Great Attractions

Monkey See, Monkey Spa

The monkeys wash themselves, kick back with their arms resting on the hot spring’s rim, and generally carry on like humans would

So, a man and a monkey are in a hot tub . . .

That’s usually the start of some bad joke. Unless you are in the Japanese village of Jigokudani.

It is there, outside of Nagano in the Japanese Alps, where travelers can stay at the Korakukan Inn, a wonderful little Japanese-style hostel. The inn has a rotemburo (outdoor hot springs) that is for guests only. Though, apparently, no one has informed the local primate population of this policy. Stay at the Korakukan, go for an early morning bath in the winter months, and you may well be sharing the tub with a monkey.

Continue →


Isla Holbox: The Un-Cancun

Most vacationers flying into Cancun International Airport head directly to the glamorous shopping, high-rise beach resorts, bustling nightlife and traffic-filled streets found in Cancun’s Zona Hotelera. But there’s a nearby destination that includes none of that — but so much more.

On Isla Holbox, an island north of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, the shopping consists of a few shacks peddling jewelry, sandals, beer and the like. The island’s handful of hotels are small and don’t rise much higher than palm trees. The nightlife revolves around quiet beach bars where barefoot patrons are as likely to sit on swings or hammocks as they are on seats. As for the traffic, the island has no cars. However, we’ve been told that on occasion two of the island’s golf cart taxis meet up at an intersection.

Continue →


Swimming With Whale Sharks

Now, now, NOW!

Our captain is yelling while gesturing to us to hurry overboard. Overcome by his sense of urgency, we jump flippers first off our boat into warm Caribbean waters. There’s a second of disorientation. Then the water bubbles created by our fall dissipate and the view out of our snorkel mask clears. And what a view it is: the wide open mouth of the world’s largest fish heading directly towards us.

We are swimming with whale sharks off the coast of Isla Holbox, Mexico. Our trip was all arranged using Pay With Points, available through American Express Travel. Our challenge from American Express: to turn 150,000 Membership Rewards Points into a trip for two with WOW factor.

Being underwater, staring directly into the enormous mouth of a whale shark an arm’s length away—that’s a memory-making travel experience with no shortage of WOW.

Continue →


The Water Cube Gets Happy Magic

You may remember the Water Cube as the venue for the swimming events 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics. The exterior of “The Cube,” with its translucent walls that seemed as though they were made of giant living skin cells, became one of the iconic images of the games.

The Water Cube received a lot of press at the time of the Olympics. But what most reports (including Spot Cool Stuff’s own review) left out was that the building was not designed to permanently host of swimming competitions. From conception, its real intended purpose was to be a water park.

Recently the Water Cube’s original destiny was fulfilled with the opening of the Happy Magic Watercube. (Yes, somehow “water cube” got truncated to one word during the transition). In doing so, the place where Michael Phelps once set world records in swimming is today setting the record as the world’s largest indoor water park.

Continue →


Luxury, Romance, Nature—and Pod Dinning

The Eco-Villa is made from locally sourced materials, is powered by renewable energy and features a private natural swimming pool that uses plants to clean the water.

Spot Cool Stuff has reviewed a pod bed, a pod ski resort and a pod treehouse hotel. But this is our first ever pod restaurant.

And what an amazing location our first pod restaurant is blessed with: on the grounds of the gorgeous “six star” Soneva Kiri beach resort located on Thai island of Ko Kood.

Continue →


Top 10 Destinations
For Rice Terrace Travel

After thousands of years of hindsight it seems maybe rice wasn’t the best choice for humanity’s most popular food staple. Yes, it tastes great with sushi. But growing rice is very water and labor intensive. And it requires a flat field that farmers can flood during the planting season.

Rice is particularly labor intensive in hilly areas where farmers must create their flat field by carving floodable terraces into hillsides. We find even a single terrace impressive when we contemplate all the work involved, work usually done by hand. The sight of multiple rice terraces, stacked atop each other as if to form a giant’s staircase, is truly awe inspiring.

Spot Cool Stuff has been a longtime fan of rice terraces. We once flew round trip between San Francisco and the Philippines specifically to spend a single day in Banaue, supposedly the site world’s most grand rice terraces. Supposedly. After nearly two decades of rice terrace travel we’ve formed our own opinion on such matters. Here’s our list of the top 10 rice terrace destinations:

Continue →


Dive Into Jelly(fish)

It's a surreal diving experience, moving around in water that is itself a moving gelatinous mass

On the Pacific island nation of Palau you’ll find Spot Cool Stuff’s favorite inland scuba diving location: Jellyfish Lake. Though it wasn’t always a lake.

Continue →


3 Unusually Colored Hawii Beaches

Legend has it that those who remove black sand from the island will be cursed.

Everyone knows that Hawaii is home to gorgeous golden sand beaches. But did you know that visitors have other sand hues to choose from? No other single place on Earth has as many strangely colored beaches. Here’s a look at our three favorites, one black beach, one red and one green:

Continue →



SPOTCOOLSTUFF Travel reviews unusual hotels and restaurants, great attractions, cool travel gear, places with amazing views and all manner of travel destinations with a WOW! factor. Because we live on an incredible planet! Get our latest travel posts by email . . .
  • Best of Spot Cool Stuff
  • Croatia
  • Culinary Travel
  • Family Travel (Cool For Adults Too)
  • Gift Guides
  • Travel Tips
  • Travel Websites
  • Trips & Tours

    Awesome Curacao vacations — up to $530 off!
    Check out the freebies offered too, including airfare credits, breakfast and room upgrades!

Save $530 Time left:
Book Now!
Offer Closed!




PARTNER WITH US     |     BE OUR GUEST TRAVEL WRITER    |      SUGGEST COOL STUFF FOR US TO REVIEW     |     INFO FOR TOURIST BOARDS

Other SCS SectionsHot Travel CategoriesFave Travel Posts
Cool Tech & GadgetsBest hotel room viewsCaribbeanBest Sandals in Jamaica
Cool Architecture & DesignFamily travelEuropeBest Wheeled Carry-On Luggage
Cool WebsitesHoneymoon resortsFloridaWorld's Coolest Airlines
Cool EntertainmentUnusual museumsSoutheast AsiaThe Honeymoon Resorts of Bora Bora