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Our top ten things to do in Florida Keys

I am often asked how I have chosen the top 10 list, that I put up on my blog.  While in college I found it much easier to create a list when I started studying for a test or writing a term paper. Knowing that it is easy to understand why I create a top ten list, now as to how do I decide what goes on the list, simply put it is things I would like to do or have done in the  Florida Keys.  I have chosen things on this list either because I have come across them while studying for certifications, personal experience, research, or client recommendations. Each of the item on the top 10 has a link, which will open a new window for more information.  

Let us know what you think of our list in the comments below the list

1. Fishing

The 125-mile-long arc of islands that comprises the Florida Keys creates a fishing environment unique in the world, and means a noteworthy or at least edible catch is possible virtually any time of year.

Florida Bay, edged by the “inner” curve of the Keys and the Florida mainland, is referred to locally as the backcountry, home to five of the most sought-after game fish among recreational anglers: bonefishtarponpermit, redfish (red drum) and snook.

 2. Ernest Hemingway Home

In this family, we love two things most of all, a road trip and touring historic houses.  There is just something about abiding in an old place.  Ernest Hemingway’s Key West Home is not the most majestic place we have ever seen, but it was interesting.  The layout is my perfect dream of a beach house with that wrap around double porch where every window is a floor to ceiling door.

 3. Dry Tortugas National Park

Dry Tortugas National Park was the place I was most looking forward to visiting during our trip to the Florida Keys. I first discovered it in a photograph. It was an aerial picture, giving a bird’s eye view of the six-sided historic Fort Jefferson, so large that it nearly filled the entire island

 4. History of Diving Museum

he Florida Keys History of Diving Museum is dedicated to collecting, preserving, displaying and interpreting artifacts, antiques, books, documents, photographs and oral history relative to the History of Diving. We tell the international story of man’s attempts to explore, understand and venture under the sea. We also celebrate the special role that South Florida and the Florida Keys played in this untold story.

 5.  Dolphin Research Center

A professional fisherman named Milton Santini was the first person to deal with dolphins on Grassy Key. As early as the 1940s, he caught dolphins for other marine mammal parks and aquariums as well as for private individuals. His experience with marine mammals led Santini to build the “Santini’s Porpoise Training School” on Grassy Key in 1958 and to train dolphins. Milton Santini is considered a pioneer in the field of dolphin training and keeping.

 6.  Sunset Celebration at Mallory Square

Today’s blog is all about the spectacular sunsets you can expect to see on your visit to Key West. We will take you on a visual tour starting with sunsets captured from a tower deck to the world famous Mallory Square Sunset Celebration in Key West. The Marker is just steps from the Historic Seaport and a short walk to Mallory Square where you will experience a stunning light show at sea ~ a Key West Sunset Celebration:

 7. Margaritaville

There is a little island nestled between the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean, a tropical oasis that transports you to a place where time slows down, and your adventurous side revs up. Where you can lobster fish by day and bar hop by night…and where nightmares of deadlines and to-do’s become daydreams of pina coladas and suntans

 8. Key West Film Festival

The Key West Film Festival—where passion meets paradise—is an annual celebration of contemporary cinema in a historically rich, artistically vibrant, and culturally diverse island community.

KWFF strives to showcase the best of Florida filmmaking talent, while highlighting visiting filmmakers and industry leaders through discussions and workshops, with access to some of the biggest names in the film business. The festival also looks to support the next generation of local student filmmakers with scholarships and other key awards.

 9. Laura Quinn Wild Bird Sanctuary 

he history of the Florida Keys Wild Bird Center centers around one woman known as the “Bird Lady”. It is a name that our founder, Laura Quinn, earned over the years as she created a natural legacy rescuing and rehabilitating wild birds. Originally a statistician and mathematics teacher, Quinn always loved nature. She and her husband were sailors, eventually relocating to a home in Lower Matecumbe. When asked about her time on the boat, she said, “I’d get bored on the boat. I tried to knit or crochet, but woodworking seemed to be the thing I could do that was okay to get wet.” To counter her boredom, Laura began carving native birds that she encountered in the Keys.

 10. Cruise the Seven-Mile Bridge

No need to be scared. Go ahead and drive over the Seven Mile Bridge. It’s modern now.

