Travel's Best for 2014

Luxury hostels, Cuba, local brew pubs and the Jersey Shore – they’re all reasons to pack your bags in 2014. See what hot destinations and travel trends are our favorites for 2014.

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Hermitage Bay - Antigua

Hermitage Bay - Antigua

"Hermitage Bay, a true barefoot luxury all-inclusive resort, has 25 cottages nestled in 16 acres of lush tropical gardens and fronted by a gorgeous beach. The resort provides informal dining where every meal feels privately catered to the guest’s specifications and desires. Don’t miss out on the Garden Spa, where the treatments are influenced by the ancient Eastern concept of chakra." -- Anthony Melchiorri, Hotel Fixer, Hotel Impossible 960 1280

Hermitage Bay  

Beaches - Turks and Caicos

Beaches - Turks and Caicos

"The all-inclusive Beaches resort is the perfect destination for a fun-filled family beach vacation, with endless distractions for kids of all ages. Tots, tweens and teens can enjoy fun games with Sesame Street characters, 'Sizzlin' teen disco and the Pirates Island Waterpark. Adults can relax at Red Lane Spa and enjoy sumptuous meals at the resort’s 19 restaurants." -- Anthony Melchiorri, Hotel Fixer, Hotel Impossible 960 1280

Beaches Resorts  

Amanyara - Turks and Caicos

Amanyara - Turks and Caicos

"This resort won my wife and me over with its attention to detail, great food choices and access to a variety of activities. Amanyara was the perfect choice for our wedding and for a recent 24-hour retreat from the kids. Couples can indulge in a spa day or a private dinner on the beach. We loved returning to our room each night to discover the small, thoughtful gift the Aman team left for us during the turndown service." -- Shane Green, Hospitality Consultant 960 1280

Amanresorts  

Hayman Island - Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Hayman Island - Great Barrier Reef, Australia

"Hayman Island provides access to a variety of wildlife, including exotic fish, a 400-pound grouper named 'Jacko,' wallabies and kookaburras. Hayman provides the perfect combination of activities and indulgences for both water sports enthusiasts and foodies like me. Visitors should not miss the chef’s table or the private dining events hosted under the stars by world-class winemakers and chefs. This island retreat holds a special place in our hearts, as we lived here for 2 years, overseeing the reimagination of the resort." -- Shane Green, Hospitality Consultant 960 1280

Hayman  

Howie's Homestay - Chiang Mai, Thailand

Howie's Homestay - Chiang Mai, Thailand

"At Howie's Homestayin Chiang Mai, guests check into a house with exquisite gardens and antique-filled rooms that has been featured in Architectural Digest. The owners, an American expat and his Thai wife, tailor the experience to your interests based on their insider knowledge, taking you on elephant treks, temple visits and shopping expeditions or leaving you to lounge by the pool as you like. Only one group, family or couple can book at a time, so the house is truly a luxury hideout of your own in Southeast Asia." -- Melissa Biggs Bradley, Founder of Indagare.com 960 1280

Howie's Homestay  

Mii amo Spa - Sedona, Arizona

Mii amo Spa - Sedona, Arizona

"My favorite American spa is really better described as a 16-suite wellness resort because you can pursue whatever kind of ‘well-balance’ you are looking for -- whether that is based on losing weight, getting fit, reducing stress, reconnecting with nature, bonding with friends or kick-starting a healthier lifestyle. The 3-, 4- and 7-day programs include both group classes like cooking, tennis and yoga, as well as personalized services such as facials, massages and psychic healing." -- Melissa Biggs Bradley, Founder of Indagare.com 960 1280

Mii amo Spa  

NIZUC Resort and Spa - Cancun, Mexico

NIZUC Resort and Spa - Cancun, Mexico

"Nizuc Resort has been the most luxurious resort in Cancun since it opened in September 2013. There are 274 rooms, suites and villas, many of which come equipped with private infinity pools. Within the resort complex, there are 6 high-end restaurants, the gorgeous indoor/outdoor ESPA spa with a detoxifying hydrotherapy circuit, a secluded beach and plenty of privacy. The resort -- tucked within lush foliage along a stretch of mangroves and beach -- offers a terrific all-inclusive Endless Indulgence package." -- Jimmy Im, Travel Personality 960 1280

