Six Senses Bhutan
With the sky-high monasteries and dramatic valleys of Bhutan already on our must-see list, it was convenient for Six Senses to come along and give us another reason to visit this mystical Himalayan kingdom voted the happiest country in the world.
Actually, make that another five reasons. Six Senses has launched five brand new boutique lodges, spread out in different locations across the western and central valleys of Bhutan.
Each retreat is unique in style, environment, character and experiences, but all abide by the signature Six Senses guiding principles: a luxury spa and wellness centre, self-discovery, sleep and mindful eating.
The carefully chosen sites are the capital of Thimphu, Punakha, Paro Valley, Gangtey and Bumthang, and guests will be encouraged to visit more than one lodge during their trip to create their own Six Senses Journey.
All spectacular in their own right, and lacking nothing in the way of five-star grandeur and world-class amenities, there is one standout: Punakha. This ‘flying farmhouse amid rice fields’, as Six Senses has so artfully coined it, appears to be almost levitating over the low-lying valley and, complete with swoon-worthy infinity pool, gets us wildly excited for a visit.
Appalachian Trail, USA
Very much in the same lane as wellness tours and purposeful travel, comes a trend we can all get around: slow travel. It’s a concept that has grown from the ‘travel less, see more’ theory, and revolves around taking the time to explore a destination thoroughly, rather than just passing through in a fly-by visit.
The Appalachian Trail is one of the longest hiking-only footpaths in the world, spanning from Maine to Georgia. Lucky for you, the upstate New York section of the trail is one of the best places to indulge in a spot of slow travel.
Often misunderstood as an area that demands weeks on end to explore, you may be surprised to hear that the trail can be easily conquered if you keep things simple. We recommend choosing hikes you can accomplish in a half-day or so, leaving the afternoon open to wander through a nearby town.
In particular, the impressive Bear Mountain and Lemon Squeezer trails reward hikers with phenomenal views, while the quaint towns of Peekskill and Beacon are gorgeous places to unwind.
With slow travel, gone is that pressure to see everything at once, leaving you to do nothing more than take a breath, embrace your surroundings and wander at your own leisure.
Cath Adventure, Africa
Ladies, step forward. This one’s for you! More women than ever before are choosing to travel alone, which has in turn seen an increase in the demand for female-focused tours.
These (mostly) women-owned, women-run businesses offer female adventurers the opportunity to not only travel safely with other like-minded women, but to also engage with women from other cultures and backgrounds, an interaction that would likely not be possible with men around.
Catherine Edsell is one individual championing the cause, and this year has all-women tours lined up in Madagascar (a diving trip with fellow expedition leader Ida Vincent) and Namibia (tracking desert elephants in the Namibian wilderness).
Challenging, thought-provoking and fulfilling, these women-only tours sure beat the annual girls’ winery trip.
Blue Room, Canada
Got a cheeky US$12,000 to spare and looking to really treat yourself and that someone special? We’ve got just the experience for you. Introducing the Blue Room, a private six-hour dining extravaganza held in a secret ice cave somewhere near Whistler, Canada, and accessible only by helicopter.
A little OTT, right? Sure, but that doesn’t mean we don’t want in! Especially considering what’s involved – we’re talking a guided ice-cave tour, five-course dinner by Four Seasons executive sous chef David Baarschers and plenty of free-flowing Krug. The setting? An aqua-blue cave under a floor of frozen water.
Head-Line Mountain Holidays guides the voyage and provides all the adventure gear (no need to dress fancy for this one) – all you need to bring is your sense of adventure.
A FLYING FIRST
We all known Las Vegas has the world’s tallest observation wheel, a waterslide that passes through a shark-infested aquarium, an indoor skydiving centre and a theme park atop a skyscraper, but did you know about the zip-line over the Strip?
