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Hawaii Vacations: 7 Great 4-Star Hotels

Here's several 4-Star Hawaiian hotels that offer first-class accommodations and beach front views.

Sheraton Moana Surfrider - This historic hotel has been lovingly restored and maintains it's circa 1901 charm. Located on Waikiki beach, it offers high tea and sunset buffets.

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Explore the Undiscovered in Panama

While vacationers flock to the Caribbean, Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, and Costa Rica, many travelers overlook the incredible sights and sensations awaiting them in Costa Rica's southern cousin, Panama. With everything from jungle to history, there are so many reasons to spend vacation time in this seemingly obscure vacation paradise.A Bit of History.

From a province of Colombia to its own country, the United States has had a large part in helping Panama to become what it is today. While politics still hold the two close, trade is the most important aspect of Panama's relationship with the U.S. and the world. This major international gateway has plenty to offer visitors looking for history, but there's more than just history in store in Panama.

One of the many benefits to travel in Panama is that English speakers can find help throughout the country. While most residents speak Spanish, a long history of occupation and association with the U.S. has enticed many American and British ex-patriots, and many residents have learned English as well. However, those planning to visit the countryside may want to pack a Spanish phrasebook just in case.In the City.

The colonization left two very important marks in Panama City alone, both the old city, Casco Viejo, and the "ancient" city, Panama Viejo. In Panama Viejo you'll find ruins of forts and churches built to protect against pirates, while in Casco Viejo colonial-era buildings and churches provide the backdrop for a vibrant culture.And, of course, who can forget the Panama Canal. This stretches across the length of Panama at its thinnest point. The Panama Canal Railroad allows travelers to visit both the Caribbean and the Pacific in one day, though there are plenty of other ways to cross the country.

Also in Panama City is the Miraflores Locks Visitor Center, where you can learn the history of the canal and watch the canal in action.Throughout Panama.With more than five indigenous tribes ? the best-known being the Kuna Indians ? vacationers can explore the Panama that existed before Europeans took control. Stay in the archipelago of San Blas and live with the Kuna, or explore the Darien Province, where the Embera and Wounaan tribes reside. Throughout the country you'll find many indigenous people who are proud of their heritage and show off their pride with handicrafts that many people bring home as souvenirs.

Panama's nature runs the gamut: From incredible and untouched beaches ? including plenty with incredible surfing ? to a rainforest preserve within the Panama City limits, and mountains throughout the countryside, it's easy to see it all. If you'd like to spend the day in the mountains, and sleep at the beach, it's easy. Camping is even allowed on many of Panama's beaches.Travelers considering a stay in the Caribbean or Central America may want to consider Panama for their stay. With so much to offer, vacationers can have it all.

.Jennifer Smith lived in the Republic of Panama for a short while before completing a degree in writing from Florida State University in the U.S.

By: Jen Smith

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