Tag Archives: Myanmar

pier and overwater bungalows in Bocas del Toro Panama

The Best Places to Travel in 2020: Where to Go Now and Why

We’ve scoured the globe and selected the most rewarding places in the world to see in 2020. Whether because they’re under-the-radar or up-and-coming, whether because of new cultural attractions, much-anticipated hotel openings, a dining renaissance, or new cruise itineraries, these destinations are in that magical sweet spot: well equipped and ready for discerning travelers, but not yet overrun by tourists. So go on, visit a spot that’s new to you this year, or dig deeper into a place you thought you already knew. Or heck, just find a beautiful beach to tune out and relax on. In our list of Where to Go in 2020, we’ve got inspiration for everyone.

The Amazon: Expand Your Understanding, Support Its Recovery

Aerial view of Anavilhanas National Park Islands, Rio Negro, Brazilian Amazon

The Anavilhanas Archipelago in Brazil’s Amazon is home to wildlife including jaguars and manatees. Photo: Shutterstock

The Amazon’s forest fires have been making headlines for months. Martin Frankenberg, a Brazil specialist on Wendy’s WOW List, wants travelers to understand that they can actually do good for the rainforest by visiting: “The income generated by responsible tourism has the potential to provide an alternative to damaging activities in the region.” Travelers can also visit safely, since “the areas where the fires are burning are quite far from the touristed sections of the rainforest.” They’d be wise to visit soon: “It’s impossible to assure how much this disaster will impact and change the biome. So, the time to experience the forest is now.” Martin and his team are based in Brazil and know how to craft an itinerary that will not only observe the most respect to the Amazon environment but will also help travelers have the most immersive experience.

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Antarctica: Go now, it could get a lot more crowded soon

Zodiac cruise through the ice, Antarctica. Photo: Abby Suplizio

Antarctica is about to see a lot more ships. Go now before the experience changes. Photo: Abby Suplizio

An unprecedented number of cruise ships destined for Antarctica are being launched. Eight were delivered last year, and almost as many are expected in 2020. The variety of vessels (ranging from 100 to 530 guests and from casual to ultra-luxurious) opens Antarctica up to travelers who might never have considered the journey before, says WOW List expert Ashton Palmer. It also raises questions about how cruise companies will manage the influx of people. “Most ships are members of, and follow the guidelines set, by the International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators,” says Ashton. “This self-regulated group has guidelines that require no more than 100 passengers are ashore at any given time.” Growth will raise a challenge, though; Ashton predicts ships limiting the number of sites they visit or the number of landings they make each day. “I would recommend people consider visiting sooner rather than later because more ships will mean more competition for landing sites and also potentially more overcrowding.”

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Turkey’s Northern Aegean Coast: What the Mediterranean used to be like

dog and cat on charming street in alacati village turkey

Alacati is one of the charming villages to visit when sailing Turkey’s northern Aegean Coast . Photo: Sea Song

“It is still authentic and pristine,” says Karen Fedoko Sefer, a Turkey specialist on the WOW List, “but I do not know how long this will last.” She’s talking about Turkey’s northern Aegean coast, a picturesque stretch of villages, small towns, and historical sites where people are turning their mansions into beautiful boutique hotels, where all of Turkey’s top-notch olive oil and wines are born, where travelers can go hiking and foraging for herbs in the mountains and then cook them with their truly farm-to-table dinner. While much of Europe is seeing worsening tourist crowds, the local people here are trying to preserve this coastline and keep mass tourism out. To experience it respectfully, leave Istanbul and drive along the Marmara Sea. Wind around the Gallipoli Peninsula, to Ayvalik for some olive oil tasting, and then to Junda Island where you can stay in a restored seaside mansion and sail on a private yacht. The next day, take a cooking class in Edremit, where you can pick herbs from the fields for the dinner you’ll prepare. Then it’s on to Urla, for a wine tasting from ancient vines that have been restored and which are now producing world-class pours. A short flight from Izmir will take you back to Istanbul.

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South Africa: Safaris are now possible in just one week

Three cheetahs lounging, Phinda Private Game Reserve, South Africa

Cheetahs in Phinda Private Game Reserve, South Africa.