A first for Vegas, FLY LINQ features 10 side-by-side zip-lines that stretch for more than 300 metres, at a launching height of 35 metres off the ground. If that makes you feel queasy, it might be important to note that during your 45-second joy flight you’ll reach speeds of up to 56 kilometres an hour. Which is actually pretty fast when you consider you’re being catapulted headfirst through the air above the busy LINQ Promenade.
So if a win on the blackjack tables or the giant novelty cocktails aren’t giving you the Vegas buzz you’re after, perhaps hurtling through the air might do the trick.
If you’re obsessed with all things espionage, own the entire James Bond DVD box set and have a secret surveillance system wired up to watch your house – just in case – then New York’s latest museum is going to have your spy senses tingling.
Created by real-life spies (former head honchos from both the US and UK intelligence agencies, to be exact), Spyscape is a completely mind-blowing experience designed to test your capabilities as a potential infiltrator/assassin/detective.
The seven galleries are divided into spy-related categories – hacking, encryption, deception, surveillance, cyber warfare, special ops and intelligence – and each area features its own interactive activities.
Our favourites would have to be the Mission Impossible-style laser tunnel, which will have you dodging motion sensor lights (found in the special ops section), and a genuine Enigma machine, which all good spies will know was used in World War II to crack the Nazi Enigma code (part of the encryption section).
To finish, you’re assigned a spy-related role according to how you well you performed during the various tasks. So come prepared, because you never know who could be watching.
The Lindis, New Zealand
Tucked away somewhere on Ben Avon Station’s 2,500 hectares in the pristine Ahuriri Valley is New Zealand’s worst-kept secret. The Lindis is a boutique hotel offering total exclusivity and seclusion in the form of just five stunning suites.
Completely encircled by three conservation parks and a spectacular row of snow-capped mountains, the Lindis has been built into the landscape in a way that not only minimises its impact on the surrounding environment, but allows for a completely immersive luxury experience, too.
To look at the building itself is to feast your eyes upon a true work of architectural beauty – the sweeping, wave-like timber roof blends seamlessly into the tussock-filled grasslands, while the floor-to-ceiling windows that border the entire length of the building invite the outside world in.
Hiking, horseriding, gliding and fly-fishing are just some of the activities you may want to indulge in during your stay. If you can tear yourself away from the charcuterie station, daily afternoon tea or incredibly well-stocked cellar, that is.
THE NEW MALDIVES
The pristine shores and above-water bungalows of the Maldives are looking a little crowded these days. Luckily, we think we’ve found a slice of tropical paradise that could just offer a quieter alternative – and there’s not even an ocean to be found.
Bacalar is located 340 kilometres south of Mexico’s Cancun, just near the Belize border, and 20 kilometres inland from the coast. Instead of the seaside wonderland you may have been expecting, the town is situated upon the impossibly blue and ever-shimmering waters of Laguna Bacalar, the largest lagoon on the Yucatan Peninsula.
Also known as the Lagoon of Seven Colours, Bacalar is yet to be overrun by tourists, and there’s just a handful of restaurants, bars and accommodation options from which to choose. But that’s the beauty of Bacalar – it’s an insanely beautiful region, made all the more so because it feels so separated from huge resorts and tour companies.
Let’s keep it our little secret, shall we?
A tented camp in the middle of the boulder-filled Namib Desert may not be enough to get you to jump on a plane to Africa, but what if we told you this canvas outpost boasts a cocktail and cigar lounge, spa treatment rooms, a desert-facing infinity pool and 10 colonial-style tents? Yep, we thought that might change things. Inspired by the wealthy explorers of yesteryear, the tents are furnished with rich fabrics, wooden accents, a range of handpicked antiques and even a copper bath.
Sonop is the latest accommodation offering from Zannier Hotels, the masterminds behind 1898 The Post in Belgium, Le Chalet in France and sister camp Omaanda, so you know it’s got a good pedigree.
Each evening guests retire to the on-site restaurant and are treated to a black-tie-white-gloves dining service that becomes a lovely opportunity to reflect upon another day of adventure, beauty and unparalleled desert vistas in the Karas region of Namibia.
