11 under-the-radar destinations to hit before they become the next big thing

Oct 29 2019, 2:56 pm


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Paris is always a good idea, there’s always time for a quick jaunt to New York City, and Cancun offers a reliable tan and a good party. The common theme, however, is that each destination is already filled with camera-snapping and social media-posting tourists. And that can be a bit of a buzz kill compared to the experience that more under-the-radar destinations have to offer.

Sometimes, the best vacation spots remain relatively yours, yet to be discovered and overrun by the masses.

If you’re looking, here are 11 (relatively) under-the-radar destinations to hit before they become the next big thing.

Azores, Portugal


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For a less tourist-filled trip to Portugal, check the Azores off your travel bucket list — especially if you have a soft spot for the outdoors, chasing waterfalls, hot springs, authentic local experiences, and dreamy cheese. An autonomous group of Portuguese islands located in the mid-Atlantic, the Azores have become an increasingly buzzed-about destination in recent years, but remain relatively pristine, peaceful, and undiscovered by the masses (subsequently, you’ll find few tourist traps here). A trip to the Azores should definitely include more than one island, and Azores Airlines offers short and affordable daily flights between the islands.

Baja California, Mexico


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When you think Mexico, wine probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. Tequila and mezcal, yes – but wine? Not so much. A surprise to many, however, Mexico’s pristine wine region is blossoming and beautiful – heaven for wine-loving foodies who seek more of a genuine Mexico experience than that of an all-inclusive beach vacation. In Baja California, Mexico, you can enjoy some of the best local cuisine at everything from street stands and charming mom and pop spots to high-end restaurants. Take in stunning views of the sea on horseback, get an adrenaline rush on Latin America’s largest zip-line, and – of course – sip and swirl at one of the region’s many wineries.

Cali, Colombia


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Another bucket list spot for curious foodies (and seasoned salsa dancers) is Cali, Colombia. Known as the salsa dancing capital of the world, in Cali, you’ll find colourful streets filled with quality local cuisine, thoughtful breweries, artsy cafes, coffee shops, and high-energy nightclubs. In addition to the wining, dining, and dancing, other things to do in this vibrant city include hiking (either through a lush national park or up the famed Hill of Three Crosses), biking along the Rio Cali, and shopping the goodness-packed local markets.

Petit St. Vincent, St. Vincent, and the Grenadines


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If you’re in the market for a digital detox (and one that redefines the meaning of “Out of Office”), St. Vincent and the Grenadines has the perfect option for you. The island of Petit St. Vincent is the epitome of a secluded and unplugged private paradise. On site, you will find two yoga pavilions along with a luxury spa and wellness centre. Activities on this private island paradise include kayaking, sailing, snorkelling, and hiking. The idea here is to go completely off the grid — rather than phones or the Internet, guests communicate with staff through coloured flags.

Shenzhen, China


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Since the 1980s, Shenzhen, located in southeastern China, has steadily grown to become a modern metropolis and an increasingly popular city to explore. The buildings – including a 600-metre-tall skyscraper – will impress the lovers of intricate architecture. Meanwhile, the seasoned shoppers will appreciate Shenzhen’s coveted shopping spots, like the massive Luohu Commercial City shopping mall, and a handful of amusement parks attract the thrill-seekers.

Roatán, Honduras


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In Honduras, the most breathtaking of the Bay Islands is decidedly Roatán. Here, you’ll find Instagram-ready white-sand beaches to quickly put you in vacation mode, an ancient coral reef to explore and lush jungles to hike. Whether you opt for a cheap and cheerful backpacking experience, or splurge on something fancier, this relatively unexposed part of the Honduran Caribbean caters to travellers with varying agendas.

Salta, Argentina


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While Buenos Aires is definitely worth a visit, so is Argentina’s northwest. The peaceful region is filled with rolling hills, beautiful red rock valleys, and sweeping, dramatic landscapes, making it a great spot for hiking, running, rafting, and biking. The slow-paced city of Salta features history-rich Spanish colonial architecture, incredible local cuisine, a café-lined square, and preserved cobblestone streets.

Placencia, Belize


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For an off-the-well-travelled path Belize experience, south on the country’s mainland, you’ll find the charming and picturesque waterfront fishing village of Placencia. The storybook-like region features bright houses, a public art-filled main street, some of the most celebrated restaurants in Southern Belize, and some of the most beautiful beaches in the country. You can either opt for quaint accommodations or treat yourself at Itz’ana, the area’s first luxury resort.

Gaborone, Botswana


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For an African safari experience of a lifetime, book a trip to Botswana. The country is one of the most sparsely populated in the world, with just two million people, yet rich in majestic creatures that dominate the vast land. From rugged to romantic, a selection of eco-friendly glamping spots offer a comfortable place to rest your head after a day of exploring Botswana’s captivating landscapes.

Thimphu, Bhutan


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To find a sense of inner peace, book a ticket to Bhutan, the last great Himalayan Kingdom. With Buddhist culture and values front and centre, the focus in Bhutan is on happiness. Highlights here include dramatic landscapes, monk ceremonies (including Tibetan Buddhist Rites and the ritual Cham dance), and stunning monasteries, like the famed cliff-side Tiger’s Nest. Tourists are required to pay a minimum tariff of $250 USD per day, but this covers accommodation, food, transportation, and an official guide to ensure you make the most out of your stay.

Bazaruto Island, Mozambique


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For an under-the-radar, but truly breathtaking beach vacation, become one of the growing number of sun-seekers who have recently discovered Bazaruto Island. Located in Bazaruto National Park, off the coast of southern Mozambique, here, you’ll find a picture-perfect paradise of turquoise water, white-sand beaches, dune-filled landscapes, and some of the world’s best diving. A handful of the region’s beaches are so untouched that they’re only accessible through private transport.

Erin Nicole DavisErin Nicole Davis

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