By Colleen Mertes
As the days get longer and the nights get warmer, finals are on our mind and freedom is on the horizon. Maybe this summer you saved up some money for a well deserved vacation to take a break from life for a few weeks. Or, if you are like me, you have to work for the summer because you are broke as a joke and travel is, for now, a pipe dream. Whether it is for your dreams or your plans for this summer, here are ten hot spots for summer fun:
1. Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico is fairly close for East Coasters to travel to. It has both city life and rural jungle combined into a small, vibrant island. The beaches are made of beautiful, white sand and clear, sparkling ocean. Walk down cobblestone streets in historic parts of San Juan, the capital, and indulge your stomach with delicious Puerto Rican food. Later, take in the modern nightlife of the city. It is close, fun and warm- all three things a college student needs after finals.
2. Scotland, United Kingdom
Scotland is a very popular place for tourists in the summer. Temperatures hovering around 60, festivals and the Highland Games make Scotland a vibrant place to visit. Go island hopping; visit coastal beach cottages; walk the abundant hills, or take in some city life in Edinburgh. If you do not like crowds of people, visit in May when the crowds are smaller and the prices are lower.
3. Cavtat, Croatia
Cavtat is small town in the south of Croatia. While only offering six hotels and having a population around 1,500 people, Cavtat is bursting with attraction for tourists. It has a sparkling coast on the Adriatic sea and beautiful architecture, which allows for a perfect blend of playing in the water, exploring caves, visiting churches, mausoleums, art galleries and archeological sites.
You can visit Madagascar through Stony Brook University or on your own. For fair weather and fewer crowds, visit in April through June. Just make sure the cyclones have died down. Or wait until July and August at the peak of tourist season. If you are a rural traveler then Madagascar could be perfect for you! Just be sure to read about it before hand, and carefully plan your trip so it goes smoothly.
5. California, United States
California is a state with so much to offer that they even designed a five to seven day road trip plan to follow, the Highway One Classic, which takes you from San Francisco following the coast to San Diego. You go through coastal beach towns and hit a multitude of hot spots- LA, Santa Barbara, Carmel, Monterey and Santa Cruz are just five of the 10 stops. Shopping, wine, surfing, Yosemite National Park, Lake Tahoe, the Redwoods and Disneyland- California has enough adventures for this summer and many more summers after.
6. Cape Town, South Africa
Visit Cape Town for the vineyards, wine, nature, beaches and scenery. Alternatively, go for the architecture, culture and heritage. Visit the bird sanctuary, caves, the penguin colony or one of the many beaches for a outdoor adventurous day. Take a day to experience !Khwa Ttu, San Culture and Education center and learn about the world of the descendents of South Africa’s indigenous people. Cape Town is a place to immerse yourself in the food, culture and nature of South Africa. For the more adventurous and brave, Cape Town is also known for cage diving to view Great White sharks.
7. Mackinac Island, MI, United States
On this little island haven in Michigan, you will not find any vehicles (save for an ambulance and fire truck). Instead, you travel by foot, bike or on horseback. Visit in June for the Lilac Festival or in August for the Festival of the Horse and the all too decadent Fudge Festival. If you have some time in September or October, their summer event calender leads well into those months. This island is perfect for relaxing and makes for a unique summer trip, while being relatively close to New York.
8. St. Petersburg, Russia
For a cultural treat, visit St. Petersburg, an epicenter of culture in Russia. From the opera to ballet to literature to art galleries, it has a plethora of venues to offer. In the summer you can experience the White Nights, a phenomenon shared by many northern destinations when the sun barely sets during the summer months. During these white nights, enjoy the vivacious night life St. Petersburg has to offer. It is perfect for college students. And guess what, Seawolves. It’s study abroad option for Stony Brook students!
9. Bora Bora, French Polynesia
This is the most romantic place on this list- and arguably one of the most romantic destinations on Earth. It is popular with honeymooners, but there is no need to feel like you can not go there without the one and only. It is a typical tropical island paradise vacation with white sand beaches, clear waters, thatched roof villas and overwater bungalows. If your happy place is the ocean and you are looking for a relaxing and warm vacation, then Bora Bora should be on the top of your list.
10. Alaska, United States
It is very easy for college students to get work for the summer in Alaska because of the booming tourist industry. Whether you are working at a hotel or just visiting for a few weeks, there is a lot to be experienced here. You can explore glaciers, zip line through huge trees and go whale watching in the southern part of Alaska (Juneau, Kodiak Island, Seward and many others). Farther north, visit Fairbanks for the Midnight Sun Festival, including a midnight baseball game and the Midnight Sun Run. Abundant in wildlife, outdoor activities, breweries and various oddities (including the locals), Alaska is perfect for an adventurous spirit.