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After months and months of canceled plans, as the world begins to open up again to travel, 2022 is going to be the year of the bucket-list trip. Where have you dreamed of going? Whether you’re thinking exotic tropical waters or an icy, snowy wilderness in one of the planet’s few true last frontiers, it’s time to start planning. Any one of these getaways, near or far, is sure to provide the thrill you’re looking for.
K.C. Dermody is an award-winning professional writer. Her published works include the Amazon Best Seller ‘Best Travel Guide for First Time Visitors to Ireland,’ and hundreds of other articles online and in print. Her adventures have taken her swimming with sea lions in the Sea of Cortez, paddling in the Amazon after dark, and coming face to face with gray whales in Mexico.
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Sumba Island offers an island fantasy far from the tourist crowds in Bali yet just an hour’s flight away. It’s time to discover this “lost isle” before everyone else does. Surfers can take advantage of one of the most consistent surf breaks in Asia off the shore of Nihiwatu and there is a wide range of other things to do from snorkeling and diving to horseback riding on stunning beaches, hikes to waterfalls, and much more. As recently as a half-century or so ago, headhunting was practiced here, and a visit brings plenty of opportunities to experience long-held traditions and unique festivals like Pasola. Witness the large teams of colorfully adorned horse riders who engage in mock battles which include throwing wooden spears at their opponents, similar to that of other ritual warfare that once took place throughout the country.
While the word has slowly been getting out, generally outside of Canada few people are aware of the delights of Newfoundland, the country’s easternmost province. But it’s a place filled with spectacular scenery from dazzling fjords to rugged coasts where icebergs and whales can frequently be seen offshore, depending on the season. A wealth of other wildlife can be seen, from one of the highest concentrations of moose anywhere in Gros Morne National Park to caribou, puffins, and bald eagles. While you won’t want to miss visiting the capital city of St. John’s, home to famous George Street with countless pubs and live music venues, the postcard-perfect town of Trinity is truly not-to-be-missed. The brightly painted saltbox homes set by the sea make it look like a film set and it’s home to museums, art galleries and many historic buildings impeccably preserved from the 18th century.
Ecuador truly offers it all, home to one of the world’s most famous bucket-list destinations, the Galapagos Islands where a remarkable 9,000 species of flora and fauna thrive, including marine iguanas, Galapagos penguins, Galapagos tortoises, blue-footed boobies, and much more. Then there’s the Ecuadorian Amazon in the eastern part of the country with everything from parrots and toucans to monkeys and caiman. The capital city of Quito is stunningly framed by soaring volcanic peaks and sits at more than 9,000 feet above sea level as one of the world’s highest capitals. It has a well-preserved old town, magnificent gothic architecture, countless museums, cathedrals, parks, and more.
A large island in the Tyrrhenian Sea, tucked between the Balearic islands and the Italian peninsula, Sardinia may be part of Italy but it’s like a world of its own. Discover many beautiful beaches edged by turquoise waters with Ittiri a top spot for those who want to spend their days soaking up the sun and the sand. Cagliari, the capital city on the south coast is believed to have been founded in the 9th century BC by the Phoenicians. It offers plenty of its own, from a medieval hilltop castle to a Roman amphitheater that hosts performances just below the citadel, upscale shopping in Via Mannao, and multiple fascinating museums.
The Canadian Rockies offer high jagged peaks dusted with snow, vibrant turquoise glacial lakes, mesmerizing waterfalls, and a ton of wildlife. Banff will put you in the heart of it all with the opportunity to visit gems like Moraine Lake and Lake Louise along with black and grizzly bears, elk, bighorn sheep, and much more. The possible adventures are numerous, including hiking, climbing, caving, mountain biking, zip-lining, and even sky diving. Or for a more relaxed experience, ride the Banff Gondola over Lake Louise where you might glimpse a mama bear with her cubs feeding on the grassy slopes below.
The Maldives is on the bucket lists of many looking for an exotic getaway and next year would be perfect for a trip on what can feel like you’re on your own private island. The country is spread over nearly 1,200 islands in the Indian Ocean, home to shallow turquoise lagoons, white powdery sands, and some of the world’s most impressive array of marine life. The luxuries are endless with nearly every top resort in the Maldives on its own private island. Think overwater bungalows, private infinity pools, personal butlers, and more.