Arctic Bath, Sweden
An imposing almost scary mass of timber logs from the outside; a tranquil haven of health and wellness on the inside. That’s the only way to describe Arctic Bath, Sweden’s coolest hotel, which wouldn’t look out of place in a Game of Thrones episode.
Thankfully, there’s no risk of attack from White Walkers here. Instead, visitors to this stunning feat of design can enjoy a free-floating experience during summer (Arctic Bath has been built atop the Lule River) and a frozen one during winter.
The circular shape of the structure creates an open but protected space in the middle, which is where the ice-cold plunge pool resides. Just six rooms surround the chilly bath, each with its own Scandi-style space, enormous skylight and private access across a footbridge from the shore.
While the spa treatments, restaurant and bar are added bonuses to an already epic hotel, private decks attached to each room provide unobstructed, front-row seats to the northern lights (or midnight sun, depending what time of year it is), which, we gotta say, is pretty special.
We’re all about disconnecting, enforcing a digital detox and trying to minimise our screen time. Which is nice in theory, but actually trying to go through with it is another story. This makes something like Unyoked – essentially a tiny house in the middle of nowhere – all the more important.
The theory behind Unyoked is a simple one: we should all make it a priority to get off the grid every now and then to reconnect with nature, a loved one or ourselves.
If you can commit to that, Unyoked does all the rest. It’s got secluded cabins scattered a few hours’ drive from both Sydney and Melbourne, and you receive the exact address just two days out from arrival.
Once at your little cabin in the woods (or in a valley or by the coast – there’s no way of knowing where you’ll end up) it’s just you, a bed, fridge, stove and bathroom.
If the thought of not having access to Uber Eats scares the hell out of you, the Unyoked crew can organise a tasty provisions box. Then, all that’s left to do is, well, nothing! Sounds like bliss to us.
TRAVEL TO THE FUTURE
Space. It’s the final frontier of travel, right? And while the idea of sending regular people into orbit for fun isn’t quite a new one (we’re looking at you, Richard Branson), the team at Axiom Space, in partnership with luxury travel firm Roman & Erica, have a pretty solid and actually realistic plan in place to make it happen.
Reservations for this once-in-a-lifetime experience are now open. Upon confirmation all Space Axiom guests will be required to undertake 15 weeks of intense space training, alongside career astronauts, in order to guarantee their suitability for the trip.
It’s certainly no fly-by of the moon after all – once your training is complete you’ll be blasting off in one of Elon Musk’s SpaceX rockets to spend seven to 10 days aboard the International Space Station.
Your time in orbit will be spent contributing to a mission of your very own; it might be helping out with microgravity or biological research, or exploring photography and fitness in zero gravity. Then, it’s a simple capsule back down to Earth. And all for just AU$55 million. Bargain, don’t you think?
Collective Retreats, USA
While glamping alone isn’t enough to make our hit list, when something as cool as the chance to glamp in New York City pops up, well, we simply couldn’t resist.
Collective Retreats has been doing the whole rural glamping thing for a while now, with ridiculously luxe bell tents found in wilderness regions in Yellowstone, Texas and Colorado. But in 2018 the team decided to shake things up and head for the bright lights of New York, setting up camp at Governors Island. Just a quick ferry ride from downtown Manhattan, the island location offers guests million dollar views of the skyline and Statue of Liberty, minus the honking taxis and screaming New Yorkers. Now that’s hard to get in this city!
Your digs are equipped with everything you could need for a comfortable night under the stars – plush robes, a heavenly bed, the promise of a chef-cooked brekky in the morning – but there’s no better way to spend your night on Governors Island than getting stuck into the complimentary s’mores kit and watching night fall over the city that never sleeps.
Awei Pila, Mergui Archipelago
Unspoiled islands are hard to come by these days, but if you head to the aquamarine waters of the Mergui Archipelago, off the south coast of Myanmar, you might just get lucky. Find yourself on Pila Island though, and you’ve hit the tropical island jackpot.
