Imagine white sand beaches, ancient ruins and breathtaking hikes, all without throngs of tourists competing to enjoy them. These underrated vacation spots are beautiful, unspoiled destinations. Some are in countries with more well-known cities. Others are located off the beaten path in regions largely unexplored by tourists.
1. Fernando de Noronha, Brazil
This collection of tiny Brazilian islands takes almost two dozen hours to reach by air from the East Coast of the US. However, the beautiful beaches and colorful wildlife are worth every minute of travel. Not only is this a lesser-known destination, the islands limit the number of tourists allowed to visit at a time, so you won’t have to fight crowds for the perfect spot on the sand.
2. Hocking Hills State Park, United States
Located just outside Columbus, Ohio, this beautiful state park is an incredibly underrated vacation spot. Lodges, cabins, campgrounds and inns offer every type of traveler enjoyable accommodations. Picturesque lakes, waterfalls, cliffs and caves are perfect for a close-to-home adventure any time of the year.
3. Huacachina, Peru
If you’re thinking about taking up sandboarding, this is the place to do it. Four hours south of Lima and just outside Ica is the underrated vacation destination of Huacachina. This village of 100 people exists because of a natural oasis among the sand dunes, which are perfect for adventure-lovers looking for an unusual vacation.
4. Jaragua National Park, Dominican Republic
Instead of one of the island’s many all-inclusive resorts, opt for the natural beauty of Parque Nacional Jaragua. Cliffs dotted with cacti, waterfalls, natural lakes and Caribbean beaches make up this national park. Hike, swim and get up close to wildlife, including manatees, turtles and flamingos!
5. Krabi, Thailand
This coastal Thai province offers a little bit of everything for leisure travelers. Krabi is growing more popular by the day, with delicious cafes and restaurants in Krabi Town, scenic beaches, thousands of years of human history, and caves, hot springs and temples hidden in the jungle. There are enough tourists here to have plenty of hotels, tours and spas to choose from, without being overwhelming or deminishing the region’s natural beauty.
6. Leon, Nicaragua
Leon is one of the easier places to get to on this list, at just an hour and a half from the capital city of Managua. There are hundreds of years of human history here, making for gorgeous cathedrals, informative museums and entertaining markets. Just a bus ride away are volcanic hikes and beaches.
7. Los Roques, Venezuela
Another underrated South American destination is the Venezuelan archipelago of Los Roques. Accommodations here are simple, but the main attraction is the natural beauty of the islands. Many travelers will be content hanging out on Los Roques’ various beaches, while others will want to try kite surfing, scuba diving or snorkeling among coral reefs, and bird watching.
8. North Stradbroke Island, Australia
Take a ferry from the mainland to start your off the beaten path vacation in North Stradbroke Island. Camp along the beach or rent a house while you explore the darling fishing towns, lounge on vast beaches, take in the sunrise and sunset, and maybe even see a koala.
9. Sheki, Azerbaijan
This small city offers tourists willing to travel beyond Azerbaijan’s larger destinations beautiful architecture, comfortable accommodations and friendly locals. The biggest draw here is the stunning Sheki Khans’ summer palace, which is home to intricate architecture and a textile museum. The local food is also more traditional and delicious in Sheki than in bigger cities.
10. Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, United States
The largest national park in the US, Wrangell-St. Elias offers travelers willing to journey across Alaska mountain vistas and glacier hikes. Because of the sheer size of the park, tourists often stick to just one area, some of which are only accessible by plane or boat. Small mountainside towns, glaciers the size of states, active volcanoes and millions of birds, moose, bears, sheep and other animals greet visitors.