The Golden Circle, Iceland

One of Iceland’s most popular tourist attractions is the “The Golden Circle”-a must see route for travelers visiting the country. About a 300 km journey beginning and ending in the capital city of Reykjavik, a visit to the sites of the The Golden Circle can be done as a day trip from the capital. Start your journey in Thingvellir National Park, which is not only the site of Iceland’s first parliament, but also where travelers can observe the magnificent splitting of the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates. The splitting of the tectonic plates has created deep fissures in the earth.

iceland thingvellir national park golden circle

One specific fissure, called Silfra, is a crack between the North American and Eurasian continental plates, and is a popular site for snorkeling and scuba diving. Spend a few hours exploring Thingvellir National Park and then continue your journey 60 km towards the geysers at Haukadalur. There are two famous geysers- Strokkur, which is still active, and Geysir (from which the word geyser originates), which is inactive. Strokkur erupts about once every ten minutes, so you won’t have to wait long to observe this natural phenomenon.

Geysir Iceland Golden Circle Tour

Strokkur, just before erupting
Strokkur, just before erupting
Strokkur erupts once every 8 to 10 minutes
Strokkur erupts once every 8 to 10 minutes

Finally, drive to the last stop in the Golden Circle route-powerful and magnificent Gullfoss. Gullfoss is a breathtaking waterfall created by the Hvítá (White) river, which is fed by Iceland´s second biggest glacier (Langjökull).

gullfoss iceland golden circle

Spend another hour here before making your way back to Reykjavik. The whole Golden Circle route including driving time will take about 7 to 8 hours. If you have time and energy, add on a visit to the Kerid Crater. Although, not officially part of the Golden Circle route, the crater lake here has a deep shade of blue that is worth a visit.

Traveling to Iceland

Direct flights to Iceland are available from NYC, Boston, Minneapolis, London, Washington D.C., Oslo, Copenhagen, Frankfurt, Stockholm, and Baltimore. Once in Iceland, you can make the capital city your base and book a Golden Circle tour with a local company, or rent a car. Given the fact that the country is sparsely populated, driving in Iceland is easy (in good weather, of course). However, gas prices and car rental prices tend to be higher. Depending on whether you are traveling alone or with a group, booking a tour may be cheaper than renting a car.

Iceland Travel Tips

Bring plenty of layers and a waterproof or water resistant jacket. Also, remember to pack some rain boots and bring them along even when it’s sunny as the approach to the waterfalls is often muddy. During the summer months Iceland has nearly 24 hours of daylight. Bringing along some over the counter melatonin may help you fall asleep at night. During the winter months your site seeing in Iceland will be affected by limited hours of daylight, so plan accordingly. However, a visit in the winter months means a higher chance of seeing the Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights.

Aurora Borealis Iceland Northern Lights Iceland

Best Time to Visit Iceland

The tourist season in Iceland runs from late June to August. Hotel and flight prices are at their highest during this time. Visitors will be able to experience nearly 24 hours of daylight, and this is the best time to visit if you plan to drive the Ring Road around the country. By mid September, the temperature and hours of daylight drop significantly. The advantage to visiting in September is that it is cheaper, there is still enough daylight to see many sites, and visitors have a chance to witness the Aurora Borealis. It is, however, significantly colder, and driving the ring road may not be possible if there road closures due to weather conditions. However, the sites on the southern coast can still be accessed easily in the early Fall.

Iceland’s Best Tourist Sites

Aside from the Golden Circle, take time to visit Iceland’s southern coast. The southern coast has several breathtaking waterfalls including Skogafoss and Seljalandsfoss. Travel a bit further to Jokulsarlon, Iceland’s glacial lagoon. Be sure to also visit the black sand beaches in the seaside village of Vik. If you have a week in the summer, rent a car and drive the Ring Road along the perimeter of the country to visit all of Iceland’s magnificent scenery.  Either on your way to or from the airport, spend a few hours relaxing at the Blue Lagoon, a geothermal spa with water that is rich in minerals and temperatures close to 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Columbia River Gorge, Oregon

The Columbia River Gorge, in Northern Oregon, is a hiker’s paradise with breathtaking views, fairytale like forest scenes, and powerful waterfalls. The Columbia River, one of three rivers that connect the Columbia Mountain Range to the Pacific Ocean, formed this vast gorge in the mountains.  One of the more popular attractions of the area is the extremely impressive concentration of waterfalls. On the Oregon side alone there are over 90 waterfalls, including the 620ft Multnomah Falls. In 1986, United States Congress named the gorge a US National Scenic Area.

