When you’re steeped in history, culture, and man-made wonders, sometimes the sun, sea, and sand are all you need. Whether you’re looking for serious escapism or want to marvel at Mother Nature, Lucy McGuire chooses some of the most exotic places to travel in the world.
With a legendary surf scene and golden beaches stretching for over 100 miles, there are attractions everywhere in Hawaii. Maui, known as “Valley Island”, is a favorite for its misty peaks, breathtaking sunsets, and bamboo forests. Relax on Kaanapali Beach or see the red sands of Kaihalulu – it’s like no other beach in the world.
With a tropical climate, isolated beaches with palm trees and topography as varied as a mosaic, Puerto Rico is without a doubt the most exotic island in the Caribbean. Watch the tree frogs in the dense jungle of El Yunque, take a night dive into the bioluminescent Mosquito Bay, and the abundance of the country’s beautiful golden sands.
Fuerteventura, Canary Islands
Fuerteventura may be the most interesting island in the Canary Islands, thanks to its deserted beaches, crystal clear waters and hippie atmosphere. Strong commercial winds make it the main territory for water sports, or if you are looking for a tan everywhere, join the naturists who gather here in search of its famous nude beaches.
Tayrona National Park, Colombia
Blue water, hammocks and hidden beaches can be found in Colombia, a country that until recently escaped the tourist route. Walk through Tayrona National Park, the dream destination of ecological travelers. It’s the perfect place to stay in a beach cabana, sample exotic fruits, and explore beautiful lagoons. Find out why Tayrona made our list of the best places to travel in 2020 here.
The secret is out; The Croatian island of Vis has a great attraction among island hunters, thanks to its spectacular cliffs and exotic beaches. This gem on the Adriatic is a short boat ride from the Croatian city of Split, but its secluded coves would be at home in the tropics. Take a boat to Stiniva, a hidden beach that is often advertised as the best in Europe.
French Polynesia is a place where emerald lagoons sparkle and the exotic aromas of vanilla, coconut, and Tahitian tiare flowers fill the air. Yes, it is as beautiful as you have heard it. You will not be able to cover the five archipelagos (a total of 118 islands), so head to Maupiti: “the virgin island”. Its beaches are whiter than white, dotted with mystical caves, and Mount Te’urafa’atiu offers breathtaking views.
This southeast corner of Mexico, which separates the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, has all the ingredients for an exotic vacation. Explore the wide beaches of Tulum, cool off in unique limestone cenotes, and swim with whale sharks on Isla Holbox. The Mesoamerican reef on the coast, the second longest in the world, has a large amount of marine life.
Koh Rong Samloem, Cambodia
This paradise island on the southern coast of Cambodia is one of the most exotic places in the Gulf of Thailand. It is totally different from the tourist town of Sihanoukville (where you take the ferry) as you will find no traffic and very little development, except for some rustic beach huts. Swim at night with bioluminescent plankton in M’Pei Bay, take a hike in the rain forest, or grab a coconut in a hammock in Saracen Bay.
Whitsunday Islands, Australia
The brilliant whites and blues of the Whitsunday Islands have become an iconic exotic location for travelers exploring Australia. Located on the Queensland coast, it is home to the Great Barrier Reef, a World Heritage Site, a dream for serious divers. With hiking trails and secluded beaches, it is so beautiful on the water. Visit between July and September to catch a glimpse of migratory humpback whales.
When it comes to exotic vacations, it’s hard to beat Fiji. A country blessed with gorges, mangroves, waterfalls and natural pools, it is the jewel of the South Pacific. There are over 300 islands in the archipelago and its marine parks offer an incredible dive in soft coral. It is also where five different species of turtles, spinning dolphins, and the rare Fiji Crested Iguana call home.