It’s a new year and new vacations await! Tired of the popular tourist destinations? Looking for something more local or unknown? Whether you’re dreaming of relaxing on your own private beach in Portugal or hiking through the remote countryside of Scotland, this list is sure to get your wanderlust in gear. Choose one of these 30 Off the Beaten Path vacation destinations to kick off your 2016!

Off The Beaten Path Vacations - Outside of the U.S.

1. Joatinga Beach, Brazil - Joá neighborhood, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

With the upcoming Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, the popular beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema are sure to be insanely crowded. Escape the crowds and the heat by heading over to the secret beach of Joatinga. This 300m hidden stretch of white sand can be found just before Barra da Tijuca. If you’re lucky, you’ll have the entire place to yourselves.

Trip Tip: It can be difficult to reach via public transportation and parking is extremely limited so be sure to arrive early especially on the weekends.

When to visit: December to March


2. Aonach Eagach Ridge, ScotlandGlencoe, Scotland

Scotland is known for its lush landscape and beautiful countryside. For those hiking enthusiasts looking for a thrill, grab your boots, pack a lunch and plenty of water, and get ready to climb, traverse, and scramble your way along one of Scotland’s iconic ridge line. Aonach Eagach Ridge is not for the faint of heart or those afraid of heights, but should be climbed with extra caution and a good level of scrambling experience. Only 6 miles long, but depending on weather can take between 6-9 hours to complete. But the views and experience are worth it, even if you only do it once in your life.

Trip Tip: Start at the small car park 300m west of Allt-na-reigh

When to visit: June through August


3. Zapallar, Chile - Petorca Province, Valparaíso Region, Chile

With similar views to California’s Big Sur, this quaint Chilean coastline offers swimming, stunning seaside views of the Pacific Ocean, coastal restaurants, hiking trails, and plenty of sunshine. Only a two hour drive from Santiago, this local spot popular among the Chilean elite is sure to leave you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.

When to visit: January-February is crowded, but the rest of the year is mostly empty


4. Lake Titicaca - Bolivia & Peru

Location: Separating the border between Peru and Bolivia in the Andes mountains

Most travelers have heard of Lake Titicaca, but did you know you can stay with a local family on one of the many islands throughout the largest high altitude lake in the world? Amantani, Taquile, and Uros are a few of the islands that invite tourists to stay with families where you’re certain to gain a better understanding of the Incan culture and fully immerse yourself in their daily lives.

When to visit: May through September


5. Machu Picchu, Peru - Aguas Calientes, Peru

Machu Picchu tends to be at the top of every traveler’s bucket list. The majority of tourists will take the train from Cusco to Aguas Calientes and bus to the entrance of Machu Picchu. Some more active travelers will hike the Inca Trail, along with hundreds of their closest friends, to reach the famous ruins. However, for the true adventure seekers, the Salkantay Trek is waiting for you. This high altitude trail will take you through mountain passes over 14,000 ft, cloud forests as far as the eye can see, and a breath taking final camp site overlooking the valley to Machu Picchu. This trek isn’t as well known as the Inca Trail, allowing you to truly embrace the scenery with a small group of like-minded backpackers.

When to visit: April through August


6. Tayrona National Park Near Santa Marta, Colombia

A short flight from Bogota to Santa Marta will land you in the National Park region of Tayrona. Tayrona presents a variety of climates and geography that range from arid landscapes to lush rain forests and is the second most visited national park in Colombia. Take advantage of the beautiful hikes to local beaches and enjoy a dip in the warm Caribbean Sea. Tayrona National Park sits on the Caribbean Coast in the north of Colombia, only 34 km from the city of Santa Marta

When to visit: January through May


7. Sahara Desert - Marrakech, Morocco, Africa

It doesn’t get more ‘off the beaten path’ than camel trekking across the Sahara Desert. This can be a hot, windy, and sandy experience, but keep your head gear and sunglasses on and you’ll be instantly transported into a chapter of ‘The Alchemist’. Imagine sleeping under the stars with the moon rising over the endless sand dunes. You have to see it to believe it.

When to visit: October through May


8. Surf Yoga Retreat, Portugal - Avenida Colinas do Atlântico, Ericeira, Portugal

Surf and Yoga retreats have become increasingly popular and are a fantastic way to relax from the hustle and bustle of our daily lives. Ericeira is a small surf town 45 minutes from the capital of Lisbon. The quiet serenity of the daily yoga, the active meditation of surf, and the delicious organic meals are just some of the perks of going off the radar for a few days and recharging the mind, body, and soul.

