Everyone knows the world is still a big place. So even though it seems like we’re forever growing more connected, there are still plenty of opportunities to get off the grid. Here are 10 hidden destinations which should give even seasoned travellers some food for thought.
1) North Dakota: An unknown destination within the United States
North Dakota is a hidden gem within the US: Wide open spaces, plenty of things to do, but very few people. You can find Old West towns and Norwegian pioneer settlements. Other places to visit include the Roosevelt National Park, the Northern Badlands, and the famous Lewis and Clark Trail with its different forts and museums strung out all along the Missouri River. Also, don’t forget to savour Bismarck’s surprisingly sophisticated food and bar scene.
2) China’s Portuguese colony of Macau
Known as the ‘Vegas of China’, Macau is indeed an epicentre of gambling and glitz, and luxury entertainment here is outstanding. But if you prefer to play online casino games at home rather than on holiday, the city will provide you with plenty of things to do. Macau was a Portuguese colony for three centuries, resulting in a unique culture today. From Cantonese-Portuguese cuisine to Christian and Buddhist monuments standing next to each other, Macau is proof that contrasting cultures can come together to make something special.
3) Snorkelling in the Tuamotu Islands
Around an hour’s flight north of Papeete, the Tuamotu Islands of French Polynesia are unspoilt, uncrowded, and unpolluted. You can snorkel in the lagoons of coral atolls ringed with white sands and coconut palms alongside rainbow-coloured tropical fish or larger creatures such as sharks, manta rays and dolphins. Or else try drift snorkelling through the lagoon passages at the turn of the tide.
4) Family trip to the Galapagos Islands
Hardly a hidden destination in the truest sense, but not somewhere that’s obviously family-oriented. However, kids love the place, especially the island boat tours. This amenity gives access to countless animals who seem to have absolutely no fear of humans. There are also lots of watersports you can literally dive into: snorkel expeditions, sea kayaking, paddleboarding, mountain biking and more.
5) The Pyrenees: An enchanting mountain landscape
Everything you love about the Alps is here in the Pyrenees which straddle southern France and northern Spain. The only difference is there are no crowds! And yet there’s so much on offer: regional cuisine, beautiful national parks (Gavarnie, Ordesa, and Aiguestortes), tiny picturesque towns, the running of the bulls festival in Pamplona, and duty-free shopping in the tiny principality of Andorra.
6) The romance of Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka’s serene southern coast, especially the idyllic stretches either side of the old city of Galle, has everything you need for an exotic, romantic getaway: Unspoilt landscapes, uncrowded beaches, wildlife sanctuaries where wild elephants and leopards roam free, chic boutique hotels, ancient temples and exquisite food around every corner.
7) A beach holiday in Mauritius
It’s a long flight from Europe or North America, but Mauritius is worth that 24-hour trip just to experience its palm-fringed beaches. You’ll find luxury hotels and a deliciously diverse cuisine with Indian, Chinese, African and French influences which reflect the island’s multicultural heritage. There are volcanic mountains and a quirky history to explore amidst a welcoming island population.
8) Tokyo as a culinary destination
Asian street food may have limited appeal in some destinations, but in ultra-clean Japan, it becomes a delicious, worry-free experience. The early-morning eateries of Tsukiji Fish Market where you can breakfast on freshly-landed sashimi and premium sake are justifiably popular, as is dining right under the train tracks in Yakitori Alley near the Ginza district.
9) Adventures in the Wrangell-Kluane Wilderness, Alaska and the Yukon
Big skies are everywhere in the world’s largest, single protected area (50 million square miles). Here you can find North America’s largest concentration of high mountains and glaciers. And besides its teeming wildlife, this vast park provides all kinds of adventure experiences: wild hiking, mountain climbing, whitewater rafting along its mighty rivers, and kayaking on the many saltwater fjords. And that’s even before you try an adrenaline-pumping flight aboard an Alaskan bush plane!
10) The wildlife of the Pantanal Wetlands
Most people imagine the Amazon is the best place to see South American wildlife, but the vegetation is often just too dense and too much habitat destruction has occurred. However, on the vast grasslands of the Pantanal wetlands in southern Brazil, animals are much easier to spot and photograph. What is more, it’s just about the best place in the world to watch jaguars in the wild.