What's Your Ideal Once-in-a-Lifetime Vacation?
This is a question I've been thinking about a lot in recent weeks. What would be my idea of a bucketlist vacation? A once-in-a-lifetime holiday? Where would be my most coveted destination of a lifetime?
Now I can't travel, I'm finding myself not missing it much, at least not in the way I expected. Yes, I am busy with two young kids at home all day every day while also trying to breathe life into my fledgling travel blog/freelance work, but surely that would be the perfect time for thinking about ALL the dreamy bucketlist trips for us to escape on once this is all over.
However, not so, in fact, I find my attention focusing on just one or two trips of a lifetime, true bucket-list travel experiences for me with or without my family. I share below what my own holiday of a lifetime would be, and alongside it you'll find travel bloggers sharing their own dream holidays.
The Most Luxurious, Dreamiest, Best Holidays of a Lifetime
I've grouped these bucketlist travel experiences in groups with themes that connect them so you can maybe narrow down on a selection that most appeals to you. Here's the list so you can scroll down and find what you want:
- The Classics - Holidays of a Lifetime We All Dream Of
- The Best Hiking Destinations of a Lifetime
- The Best Bucketlist Road Trips Around the World
- The Most Luxurious Once in a Lifetime Vacations
- The Most Unusual Destinations of a Lifetime
- The Best Once In a Lifetime Beach Holidays
Under these headings, the bucket list holidays are listed in a random order (i.e. not grouped by continent or proximity, nor listed in alphabetical order), but I did my best to include destinations from all over the world, not just a few continents.
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The Classics - Holidays of a Lifetime We All Love
Before you go ahead and read the first holiday of a lifetime in this list and wholeheartedly disagree that this is a holiday we all love, take a breath, and know that this list is completely subjective, i.e. I am saying I think that the below vacations are ones that the majority of people would love to do, or have indeed already done.
Heck, in all these sub-categories of vacations of a lifetime, they are all subjective, and the reason there are so many different kinds of holidays here, is because I wanted to have something for everyone. Anyway. I will get out of my own way now, and yours, and let you get stuck into these really brilliant bucketlist vacations I know (some of!) you will love.
Ultimate City Break to London AND Paris, by Alisa from Voyaging Herbivore
If you’re looking for the ultimate luxury or bucket list holidays, look no further than a trip to London and Paris with a quick ride on the Eurostar in between. You’ll want to fly into Heathrow and then spend a few days exploring this incredible city.
Explore the best London pubs and bars, before checking out one of the up and coming musicals or shows. With accommodations available in all price ranges, London offers the opportunity for the most luxury holiday of your life (like a stay at the Hotel Mondrian on Southbank), or more affordable bucket list adventures on a tighter budget. London has truly become my favorite city.
I started off living there as a single girl and loved the opportunities and safety that I felt in the city. I left London with a partner in tow and am still obsessed with the unique experiences (like drinking Hendrick’s gin out of a chocolate fountain after crawling through a laundry machine) that I got to experience with him. It’s safe the say that London offers once-in-a-lifetime experiences that can’t be missed.
Now, it’s time to hop on the Eurostar to head to Paris. The journey itself takes less than two hours. For the ultimate luxury experience, buy yourself a first-class ticket, although being able to say that you took the so-called Chunnel is a bucket list experience in itself. You’ll arrive in central Paris and your Parisian journey begins. (Alternatively, you could add on more European cities to your itinerary and get a Eurail pass to make train travel across Europe very affordable.)
Even if you’re not a morning person, I would absolutely encourage you to get yourself out of your 5 star hotel, hostel, or Airbnb bed to visit Montmartre, the Louvre, le Petit Palais, Trocadero and more without too many tourists. There’s something completely magical about having this city completely to yourself. Whether you’re with a partner, friends, or by yourself, Paris at sunrise is easily a bucket list experience that you need to have.
Now that you’ve managed to pull yourself out of bed at the crack of dawn, why not get an espresso, “Je voudrais un café, s’il-vous plait!” and wander these historic streets. One of my favorite things to do in a new city is use Rick Steves’ free Audio Europe app to take a walking tour of the city. He’ll direct you to little hidden gems and his guides are among my favourite apps for travelling.
It’s safe to say that if you’ve never visited London and Paris, this journey is the ultimate luxury bucket list experience. Enjoy everything that the cities have to offer!
Experience the Northern Lights in the Arctic Circle (Alta, Norway), by Roshni from The Wanderlust Within
Well above the Arctic Circle, the small town of Alta in Norway is often dubbed "the town of the Northern Lights”. Located 70 degrees north latitude, Alta is home to only 20,000 people, but houses the world’s first Northern Lights observatory, making it one of the best places to see mother nature's most elusive light show.
The best time to visit Alta is during the polar night when the sun doesn't rise above the horizon, meaning its pitch dark for almost 22 hours a day. This gives perfect conditions for chasing the Northern Lights. On top of that the Norwegian coast is affected by the Gulf Stream, meaning Alta doesn’t get as cold as other towns at the same latitude in say Sweden, Finland or Canada, making Norway a preferable destination to visit in the Arctic.
Other than viewing the Northern lights, Alta has plenty of activities to keep you busy in winter. Such as snowmobiling, snowshoe hiking, dog-sledding, cross country skiing, ice fishing and reindeer sledding. There is also plenty of sightseeing, including visiting the modern Northern Lights cathedral and the unique Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel.
There are plenty of places to stay in Alta, I would recommend staying in Trasti and Trines lodge, where you’ll have the chance to dogsled and indulge in the homemade organic food experiences. Alta is the perfect off the beaten track winter destination for a 3 night stay, giving you plenty of chances to view the Northern Lights and experience a true winter wonderland first hand.
Sailing cruise in the Whitsunday Islands and Great Barrier Reef by Pauline from BeerLoved City
When it comes to dream holidays, the Whitsunday Islands and Great Barrier Reef set the standard! Located on the east coast of Australia, the Whitsunday islands are an amazing combination of paradisal beaches and rainforest. The best way to visit the Whitsunday Islands is going on a cruise. You will get to do so much during these 2 or 3 days.
Firstly, you’ll walk up to White Heaven beach. This absolutely breath-taking beach is one of the most beautiful places on earth. White sand, crystal clear waters… it has it all! It’s also an amazing opportunity to discover the Great Barrier Reef. If you have your diving license, this will be your paradise. But even if you don’t, there are many snorkelling spots.
The Great Barrier Reef is the largest coral reef system in the world but also home to a huge variety of marine species. It’s so beautiful, colourful and unique… a trip of a lifetime! Another great activity is going sea kayaking. You will get to go around beautiful islands and see many marine animals such as turtles and stingrays.
Finally, you will get to enjoy the whole sailing experience. Just picture it for a second: the wind in your hair, gorgeous landscapes in front of you, watching the sunset while dolphins are jumping in front of you. Australia is a beautiful country. There are so many things you can do down under but sailing in the Whitsundays beats them all. It brings everything you ever dreamt of together, in one beautiful place!
The Galalpagos Islands, by James from Travel Collecting
My bucket list vacation is the Galapagos Islands. The islands are about 500 miles off the coast of mainland Ecuador (which they are a part of), on the equator. They are not only famous for being the place that inspired Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, but they are also a nature-lover’s dream.
There are so many incredible animals, most of them endemic to the islands, and because they have never been hunted, they are not afraid of humans. Highlights include the famous land tortoises, blue footed boobies, and marine iguanas. There are plenty of more animals and birds to keep you transfixed and divers flock here to swim with enormous whale sharks, sea lions and fur seals, large schools of hammerhead sharks, elusive mola mola (sunfish), sea turtles and equatorial penguins.
