Where to Go in 2016 - Rewarding Travel Edition
I have seen a LOT of lists this month of destinations travel magazines are recommending. While there are a few great ideas, for the most part, they are all relatively well know destinations. I'd like to offer 5 locations you may have never heard of that we highly recommend through personal experience or client experience. Check out the 5 places Rewarding Travel wants to see you go this year!
5. For Honeymooners Looking for Someplace Unexpected - Palau
Unless you're a diver, you've probably never heard of this place. This island nation is in the middle of the Pacific Ocean between the southern islands of the Philippines and Guam. This is continuously hailed as one of the top diving spots in the world and we can vouch. We spent a little over a week here in 2014 and wanted to stay indefinitely. Commercial fishing is illegal here and they were recently on world-wide news for burning Vietnamese fishing boats who ignored this law. As a result, the marine life is vast with 20+ sharks spotted on every dive a norm. If you're not a diver, Palau offers much to do topside with stunning landscapes, helicopter rides over the islands, snorkeling, pristine patches of beaches, and the perfect balance of local and modern luxury. It's our pick for the best place to honeymoon if you're looking for something unusual.
Don't miss: Hands down, Jellyfish lake. Swim with millions of sting-free jellyfish!
4. For Active Friends - Patagonia Region, Argentina
Patagonia isn't as well known as I'd like for it to be and I doubt many people know much about the region outside of Torres del Paine Park. We visited El Calafate and Ushuaia in March and holy smokes, it blew our minds. The Andes are impressive and driving through them to get to the various activities just adds that much more to each excursion. We hiked on a glacier, took a boat through glaciers, viewed the Upsala glacier from a ranch, and much more. If you are a mountain lover, this should absolutely be on your list of places to visit. Ushuaia is the southernmost city in the world as well and how many people can say they've been there? Time to really one-up your friends.
Don't miss: Hiking the Perito Moreno glacier. It's a difficult hike but well worth it!
3. For Red Wine Lovers - Mendoza, Argentina
Argentina makes our top 5 list twice, so you know we're serious about this country. Everyone knows about the wines of Napa, France, and Italy but my second favorite wine region, behind Champagne, is Mendoza. Most Malbecs come from here and in Argentina, they are a phenomenal value. The US Dollar is strong in Argentina, making almost every single excellent bottle of wine under $35. And that's ordering from a restaurant! The grapes are perfection, the Andes are behind each vineyard, and the people are so friendly and eager to show off the fruits of their labor. (pun intended) It's a hidden gem of a wine region that few Americans have discovered yet so run there with lots of extra room in your suitcase.
Don't miss: The 4-course lunch menu at Belasco de Banquedano for around $40, inclusive of wine pairings. Get a bottle of the Swinto. Trust me.
2. For Families with Little Ones - Singapore
This one may seem odd but Singapore is one of my favorite cities on the planet for a myriad of reasons. It is incredibly strict and tolerates very little from it's people and tourist, making it one of the safest countries to be. A combo of theme parks, culture, amazing food, gorgeous hotels, and on the water, it's a unique getaway for families looking to introduce their children to another world while still having the luxuries of home you need to keep the kids happy.
Don't miss: The Singapore Zoo. Even your kids will be enamored for a full day in this cage-less place. They also offer a night safari to make sure your kiddos are completely worn out for the day.
1. For Off-the-Beaten-Path Travelers - Madagascar
If you're like us, you try to push the envelope a bit more with each trip and this August, that includes spending some time in Madagascar. There have been plenty of documentaries about how wild this area is and as we research what to do when there, we're realizing exactly what that means. Infrastructure is sparse leaving us the opportunity of visiting only one park while we're there. There are no flights between the north and south, or anywhere in between, that are flights you'd want to take. (think recycled planes and untrained pilots...) That means, if you want to see the famous Baobab trees, the lemurs, and the pristine waters of Nosy Be, you're looking at a 12 hour drive between each place, minimum, on unpaved roads. Knowing we'll be next door in Africa, we couldn't resist though and will be flying into Antananarivo and heading to the Andasibe Forest to see the lemurs for 3 days. (animals are our weak spot) They are exceptionally friendly creatures and will jump on you without a moment's notice.
Don't miss: The opportunity to go - this is a country that can be difficult to get to so if you find yourself with time to spare in eastern Africa, do it.