When to visit: April through September


9. Chefchaouen, Morocco

Known as the ‘Blue City’, Chefchaouen can be reached by taxi or bus from any major city in Morocco and is quickly becoming a tourist staple. Walking the blue covered streets, from doors to windows to lampposts and everything in between, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped onto a Hollywood movie set. Once you’ve tired of roaming the blue alleyways, venture out to explore the hidden waterfall of Cascades d’Akchour outside of town.

When to visit: October through May


10. Interlaken, Switzerland

Are you an adrenaline junkie? Enjoy jumping off high cliffs or sliding down natural water slides? Then Interlaken is for you! Canyoning can be done all over the world, but the Chli Canyon tour in Interlaken is one of the best. The route starts off with a small slide and two giant jumps into small, cold pools. Rappelling, a giant jump slide in-between rocks, and two huge slides as the grand finale. Interlaken is an adventure haven with countless activities to choose from.

When to visit: June through September


11. Montenegro

Location: The cities of Kotor, Tivat, Budva

Montenegro has garnered popular media attention in recent months, but is still widely unknown in the travel circuit. From stunning beaches, coastal resorts, day spas, hiking trails, and beautiful road trips through the unique countryside, Montenegro is full of something for every traveler.

When to visit: April through September


12. Los Gaviotas & Puerto Nuevo, Mexico

A 30 minute drive from the San Diego border, Los Gaviotas is a beautiful coastline for surfers, SUP, and sun worshippers alike. Continue down the road another 10 minutes and you’ll have your pick of authentic Mexican restaurants with ocean views and delicious lobster meals.

When to visit: April to November


13. Papua New Guinea

160 kilometers north of Australia lies the pristine islands of Papua New Guinea. Mostly untouched, Papua New Guinea is the South Pacific’s best kept secret. Take advantage of the solitude on a private beach or head out via boat to explore the water with some of the best diving in the world. Then swap your sandals for hiking boots and trek through the world’s third largest rainforest and towering volcanoes.

When to visit: May through October


14. Madagascar

Nature enthusiasts and animal lovers will be in heaven exploring the beautiful lands of Madagascar. Known for its diverse wildlife with over 8,000 species of plants and animals, most are found no where else on earth. Grab your cameras and explore the untouched countryside of Madagascar.

When to visit: April through November


15. Indias National Parks - Rajasthans Ranthambore National Park, Karnatakas Nagarhole National Park, Kanha National Park, Satpura and Tadoba

Location: North, Central, and North East India

Typically known for its temples and markets, India’s National Parks tend to be overlooked by travelers. It’s time to get off the beaten path and explore these parks and the animals that call them home. You won’t want to miss the Asiatic Elephant, the Gaur, the Leopard, the Royal Bengal Tiger, the Sloth Bear, the Great One Horned Rhinoceros, or the Wild Buffalo.

When to visit: April to June


Off The Beaten Path Vacations - In the U.S.

16. Joshua Tree - California

Location: 74485 National Park Drive, Twentynine Palms, CA 92277

Located in southeastern California, Joshua Tree National Park is comprised of a vast landscape with a variety of plants and animals that is sure to attract all nature lovers. Escape the city life and enjoy a relaxing weekend soaking in the fresh air and camping under the stars.

When to visit: April through October


17. St. Augustine, Florida

Overshadowed by its neighboring sisters, Orlando and Miami, St. Augustine is desirable in its own right. Not only is St. Augustine the oldest city in America, but it has something to offer for everyone in the family, including art galleries, museums, theaters and live music, delicious dining options, an outlet mall, horse drawn carriage rides, 42-miles of beaches, and is also home to the World Golf Hall of Fame.

When to visit: Year round, but if you want to avoid the crowds steer clear of June-August


18. Asheville, North Carolina

Location: Western North Carolina mountains

Get whisked away from the hustle of routine life and enjoy an amazing outdoor weekend in beautiful Asheville, North Carolina. From hiking the Appalachian Trail, and enjoying an afternoon on the golf course, to stargazing in the valley surrounded by 6,000+ ft mountainous peaks, and participating in one of their many festivals throughout the year, this quaint town is sure to keep you entertained. And its dog friendly!

When to visit: March to November


19. June Lake, California

Location: Eastern Sierra Mountains

In the shadow of its sister mountain, Mammoth, June Lake has developed its own fan base and draw to its beautiful small town flair. During the summer months, explore June Lake’s hiking and biking trails, relax at Double Eagle Spa, and wrap up the day at June Lake Brewery. Be sure to come back for winter as June Mountain Ski Resort has enough fun for the whole family and typically offers powder runs all day!