Bird lovers go to see waved albatrosses, brown penguins, boobies, and frigate birds with enormous bright red neck sacs. Land lubbers enjoy lava lizards, land iguanas, bright red and blue Sally Lightfoot crabs.
Planning a trip to the Galapagos is half the fun! It is possible to visit the islands on a cruise, a land-based tour or to travel independently taking day trips from the main inhabited islands. No matter how - or when – you go, the Galapagos will be a trip of a lifetime.
Carnival in Trinidad by Juleen from Juleen Meets World
As a Jamaican, participating in carnival has always been on my bucket list. In February 2020, I was finally able to cross that item off my list. If you're looking to go big or go home, Trinidad's carnival is certainly the place to start. In Trinidad, carnival takes place annually on the Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, as a kind of last hoorah before "giving up the ways of the flesh" for Lent which begins on Ash Wednesday.
Even though Monday and Tuesday are the main days of the carnival season, they really are a culmination of weeks and months of events. These events include culturally significant demonstrations such as the Re-enactment of the Canboulay Riots.
There are also various competitions including the Junior and Senior Carnival King and Queen competitions which includes elaborate themed costumes and Panorama, the steelpan competition. Numerous children's carnivals take place across the island and of course, we can't forget the fetes, lots and lots of fetes (parties).
On Carnival Monday and Tuesday, there are parades through the streets of Port of Spain to the beautiful sounds of soca music. At the end of your trip to carnival you will likely need a vacation from your vacation but it will all be worth it since it is truly an experience of a lifetime. The main downside of carnival is that once you go for the first time, you'll likely want to go back every year.
Traveling around Iceland in a Campervan by Alex from Gourmand Trotter
Traveling around Iceland in a campervan allows you to see places that are off-the-beaten-path and make it possible to travel around the famous ring road, also known as highway 1 in Iceland. It goes like a circle and there are many impressive stops along the way.
Most tourists only explore the Golden Circle, which is close to Reykjavik, the capital in Iceland. But by renting your own campervan, you can overnight and travel further away. Some of the best places to visit in Iceland are located on the Eastern side of the island, or further up in the northern part.
You can also stop in small villages and eat delicious Icelandic food at a local restaurant. You can go chasing northern lights in the middle of the night, or stop at the glaciers and go glacier walking.
Furthermore, you can explore some of the more remote waterfalls in Iceland that are both spectacular and grand. Some of the stops that I recommend to include for a dream holiday in Iceland: Jokulsarlon Ice Lagoon, Seljalandsfoss, DC-Airplane Wreck, Kerid Volcano Crater, Svartifoss, Skogafoss, Seydisfjördur, Myvatn Blue Lagoon, whale-watching in Husavik, Glacier Walking in Svinafellsjökull, and Kirkjufell just to mention a few.
Picture yourself, in the remote parts of Iceland with no people around you, and only wild Icelandic horses and reindeer. The spectacular scenic views and the freedom to roam wherever your campervan in Iceland takes you.
Phinda Luxury Game Reserve by Claudia from My Adventures Across the World
Phinda Game Reserve is one of the best places to do a safari in South Africa. Located in Kwazulu Natal at about 3 hours drive from Durban, this private concession is an incredible place to admire all the wildlife Africa has to offer, and you will have abundant chances to see the Big Five - lions, elephants, rhinos, leopards and the buffalo.
Other animals you can see include giraffes, zebras, hyenas, cheetahs. Safaris are conducted in a very ethical way, leaving animals all the space they need to go about their daily life - so no more than 3 cars can approach a sighting and strict rules are implemented in terms of the distance to keep (although often the animals are the ones not keeping that distance).
There are 11 beautiful luxury lodges scattered around Phinda Game Reserve where guests will feel pampered 24/7. Rooms are incredibly spacious and with stunning views or surrounded by thick vegetation. Food at the lodges is delicious - there even is a wide selection of fair trade coffee. In conclusion, Phinda is just a perfect holiday destination.
A Road Trip Through The Salt Flats of Bolivia, by Tammy from Travelling Tam
A road trip through the otherworldly Salt Flats of Bolivia (otherwise known as Salar De Uyuni) is like nothing else you'll ever see in your life. Thousand of kilometres of flat, bright white salt with not a mark on the horizon, makes you feel like you're walking on the moon.
Formed by a prehistoric lake drying up, it's hard to imagine that this landscape is real - it's absolutely something you have to see in person to believe. The vast and striking white expanse means you can play around with some interesting perspectives for photographs and if it rains, you'll end up with a giant mirror reflecting the sky.
A road trip can be organised in the town of Potosi over a few days with one of the many tour agencies. Though there is a lot more than just the salt flats to see - the landscape of Bolivia is incredible diverse.
You can admire random cactus islands in the salt plains, see the stunning desert and caves with historic burial grounds, dry colourful mountain ranges and even pink flamingos in red lakes! A road trip to the salt flats of Bolvia is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity with scenery that you will just never forget.
New Zealand South Island Road Trip
New Zealand is a once in a lifetime holiday destination with dreamy landscapes, boutique luxury accommodation and plenty of exciting activities! It is a great place for a road trip so hire a car or campervan and explore all the wonderful natural beauty that the south island has to offer.
Start your adventure by flying into the south island’s largest city Christchurch, then head out towards Banks Peninsula to Akaroa - a charming harbour side town with French colonial architecture. Here you can enjoy scenic cruises and swim or kayak with dolphins! After a night two here, continue your road trip and head further south, stopping at Mount Cook Village and Lake Tekapo for breath taking alpine scenery, amazing walks and bright turquoise lakes.
Take a helicopter up to the top of the Tasman Glacier for a scenic guided hike on the ice, or enjoy a star gazing session at Tekapo hot springs whilst lying in a floating hammock. Keen hikers will love the Hooker Valley Track – one of the country’s best short walks with amazing views of Mount Cook on a clear day.
End your adventure in Queenstown – the adventure capital of New Zealand. Enjoy jet boating, paragliding or bungy jumping, or if you prefer something a bit more relaxed – go wine tasting at Gibbston Valley Winery or book a private hot tub with amazing views of Queenstown at Onsen Hot Pools. Whatever you choose to do, New Zealand’s south island will not disappoint.
Hawaii (Honolulu) Island Getaway, by Jenna from I Know the Pilot
Hawaii is known worldwide as a paradise holiday destination. With beautiful beaches and breathtaking landscapes, as well as an abundance of luxury hotels, high-end shopping and fantastic food, Hawaii truly has something for everyone.
Oahu is the most visited island, with Honolulu (and the famous Waikiki Beach) being the main tourist area. There are options to fly between all the major islands to spend time on each one, and this is a great option if you really want to get away from the crowd and relax in paradise.
The Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, on Big Island, or the The Ritz-Carlton Kapalua on Maui are great options when visiting the other islands. You can also opt for a day trip via helicopter, if you feel so inclined. The crown jewel of Honolulu, the Moana Surfrider, is known as the 'First Lady of Waikiki'. A stay here puts you in luxurious, stylishly appointed rooms, right in the centre of Waikiki Beach.
From here, stroll up and down the esplanade, go shopping, visit the beach or have a drink by the pool. The nearby 'Duke's Waikiki' offers luxe dining (make sure you book in advance), or you can visit 'Sky Waikiki' for drinks, dinner and delightful views. Hire a Mustang or Jeep and zip along the highway, mountains on one side, beaches on the other.