columbia river gorge oregon waterfalls

This area of the Pacific Northwest has seen human civilization dating back 13,000 years when travelers from present day Asia crossed the land bridge to this region. This area has also been home to Salmon-fishers for nearly 10,000 years. The gorge has also been a great provider of transport, dating back to use by the Native Americans, and then continued use by Europeans in the steamboat industry. Today, the riverside is home to railway tracks and the Columbia River Highway.

columbia river gorge

columbia river gorge oregon


The Gorge, located near Oregon’s border with Washington state, is about 45 minutes outside of Portland. The easiest way to get to the Columbia River Gorge is by flying into Portland (Airport Code: PDX) and renting a car. There are two primary routes: the main highway or the more scenic Marine Highway. While it adds about 15-20 minuets to your drive, the Marine Highway route takes you right along the Columbia River providing scenic views throughout.

columbia river gorge oregon waterfall


Be sure to bring a raincoat! Oregon lives up to its reputation of being a rainy place, and when you are close to the waterfalls the spray is fairly intense. Wearing layers is helpful, as some parts of the hikes are strenuous- being able to strip outer layers is very refreshing. Hikers should bring a backpack to carry extra clothes, trail snacks, and water. Hiking shoes or boots are also better than sneakers because the trails could be muddy and traction is helpful.

columbia river gorge oregon waterfall


The Pacific Northwest is known for its moderate temperatures and frequent rainfall, however the rainfall is hardly incredibly heavy. The rainfall is most heavy in the winter months, so plan a visit in the summer. Summer months have an average high in the 60s and a low rainfall average of 1in. Near the waterfalls, temperatures are cooler around 50 degrees.

columbia river gorge oregon

columbia river gorge oregon waterfall


The waterfall loop at the Columbia River Gorge is about 7 miles from the bottom of Multnomah Falls, up to the top of the fall, around deeper into the forest, to the top of another large waterfall, and back down. Along the way you get incredible views of the gorge, the smaller waterfalls, and the hike itself is unbelievable.  If you are not a hiker, that’s ok! There are shorter and more manageable options, including just looking at the waterfalls and driving along the highway. There is a short trail in between the two main falls. While in Oregon, be sure to also spend a a couple days in the charming city of Portland, visit Crater National Park (the only National Park in Oregon), and relax on the the picturesque Cannon and Bandon beaches.

columbia river gorge, oregon

Thanks to guest blogger Marley, a student at Drew University, for sharing her travel tips on Oregon!
Thanks to guest blogger Marley, a student at Drew University, for sharing her travel tips on Oregon!

Kawasan Falls, Cebu, Philippines

The aquamarine waters of Kawasan Falls can be found in Badian, a municipality on the island of Cebu in the Philippines. Badian is 60 miles south from Cebu City and is a stark contrast to the commotion of urban life seen in the city of Cebu. A visit to Kawasan Falls, the crown jewel of Badian, starts with a hike flanked by rich, jungle canopy on one side, and a clear blue lagoon on the other. The structures that lead up to the falls are reminiscent of an ancient civilization’s lost temples-perfect for those seeking an Indiana Jones type adventure.

Kawasan Falls, Philippines


When To Visit Cebu

May and the first half of June are both great months to visit Cebu. While travelers should expect rainfall during every month in Cebu, the heavy rains tend to be from late June to December. The month of May will still have some rain but it avoids visiting during the stifling heat of the dry season (April is the driest month in Cebu). Traveling during the start of the rainy season is also a plus because school sessions usually begin in the first week of June in the Philippines. Thus, it is less crowded, as locals are back at home. During my stay, my family and I had the waterfalls to ourselves!

What you need at Kawasan Falls

Humidity and heat prevail in the Philippines, so make sure to wear clothes that keep you cool. Mosquito repellent is also a necessity, just incase you encounter the critters. Wearing swimwear underneath ur clothing is always a good idea, since swimming in the falls is allowed. Bring plenty of cash, no credit or debit, if you want to use any of the services available (souvenirs, food, cottage rentals, room rental located next to the falls). There is also grills if having a barbecue next to the falls is something you wish to take part in. From the entrance, it is a 1.5 km hike to the first waterfall, so make sure to bring shoes with good traction. It is best to visit during the day, but if visiting in the evening, bring a flashlight for the hike as the path can be dark.