New nonstop flights to the African continent from the United States are a welcome trend for all us exotic-travel lovers who are so time-poor. It started last year when Kenya Airways launched a nonstop between New York’s JFK and Nairobi (see “Kenya: New flights make African safaris easier” in Where To Travel in 2019). This year, there’s even bigger news: United’s introduction of a nonstop route between Newark and Cape Town. It’s been 20 years since there was a nonstop flight from the U.S. to Cape Town, and it will cut flight time down to just 14.5 hours from New York. Travelers no longer need to fritter away valuable vacation hours flying via Europe, or transferring via Johannesburg, in order to access the increasingly exciting food, art, and cultural offerings of Cape Town. Better yet, a safari is now possible even if you’ve got only one week of vacation. You can sample two or three first-rate safari lodges or tented camps, and top that off with a couple of days in Cape Town, all within a 9-day/8-night period (a week plus a weekend). As for the next nonstop to Africa on the horizon, the country to get that will be Morocco. Following Royal Air Maroc’s launch of nonstop service between Miami and Casablanca earlier this year, American Airlines will start flying nonstop from Philadelphia to Casablanca in summer 2020. So both the top and bottom of Africa will soon be that much more accessible. It’s about time.

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Oslo: An architectural boom

exterio rof Munch Museum opening in Oslo 2020

The Munch Museum is opening in Oslo this year, one of several big cultural venues arriving in 2020. Photo: Munch Museum

Art and architecture fans are excited about Oslo this year, thanks to the unveiling of three eye-popping additions to the city’s skyline. “Oslo is getting a makeover,” says Jan Sortland, Wendy’s WOW List specialist for Norway. In the spring (tentatively April), the new Munch Museum will be unveiled. Designed by innovative Spanish architecture firm Estudio Herreros, the building is made from recyclable concrete and steel and will finally give The Scream a permanent home where it can always be on view. The National Museum is also moving into larger digs in 2020. In addition to providing expanded gallery space (conservators will be moving in more than 100,000 pieces before the opening), the sleek gray expanse is focused on creating open and inviting public spaces, including a rooftop terrace, an airy library, and several cultural and performance venues. Oslo’s new National Library will also open in the spring of 2020, opposite the waterfront Opera House. The library will be almost lacy and translucent, with a façade that will glow different colors at night, depending on what activities and events are going on inside. Visitors can of course browse the extensive book collections, but will also be able to take advantage of a movie theater, media workshops, gaming zones, lounges, and a restaurant.

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Panama: Under-the-radar tropical islands

pier and overwater bungalows in Bocas del Toro Panama

Bocas del Toro on Panama’s Caribbean Coast has all of the turquoise water and none of the hurricanes. Photo: Costa Travel

Thanks to its rapidly expanding airport hub, Frank-Gehry-designed Biomuseo, and improving tourism infrastructure, Panama has been climbing onto people’s radar for the past few years. While most people know the country for its famous canal, WOW List specialist Pierre Gedeon  is hoping travelers will start paying more attention to its lush rainforests, local traditions, ancient forts, outdoor activities and coffee plantations. What’s more, its coastal islands are home to new luxe resorts that immerse travelers in Panama’s natural environment while also protecting it. A 400-acre, private-island resort off the country’s Pacific coast, Isla Palenque has eight thatch-roofed casitas and one villa constructed out of sustainably sourced local materials. Guests can hike through primary rainforest, snorkel through the Chiriqui National Marine Park, learn about the island’s pre-Columbian cultures via anthropological excursions, or soak in the sun on the island’s seven different beaches. Solar-powered Isla Secas, opened in 2019, is another eco-retreat off the Pacific coast; it’s set on a 14-island archipelago with private casitas. Over on Panama’s Caribbean coast, the Bocas del Toro archipelago is where sun seekers will find the Red Frog Beach Island Resort. This is a more classic Caribbean-style resort with villas, lofts, and condominiums, but thanks to its location near the equator, it is outside the hurricane zone. From mid-December through the end of April is Panama’s dry season; to spot humpback whales, visit the Pacific Coast between August and October.

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Negev Desert, Israel: Remote relaxation at a beautiful new resort

turquoise infinity pool looking out over the Negev desert at the Six Senses Shahurte

The Six Senses Shaharut will give travelers an oasis of infinity pools in Israel’s Negev Desert. Photo: Six Senses

Carved out of a cliff in the Arava Valley of the Negev Desert, the Six Senses Shaharut is due to open in the spring of 2020. Until now, travelers’ only high-end desert-oasis option was the Beresheet. The Six Senses will be more remote, with only half the number of rooms (60 suites and pool villas). The difference, says Jonathan Rose, Israel specialist on The WOW List, is that the experience will feel more exclusive and will offer the luxe touches that the Six Senses brand is known for, including its signature spa and hammam treatments. Guests can try overnight camel camping, hiking, rock climbing, safaris, and wine tours, or learn about Six Senses’ local sustainability efforts at its Earth Lab.

