Get off the beaten track and discover some charming travel destinations on your next trip. Whether that’s a quaint beach neighbourhood in California or a paradise island in Tahiti, these 14 lesser-known travel hotspots should be on everyone’s bucket list. Where to go in 2020:
Chichibugahama Beach – Setouchi, Japan
Located in the Kagawa Prefecture of Setouchi is Chichibugahama beach, acclaimed as one of the ‘Top 100 Sunset Spots in Japan’ and with good reason. Boasting 1km of beach, with peaceful seawater and bathing areas, many travellers come during the summer months to swim in the beautiful setting, which overlookis the Seto Inland Sea. In recent years it has been compared to the Bolivian Salt Flats in South America for its fantastic photo opportunities.
Huahine – The Islands of Tahiti
Lesser-known island Huahine, also known as ‘The Garden of Eden’ for its exceptional greenery, offers rich culture, archaeological sites, sacred temples and endless beauty. The island is home to the largest concentration of archaeological sites and temples in all of French Polynesia, each with a unique story to tell. The beautiful Lake Fauna Nui hosts ancient stone fish traps so sacred that only members of the royal family have authority to remove them. Find out more here.
Gyokusendo Caves – Okinawa, Japan
Lesser known for its sub-tropical climate but Japan offers warm temperatures and stunning beaches in its southerly prefectures. Okinawa is home to white sand-beaches, crystal-clear waters and the Gyokusendo caves, great limestone caves that are navigated through walkways, bridges and stairs. There’s also an underground river illuminated by lights inside the cave.
Tri-Valley – California, USA
Just 35 miles east of San Francisco, the Tri-Valley is one of California’s hidden viticultural, culinary and outdoorsy gems. Home to award-winning wineries, delightfully-diverse restaurants, charming downtowns and unspoiled hiking trails, the Tri-Valley offers gorgeous sunshine, idyllic countryside and California charm year-round. From hang gliding and biking to wine tastings and ice cream trails, the Tri-Valley is an ideal stop on a true California road trip.
Mammoth Lakes – California, USA
Majestic in scale and awesome in natural beauty, Mammoth Lakes is California’s year-round adventureland. OK, maybe not the world’s best kept secret but the name speaks to the size of the mountains, the expanse of the valleys and the incredible number of crystal-clear alpine lakes. Tucked away in the Eastern Sierra, Mammoth Lakes is home to the closest ski resort to LA, making it a long-time favourite mountain getaway for Hollywood elite. From world-class beers to high-altitude mountain biking, Mammoth Lakes is the perfect spot for unadulterated outdoorsy hedonism.
Mariposa County – Yosemite, USA
While Yosemite may bring to mind iconic sights like El Capitan and Yosemite Valley, Yosemite Mariposa County is the heart of the region, with museums, restaurants, shops and more. Visit the award-winning Mariposa Museum & History Centre for an authentic picture of the famous Gold Rush and learn about the origins of the ‘Mother of all Counties’. Unwind at the Wellness Nook with a therapeutic coconut oil massage before dining at the 1850 Restaurant with its signature mountain food and locally brewed craft beer.
Loved by Locals
West Seattle – Washington, USA
Just a short drive or water taxi from Downtown is West Seattle, a laid-back neighbourhood with incredible restaurants, boutique shops and hidden gems. Visitors can head to the secluded Alki Beach Park or stroll through the beautiful Lincoln Park, before grabbing a bite to eat at Il Nido, a newly-opened Italian eatery. There’s also three blocks of one-of-a-kind shopping offering everything from clothing to artwork. www.visitseattle.org
Two hours north of busy and bustling Tokyo is Miyagi, where Japanese traditions, cuisine and adventure thrive. Northern Miyagi showcases stunning rice paddies in Kurihara city, which is surrounded by majestic mountains and vast rural landscapes that produce high-quality rice. Naruko-kyo Gorge, also located in northern Miyagi, presents gorgeous autumnal foliage, whilst the Sekaiyachi wild flower garden is a large wetland area that extends the south of Mt. Kurikoma and is surrounded by incredible forest and alpine plants. visitmiyagi.com
Miyazaki Prefecture – Kyushu, Japan
Miyazaki Prefecture is located on the coast of Kyushu, showcasing scenic views of both ocean and nearby luxuriant mountains. Guests can indulge in many Japanese experiences from relaxing in hot springs to exploring the great outdoors, followed by consuming delicious Japanese cuisine.
Beaches and Bays
Crystal Cove – Newport Beach, USA
The perfect blend of preserved natural beauty and contemporary architecture, picturesque Crystal Cove has it all. Located at the southernmost tip of Newport Beach, the Cove is a community that’s stuck in the bygone days of California. Favoured by hikers, campers and trailblazers alike, the Crystal Cove Historic District is an enclave of 46 vintage cottages originally built between 1920-30s and one of the last remaining examples of early 20thcentury Southern Californian architecture.
La Jolla – San Diego, USA
Situated in the south of California, the bustling city of San Diego is a haven for those in search of good food, chic hotels and a wealth of activities no matter what time of day. One of San Diego’s 17 neighbourhoods is La Jolla, an area occupying seven miles of coastline along the Pacific Ocean and home to a plethora of beaches, restaurants and bars. Visitors can hike the beautiful Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, catch a show at the La Jolla Playhouse and indulge in food, cocktails and rooftop ocean views at George’s at the Cove. www.sandiego.org
Peace and Relaxation
Dana Point, California, USA
Situated between San Diego and Los Angeles, Dana Point is California’s coolest, coastal gem. Nine beaches make up Dana Point’s coastline, ranging from busy and bustling to quiet and secluded. The region has a big surfing heritage – California’s first surf shop was set up there in 1954 and legendary surfing documentary, The Endless Summer, was produced there. Dana Point also offers some of the best blue and grey whale watching in the state, with sightings virtually guaranteed throughout the year.
SLO CAL (San Luis Obispo County) – California, USA
SLO CAL is a hidden gem along the iconic Highway 1, home to the third largest wine region in the state (Paso Robles), 80 miles of coastline and an abundance of activities on sea and land. Travellers looking for a California adventure without the stress of getting around should head to SLO CAL; explore the quaint coastal towns of Cambria and Cayucos, savour the delicious wines in an intimate tasting room in Edna Valley and head to Pismo Beach for activities on the water. www.slocal.com
Beyond its two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Hiroshima has a lot to discover. Geihoku region is home to an array of scenic natural spots whilst Bihoku, situated in the most northern region of Hiroshima, flourishes with flower parks, fruit farms and wineries. Also not to be missed are Onomichi and Tomonoura – popular destinations with rich history and culture connected to the Seto Inland Sea. visithiroshima.net