Paradise Found: Unveiling The Next Maldives
Popular destinations are popular for a reason, and while they can be beautiful and exciting, they are not everything the world has to offer. Like valuable treasures, some destinations are hidden away, far from the commercial eye, making those lucky enough to visit them not only boast a new gem in their passport, but enjoy a more authentic experience as they discover virgin vistas, rich cultures, and authentic cuisines. Why go where everyone has already been when you can blaze your own trail in an adventure of a lifetime with these carefully selected destinations. Whatever your ideal vacation is, all you have to do is pick the destination and we’ll take care of the rest to ensure you have an adventure of a lifetime!
So get your passport ready and fly with us on a journey like no other.
Luang Prabang, Laos
Found between the majestic Mekong and Nam Khan Rivers, Luang Praban is a UNESCO World Heritage site for a reason. It is, truly, a hidden treasure known for its natural and cultural wonders, timeless beauty and peaceful atmosphere. Luang Prabang enjoys a tropical climate, which naturally means there are distinct wet and dry seasons. However, the best time to visit is during the dry season, when you can enjoy beautifully sunny days, pleasant warm weather and minimal rain. With the perfect weather, there is nothing to stop you from exploring the city and all its surroundings.
What to do?
Luang Prabang boasts a rich cultural heritage, meaning you will enjoy a plethora of experiences to make your trip truly memorable. For the early risers, you will be able to witness the fascinating alms-giving ceremony, where saffron-robed monks walk through the streets and offer blessings for those giving souls that offer them food. It is, for lack of a better word, a humbling experience.
Rightfully famous for its gorgeous temples, Luang Prabang is adorned with magnificent temples like the unparalleled Wat Xieng Thong, which is an absolute masterpiece of traditional Lao architecture carefully adorned with gold carving. Explore Wat Mai and Wat Visoun, one known for its stunning golden bas-reliefs and the other for its iconic watermelon-shaped stupa. Each temple is more beautiful than the other, and they all offer a glimpse into the spiritual fabric of Laos.
For those passionate about sports, the heart of Luang Prabang holds the iconic Mount Phousi. You can climb the steps and be rewarded with panoramic views of the city, the beautiful Mekong River and the surrounding landscapes once you reach the summit. Tip: The impressive panoramic views are especially breathtaking during sunrise or sunset.
What to eat?
It is no surprise that Laotian food is a perfect fusion of flavors and textures. Whether you try aromatic laap, khao soi or sticky rice, you are set to enjoy every single bite of absolute deliciousness bursting with fresh herbs and spices. The night market, besides being unmissable in your list of activities, is a real-life paradise for all the food lovers and the gastronomically adventurous, offering a variety of authentic delicacies and snacks that you will not want to miss.
Amalfi Coast, Italy
Located amongst the picturesque coastline of southern Italy, the Amalfi Coast is effortlessly luxurious and an icon for a reason. Breathtaking and a magnet for travel enthusiasts that revel in beauty, delicious food, charm and a hint of glamor. Nestled in the Mediterranean, the Amalfi Coast enjoys beautiful weather with mild winters and warm summers. There is never a bad time to visit the Amalfi Coast, though the best time is arguably late spring to early autumn, when the weather is fabulous and the towns thrive. Prepare to bask in the sun next to crystal-clear turquoise waters, revel in stunning vistas and warm Mediterranean allure.
Activities at the Amalfi Coast are vast and you are sure to find something for every type of traveler, whether you enjoy leisurely walks along cliffside paths to yacht parties and exploring charming seaside towns. Like our destination previously mentioned, the Amalfi Coast is deeply rooted in its history. You will find awe-inspiring Roman ruins and strong medieval architecture that is sure to transport you beyond centuries. You can pick where to start your journey, whether that is the town of Amalfi itself, the iconic village of Positano, Ravello, or the enchanting Island of Capri! Each destination has its own spectacular enchantment, from pastel-colored houses to panoramic views of the sea and, for the wine connoisseurs, fantastic terraced vineyards.
What to do?
There is no shortage of activities at the Amalfi Coast. Popular interests include exploring the beautiful streets adorned with colorful houses cascading down the cliffside, visiting the magnificent Cathedral of St. Andrew, wander through elegant boutiques, artisanal shops and distinguished antique stores. No trip to the Amalfi Coast would be complete without paying a visit to the iconic Villa Cimbrone in the village of Ravello, with its stunning “Terrace of Infinity.”