The beautiful Hanauma Bay is only half an hour from Waikiki Beach, and a must-see spot. Stunning clear blue water, palm trees and a reef teeming with marine life awaits you. Spend the day relaxing in the sun, or get up close and personal with some colourful reef inhabitants.
Visit the incredible Kualoa Ranch, site of many Hollywood film locations, and race about on an ATV, go horse riding or do a jungle jeep expedition. Drive on up to the beautiful and wild North Shore, home of some of the biggest waves in the world. Walk through the quaint little town, try some shaved ice and stop by some of the infamous food trucks and try some local dishes, fresh as you can get.
Hire a private yacht and visit all the hidden gems along the coast (or jump on one of the many rum cruises), play a round of golf at the luxe Ko‘olau Golf Club, hike one of the many stunning trails to see the island from a new perspective or catch a luau - the ultimate Hawaiian party.
A truly special place, a visit to Hawaii is worth every penny, and provides travellers many opportunities to experience it in style. One for the bucket list, this trip is a once in a lifetime experience - though we can promise, you will want to go back.
Visiting the picturesque town Hallstatt in Austria, by Rand from Well Traveled Mile
Maybe you've heard about Hallstatt, seen photos or videos, but it's definitely not the same and I would say visiting this picture-perfect Alpine village is a dream vacation worth saving up for.
Hallstatt is located in the north of Austria in the Salzkammergut region. Although it can get a bit crowded during high season times, one thing is certain - Hallstatt is one of those places that looks as beautiful in real life as in photos. It is one of Austria’s most famous cities and tourist attractions, and for a good reason. In fact, even China has decided to build its own version of this unique place and copied the village.
The small European country of Austria can be proud of its quaint mountain town, since it is also one of the most photographed cities in the world and part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. This town, hidden in the Dachstein massif in the Autrian Alps, is located directly on a breathtaking mountain lake, the Hallstättersee.
The colourful Alpine houses from the 16th century are decorated with flowers on the windowsills. Hallstatt is a very charming town you will fall in love with when strolling through its scenic alleys and the market square. It has kept Austria’s traditional architecture, while enjoying the view of the mountain lake.
Seeing Hallstatt from the other side of the lake is also a pleasure and an activity you shouldn’t miss while visiting. Take a tour on a boat or a ferry to get an even better view of this beautiful place, you won’t regret it. The village is also well known for its salt production, which has been located there for more than 7000 years!
The salt mines are among the oldest mines in the world. It’s definitely worth checking out and visiting the mining tunnels with a guided tour. Another must do activity while visiting Hallstatt is the skywalk. The view from the observation deck is breathtaking. It will give you a panoramic view of Hallstatt and its surrounding area.
Whether you visit Hallstatt for a day trip or stay overnight, it is like a dream! Enjoy it and wander around, you will not be disappointed.
Nature and culture in Mexico, by Rose from Where Goes Rose
Mexico is my dream holiday and I believe it should be on everyone’s radar.
From whale-watching in Baja California to the monarch butterfly migration, there’s incredible nature which makes it a dream destination for me. Mexico also has a multitude of charming towns and cities to visit with cobbled streets and colourful colonial architecture. Oaxaca is full of art galleries and food markets, Taxco is known for silver jewellery markets, Guanajuato is full of colourful houses, Izamal is all painted yellow, and Puebla is known for its underground tunnels.
Meanwhile, Mexico City is a cultural melting pot home to more museums than any city but Paris. Mexico has many cultural celebrations dating back centuries, for example Day of the Dead which is a unique celebration of death. Locals believe the spirits of their ancestors return for one night only and dance parties are held in cemeteries.
The other best reason to visit Mexico is the incredible cuisine. From tacos to enchiladas, quesadillas and mole (rich chili chocolate sauce), there are so many delicacies to try. Chocolate was invented in Mexico and you can sample delicious hot chocolate with churros to dip. For more Mexico inspiration, check out my Mexico bucket list!
The Best Hiking Destinations of a Lifetime
Time for another disclosure; I'm not a hiker! If you've been hanging around this blog for more than a minute you will know this, but I know that for many people hiking is their main motivation to travel, and I've got to be honest and say that even some of these beautiful destinations of a life time tempt me to go with a pair of walking boots!
Hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, by Dariece from Goats on the Road
We've always been into multi-day treks, but knowing that after 4 strenuous days, our efforts would be rewarded with an ancient city built high in the mountains of Peru, well, that helped us push on each day. You can drive from a nearby town and visit Machu Picchu on a day trip, but where's the fun in that?!
Trekking on the same stone walkway that was built by the Incans in the 15th century is a pretty surreal feeling. How they were able to create this incredible road system in the jungle is beyond me. Having a guide is mandatory for this journey, and during the hike, we were very well taken care of by a team of porters, cooks, and guides. All we had to carry on our backs was a small backpack with some water and a jacket.
When we arrived at our "break", a hot lunch was prepared for us and we dined inside a tent complete with tables and chairs. When we arrived at the campsite for the night, all of our tents were set up for us, a snack was waiting and a hot dinner was being prepared.
Each morning, we were woken up by our porter offering us some hot chocolate, coffee or tea, and a hot washcloth. What luxury! Along the way, we passed by numerous Inca ruins, lush jungle, waterfalls, llamas and more.
But of course, the finale of Machu Picchu itself was the most impressive. Arriving at the Sun Gate and gazing out at the towering Andes mountains, with the 15th century stone city of Machu Picchu nestled down below is a feeling I'll never forget. Add hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu to your bucket list, you won't regret it.
Hiking in Cape Verde by Pauline from Paulina on the Road
Cape Verde is still a destination that is relatively unknown. However, in my opinion, it's only a matter of time until the crowds will discover this gorgeous archipleago in the Atlantic Ocean.
The funny thing is that the archipelago is incredibly diverse and every of the 10 islands has a very different profile. Whereas the island of Maio, Sal and Boa Vistas are known for their vast, pristine beaches, the islands of Brava, Fogo and Santo Antao are famous for its countless hiking trails.
If you have to choose one island for your hiking holidays in Cape Verde, go to Santo Antao. Its vertiginous hiking trails will leave you speechless! They'll lead you to scenic hamlets where you can enjoy the traditional cape verdean food. I stayed more than 10 days, and I still had plenty of hikes left that I wanted to do.
Besides hiking, I recommend visiting the natural pools of Sinagoga, the only swimming opportunity on the island and considered by many as one of the best things to do in Cape Verde.
Tour du Mont Blanc in France, by Nick from The Danish Nomads
Our dream holiday of a lifetime would have to feature three specific things; breathtaking natural landscapes, being active, and experiencing something new. Hiking the Tour du Mont Blanc trail ticked all the right boxes for us! It’s an epic 12-day trek across the French, Swiss, and Italian Alps, with scenery to rival even that of the Himalayas.
Picture-perfect postcard views will accompany you for most of the hike, the highlights, of course, being snow-capped peaks and massive glaciers. You start your adventure from the cosy french town of Chamonix, a hub for climbing, hiking, biking, and paragliding in the Alps. It’s located right at the foot of the mighty Mount Blanc, Europe’s tallest mountain, so you instantly know you’ve come to the right place.
Being French, Chamonix is a great town as well for a bit of wining and dining. However, we recommend you wait to indulge until after your trek. You’ll need all the energy you can muster to overcome the 180 kilometres of trail and more than 10.000 meters of elevation change.
