The Best Vacations You've Never Heard Of
4 Spots That Go Way Beyond the Beaten Path
Hawaii. St. Barts. Jamaica. There are certain places that always come to mind when thinking of a heavenly beach vacation. But what if you wanted to think outside the box? Experience a vacation that's truly unique? To help you, we've uncovered some of the best-kept secrets in the travel world.
Video: Going Green in BaliVisit Puri Lumbung Lodge in Bali, committed to preserving local culture.
Puri Lumbung, Bali
The Lumbung Cottages were once rice granaries integral to local Indonesian farmers. However, when farming techniques advanced, these storage facilities became obsolete, and they were converted into the charming accommodations at the Puri Lumbung resort. This unique tourism project benefits the local village of Munduk and, in accordance with the Bali Tourism Institute, protects the environment.
Accommodations at Puri Lumbung include standard and family cottages, a jungle cabin, and villas that offer private verandas and views of the Java Sea. Guests here are encouraged to unplug from their everyday lives and find restoration in the simple pleasures of the Balinese way of life.
North Bali and Munduk feature beautiful scenery and provide the perfect setting for jogging, hiking and nature walks. Visitors are free to explore the tropical rain forests, rice terraces and local farms. There is a deep connection between this resort and its community; most activities strive to provide guests with a deeper understanding of the Balinese lifestyle.
Maravu Plantation Beach Resort & Spa, Taveuni, Fiji
The Maravu Plantation Beach Resort is located on Taveuni, the third-largest of Fiji's 300-plus islands. It is committed to an environmental policy that preserves and protects Taveuni's natural beauty. Recycling, composting, and employing and buying locally are just some of the green practices used daily at Maravu.
The private accommodations here are called "bures," and the creme de la creme is the Treehouse. Situated at treetop level among an ancient rain tree, the decks and verandas offer uncompromised views of the ocean and surrounding forest. The large outdoor courtyard features an open-air shower and elegant Jacuzzi spa. Stay in the Treehouse and receive 2 complimentary massages, 2 Fijian sarongs, a trip to Bouma waterfalls and a half-day tour of Taveuni's west coast.
With only 30 guests at a time and 40 full-time employees at the resort, the service is first-rate. The staff offers guided nature walks and tours; explore the Vidawa Forest Walk and the waterfalls and natural pools of Bouma and Kulanawai. Jungle tours will take you to volcanic Lake Tagimaucia. Diving, golf and tennis are also available to guests.
Ecohabs, Tayrona National Park, Colombia
The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta is one of the highest coastal mountain ranges in the world, and where those mountains plunge into the clear blue Caribbean Sea is Tayrona National Park. The park is roughly 58 square miles and is one of the most biologically diverse coastal zones in the Americas, where jungle footpaths meet palm-fringed beaches. Additionally, archaeological sites left by Tayrona's indigenous tribes can be found throughout the park.
The Ecohabs resort is a chain of secluded cliffside huts. You reach the resort after an hourlong trek through the Colombian rain forest. If the hike sounds a bit too strenuous, take the alternative beach route on horseback. Once you reach your ecohab, you are met with a spiritual retreat constructed of all-natural materials. The views are breathtaking and encompass the entire nature park.
A beautiful and relaxing spa offers a medley of treatments to counterbalance adventurous days amid the beaches and jungles. Guided tours and hikes are offered to guests of this uniquely beautiful Colombian resort.
Amanpulo, the Philippines
Located on a private island in the Philippines, Amanpulo features blissful beaches and calm indigo waters. There are 42 casitas available to guests of the island, each fashioned after the traditional Philippine bahay kubo. The hillside casitas offer beautiful sea views; those on the beach have private paths leading down to the sand. All the lodgings feature private wooden sundecks for sunbathing and relaxing during your time off from exploring.
On an island this beautiful, it's natural that daily activities revolve around the water. For those who enjoy scuba diving and snorkeling, the reefs and clear waters are simply perfect. The resort is only too happy to provide equipment and lessons to guests.
Another popular nautical pastime is windsurfing. This sport is best enjoyed between December and April, when the northeast trade winds blow an average of 23 mph. Amanpulo also has a small fleet of boats for those seeking to sail the seas, and lessons are available for all skill levels.
This exceptional resort knows that good food and drink are essential vacation elements. Sulu View is a wonderful breakfast spot, and the intimate Kawayan Bar is a floating bamboo platform perfect for private dining. Enjoy a romantic dinner at Shigerino's Place, which is nestled on a hillside, providing incomparable views.