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Madrid: An old city gets a new spark

Four Seasons Madrid Spain, exterior

In Madrid, the Four Seasons and the Mandarin Oriental will give their shared neighborhood a little boost. Photo: Four Seasons

With the opening of the Four Seasons and the re-opening of Mandarin Oriental Ritz, Madrid will be turning heads again in 2020, says WOW List Spain specialist Virginia Irurita. As she explains: The area around the hotels, Barrio de las Letras and Puerta del Sol, had long been eschewed by Madrileños for being too touristy but is now undergoing a renaissance, with new shops, restaurants, and pedestrian-friendly streets that will encourage mingling between locals and travelers. Small businesses, artisan shops, galleries, and mom-and-pop cafés and restaurants are also opening in the surrounding neighborhoods, raising Madrid’s profile as a destination for those interested in art, design, and gastronomy.

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Taninthari Region, Myanmar: An untouched time capsule—for now

myaw yit pagoda in dawei measured in Mir Ji Dawei,temple of the Dawei area is located on a small island of the Andaman coast. - Image

Visit the Myaw Yit Pagoda in Dawai, a town in Myanmar’s Taninthari region along the Andaman Sea. Photo: Shutterstock

The Taninthari region in the south of Myanmar remains untouched and charming—a place where visitors (who are few and far between) will find quaint fishing villages, spectacular beaches, fishermen who still dive for pearls, and the semi-nomadic Moken peoples, whose ancient culture is based on the sea. Bordering the Andaman Sea and the Tenasserim Hills, the area’s key towns to explore are Dawei, Myeik and Kawthaung. Travelers can also charter a boat and sail the pristine Mergui Archipelago. Why do this now? “The place is changing,” says Toni Neubauer, a Myanmar specialist on The WOW List. “After a two-year suspension, plans are again underway to build Southeast Asia’s largest deep-sea port and a special economic zone in Dawei, the capital of the region.” This quiet coastline could soon be transformed into a major commercial center.

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Matera, Italy: The new Puglia

Matera, Basilicata, Italy: landscape at sunrise of the old town (sassi di Matera), with the ancient cave houses carved into the tufa rock over the deep ravine

Matera’s sassi, ancient cave dwellings, are a UNESCO World Heritage site. Photo: Shutterstock

Puglia has been hot for a few years now. It’s the region of Italy located just across from the Amalfi Coast (it’s in the heel of the boot-shaped country) and, thanks to its reputation for friendly people and charming villages, its popularity has skyrocketed. “When you walk around in the small towns it is very easy and fun to interact with the locals and truly feel part of the local community,” says Andrea Grisdale, one of Wendy’s WOW List specialists for Italy. But for those who are ready to explore an even lesser-known gem of Italy, nearby Matera is where they should be headed. And soon. The town, located in the Basilicata region about an hour from Puglia, is one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world. Its pride is the sassi, more than a thousand ancient dwellings and churches carved into the natural rock of the town’s steep limestone ravine. The historic grottoes haven’t always been so appreciated, however. After seeing them in 1950, Italian Prime Minister Alcide De Gasperi declared the cave homes decrepit and unsanitary and ordered that all residents be cleared out and moved into new housing projects. As a result, the area was abandoned and devolved into a crime-filled slum. Luckily, within ten years locals were already working to save and rehabilitate their unique historic town, and eventually their efforts paid off. In 1993, UNESCO recognized the sassi for their outstanding universal value, and today, the caves have been transformed into hotels, bars, restaurants, shops, and private homes. “Matera is not the easiest place to reach, which is why it has managed to remain relatively unknown,” Andrea says. “When you are driving toward Matera and it finally comes into view, the first thing that most people tell us comes to mind is that it resembles strongly the way Jerusalem is portrayed in so many movies.”

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Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands: A beloved resort returns

wooden pier reaches from ocean to shore at th Rosewood Little Dix Bay resort in Virgin Gorda

Rosewood Little Dix Bay will reopen in 2020 after a four-year, multi-million-dollar renovation. Image: Rosewood

In 2017, Hurricane Irma wreaked havoc on the Caribbean, including Virgin Gorda. The quiet and undeveloped island is back in business, and in March, Rosewood’s esteemed Little Dix Bay resort will unveil its multimillion-dollar renovation. The island is known for the Baths, a natural geological formation that is simply beautiful, but it’s also the perfect home base to island-hop to other spots, like Anegada or Jost Van Dyke. Little Dix Bay is set in 500 acres of natural gardens and, if it sounds familiar, that’s because it’s famed for being the eco resort that conservationist Laurance Rockefeller built as his family retreat more than a half century ago.

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Gascony: France’s unsung food mecca

Summer landscape - view of the countryside close to the village of Lavardens, in the historical province Gascony, the region of Occitanie of southwestern France -

Gascony is a culinary destination that isn’t crowded with tourists yet. Photo: Shutterstock

Foodies should head to Gascony sooner rather than later. This agricultural region in the southwest of France doesn’t boast any celebrity chefs, fancy hotel chains, or corporate wineries—and that is exactly its draw. The rich food, roadside distilleries, lively local market towns, and rolling farmland are the stars of this rural area, which remains slower-paced and less trafficked than the beaten paths of its neighbor Bordeaux. A good way to access Gascony’s culinary (and cultural) nooks and crannies is via the scenic Canal a la Garonne, on a canal barge cruise. Much smaller and homier than river ships (and, in some cases, completely private), barges meander slowly through the countryside, stopping frequently to explore villages, sights, and restaurants. Many of the vessels are owned and operated by locals, an arrangement that enables guests to make meaningful—and delicious—connections.