The hike

How to Get to Kawasan Falls

One hour direct flights to Cebu from Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila (airport code: MNL) to Mactan Cebu International Airport are available year round. Once on the island of Cebu, you must travel to Badian. From Cebu city, travelers can take a bus to Badian-ideal for comfort and air-conditioning. Visitors also have the option of taking a jeepney or taxi as well. The travel time is close to 3 hours from Cebu City, depending on traffic. The hike to the falls begins at Matutinao Church in Badian. It is about a 20 to 30 minute hike on foot from the church. The easiest option for out of town travelers is to get assistance from a tour agency either at Mactan Cebu International Airport or in Cebu City (which is a one hour drive from Cebu International Airport).

Best things to see in Cebu

During your visit, make sure to stop by Cebu City, indulge in the local street food, visit Fort San Pedro and experience the local culture. Visitors can also travel to the seaside province of Cordova, which is ideal for island hopping on a traditional banca boat. Tumalog Falls is also a great option-not just for viewing the beautiful waterfalls, but also for swimming with whale sharks. Visiting Aguinid Falls is also popular, as well as taking a trip out to Pescador Island.

Author: Veronica Holganza

Hike to Havasu Falls, Arizona

Havasu Falls is located 1.5 miles from the village of Supai in the Grand Canyon.  There is a 100-foot waterfall that drops into a striking blue-green pool.  The high calcium carbonate concentration is what creates the vivid color of the water.  This is the only place in America where mail is still carried out by mules because the nearest road is 8 miles away from Supai Village.  The Havasupai Tribe administers the region – this area lies outside the boundary and jurisdiction of Grand Canyon National Park.  If you show up without a reservation or pass, you may have to leave.  Havasu means “blue-green water” and pai means “people”.

Havasu falls 3

havasu 2
The blue green water of Havasu

Approximate driving time to Supai Village from Grand Canyon Village (South Rim) is 4 hours.  Supai village, located within Havasu Canyon, is not accessible by road.  The falls can only be reached by hiking, mule, or helicopter.  The hike to Havasu Falls is a moderate difficulty hike, and most people will camp 1 or 2 nights during their visit.  The easiest way to hike to the falls is to schedule with a tour company, so that they can arrange the permits needed, supplies, and a guide.  This is by far one of the most spectacular destinations in the Grand Canyon, and bucket list item for avid travelers.


Iceland’s Best Waterfall

A two hour drive from Reykjavik along Iceland’s southern coast will take you to Skogafoss-one of country’s most famous waterfalls, and, in my opinion, it’s best.  Because the coastline has receded seaward in this area, the highlands meet the lowlands, allowing visitors to walk right up to the falls.  It is also easily accessible, as there is car park a short walk from the base of the falls.   The waterfall’s enormous drop creates a consistent spray, so it is very common to see a single or double rainbow on a sunny day.

Me, Skogafoss, and a double rainbow
Me, Skogafoss, and a double rainbow

Skogafoss was also the backdrop for scenes in the movie Thor: The Dark World.



Plan a visit in late June, July or August when the weather is the warmest and the days are the longest.  Summer travel, while more expensive, allows you to make the most of your time there.  During the longest days in the summer, travelers will have nearly 24 hours of daylight.  If you want to get the best deals on hotels in Iceland, you may choose to travel in May or September.

skogafoss double rainbow


In the summer months you will need to wear layers.  The temperature can vary between the high 60s during the day to the mid 40’s at night.  Bring waterproof boots, so you can walk right up to the falls.  Off season travelers will need winter clothing to keep warm while sightseeing.

HOW TO GET TO Skogafoss:

The easiest way to arrive at Skogafoss is by car.  It is under a two hour drive from the capital city and can be easily done as a day trip.  The cheapest way would be to hitchhike or take the bus.  Strætó provides bus service in Reykjavik and to other parts of Iceland.  Bus route 51 travels from Reykjavik (the bus stop in the capital city is called “Mjodd”) to Vik as well as Jökulsárlón.


In addition to Skogafoss, Jökulsárlón is one of Iceland’s most famous sites.  It is 2.5 hours from Skogafoss.  Between, Skogafoss and the glacial lagoon lies the seaside village of Vik.  Stop here to enjoy the black sand beaches.  Closer to the capital city, is the famous Golden Circle route which covers geysirs, the Thingvellir National Park, and Gulfoss (another waterfall).