Experience Bali 12 Photos
Fiji's Seductive Charm 15 Photos
Chocolate HillsLocated in the Philippines’ Bohol Province, the Chocolate Hills are 1,776 hills spread over an area of more than 20 square miles. This geological site and popular tourist attraction -- normally covered in green grass -- turns chocolate brown during the dry season. 960 1280
Boracay IslandBoracay is a small island located almost 200 miles south of Manila. This island paradise is emerging among the top destinations for a relaxing vacation and exciting nightlife scene. In 2012, Travel + Leisure picked Boracay as the best island in the world. The island is also a great spot for travelers who enjoy water sports, including scuba diving, snorkeling, helmet diving and cliff diving. Visit during Amihan season (usually from September to June) to get the best trade winds for windsurfing, kiteboarding and kitesurfing. 960 1280
ManilaManila is the second largest city in the Philippines with a total population of more than 1.6 million people. Recommended sights to visit include Metropolitan Museum of Manila, Rizal Park, Fort Santiago, Star City, Manila Ocean Park, Café Juanita and the Marikina Shoe Museum, for those fascinated by the footwear of the Philippines’ controversial former First Lady, Imelda Marcos. 960 1280
Shangri-La's Boracay Resort & SpaArrive at Shangri-La’s secluded Boracay Resort & Spa on a speed boat. Guests can choose to stay in one of the resort’s 219 rooms, suites or villas -- all with a spacious balcony and some with a stunning oceanfront view. Don’t pass up being pampered at Chi, The Spa, or using the resort’s health club, tennis court, dive center or swimming pool, one of the largest free-form swimming pools in the country. 960 1280
Banaue Rice TerracesCommonly referred to by Filipinos as the “Eighth Wonder of the World,” the Banaue Rice Terraces are 2,000-year-old terraces carved into the mountains in the Ifugao Province of the Philippines. Locals still plant rice and vegetables on the terraces despite the steady decrease in number of young farmers. 960 1280
CebuCebu is an island province in the Philippines, consisting of the island itself and 167 surrounding islands. It is one of the most developed provinces, with Cebu City as the main center of commerce, trade, education and industry. In 2007, Conde Nast Traveler named Cebu the 7th best island destination in the Indian Ocean-Asia region. Cebu is also a great spot for shopping. We recommend shopping at local markets like the Carbon Market or Tabo-an Market. 960 1280
Snorkeling in CebuSpend hours snorkeling and exploring the marine life along the coast of Cebu. Mactan Island and Moalboal Cebu are some of the best spots for an underwater adventure to explore the 4-armed chocolate, blue linckia starfish, black sea urchin, manta rays, barracuda, whalesharks and beautiful coral gardens. 960 1280
Rizal ParkTake a stroll through Rizal Park, a historical urban park located along Roxas Boulevard in Manila. This iconic park consists of open lawns, lush gardens, paved walks and wooded areas with monuments that recognize national Filipino heroes like Jose Rizal. On Sundays, locals and visitors can sit back and listen to live entertainment, for free, in the open-air auditorium as part of the Concert at the Park series. 960 1280
Sensual Spa TreatmentThere’s no better way to unwind and relax than to hit the spa for a therapeutic massage to help release the stress sitting in those tight muscles and joints. From a hot stone massage to foot reflex therapy, the Philippines have a several resorts that have their in-house spas and services that cater to its guests’ needs. 960 1280
SM Mall of AsiaGo shopping at the SM Mall of Asia! Located in Bay City, Pasay, this mega-sized mall attracts about 200,000 people every day, and it is one of the largest malls in the world. If you still have satisfied your shopping fix after visiting the SM Mall of Asia (pictured); then you can’t miss out on shopping at the SM Megamall in Mandaluyong, Philippines. It’s the 3rd largest shopping mall in the world. 960 1280
White BeachWelcome to one of the finest, stretches of white-sand beachfront in the world. Lined with coconut palms, White Beach -- located on Boracay Island -- is 3 miles long and has a strip of bars, restaurants, hotels and souvenir shops that cater to millions of tourists. The beach is divided into 3 sections from north to south: stations 1, 2 and 3. Station 1 has the widest stretch of sand with pricey hotels. Station 2 is the place to be for eating and shopping, and the Station 3 is the place to go if you’re looking for a quiet place to relax. 960 1280
Philippines: A Fantasy Island Getaway 13 Photos