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Capri, Amalfi Coast, Italy

The Ideal Islands for Each Month of the Year

Figuring out the optimal time to travel to an island can be tricky. “Peak season” often does not mean the best time to go; it just means the most expensive time, based on when school’s out in the countries that send the most vacationers to that island. “Low season” might mean peaceful and lovely, with a brief and pleasantly cooling shower each afternoon, or it might mean that every restaurant and famous site shuts down entirely. In addition to seasonal changes in weather, most islands have limited lodging—which can drive rates to extortionate levels—and some island can get crowds that will overtax the small tourism infrastructure, especially when cruise ships stop there.

We’re here to help—by suggesting a few islands for each month of the year. These are the opportune moments when the destination is at its best yet, in most instances, offers shoulder-season pricing. Craving an island not listed below? Punch its name into the “Destinations” search box at top left; if we’ve got an Insider’s Guide for that island, you can read the best and worst times to go.

Seeking the right island or island-trip-planning specialist for your specific needs? You may ask us here.

January: Madeira, Portugal

This sub-tropical Portuguese island may be small, but it puts on a New Year’s Eve celebration and fireworks show that rivals the ones in Sydney, London, and Rio. (Book early!) Later in the month, the world-class hotels will be far more affordable, yet you can still enjoy virgin laurel forest, panoramic hiking, and great local gastronomy, including the island’s namesake wine.

Learn more in our Insider’s Guide to Portugal, and use our questionnaire to be marked as a VIP and get the best possible trip.

January: Mergui Archipelago, Myanmar

With a private yacht at your disposal, the Mergui archipelago is a veritable playground of diving and snorkeling sites full of rare underwater species, mangroves with crystal-clear water, and beaches where the only human footprints will be the ones you leave. In January, the weather is warm and sunny, and the seas are calm.

Ask Wendy who is the best Myanmar or yacht-charter specialist to plan your specific trip.

January: Raja Ampat, Indonesia

Located where the Pacific currents meet the Indian Ocean, this archipelago is a marine Eden with more than 1,300 species of fish and three-quarters of all the hard corals found in the world. Above the water line, the forested karst islands are home to fantastical creatures such as birds of paradise and tree kangaroos. October through April is Raja Ampat’s dry season; just after the holidays, prices drop considerably.

Ask Wendy who is the best Indonesia or cruise specialist to plan your specific trip.

February: Isla Palenque, Panama

Isla Palenque is an eco-friendly private-island resort off the Pacific coast of Panama.

Isla Palenque is an eco-friendly private-island resort off the Pacific coast of Panama.

A private-island resort off the Pacific coast of Panama, Isla Palenque offers both environmental sustainability and barefoot luxury. Just a 15-minute boat ride from the mainland, it’s easily combined with other parts of Panama or even Costa Rica, and you get seven different beaches, the surrounding Chiriqui National Marine Park, and a jungle full of monkeys and birds. February sees gorgeous weather—and with just eight thatch-roofed casitas and one villa on the 400-acre island, you’ll never encounter crowds.

Ask Wendy who is the best Panama specialist to plan your specific trip.

February: Venice, Italy

All that is sumptuous and extravagant about Venice is kicked up several notches in February, thanks to Carnevale. A month’s worth of elaborate celebrations—marked by Baroque costumes, masked balls, sinful sweets, and general bacchanalian overindulgence—reach a fever pitch in the “Fat Days” preceding Martedì Grasso (Shrove Tuesday). Carnevale dates vary from year to year but always include at least part of February.

Learn more in our Insider’s Guide to Venice, and use our questionnaire to be marked as a VIP and get the best possible trip.

March: Crete, Greece

The island of Spinalonga, Crete, Greece. Photo: Blue Palace Resort and Spa

The island of Spinalonga, Crete, Greece. Photo: Blue Palace Resort and Spa

While many Greek islands go into hibernation in the winter, with resorts and restaurants shuttering for the season, Crete is large enough that it stays vibrant year-round. It’s also Greece’s most southern—and thus warmest—island. Not everything will be open in March, but it’s a great time to get a dose of local culture, and hotel rates are lower than you’ll find later in spring.

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March: Bermuda

The Reefs, Southampton, Bermuda

The Reefs, Southampton, Bermuda.

