Sometimes we want to be swallowed by misty jungles, bathe in European summer delights and hike through what appears to be another planet (Mother Nature, just when I thought you couldn’t surprise me) without the flurry felt in well-visited mainstays. Or perhaps we’ve explored some of the world’s biggest sights – what next? Whether it’s a quick diversion or a worthy trek from the biggies, here are less discovered captivating corners of Earth that are calling out for your attention.
Port Baton, Philippines
If you dream of El Nido, the Philippines without the tourism bustle, head towards the seaside jungles of tiny Port Barton for secluded serenity and a local countryside atmosphere.
We swarm to fisherman town El Nido when exploring the Palawan islands but this once sleepy village can feel like clutter and chaos unless you travel towards its outskirts. The bay of Port Barton will put you back into your zen. Explore barefoot on unpaved dirt roads to meet locals and take on a cheap snorkelling adventure or private boat trip to its surrounding understated islands drowned in lush forestry.
Desert town Jaisalmer in Rajasthan, India isn’t the only place with dusty camel safari vibes. Voyage into vibrant Bikaner.
Jaisalmer is enchanting with its fort city palace holding twisted lanes for you to get lost in-between a myriad of stores selling all sorts of exotic textiles and knick knacks. You can still feel like you’re on a set of Aladdin running your fingers over the intricate detailing of temples and palaces in less travelled Bikaner, also in Rajasthan that has its own rich history to dive into.
Ha Long Bay with its emerald waters and towering limestone cliffs might be the gem of Vietnam’s northeast. But the northwest is bountiful, especially the cultural Sapa near the Chinese border.
When in Vietnamese capital Hanoi, consider catching a cheap as chips bus to Sapa. In town you’ll be flocked with brightly coloured craftwork of the Hmong people. Trek or bike a little further out and you’ll be welcomed with the hushed beauty of a green mountainous countryside. The rice terraces and hill-tribe villages are sometimes under a blanket of misty fog, a spiritual feast for the eyes.
San Vito Lo Capo + Scopello, Italy
La dolce vita also exists beyond the Amalfi Coast with a worthy trek to Sicily’s unspoilt northwest.
Ah, the Amalfi Coast. A 50-km stretch of Mediterranean fabulousness with sheer cliffs and pastel-coloured fishing villages. But what if you crave Italian waters with a lowkey, cosy atmosphere? It’s worth travelling to Sicily’s northwest stretch of San Vito Lo Capo to Scopello. This region is abundant with Airbnb homestays and unsurpassed nature that’s popular with sun-loving locals. Say hello to the magnificent, must-trek, Zingaro Nature Reserve, dotted with dreamy seaside cottages. Now is the only time I can be forgiven for describing any destination as ‘oh, it’s just ravishing, darling.’
Cederberg Wilderness Area, South Africa
Instead of road-tripping along South Africa’s Garden Route, spend your days in awe through the Cederberg Wilderness Area.
The Garden Route is famous for a reason but its sweeping vistas of rolling hills fringed with excellent beaches remind me of our Australian coast line. While it’s home to perhaps my favourite nature lodge in the world thus far (plus plenty more stopovers to conjure your inner hippie), if you want to experience the ‘unseen extraordinary’, drive two hours north of Cape Town to majestic Cederberg. Grand craggy mountains, ginormous twisted rock formations like daggers reaching for the sky. It is nature’s art gallery at every angle. Excuse me as I pick my jaw up from the ground.
Image sources: Tales of Ardour, India Travel & Photography Board, Jean-Pierre Dalbéra, Go 4 Travel Blog, Geoff Spiby, Crossing Travel, Trip Hobo