You heard that right. Hiking the Tour du Mont Blanc is equivalent to climbing Mount Everest from sea level, and then some, and you also need to get back down again! It’s no mean feat, but it isn’t impossible either. We reckon anyone can handle it, although it does pay off to do a bit of exercise on the StairMaster beforehand. Happy trails!
Snowshoeing at Lac de Taney, Swiss Alps, by Sarah and Josh from Veggie Vagabonds
Frosted rugged peaks dominating the skyline in front of you, with only the sound of snow crunching underfoot to be heard through the dense woodland, this is the perfect place to experience winter at its finest.
As you hike towards Lac de Taney tucked away in a valley of the Swiss Alps, Switzerland the snow surrounding you gradually gets thicker. Once you reach the summit, the landscape opens up into a vast hollow, with the frozen vastness of the lake stretched out before you.
There are wooden alpine cabins dotted about but as most of them are second homes you’ll almost have the place to yourself, snowshoeing around the lake surrounded by icicle draped trees.
During the winter the snow here can be pretty thick, so snowshoeing allows you to explore this wintery utopia in all it’s glory, gliding along the trail that hugs the shoreline of the lake.
After exploring you can warm your cockles with a hot mulled wine at the local inn open all year round. Lac de Taney, Switzerland is the ideal place to make the most of the winter months, as you can explore the snow-draped landscape virtually untouched, taking in the sheer beauty of the valley in winter.
Hiking in Patagonia by Alex from Alex on the Map
My husband and I are big hikers, and we've taken on a number of the most amazing trails in the world. From Everest Base Camp to the Inca Trail, we’ve had a number of adventures. We have recently been eyeing Patagonia as our next trip where we can strap on our hiking boots.
One of the things I find the most interesting about Patagonia is that it is so big. Whether you choose to head to the Chile side or the Argentina side, you have different options to what kind of nature you would want to experience. We would plan to spend at least two weeks there in order to really get to explore.
Personally, I’d love to check out the stunning W-Trek, which is five days and offers the best views of the famous Torres del Paine mountains. For someone who loves photography, Patagonia also offers some amazing opportunities for photo ops—it’s the perfect combination of beautiful nature and a challenging workout.
Even though we can’t travel now, planning on next hiking adventure reminds me of all we have to look forward to. It might be awhile before we are able to hit the road, but Patagonia looms larger and larger in my mind as my next-choice destination.
Trekking in the Himalayas, in India, by Umang from Travelmax
In India, the mountainous range of Himalayas offer a lot to any hiking holiday-goer. The mountains are home to an endless variety of travel experiences which can be enjoyed by all kind of folks alike.
My Himalayan Trek to the peak of “Stok Kangri” was one such experience and hence it would always be a dream vacation which came true! Located in the Leh & Ladakh Region of India, Stok Kangri is the highest peak that you’d see on the horizon while roaming in the streets of Leh city. A half hour away from the city, a silent village breathes.
The name of this village is ‘Stok’ and the giant mountain next to it is called ‘Stok Kangri’. The one which I trekked and created a dream trip to cherish for life. In local language, the meaning of ‘Kangri’ means something that keeps one warm. I guess the mountain is looked upon as keeping this village warm amidst a cold & vast desert landscape. Hence the name: ‘Stok Kangri’.
This trek starts at 12,000 feet, altitude of Leh city, and goes on till 20,000+ feet. The motive of this 6 day trek is to summit the Stok Kangri peak by climbing upto 20,190 feet and return. Through the trek, we camped at 4 different camp sites and slept through the brutal wind & cold temperature.
But, when I successfully reached the trek's summit, I stood proud at 21,190 feet & with a sparkle in my eyes and I freely felt many different emotions. Then and there I knew, I have created an unforgettable memory. In retrospection, the trek was a dream vacation come true. Not because I was successful in my Stok Kangri Trek. But because I felt unprecedented emotions, pride, and joy!
The Best Bucketlist Road Trips Around the World
If you want to keep moving on your holiday of a lifetime but not under your own steam, then road tripping could be one of the ways you do it! These road trips of a lifetime aren't your typical road trips, and some of them aren't for cars, even, but all will be very, very tempting, even if you're not the kind of person who normally even considers road-tripping as a dreamy way to travel.
Motorbiking Across Vietnam, by Sean from LivingOutLau
While most travelers' dream vacation is lying on pristine white-sand beaches with a mojito in their hands, I like to do things a little more differently. For me, traveling isn't only about relaxing or partying, but rather about understanding a completely different set of culture.
To do that, you must explore its country entirely, from one border to another. That is why my bucket list holiday is motorbiking across the country of Vietnam, from Hanoi in the North to Ho Chi Minh in the South or vice versa. More than 1600 kilometers, a motorbike trip between the two cities will allow me to explore whatever and wherever my heart desires.
Do I fancy something historical? I can take myself to the UNESCO Heritage Town of Hoi An. Or do I feel like relaxing on the beach today? Here I come Nha Trang. There is so much freedom and adventure when you are on a motorbike. From the metropolis city of Ho Chi Minh to the dainty rice paddies fields in Ninh Binh, there is nothing beyond my reach.
If you are interested in doing a motorbiking trip across Vietnam, I would highly recommend you to look up the driving regulations. Plenty of tourists get injured in Vietnam on a motorbike because they are not experienced.
A used bike can be purchased for about $200 USD but that doesn't mean you should drive it. If you don't have an international motorbike license and you injure someone or get injured, your travel insurance won't cover it! So do be sure to check out the safest possible options for you and your group before setting off on a tour.
Southern Italy Road Trip by Talek from Travels with Talek
If you love culture and love to eat, then a road trip through southern Italy is the ideal bucket list adventure for you.
Start in Naples with its wonderful archaeological museum and indulge in the world’s best pizza. Head south to Matera, the ancient city of caves and dine in a cave restaurant. Take the ferry from the Italian mainland and cross into Taormina in Sicily.
Walk the main street of Corso Umberto and choose from the multitude of fine Italian restaurants on both sides of the street. Stay in the magical island of Ortygia and feast on seafood you just saw pulled from the ocean. Nearby is Agrigento with Greek ruins that were already ancient when the Roman first saw them. Cross the island of Sicily and come to rest on the northern coast where the great cathedral of Monreale will amaze you with its eclectic combination of architectural styles; Roman, Byzantine, Norman, Arabesque, Gothic and more. Don’t forget to sample Monreale’s famous pasta dishes.
Last stop…Palermo! the capital of Sicily. Palermo is one of the up and coming foodie destinations on earth and with good reason. From the city’s abundance of Michelin rated restaurants to the fabulous street food – arancini anyone? – Palermo’s culture and food scene will make you want to move there.
Authentic Puglia Escape by Ingrid of IngridZenMoments
Going on a Puglia road trip is definitely one of those once in a lifetime experiences anyone should consider. The heel of Italy's boot, Puglia is a hidden gem still waiting to be discovered and explored, with so much in store. I could have spent weeks discovering one by one places like Polignano a Mare and its azure waters, Alberobello with the famous trulli houses, the authentic small town of Martina Franca, or the all-white streets of Ostuni.
Don't be fooled into thinking the South of Italy is less than its attractive Northern part. Puglia will win you over with luxury experiences you won't want to miss. Spend the night in an iconic white trullo with a pool only 15 minutes away from the sea, or choose a traditional restored country manor in the middle of vineyards and olive groves (Masseria Le Fabriche).
