This year certainly was the year of island travels with the start of the year in Bora Bora and now the end in the Philippines.  From small islands like Apo Island to large ones like Madagascar, each one was amazing and distinct in their own way.  I don’t think I’ll ever get tired visiting islands and seeing how they culturally and ecologically evolved independently from mainland territories.

Also this year I took up scuba diving and even got my Advanced Open Water Certification.  Having finally tried it out, I can’t figure out what took me so long.  Only now have a realized I have been missing out on a large part of things to see at all these destinations I’ve been to.

I was planning on 2020 being about travels to Central Asia, but this whole scuba thing has me reconsidering exploring the South Pacific and the Red Sea instead.

2019 Travel Stats

Countries Visited: 20

Number of Flights: 48

Miles Flown: 70,223

Number of Hotels: 37

Nights Stayed: 81

a map of the world

2019 Flight Map

TOP Experiences

16) Wreck Diving – Coron, Philippines

Even though most of my trip to Coron, Philippines got interrupted by a typhoon, I was still able to do a couple WW2 wreck dives along with a dive in Barracuda Lake.  Seeing a 75 year old sunken ship covered in coral was spectacular and unbelievable.

a coral reef in the water

Japanese Shipwreck in Coron, Philippines

15) Going on Safari – Sri Lanka

While not as impressive as the Masai Mara, Sri Lanka has several Safari destinations in various National Parks.  It was interesting the see herds of Asian Elephants in their natural habitat.

a man looking at an animal

Safari In Sri Lanka

14) Swimming with Manta Rays – Maldives

Luckily during an excursion in the Maldives, I was approached by a massive Manta Ray.  Seeing this massive creature elegantly glide in the sea was breathtaking.

a stingray swimming in the water

Manta Ray in Maldives

13) Hiking in Davos – Switzerland

Every year I drive down to either the Swiss or Austrian alps to get some fresh air and take in the epic mountain sights.  This year I checked out Davos and Pickles was happy since we were able to bring her along on this trip.

a dog sitting on a path with mountains in the background

Pickles wondering why we can’t bring her on all trips.

12) Monastery Hopping – Armenia

Armenia has a long and interesting history with many Monasteries and beautiful scenery to experience.

a stone building with a steeple and a cross on top

Monastery in Armenia

11) Train Ride from Kandy to Ella – Sri Lanka

The famous train ride from Kandy to Ella certainly lived up to the hype of being one of the most scenic train rides in the world.  It was fun riding in the antique looking train while hanging out of the doorway.

a man leaning out of a window of a train

Train from Kandy to Ella

10) Autumn in Vilnius – Lithuania

With my trip to Lithuania, I finally have now visited all three Baltic countries.  Good food, people, and plenty of trees.

a man walking on a path by a river

Walking around the park in Vilnius

9) Touring North Macedonia and Kosovo

While not exactly on the top of European travel destinations, Macedonia and Kosovo were still great places to travel to.  The people were friendly, scenery dramatic, and food delicious.  Three more countries to go and then I’ll have all the countries in the Balkans visited.

a man standing on a stone path with a city in the background

Beautiful scenery in Kosovo

8) Day Trip to Bratislava – Slovakia

During a 15 hour layover in Vienna, I took a quick 30 minute bus ride right from the airport to Bratislava.  My mind was blown how beautiful and clean the city was along with the added benefit of being way cheaper to tour than Vienna.

a street with buildings and a tower

Bratislava, Slovakia

7) First Time Scuba Diving – Mauritius

During my trip in Mauritius I did the “Discovery Scuba Diving Certification”.  It’s pretty much a quick tutorial with about a 30 minute dive in shallow water.  Compared to Palau, it was lame, but it was enough to get me hooked on the Scuba Diving hobby.

a person in a scuba suit underwater

Scuba Diving in Mauritius

6) Climbing Lion Rock – Sri Lanka

Climbing the ancient rock fortress of Sigiriya in Sri Lanka was fun and had wonderful views.

