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Some travel surprises are good: discovering a hidden gem of a trattoria in Florence where you are greeted with hugs and an open bottle of Chianti. Or finding out that the Louvre is free the one day you are in Paris.

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Smackdown: Tampa Bay area boasts sandy shores, surrealismupdated: Fri May 18 2012 08:53:00

Florida has become known for the weird. Highly charged court cases, nudist colonies and a bounty of tanning salons seem to arise in the Sunshine State. And unfortunately, cut-off jeans and flip-flops are not in short supply here.

Warm waters blamed for at least 5,000 pelican deaths on Peru's coastupdated: Fri May 11 2012 20:31:00

Warm waters off Peru are to blame in the deaths of more than 5,000 marine birds on the coast, government authorities say.

Say aloha to Hawaii's offseasonupdated: Fri Apr 27 2012 13:24:00

CNN's Reynolds Wolf takes a look at island time for Hawaii's off season.

Heavenly Hawaii: Dos and don'tsupdated: Fri Apr 27 2012 13:24:00

Looking to get to Hawaii without blowing your son's college fund? Want to experience the islands but not sure when to go?

Cuba's motorcycle culture roaring back to lifeupdated: Tue Apr 17 2012 13:49:00

Decades navigating the roads in Cuba have left deep scars on Sergio Morales' jet black 1947 Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

Vintage Harleys own Cuba's roadsupdated: Tue Apr 17 2012 13:49:00

CNN's Patrick Oppmann reports on Cuba's Harlistas, whose vintage motorcycles own the road.

An early midlife crisis California road tripupdated: Tue Mar 13 2012 09:29:00

I pitied the other tourists at the car rental lot at the Los Angeles airport: The sight of two Englishmen in their mid-30s sinking uncertainly into a white Mustang convertible is not pleasant.

Hawaii for beach hatersupdated: Mon Feb 27 2012 07:35:00

What's the first thing you think of when you think of Hawaii? The foaming-white sea lapping at a golden-sand beach surrounded by palm trees swaying in the breeze? Well, sure -- Hawaii's one of the world's ultimate beach destinations, an island paradise made for basking in the sun sipping daiquiris or hitting the waves to surf some righteous tubes.

How to score the best hotel roomsupdated: Mon Feb 06 2012 09:04:00

I was recently given the option of paying about $20 more for a hotel room in New York City with a skyline view. It put me at eye level with the Chrysler Building, and as the sun went down and the city lights began to twinkle, I savored every beautiful minute knowing I'd made a smart choice in paying just $20 for a million-dollar view.

A social-media addict tries to disconnectupdated: Wed Dec 28 2011 11:42:00

I'm a tweeting fiend. Whether it's quoting Herman Cain or issuing citations for the fashion police -- clear heels to work, really? -- I'm always thumb-typing away.

Top 10 coastal inns updated: Wed Dec 28 2011 07:35:00

Plan a weekend getaway to one of these coastal inns for inviting accommodations, great food and plenty to keep you busy. Or, just kick up your feet and relax!

Confessions of ... a resort activity directorupdated: Mon Nov 28 2011 08:47:00

Think working at a beach resort is just one piña-colada-soaked-bash after another? Think again. Budget Travel got a four-year veteran of a Jamaican resort to spill the secrets of island-hospitality life.

Discover Hong Kong's real wild sideupdated: Tue Oct 25 2011 04:34:00

Shopping and eating; Hong Kong's two main pursuits.

Acapulco teachers, sick of violence, march in protestupdated: Fri Sep 23 2011 15:01:00

The message is clear: No security, no classes! And thousands of teachers in the Mexican beach resort of Acapulco are taking that message to the streets. Their goal is to make clear to the government that they're fed up with the violence that is terrorizing Mexico.

7 resorts that celebrities loveupdated: Wed Sep 14 2011 08:02:00

When you spend much of your life being chased by the paparazzi, rest and relaxation take on a whole new meaning.

Luxury, horror lurk in Gadhafi family compoundupdated: Mon Aug 29 2011 15:23:00

Moammar Gadhafi told his people he lived modestly during his nearly 42-year rule over Libya, often sleeping in a Bedouin tent.

Sailing the emerald waters of Sardiniaupdated: Tue Aug 23 2011 07:12:00

A summer playground for Hollywood a-listers, European elites as well as us ordinary mortals, the Italian island of Sardinia is the place to go for sea, sun and celebrities.

24 romantic honeymoon destinationsupdated: Wed Aug 17 2011 12:14:00

A honeymoon is a once in a lifetime trip, and choosing a romantic destination requires careful planning. While other trips might focus on an activity, like skiing, the honeymoon is a chance for newlyweds to focus on each other.

