The Best Getaways Your Travel Guide Missed
Image taken by Digital Vision, courtesy of Getty Images
Tired of the same so-called travel“hot spots,” where beaches jam-packed with tourists and over-priced hotels make up a week’s worth of your time and money? Well, our team has done the work and found ten hidden vacation gems, including miles of nearly empty beaches that are perfect for year-round swimming and surfing. The guide also includes information on underestimated urban and cosmopolitan destinations; city wonders like Glasgow and Oakland offer blossoming cultures, histories, restaurants and museums and are more affordable than expensive counterparts such as London and San Francisco.
Pichilmelu, Chile: An hour west from the heart of Chile’s wine country, Pichilemu is a small beach resort town and commune, comprised of an urban center of 22 small villages. The resort town is well known for its expansive beaches, with water that stays cool all year-round, perfect for activities such as surfing and swimming. Although the town is quiet for most of the year, February is the peak vacation month for Chileans, so if you prefer more solace and commune with the ocean alone, go in early January or March.
Archipiélago de las Perlas, Panama: Panama’s blue-green tinted oceans have barely been tapped by tourist crowds since it regained control of its canal twelve years ago. The country is defined by natural beauty that includes pristine beaches, forests and mountains.
Ngapali Beach, Myanmar: Recently opened to travelers (the country was closed off for nearly 40 years due to the rule of a military junta), Ngapali is one of the premier beaches in Myanmar. It boasts a long, three-kilometer beachfront on the Bay of Bengal, as well as some of the country’s best food. The Amara Ocean Resort along Ngapali Beach’s coastline offers top-rate services, a hand-built spa and local relief projects in the Irrawaddy River delta.
Cultural and Urban Destinations
- Glasgow, Scotland: Once the home of powerful shipyards, the city began to slowly stagnate after the industry left. However, in the past decade, it has experienced a new era of redevelopment. Pleasant riverside walkways have replaced unused steel docklands, lime trees have been planted along the esplanade and the city now boasts a newly designed museum by Zaha Hadid. The city also offers numerous cafés and bookstores.
- Havana, Cuba: Once out of the reach of American tourists, Havana is now open to travel, with a growing number of cities offering direct flights including New York, Los Angeles, Miami and Chicago. Organizations such as the National Geographic Expeditions and the Center for Cuban Studies also offer licenses to operate tourist trips to the brightly colored city. The capital of one of the few Communist countries in the world, Havana is thriving with culture, art and new restaurants and was recently home to the 11th Biennial.
- Oakland, California (U.S.): Although not often thought of as a destination spot in a state that offers some of the best vacation spots in the world, Oakland is booming with culture and politics. With sophisticated restaurants, upscale cocktail bars, progressive politics and the beauties of Lake Merritt, visitors will be surprised and impressed. Oakland also proves to be more affordable than its other Bay counterparts, San Francisco and Berkeley, but arguably offering better food and nightlife.
- Managua, Nicaragua: Nicaragua’s capital, Managua, has often been overlooked by travelers due to damage sustained from a 1972 earthquake and a brutal civil war, as well as the general urban chaos that defines its once majestic boulevards. Yet the city is fiercely loved by its inhabitants. It doesn’t hurt that the city borders one of the most beautiful crater lakes in the world. The city also pulses with great nightlife and restaurants.
- Paraty, Brazil: Although a world away from being a busy metropolis and set within the vast natural beauty of a 325-mile coastline sandwiched between Brazil’s two largest cities, Paraty has a jam-packed cultural calendar. This includes a jazz, blues and soul festival, the Paraty Em Foco (an annual photograph exhibit) and the literary festival, Flip. Along with cultural events, it also offers cozy seafood restaurants, beautiful inns and dozens of noteworthy cafes.
Hiking and the Outdoors
- Tanzania: Tanzania is a godsend for travelers who love the outdoors. It boasts the Mount Kilimanjaro National Park (which includes the highest mountain elevation in the world), the Ngorongori Crater, as well as breathtaking game reserves such as Singita Grumeti.
- Chilean Patagonia: Chile offers some of the best hiking grounds in the world, with the Patagonia offering snowy mountain ranges, national parks and beautifully pristine rain forests.
- Halong Bay, Vietnam: Halong Bay is made up of over 1,600 limestone islands and islets, which are situated in the Gulf of Tonkin. Recently named a UNESCO World Heritage site, it has also often been named as one of the new seven wonders of nature. Halong Bay still remains largely untouched by human visitors, and surrounding the pristine emerald waters is thick jungle flora. Visitors can reach this wonder-destination on their own through local boats or with adventure tours offered by several companies such as InterAsia and The Luxury Travel Group.
Additional Resources (Travel Guides)
For those interested in doing further research on travel getaways, here is a list of links of online resources they can peruse to get to their dream destinations.
- Bahamas Guide: Bahamas Guide is an island guide to a popular travel and vacation destination site. The guide includes information on affordable accommodations, dining, travel information and weather.
- One Planet Travel Guide: One Planet Travel Guide provides information about the best tourist destinations, hotels, restaurants and activities to help travelers and tourist plan holidays, vacations and honeymoons.
- Rough Guide: Rough Guide is a travel guidebook series that provides budget-wary tourists and travelers with descriptive coverage of cities and countries around the world. The website includes an online forum, newsletter and destination guide.
- Vietnam Travel Guide: Vietnam Travel Guide includes vacation planning basics, where to stay, where to go and what to see in Vietnam.
- Worldweb Travel Guide: Worldweb Travel Guide offers tourists a range of tourism guides of many countries around the world.