Though the Amalfi Coast is known for its relaxation and luxury, adventurous hearts can embark on a unique boat tour to the enchanting island of Capri, where hidden grottos and azure waters decorate your journey until you reach the streets of Capri Town. Don’t forget to visit the scenic Gardens of Augustus or the gorgeous heights of Mount Solaro. End your day in a traditional lemon farm, a little taste of paradise where you can indulge in a refreshing tasting and culinary experience.
What to eat?
It’s Italy! There is nothing besides absolute delicacies and the Amalfi Coast boasts some of the country’s most delectable dishes. Having the ocean so close means fresh seafood is a specialty. Try scialatielli and zuppa di pesce, add some buffalo mozzarella and pair it with beautiful local wines. Follow your meal with a flavorful sfogliatella, a delicious pastry filled with sweet ricotta or delicate citrus-infused cream, and end your day with a glass of traditional Limoncello.
Whether you choose to relax on a yacht, enjoy a magnificent culinary experience or explore the unparalleled beauty and charm of all the picturesque villages along your journey, the Amalfi Coast will create postcard-worthy memories to last a lifetime.
Ko Lanta, Thailand
A gem in Thailand’s crow, where turquoise waters meet lush jungles as the vibrant culture blends in with the serenity of the atmosphere. A real life tropical paradise with warm weather year-round and abundant opportunities for unforgettable experiences. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing getaway, or an electrifying venture, the serene beauty of Ko Lanta embraces the essence of pure bliss. Stay by the beach for a relaxing escapade, or in a tree house for an experience like no other. There is a reason why so many expats found their secret sanctuary in this little corner of the earth off the coast of Thailand.
What to do?
From bar hopping, to beach hopping to actual island hopping, Ko Lanta is filled of activities and experiences that ensure not one day is dull. Relax on powdery white sands, take a boat to visit the nearby islands of Phi Phi, Koh Haa and Koh Rok, and explore the trek as you head to Klong Chak Waterfall for a dip in the natural pool with crystal-clear waters. A popular diving destination for beginners and experienced divers alike, in Ko Lanta you will find numerous diving sites and opportunities to encounter marine life as it swims around picturesque coral reefs. Feel the awe that comes from swimming with manta rays and sea turtles, or discover the biodiversity of Mu Ko Lanta National Park, home to hornbills and playful monkeys. Whether you decide on taking cooking classes, go on a fishing trip or attend a yoga retreat, Ko Lanta allows travelers to customize their experience as they enjoy the tropical paradise.
What to eat?
The culinary scene is alive and intrepid, with a variety of seafood that includes grilled fish, prawns, crabs and squid, to Pad Thai, green curry and Tom Yum, an iconic soup with aromatic flavors and a perfect blend of kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, shrimp, chili and more. Indulge in some Som Tum, a refreshingly spicy green papaya salad, or give Massaman and Panang Curry a try, known for its rich flavor and aromatic taste. End your meal with the delightful Mango Sticky Rice, where sweet and ripe mangoes are delicately paired with coconut-infused sticky rice. Whatever you desire, Ko Lanta will delight your senses in a true gastronomic paradise.
San Blas Islands, Panama
The San Blas Islands is an archipelago consisting of more than 350 pristine islands. Tropical with warm temperatures all year round, the San Blas Islands is home to the indigenous Guna Yala people. The best time to visit is from December to April, perfect for enjoying the sun kissed beaches and calm seas. A trip to the San Blas Islands is a voyage to new cultures, as you can immerse yourself in the culture of the Guna Yala, who pride themselves in their heritage, vibrant traditional clothing and their indigenous traditions. A true paradise for nature lovers, you can enjoy crystal-clear waters filled with colorful marine life, slow down and enjoy a slow-paced vacation.
What to do?
You will have plenty to do as you explore the culture of the Guna Yala people, known for their deep connection to their land and utmost respect for the sea, as well as their warm hospitality. As you explore the islands, make sure to visit their traditional villages and witness their skillful artistry to create molas. What is a mola? Well, gorgeous and intricate textile panels that depict the Guna Yala’s legends, history and traditions. One of the highlights of visiting the Islands is their stunning natural beauty, crystal-clear waters, powdery white sand beaches and lush tropical vegetation. With the abundance of marine fauna, snorkeling and diving are popular activities in this tropical paradise. Abundant coral reefs teeming with tropical fish, sea turtles and a shipwreck or two, are just a few of the wonders that the San Blas Islands have to offer.