April is when the cruise ships start to arrive for the summer season, letting off up to 4,000 passengers at a time. A month earlier, hotel rates are half their summer peak, temps are in the low 70s (great for golf and tennis, if not bikinis), and there are free tours, lectures, and arts demonstrations all over the island.

Learn more in our Insider’s Guide to Bermuda, and ask Wendy who is the best Bermuda specialist to plan your specific trip.

March: Malta and Gozo

gozo island green hills scenery in Maltese archipelago

Gozo is smaller and more rural than its neighbor Malta.

March sees few of the cruise-ship visitors who arrive daily in Malta come summer. With highs in the mid-60s and a lush green coating on the hills brought out by winter rains, this is a particularly great time of year for countryside walks and cycling on neighboring Gozo, which is smaller and more rural than Malta.

Learn more in our Insider’s Guide to Malta, and use our questionnaire to be marked as a VIP and get the best possible trip.

April: The Azores

green fields on Flores island The Azores Portugal

The Azores are known for breathtaking natural beauty. Photo: Visit the Azores

You won’t find ultra-luxe resorts and 24-hour concierge service in the Azores, but you will find whale- and dolphin-watching (sightings of migrating cetaceans peak in April), breathtaking natural beauty, and locals who are genuinely happy to see tourists at this time of year. For a slower-paced trip, stay just on the main island of São Miguel; if you prefer to see a bit more, base yourself on Faial and take day trips by ferry to Pico and São Jorge.

Learn more in our Insider’s Guide to Portugal, and use our questionnaire to be marked as a VIP and get the best possible trip.

April: The Maldives

person swimming in clear blue water at Cheval Blanc Randheli resort in the Maldives

The Maldives. Photo: Cheval Blanc Randheli.

April (after Easter) is when you’ll find a sweet spot of lower hotel rates and ideal weather: Temperatures are consistently in the high 80s year-round, but in April there is almost no rain or wind, so the water is calm for snorkeling and diving.

Learn more in our Insider’s Guide to The Maldives, and use our questionnaire to be marked as a VIP and get the best possible trip.

April: Sardinia, Italy

Sardinia is a little-known hiker’s paradise, with trails that bestow views of white-sand beaches and crystalline water on one side, and craggy mountain peaks on the other. But if you go there to walk in summer, you’ll melt. Visit in April instead, when it’s not too crowded, the temperature is pleasant, and the wildflowers are in bloom.

Ask Wendy who is the best specialist to plan your specific trip.

May: Santorini, Greece

Oia town on Santorini island, Greece. Traditional and famous houses and churches with blue domes over the Caldera, Aegean sea

Oia town, on Santorini. Photo: Shutterstock

May weather is warm but not hot, and hotel rates are lower than from mid-June through September. The crowds are less too, which has the added benefit of ensuring the service will be better. During the hectic summer months, when hordes of cruise-ship passengers invade the island, service suffers; you can barely even find an available taxi.

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May: Capri, Italy

Capri, Amalfi Coast, Italy

Capri, Amalfi Coast, Italy. Photo: IC Bellagio

Mild spring temperatures make it pleasant to explore this legendary island, which is still in a state of tranquility before the mad crush invades in June. The orange and jasmine flowers in bloom lend wonderful scents and colors; it’s also the time of year for many sailing events, as well as the annual celebration of the island’s Patron Saint San Costanzo.

Learn more in our Insider’s Guide to the Amalfi Coast, and use our questionnaire to be marked as a VIP and get the best possible trip.

May: Corsica, France

aerial view of Corsica island France

Corsica is great for hiking in May. Photo: Philip Haslett

While summer is high season, May and June are hard to beat: The temperatures are a bit lower, the crowds fewer, and the hotels don’t impose minimum-stay requirements. It’s a great time for the hiking, cycling, and canyoning that Corsica is known for—but if you want to spend a lot of time in the water, you’re better off waiting until September.

Ask Wendy who is the best Corsica specialist to plan your specific trip.

May: Oahu, Hawaii

View from the Makapuu Point Lookout, Oahu Hawaii

View from the Makapuu Point Lookout, Oahu. Photo: Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Mark Kushimi

Oahu’s temps are consistently pleasant year-round (usually between 78 and 82 degrees). The reason May is ideal—except for the Japanese holiday of Golden Week, at the start of the month— is that airfare is less expensive and crowds are fewer.

Learn more in our Insider’s Guide to Oahu, and use our questionnaire to be marked as a VIP and get the best possible trip.

June: Bali

Green rice fields on Bali island Indonesia

Green rice fields on Bali island. Photo: Shutterstock

June has the most reliably pleasant weather in Bali—daytime temps in the 80s and gentle breezes to keep the sun from feeling too hot—and better prices: High-season hotel rates don’t kick in until July.