This remote nirvana is where you’ll find Mergui’s newest luxury resort, Awei Pila, hidden away on the northernmost beach of the island, surrounded by nothing but virgin forests and blindingly white coastline.
Awei Pila is accessible via a two-hour speedboat trip from the mainland. Upon arrival 24 tented villas, all air-conditioned, neatly appointed and boasting either beachfront or forest views, await guests. Add an open, relaxed restaurant, spa and swimming pool complete the list of facilities, and it’s easy to see Awei Pila is taking a ‘barefoot luxury’ approach to the whole resort thing rather than opting for in-your-face opulence.
Determined to leave as little impact on the island’s fragile ecosystem as possible, solar panels and a water treatment system have also been installed at Awei Pila, and all fabrics used are sustainable and made of natural fibres. Environmentally conscious and a stunningly beautiful place to escape for a getaway? Awei Pila certainly ticks all the right boxes for us.
If there was a region to emerge as leader in the wellness sector, we’d have to say we never would’ve predicted Eastern Europe. But that’s exactly what has happened, with spa and medical wellness resorts – also known as sanatorium resorts – opening up across countries like Lithuania and Latvia.
Stemming from the desire to detox from our increasingly hectic and pressure-filled lives, Eastern Europe has begun overhauling many Soviet-era wellness retreats in order to start combining centuries-old healing traditions with modern medical advances. All at a fraction of the price of many of Western Europe’s exclusive health centres.
One such place is the spa town of Druskininkai in Lithuania, which has repositioned itself as a go-to destination for those looking to rejuvenate their mind, body and soul. A spa town since the early eighteenth century, the town is renowned for its variety of beauty treatments, therapeutic mud applications and wellness massages. Add pure mineral water and clean forest air and, if you’re looking to feel happier and healthier, this could be the place to do so.
Downtown Sporting Club, USA
As the old saying goes,“One door closes, and another axe-throwing lane appears.” Or something like that. Either way, the doors of Nashville’s much-loved, trailer park-style eatery Paradise Park, closed back in July 2018 to make way for owners Ben and Max Goldberg’s latest venture, the Downtown Sporting Club.
This four-storey extravaganza opened in April 2019 and is shaking up Music City. Occupying the ground floor is a restaurant, helmed by Levon Wallace of Grey & Dudley fame, a communal area and small retail precinct; the second level, dubbed the Rec Room, is dedicated to axe throwing and other old-fashioned games.
The third floor, aimed at offering more affordable accommodation options for visitors to Nashville, is the sleeping quarters, and will be filled with king, queen and bunk bed rooms.
Finally, dotted with fire pits, neon signs, lush greenery and portable seating, is the rooftop bar. Phew, talk about an establishment that’s thought of everything!
THE NEW GALAPAGOS
Before SA Airlink began offering weekly commercial flights to St Helena in 2018, the only way to reach this remote island in the middle of the South Atlantic Ocean was aboard the RMS St Helena on a journey that took roughly one week. Not exactly conducive circumstances for a thriving tourism industry. Now, St Helena is an accessible destination that rivals the Galapagos and Easter Island in terms of exquisite natural landscapes, diverse flora and fauna and a captivating history.
Most importantly, hardly anyone’s cottoned on to the charm of St Helena yet, and the rugged cliffs, ring of mountains and deep valleys remain virtually untouched. Adrenaline junkies will find it hard to resist the slew of hiking trails and shipwrecks that double as dive sites, while history buffs will enjoy the Georgian architecture – considered some of the best in the world – and discovering where Napoleon saw out his final years.
ADVENTURE AND WELLNESS
Keen to capitalise on the wellness trend is tour company MT Sobek, who heard the plight of travellers saying they need a ‘holiday from their holiday’ and came up with six carefully curated health trips.
