When planning for and embarking on leisure trips and vacations, many individuals and families are often looking for one of three things: a change of pace, a change in scenery or a change of climate. Regardless of the exact reasoning, there are limitless possibilities around the globe to suit every type and demographic of traveller. The locations that follow are just a handful of the endless options out there, but they highlight and exemplify the vastness of this Earth, and the amazing, once-in-a-lifetime experiences that are possible.
Adventurers and Sightseers
There are many different types of adventure travel, but for those who like to experience amazing sights — whether man-made or natural — or stretch their comfort zone, locations such as these are sure to leave lasting impressions.
Fairy-Tale Forest, Germany
Dreams of walking in forests like the ones in fairy-tale stories can come true in the Black Forest (Schwarzwald) region of Germany. This remote and vibrant destination is abundant with rolling hills, crystal clear lakes, traditional villages and nature preserves. It’s a true outdoor paradise for families and individuals of all ages, with wildlife, museums, hot springs, spa retreats, walking trails and the Europa-Park theme park.
Yosemite National Park, California, USA
Arguably one of the most picturesque parks in North America, Yosemite is a World Heritage Site that boasts granite cliffs, giant sequoia groves, beautiful waterfalls and 1,300 kilometres of trails. Standout features include El Capitan, a granite cliff that is one of the most popular rock climbing destinations in the world; Half Dome, which rises 1,460 metres above the valley floor; and Yosemite Falls, the highest in North America at 739 metres.
Home of the Icehotel, this Arctic world is just 120 kilometres from the North Pole. Each December, a new Icehotel is constructed with frozen water from northern Sweden’s river Torne. The blue glow of the ice makes it seem as though visitors are living inside a glacier, where the rooms are designed by leading artists from around the globe. Highlights include the Ice Church, Absolut Ice Bar, and activities such as dog and reindeer sled rides, ice sculpture lessons, cliff rapelling and watching the Northern Lights from outdoor hot tubs.
Alaska Cruise, Alaska, USA
Though typically popular for those 50 and over, this cruise provides something for all ages, with port excursions including everything from bike rides and lake kayaking to crab boating to helicopter rides over the glaciers. A main highlight is Glacier Bay, stretching approximately 115 kilometres. Culminating at the Margerie Glacier, it’s fairly common to witness massive ice blocks cracking and crashing into the waters. The dynamic ecosystems also present opportunities to see humpback whales, sea otters, bald eagles and brown bears.
Sun and Sand Enthusiasts
When postcard-like beauty, pristine beaches and sparkling waters rank high on a traveller’s destination requirement list, these types of island gems will surpass expectations.
Margarita Island, Venezuela
Just 23 kilometres north of the Venezuelan coast, this island is known for its Caribbean-style beaches, vibrant turquoise waters and lush, green interiors. Two regions offer distinct experiences: the east is more developed for those who enjoy restaurants and nightlife, and the west is quiet with deserted, unspoiled beaches. Features of the island include Los Roques, a group of 42 coral reefs that are some of the best preserved in the world, and Restinga National Park where travellers can explore mangroves and see colourful sea and bird life.
Often described as an island of mysterious beauty, Corsica offers vast landscapes and charming towns. The island is well-suited for eager families who want to experience a range of activities such as rafting, sea caves, diving, or windsurfing. Rich in history and culture, it also appeals to more low-key travellers with museums, the Genoese fortresses, and the medieval citadel in Calvi. True sun seekers will enjoy beautiful coves like Rondinara Bay, as well as the isolated Saleccia Beach, only accessible by boat.
A tropical nation in the Indian Ocean, the Maldives is famous for exquisite waters and coral gardens. The islands are protected by a reef structure, with over 2,000 species of fish, making it a diving and snorkelling paradise. Its slow, relaxed pace is ideal for families with older children or those looking to take in some of the most beautiful natural scenery in the world. Those interested in a cultural experience will enjoy the National Museum, the Grand Mosque, and ruins that tell of the past Buddhist and Hindu influence.
These two islands off the northeastern coast of Peninsular Malaysia offer a unique blend of rainforests and coral reefs. With beautiful underwater vistas, the hard and soft corals are home to thousands of reef fish. The Perhentians are also one of the few places where it’s possible to find nesting sites of the giant leatherback turtle, which have existed for more than a million years.
Find true paradise
When an island’s name contains the word “paradise,” it almost goes without saying that travellers are assured almost a near-guarantee of beauty beyond imagination. Check out Montecristo magazine to find out more about Paradise Island, a gorgeous island in The Bahamas and, more specifically, the luxury One&Only Ocean Club.
Published with permission from Montecristo magazine, August 2016. Story by Sara Harowitz.
These types of destinations will appeal to those looking for opportunities to experience some unique natural wonders or who want to connect with nature in a way that promotes sustainability or environmental consciousness.
Abundant with nature and cultural tours, there are numerous opportunities in Costa Rica to learn about its sustainable way of life and immerse in the country’s “pura vida,” or pure life. Families with older children may enjoy guided night hikes looking for amphibious reptiles or nesting sea turtles. For couples and individuals of any age, there are fascinating coffee plantation tours to learn how the social, economic and political development of Costa Rica is tied to the coffee bean.
Cave Exploration, Belize
Belize is one of the unique places on Earth where in addition to sandy beaches and rich rainforests above ground, there’s a beautiful world beneath the surface. Created by a series of natural and geological events, there are a range of incredible limestone caves that date back to the ancient Maya. Families with children in the 7 to 12 range or teenagers will find a variety of options for guided cave tours that include tubing, hiking, rappelling, zip-lining, and more.
Iguazu Falls, Brazil
Iguazu Falls showcases the largest waterfall system in the world. With 275 individual drops, the falls span 2.7 kilometres, making them twice as wide as Niagara Falls. The falls straddle the border of Brazil and Argentina, and on both sides there are parks and trails where visitors can learn about the natural history, amazing bird species and subtropical rainforest.
The Sleeping Giant, Vanuatu
Espiritu Santo, known as “The Sleeping Giant,” is renowned for diving, lush jungle and active volcanos. Visitors can experience all of the Earth’s natural elements on this island, features of which are the Nanda Blue Hole, a freshwater bubbling spring and Yasur, the world’s most accessible volcano, where rumbles can be felt underfoot and bursts of embers often create an incredible light show at night.
A bucket list can always be added to, and these impressive destinations are worthy of honourable mention.
- The Loire Valley, France
- The Megalithic Temples, Malta
- Pompeii, Italy
- The Yukon, Canada
- The Twelve Apostles, Victoria, Australia
- Tofino, British Columbia, Canada
- Seychelles Islands
Experience the Canadian Rockies
What better way to get up close and personal with some of best landscapes and views in Western Canada than riding the rails on the acclaimed Rocky Mountaineer? Impressive and exciting for travellers of all ages, this train journey promises a very memorable experience. Visit Montecristo magazine to learn more about this unique tour.
Published with permission from Montecristo magazine, July 2016. Story by Joshua McVeity.
- Joseph Rosendo. Where to Go and When – The Best Destinations All Year Round. Eyewitness Travel – Dorling Kindersley Publishing Inc. 2007.