NIZUC Resort and Spa  

Travaasa Hana - Maui, Hawaii

Travaasa Hana - Maui, Hawaii

"Acquired by new owners in 2011, Travaasa became the first resort in Maui to offer an all-inclusive package, which includes fitness classes. It's not common to find all-inclusive hotels in Hawaii -- so I love it here. This hotel has rustic cottages (no TVs or clocks) and a spa with an outdoor lava-rock whirlpool. In addition to its cool, retro Hawaii décor, Travaasa provides unique experiences for its guest. Where else can you do yoga in the morning while humpback whales do a backflip in the distance right before your eyes?" -- Jimmy Im, Travel Personality 960 1280

Travaasa Experiential Resorts  

Grand Resort and Spa - Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Grand Resort and Spa - Fort Lauderdale, Florida

"Experience the relaxing atmosphere of gay-owned-and-operated Grand Resort and Spa. In addition to its spacious rooms, this resort provides guests with a variety of amenities, including an oversized heated pool for swimming laps, a fitness center, an award-winning spa and a courtyard for nude sunbathing. Splurge on 1 of their 5 all-inclusive packages, like the Romance by the Sea Package, which provides 2 lucky lovers with champagne/wine upon arrival, a choice of 50-minute couples’ massage and more." -- Kwin Mosby, Managing Producer, Travel Channel 960 1280

Kwin Mosby  

ME Cancun - Cancun, Mexico

ME Cancun - Cancun, Mexico

"ME Cancun is an adult-oriented luxury resort that only allows guests to book accommodations as a ‘complete experience’ package. This resort’s 417 rooms all have breathtaking ocean or sunset lagoon views. All-inclusive services and facilities include 2 adults-only pools, a 24/7 fitness center, an E-space with library, the Beach Club, a world-class YHI Spa and more. All food, drinks, entertainment and activities are included in the price you pay." -- Kwin Mosby, Managing Producer, Travel Channel 960 1280

Meliá Hotels International  

Sandals Grande Antigua

Sandals Grande Antigua

We have a fan favorite winner and it’s… Sandals Grande Antigua! Our fans voted for this romantic resort as their pick because it offers guests the best of 2 worlds -- the authentic seaside Caribbean Grove and the 6-star, all-suite Mediterranean Village -- in one all-inclusive vacation. In addition to its great location on Antigua’s best beach (Dickenson Bay), this Sandals resort has 7 bars serving premium liquors, 11 specialty restaurants, butler service, 6 pools and the award-winning Red Lane spa. We clearly understand why this resort won your vote. 960 1280

Sandals Resorts  

Best Exotic Beach: Tavarua, Fiji

Best Exotic Beach: Tavarua, Fiji

There are not many beaches in the world that offer as diverse and incredible experience as Fiji's tropical paradise of Tavarua. "You can dive, fish, snorkel, and surf in the crystal clear seas surrounding the vibrant coral reefs teeming with sea life," says Alison Teal, host of Alison's Adventures. "As an avid surfer, it's a dream come true to sit along the white sandy beach and then head out into a world-class surf break. The moment that sealed my love affair with this place is when I saw it from the sky: The island is shaped perfectly like a heart." 960 1280

Getty Images  

Sexiest Beach: White Bay, Jost Van Dyke, British Virgin Islands

Sexiest Beach: White Bay, Jost Van Dyke, British Virgin Islands

According to Beach Tomato co-founder Tom Marchant, White Bay's secluded half-mile stretch of beach has the ideal balance of undisturbed white sand and turquoise sea at one end and secluded caves where you can watch the sun go down (with mouthwatering cocktail in hand) at the other. "Head down to the Soggy Dollar bar at night to stargaze with your loved one before retiring for the night in one of the islands stunning hotels," Marchant says. "What more could you want?" 960 1280