From Morocco’s sand dunes to the beach cliffs of Mexico’s Baja Peninsula, on a MT Sobek retreat there’s no need to worry about being trapped in some stuffy conference room holding hands in a circle with a bunch of strangers humming ‘ommm’.
Instead, you’ll find there’s a tour to suit every type of wellness seeker. For the spiritually inclined, we’d recommend the meditation getaway in Arizona’s Sonoran Desert or yoga and mindfulness in Laos and Cambodia.
If your idea of wellness involves pushing your body to its physical limits to achieve a sense of calm, then a hiking and cycling trip through Bali’s rice fields or trekking the peaks of Italy’s Dolomites should have you finding zen. Whatever your preferred method of reinvigoration, prepare to feel nourished after an MT Sobek wellness adventure.
ALL YOU CAN EAT
Mercato Mayfair, England
Off the back of the success of its first foray into the UK foodie scene – Elephant & Castle’s Italian-themed sustainable food, dining and retail market – the team at Mercato Metropolitano has gone decidedly bigger and bolder for its next project.
The company snagged St Mark’s, a former church in Mayfair that underwent a two-year, almost AU$9 million renovation, and hasn’t been open to the public for decades. Inside this sprawling establishment, which includes a vaulted basement and rooftop terrace, the Mercato Mayfair sticks closely to the Elephant & Castle blueprint and features dedicated spaces for community-run, educational and social activities to take place, as well as cuisine counters chock-full of artisan produce from around the world. There are also be workshops and cooking classes held in the basement, as well as an urban farm, brewery, florist, gelato bar, patisserie and deli.
Rosario Islands, Colombia
There’s no other way to put it: Colombia’s Rosario Islands are an Instagrammer’s dream. Pastel-coloured buildings line the quiet streets, crystalline waves crash into the pure white shoreline and big, blooming bougainvillea flowers burst forth from every corner. All these vibrant, stimulating colours are an assault on the eyes, but in the best possible way.
Situated just a hundred kilometres off the coast of Cartagena, the Rosario Islands are a small archipelago comprised of 20 outcrops that make up one of the 46 Natural National Parks of Colombia.
Just a short boat trip takes you to the islands – a tropical oasis in the middle of the Caribbean – which remain a mystery to many on the mainland of Colombia never mind those from further afield.
Rosario’s protected coral reefs are ideal for snorkelling and diving, while the mangrove tunnels of Isla Grande are best explored in a kayak. And don’t even get us started on the seafood. Fresh, plentiful, cheap and, most importantly, delicious, if you don’t come back with a stomach full of prawns or lobster then you didn’t do Rosario properly.
HIKE IT THROUGH
Julian Alps, Slovenia and Italy
If attempting a new hiking challenge is on your must-do list you’re in luck. A 300-kilometre trail through the Julian Alps, which forms part of northeastern Italy and Slovenia’s Southern Limestone Alps, opened to hikers in April 2019.
The route is divided into 20-kilometre stages, and each section starts and finishes at a bus stop or railway station, in case weary travellers want to give their legs a brief spot of respite.
The creation of this trail was a joint project between 10 municipalities within the Julian Alps region, and it’s hoping the track, which runs through many small villages, will not only boost tourism to these rarely visited alpine communities, but also showcase the area’s natural attractions and distinct culture.
Starting and finishing in Rateče, the highlight of the trek will be reaching the summit of Mt Triglav, the highest peak in Slovenia.
With cycling routes also in the pipeline, it’s shaping up to be a popular trail, so best to tick this one off the list sooner rather than later.
JAPAN WITH A DIFFERENCE
Japan has been on the travel hot list for a while now and with good reason. But if you’re a frequent visitor it’s time to venture beyond its four major islands.
With the country comprised of 6,852 islands, we’ve rounded up a few worth getting to know. Aogashima is 358 kilometres from Tokyo and the go-to destination for those into hiking, scuba diving and tasting the local shochu, which is distilled from sweet potato. It’s the most remote island in the Izu archipelago, and also happens to be an active volcano – not that the 168 residents seem to mind.
