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World’s 12 Most Relaxing Destinations

Most of us could probably use a vacation that allows stress to melt away. More than three-quarters of adults in the U.S. say they frequently experience symptoms of stress, and what better way to combat it than to travel to a beautiful, peaceful destination? You can’t go wrong with any of these top relaxing options.

Molokai, Hawaii Halawa Bay, Molokai
Credit: Halawa Bay, Molokai by © Fischinger - Dreamstime.com

Molokai, Hawaii

Molokai is only nine miles away from the popular resorts on West Maui, but it feels like worlds away from all those tourists crowds. On this less-visited isle, you won’t find lively nightlife or the bright lights of the big city, but you might just find a beach all to yourself for letting all that stress melt away. Three-mile beach, officially known as Papohaku, sits at the island’s western end, is especially ideal. One of the largest stretches of white sands in all of Hawaii, on a clear day you can even look over to Oahu across the channel.

Zermatt, Switzerland Zermatt, Switzerland
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Zermatt, Switzerland

Zermatt may be most famous for its snow sports, but it offers a wonderful place to relax during the warmer months of the year with its car-free streets providing a carefree, laid-back feel while the Matterhorn offers a spectacular backdrop. The gorgeous trails leading up to the iconic mountain bring the opportunity to take in the scenery and the incredibly fresh air before returning to town to enjoy one of the many decadent spas where you can indulge in everything from massage and mud facials to a soothing Jacuzzi.

Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada Banff National Park, Alberta
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Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

Banff National Park is ideal for lovers of the great outdoors as well, filled with some of the most stunning scenery on Earth, including soaring jagged peaks, roaring waterfalls and countless glistening lakes filled with surreal blue waters. Whether your idea of relaxing is camping under the stars or a stay at a luxurious resort, you’ll find the perfect option here along with endless trails to hike and abundant wildlife to watch.

Maldives The Maldives
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The Maldives is home to hundreds of perfect tropical islands, each one more breathtaking than the last. Enjoy countless picture-perfect white sand beaches framed by dreamy aquamarine waters of the Indian Ocean and a wealth of luxurious spas to choose from in this country that was named the top spa destination on the planet at the World Spa Awards. No matter where you stay, you’re sure to be close to all sorts of pampering treatments.

Ubud, Bali Indonesia
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Ubud, Bali

Ubud was put on the map when as the spot where author Elizabeth Gilbert chose to end her Eat, Pray, Love journey. It was a great choice as it’s truly one of the most peaceful places you’ll find in the world. You can enjoy everything from outdoor adventures to enlightenment and total relaxation. It’s a great place to indulge in a famous Balinese massage and soak up the ambiance of one of Asia’s top spa destinations. And, as they say, laughter is some of the best medicine – head to the nearby nature reserve of Monkey Forest Park and you can laugh along with the mischievous long-tailed macaques.

Snaefellsnes Peninsula, Iceland Kirkjufell on the Snaefellnes Peninsula, Iceland
Credit: Kirkjufell on the Snaefellnes Peninsula, Iceland by Bigstock.com

Snaefellsnes Peninsula, Iceland

The scenery in Iceland alone is enough to make for a stress-melting vacation. The moment you lay eyes on that magical landscape, so fantasy-like you have to pinch yourself to believe it’s really, all worries seem to fade away. But there’s something extra-special about the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. Just a couple hours from the capital of Reykjavik, it’s been called Iceland in miniature as it offers just about all the highlights of the country in one place. From May through July, stay in Grundarfjordur and you’ll be able to enjoy scenes like this under the Midnight Sun after the day-tripping tourists have gone home all to yourself.

Vis Island, Croatia Vis Island, Croatia
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Vis Island, Croatia

The farthest inhabited island off the Croatian mainland, Vis is surrounded by a stunningly azure sea and offers the chance to step into the Mediterranean as it once was. Four decades it was used as a Yugoslav Army base and was deserted by many of the locals, completely closed to outside visitors through 1989. Thanks to its isolation, it’s managed to retain unspoiled charms, enticing secluded bays and fabulous sandy beaches ideal for a relaxing afternoon.

Whitsunday Island, Australia Whitsunday Islands, Australia
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Whitsunday Island, Australia

The Whitsundays are one of Australia’s most breathtaking attractions, made up of 74 Island Wonders along Queensland’s tropical coast in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef. Whitsunday Island is home to one of the world’s most beautiful secluded beaches, Whitehaven. Consistently ranked among the top 10 beaches on the planet with its white silica sand and striking azure waters, it’s almost too good to be true for anyone looking for the ultimate in relaxation and opportunities to enjoy snorkeling among abundant marine life, including more than 1,600 species of tropical fish, turtles, sharks, dolphins, rays and giant clams.

Fogo Island, Newfoundland, Canada Tilting
Credit: Tilting by Karen Dermody

Fogo Island, Newfoundland, Canada

Accessed by ferry from Farewell on the northeast corner of the Newfoundland coast, Fogo Island offers the opportunity to step into what feels like lost time, forget all about your cares and stray far off the beaten path. It hosts 11 unique communities, including Tilting, a traditional Irish village where you’ll hear conversations with thick Irish lilts and wander across old wooden docks with red-painted fishing rooms. Stroll scenic trails, and even visit a magnificent Caribbean-like beach complete with soft white sands and clear turquoise waters. Discover art galleries, many right out of locals’ homes, witness icebergs that look like works of art themselves in late spring, and watch for the island’s herd of caribou.

Halong Bay, Vietnam Halong Bay
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Halong Bay, Vietnam

Halong Bay offers some of the world’s most jaw-dropping turquoise and emerald waters. It’s one of the best places to sail, and many of the cruising boats are built in the style of old Chinese trading junks, while others are more like the old fashioned riverboats. Enjoy weaving in and out of the vibrant green limestone islands while simply relaxing and taking in the mesmerizing scenery.

Sedona, Arizona Cathedral Rock, Sedona
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Sedona, Arizona

Arguably the very best place to enjoy Arizona’s most spectacular red rock desert landscape, Sedona has a relaxing vibe that’s hard to beat. That scenery is incredibly inspiring while providing a sense of tranquility, perhaps in part because of its famous healing energy vortexes. There are countless resorts and luxury spas that aim to take advantage of that while bringing the relaxation factor even further after a day out hiking. After dark, due to the lack of light pollution and the town’s higher altitude, look forward to fantastic stargazing too.

Cannon Beach, Oregon Ecola State Park Overlook, Cannon Beach
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Cannon Beach, Oregon

The town of Cannon Beach on the northern Oregon coast is a famously romantic destination renowned for its jaw-dropping scenery with wild beaches and crashing waves, unique rock formations and lush surrounding forests. But it makes an ideal destination for anyone looking for a relaxing vacation filled with beach strolls and hikes, while the town itself offers oceanfront restaurants, luxury resorts, boutique shops and art galleries.

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