Qatar is one of the most cosmopolitan and safest destinations in the Middle East while offering lots of sunshine year-round, vast deserts for safaris, dune riding and even kayaking through mangroves. For postcard-perfect views, visit the deserts at sunrise, sunset and after dark when the skies are exceptionally clear. You’ll discover a vibrant culture in Doha and beyond, with many world-class museums and galleries, and even the world’s largest indoor roller coaster at Doha Quest. Check out the souqs (market places) to get an authentic taste of Doha and purchase locally-made handicrafts or visit the Mall of Qatar, one of the most luxurious malls in the world. Relax and recharge overnight in one of Doha’s luxury hotels.
Korcula is a small island but it packs a punch when it comes to looks and things to do. The landscapes include everything from dense forests that touch down to sandy beaches to picturesque vineyards and olive groves. Old Town Korcula is one of its biggest allures with its medieval historic center surrounded by stone walls, ramparts, towers, and gates, looking as if it came straight from a fairytale. It can easily be reached by ferry from Dubrovnik, or as a stop on a small-ship cruise.
Andros is a hidden treasure tucked among the northernmost Cyclades islands. Its Old Town, or Chora, is unique in that it’s filled with magnificent neoclassical museums rather than whitewashed buildings. Nature lovers will appreciate it too with an extensive network of scenic trails to hike, more than 100 beaches, including remote stretches for nude swimming, and organized beaches with beach bars, parties, and all types of water sports. It’s one of those places that perfectly fit the cliche of “something for everyone.”
While New Orleans was hit hard by Hurricane Ida, it’s extremely resilient, bouncing back quickly and ready to welcome visitors once again. Of course, it’s renowned for its many festivals and if you’d like to experience the Jazz & Heritage Festival which will be hosted from April 29th to May 8th, you’ll want to book those tickets and accommodation as soon as possible for availability and the best deals. Launching on March 18th and running through July 17th at the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA), is Queen Nefertari’s Egypt Exhibit, worth a visit on its own. Of course, you can enjoy all the city’s top attractions too like steamboat cruises, touring magnificent mansions and creepy cemeteries, exploring the French Quarter, and much more.
Kyoto has become an increasingly popular destination in Japan, with photos of its bamboo groves often going viral, not to mention the spectacular architecture that includes atmospheric temples, geishas to glimpse, a rich history to explore, and hot springs, many of which can be enjoyed at classic Japanese ryokans. Fuel your exploits with delicious traditional Japanese fare, some with modern twists, and be sure to take a scenic walk through Arashiyama Bamboo Forest with the sunlight beaming through the towering bamboo groves.
An increasing number of airlines are offering direct, non-stop flights to Costa Rica, and while a visit anywhere here is sure to be unforgettable, the Guanacaste Province in the northwest is filled with cascading waterfalls, brilliant blue lagoons, soaring volcanoes, lush jungles, and abundant wildlife. It’s home to many nature preserves, natural landmarks, and eight national parks like Santa Rosa National Park with its rare dry tropical forest, surfing sites, and some 250 bird species. There are nearly endless beaches like Playa Blanca with its calm waters popular for swimming and Playa Hermosa, a favorite for diving and a host of other water sports.
Antarctica was once so isolated and remote only real explorers could visit but it’s become more accessible. The ultimate adventure to one of the world’s last true frontiers, sustainable expedition cruises are one of the best ways to experience this bucket-list trip. Most leave from Ushuaia on the Tierra del Fuego archipelago, the southernmost tip of South America, known as the “End of the World.” Your adventure of a lifetime includes crossing the famous Drake Passage to marvel at everything from whales and penguins to seals and icebergs.
The Scottish Highlands are classic when it comes to surreal beauty with Hollywood-worthy scenery. Fans of the drama “Outlander,” the Harry Potter films, and countless other TV shows and movies that have been shot here will find the landscapes to be even more stunning in person. Don’t miss the epic steam train on the Jacobite, better known as Hogwarts Express, the countless castles, whisky distilleries for tastings, and miles and miles of trails for hiking among it all. Of course, you’ll probably want to pay a visit to Loch Ness to see if you can spot Nessie the “monster” herself.
Head to the far north of Manitoba in the Arctic to visit Churchill, a town on Hudson Bay to witness wildlife most people see only on a screen in documentaries. During the warmer months with the ice breaking up, beluga whales can be seen by the thousands in the Churchill River. There are boat tours, in both zodiacs and larger passenger vessels, that take visitors out among the intelligent creatures. But Churchill is more famous for the polar bears that inhabit this region in autumn and there may be opportunities to see them in the summer if you can’t decide which you’d like to see most. This is one of the world’s few settlements for experiencing close encounters with the bears from the comfort of a unique tundra vehicle.