a person standing on a metal railing


5) Scuba Diving in Apo Island – Philippines

Apo Island is well known for its pristine coral and sea turtles.  So, when I went scuba diving here, it did not disappoint.  I saw several large turtles and coral I didn’t even known existed.

a coral reef with corals and fish

Drift Diving in Apo Island

4) Wine Tour of Kakheti – Georgia

Aside from the soaring Caucasus mountains and amazing capital city of Tbilisi, Georgia also has a wonderful wine growing region.  The wine in Georgia is grown in a very unique way in buried clay pots which creates a distinct flavor.

a room with many round objects

Wine being stored in buried clay pots

3) Swimming in Jelly Fish Lake – Palau

When I saw a documentary about Jelly Fish lake and it’s millions of stingless jellyfish, I just had to check it out.  Swimming amongst thousands of delicate elegant jelly fish was surreal and wonderful.

a jellyfish swimming in the water

Jellyfish Lake, Palau

2) Meeting Lemurs – Madagascar

I absolutely loved coming up close and personal with over a dozen different species of Lemurs in Madagascar.  Such wonderful animals that sadly are endangered.

a man holding a black and white animal

Indri Indri Lemur

1) Scuba Diving at Blue Hole – Palau

For my favorite experience on 2019, diving the “Blue Hole” in Palau was the most mind blowing.  Essentially,  you dive about 25 meters down a wall and swim into an entrance into a huge cavernous cylinder with 100 foot walls.  It reminded me of the first time I entered a huge European cathedral, except this one under the sea!

a light shining through a cave

Looking up from the bottom of the “Blue Hole” from 25 meters Depth


7) Sri Lanka
a man standing next to a boat on a beach

Strolling along the shores of Sri Lanka

6) Madagascar
a beach with palm trees and a blue sky

Remote Beach in Madagascar

5) Sardinia, Italy
a tower on a rocky beach

Medieval Fort in Sardinia

4) Mauritius
a man sitting on a dock overlooking a body of water

Looks like Hawaii but it’s Africa!

3) Conrad Maldives
a man standing on a beach with a palm tree

Don’t get much better than a Maldivian beach

2) Any Random Beach in Palau
a body of water with trees and a blue sky

Visit any of the small remote beaches on Palau for a slice of paradise

1) Seychelles
a beach with rocks and trees

Seychelles are the oldest and only oceanic islands made of granite


8) Air Seychelles Business Class

Full Review

a man sitting in a plane

Air Seychelles Business Class

7) Sea Plane Ride in the Maldives
an aerial view of an island

Maldives Seaplane

6) Sri Lankan Airlines Business Class

Full Review

a pillow on a seat

Sri Lankan Business Class

5) Turkish Airlines Business Class

Full Review

a man sitting in a chair on an airplane

Turkish Airlines Business Class

4) Air China Business Class

Full Review

a seat in a plane

Air China Business Class on A350

3) Lufthansa Business Class

Full Review

a seat in an airplane

Lufthansa Business Class on A380

2) Etihad Airways Business Class

Full Review

a man sitting in a chair in an airplane

Etihad Business Class on 787

1) Qatar Airways Business Class

Full Review

a man sitting at a counter

Qatar Business Class on A380


8) Hilton Mauritius
a view of a pond through a archway

Hilton Mauritius

8) Acquadive – Philippines
a house with a lawn and furniture

Acqua Dive Resort

7) Intercontinental Davos – Switzerland
a view of a city from a building

IHG Davos

6) Palmarium Hotel – Madagascar
a table with plates and glasses on it


5) Westin Turtle Bay Resort – Mauritius
a man lying in a hammock on a beach

Best use of Free Night Certificate

4) Palau Carolines Resort – Palau
a table with food on it

Great views and place to stay between diving

3) Flameback EcoLodge – Sri Lanka
a tent on a platform

Glamping in Sri Lanka

2) Conrad Maldives

Full Review

a building on stilts in the water

Staying at Conrad Maldives never gets old

1) Hilton Seychelles Northolme
a man sitting on a chair by the water

Private infinity pool in private villa, don’t get any better than that

Related Posts

My Top Travel Experiences of 2018


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