iStock  

Best Family Beach: Clearwater Beach, FL

Best Family Beach: Clearwater Beach, FL

"The sand at Clearwater Beach is as soft as baby powder, and the gradual slope to the warm Gulf water makes it an ideal beach for babies and toddlers" according to Have Baby Will Travel founder Corrine McDermott. "Parents will love the shaded jungle gym, as well as full facilities and a snack bar with healthy options." The Gulf Coast beach has many accommodation, food, and public transportation options, appealing to many families' tastes and vacation budgets. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Best Party Beach: Ipanema Beach, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Best Party Beach: Ipanema Beach, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Brazil's Maracanã Stadium will be center stage for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, but the real party is on Ipanema Beach, where there’s always a steady stream of vendors selling beer and Cachaça. "Rio has already revamped Post 9 (the area right off Rua Vinícius de Moraes) with a new look, new changing facilities, lockers for surfboards, and showers." says managing producer Kwin Mosby. Watch Cariocas -- Rio natives -- play volleyball, foot volley, soccer or surf. Mosby adds, "After the sun goes down, eat at the popular churrascaria Porcao and go bar hopping at some of the best nightspots in the world like the exclusive Baronneti nightclub." 960 1280

Getty Images  

Best Romantic Beach: The Maldives

Best Romantic Beach: The Maldives

Startlingly turquoise seas and shimmering white sands ring the islands comprising the Maldives archipelago, a chain of 26 atolls, or rings, in the Indian Ocean. "These postcard-perfect isles are home to ultra-exclusive resorts, where long stretches of private beach unfold before sprinklings of overwater bungalows complete with private decks and outdoor showers," says travel writer Valerie Conners. "Let romance kindle while enjoying sunset strolls, snorkeling exquisite coral reefs and lounging -- cocktail in hand -- under thatched umbrellas in paradise." 960 1280

Getty Images  

Best Beach for Adventure: Leo Carrillo State Beach, Malibu, CA

Best Beach for Adventure: Leo Carrillo State Beach, Malibu, CA

"For surfers, the 1.5-mile stretch of rocky coastline creates the perfect point break with slow rolling lines good for longboarders and an outside takeoff for shortboarders," says Cali local and our resident beach host Marianela. One of the few beaches boasting both wind and waves depending on the weather, Leo Carrillo attracts kite and windsurfers, as well as kayakers and stand up paddle boarders. An array of marine life lurk in hidden caves and tidal pools. "There are also tons of challenging trails offering wonderful ocean overlooks," Marianela adds. "I've seen many brave souls bike the trails hugging the steep cliffs and others scaling down the rocks to climb out onto the staggering bluffs." 960 1280

Getty Images  

Best Beach Bars: Rick's Cafe, Negril, Jamaica

Best Beach Bars: Rick's Cafe, Negril, Jamaica

A Jamaican mainstay since 1974, Rick's Cafe, nestled in Negril's West End Cliffs, takes this title for the second year in a row, as it's much more than your average beachfront watering hole. For the price of a refreshing Jamaican beer, you'll witness an unrivaled view of the sunset and some unforgettable entertainment. "Don't miss the locals launching themselves from 30-foot-high cliffs into the water below" says interactive producer Ben Breslerman. "And if you're feeling really adventurous, go ahead and take the dive for yourself … Just be safe!" 960 1280

Chris Ford, flickr  

Best Unusual Beach: Vik, Iceland

Best Unusual Beach: Vik, Iceland

Stunning beaches aren’t only in the tropics. "Driving through Iceland, I couldn’t believe my eyes when I first saw the beach at Vík, a small village at the southernmost tip" says interactive producer Kathleen Rellihan. "Black volcanic sand covered with ice and snow with the legendary “troll” rock formations jetting out from the sea -- I have never seen a beach so jaw-dropping beautiful in my life.” Vík is only 110 miles from Reykjavik, so it makes for a perfect stop on a road trip along Iceland's Ring Road. You'll have plenty of other reasons to stop your car along the way — such as seeing the volcanic Lake Myvatn. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Best Beach You Haven't Heard of ... Yet: Don Pedro Island State Park, FL

Best Beach You Haven't Heard of ... Yet: Don Pedro Island State Park, FL

This off-the-beaten-path beach park located in Charlotte County on the Southwest coast of Florida is only accessible by private boat or ferry -- but once you've made the trip you're in for a treat, according to Dr. Beach. The island beach is a mile of fine, white sand adorned with a plethora of shells and black petrified shark teeth! In addition to beachcombing, Don Pedro is a great place for swimming in the clear, clean waters, and for fishing both on the island itself and the park's mainland. "I recommend that you bring your kayak or canoe for the trip across the bay and to explore the mangrove tunnels," Dr. Beach adds, "keep your eyes peeled for manatees, oystercatchers and bald eagles." 960 1280

