When going to a new destination, many of us stick to the beaten path; we’ll go where the other tourists are going for the first time around. But once you’ve been to Cancun, or Montego Bay, or any other well-touristed beach spot, you may be more interested in heading somewhere a tad more under-the-radar on your next visit to the area. Or perhaps you’re the type who opts to skip the crowds the first time around. Either way, we love these seven underrated beach destinations; they’re rarely a traveler’s first choice, but perhaps they should be.
Instead of Cancun, head to Riviera Nayarit
With over 190 miles of beautiful sandy beaches, wonderful resorts, and world-class golf, it’s surprising that Riviera Nayarit is so much less known than Mexican resort destinations such as Puerto Vallarta (its neighbor to the south) and Cancun. Punta Mita and Nuevo Vallarta are the most popular towns here, but there are also a number of charming little beach towns such as Sayulita and San Pancho that offer visitors a more authentic Mexican experience. Read More »
A new year is upon us, and you know what that means – time to plan your 2014 vacation, of course! And you, being the trendsetter that you are, are planning to go to somewhere on the cutting edge. Well, we’re here to help. This year is an especially good time to visit these five destinations, which have new growth, new tourism offerings, or special events happening only in 2014. Check ‘em out!
Why Now: Nicaragua, beloved by backpackers and surfer bums, offers many of the same splendors that draw travelers to its neighbor to the south, Costa Rica — lush rainforest, beautiful white-sand beaches, volcanoes, and rich wildlife – but it is far less developed. That is starting to change, however; 2013 saw the opening of the super-exclusive luxury property Mukul, and it’s possible that this diamond in the rough will be getting a lot more polish in the coming years. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but if you like off-the-beaten path adventure travel – and discovering destinations before they fully “arrive” – now is the time to go.
Where to Stay: Aqua Wellness Resort
Aqua Wellness Resort is a rustic-luxe retreat set into a hillside overlooking Redondo Bay on Nicaragua’s Pacific coast. The resort has eco-friendly design, lush vegetation (expect to spot wildlife such as howler monkeys and iguanas), and rooms adorned with lots of natural wood; some units include plunge pools and stunning ocean views. Read More »
For true foodies, a vacation that doesn’t involve mouth-watering cuisine is hardly worthy of the title. In fact, food can often be a major focus of a trip; it’s hardly uncommon for the taste connoisseurs among us to plan a foodcation. And in our opinion, it should all start with your hotel. If you stay somewhere with a truly phenomenal restaurant right on the premises, you’re foodcation will be off to a wonderful start. Whether you’re heading to New York City for its famous fine dining, California wine country for its earthy farm-to-table fare, or Mexico for an elaborate upscale meal on the beach, we’ve got a first-rate foodie hotel for you. Take a look at the top hotel restaurants we’d travel for in the U.S., Mexico, and Caribbean.
Charlie Palmer’s Dry Creek Kitchen is one of the best – and best-known – restaurants in the Sonoma area, and for good reason. The farm-to-table, seasonal menu features items such as California Sea Bass with sweet corn fondue and Sonoma County Liberty Duck with crispy sunchokes. The restaurant’s outdoor terrace is situated under a shady arbor. Read More »
When many of us dream of the beach, we’re not just dreaming of fine white sand and clear blue waters. (Well, sure, we are dreaming about that part quite a bit.) But we’re also imagining thatched roof bars, decks with hammocks, and rooms with lots of wood or stone. Resorts that blend modern luxuries with a rustic vibe help set just the right tone for relaxation and serenity. Take a look at our faves.
Aqua Wellness Resort, Nicaragua
Aqua Wellness Resort is a rustic-luxe retreat set into a hillside overlooking Redondo Bay on Nicaragua’s Pacific coast. The resort has eco-friendly design, lush vegetation (expect to spot wildlife such as howler monkeys and iguanas), and rooms adorned with lots of natural wood; some units include plunge pools and stunning ocean views. The white-sand beach is secluded and beautiful, the restaurant serves simple but tasty local dishes, and group yoga classes on the ocean-view wooden platform are free. For a tranquil, unplugged getaway, this is one of Nicaragua’s premier options — just note that there’s no common pool (yet) and the climb from the beach to reception is extremely long and steep. Read More »
Did you spend all your time in your tree house as a kid? Or were you brokenhearted because you never had one? Well, these nine gorgeous hotels can turn your childish tree house fantasies into grown-up realities. These rustic-luxe (or just luxe) tree-house-style bungalows will let you live among the birds (and, in some cases, monkeys). Who says you have to give up on your childhood dreams?
