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Staff Tip: Apalachicola is oyster central it's said to produce a tenth of all the pearly tongue pleasers sold in the United States. For my money, there's no better place to sample the local treasure thanBoss Oyster on Water Street. Casual and kid friendly I took my first born there for his first oyster when he was five Boss Oyster cuts out the middle man and harvests some of the tastiest oysters I've ever had from its own boat. Keith Bellows, editor in chief, Traveler magazine
2013 Best Fall Trip 13
When to Go: Wildflower season in Western Australia typically begins in the north in June and moves south, peaking on the Rainbow Coast in October and November.
2013 Best Fall Trip 14
What to Eat or Drink: Pull off Kamehameha Highway in Kahuku to eat hot and spicy North Shore shrimp cooked fresh in roadside shrimp trucks like Romy's, Giovanni's, and Famous Kahuku. Matsumoto's in Haleiwa Town is legendary for its shaved ice flavored with homemade syrups. Go local by adding ice cream and sweet and chewy adzuki beans.
Helpful Links: Go Hawaii and Triple Crown of Surfing (Check each morning of the competition to see if the event is on that day.)
Fun Fact: St. George Island State Park ranked as the nation's third best beach on Dr. Beach's (Dr. Stephen P. Leatherman) list of Top 10 Beaches for 2013. The nine mile long state park beach is located on the eastern end of St. George Island, the largest of four barrier islands separating Apalachicola Bay from the Gulf of Mexico.
When to Go: December weather is typically mild, with both water and air temperatures reaching highs in the mid to high 60s. Apalachicola Bay hosts a number of small town holiday and seafood related events, including the Holiday Fresh Market, December 7, in downtown Apalachicola and the Eastpoint Christmas Parade and Celebration, December 13. 98 West. The 25.6 mile western section of theBig Bend Scenic Byway's Coastal Trail connects Eastpoint,St. George Island State Park, andApalachicola.
Cultural Tip: Picking wildflowers is prohibited, and stiff fines (about $1,900 USD) are enforced. Dried wildflowers can be purchased legally in local souvenir shops.
What to Watch Before You Go: The Descendants (2011) is a film adaptation of Kaui Hart Hemmings's tragicomic novel about a land inheritance rift among members of an Oahu family descended from King Kamehameha.
When to Go: The Vans Triple Crown of Surfing series runs from November 12 through December 20 and encompasses three separate events: Reef Hawaiian Pro, Haleiwa Ali'i Beach, with best four surf days falling between November 12 and 23; Vans World Cup of Surfing, Sunset Beach, with best four surf days falling between November 25 and December 6; and Billabong Pipe Masters, Banzai Pipeline, with best three surf days falling between December 8 and 20.
What to Buy: Tucked among the macadamia and banyan trees on Kamehameha Highway, family owned Tropical Farms Macadamia Nut Farm Outlet sells seasoned, roasted, or glazed nuts in flavors ranging from Kona coffee to Maui onion and garlic. There's also coffee, tea, sea salt, and a lot of chickens running around the parking lot. At the Polynesian Cultural Center's new Polynesian Market Place, no admission tickets are required to visit the Kaha'iki Gallery and shop for artisanal gifts like hand painted Tongan bark tapas or cloths, mahogany ukuleles, and Hawaiian quilts.
What to Read Before You Go: Former Apalachicola mayor Jimmie J. Nichols's folksyApalachicola Diary: Life, Oysters, and History in an Old Florida Town (Gray Oaks Books, 2012)
Western Australia is home to more than 12,000 species of wildflowers, most of which are not found in the wild anywhere else in the world. In November, wildflowers carpet the state's south coast, known as the Rainbow Coast, home to more than a dozen national parks and reserves. Mountain bells, banksias, and orchids are among the more than 1,500 kinds of plants and wildflowers found in Stirling Range National Park alone. The Rainbow Coast port city of Albany is a convenient home base for bushwalks through the parks, where you could see wildlife such as parrots, western brush wallabies, and gray kangaroos along with the wildflowers.
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"Up country" Oahu is the North Shore where the vibe is low key local and the monster winter waves draw the world's top surfers to the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing. When the surf is up, competition is on and free to watch. On flat water days, hang out in Haleiwa, the North Shore's little "big" town, or visit the Polynesian Cultural Center, celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2013. Tours of the center's recreated Polynesian villages include traditional hands on activities like coconut tree climbing, canoe racing, and spear throwing.
Pristine wildlife refuges and state parks, Florida's largest national forest, and a thriving commercial fishing industry have helped northwest Florida's "Apalach" remain relatively undeveloped. But Apalachicola Bay's lifeblood wild, succulent oysters hand harvested with wood handled tongs is threatened, with harvests down 60 percent in 2013. Efforts to address contributing factors, such as significantly reduced freshwater inflows from the Apalachicola River, are key to sustaining marine life in the glass smooth bay, and with it, life as usual in the sleepy Panhandle communities of Apalachicola, Eastpoint, and St. George Island. Discover firsthand what makes this remote slice of Old Florida worth preserving by walking the white sand beaches and gliding through the swamps along the Apalachicola River Paddling Trail System.