VISIT FLORIDA  

Best Beach Boardwalks: Atlantic City Boardwalk, Atlantic City, NJ

Best Beach Boardwalks: Atlantic City Boardwalk, Atlantic City, NJ

Still standing after Superstorm Sandy, there's never been a better time to visit the Atlantic City Boardwalk, America's first boardwalk and the home of Miss America, according to senior interactive producer Sara Gilliam. "For a mix of old and new, take a ride in an iconic rolling chair while snacking on salt water taffy and people watching, indulge in some high-end shopping at Louis Vuitton or Gucci at The Pier Shops at Caesars, and splurge on a night out at one of the city's spectacular casinos or see some of the world's top entertainers perform at Boardwalk Hall," Gilliam says. Families with kids of all ages will find endless amusement at the Steel Pier across from the Trump Taj Mahal. 960 1280

iStock  

Best Overall Beach: Clearwater Beach, FL

Best Overall Beach: Clearwater Beach, FL

We asked you to weigh in on our expert picks and determine the Best Overall Beach. Travel Channel fans voted and chose Clearwater Beach, FL, as their fan favorite, lauding its "laid-back family atmosphere," blue waters and "snow white sand." 960 1280

iStock  

Best Alaskan Cruise: Celebrity Cruises, Celebrity Solstice

Best Alaskan Cruise: Celebrity Cruises, Celebrity Solstice

"You've come to see such dramatic sights as glaciers calving, whales breaching and eagles flying overhead. Being on a ship that's itself a contemporary stunner only enhances the scenery," says Fran Golden, cruise expert for USA Today’s Experience Cruise site. The 2,850-passenger Celebrity Solstice is full of “firsts,” including the first Lawn Club, a half-acre of real grass on the top deck. 960 1280

Celebrity Cruises Inc.  

Best Caribbean Cruise: Sea Dream Yacht Club, Sea Dream I and Sea Dream II

Best Caribbean Cruise: Sea Dream Yacht Club, Sea Dream I and Sea Dream II

Sea Dream’s twin luxury yachts, the Sea Dream I and Sea Dream II, carry 112 passengers each and visit the most exclusive ports, including St. Barts, Bequia and St. John. “The cruise line offers the Champagne & Caviar Splash, where guests wade into the surf to indulge in premium caviar and bubbles, served on a surfboard covered in white linens, and enjoy a barbecue feast on a secluded white-sand beach,” says Anne Campbell, editor of CruisingFromNewYork.com and ShipCriticBlog.com. 960 1280

SeaDream Yacht Club  

Best European River Cruise: AmaWaterways, AmaCerto

Best European River Cruise: AmaWaterways, AmaCerto

“Sailing aboard AmaWaterways’ AmaCerto provided a comfortable and intimate ambience, amazing food and service, and the ability to dock right in the heart of Europe’s fascinating cities,” says Bill Panoff, publisher and editor-in-chief of Porthole Cruise Magazine. As the ship sails along the Danube and Rhine rivers, among others, guests are afforded picture-perfect views of ever-changing scenery and regular ports of call such as Amsterdam; Zurich, Basel and Lucerne, Switzerland; Cologne, Germany; Vienna, Austria; and Budapest, Hungary. 960 1280

AmaWaterways  

Best Family Cruise: Royal Caribbean, Anthem of the Seas

Best Family Cruise: Royal Caribbean, Anthem of the Seas

"Royal Caribbean's new, 4,180-passenger Anthem of the Seas is one of the most exciting ships in years. It’s fun for the whole family," says Fran Golden. Kids can ride bumper cars in the SeaPlex sports center or feel what it’s like to go skydiving in the RipCord by iFly, while parents can grab a cocktail from the robot bartenders at the Bionic Bar. Beginning in the fall, this ship will start sailing to new ports of call such as Bermuda and the Bahamas. 960 1280

Royal Caribbean International  

Best Hawaiian Cruise: Norwegian Cruise Line, Pride of America

Best Hawaiian Cruise: Norwegian Cruise Line, Pride of America

It made our Travel’s Best Cruises 2014 list, and this year, Norwegian Cruise Line’s Pride of America remains the reigning champion in the Best Hawaiian Cruise category. It's the only major US-flagged cruise ship that offers passengers a total of nearly 100 hours of port time on all 4 main Hawaiian Islands during a 7-night voyage. "Other cruise lines sail to the islands from LA or San Francisco, which usually means passengers spend only 52 hours in port to see 3 islands on a 15-night cruise,” says Stewart Chiron, president and CEO of CruiseGuy.com. 960 1280

