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Exclusive | Ask the Travel Expert, August 2007

Exclusive | Ask the Travel Expert, August 2007

Ed Salvato is Corporate Director of Travel Media at PlanetOut Inc.--responsible for Gay.com/Travel, PlanetOut.com/Travel, and the editor-in-chief of the award-winning Out Traveler magazine.

Ed speaks often as a gay-travel expert and is frequently quoted in the press. He writes a monthly syndicated travel column and appears regularly on radio and TV.

Ed knows gay travel, and he proves it by answering your questions.

Looking for the perfect romantic gay honeymoon? How about budget recommendations, gay-friendly guesthouses or the best gay nude beaches on earth? Worried about an unfriendly reception in an anti-American country, or wondering about incidents of gay-bashing or the gay- or lesbian-friendliness of a Caribbean island? Ask Ed! (Note: Depending on the volume, he may not be able to respond to every question.)

Hi, Ed,
In September and October of 2007, a friend and I are going to travel on a straight 16-day tour to Moscow and a river cruise on the Volga River with a 2 day extension to Helsinki.

Since we are gay and will be traveling with probably all straight people, we are interested in finding a few gay stops along the way in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Uglich, Yaroslavl, Kizhi Island, Mandrogi and Helsinki. We would especially like to find a nude beach, pool/spa or spot where we can enjoy the company of other nude gay men.

Can you provide us with any information to make our trip even more enjoyable?
Thank you,
Gil

Hi, Gil,
Thanks for your mail. What a great trip you've got coming up!

Moscow's gay beaches are Lebyajka and Serebryany Bor. In St. Petersburg, you can take it all off on Kurort Beach.
For details of how to get there and what sort of scene to expect, click here.

As for Helsinki, there's a gay nudist beach on the island of Pihlajasaari. Catch a ferry from the Carousel quayside in the city. The city's summer playground, the two adjacent islands have forests and a restaurant.

Have a fabulous trip!
Ed

Hi, Ed,
Any ideas for a women's B&B/hotel in Waikiki, Hawaii or a gay and lesbian resort of some sort?
Thanks,
Pam

Hello, Pam,
Thanks for your mail. What a great choice for a romantic vacation!

For exclusively gay/lesbian accommodations in Waikiki, consider the venerable Cabana at Waikiki ($129-175), an upscale and attractive four-story property, mostly frequented by gay men There are 15 light and tropically decorated units, all of them having undergone a recent, ambitious renovation; some have kitchenettes and living areas, and deluxe units have TVs with VCRs and stereo-CD players. Additional amenities include an eight-person hot tub, complimentary continental breakfast and afternoon cocktails, and a gay staff to help with local info and directions. It's very close to Hula's Bar and just a block from Queen's Surf Beach.

In Kailua's lesbian-run Hale Pueo (808/262-2820; 888/712-5698; www.inheavenhawaii.com, inheaven@hawaii.rr.com; $145-215) every room has a view of the ocean and the Mokulua Islands. The two rentals come with everything you need to feel right at home with separate living and kitchen areas. Your hosts Virginia and Candace do their all to make your vacation a memorable one. (Hale Pueo markets to both straight and gay travelers.)

Waikiki GLBT Rentals is another Oahu option (www.Waikiki-vacation-GLBT-rentals.com).

For some extra pre-trip reading, have a look at this article on Honolulu.

Have a marvelous trip!
Ed

Hi, Ed,
I was thinking about traveling to the Dominican Republic or Jamaica for my next vacation. However, I have been hearing a lot of negative comments about how unsafe it is for gay men and lesbians. Do you know if this is true?

I would appreciate any feedback you may have.

Thanks for your time.
Darren Bennett :)

Hi Darren,
Great question.

Jamaican law makes any act of physical intimacy between men punishable by jail, with the possibility of 10 years' hard labor. Amnesty International calls Jamaica's LGBT population one of the country's "most marginalized and persecuted communities." We advise our readers to stay clear of Jamaica.

The Dominican Republic , on the other hand, would be a great choice! It's is a surprisingly fun place for gay and lesbian visitors looking to get away and is home to open-minded locals who enjoy making tourists from all walks of life feel welcome. Most gay-friendly establishments are in Santo Domingo.

Have a fabulous trip!
Best, Ed

Aloha from Maui.
We are looking for a centrally located gay-friendly hotel, guesthouse or B&B (three- or four-star) in Athens, Greece. Any suggestions?
Mahalo!
Keli'i

Hello, Keli'i,
Thanks for your mail! I found the perfect place for you! The friendly, three-star Hotel Rio (13 Odysseos St., Karaiskaki Square; +30-210-522-7075; www.hotel-rio.gr) says it's "bisexual-owned" and is LGBT- and straight-welcoming. It's central, near a subway stop, and situated in a beautiful neoclassical building. Double rooms start at 75EUR.
Have a great vacation!
Best,
Ed

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