Nothing makes the upcoming year quite as exciting as travel plans. A new year means new experiences to have: tasting the culinary delights of a European town, finding a new sense of spirituality on a yoga retreat, or testing your physical limits on an invigorating hike.
In 2014, we loved the mid-century modern architecture and flawless golf courses of Palm Springs. And we couldn’t get enough of St. Barts for its perfect beaches and glamorous restaurants. Then there was Maui, which held a special place in our hearts for being a surfers’ paradise and its seemingly endless selection of good places for a happy hour cocktail.
This year, the challenge was making our travel wish list measure up to such a strong trifecta. Inspired by the mix of adventure, natural beauty and variety of 2014, we’re ready for a bit of everything in 2015. Here’s where we’re headed:
Don’t get us wrong—we love Bali. Excellent dining options like Will Meyrick’s five-star Sarong and superb surfing conditions keep us coming back time and time again. But a quieter alternative that really shows the essence of Indonesia’s stunning nature is Bali’s little sister, Lombok.
In Lombok you won’t find traffic or sprawling resort developments. Instead, you’re trading in the convenience for a taste of the local way. It’s an excellent option for travelers who are thirsty for adventure: rent a motorcycle and zoom along the stunning coastline, and test your endurance with a hike up Mount Rinjani.
Along the way, stop and explore traditional villages, have a massage, and explore the nearby Gili T islands which are a paradise for snorkelers. Don’t leave without trying a hot chili pepper either—after all, that’s what Lombok translates to!
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From eco adventures like ziplining through the rainforest and hiking up the Arenal volcano to unwinding in hot springs, Costa Rica is a haven for nature lovers. The country’s incredible eco diversity is reason enough to visit: expect to see a colorful myriad of bird species, fuzzy monkeys, and lush overhanging greens on every excursion.
And when it’s time to give your muscles a rest, there are plenty of beaches to sprawl out on with your favorite books. Playa Conchal has Caribbean-esque clear blue waters and stunning soft sand, and Playa Dominicalito has perfect calm swimming conditions and spectacular sunset shows.
While adventure in nature is synonymous with any Costa Rican vacation, the first dose of feedback you’ll often hear from travelers is how incredibly friendly the people are. And second? The accommodations. From modern glass houses right on the beach to super cool jungle homes with all-natural materials, when you’re just coming off a day-long hike, there’s nothing quite like having a villa you’re genuinely excited to go back to.
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Europe is for history and culture lovers what the Caribbean is for beach lovers. If you’ve already seen seen the Louvre, Gaudi’s many masterpieces in Barcelona and the Duomo in Florence, what’s next? Lisbon. In Lisbon you’ll find a rich history mixed together with great beaches and ocean vistas.
First on the must-see list is the World Heritage Site Belem Tower, the city’s most photographed landmark (by a landslide). Next, see the Jeronimos Monastery, built in 1502 with architectural details that will leave you breathless – like the columns carved with sea creatures. And the interior is just as mind-blowing.
After a long day of museum tours, nothing tastes as good as a glass of wine and some delicious seafood. Dining options are abundant. You can take your pick between cozy little restaurants with stone-arched rooms or oceanside eateries with breezy patios. If you really like what you’re seeing, you can go the extra mile (or several) and experience the famed Douro Valley wine region.
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