, and may include equipment failure; capsizing due to the instability of the ship; navigations errors resulting to collision with rocks, ships, reefs or icebergs; bad weather; violence such as wars, mutinies or pirate attacks; and quite ironically, fire.