Imagine picturesque white sand beaches, ancient ruins and breathtaking hikes, without throngs of tourists obscuring your view. These underrated and off the beaten path vacation spots are beautiful, unspoiled destinations. Some of these might be in places considered out of the way destinations, while others are in major US metropolitan areas. But if you’re looking for an adventure with a theme, you can’t go wrong with any of the options included on this list!
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 restrict 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 and not a far-flung destination for those in the U.S. Lodges, cabins, campgrounds and inns offer every type of traveler enjoyable accommodations. Picturesque lakes, waterfalls, cliffs and caves provide off the beaten path trails you and your family can explore for an affordable, close-to-home adventure in the snow or sun.
3. Huacachina, Peru
Hidden in the sand dunes, Huacachina, Peru is a vacation experience for those looking for a unique place to explore. Sandboarding is a popular pastime for both tourists and residents all year-round in this desert but temperate climate. This little-known vacation destination is just four hours south of capital Lima and not far from the equally beautiful oasis of Ica. Huacachina’s village of 100 people plays host to a variety of activities including kayaking in its lagoon’s emerald green waters, cruising the mountains in a dune buggy and even several intimate social gathering locations.
4. Jaragua National Park, Dominican Republic
While this island boasts some of the finest all-inclusive resorts in the region, the Dominican is also home to many natural wonders. None are more breathtaking than the off the beaten trails of “Parque Nacional Jaragua.” These protected, untouched cliffs are dotted with cacti, waterfalls, natural lakes and Caribbean beaches. 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 diminishing the region’s natural beauty.
6. León, Nicaragua
León 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 lively local markets. Just a bus ride away are exotic volcanic hikes and beaches. This remote destination is accessible to those adventurous enough to discover it.
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 kitesurfing, 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 make the journey access to remote Alaska mountain vistas and glacier hikes. But 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 animal residents like birds, moose and bears grace this secluded natural escape.