6 places with the bluest water and how to get there with miles

Sometimes all it takes to re-center and refresh your mind and body is a good day (or week — who are we to limit you) staring off into a tranquil blue sea.

To help you find your inner peace, and catch a few waves and rays while you’re at it, I put together a list of some of the bluest waters in the world. These lakes, seas, beaches, and bays have vistas that range from brilliant navy blues to the lightest, clearest turquoises imaginable. Needless to say, they are the perfect places to re-connect with nature, family, and yourself.

Egremnoi, Greece

Egremnoi, GreeceDimitris Panas/Shutterstock

It’s hard to find a spot on Lefkada Island that doesn’t have spectacular views of the crystal clear Ionian Sea, but Egremnoi (or Egremni) beach on the west coast is particularly stunning. The beach requires a steep hike down some ersatz stairs, which thins the crowds, but once you’ve made the descent, the white sand stands in stark contrast to the turquoise water making it ideal for spending the day relaxing in the sun.

How to Get There

There is no airport on Lefkada island. The closest airport to Lefkada island is Aktion/ Preveza (PVK), about 25 km from Lefkada Town. This airport operates only in summer and receives charter flights from abroad and few charters from other Greek islands.

Miles Needed

Both Austrian and Finnair airlines have flights servicing Aktion.
Austrian is a Star Alliance member therefore you can book award flights with United or Lufthansa miles.
Finnair award flights can be booked with American Airlines miles.

From To Operated By Miles (R/T)
New York, JFK Aktion, Greece Austrian 50,000 United miles
New York, JFK Aktion, Greece Finnair 50,000 American Airlines miles

Crater Lake, Oregon

Crater Lake, OregonPaige Poorman/Shutterstock

The deep blue waters that fill the caldera of the sunken volcano Mount Mazama help make Crater Lake one of America’s most beautiful lakes. The deep blue waters are almost crystal clear thanks to the fact that there are no incoming streams or rivers to make the water turbid. All of this makes it ideal for scuba divers willing to brave the chilly water. Crater Lake, located in Southern Oregon, is also the deepest lake in the United States, plunging to depths of 1,943 feet, with sunlight extending 400 feet down.

How to Get There

Medford, Oregon is the nearest major city/airport and is approximately 90 minutes/75 miles away from the park. Portland, Oregon is the next closest major city/airport and is approximately 5 hour/250 miles away. Please view our Directions page for more information.

Miles Needed

Domestic award flights within the US are pretty cheap and easy to book. Most major US carriers offer flights to Medford, OR. Alaska and Delta being the two with the most frequent flights.

From To Operated By Miles (R/T)
New York, JFK Medford, OR Alaska 20,000 Korean Air miles
New York, JFK Medford, OR Delta 23,000 Delta miles
New York, JFK Medford, OR American 25,000 American Airlines miles

Con Son, Vietnam

Con Son, Vietnam Tonkinphotography/Shutterstock

Granite cliffs outline the crystalline water on Con Son, the only inhabited island in the barely populated 16-island archipelago of Con Dao, one of the best secret islands on Earth. Located 110 miles off Vietnam’s southeastern coast, the unspoiled island’s beaches are lined with golden sand and gorgeous blue water. For the most breathtaking views of the turquoise sea, head to the remote Dam Tre Bay lagoon.

How to Get There

You will need to fly into Ho Cho Minh City first (SGN). Ho Chi Minh City is the nearest international airport and direct scheduled 45-minute flights from Ho Chi Minh City (SGN) are operated by VASCO, a fully owned subsidiary of Vietnam Airlines

Miles Needed

There are no direct flights from the U.S. to Vietnam (or vice-versa). You will connect either in Hong Kong or Tokyo.

From To Operated By Miles (R/T)
Los Angeles Ho Chi Minh ANA 65,000 ANA miles (or 65,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards)
New York, JFK Ho Chi Minh Cathay Pacific 60,000 Alaska miles
New York, JFK Ho Chi Minh Japan Airlines 70,000 Japan airline miles (or 56,000 SPG)

 

Ambergris Caye, Belize

Ambergris Caye, Belize Jennifer Wan/Shutterstock

A short boat ride from the largest barrier reef outside of Australia, Belize’s Ambergris Caye is a scuba diver’s and snorkeler’s paradise. Head to Shark Ray Alley to snorkel among nurse sharks and stingrays; visit Hol Chan Marine Reserve to get up close with eels, turtles, and colorful fish; or explore the underwater caves of Blue Hole. When you’re not in the water, admire its warm glow from a hammock on the beach.

How to Get There

Belize is located approximately two hours from four major cities in the US; Miami, New Orleans, Houston or North Carolina. Flights out of Los Angeles connect through Guatemala and El Salvador. The major airlines servicing Belize include Delta, United, Taca and recently Southwest airlines.

Miles Needed

Award flights to Belize are pretty cheap, it’s almost like a domestic flight.

From To Operated By Miles (R/T)
New York, JFK Belize American 21,000 American airlines miles
New York, JFK Belize Delta 35,000 Delta Skymiles
New York, LaGuardia Belize Southwest ~20,000 Southwest points

The Maldives

The Maldives jannoon028/Shutterstock

As one of the world’s best islands, it’s no surprise that the Maldives are a favorite destination for celebrities. You can find this low-lying island nation in between the Indian and Arabian seas has luxuriously appointed bungalows set over dazzling blue waters and surrounded by talcum-soft white sand beaches — basically everything that bucket lists are made of. When not simply admiring the view, visitors can spend days exploring the coral reef, visiting an underwater playground, or relaxing in one of the world’s best spas.