Have dinner at the Grota Palazzese cave restaurant in Polignano a mare, not before you watch the locals having fun jumping off the cliffs behind Spiaggia Cala Porta. Taste the freshness of the sea in Monopoli, go on a local wine tasting tour or mix it up with a Southern Italy cooking class, but don't leave without seeing the beautiful white city of Ostuni and its famous house doors.
Pamir Highway Roadtrip in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, by Jacob from On The Way Around
The Pamir Highway is one of the most epic road trips in the world. The highway connects Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan via the high-altitude Pamir Plateau. Most of the highway is at elevations above 4,000 meters, and the mountainous scenery along the way is like nowhere else. It needs to be on the bucket list of every adventurous traveler.
The best way to travel the Pamir Highway is by hiring a 4x4 Jeep and driver to take you on the week-long journey across it. On the way, you’ll get to stop in tiny villages inhabited by some of the friendliest people on our planet. If you’ve got an extra day or two, you should detour off of the main highway and visit the beautiful Wakhan Valley.
The Wakhan is inhabited by Wakhi people, and they have a unique culture and language that is different from others in the Pamir. Travelling the Pamir Highway was one of the most memorable experiences I’ve ever had during my travels around the world.
Every day, I got to wake up surrounded by high mountains and friendly people and travel through some of the most stunning scenery I have ever seen. Another amazing thing about the Pamir Highway is that there are hardly any other tourists - you’ll have this amazing place all to yourself!
Garden Route Road Trip in South Africa, by Campbell & Alya from Stingy Nomads
The Garden Route in South Africa is one of the most beautiful areas in the country. It’s a perfect place for a honeymoon, family holiday or just a weekend getaway. Driving along the Route travelers get a unique opportunity to combine a beach holiday with safari drives and ultimate adventure activities.
The best way to explore the Garden Route is to rent a car. The Garden Route is a coastal stretch of about 300 km between Mossel Bay and Storms River, 400 km east from Cape Town. The main towns along the route are Mossel Bay, Wilderness, Sedgefield, Knysna, Plettenberg Bay and Storms River. The accommodation options vary from camping or glamping inside the National parks, to cozy beach houses and luxurious lodges.
The area is famous for its food; fresh oysters, seafood curry, roasted lamb, vegetarian dishes and great local wines. Dining is not the only activity here the area is a real paradise for outdoor and adventure lovers. From bungee jumping from Bloukrans Bridge (the highest bungee bridge in the world) to exploring indigenous forest on a canopy tour or discovering hidden corners of the Storms River canyon on a kayaking adventure.
Hiking is another popular activity here. From the stunning 5-day Otter Trail trek to beautiful day-hikes, e.g. St.Blaize Trail or the Robberg Island hike. For animal lovers visiting one of the safari parks is a must-do on the Garden Route. There you get a chance to see African animals including the famous Big 5 (rhino, elephant, buffalo, lion and leopard) in their natural habitat and if you’re lucky you might even see a kill. Marine Life in the region is abundant as well; Southern Right whales, dolphins, sharks and hundreds of seals can be spotted on a boat safari.
Beach lovers won’t be disappointed here with kilometers of unspoiled beaches and white-sand dunes. The Garden Route is an ideal place for a dream holiday regardless of one's age or interests.
A Grand Tour of Italy, by Federica from A stroll around the world
Similarly to the aristocracy that in the 17th and 18th centuries used to tour Italy as part of their formative education, a real luxe would be to take the same tour nowadays.
While Rome in Italy was the main destination, grand tourists used to visit Florence, Venice, Naples, and the archeological sites of Pompeii and Herculaneum. What makes special a similar road trip around Italy these days is the objective of the travel itself: the desire to deepen, thanks to field observation, the knowledge of art and architecture. Fond in Latin and Ancient Greek literature, as an intellectual traveler, I could mix leisure time in Italy with study purposes, for an extended period.
Likewise, noble travelers in the past, a contemporary Grand Tour, could last from several months to several years. Having an almost endless amount of time in discerning and observing classical antiquities would be the real luxe considering that in our frenetic lives, two, three weeks abroad seems an incredible amount of time.
Even if I can enjoy Rome on virtual tours, the opportunity to admire the beauty of the past eras is an immense way to enrich my mind and my soul.
The Most Luxurious Once in a Lifetime Vacations
Finally, finally, we get to possibly my favourite collection of once in a lifetime vacations and destinations - the luxury collection! But again, I have to add, that many of these aren't your typical luxury beach holidays, and indeed most include activities and adventures that would keep any strange person whose idea of luxury is doing lots and lots of things!
Luxury Stay in Hampi, India, by Bhushavali from My Travelogue by Bhushavali
Hampi is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in southern India! It was extremely rich & prosperous in 1343 to 1565, and then it lost a war and fell into ruins.
Today there are so many monuments here that are to be seen and understood. The architecture and sculptures are a beautiful mix of the existing Hindu architecture and the Indo-Islamic architecture brought in by the Bahmani Sultanates who were wiped off by Krishna Deva Raya, the star king of Vijayanagara Empire.
Honestly, it is pointless to just ‘see’ the monuments without guidance on the art styles, history and mythology! The best & luxurious way to experience Hampi is by staying at Evolve Back (was Orange County) Resorts. It’s a 5-star resort, whose architecture matches the historic site.
To begin with, the whole resort looks like a fortification and the rooms look like a palaces. The Jal Mahal category of rooms are individual cottages and are the epitome of luxury! It has a private infinity pool with a private lounge facing the setting sun, where you could also have a private candle-light dinner! Have you ever been pampered so much?!
The resort provides various types of tours to the different monuments in Hampi with the in-house historians. It is possible to go as a group with other guests of the resort or to hire a historian just for yourself as well. For private tours, the resort would even pack your lunch and you could picnic in the midst of magnificent, historic monuments!
Dream Botswana Luxury Safari, by Kanupriyaa from Sunset Jeans
Botswana is the ultimate dream destination of mine. With herds of elephants roaming wild to meerkats eating out of your hands and campsites in the grasslands with unimaginable luxury, what more could I want.
You might think that a Parisian penthouse is the epitome of luxury but let me paint you a picture. A bathtub filled with warm scented water on the patio of your personal tree lodge. In front of you are miles of African savannah spreading out till eye can see and a golden pink sun setting over the horizon.
The only noise to break the stillness is the roar of a lion settling down for the night or an elephant trumpet. Dotted with luxury campsites all over the country, each campsite in Botswana offers game drives that let you see the Big Five while sipping on wine and eating a delicious meal.
After spending a morning on a game drive you can come back to an expansive breakfast before going to spend time petting the local elephant herd. After you are done wondering at the soft gaze and powerful bodies of these gentle creatures you can take a drive in the night time.
Since you are miles away from any city the entire star system is visible. Every single star you can possibly see hangs in the sky while you are tucked in bed with a warm hot bottle. Botswana is one of those few hidden gems on the planets that not many know about.
With enough stillness to soothe your mind and enough luxury to soothe your heart it has become my dream vacation destination.
Kerala Houseboats: The Ultimate Luxury, by Khushboo from Munni of All Trades
You can feast on freshly caught Pearlspot Karimeen and Tiger Prawns on an open deck as you cruise along the beautiful Lake Vembanad in Alleppey. Endless supply of coconut water will be at your disposal or even some delicious wine if you so wish.
You can stop when something catches your fancy or hop on to a canoe to visit the local villages to learn fishing, toddy tapping or how to make some delicious chutney. A naturalist can be made available for you if you are a birding enthusiast who wants to spot white Siberian cranes, Herons and other birds during your trip!