Learn more in our Insider’s Guide to Bali, and use our questionnaire to be marked as a VIP and get the best possible trip.

June: Sri Lanka

eautiful Tropical Beach In Kalpitiya, Sri Lanka. These boats used to take people to watch dolphins

Kalpitiya beach, Sri Lanka. Photo: Shutterstock

Sri Lanka’s east coast, stretching from the quiet beaches of Trincomalee to the surf paradise of Arugam Bay, bursts with life this month. Compared to the better-known beaches in the south, those along this coast are more secluded, with a calmer and shallower sea—perfect for whale watching, snorkeling, diving, and fishing. After Easter and before summer vacation, visitors are fewer and the prices are easier on the wallet.

Learn more in our Insider’s Guide to Sri Lanka, and use our questionnaire to be marked as a VIP and get the best possible trip.

June: Spitsbergen, Norway

Spitsbergen, the largest island in the Svalbard Archipelago, is one of the world’s best places to see polar bears. While Arctic voyages set sail throughout the summer, going early in the season maximizes your chances of seeing these magnificent animals before the sea ice recedes.

Learn more in our Insider’s Guide to the Arctic, and use our questionnaire to be marked as a VIP and get the best possible trip.

June: Mallorca and Menorca, Spain

Beautiful traditional boathouses, apartments and beach at Playa Santanyi, located in the south east of Mallorca.

Find beautiful traditional boathouses, apartments and beaches at Playa Santanyi, located in the south east of Mallorca.Photo: Bespoke Travel Spain and Portugal

Early in the month, you’ll find great weather without the crowds of beachgoers who invade in summertime. Mallorca is a golfer’s dream, with a wide range of hotels, while Menorca is off the typical tourist circuit and ideal for those who want to relax by the sea and enjoy life as the locals do.

Ask Wendy who is the best Spain specialist to plan your specific trip.

June: Yakushima, Japan

This sub-tropical island, located in the waters just south of Kyushu, is ideal for intrepid travelers: Its mountains and vast forest of ancient cedar trees are crisscrossed by a network of hiking trails, from easy walks to challenging ascents. June signals the end of the rainy season, so you’ll find stunning waterfalls along the trails; it’s also when endangered loggerhead sea turtles return to Yakushima’s beaches to nest.

Ask Wendy who is the best Japan specialist to plan your specific trip.

July: Vanuatu

This Melanesian chain of roughly 80 islands that stretch across 800 miles is a remote and undeveloped paradise. You won’t find five-star resorts, but you will find crystal-clear waters, coral reefs, gorgeous beaches, active volcanoes, and warm and hospitable locals. July and August are a drier, cooler time of year in this tropical island nation.

Ask Wendy who is the best South Pacific or boat-charter specialist to plan your specific trip.

July: Aeolian Islands, Italy

Italy in July, you say? Isn’t it jam-packed? Not in this chain of islands—some of the most pristine left in Europe—that are just a short sail from Sicily and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in their entirety. While the mainland is mobbed, charter a yacht with a captain who was born on the islands and who can show you beautiful and lush Salina; the jet-setters’ getaway of Panarea; and magnificent Stromboli, where volcanic eruptions frequently light up the night sky.

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July: Tahiti

Heiva group dancing contest in Tahiti

Heiva group dancing contest. Photo: Tahiti Tourism

French Polynesia’s “Heiva” festival falls during July, with the culmination of ceremonies in Papeete, Tahiti, around the 20th. Heiva is a celebration of life and all things Polynesian. The outer islands hold local contests—in everything from outrigger racing to stone carrying and spear throwing, traditional dancing and singing to tifaifai (quilt) making—and the best go to Tahiti for the main festival. It’s a great time weather-wise as well; the trade winds keep temps in the low 80s and the humidity low.

Learn more in our Insider’s Guide to Tahiti and French Polynesia, and use our questionnaire to be marked as a VIP and get the best possible trip.

July: Zanzibar

July is a perfect time to cap off a safari with a few days on Zanzibar’s gorgeous white-sand beaches. It’s one of the island’s driest and sunniest months, with daytime temperatures in the low 80s and not much humidity. Plus, the Great Migration is usually in Tanzania’s northern Serengeti in early July, with the enormous herds of wildebeest and zebra crossing the Mara River into Kenya’s Masai Mara by mid-month.

Ask Wendy who is the best Zanzibar specialist to plan your specific trip.

August: Faroe Islands, Denmark

Gásadalur on Vagar Island, Faroe Islands. Photo: Tina Thorman

There is great hiking on the Faroe Islands, and more sheep than humans. Photo: Tina Thorman

The weather in the Faroe Islands is notoriously dramatic and unpredictable—but your surest chance of warm and sunny days comes in the summer. There is great hiking on the islands, more sheep than there are humans, and a rustic charm and sense of welcome that could have you sharing a home-cooked meal with a local family. Luxury here is not in the bathroom fixtures or the thread count of the sheets, but in the time and space to clear your mind and recenter your soul.