Post Ranch Inn, Big Sur
The Post Ranch Inn’s organic architecture is breathtaking, seeming to grow out of the ground beside the hotel’s surrounding redwoods, and the spacious, eco-sensitive rooms have ocean or mountain views, as well as wood-burning fireplaces and private decks. The Tree House rooms, are, as the name implies, elevated into the trees. Read More »
Sunset in Antigua
Gorgeous sunsets can be found all year-round, but summertime is a particularly nice season to take in a beautiful dusk view with a mai tai in hand. We’ve shown you some incredible sunsets before, but we’ve created a second edition of amazing views we’ve seen more recently. From Caribbean beach destinations to bustling metropolitan cities, we found 10 more incredible sunsets from our travels around the world.
The Geejam in Port Antonio, Jamaica
Going to the beach is nice and all, but there’s something about hiding away in the jungle that really gets our travel juices flowing. The lush scenery, the wildlife spottings, the chorus of birds and insects, and the gorgeous rustic-luxe retreats all help rejuvenate us like nothing else. For those still craving a little sun and sand, plenty of our rainforest and jungle picks are on or near the beach. So go ahead — take a walk on the wild side.
Let's lounge by the pool, shall we?
This luxurious 120-room enclave is located in posh Punta Mita, and smartly sited on 22 acres amid undulating fairways and verdant tropical gardens. It’s one of the most luxurious properties in the region, and every element is stunning: the fabulous beachside pools, the acres of peaceful gardens, the ultra-luxurious spa, and the immaculate rooms that look straight out of a decor magazine. The stretch of white-sand beach on-site is interspersed with rocky coves, and there are a couple of pretty little islets just offshore — as well as the Mariettas Islands, a marine preserve, a few miles farther out to sea. So as we say every week, sit back, relax, and soak up the goodness that is the St. Regis Punta Mita.
The Tranquila Suite at La Tranquila; Riviera Nayarit, Mexico
1. FACT OR FAKEOUT? The smallest room at La Tranquila in Mexico’s Riviera Nayarit is 16 times bigger than a standard room at The Jane Hotel in New York City.
2. FACT OR FAKEOUT? According to singer Josh Groban, his dog Sweeney has a favorite hotel: The Ritz-Carlton San Francisco.
3. FACT OR FAKEOUT? The most expensive treatment at Mango Bay in Barbados is a $7,000 facial that includes a face massage with gold flakes.
4. FACT OR FAKEOUT? An Irish billionaire owes The St. Regis Washington, D.C. $10 million after throwing a St. Patrick’s Day party at the hotel’s bar and leaving without paying the tab.
5. FACT OF FAKEOUT? Stock investor Marty Zweig is selling his three-floor penthouse at The Pierre hotel in New York for $120 million.
Check out the answers after the jump!
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Hamara Retreat is an eco-friendly oasis in Riviera Nayarit.
Haramara is arguably one of the most special hotels in Mexico. It is a luxurious yoga retreat located on 12 seaside acres of wild vegetation just outside Sayulita. The structures have been built using traditional construction techniques to minimize the environmental impact, and there is no electricity anywhere besides the restaurant and the yoga studio — not even in the rooms. Each room is housed in a private standalone thatched hut with no window panes or screens separating it from the jungle, and only gauze curtains and mosquito nets to avoid bugs and critters. It is geared towards those in need of some detoxification and relaxation, with yoga and meditation classes, an open-air spa, a vegetarian and seafood restaurant, unpaved trails, and limited cell phone service. So as we say every week, sit back, relax, and soak up the goodness that is the Haramara Retreat.