This Week in Armchair Explorer: Florida beaches, whale watching and more

ARMCHAIR EXPLORER:  travel inspiration + your imagination

We’re back again with more ideas from the Armchair Explorer — along with a message of hope — to encourage effortless explorations from the comfort of your armchair.

As the current global situation continues to affect travel plans, it’s a good reminder how a travel advisor is there for you before, during and after your journey. Here we are before your journey, providing information and inspiration, to help you plan the perfect trip. During your travels, we are standing by your side ready to adjust travel plans or get you home in an emergency, just as we did for hundreds of our customers over the past few weeks. After the vacation, we discover what you liked so that our future suggestions are right on target, personalized just for you. Before, during and after — we are here for you, whenever you need us.

Enjoy this week’s slice of travel inspiration . . . and remember to Dream Now, Travel Later!


We often daydream of lounging on a beach, the hypnotic surf singing a relaxing lullaby, your hand clutching a cold, colorful drink with a tiny umbrella perched at the rim, seagulls dancing in the wind above you and a smiling sun giving your skin a warm hug.

Florida is the ideal state to put you in this state of mind. Home to 663 miles of beaches in all shapes and sizes, it’s easy to lose yourself on the sandy shores. But with so many options, how do you know which is the right beach for you?

To find the answer, simply visit the Florida Beach Finder. Adjust the sliders on the page to choose from Adventurous or Laid Back, Family Friendly or Romantic, Action-Packed or Secluded, and Manicured or Agent Universe Naturel. The website then shows you the top beaches to fit your exact preferences, making it easy to zero in on your own slice of Florida paradise.

Will it be the glitter and glam of South Beach in Miami, the sparkling sands of Bonita Springs near Fort Myers, or one of the dozens of other beaches on the site? Click here to find out.



The behemoth surges upwards, higher than its bulk should allow, arcing into the air with its white throat pleats glistening in the sun. As it lands with a roaring splash, a massive, forked tail flips up, hovers momentarily as if waving, and then slides back into the deep waters with a whispered gurgle. Whether your name’s Ishmael or not, watching a whale surface is an unforgettable experience — especially at these four destinations.

Alaska — While more than 20,000 Gray whales will swing by on the way to their summer feeding grounds in the Bering and Chukchi seas of Northern Alaska, Humpbacks are the real draw here. You’ll see quite a show when groups team together and form large circles to trap vast shoals of herring, and then propel themselves upwards with mouths wide open.

Australia — Nearly 60 percent of the world’s whales can be found here, more than 45 species, including Southern Rights, Minke whales, Blues and Orcas. Unlike Alaska, they come down under to breed and raise their young in the shallow, sheltered waters of the Whitsundays and Hervey Bay, where you can spot the grand creatures from viewing platforms placed along the coastal roads.

Dominican Republic — Christopher Columbus noticed whales in the DR’s Samaná Bay and Silver Bank areas back in 1493, and visitors have been returning ever since. In the clear, Caribbean waters, you can watch the gentle giants swimming peacefully among the corals, or, if you’re feeling brave, you can snorkel beside the 40-ton Humpbacks and peer into their dark, dinner-plate-sized eyes.

South Africa — Watching Humpbacks and Southern Rights line up for an endless buffet of krill and sardines on the southern coast is, to some, even more rewarding than seeing African elephants and Cape buffalos on a game drive. You can often spot whales easily at outdoor cafes in the delightful company of a glass of Pinotage from Stellenbosch.


Looking for something new to pick up at your local independent bookstore or download on your e-reader? Browse our favorite travel-themed titles for a healthy dose of wanderlust.

“The Art of Travel” by Alain de Botton — This philosophical examination of why and how we travel goes around the world and throughout history to describe, in poetic detail, the pleasure of anticipating a journey, the magnetic allure of the exotic and the value of observation.

“Tracks” by Robyn Davidson — A frank and funny account of a courageous young woman’s journey through the Australian desert, where she learns a lot about herself and her companions: a dog and four camels.

“Holy Cow: An Indian Adventure” by Sarah Macdonald — A woman who vowed never to return to India returns to India. The resulting story is one of discovery and adventure in this land of beauty and chaos.

“Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness” by Edward Abbey — A real-life account of a famed writer spending a season working as a ranger at Arches National Park, where he attempts to experience nature in its purest form.

“Turn Right at Machu Picchu: Rediscovering the Lost City One Step at a Time” by Mark Adams — Laugh-out-loud account of an adventure travel expert (who has never been on an actual adventure) attempting to re-create the original expedition to Machu Picchu.


Real stories on how Life is Better Traveling travel advisors aided their clients during the outbreak and disruption of COVID-19.

 “Mary goes above and beyond to help during the process of planning (and cancelling) a vacation. Mary used her knowledge to get us the full refund from the hotel. But we will reschedule with Mary when this is over!

Garraty Family

New Jersey 

Look out for another installment of Armchair Explorer every two weeks! And feel free to contact Life is Better Traveling about any travel questions you have. Until next time …

 “The best dreams happen when you’re awake.”

-Cherie Gilderbloom