Finished in 1982, the longest bridge in the Florida Keys is wide enough to give a motoristroom to pull over to change a flat tire and steal many glances at the perfectly green water.

The original bridge I grew up crossing was less friendly, narrow and harrowing, requiring concentration and a good grip on the steering wheel as you left Marathon Key on your way to Key West and suddenly found yourself driving over the ocean. Smart drivers kept eyes on the oncoming traffic instead of nature. The bridge seemed too constricted for two passing cars.

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NWA travel advisor earns esteemed CTA

Paul Graham with Wish List Travel focuses on education, service

ELKINS, ARK – Paul Graham CTA®, of Wish List Travel in Elkins, recently earned the distinguished Certified Travel Associate, or CTA, designation from The Travel Institute, the travel industry’s benchmark for educational excellence and the only travel organization offering certification for travel professionals’ varying levels of expertise. 

“I’m excited to reach this achievement for my company and my clients,” Graham said. “It was a lot of work, but I learned so much and it’s already made me better at what I do.”

The Certified Travel Associate, CTA®, designation is awarded by The Travel Institute to travel professionals who complete a rigorous training program, including closed-book, proctor-administered testing, to demonstrate extensive industry knowledge and experience and the highest standards of travel professionalism. In addition, CTAs are required to fulfill stringent continuing education requirements each year.

The CTA curriculum focuses on the essential skills needed to succeed as a frontline travel counselor – selling, customer service, destinations, niche markets and communication. The CTA is also the first step in earning the coveted Certified Travel Counselor designation.

Graham said that one of the major qualities that sets him apart from other travel advisors has always been his focus on education in the industry. When COVID-19 shut travel down in 2020, Graham focused on getting as much continuing education and industry certifications as possible.

“I didn’t want to just sit there and wait for travel to start up again,” he said. “This helps me be an even better resource for my clients. I want them to enjoy their trip and not have to worry.”

Graham has been an avid traveler for many years and a professional travel advisor for three years. He has sent more than 400 clients on travel experiences around the world. His growing agency’s motto is “helping turn your travel wishes into memories.” 

Graham’s other professional certifications include:

  • Certified Autism Travel Professional from the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards 
  • ASTA Verified Travel Advisor (VTA)
  • Certified Cruise Counsellor (CCC) with the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA)

According to online records for the various accrediting agencies, Graham is currently the only travel advisor in Arkansas to hold all four major industry certifications.

About The Travel Institute

A collaborative industry effort created in 1964, The Travel Institute is the global leader in industry education and certification for travel professionals. Through innovative educational opportunities, professional certification programs, and customized learning solutions, The Travel Institute enables agent success by instilling a high standard of industry knowledge, professionalism, and excellence. Throughout North America, many successful agents and high-profile leaders credit their success to coursework from The Travel Institute.

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Natural Wonders of Europe that take your breath away

Europe beckons with an intoxicating blend of cultivated beauty and natural wonders. Art and architecture dominate in cities, but venture into the wilds and you’ll discover the rock towers, soaring arches, and cathedrals of ice that inspired ancient civilizations. 

These natural attractions somehow get lost in the white noise generated by the other historical and artistic wonders of Europe. Yet, they have always retained a steady voice of their own and travelers have always made a beeline to these destinations which possess remarkable beauty and, in many cases, have been inscribed by UNESCO as sites of importance. Here are four incredible natural wonders in Europe worth planning your vacation around –

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Swiss Alps, Switzerland – The Alps, divided as per the international boundaries, are better known as Swiss Alps, Italian Alps, French Alps, etc. The Swiss Alps, the part of the Alps falling in Switzerland, are a popular tourist destination for millions of travelers who come either for skiing or hiking. Travelers often choose to rent out cottages to enjoy the rolling fields with cattle grazing across them with snow-capped mountains forming a background. The Glacier Express train which runs between St Moritz and Zermatt provides beautiful views from its glass-roofed coaches, all across its journey. Lucerne and Interlaken are also popular amongst tourists when they are visiting the scenic Alps

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Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia – A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Plitvice Lakes National Park is a nature’s wonder which one cannot miss. Surrounded by lush green forests the Plitvice lakes are a series of lakes that are created by naturally occurring dams. The formation of these natural dams, also known as tufa formations, is a marvel of nature. They support an ecosystem of their own. The crystal-clear waters of the lakes make this destination a traveler’s paradise. The forests surrounding these lakes have wildlife consisting of brown bears, grey wolves, and lynxes.

