As the vaccination rate keeps climbing in the U.S., more and more Americans are returning to planning their next dream vacation. Who wouldn’t want to escape reality? Now more than ever, we want destinations that deliver big, making up for how little we got out in 2020. Need inspiration for where to go next? We’ve talked to the best travel experts on the planet who told us the best vacation spots on the planet. Read on.
For picturesque sandy beaches, look no further than the Turks and Caicos, the nation just south of the Bahamas. In particular, the island of Provo doesn’t disappoint.
“Just look at Grace Bay Beach—there’s not better than that anywhere,” says Josh Whitaker, owner of Rudi Steele Travel based in Dallas. “You’ve got seven shades of blue in the water. It’s simply stunning.”
The two main islands of New Zealand are best experienced by car—most notably a rented campervan so you can overnight beside beaches, lakes, mountains and more. What’s wild is how many microclimates can be experienced in just a week, from the eerily turquoise Lake Tekapo to the cloud forests to the Franz Josef Glacier and more.
Egypt is a definitely a once-in-a-lifetime spot to connect with civilizations dating back centuries. The best way to take it all in is by balloon.
“It’s chilly at dawn as you start to float over the Valley of the Kings, staring out at these tombs,” says Hannah Nowicki, travel consultant with Sunset Travel and Cruise based in Chicago, Illinois. “You let it wash over you that these monuments are 3- to 4,000 years old, and it’s pretty mind-blowing.”
Better still, she says, is if you’ve been touring inside the tombs the day prior to further give you a sense of the magnitude of these monuments.
Watch the evening light pour over the red walls of the city and you can’t help but feel incredibly alive. Here, everything begs attention, from the call to prayer buzzing from the mosques to the taste of mint tea to the stall vendors shouting out deals on their rugs, tea sets and trinkets. It’s a lot, no doubt, and best appreciated with a local guide.
This island off the coast of Tanzania is where white-sand beaches meet exotic spice markets and architecture showcasing a fusion of Arabic, Indian, European and African influences.
“The vibe is otherworldly, with intimate beachfront hotels, long strands of white-sand beach, and brilliant, star-filled nights,” says Susan Moynihan, founder of The Honeymoonist, a Virtuoso travel service for special occasions.
“You may be tempted to hide out in your beachside bungalow, ideally with plunge pool and room service, but take a day to wander through the capital of Stone Town, a fascinating port town and UNESCO World Heritage site that has been a crossroads from East to West for more than 1,000 years.”
It’s hard to pinpoint one main reason to choose Iceland for your next getaway. Top contenders include the steaming thermal pools of the Blue Lagoon, the ultra scenic ring road circling the entire country or the northern lights near the towns of Hella, Skógar or Höfn.
Most travelers heading to the Amalfi Coast have already checked off the Venice- Florence-Rome combo, and they’re ready to be wowed by something different.
“The sunsets are breathtaking here because you have big monolith cliffs facing west—it’s really something very special,” says Whitaker.
Add in a handful of Michelin-starred restaurants up and down the peninsula, from Positano to Sorrento.
Whitaker’s current top pick is the town of Puglia, an up-and-comer that packs the cliff sides full of pastel homes and basilicas, but isn’t quite as peopled as neighboring cities.
Credit the movie Eat Pray Love with making the island of Bali a must-see. It remains a vacationer’s paradise for its countless temples—and frequent Hindu holidays, offerings and ceremonies—as well as super affordable private villas and beach resorts where added savings can be put toward fresh coconuts, scooter rentals and daily massages.
The overwater bungalow fantasy is massively popular—and the actual experience doesn’t disappoint. From your private deck or pool, watch as eagle rays, stingrays, schools of unicornfish and more pass by in the impossibly clear water of the Indian Ocean. Many resorts are upping the ante, adding private movie projector set-ups on villas roofs, floating breakfasts, paddleboard yoga and anything else you could wish for.
Those who’ve been often cite Bora-Bora as their favorite among the islands of French Polynesia—often referred to as ‘Tahiti,’ the main island. Out in the middle of the South Pacific, these atolls all have an edge-of-the-planet-escapist feel, along with unique experiences, such as swimming with humpback whales, diving for black pearls and hiking to waterfall-fed lagoons.