And when you return, the chef on board would have whipped up fresh banana fritters and piping hot filter coffee as your curl on to your sofa to Netflix and Chill. Living and travelling in a kettuvalam or the modern-day houseboat is one of the ultimate luxury experiences in Kerala.
Houseboats in Kerala are very plush and have all the luxuries you can possibly imagine. From an upper deck Jacuzzi to a conference hall if you wish, Kerala's houseboats can cater to the needs of all kinds of travellers. Kerala houseboats are something that I would definitely love to experience once again!
Indian-Pacific Train Trip in Australia, by Keith from Travellin' Light
We’ve become totally accepting in our modern world that long distance travel is often an impersonal ordeal. Long queues, often enduring rude people, security screening, delays, cramped seating, where ‘just get me there’ is the mantra. There’s another way, where the pace is much more relaxed; and the transport itself is the unique experience. Not something to be endured, but enjoyed to the fullest. That’s travelling by long distance train.
There are a number of iconic train trips in the world; the Trans-Siberian, The Ghan, Glacier Express in Switzerland, Rocky Mountaineer in Canada. Bucket list experiences, every single one of them. Right up there in the luxury train travel stakes is the Indian-Pacific.
The Indian Pacific train runs across the entire width of Australia between Sydney on the east coast and Perth on the west coast of Australia; a journey of 2,700 miles (4,350 kms). With the locomotives and carriages, it’s about three quarters of a mile (700 meters) in length. The end-to-end trip takes four days and three nights; with stopovers in the famous Barossa Valley wine region and Broken Hill.
Broken Hill earned its wealth originally through mining and this beautiful, historic town is host to numerous art galleries displaying works of some of Australia’s best landscape painters. For the part of the time the train crosses one of the most sparsely populated regions on the planet, the Nullabor Plain, you will be surrounded by hundreds of miles of treeless landscape as far as the eye can see. But it’s far from tedious, because it has a stark beauty to it; almost mesmerising. And there is no better way to see it than from the lounge car of this luxury train.
The layout of the train encourages everybody on board to slow down and engage. From the seating in the fully licenced lounge car to the air-conditioned, silver service, chef prepared meals in the dining car. Sitting down to a three-course lunch with a glass of fine wine while the landscape slips by at 70 mph (110 kms/hr) is hard to beat.
Cabins for overnight are fully self-contained with toilet, shower and vanity basin. The beds are converted to seating through the day by on-board staff. If you want to spend some quiet time, then you can retire to your cabin. On arrival at the destination, you may have a slight feeling of regret it’s over. That’s perfectly normal.
Words can hardly do justice to the experience of travelling on this train. The old-world charm, the sheer self-indulgence of it all. If it’s not at the top of your bucket list, then it should be!
Lake Powell 7-Day Houseboat Cruise, by Stephen from Flashpacker Co
Lake Powell is a huge, man-made reservoir on the Colorado River, straddling the borders of northern Arizona and southern Utah in the United States. It is located in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. The lake is known for its massive size, providing a unique secluded feeling and bright orange sheer cliff faces that border the lake.
Traveling through Lake Powell by houseboat provided an unbelievably unique experience with all 12 members of our party in close quarters the full week with almost no other human contact. It was a truly special experience where outside of the house boat we had so much space and freedom on the lake, and inside the houseboat it was a uniquely intimate setting.
Lake Powell offers great hiking in the surrounding areas and the cliff faces out of the lake, plenty of space for watersports like fishing and kayaking and all kinds of incredible side canyons and domes to explore. Not to mention the cliff jumping…..Just don’t get caught since it’s technically against the national park rules.
On our trip we rented a power boat to pull behind our houseboat. While traveling between campsites, we were able to take groups out on the smaller boat for skiing and wakeboarding. We also took the chance to explore the maze of slot canyons that branch off of the lake, one of which ended with a short hike to see one of the world’s largest natural rock bridges, Rainbow Bridge.
Each night we’d cook an amazing dinner on the houseboat, stare up at the stars around a campfire and listen to sounds of an acoustic guitar. In the shadow of rainbow bridge and Navajo mountain, the lake seems to have some sort of magical power to connect adventurers to nature and history, despite all of the modern comforts of the houseboat.
The Lake Powell houseboat trip was truly a fantasy trip experience for us and our group, and is a trip that I'm dreaming of a lot as we're currently digital nomads that aren't traveling much!
The Most Unusual Destinations of a Lifetime
This section will introduce you to some once in a lifetime holiday destinations you've either never heard of, or maybe never considered going to, but you must, you MUST. I'm not one for "off-beat travel" but reading about these truly unique holidays of a lifetime is making me think about changing my mind...
Fernando de Noronha in Brazil, by Mario from Rest & Recuperation
Brazil is one of the largest countries in the world and as such it has many beautiful spots that you can visit. Cruising the Amazon is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, Rio de Janeiro has great vibes, but what really remained in my heart is a small archipelago in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean: Fernando de Noronha.
Once a military base occupied by US troops during WWII, it has only recently open to the outside world. Despite being only some eight kilometres long, the main island has so many beautiful natural spots to visit that you can easily spend there a week and not see all. Fernando de Noronha is mainly famous for its beaches, some of which are always in the top ten of Brazil.
The beach of Sancho, only reachable by a ladder and surrounded by lush cliffs is breathtaking. The island also offers beautiful treks in the natural reserve, with trails of varying difficulties. My favourite is the "Trilha de capim açu", the longest and harshest. It starts from the beautiful Praia do Leao, continues on the rocks on the shore until the southern point, then climbs up to the lighthouse and back in town. Fernando de Noronha is a famous luxury destination in Brazil.
It is where all famous Brazilian VIPs go during their holidays. It is not surprising that there are so many high end hotels with great rooms, food, and services. If you happen to be in northeastern Brazil, do not hesitate: pack your trolley and fly for an unforgettable trip to Fernando de Noronha!
Gorilla-trekking in Uganda by Aimee from Snap Happy Travel
This past August as part of our honeymoon, we fulfilled my ultimate bucket list vacation - Gorilla-trekking in Uganda. Trekking for mountain Gorilla's has been a dream of mine for years. And thankfully my husband was fully on board with this activity.
We flew into Kigali, Rwanda and hired a driver to bring us to Bwindi National Park in Uganda, stopping along the way. We did a lot of research beforehand to ensure it was safe and sustainable. Thankfully, Gorilla-trekking in Uganda is supported by the Department of Conservation and all money from your trek permit goes back to supporting the gorillas.
The trek itself was tiring, but when we stumbled across a family of ten gorillas, this sight honestly took my breath away. We spent an hour in the gorillas' presence watching them climb trees, eat vegetation and mind their young. We were even lucky enough to spot a baby gorilla, just a month old. You are permitted to take photos, but must remain seven metres away at all times.
When the hour was over the gorillas knew time was up and slowly began walking away from their spot. gorilla-trekking was such an amazing experience and fully lived up to the hype I had built up in my own mind. I highly recommend gorilla-trekking to anyone who is looking for a unique experience, one that will remain with you for the rest of your life.
Swimming With Plankton in Cambodia by Merryl from Merryl's Travel & Tricks
Cambodia is a country full of surprises. The culture, the food, the people and the stunning Angkor Wat complex are the most common reasons why people choose to visit the country. But for me, the main reason would be to swim with plankton on the island of Koh Rong. Koh Rong is a secluded island in the south of the country.
The untouched islands are filled with unexplored beaches and gorgeous untouched spots all around. But the most exciting thing to do on the island is to hop on a boat in the dark and head to the dark spots to swim with that can be found floating around. It surely is a bucket list adventure.
