For those who want to experience some beauty and adventure Down Under, head to Rottnest Island (don't let the name fool you). Located in Western Australia, Rottnest Island is just offshore of Perth and almost completely untouched by the modern life. Rotto, as it's called by the locals, is great for hikers and bicyclists because the island is a totally car-free zone and packed with trails. With its secluded beaches and crystal blue waters filled will coral reef and exotic fish, you can try your hand at snorkeling, kayaking and boogie boarding. For people seeking extra adventure, hop on a boat tour and explore the remains of shipwrecks just off Kingston Reef. For a modest fee, bikes, equipment, kayaks and snorkeling gear can be rented at the Rottnest Island Visitor Center (see Resources). Groups of all sizes can embark on guided walking tours of early colonial buildings and the lighthouse. With restaurants and hotels to fit every budget, this gem is just waiting to be explored.
Although Hawaii is a common destination for tourists, people tend to flock to Maui or Honolulu, usually overlooking Kauai. One of Hawaii's best-kept secrets, Kauai is an eco-lover's dream come true. Known as the "Garden Isle," Kauai is an abundance of lush rainforests, azure skies, and white sand beaches. The pristine rainforests are good for hikers who want to discover waterfalls and explore paths only accessible on foot. Rent an outrigger canoe and explore the water or simply relax on a deserted beach. Helicopter tours are also available for small groups that want a bird's eye view of this island. So whether you want to get away from the crowds or walk through undeveloped land, island hop to Kauai.
Skomer, an island on the southwestern coast of Wales, is definitely what you'd call uncharted territory. Perfect for day trips and virtually uninhabited by humans (at least not full time), this nature reserve is home to nearly half a million birds, including puffins, razorbills, fulmars and kittiwakes. Only a 15-minute ferry ride from mainland Wales, Skomer is filled with hiking trails, a wide variety of flora and fauna, and jade-colored hills that seem to melt into the sea. Since the island is protected by the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales, a maximum of 250 people can visit per day, ensuring the natural beauty and peaceful environment will not be destroyed and overrun by humans. For those who can't tear themselves away, there are overnight accommodations for a limited number of people. While Skomer is not the typical vacation spot for many people, it offers genuine simplicity and a real chance to commune with nature.
For those who don't want to leave the mainland states for an adventure, Swansboro, North Carolina, is an interesting place to get away. Known as the "The Friendly City by the Sea," Swansboro offers scenic views, small-town charm, and the best Southern hospitality you'll find on the North Carolina coast. With its unspoiled beaches and village-like atmosphere, Swansboro is a comfortable place to kayak, boat, camp, or sit around and soak up the sun. Filled with restaurants, gift shops, charming hotels and parks just steps from the water, Swansboro also plays host to a wide variety of festivals and events, including the Blue Water Fishing Tournament and an annual Pig Cook-Off. Walking tours are also available for small groups that want to discover the history of this coastal town. With its casual lifestyle and devotion to maintain its character, Swansboro is the little-known vacation spot you'll never want to leave.
Chapada Dos Veadeiros
Located in central Brazil, about 150 miles from the capital, Chapada Dos Veadeiros is often called a mystical place. With its fertile valleys, sweeping mountains and peaceful waterfalls, many people believe that the vast amounts of natural quartz crystals found here have made Chapada Dos Veadeiros a magical place with high levels of concentrated energy. For those who want to explore the canyons and mountains or take "safari" trips, guided tours are available (see Resources). If you like to swim, bird-watch, or simply sit back and enjoy the sunset, then head down to Brazil for an unforgettable experience.