Danny Lehman  

Best Luxury Cruise: Seabourn Cruise Line, Seabourn Odyssey

Best Luxury Cruise: Seabourn Cruise Line, Seabourn Odyssey

Without a doubt, Seabourn Cruise Line's Seabourn Odyssey is for the traveler who wants to be pampered at sea. This ship has 225 ocean-view luxury suites, the Spa at Seabourn, and a few upscale bars and restaurants for passengers to grab a cocktail or enjoy a delicious meal. “World-renowned American chef Thomas Keller partnered with the cruise line to create new menu items and a signature restaurant (making its debut in 2016) across its entire fleet of ships,” says Stewart Chiron. The cruise line visits more than 170 World Heritage Sites, including Thebes in Egypt, Machu Picchu in Peru and the temple complex of Borobudur on Java, an island in Indonesia. 960 1280

Seabourn  

Best Mediterranean Cruise: Viking Ocean Cruises, Viking Star

Best Mediterranean Cruise: Viking Ocean Cruises, Viking Star

On Viking Ocean Cruises’ first ship, the Viking Star, passengers can swim in the glass-backed infinity pool; watch a movie under the stars; and feel snowflakes descend onto their skin in the spa’s Snow Grotto. “The 930-passenger ship pleasantly draws guests’ attention to the picturesque Mediterranean and Baltic scenery with amenities including a double-decker observation lounge, 2-story panoramic windows in the Explorers’ Lounge, and alfresco dining experiences,” says Jason Leppert, editor of PopularCruising.com. With these amazing amenities and special features, the Viking Star is the only way to cruise in the Mediterranean. 960 1280

Viking Cruises  

Best Mexican Cruise: Carnival Cruise Line, Carnival Miracle

Best Mexican Cruise: Carnival Cruise Line, Carnival Miracle

Carnival Cruise Line's recently upgraded Carnival Miracle sails year-round to the Mexican Riviera from Long Beach, CA, for 6- or 7-day journeys. “With the new Fun Ship 2.0 features added this year, the ship is a perfect choice for heading to Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta,” says Jason Leppert. The additions include the RedFrog Pub and Alchemy Bar watering holes; Seuss at Sea for kids; Hasbro, the Game Show for families; and new, energetic Playlist Productions shows, such as Motor City. Have some fun exploring Mexico via fun excursions, including fly-fishing in the Sea of Cortez and horseback riding through the Sierra Madre. 960 1280

(L) Carnival Cruise Lines, (R) Elena Elisseeva/iStock/Getty Images   

Best Theme Cruise: Carnival Cruise Line, Carnival Live

Best Theme Cruise: Carnival Cruise Line, Carnival Live

“One cruise line that has really met the demand for music lovers is Carnival Cruise Line, which launched its Carnival Live concert series cruises several years ago and continues to offer these special sailings,” says Bill Panoff. Past artists have included Chicago, Jennifer Hudson, Martina McBride, Lady Antebellum and Journey; upcoming performers include Heart, Boston and Lionel Richie. The line is expected to announce next spring’s lineup in the months ahead. 960 1280

Carnival Cruise Lines  

Unexpected Cruise for Food: Carnival Cruise Line, Carnival Breeze

Unexpected Cruise for Food: Carnival Cruise Line, Carnival Breeze

While Carnival Cruise Line's ships are in the midpriced category, their food surpasses cuisine served by pricier competitors. The Carnival Breeze has something for even the most finicky eater, with 10 restaurants serving up a variety of lip-smacking food, including juicy burgers at Guy’s Burger Joint, owned by Food Network personality and restaurateur Guy Fieri. “I had a memorable meal in the Steakhouse, indulged at the Bonsai sushi bar and savored Italian delicacies at the Cucina del Capitano restaurant, topped off by some of the finest wines at sea,” says Anne Campbell. 960 1280

(L) Carnival Cruise Lines, (R) Miguelangelbriones/RooM/Getty Images   

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