Offbeat Vacation Spots in the Most Visited Destinations
Unexpected adventures and secluded gems are found in every destination, including the most popular. We'll show you were to find them.
From the moment we discover our love for travel, our wanderlists start growing with iconic cities, islands, countries, and landmarks. As we make our way around the world, many travelers start to crave even more unique experiences, to head off the beaten path, and make their friends, family, and followers say, “Huh, I never thought about going there before.” Thankfully, you can continue checking icons off your list while also taking the road less traveled. Some of the best offbeat locations are right in the heart of the world’s most visited destinations, and we’re going to tell you where to find them.
The Caribbean – Grenada
The Caribbean islands are sought out by sun worshipers, ocean adventurers, and just about anyone who wants to relax on a beautiful beach with a cocktail in hand. Some islands have become more renowned than ever, so if you’re in search of that tropical oasis that has so little crowds, it feels like you’ve found your own secluded paradise, head for Grenada.
Although you’ll definitely see a few other people on the Spice Island’s most popular beach Grand Anse, the two-and-a-half miles of soft sand is so spread out and dotted with only small restaurants and resorts that you’ll never have to fight for your spot in the sun. Best of all, the resorts are luxe, the landscape is lush, and the markets have all the locally grown ingredients you need to make your very own personalized bottle of spiced rum.
Italy – Bologna
Italy is one of Europe’s most visited countries for numerous reasons, including renowned cities, historic sites, and most importantly, the food. If fresh pasta, rich sauces, and excellent wine are high on your priorities, then follow your palete to Bologna, Italy’s true capital of cuisine.
From lasagna to Ragu alla Bolognese (a slow-cooked meat sauce), many Italian favorites were created and perfected in this city and the surrounding Emilia-Romagna region. Bologna is a treasure favored by students and true foodies, but the rest of the traveling world has yet to catch on, meaning restaurant reservations aren’t necessary, and visitors can chow down on tortellini and Mortadella sausage with a laid-back local crowd. It’s also directly between Florence and Venice, making it the perfect stop for a day or two of feasting when hopping from one iconic city to the next.
Mexico – Riviera Nayarit
To the east, you’ll find the Caribbean beaches and Mayan sites of Cancun and Riviera Maya. To the west, there’s party town and celebrity-studded Los Cabos. But if you stay on the West Coast and head south, you’ll discover the beachside paradise of Riviera Nayarit.
As Puerto Vallarta’s secluded, equally-as-beautiful cousin, Riviera Nayarit’s laid-back beach towns and resort areas have been a long-time favorite vacation spot for Mexican citizens. With seafood specialties galore and hidden beaches pn the Marietas Islands, plus a rise in high-end hotels and shopping districts, this gem has all the right ingredients for an exotic Mexico getaway that will have all your friends back home wondering how you stumbled upon such a fascinating destination.
Hawaii – Lanai and Molokai
Many consider Hawaii the ultimate paradise, and we can’t help but agree. The USA’s Aloha State is bursting with unique culture, famous beaches, and eco-adventures, and every island boasts its own personality and experiences. About 7 million people visit every year, so if your picture of paradise entails an island relatively untouched by tourists, Hawaii has two that fit the frame.
Just a stone’s throw off the coast of Maui, Lanai and Molokai have gone to great lengths to preserve their history, nature, and culture for the ultimate, authentic Hawaiian experience. Legend says Molokai is the birthplace of hula, and it’s home to Papohaku Beach, Hawaii’s largest, most pristine stretch of sand. And seemingly laid-back Lanai offers the perfect balance of relaxed seclusion and action-packed eco-adventures. Both have only a handful of hotels to keep the visitors at a minimum, meaning you’ll be mingling with mostly locals.
Whether you're cruising the canals of Venice or sipping on margaritas in Puerto Vallarta, hidden gems are around the corner just waiting to be explored, as long as you have the wanderlust to step on and off the beaten path. You never know. You might just discover the travel world’s next “it” destination and have the bragging rights to say you did it first.