While technically a subtropical island, the Azores make for a great getaway if you’re looking for something beyond the standard resort getaway. The islands boast tons of hiking and beautiful nature. Rent a car and explore the winding roads of the main island, São Miguel Island, taking it secluded beaches and picturesque waterfalls. Best of all, it’s close to both Europe and North America and makes for a great stopover point if you’re traveling between the two.
A group of 27 coral islands that form two atolls in the Indian Ocean, the Cocos Keeling Islands were virtually unheard of until beach activists Brad Farmer and Andrew Short named Cocos Keeling’s Cossies Beach as the best in Australia for 2017. Called the continent’s last unspoiled paradise, the remote destination is as special for what’s not there (high-rise resorts, chain restaurants, crowds, traffic) as what is — pristine white sand and a turquoise lagoon that’s home to 30,000 sea turtles.
With a population of under 2,000, the locals are outnumbered by shaggy goats that blend in perfectly with the burnished landscape and hippie vibe. But you don't have to be a recluse to fall for Amorgos. There are plenty of all-day, late-night bars where Amorgos groupies meet, summer after summer: Jazzmin, in Chora, for backgammon and cocktails; Pergalidi in Langada for herbal infusions and jazzy tunes; Seladi in Tholaria, with giddying views and a telescope for stargazing.
I’m a Maui native and it is not that expensive! You just need to do it the smart way, avoid tourist traps and ABC stores, stop at Costco to stock up on supplies before you reach your hotel. Many of the best things Hawaii has to offer are free: beaches, sunsets, hikes, snorkeling, walking the streets of small beach towns. Condos are also way cheaper than hotels and they are usually beachfront.
Beach Day: Spend a day on one of many beautiful small beaches and bays, including pebble and sand beaches. Beaches to check out are Pocukmarak (the biggest beach on the south side, which also happens to contain a stone sarcophagus and two covers in the water that are around 1500 years old), Tratica, Carpusina and Sotorisce (the biggest and the most popular beach on Silba).
With the exception of Elounda - a pocket of bling popular with oligarchs - the north-east coast is scarred by over-development. Instead head south, where there are miles of empty sand dunes, sprinkled with simple yoga retreats such as Yoga Rocks at Triopetra and Yoga Plus at Agios Pavlos. Or take a back-to-nature break with Wild Fitness at Milia, a 17th-centruy hamlet powered entirely by solar energy. Time slows almost to a standstill in the mountain villages, where locals with formidable whiskers welcome you with shots of raki (Cretan grappa) for breakfast and celebrate saints' days with a volley of gunshots. Even the road signs are peppered with bullet holes.
Where to stay in Crete: A 300-year-old hamlet surrounded by olive groves, Kapsaliana Village Hotel exudes peaceful authenticity. On a sandy bay just beyond Chania, Ammos Hotel smartly combines Scandi chic with a child-friendly vibe. Blue Palace Resort & Spa beats the (stiff) competition in Elounda with its spiral stone Isola Beach Club, thalassotherapy spa, and boat trips to Spinalonga island, a national monument just across Mirabello Bay.