Thanks to its secluded nature, the San Blas Islands are the perfect opportunity for stargazing, lounging in a hammock and disconnecting from the outside world.
What to eat?
The Guna Yala cuisine showcases fresh seafood as its centerpiece, featuring coconut-infused lobster, crab dishes from locally sourced crabs, grilled fish and more! And nothing quenches thirst after a long day of swimming and tanning like coconut water. Nothing is off limits when you stay at one of San Blas many all inclusive accommodations, making your stay even more memorable.
Lake Atitlan, Guatemala
Another hidden gem in a world of treasure, you’ll find Lake Atitlan in the highlands of Guatemala. Surrounded by majestic volcanoes, tranquil waters and thick green hills. The Lake, like a portal to another world, perfectly mirrors the ever-changing colors of the sky, creating wonderful and unique works of art. Lake Atitlan is surrounded by captivating indigenous villages, each completely unique with their very own cultures and traditions.
What to do?
A local market is never a bad place to start, and in the village of Panajachel you will find delicate textiles, handmade crafts and traditional indigenous garments. If you are spiritually inclined and enjoy having a connection with your surroundings and higher self, the picturesque village of Santiago Atitlan is perfect for you. Famous for its spiritual energy and Mayan traditions, you will find multiple religions coexisting in perfect balance. The Church of Santiago Apostol is paramount for both Mayan and Catholic spiritual practices, showcasing the equilibrium between faiths. Make sure you don’t miss the opportunity to meet Maximon, also referred to as El Gran Abuelo, a spiritual guide and ancestral divinity. Take a moment to participate in a traditional ceremony, witness Mayan rituals, or master the ancient art of backstrap weaving.
Nature lovers rejoice, as Lake Atitlan does not fall short in its opportunities for exploration. From hikes through the lush hills to the breathtaking views of volcanoes and the lake, discovering a hidden waterfall and witnessing captivating fauna is no surprise at Lake Atitlan.
What to eat?
Lake Atitlan enjoy both traditional and contemporary restaurants, making the gastronomic scene as exciting to explore. Traditional flavors of Guatemalan cuisine vary depending on each region, but hearty stews are a consistent delight. Don’t forget to try Pepian, a Guatemalan staple, is made with a blend of spices and served with rice and tortillas. Fresh tropical fruits and coffee are also a must on your adventurous to-do list. No Mayan experience would be complete without discovering the secret of cacao traditions, so engage in a chocolate-making workshop or cacao ceremony like no other.
Whatever you decide to do in Lake Atitlan, this idyllic destination will embrace you with its natural splendor, captivating landscapes, and vibrant cultural heritage. From a relaxing spa getaway to an adventurous anthropological experience, Lake Atitlan has an option for anyone and everyone.
Havelock Island, India
The Andaman Islands of India hold a captivating gem: Havelock Island. Known for pristine beaches, a peaceful ambiance and vibrant marine life, Havelock Island is a treasure of the Andaman archipelago and an unforgettable destination. Picture this, you are laying on white sands, feeling the refreshing breeze as it hits your sunkissed tan and you enjoy a tropical cocktail. Redhangar Beach is ranked as one of the world’s most beautiful beaches, and the perfect place to spend your days sunbathing, taking walks along the shore, and cooling off with a refreshing splash in the crystal-clear waters that surround the Island.
What to do?
Whether you are a lover of the relaxing, the indulgent and the luxurious, or you are an adventurous at heart, Havelock Island has something for you. Extraordinary snorkeling and intrepid diving opportunities for you to dive into the lively underwater world, discover a treasure trove of coral reefs and come face to face with a myriad of tropical fish. Head over to Elephant Beach, one of the most popular spots for admiring a kaleidoscope of colors under the water. If you prefer activities on land, you can immerse yourself in the rich culture of the Island and visit villages with talented locals that embrace their traditions and heritage. Witness traditional dance performances, appreciate the skill behind intricate seashell jewelry and handicrafts and enjoy every second of your stay in the Island. Not excited enough? How about keeping your eyes open to spot endemic bird species flying in the sky, contrasted only by luscious forests and playful monkeys swinging through the trees.
What to eat?
