Five Under-The-Radar Destinations
It’s been a whirlwind week. Between our current adventure in progress, and a 3-day travel conference I attended (virtual, but no less exhilarating!) I am on pins and needles for all the new things that are unfolding. Meeting new travel partners and catching up on new developments in the industry has been refreshing.
Did you read last week's article with the details on five of my favorite islands? Did you notice there were six islands discussed? Yes there was a bonus, but I'm not sure anyone noticed; neither did I until after I sent the email!
Here's my question for you this week...are you a rebel? Do you like to shake things up? Break the mold? Do your own thing? What about when it comes to travel? Do you prefer to eschew what everyone else is doing and go your own way? Not just off the beaten path but down a completely different road (less travelled and therefore less crowded), untrampled and unexpected. Does imagining the quizzical looks in your friends’ eyes when they say “you went where?” give you a chuckle. Yeah. They’re just wishing they’d thought of it first, and that they had consulted a travel advisor (wink, wink!).
Our beautiful planet is abundant popular vacation destinations, and REALLY popular destinations. You can name several and have been to a few, I’m sure. That’s nothing to be ashamed of, but every now and then you must travel outside the box. Here are five (yes, I'm sure) popular places and alternatives to explore.
Tried and true: Alaskan Adventure Top of cruise to-do lists, replete with whales, porpoises, sea lions, grizzlies and bald eagles. It’s a fantastic experience for the whole family; a must do.
New to you: Norway’s Fjords. A cruise of Norway’s fjords reveals majestic scenery and charming port towns, deep blue inlets that cut into mountains to form the country’s famous inlets. A cruise or kayak into Geirangerfjord, a 62-mile-long behemoth of 5,000-foot rock walls and waterfalls is a must, as is sailing through the 127-mile-long Sognefjord. Norway’s small towns make good springboards for outdoor adventures and visits to see medieval wood-stave churches around Bergen, and to Haugesund, homeland of Norway’s Viking kings, who ruled the country between ad 800 and 1066.
Tried and true: the beaches of Mykonos. Mykonos welcomes the party crowds and cruise ships in summertime. The island’s windmills, painted doors, and bougainvillea-draped, whitewashed building are a photographer’s dream. The cobblestoned streets, Cerulean seas, and over 40 beaches make it a perennial favorite. If you haven’t gone yet, you should. Visit a taverna for delicious homemade cooking, a complimentary glass of rosé and a view of the beach while you dine.
New to you: Mellow Mallorca. For a less-trafficked, idyllic beach experience, Mallorca could be your happy place. It is located about 120 miles off Spain’s eastern coast, and is the largest of the Balearic Islands, with more than 200 beaches for lounging and swimming during the island’s 300-plus sunny days per year. For cooler air and sheer-sided mountain views, hike in the Tramuntana range, along the island’s northern coast. The capital of Palma pulses with dance clubs for the nightlife you crave.
Tried and true: a Machu Picchu pilgrimage. This UNESCO World Heritage site is a fifteenth-century Incan citadel with temples, terraces, and huge blocks of stone located 7,972 feet in the Peruvian Andes. It is mysterious and awe-inspiring. Tourists take the 70-mile train ride from Cuzco, or stay the night in nearby Aguas Calientes. There are strict visitation rules, advance-ticket purchase requirements, set entrance times, and mandatory guides. July and August are busy, and so are Sundays, when the residents of Cuzco Province can visit for free.
New to you: Exploring Kuélap. The fortress of Kuélap, at elevation 9,842 feet in northern Peru, predates Machu Picchu by nearly a thousand years, yet remains untouched. Overlooking the Utcubamba Valley, some 400 ruins spread over more than 1,100 acres. Until recently, the walled complex was a four-hour hike or bumpy 90-minute bus ride from the village of Nuevo Tingo, but a cable car that opened in 2017 speeds the ascent to 20 minutes. More bromeliad flowers grow on the trees than people visit each day.
Tried and true: Napa Valley. More than 400 wineries pack the 30-mile long Napa Valley. Travelers come to worship at the prix-fixe altar of The French Laundry and other Michelin-starred restaurants. Fall is prime time, when leaves go golden and wineries’ crush season arrives. Get off the main highway with a biking tour through the Napa and adjacent Sonoma County. Pedalling, sipping on world-class wine, and dining on fabulous Californian fare, then bedding down at the region’s premier hotels, including one of my favorites, Solage, an Auberge Resort, in Calistoga.
New to you: Okanagan Valley: Named for the 90-mile LAke Okanagan, the valley stretches about 125 miles between the Washington State border and Armstrong, British Columbia, and is dotted with laid-back towns and crystal lakes with vineyards rising from their shores. Of note are the pinot noirs and rieslings, but innovative boutique wineries offer robust reds, crisp rosés, and even ice wine. I do enjoy ice wine! For laid-back travellers, summer brings alfresco dining and sandy lakeside beaches; more active travelers enjoy the skiing and snowboarding of the winter months. Fresh powder one day and wine tasting the next.
Tried and true: Great Barrier Reef. For divers and snorkelers, the world’s largest and longest coral reef system is underwater heaven. Off the coast of Queensland, Australia, the fragile system spans more than 1,400 miles and teems with marine life, including sea turtles, giant clams, manta rays, and clown fish. If the best you can do is take a boat ride over it because you have an aversion to submersion, do it!
New to you: Electric Blue in Ningaloo. Halfway up Australia’s west coast, the 186-mile-long Ningaloo Reef sits close to shore – only a few hundred feet away in some It is beautifully secluded, which means uncrowded encounters with turtles, manta rays, humpback whales, and 500 species of fish. What really sets the reef apart, however, are the elusive whale sharks that assemble here in large numbers – more than any other place in the world – from March through August. Take off from the towns of Exmouth or Coral Bay to kayak, swim with whale sharks, or take a scenic flight over the remote reef.
Now you're probably wondering about alternative destinations to some of your favorite tried and true vacation spots. This is where you call me.
'til next week.
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I create indulgent, transformative vacations for people who crave immersive travel. If you don't have the time to plan the details of your own well-deserved escape, don't know where to begin, or are simply longing to make unforgettable memories with those you love, then don’t wait another day. Let's talk.
Contact: GLOBAL EXOTIC ADVENTURES - Juliet Weller, Founder