Ask Wendy who is the best Faroe Islands specialist to plan your specific trip.

August: Great Barrier Reef Islands, Australia

Great Barrier Reef aerial view

Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Photo: Shutterstock

August brings warm weather, good visibility for divers and snorkelers, and calm seas (the wind dies down at the end of July). It’s also the best time to view whales—dwarf minke whales visiting the northern reefs and humpbacks on their annual migration to Antarctica. Every August, Hamilton Island also hosts Race Week, a sailing regatta with festivities on and off the water.

Learn more in our Insider’s Guide to the Great Barrier Reef, and use our questionnaire to be marked as a VIP and get the best possible trip.

August: Madagascar

Ring-tailed lemur looks directly at the camera in Madagascar

Ring-tailed lemur, Madagascar

August is deep enough into the dry season that the wildlife viewing is very good (the lush foliage of rainy season makes it hard to see the animals) yet it also precedes the peak season of September and October, when the parks are more crowded (and the weather hotter).

Learn more in our Insider’s Guide to Madagascar, and use our questionnaire to be marked as a VIP and get the best possible trip.

August: Ionian Islands, Greece

If August is your only time to travel to Greece and you don’t love crowds, charter a yacht in the Ionians. Many of the smaller islands in this group are accessible only by boat, so you’ll be free of the swarms that plague Santorini and Mykonos this month. Instead, you’ll find a temperate climate, spectacular beaches, lush vegetation, beautiful mountains, and the true flavor of Greece when you disembark from your boat and head into a tiny town for a meal at a local taverna.

 Use our questionnaire to be marked as a VIP and get the best possible trip.

September: Ibiza

Bay with sailboats in Cala d Hort IBIZA Spain

In September, it’s not nearly as crowded at Ibiza’s beach clubs, restaurants, and nightclubs

Come September, it’s not nearly as crowded at the beach clubs, restaurants, and nightclubs (or on the roads). Rates for hotels and private boating excursions drop, but the weather is still lovely, and it’s warm enough to swim (with ideal air temperatures for hiking and biking as well) right up until the hot spots’ closing parties in early October.

Use our questionnaire to be marked as a VIP and get the best possible trip.

September: Hvar, Croatia

aerial view of Hvar island and surrounding sea Croatia

On Hvar in September, it’s still swimsuit season but the party crowds have gone. Photo: Exeter International

It’s still swimsuit season, but the atmosphere is much more laid-back than in July and August, and the travelers are more sophisticated than the summer party crowds. Croatia is known for its excellent wine, and September also coincides with the grape harvest. Later in the month, hotel rates drop.

Ask Wendy who is the best Croatia specialist to plan your specific trip.

September: San Juan Islands

Lime Kiln Point Lighthouse, Haro Straight, San Juan Islands, Washington

Lime Kiln Point Lighthouse, Haro Straight, San Juan Islands, Washington. Photo: Shutterstock

The weather in the San Juans (and the Olympic Peninsula) is usually still very nice in September, and there are fewer tourists than you’ll find in July and August. (The best time to see the resident orca whales, though, is June.)

Learn more in our Insider’s Guide to the San Juan Islands, and use our questionnaire to be marked as a VIP and get the best possible trip.

September: Lofoten Islands, Norway

Reine, Lofoten, Norway. The village of Reine under a sunny, blue sky, with the typical rorbu houses. View from the top

The village of Reine in Lofoten, Norway. Photo: Shutterstock

In September and October, the crowds are gone, the weather is still pleasant, and the days are long enough to enjoy hiking, kayaking, fishing, and other activities—but with enough darkness that you stand a good chance of seeing the Northern Lights.

Ask Wendy who is the best Norway specialist to plan your specific trip.

October: Sicily

coast of Cefalu, Palermo Sicily Italy

The coast of Cefalu, Palermo, in Sicily. Photo: Shutterstock

October is one of the most colorful and flavorful months in Sicily. It is the season of the harvest, which means fresh olives, almonds, chestnuts, wild mushrooms, prickly pears, and carob complement the usual variety of culinary offerings. Air and sea temperatures are still warm and inviting, the ancient cultural sites are bathed in a crisp autumn light, and flights and hotels are less expensive than during the summer..

Learn more in our Insider’s Guide to Sicily, and use our questionnaire to be marked as a VIP and get the best possible trip.

October: The Seychelles

Anse Louis, Seychelles

Anse Louis, Seychelles. Photo: Maia Luxury Resort.

October brings calm winds and beautiful temperatures, but it’s not a popular time for Europeans to travel—so rates are lower than usual. It’s also the best month for spotting whale sharks.