Indian food is internationally famous for its delicious blends of spices and textures, and in Havelock Island you will delight in the delicious cuisine of the region. It seems pretty clear now that wherever there’s a beach, there’s seafood, and Havelock Island is not the exception to this rule. Its cuisine highlights freshly caught seafood, including indulgent lobster, mouthwatering prawns and fish in a perfect dance of aromatic spices. Fiery curries, coconut-infused delicacies, refreshing tropical lassis… Delectable food makes any trip better.
Known as the “Windy City,” Essaouira offers a truly unique experience that immerses you in its vibrant atmosphere and rich cultural heritage. The perfect time to visit is during the summer, from June to late August, as the flawless weather allows you to freely walk around the narrow streets and embark on a journey to discover the wonders that await. Stay in a luxurious hotel, with breakfast in bed and spa treatment. Or, be fascinated by the traditional Riads, magnificent courtyards with lush gardens, intricate tiles and an unequaled ambiance.
What to do?
Traverse the medina, a UNESCO World Heritage site, that is sure to captivate you with its distinctive blue and white architecture, intricate details and lively colors that mirror a picturesque movie set. With gorgeous beaches, and perfect weather, you will be greeted by the refreshing sea breeze as you walk along the sandy shores or adventure in surfing and windsurfing. The pristine beaches are an ideal setting for a day as relaxing or as adventurous as you desire. Riding a camel or a horse during sunset will make you feel like a protagonist.
Essaouira is known for its thriving arts and cultural scene, having attracted artists from all around the world, meaning you will find galleries and workshops where you can witness the talented artisans at work. Take in the intricate paintings and sculptures, delicate wood carvings and stunning murals as you are surrounded in the city’s creative spirit. Visit the 18th century ancient walls that surround the medina, offering panoramic views of the city, the sea and a deep dive into Essaouira’s rich past.
Famous for its music festivals, Essaouira is home to the Gnawa World Music Festival, an iconic experience that celebrates African heritage with alluring musical performances. Experience the atmosphere, the rhythm, energy and cultural fusion of such a distinctive event.
What to eat?
As most coastal cities do, Essaouira has great access to fresh seafood, meaning seafood lovers are in for a treat in the city. Known for its fresh catches, you can fish your own dinner and ask for it to be grilled in most restaurants along the shore. And for those that prefer to have their dinner already prepared, you can indulge in the city’s grilled sardines, spiced calamari or the famous Moroccan fish tagine, where the distinct flavors of the ocean perfectly combine with a blend of aromatic herbs and spices, making your meal a perfect marriage of delicious and fresh. With numerous restaurants at different price points, from street food delights to high end restaurants, the gastronomic scene is like none other.
For a more authentic experience, try the delectable Moroccan pastries, the signature tagines, delectable mint tea. And for those passionate for the cosmopolitan vibe, fusion cuisine has emerged in Essaouira, blending traditional Moroccan flavors with bold international influences. Be prepared for a culinary adventure as Essaouira takes you on an exciting journey through vibrant flavors, fresh seafood, traditional Moroccan dishes and exciting fusion creations.
Flores Island, Indonesia
Another archipelago for our list of The Next Maldives. Flores Island is a paradise on earth, rich in biodiversity, cultural heritage and natural beauty. Home to the iconic Komodo Dragon National Park, refuge to the legendary Komodo dragons and, (is it really a surprise?) a UNESCO World Heritage site.
What to do?
Hop on a boat tour and encounter these mythical creatures, explore the park’s islands, snorkel in clear waters and witness the beautiful dance of nature. For the cultured minds, discover a tapestry of cultural wonders by visiting the traditional villages and marveling at the traditional houses in Wae Rebo, a UNESCO-listed village nestled among mist-covered hills. Discover the world of the Manggarai people, known for their particular culture, traditional attire and unique music. Hike to the majestic Kelimutu volcano, famous for its three colored crater lakes that gracefully change color as the day passes, making an already magical journey nothing short of mystical. Hidden waterfalls, rice terraces, lush forests and exotic wildlife, Flores Island boasts incredibly diverse ecosystems for you to encounter.
What to eat?
Besides the stunning manta rays and graceful sea turtles, Flores Island has another trick up its sleeve. A wonderful culinary scene paralleled to none, the local cuisine allows you to indulge in a delightful blend of flavors. Taste unique dishes like “ikan bakar” (grilled fish), nasi bungkus (spiced chicken or fish with various vegetables wrapped in a banana leaf) and “sate balap” (skewered meat) paired with “arak” (a local palm wine traditionally made on the island) and discover the culinary wonders of Indonesian cuisine. Each dish reflects the unique flavors and traditions of Flores, making your journey to Flores a gastronomic experience in itself.
