It’s funny how during my younger years, I used to call myself a world traveler after having been to a couple countries. Now even after visiting 31 countries / 5 continents, I feel like I’ve only reached the tip of the iceberg. There is still so much to see and discover in this beautiful world we live in.
At the beginning of every year, we come up with a list of top travel destinations. We’ll be visiting some of them this year, some are places we’ve visited in the past that are up and coming, and the rest are places on our short list. Keep in mind that even if you don’t travel to some faraway place, adventures can be found anywhere, so go find a local adventure!
TOP TRAVEL DESTINATIONS 2016
With US relations opening up in Cuba, it is definitely the talk of the town. There are still tight regulations on getting into the country, but that is about to change soon. This spring will be your last chance to go before giant cruise ships start arriving in May. Cuba is a place I’d like to visit, but I think it’s still too soon to go. Though the infrastructure (hotels, internet, etc) will be behind, that’s what makes it a unique place to visit now.
Why visit these islands now? The Galapagos penguins, which are amongst the rarest in the world, have made a great comeback through conservation efforts. Since 2000, their population has doubled, which increases your chance to see them. Since the ecology of the area is so fragile, you never know how long that will last. And don’t forget to see the giant tortoises, blue-footed boobies, marine iguanas, and more, while you’re there.
This country has been on our list for quite some time. In recent years, it’s become a wildly popular destination. We wished we had visited when it was still undiscovered, but we know it’s a popular place for good reason. We’re excited that we finally booked our tickets to go next February, and there will be plenty of chasing waterfalls and hopefully northern lights.
Unlike Iceland, which gives you a lot of lush green landscapes and milder temperatures, Greenland is more for those who can brave the cold weather. However, it will give you some of the most remote experiences. It has the world’s lowest population density and offers a coast-to-coast ice cap, which will eventually change as it continues to melt.
This Caribbean getaway was once only frequented by high society, but with more recent hotel developments, it’s becoming one of the top destinations in the Caribbean. Snorkel, dive, paddleboard, or enjoy the calm and pristine beaches, without having to worry about annoying and loud tourist activities like banana boats and parasailing. In the future, they might become like any other popular Caribbean destination, but for now they’ve maintained their own quiet charm.
6. South Georgia Island
This one is super exciting since we’ve been into wildlife photography lately. Visit these rocky beaches and see thousands of king penguins gather. You’ll also find fur seals, elephant seals, albatrosses, all amongst rocky cliffs and glaciers. So who wants to go with us?
Botswana rose from poverty to become one of Africa’s most stable societies. It is celebrating 50 years of independence in 2106, which means there will be even more to do and see when you visit. Also, who doesn’t want to see these animals??
Photo: Jim Frost
If you’re into diving or relaxing at a high-end resort, you’ll find it in Fiji. The country recently upgraded its International Airport, which means that it will be easier to get to. We may just have to revisit to relive our honeymoon!
Japan is a hotbed of some of the most unique and weird dining experiences in the world. On the flip side, it still holds onto the ancient traditions and customs. Japan will be hosting the 2020 Olympics which means that it will continue to develop new and exciting places to see and visit.
Uruguay is known as the ‘Switzerland of America’. Watch or become a gaucho (cowboy), see the beautiful beaches, or explore the amazing landscapes.
11. Sri Lanka
Since the country has become more stable, the tourism industry is growing in leap and bounds. More resorts and infrastructure is being built, but overall, there are still a ton of places to explore without the crowds. You’ll find ancient temples, bustling cities, spectacular beaches, the rainforest-covered mountains.
Latvia has been working hard to restore its hidden castles and manors. The food scene is also developing, which makes this the perfect place to visit before it gets flooded with tourists.
13. New Zealand
This one is for all you cyclers out there! In 2016, New Zealand will be pouring in $80 million into developing the “New Zealand Cycle Trail”. Hop on two wheels and see the country like never before!
With everything going on in the Middle East, people often overlook Iran thinking that it’s dangerous. But you can get that out of your head. Iran has some of the kindest and welcoming people, and the relations with the US is rapidly improving. Enjoy the unique culture, architecture, and beautiful landscapes of this country while most haven’t considered it as a place to travel to yet.
The Aussie dollar has lost its strength in recent years, which makes it a good time for foreigners to visit. You could spend a lifetime exploring every nook and cranny of the country, but be sure to see it’s amazing wilderness and the Great Barrier Reef that is constantly battling environmental threats. See them now before more compromises are made.
If you live in the US, it might seem weird to have this as a travel destination, but as local adventurers, we know that we live in a beautiful country that deserves to be explored. This year the US is celebrating the 100th anniversary of our favorites here: the National Park Service. There are 59 national parks and hundred of historic landmarks and monuments, which gives you endless options on what to see. These are some of our favorite parks: Yosemite, Zion, and Olympic.
What trips are you planning this year? Are any of these destinations on your list?
Photos courtesy of (creative commons): 3. Moyann Brenn (cropped) 4. Ville Miettinen (cropped)
6. Liam Quinn (cropped) 7. Jim Frost 10. Thomas Munter (cropped) 12. Peter Pawlowski (cropped)
13. Maris Pehlaks 14.David Stanley (cropped) 15. Su Fuidge