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Giant’s Causeway, Ireland – This UNESCO World Heritage Site, located off the coast of Northern Ireland, is a wonder of nature. It is a series of 40,000 hexagonal basalt columns which have interlocked into a formation which is now known as the Giants Causeway. Capturing the imagination of people since forever it remains one of the most popular natural attractions in Europe today. A myth surrounding this destination states that it was an Irish giant who arranged these columns in order to construct a causeway to cross the North Sea to respond to a challenge posed by a rival giant from Scotland.

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Fjords of Norway – The fjords of Norway are naturally occurring wonders of nature that have been deemed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. These beautiful formations are inlets of seas that are bordered by tall mountains. Many of the fjords are regular features on many cruise ships’ itineraries. Many trekkers also make a beeline to explore these fjords from the land.

So, these sites and many more like Thingvellir National Park (Iceland) and also the experience of observing the Northern Lights from destinations in Scandinavia reveal how much natural beauty Europe possesses. Fancy a train vacation to Europe’s natural wonders?  Contact a travel expert fast so that you can book your trip to the natural wonders of Europe soon!

Wish List travel (2)

Our top ten things to do in Cozumel

I am often asked how I have chosen the top 10 list, that I put up on my blog.  While in college I found it much easier to create a list when I started studying for a test or writing a term paper. Knowing that it is easy to understand why I create a top ten list, now as to how do I decide what goes on the list, simply put it is things I would like to do or have done in Cozumel.  I have chosen things on this list either because I have come across them while studying for certifications, personal experience, research, or client recommendations. Each of the item on the top 10 has a link, which will open a new window for more information.

 Let us know what you think of our list in the comments below the list. 

 1. Discover Mexico.

Don’t have the time to see all of Mexico’s sites? Just go to Discover Mexico Park. Sitting along the coast just south of San Miguel, this park houses miniature models of some of the country’s most popular attractions, including the Mayan ruins of Tulum and the Metropolitan Cathedral of Mexico City. The park also provides insight into Mexican culture, including a chocolate factory and the popular tequila tasting exhibit. 

 2. Punta Sur Ecological Park.

A natural state reserve with over 1,000 hectares filled with a wide variety of flora, fauna and lagoon systems. Its the ideal place for nature lovers. With its white sandy beaches, turquoise waters and numerous sea fan gardens that extend through out the reef.

 3. Scuba Diving.

Cozumel is a year-round scuba diving destination on Mexico’s Caribbean coast, known for its easy drift dives with stellar visibility, vibrantly colored sponges, and marine life like turtles, nurse sharks, and rays. It is one of Mexico’s best dive destinations, boasting a great assortment of diving and marine life.

 4. Beaches.

The Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico has become a popular tourist destination over recent decades. It is a peninsula with a significant history dating back to the Mayans. It is also a place with a wonderful climate and stunning beaches.

 5. Shopping.

Shopping on the island is an exuberant, colorful, and unique experience. Shoppers will find a variety of modern, high-end stores nearby traditional Mexican markets and artisan shops. Bring your pesos, American dollars and be prepared to barter a little bit!

 6. Cozumel Chef Food Tour.

 7. Deep-Sea Fishing.

Cozumel is separated from Mexico’s mainland by a small stretch of stunning blue ocean. A visit to this island, however, couldn’t be further away from the typical resort town experience! Untouched wild scenery, serene sandy shorelines, laid-back vibes…and then there’s the angling action. From deep sea waters to shallow lagoons, fishing in Cozumel is so diverse that it reels in anglers from Riviera Maya’s mainland and beyond.

 8. Visit the Cozumel Pearl Farm.

We are the only pearl farm in the world cultivating pearls with our species of oyster, so only for that reason our pearls are unique.  

Find out how much work it takes to wear one single pearl around your neck.

 9. Experience Temazcal Cozumel.

 10. Sail The Waters Off Cozumel in a Catamaran.

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