About a thousand kilometres directly south of Tokyo are the Ogasawara Islands, dubbed the Galapagos of Japan because of their thriving ecosystems, dense rainforest and diverse wildlife. Many of the islands’ birds, insects and crabs are unique to the region, which has never been connected to the mainland.
Visit the Yaeyama Islands, part of the Okinawa Prefecture, and you’ll begin to wonder if you’ve accidentally landed in the South Pacific. Azure waters, palm-tree lined beaches and some serious tropical paradise vibes make Yaeyama one of Japan’s most alluring island destinations.
Hurtigruten Cruises, Scandinavia
With so much chatter about the dire state of the environment, it’s only natural that eco-friendly travel is growing in popularity. It’s a good thing then that Norwegian exploration cruise company, Hurtigruten, has added two hybrid expedition ships to its fleet.
Named after Norwegian polar pioneers, the Ronald Amundsen and Fridtjof Nansen will showcase innovative, environmentally friendly technology, sailing using electric propulsion and reducing fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by 20 per cent. If satisfying your inner eco-warrior isn’t enough, you’ll also be treated to a silent sail thanks to the ships’ technology.
Onboard the ships, you’ll be treated to technology-filled science centres, restaurants, wellness centres, pools and more, while a variety of suite options ensure sophisticated comfort. Set sail on a variety of expeditions, including the hidden harbours of Portugal, Spain and France or the icy scenery of Chilean fjords, Antarctica and the Falklands. They’ll appeal to your inner explorer while you’re doing your part for the environment.
BEFORE THEY’RE GONE
Glacier National Park, USA
OK, brace yourselves for a bleak one. We’re all familiar with the threat of global warming – rising temperatures, rising sea levels, you get the picture. But while some find it easy to dismiss it as something that won’t affect our current generation, they’re wrong. If you want proof, look no further than Glacier National Park in Montana.
Of the 150 glaciers identified when the park was established in 1910, just 25 active ones remain. And according to current climate predictions, those 25 will likely disappear by the year 2030. That’s not some far-flung future date not worth taking notice of either – it’s less than a decade away.
Glaciers have long formed part of the northern Rocky Mountains landscape, and despite their rapid rate of shrinkage, remain astonishing feats of nature. While many in Glacier National Park are becoming harder to reach, Grinnell, Sperry and Sexton glaciers remain accessible – for the time being, anyway. What are you waiting for?
Hapag-Lloyd Expeditions, Chile
From epic volcanoes to glitzy glaciers and a thousand contrasting landscapes in between, this Chilean fjords expedition with Hapag-Lloyd is bound to leave your jaw dropped and wanting more.
Starting in Peru’s seaside city of Callao, you’ll board the HANSEATIC inspiration, a new expedition ship with plenty of open deck space, glass-floored balconies and more viewpoints than ever before. From here, drift south for 18 days. Marvel at emerald mountains and South America’s largest marine reserve, Paracas Peninsula, visit penguins on Isla Pan de Azucar and Punihuil Island, witness the volcanic landscape of Puerto Montt and the turquoise lakes and waterfalls of the Chilean lake district. You’ll then pass the country’s southern fjords and glaciers – Pio XI, Puerto Natales and the Garibaldi Glacier among them – before arriving in the Argentinian city of Ushuaia.
Don’t be fooled, this isn’t your ordinary South American jaunt. There is a whole host of optional activities, including a flight over the mysterious Nazca Lines and white-water rafting on the Petrohué River, that turns this from cruise to expedition.
BEFORE THEY’RE GONE
Often referred to as Little Venice, Chioggia is the less crowded, much quieter version of its famous neighbour. This secluded island, with a reputation for charming locals and laid-back vibes, is positioned on the southern entrance to the Venetian Lagoon.