Other than the stunning swim with the plankton, the island is also perfect to just unwind and reset. You can choose to stay in parts of the island that are quieter or choose to stay near the happening bars and pubs. Clear waters can be found all around the island making it ideal for snorkeling and swimming.
Those seeking adventure can also rent out kayaks to visit the more secluded spots on the island or can sign up for Scuba Diving at the PADI certified diving center on the island.
Banwa Private Island Resort by Sanne from Spend Life Traveling
If I daydream about the ultimate luxury holiday I picture myself on a tropical private island somewhere… I recently visited Palawan, an island province in the Philippines known for its incredible beaches and great snorkeling.
While researching where to stay I found out about Banwa Private Island. Oh if only I had US$ 100,000 to spare, because, yes, that's what it costs to rent this island! But, if we are talking about the ultimate luxury holiday, this place might be it!
If you book this resort you get the whole island to yourself, which boasts six luxury villas and a whopping 75 staff members to cater to your every need! Because of course, if we are talking ultimate luxury we have certain expectations.
From gorgeous beaches and an incredible spa to a fully equipped dive center and a 9-hole golf course, just for you! There is a beautiful restaurant on the island providing world-class cuisine and a premium wine list. But of course if you want something more romantic they can also serve your meals at several more intimate locations around the island.
There’s a pilates studio, a tennis court and a juice bar on the island as well. And, as someone who loves the ocean and snorkeling, I love the fact that Banwa is located in a marine-protected area. This means Banwa might be one of the best snorkeling spots in Palawan!
The resort is allegedly the most expensive island resort in the world. But don't think that you will never be able to afford going as you could actually split the bill with 21 of your closest friends, as the island can accommodate a maximum of 22 people. Still super expensive, but not as out of reach as you originally thought, right? Maybe that will make it more possible to add this dream location to your bucket list? For now I’ll just continue to daydream about spending my days on a tropical island…
Escaping to Puerto Rico by Meghan from The Traveling Teacher
Puerto Rico is one destination that should be on everyone's dream holiday list. Even after three visits, I can't get enough! Puerto Rico offers so many unique and incredible experiences that may surprise you.
First, is Old San Juan, home to the largest Spanish fortress ever built in the Caribbean and beautiful colorful streets. Make sure you sip on a Pina Colada from a rooftop since it was invented here!
On the southwestern tip of the island you'll find Cabo Rojo, home to the incredible pink salt flats, beautiful cliff hikes, and beaches with pristine water. On the Eastern side of Puerto Rico you'll find a smaller island right off the cost, Culebra, home to the best beach in the Caribbean and second highest rated in the world.
Nearby are Mosquito Bay and Fajardo where you will find bioluminescent bays where you can kayak on a guided tour to watch these micro-organisms sparkle when you put your hand or paddle into the water. Not far away is El Yunque National Rainforest, the only rainforest part of the US National Forest system and has incredible waterfalls all throughout the park.
Make sure you try out the natural rock waterslides at Las Paylas for even more adventure and fun! A Puerto Rico road trip is one of the best ways to see the most on this island. It's is an incredible place with so many fun things to do I just cannot recommend it enough. You'll love this gorgeous island!
Explore Zanzibar's Archipelago, by Bistra & Nace from The Magic of Traveling
We never thought of Zanzibar as something more than a lovely paradise-like archipelago. Not that it's not enough to chill on dreamy beaches, swim in azure waters and sip on cocktails on your vacation. Zanzibar revealed to us so many other magical experiences that we felt like spreading the love and showing that there are so many things to do in Zanzibar.
Starting with sailing a traditional dhow boat, snorkeling and diving around coral reefs and islands of all sizes, along with other water activities, you can also meet an endemic species - the red colobus monkey. They're not quite the extroverts, but their neighbors in Jozani Forest - the blue monkeys, tend to compensate for that.
Speaking of meeting new friends, people on the islands are so friendly and hard-working. You can join a football game with the kids on the beach, or talk to fishermen while they have to walk hundreds of meters at low tide, hitch with beautiful ladies coming back from work.
Probably the best part of the magic of Zanzibar is the aroma of species you can taste pretty much everywhere. Whereas you will pass many spice fields even when you drive around, you can also join a spice plantation tour. You’ll see where spices grow, among them cloves, nutmeg, vanilla, Zanzibar’s famous cardamom, cinnamon, curry, menthol, pepper, tamarind, and ginger. You’ll also see tropical fruits such as papayas, mangoes, and jackfruit. Isn't that the sweetest reason to put Zanzibar on your bucket list right away?
An Otherworldly Experience on Skellig Michael Island in Ireland by Emer from Let's Go Ireland
If you feel like daydreaming about a place from another time and place, then we know exactly the place for you! Look no further than the little island Skellig Michael about 7 miles off the west coast of Ireland. This UNESCO World Heritage site (since 1996) is so remote and otherworldly that it was even used as the location for Luke Skywalker’s hide-out in Star Wars.
It is such a strange place that the great writer George Bernard Shaw once called it “the most fantastic and impossible rock in the world.” And you will agree with him once you have managed to set foot onto Skellig Michael. After a bumpy boat ride and a climb of about 600 steps you will not only have one of the most stunning views of the Atlantic, you will also stand at the very site of one of the most important early monastic settlements in Ireland. From about the 6th to the 13th century monks lived here in their monastery, which they believed to be the edge of the world. It kind of feels like it when you are there...
Tip: If you really want to make sure to secure a prized spot on one of the few boats that offer landing tours during the summer months, then book as early as March. Tourist numbers are limited to 180 per day in order to preserve this culturally important site, which is also home to a protected bird sanctuary. Although it might be a bit pricey to do a landing trip to the Skellig island, you will not regret it. It is just such a unique place!
(Photo Copyright: Tourism Ireland photographed by Tom Archer)
The Best Once In a Lifetime Beach Holidays
Now, did I not save the best for last?! Okay, for me, this is definitely the most appealing mini list of holidays of a lifetime because all I want right now is the laziest, longest, sunniest, dreamiest beach vacation. This is something that isn't going to happen for a long time for me - for many reasons - which is fine, but in the meantime I will just daydream about these fantastic dream beach holiday destinations
Staying in the Seychelles, by Tia from Tia Does Travel
I am an island child, that swears I was a mermaid in a previous life. I am 100% at peace when surrounded by lush tropical forests and paradise-like white sand beaches. It is for that reason that my ultimate wanderlust destination is none other than the remote islands in Seychelles, just off the coast of East Africa!
So I would grab my bestie and head to the airport, stat. Why my bestie you ask? Well because I am single of course but also because... she gets me. There are long utterly comfortable silences between us, and a mutual understanding that makes the perfect setting for Seychelles. As romantic as the islands are, I would love nothing more than meditate in silence, sunbathe, snorkel, and make meaningful life-altering conversation with a person that feels like utter family to me!
Upon arrival at Mahe, (the main island) I would take a helicopter to Felicite island, a private, utterly pristine island that is also home to the jaw-dropping, five stars Six Senses Zil Pasyon. This hotel has been on my bucket list for over two years, as it offers the kind of luxury one can only dream of! The resort is also practicing sustainability and responsible tourism, a cause that I am extremely passionate about. Although remote and secluded there is much to do on Felicite island. I would spend my days witnessing the king of natural beauty, only unspoiled nature can provide, the kind that leaves you speechless.