Nosara, Costa Rica
A place where Pura Vida materializes into untouched beaches, exciting adventures and gentle ocean’s breeze, Nosara in Costa Rica enjoys warm weather year-round, making it a perfect destination to work on your tan, enjoy water sports or discover what it really means to live a carefree, balanced and happy life. Stay on the beach or hidden in the lush jungle, in a charming boutique hotel or an eco-lodge, as Nosara provides a relaxing yet exciting experience like no other.
What to do?
Ride the perfect wave as you live out your surfing dreams, snorkel to catch a glimpse of the beautiful marine life or get certified as a diver by joining a course that takes you in an exploration adventure to the ocean’s depths. Sit still as you are captivated by the abundant wildlife, colorful birds and flourishing greenery as you embark on a hike through the jungle setting. For a truly once in a lifetime experience, witness the inspiring event of arribada, where hundreds of turtles nest on the white sand beaches of this heavenly destination.
As you explore everything the culture has to offer, join the celebration of Día de Los Muertos or attend rejuvenating yoga and wellness retreats found throughout the year. Whether you volunteer in a conservation effort, indulge in the opulent spas or completely immerse in the adventure that calls your name, your stay in Nosara will make you take Pura Vida wherever you go.
What to eat?
From black beans with rice to tangy ceviche and fresh seafood, Nosara has something to suit everyone’s tastes. The ocean makes seafood a specialty in this flower of Costa Rica, meaning you can enjoy flavorsome grilled fish accompanied by fried plantain and fresh vegetables. Discover the simple and authentic nature of Costa Rican cuisine as you try the quintessential Gallo Pinto, Arroz con Pollo and Tamales, deliciously followed by a cup of Café Britt, one of Costa Rica’s most famous coffee brands that completes any meal. Don’t leave before trying Tres Leches Cake, a delicate sponge cake soaked in a mixture of evaporated, condensed and whole milk (which explains the name), and traditionally topped with whipped cream and a variety of fruit! End your day with a hearty Casado or a light ceviche, to drift into bed and get recharged for another full day of thrilling discoveries.
Sidi Bou Said, Tunisia
A place where time stands still, presenting a conjunction of history, art and that iconic Mediterranean allure. Narrow streets adorned with white and blue traditional buildings make Sidi Bou Said a sight straight out of a movie. As you walk through the streets, you’ll notice the Arab, Andalusian and Mediterranean cultures that have shaped the intricate details of the local architecture. Distinctive blue doors and ornate tiles, that perfectly compliment the breathtaking views of the sparkling Mediterranean Sea and the Gulf of Tunis.
What to do?
As you explore the city and stroll along the main Rue Habib Thameur, you will encounter a variety of boutiques, charming cafés and carefully curated art galleries. Find exceptional marketplaces and uncover ceramics, textiles and delicately designed jewelry. Escape from the afternoon sun sipping on refreshing mint tea accompanied by a selection of traditional pastries. Visit Café des Nattes, a café with a rich history that has attracted writers, artists and intellectuals for decades. Enjoy a cup of aromatic coffee while you admire the panoramic views of the sea and the village while taking a seat on the terrace, a true cultural landmark.
Visit the enchanting Musée de Sidi Bou Said, housed in a beautiful traditional Tunisian home and showcasing a collection of artwork and artifacts that paint a picture of the history and culture of the region. It is a sublime opportunity to deepen your understanding and knowledge of Sidi Bou Said’s artistic heritage. For a glimpse into the village’s religious traditions, visit the Tomb of Sidi Bou Said, the village’s namesake and revered saint. A place of pilgrimage for locals and visitors alike, it offers a moment of tranquility and a meaningful experience to remember.
What to eat?
Delight yourself in the flavors of Tunisian cuisine at the local restaurants and numerous cafés scattered through Sidi Bou Said, offering traditional dishes like couscous, tagines and brik a l’oeuf, lablabi and the iconically refreshing “atay nana” (mint tea). Go on a wonderful journey through vibrant spices and fresh ingredients that characterize the unmatched Tunisian gastronomy. Pair your afternoon tea with makroud, a traditional Tunisian pastry made with date-filled semolina dough that is indulgently fried until golden and then dusted with a fine layer of powdered sugar and, because it is never too much, drizzled with honey.