New year, new destinations for you to explore. Whether you are looking for untouched nature, a fresh take on a favorite city, or a secluded retreat Houlahan Travel's in the know travel partners will help you plan where to go this year.
1. Raja Ampat, Indonesia
Bali may spring to mind for most looking for an escape in Indonesia, but for those travelers looking for some place a little quieter Raja Ampat is the place to go according to our travel partners at Remote Lands. This remote collection of over 1500 islands rarely visited by tourists is a great destination for divers year round, but especially in the winter when the weather calms almost no place on earth can claim such awesome biological diversity. Conservation groups estimate there are 1300 species of fish, 700 species of mollusks and 537 species of coral in Raja Ampat. If diving isn't your thing, the calm waters and constant island options means that you are never too far from a snorkeling opportunity. And for the Landlubber there are great hikes and wildlife as well.
2. Sri Lanka
Travelers will be spoiled for choice in Sri Lanka, not knowing whether to use it as a beach and tea field retreat or a hiking and wildlife adventure. In Sri Lanka clients can laze on white sands, climb mountains and even go on safari all within easy traveling distances. Twenty-four wildlife preserves, 45 estuaries, and 40 lagoons make the island nation a hotspot for naturalists and luxury travelers alike.
3. The Islands of Central America
Longing for a stay at your own private island (or at least a little piece of one)? Our travel partners at Namu Travel Group in Central America suggest the islands of Central America for a whole different vibe. Check out Isla Palenque Resort off the coast of Panama, Cayo Espanto in Belize, Calala Island in Nicaragua (or the NiCaribbean - Nicaragua Caribbean - as they call it), or Jicaro Island Lodge in the Granada Isletas of Lake Nicaragua to experience the very best of island living.
4. Costa Rica's Luxury Tented Camps
Take glamping to a whole new level with two new luxury properties in Costa Rica - the first is set on the beach on the Papgayo Peninsula amidst 123 acres of wild area. The other is set high on the hill with spectacular views of the Arenal Volcano. Both properties offer eco-friendly accommodations that put you in touch with nature to create a treasured pause, to breathe and discover the moments of life. Add on: Panama
5. Cape Town, South Africa
Getting to Cape Town just got a little easier. United Airlines recently added a non-stop flight from New York/Newark airport to Cape Town shaving well over 7 hours of travel time (and a stop) from the trip. Now the Cape Winelands, the amazing food scene, Table Mountain, penguins, and the famous Victoria and Alfred Waterfront are even closer. Short connecting flights take travelers to Kruger National Park for Big 5 wildlife viewing and to neighboring countries – Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique! If South Africa was on your list, now is the time to make those travel plans. Add on: Durban's seaside promenade
6. The Coffee Region, Armenia, Colombia
Don't let the name fool you, says, Madi Lang of BA Cultural Concierge, specializing in travel in Argentina and Colombia. While these lush rolling hills were historically coffee plantations, they now bloom with delicious fruits and stunning flora! Beautiful, family owned haciendas, smart & innovative guides, delicious food and exclusive visits make this destination one of our most favorites. Hike through the Cocora Valley to see the tallest palm trees in the world, enjoy a home cooked meal in the stunning property full of award winning orchids and simply bask in the laid back atmosphere of the hills. Add on: Medellin for street art
You may have heard that Greenland is the new Iceland but Greenland is something else entirely. The world's biggest non-continental island is also the most sparsely populated, which just adds to the feeling of undiscovered potential. And then there are the polar bears...Settle into one of the picturesque villages dotted with colorful wooden cottages or soar over the magnificent mountains, glaciers and fjords by helicopter. End a day of dogsledding with a Carlsberg at the local pub or sail along the coastline with naturalist guides. The possibilities are endless.
8. Eyre Peninsula - South Australia
While bushfires continue to impact Australia, thankfully, many parts of the country are unaffected and welcoming travelers. Australia's Tourism Board is encouraging travelers to not just visit Australia but to meet the people and learn about their way of life, something they call their PhilAUSophy (get it? AUS = Australia?). There's no better place to experience that lifestyle, according to Caroline Densley of The Tailor, one of our Australian travel partners, than in the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia. The Eyre Peninsula boasts fantastic food and wine, luxury accommodation and abundant wildlife, but it's best known for its world-famous aquatic activities. Hop aboard a shark cage dive or swim and play with sea lions off the coast of Port Lincoln. Sink your teeth into the Eyre Peninsula’s legendary oysters and freshly-caught seafood at the local fish mongers, pubs, restaurants and bars, then wash it down at the region's signature wineries. Add on: Tasmania's foodie scene
Slovenia covers all the bases for travelers looking for an off-the-beaten path experience. Nature lovers can check out the newly opened 186-mile Julian Alps Hiking Trail that winds its way through the pine forests and sparkling lakes of Triglav National Park, a UNESCO-protected biosphere. Foodies and oenophiles can indulge in world-class meals (Slovenia's first Michelin guide will be published this year) and sample over 52 varietals of wine, including world-renowned natural and amber wines. And city lovers will enjoy charming Ljubljana, dotted with candy-colored buildings and leafy squares - one of the greenest cities on the planet. Slovenia is easier to get to than ever - an easy add to a European vacation. Add on: Armenia
10. The Smoky Mountains - Walland, Tennessee
Blackberry Mountain, like it's sister property, Blackberry Farm, is an immersive experience seamlessly blending outdoor activity, wellness and thoughtful indulgence. Endless trails for excursions. Tranquil spaces for recharging. A fitness camp with diverse classes hourly. Two one-of-a-kind restaurants. A seemingly limitless range of activities, from mountain biking to meditation, to time spent simply gazing at the wonders of nature. The only question that remains is how will you describe this place to everyone else?