How to Get There

Malé’s airport has become an international hub in recent years. There are several major airlines with daily service there.

Miles Needed

You will need to connect in the middle east or europe. If you want to make it a trip of a lifetime, collect miles and fly Etihad’s first class apartment on your way to the Maldives.

From To Operated By Miles (R/T)
New York, JFK Malé Etihad 80,000 ANA miles
New York, JFK Malé Qatar Airways 60,000 Japan airlines miles
Chicago, ORD Malé Emirates 60,000 Japan airlines miles

Palawan, The Philippines

Palawan, The Philippines PhotoRoman/Shutterstock

I saved the best for last. I’m biased because I spent a week in El Nido and I cannot wait to go back.
Although it’s just a quick flight from Manila, Palawan feels like it’s a world away. The sparsely-populated archipelago is made up of jungle-filled islands surrounded by stunning teal waters teeming with fish and coral reefs and an incredible array of lagoons, coves, and secret beaches. Explore the waters of El Nido, where tropical fish swarm around the coral reefs, go diving in the azure ocean off of Linapacan Island, or bravely swim through the world’s longest underground navigable river.

How to Get There

Fly into Manilla through Tokyo or Hong Kong then catch a short flight on AirSwift

Miles Needed

Flying to Southeast asia requires a connection in Tokyo or Hong Kong.

From To Operated By Miles (R/T)
New York, JFK Manila ANA 55,000 ANA miles
New York, JFK Manila Japan Airlines 55,000 Japan airlines miles
Chicago, ORD Manila ANA 55,000 ANA miles

The Most LUXURIOUS FIRST Class Experience For JUST $5.60

Etihad First Class Apartment has been a dream of mine since literally the day I applied for my very first travel credit card. Words cannot describe how much I obsessed (and still do) over flying in my own suite! I watched YouTube reviews, read blogs, scoured the net for photos of the apartment…(yeah it got a bit unhealthy) Continue reading “The Most LUXURIOUS FIRST Class Experience For JUST $5.60”

Manufactured Spending Flowchart

I have been into travel hacking for about a year and half and I would consider myself an expert having accumulated and redeemed close to 2,000,000 points thank so to mainly manufactured spending.

When you’ve been immersed this hobby for a long time I find it difficult to explain it to others because I don’t even know where to start. To most people, what we do is completely foreign, others would Continue reading “Manufactured Spending Flowchart”

Staples MasterCard Gift cards bought at store and how to use them as debit

I just got a Chase Ink card and could not wait to use it at Staples. I went over to my local store the day the $20 Rebate on MasterCard giftcard purchase of $300 or more. There was plenty of $200 MasterCards on the rack. I got 4x $200 MasterCards and asked the cashier that I pay for two $200 separately (to get the $20 rebate twice. It’s one rebate per household but I will write another post on how to get around this)

The transaction went through smoothly and it drew a smile on my face because I wasn’t sure if I was actually going to be able to buy MC GCs with a credit card – that’s always a plus because not many retailers in my area accept CC payments for GCs (except Simon)

I have done the GC -> MO route numerous times though this was going to be my first time using MasterCard GC’s and I naively thought it was going to be smooth sailing just like it’s been with Visa GCs.

It took me a few minutes to call the number on the back of the card to set a pin.I went across the street to WM and asked for a $800 money order. I did 4 swipes and paid the fee with cash. The register did not prompt me to enter the pin which I thought was weird but it didn’t reject the swipe right away; it just deducted $200 from the total purcahse. I did not think it was strange because I remember using a Simon Visa GC to buy MOs, it seemed to have gone through as credit and it never prompted me for the pin.

Anyhow, everything was going smoothly until the last swipe when the cashier stated the “system” rejected the entire transaction because the payment must be in the form of debit. WTH?! Having a payment rejected is embarrassing especially when there is a line forming behind you but I’ve learned to keep my composure and act cool. I thanked the cashier and left the store.

I remember a while ago how my bank issued debit card had a similar issue and the cashier I dealt with said that I should hit the “Cancel” button on the register if I wanted to use it as debit. With that in mind, I made my way to another WM, asked for a MO and payment to be split on 4x $200 swipes. I swiped the first card and hit the cancel button and it went right to the signature screen; Not good! I asked the cashier if she knew of a way to make the register prompt me for the pin. She said no but she was nice enough to let me experiment with the register. So here I am standing there swiping time after time, trying different buttons and I was still getting the damn signature screen, then on the fifth swipe I finally figured it out!!!

So if you have a MasterCard GC from Staples this is how you get it to process as a debit transaction (note: I have tried this only at WM so I can’t speak to whether this method will work at other retailers)

BB5
My WM has the exact reader pictured above

 

  • Swipe the card and quickly place your finger on the red “Cancel” button. I say quickly because you will have one to two seconds for this to work.
  • As soon as you see “Authorization” and orange spinny display on the screen, PRESS the cancel button.
  • You will then be presented with a bunch of buttons, hit the green “Debit” button and breathe a sigh of relief.

    Let know if this works for you!