What to Eat or Drink: Apalachicola Bay typically accounts for about 90 percent of Florida's annual oyster harvest. Even with Bay oysters off the menu for now, there are plenty of seafood options available at restaurants like the upscaleOwl Caf. The downtown historic district fine dining eatery specializes in pasta and fresh seafood, including black grouper, lump crab cake, and salmon. Up theCreek Raw Bar's eclectic menu ranges from grilled Gulf shrimp and Chef Brett's signature conch cakes to vegetarian creole and lobster lasagna. The casual restaurant (order at the counter and find a seat inside or on the deck) is on the second floor overlooking Scipio Creek and the Apalachicola River, so every order comes with unobstructed views of theApalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve.
Where to Eat: Picnic in the Paddock at Whitfield Estate in Denmark is only open for lunch on weekends and school holidays, so plan ahead. The menu paired with Whitfield Estate wines showcases local foods like marron (freshwater crayfish) and Dellendale Creamery cheeses. The caf, which overlooks the vineyard and pastures, is casual, with a kid's menu and dogs welcome outside. For dog lovers, there's the added bonus of meeting resident Bernese mountain dogs Mac and Bud, inspiration for the estate's Pawprint gourmet chocolates.
How to Get Around: Depending on the route you take, the North Shore is a 60 to 90 minute drive from the Honolulu International Airport. For the most dramatic ocean and mountain views, take the Pali Highway through the Ko'olau Mountain range to connect to the Kamehameha Highway. The two lane Kamehameha begins near Kailua on Oahu's windward (east) coast and is the only shoreline route north to Haleiwa.
Fun Fact: Among surfers, the stretch of North Shore coastline between Haleiwa and Turtle Bay is known as the "seven mile miracle" due to its collection of legendary monster wave surf spots, including Banzai Pipeline, Sunset Beach, and Waimea Bay.
Where to Stay: The 840 acre Turtle Bay Resort, the North Shore's only oceanfront resort, is set to complete a multimillion dollar luxury renovation of all 397 guest rooms by early November. Amenities include two championship golf courses, two landscaped pool areas, horseback riding, and, during the Vans Triple Crown, special surf centric events like the Surf Yoga Realization Camp, December 9 12, hosted by legendary Pipeline surfer Gerry Lopez.
What to Read Before You Go: James Michener's epic novel Hawaii (Fawcett, 1986)spans thousands of years of Hawaiian history in 1,056 pages.
How to Get Around: Rent a car at the Perth Airport then drive south via the Southern Wonders Trail, one of Western Australia's designated wildflower routes. The trail follows the inland Albany Highway to Albany before heading west near the coast. There are 15 wildflower viewing stops along the route, including Stirling Range, Porongurup, and West Cape Howe National Parks, and the Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk. The steel walkway is 131 feet above ground and leads through a grove of 400 year old red tingle trees, some towering as high as 197 feet. The Tree Top Walk connects to the ground level Ancient Empire wooden boardwalk leading through and around the gigantic trees.
Where to Stay: Built in 1882 as the mayor's residence, The Rocks Albany served as a maternity hospital and even a recreation center for United States military officers before being renovated and reopened in 2006 as a six suite luxury bed and breakfast. Located on two lushly landscaped acres overlooking Princess Royal Harbour, the inn feels secluded yet is within walking distance of downtown shops and restaurants. Ask for a suite with both water and garden views. The Princess Royal has both (plus a vintage cast iron claw foot tub), and it's the only guest quarters with direct access to the inn's harborside porch.
Where to Stay: Camp onSt. George Island State Park for easy access to the barrier island's nine miles of unspoiled, white sand Gulf Coast beaches. There's a full service campground with 60 sites and two bathhouses, and a primitive campsite accessible by kayak, canoe, or a 2.5 mile hike. If an upscale bed and breakfast is more your style, the luxuriousCoombs House Inn has 23 guest rooms (some with Jacuzzis) spread across three restored Victorian mansions in downtown Apalachicola. Rates include daily breakfast and afternoon tea; free use of bicycles, beach chairs, towels, and umbrellas; and, on chilly fall nights, a roaring fire in the main house lobby fireplace.
What to Buy: The Sunday Albany Boatshed Fisherman and Farmer Markets is a weekly celebration of all things local: produce, gourmet foods and chocolates, handcrafted woven and knitted items, and vintages from Great Southern Wine member wineries, such as Trevelen Farm Wines. In Youngs Siding, book a guided tour of the Bushfood Factory and Caf to learn how gourmet jams, sauces, and chutneys are made from the plantation's bush foods, such as lemon myrtle and wattle seed. After taking the tour (and trying the samples) shop for Bushfood's Flavours of Oz products in the Buy Baby Canada Goose Elijah Bomber Black Online factory store. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays.
Helpful Links: Apalachicola Bay andSt. George Island State Park