When to visit: Year round


20. Tybee Island, Georgia

Location: Southeast shores of Georgia

When the summer months become too hot and crowded, consider visiting Tybee Island, less than 20 miles from Savannah. Tybee Island has a stunning three-mile stretch of sandy beach that is rarely over-crowded. Fantastic accommodations and excellent recreational activities make this the perfect summer vacation for the entire family.

When to visit: May through August


21. Huntsville, Alabama

You’ve probably heard of Huntsville as the home of the always popular Kid’s Space Camp. But did you know they’re known for their wide variety of local breweries as well? Plan your trip to coincide with the Rocket City annual Brewfest and enjoy the tastes of local and regional brews while the kids learn about outer space.

When to visit: May through September


22. Wisconsin Dells - Wisconsin

Are you a water park enthusiast? Then Wisconsin Dells is for you. The Dells have dozens of waterparks to choose from and are sure to please every water bug. If dry land is more your speed, don’t fret. The Dells also offer countless outdoor activities including hiking, ziplining, and amusement parks. Be sure to check out their dining and nightlife options as well.

When to visit: Before mid-June or after Labor Day


23. The Wave - North Coyote Buttes, AZ

Mesmerizing sandstone formations create the allusion of a surfers paradise, hence the name The Wave. Whether a novice hiker or trail runner, take your pick along the six to eight miles of stunning trails throughout The Wave and soak in the warmth of the sun and the captivating landscape along the Paria Canyon, dating back to 160 to 180 million years ago. Tip: You must obtain a permit to hike The Wave by applying online. It can be challenging, but it’s worth it!

When to visit: April to October


24. Buffalo, New York

Buffalo, New York? That’s right. Close proximity to Niagara Falls, outdoor activities at Lake Erie, and the beautiful wine regions are sure to offer relaxation with just enough entertainment to keep your senses happy.

When to visit: June through August


25. Nevada Northern Railway Ride - Ely, Nevada

Are you a train enthusiast? Do you prefer to travel via rail over other modes of transportation? The Nevada Northern Railway is a National Historic Landmark and offers passengers a scenic ride through Central Nevada mountain ranges. In addition to the ride, you can also spend the night in a caboose or be an engineer for the day to truly see what it was like working the copper mining region 100 years ago. Be sure to check out their themed tours for Haunted Ghost Train and the Polar Express.

When to visit: Mid-April to Mid-October


26. Lake Powell, Utah

Location: Wahweap or Antelope Point Marina

Grab the kids and a houseboat and kickstart your family vacation with a week on the lake. Lake Powell, bordering Utah and Arizona, has seemingly never ending water ways winding throughout offering endless recreational activities. From wake boarding, water skiing, jet skis, fishing, and hiking there is something for everyone. Once you’ve had your fill, watch the sun set over the cliffs and end the day with star gazing and a bon fire.

When to visit: April to September


27. Lake Chelan, Washington - North Central Washington

Do you love wine but are looking for another alternative to Napa Valley and Sonoma? Consider heading to the Northwest and experiencing beautiful Chelan, Washington, where the ‘lake effect’ has given local winemakers the opportunity to produce more wine despite the cooler region. With over 15 local wineries in the Lake Chelan area, you are certain to find your fill of delicious vintages. The outdoor recreation options are endless and the views won’t disappoint either.

When to visit: May through September


28. Lake of the Ozarks - Central Missouri, Missouri

Is fishing your game? Then a vacation to Lake of the Ozarks is a must. With over 1,150 miles of shoreline access, you’ll have your pick of bluegill, large mouth bass, and walleye to keep you busy. More of a land lover? Don’t fret. There are 12 trails for you to explore the Ozark Caverns, including a cave tour complete with lanterns. Golfing, shopping, and countless recreational and entertainment options are abound. Need more? The Isle of Capri Casino is a great stop for the night owls.

When to visit: March to November


29. Perdido Key - Pensacola, Florida

With beautiful beaches, endangered wildlife sightings, hiking trails, ship wreck scuba dives, and so much more, it’s no surprise that this ‘hidden’ beach is a favorite secret vacation destination. Perdido Key or ‘Lost Key’ borders northwest Florida and southeast Alabama, giving this barrier island a warm tropical temperate off the Gulf of Mexico. This secluded beach paradise should be on every beach lovers list.

When to visit: May to October


30. Moab, Utah

Originally gained popularity for its extreme outdoor activities, Moab has adopted a more refined approach. Now home to world-class wineries tucked inside sandstone canyons, these wineries are made with local vines accompanied with delicious locally grown eats. Explore along the Colorado River, take a scenic ride through the bike trails, sip on some fine wine and you’ve got yourself the perfect getaway.

When to visit: April through May & September through October


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This article was written by Deena Betcher.