And America's best beach is ...updated: Fri May 27 2011 13:07:00

Heading to the coast this weekend? Take note of the nation's best sandy stretch: Sarasota, Florida's Siesta Beach tops the 2011 list of the top 10 beaches in the country. Justin Bieber & Selena Gomez Find Secret Pizza in Sin Cityupdated: Wed May 25 2011 11:11:00

• Before heading to Hawaii for a sunny beach vacation, Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez shared a date - with two of their bodyguards! - inside Las Vegas's Cosmopolitan Hotel. The duo was hunting for the hotel's "secret pizza" spot - a hidden restaurant that serves New York-style pies in the hotel. According to onlookers, the two successfully grabbed pizza and were smiling as they chowed down.

Returned war souvenir gives solaceupdated: Fri May 13 2011 10:06:00

A shirt taken from a dead Japanese soldier was returned to relatives -- giving them something to put on the family altar

Maldives government blames opposition for protestsupdated: Tue May 10 2011 02:36:00

In a statement released Monday, Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed accused the nation's former leader of orchestrating sometimes-violent protests there over the last week.

Protests in paradiseupdated: Tue May 10 2011 02:36:00

Demonstrators on the island of Maldives protest for an entire week over economic issues. CNN's Reggie Aqui reports. David Walton Gets Marriedupdated: Fri Apr 08 2011 14:33:00

Katherine Heigl was a bridesmaid at the nuptials of former costar Majandra Delfino, who wed Walton

Foreigners undeterred by violence in Acapulcoupdated: Thu Mar 31 2011 21:53:00

Pascal Clemens arrived in Acapulco 17 years ago. The native of Germany who owns a real estate company in the Mexican beach resort says he immediately fell in love with the place. His original plan was to move to New York, but he couldn't get enough of the sunny beaches, friendly people, cool breezes, and above all, the spectacular weather in Acapulco.

American college students a no-show in Acapulcoupdated: Tue Mar 29 2011 12:33:00

For the past 18 years, folk musician Raymundo Oregon has been playing his accordion in one of Mexico's favorite destinations for international tourists: the beach resort of Acapulco.

Barcelona and beyond: Best beaches and baysupdated: Thu Mar 24 2011 09:24:00

Facing out onto the Mediterranean Sea, with its privileged location on the eastern edge of the Iberian peninsula, Barcelona is Spain's cultural capital -- as well as home to one of Europe's largest ports.

Top 10 romantic Caribbean retreatsupdated: Mon Feb 14 2011 09:12:00

Whether you're looking for the perfect honeymoon spot, or just a romantic weekend for two, these ten Caribbean resorts are prime places to relax and indulge with each other.

Egyptian blogger helps organize protestsupdated: Tue Feb 01 2011 15:15:00

Egyptian blogger Ramy Raoof previews a "march of millions" organized for Tuesday (Feb. 1) in Egypt.

Unrest in Egypt, Tunisia forces change in vacation plansupdated: Tue Feb 01 2011 15:15:00

The political turmoil in Egypt and Tunisia has European tour operators scrambling to divert package tours to more stable destinations, and several thousand tourists have already been re-routed to beaches in Spain, a Spanish tourism industry official told CNN.

Vietnam's own 'great wall' uncoveredupdated: Wed Jan 26 2011 15:44:00

Nestled in the mountain foothills of a remote province in central Vietnam, one of the country's most important archaeological discoveries in a century has recently come to light.

Will resort tourists keep coming as Mexican violence spreads?updated: Tue Jan 11 2011 22:44:00

It's one of the most famous tourist destinations in Mexico.

Violence threatens Mexican tourist spotupdated: Tue Jan 11 2011 22:44:00

CNN's Rafael Romo reports on violent crime in Acapulco, and the threat it poses to Mexico's tourism industry. Couples Watch: LeAnn Rimes & Eddie Cibrian's Mexican Getawayupdated: Mon Jan 03 2011 13:12:00

• Still riding the high of their recent engagement, LeAnn Rimes and fiancé Eddie Cibrian celebrated New Year's Eve in a private residence at the Hacienda Beach Club in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. The pair savored poolside mini-massages, relaxing spa treatments, plus meals at the property's beachfront restaurant.

Preserving an island paradiseupdated: Mon Nov 01 2010 01:29:00

Tioman island in Malaysia is caught in the battle between responsible tourism and rampant development.

Firm plans resort staffed by blondes onlyupdated: Mon Oct 11 2010 13:48:00

Exotic locales usually tout aquamarine waters and white sandy beaches to lure tourists, but one company is hoping the staff's hair color will be among the draws to its planned vacation paradise.