It features many of the same – now instantly recognisable – characteristics as Venice, including a criss-crossing maze of canals, tiny narrow streets, bridges galore and several historic buildings. Unfortunately that means Chioggia also suffers from the same concerns that plague its neighbour, including flooding and the impending doom of being swallowed by the ever-rising Adriatic Sea.
While revolutionary new flood barriers have been installed to protect the coastal towns of the Venetian Lagoon, the long-term success of this technology is currently under scrutiny. And it’s the smaller communities, like Chioggia, that may not have the same support as bigger cities like Venice. All we’re saying is just one freak flood event could mean that places like Chioggia – and the charming locals who make it so special – may cease to exist.
ALL IN ONE
Torres del Paine National Park, Chile
Chile is known for its rich heritage and geographical diversity, with Torres del
Paine National Park the pedestal example. Situated above the Patagonian Desert, the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve offers an incredible display of natural beauty and is a great destination for adventurers, hikers or nature lovers. It’s mostly known for fantastic soaring mountain peaks, the golden pampas grasslands (home to rare wildlife like guanacos, foxes, and South Andean deer) and bright blue glaciers and ice fields.
The colossal Torres del Paine will make you feel insignificant. Trek in the summer when there’s 17 hours of daylight, beginning with sunrises that colour the skies in purples and reds. Once you’ve picked your jaw from the floor, spend the rest of the taking in the vistas of snow-capped mountains, cascading rivers and waterfalls, and mirror-flat lakes.
Kachi Lodge, Bolivia
At first glance, it looks like the film set of a post-apocalyptic Hollywood blockbuster. Upon closer inspection though, you’ll find Bolivia’s amazing high-altitude campsite, Kachi Lodge.
Located on the Uyuni Salt Flats, which sit 3,600 metres above sea level, Kachi Lodge features six luxury dome tents and a central, larger dome housing a Moroccan-inspired plush lounge and dining area. Joined by a raised boardwalk, these igloo-like structures come complete with private bathrooms, built-in heating systems (temperatures can drop to -15°C out on the salt flats), cosy furnishings and transparent panels perfect for stargazing with your complimentary telescope.
Trips to Kachi Lodge are all inclusive, so you can also expect a range of activities and day trips to take part in, and a set menu from the team at Gusto Restaurant, renowned for serving up authentic, delicious South American fare. Open since February 2019, you bet this otherworldly experience is on our must-stay list.
Prainha Beach, Brazil
With the fitness craze taking over the world, it’s no surprise people are seeking out breaks where they can sweat, puff and burn more calories than they consume. Sure, running and walking holidays will probably make an appearance and put the rest of us beachside laze-abouts to post-holiday-bloat shame, but we think searching for active activities that include a big dose of fun should be high on the list. Let’s use surfing in Prainha Beach as an example.
The unspoiled Rio de Janeiro beach is more than just a city escape. With big waves crashing against pristine white sands and the green Atlantic rainforest mountains as your backdrop, this is a prime spot for avid surfers to get amped. When you’re ready to retire the board for the day, there are also plenty of hiking options nearby – in case you want another way to work off last night’s dinner. And when that’s done, you’re not far from Rio de Janeiro.
CATCH AND RELEASE
Anapa Pearl Farm, Tahiti
Like discovering the finest Tahitian pearl in an oyster, reaching Anapa Pearl Farm is like stumbling upon a rare gem off the west coast of the island of Raiatea. While this humble ocean shack may not look like much upon approach, it offers the extraordinary opportunity to go pearl harvesting with experienced divers, see how these precious treasures are extracted and cultured, and learn all the secrets about Tahiti’s most famous natural bounty, the prized black pearl.
The farm is accessible only by boat, and when you’re not diving for treasure, there’s plenty of time to go snorkelling in the surrounding reef, where an underwater world of coral gardens and sea life awaits. The best part though? You can choose your own pearl directly from the oyster and have it made into something spectacular and personalised right before your very eyes by the on-site jewellers.
A special ring? One-of-a-kind necklace? At this remote pearl station the choice is up to you!