A luxury yacht would lazily cruise me around the nearby islands where I would kayak, snorkel the incredible reefs filled with turtles, take hikes through the thick jungle, and watch the blissful sunset on the beach with fresh seafood platters and a cocktail. Additionally, anyone that knows me is well aware of my utter obsession with spas. I make sure I check myself in a spa on every trip, and I am forever fascinated by the varied treatments in different parts of the world.
I would take full advantage of the luxurious Six Senses Resort spa, with its five double treatment villas (Rock, Cave, Ocean, Nature, and Floating) that reflect the island’s eco-system, colors, textures and themes. Everything about Seychelles screams luxury and beauty as far as the eye can see - and I simply cannot wait to immerse myself in all it has to offer!
A Polynesian Escape by Mar from Once in a Lifetime Journey
French Polynesia has been a top bucket list destination for years and this is confirmed by the fact that 90% of its visitors are on their once in a lifetime honeymoon trip. If you ask a honeymooner what their dream destination is, chances are either Maldives or Bora Bora are at the top of the list. But while the Maldives has seen a fair bit of development in recent years, Bora Bora, and French Polynesia as a whole, have remained relatively quiet.
Remotely located in the South Pacific, about 4h from Auckland, and made of several islands, French Polynesia is a French Overseas Territory, that is, it is part of France and hence, the European Union, despite being located at the other side of the world. While there are several islands in the group, the best known are the island of Tahiti, where the capital Papeete and the international airport are located, and Bora Bora 30 minutes away by plane, and a word that already evokes dreams of a far away land.
Bora Bora is synonymous with over water villas since the island was the first one to have them. Exclusivity and luxury are the norm here, with very few affordable accommodation options available in an island with less than 10,000 inhabitants. Most of the high-end resorts are located on the Motu, the reef that surrounds the main island, and have views over Mount Otemanu, the famously picturesque mountain that is usually featured in postcards.
Unlike other luxury destinations, French Polynesia has remained largely untouched and under developed which only ads to its charm and exclusivity. There are less than 10 luxury resorts and a few additional options on the island but mass tourism and development are unheard of here and there have been very few new openings in the last decade. As soon as you arrive, you will feel as if you are miles away from civilisation and have just stepped onto an island paradise. Gauguin's paintings of Polynesian dancers suddenly come to mind.
Diving in the Perhentian Islands by Hannah from Hannah's Happy Adventures
The Perhentian Islands are located just off the east coast of the Malay peninsular. For me, they were one of the highlights of my month long trip through Malaysia. The stunning islands have beautiful white beaches, crystal clear water and jungle through the centre.
The best part about the Perhentian is the diving. When I visited I did just a one day ‘try dive’ but I hugely regretted not getting my PADI open water certificate then. Diving in the Perhentian should 100% make your bucket list vacation. I recommend staying at the Tuna Bay Island resort. This hotel is one of the most luxurious on the islands. It offers beachfront wooden chalets set on a secluded beach on a quiet part of the island. It has an onsite café and sports centre.
From here you can snorkel on the coral reef just off the beach, or choose to take a trip further afield. It’s also possible to take hikes through the jungle. Now for the most important part - your PADI open water will cost you just 900 RM ($210). Alternatively you can book a diving package giving you all-inclusive accommodation and food alongside your diving course. The diving here is world class and you won’t be disappointed. We saw a shark, turtle and numerous fishes on just our ‘try dive’. Malaysia has a lot to offer, but the Perhentian is the perfect escape to tick diving off of your bucket list adventures.
Koh Bulon in Thailand, by Martina & Jürgen from Places of Juma
Are you looking for once-in-a-lifetime holidays, a place that is really special and unique? Then you just have to go a visit Thailand, more precise go to visit the hidden island Koh Bulon in the south of the country.
This native island is a hidden gem far up from mass tourism: There are no full moon parties, no supermarkets, no streets, no cars – just paradise beaches and relaxation. Generally, it is the most perfect spot for couples looking for an ultimate dream-island experience!
The sandy beaches are extremely soft and white, and invites to linger as the water is also perfectly clear and turquoise blue. While swimming you will see huge fish swarms and if you love snorkeling, there you will have the chance to explore an untouched underwater world. On land, with a little luck, you will see one of the huge friendly lizards strolling around the island.
Due to its small size, Koh Bulon doesn´t have its own airport – maybe that’s why this island stayed that secluded. For getting to the island you must take a flight from Bangkok to Trang, and after a speedboat from Thailand’s mainland to Koh Bulon.
Island Hopping in Fiji by Alexx from Finding Alexx
There's only one thing better than sipping cocktails on a tropical paradise island in the South Pacific, and that's sipping cocktails on multiple tropical paradise islands in the South Pacific! Fiji island-hopping in the lush Yasawa Islands is an essential addition to any sun seeker's bucket list, and it's surprisingly reasonable in terms of cost.
Awesome Adventures Fiji runs DIY island hopping adventures where you can choose the islands to visit, pick your level of accommodation (from dorm room to fancy resort), and add on extras like swimming with sharks, sunset tubing, traditional craft classes and cave visits.
Budget-conscious backpackers will love the good value and good vibes at Beachcomber Island, nature lovers can't miss Barefoot Manta and their in-house marine conservation projects, and anyone looking to treat themselves or someone special needs to check out the beachfront villas at Coconut Beach Resort. Absolute bliss. While palm-fringed beaches are the obvious attraction for most travellers, this little island nation is also home to well-preserved (and super colourful!) marine life, rugged coastline perfect for hikers, legendary surf breaks and the most warm and welcoming locals you'll ever meet.
Fiji might seem like an unattainable destination for those who come from afar, but it's an easy add on to an Australia or New Zealand adventure if you have the time. You can even get a free stopover with some Fiji Airways flights! As far as island hopping goes, Fiji is guaranteed to impress.
Bucket List Bimini Break in The Bahamas
Seeking a slice of paradise not too far from the Florida Coast? Bimini, is perhaps not as well known as some of the other islands in the Bahamas, but it is in fact the closest Caribbean islands to the United States.
Widely known as the ‘Gateway to the Bahamas’, Bimini is the perfect Caribbean day trip and getaway from the United States. A Bimini day trip from Miami takes as little as a couple of hours by ferry. Though, if you decide to fly, prepare to be mesmerised by the historic shark mound formation in the mangroves near Porgy Bay Beach.
This unique formation complements the allure of Bimini and is one of the hidden gems of North Bimini Island. If you have ever wondered whether The Lost City of Atlantis really exists then you’ll want to go scuba diving in Bimini’s crystal clear waters. In the 60’s, a pilot is believed to have noticed a strange formation in the water, which appeared to be an underwater road. Though tests were inconclusive, to this day many still believe The Lost City of Atlantis exists under Bimini’s waves.
If The Lost City of Atlantis isn’t enough to inspire wanderlust, a sulphur “healing hole” in South Bimini is believed to be The Fountain of Youth, with many visiting Bimini to heal themselves in this sulphur spring. Bimini’s array of beautiful beaches are a dream come true for those seeking a luxury bucket trip of a lifetime. Bimini's islands are a blissful beach break in The Bahamas, but beyond that they are full of mystery to intrigue the most discerning traveller.
And that's all the dreamy holidays of a lifetime I think my imagination can cope with right because while it's fun to daydream about all these bucketlist vacations, I also need to remember that they're all out of reach for me for a while, so I'm off to make another cup of tea and have some fun with my guide to armchair travel, or some of the fun things to do in this post on virtual travel in Amsterdam!
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Frances M. Thompson
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