Secret Sardinia: True Mediterranean blissupdated: Tue Sep 14 2010 09:30:00

Striking expanses of coastline aren't exactly in short supply across the Mediterranean. But for some reason, only a few marquee spots -- the Greek Isles, the Amalfi Coast, the south of France -- get all the love. Chances are, Sardinia doesn't even make the list.

Sweden and Malaysia's island paradisesupdated: Sat Sep 11 2010 11:43:00

With its freezing, dark winters and summer days that in the north of the country that literally never end, Sweden wouldn't appear to share much in common with the equatorial heat of Malaysia.

Best of the West: National park beachesupdated: Mon Aug 30 2010 07:58:00

Check out these 10 scenic spots to swim, float and soak in the sun at the West's amazing national parks.

Penguins stranded on Rio beachupdated: Thu Jul 22 2010 11:20:00

Brazilian authorities are rescuing stranded penguins on the beaches of Rio de Janeiro. CNN's Rafael Romo reports.

World's best eco-friendly beachesupdated: Sat Jul 17 2010 09:21:00

Some beaches suffer from pollution, but there are many gorgeous, pristine escapes that offer a sanctuary to wildlife and travelers alike. We scoured the planet to find the most spectacular shorelines -- and, no surprise, most of our top choices are on protected land or are nearly impossible to reach.

Hamptons beach tops best beaches listupdated: Fri May 28 2010 17:20:00

A sandy stretch in the tony Hamptons topped 2010's best beaches list, compiled each year by a coastal scholar known as Dr. Beach.

Fortune: How to score the few remaining beach vacation dealsupdated: Thu Feb 04 2010 10:39:00

It wasn't so long ago that travelers could all but name their price. During the depths of the financial crisis, unheard-of deals abounded as hotel companies did anything to lure business. These days? Not so much. The luxury travel market is coming back, with bookings up as much as 40% since mid-2008. You can still find deals this winter; you just need to think creatively -- and follow our tips.

'Best job' winner says goodbye to island paradiseupdated: Wed Jan 06 2010 12:45:00

It was a tough job, but someone had to do it. 34-year-old Briton Ben Southall, winner of Queensland Tourist Board's "Best Job in the World" competition has now completed his six-month stint looking after Hamilton Island on Australia's Great Barrier Reef.

Connector of the Day: Ben Southallupdated: Wed Jan 06 2010 12:45:00

Ben Southall shares his experiences after working a job labeled "best in the world".

The secret islands of Southeast Asiaupdated: Tue Jan 05 2010 14:07:00

Odysseus had his quest, Naomi Lindt had hers: to scout and explore the next great islands of Southeast Asia, from an untouched Cambodian hideaway to a foodie's paradise off the coast of Vietnam. Rosie and New Girlfriend Hit the Beachupdated: Thu Dec 31 2009 14:49:00

O'Donnell and Tracy Kachtick-Anders hug it out in Miami

Guide to Mauiupdated: Thu Dec 17 2009 06:57:00

Fly into Maui's Kahului International Airport. For car rentals, book ahead on or to get optimal rates.

Holiday travel that won't bust the budgetupdated: Tue Nov 24 2009 08:50:00

I'm perched in a wooden treehouse lazing on a cushy double mattress atop a white sand beach along Mexico's Riviera Maya. Overlooking the turquoise Caribbean Sea, I'm about as far away from holiday hoopla and craziness as I can get when the beach butler comes by to see if I need anything. Song Sparked Stephen Moyer's Marriage Proposal to Anna Paquinupdated: Mon Oct 26 2009 13:46:00

The TV vampire borrowed from True Blood to set the stage to pop the question

Cabinet in drowning Maldives to meet underwaterupdated: Thu Oct 08 2009 11:36:00

The president of Maldives, who last year proposed relocating his entire country, is set to chair an underwater Cabinet meeting this month to highlight the threat global warming and rising sea levels pose to his low-lying nation.

Adventure, beaches and great deals in Mexicoupdated: Mon Aug 17 2009 16:04:00

We are sitting cross-legged in the water, 60 feet underground in a Mexican cave surrounded by some of the most beautiful formations I've ever seen, as the niece of a famous shaman chants a Mayan prayer asking the gods to let us go in peace. Leighton's Hamptons Brunch with Her Manupdated: Thu Aug 13 2009 07:01:00

• Leighton Meester and boyfriend Sebastian Stan, sharing champagne during a brunch party at Day & Night Restaurant & Beach Club in Southampton, N.Y. The two were partying poolside - in a cabana - alongside Mischa Barton.

America's healthiest beach and lake getawaysupdated: Fri Jul 03 2009 13:47:00

We know your summer vacation time is precious: You want to land where you can truly relax, breathe fresh air, get in some exercise and eat well -- without breaking the bank. That's why we teamed up with a panel of travel and health experts to help us find the healthiest of the nation's most popular beach and lake towns.

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