Learn more in our Insider’s Guide to The Seychelles, and use our questionnaire to be marked as a VIP and get the best possible trip.

October: Hawaii’s Big Island

Wai'pio Valley Lookout, Hawaii

Wai’pio Valley Lookout, Big Island, Hawaii.

October is one of the Big Island’s driest months, with daytime temps hovering around 85 degrees.  It’s also a month for deals, given that so few families are traveling.

Learn more in our Insider’s Guide to the Big Island, and use our questionnaire to be marked as a VIP and get the best possible trip.

October: Newfoundland

berry picking on Fogo Island Newfoundland Canada

Berry picking on Fogo Island, Newfoundland.

This month brings out the island’s culinary delights: You’ll find locals foraging for wild berries, delicious food festivals, and restaurants blessed with abundant harvests and the freshest seafood.

Learn more in our Insider’s Guide to Newfoundland, and use our questionnaire to be marked as a VIP and get the best possible trip.

November: Ambergris Caye, Belize

sunset in Belize at Ambergris Caye

Ambergris Caye. Photo: Absolute Belize

Before Thanksgiving, hotel rates are at their lowest. The days are hot, but the humidity is dropping, and the evenings are cool and breezy. November 19 is Garifuna Settlement Day and is best spent on mainland Belize in either Dangriga or Hopkins, where the Garifuna people celebrate—with drumming, dancing, and parades—the arrival of their Afro-indigenous ancestors more than 200 years ago.

Learn more in our Insider’s Guide to Belize, and use our questionnaire to be marked as a VIP and get the best possible trip.

November: The Galapagos Islands

Blue-footed booby, Galapagos Islands.

Blue-footed booby, Galapagos Islands. Photo: Pixabay/Peter Stuart Miller

The Galapagos is a magnet for families with kids during summer and other school vacations; if you’re looking for a quieter time, think November (except Thanksgiving). Blue whales, humpback whales, and whale sharks—the largest fish in the sea, growing up to 40 feet in length and weighing as much as 40,000 pounds—are most likely to be spotted in the Galapagos from June through November.

Learn more in our Insider’s Guide to the Galapagos, and use our questionnaire to be marked as a VIP and get the best possible trip.

November: Papua New Guinea

Milne Bay is home to the most varied scuba diving in Papua New Guinea: Here you’ll find coral structures, exotic creatures hiding in the sandy bottom, and WWII wrecks to explore. The diving in Milne Bay is at its best from November through January, which is the dry season for this part of the country.

Learn more in our Insider’s Guide to Papua New Guinea, and ask Wendy who is the best Papua New Guinea specialist to plan your specific trip.

November: South Georgia Island

King penguins, South Georgia Island. Photo: ExpeditionTrips

King penguins, South Georgia Island. Photo: ExpeditionTrips

A jewel in the Southern Ocean, South Georgia Island will appeal to anyone interested in wildlife, wild places, or the history of Antarctic exploration. The season here runs roughly from late October through early March, but what makes November special—in addition to the king penguins stretching as far as the eye can see—is the plethora of elephant seals and fur seals on shore.

Learn more in our Insider’s Guide to Antarctica Cruises, and use our questionnaire to be marked as a VIP and get the best possible trip.

November: St. Barts

Hotel Christopher, St. Barts

Hotel Christopher, St. Barts. Photo: Hotel Christopher

Come November, many resorts, boutiques, and restaurants that closed during the height of hurricane season have reopened, and everything feels fresh and new. The Saint Barth Gourmet Festival also takes place this month, attracting star chefs from France and elsewhere. Plus, hotel and villa rates don’t jump up until mid-December.

Learn more in our Insider’s Guides to St. Barts Beach Vacations and St. Barts Villa Vacations, and use our questionnaire to be marked as a VIP and get the best possible trip.

December: The Caribbean

Idyllic tropical beach with white sand, turquoise ocean water and blue sky at Antigua island in Caribbean

Antigua island in the Caribbean. Photo: Shutterstock

From just after Thanksgiving until just before Christmas, you have lovely weather and can enjoy savings of up to 40% off peak-season rates. (Peak season starts just before Christmas and lasts till just after Easter).

Ask Wendy who is the best Caribbean specialist to plan your specific trip.

December: Fiji

Villa at the Taveuni Palms Resort, Fiji

A villa overlooking the ocean at the Taveuni Palms Resort in Fiji. Photo: Taveuni Palms

At the start of cyclone season, you’ll find tropical afternoon showers but also great resort deals: free nights, free massages, even free domestic airfares. The Yasawa and Mamanuca islands are your best bet for dry days at this time of year.

Learn more in our Insider’s Guide to Fiji, and ask Wendy who is the best Fiji specialist to plan your specific trip.

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