23 Amazing Destinations to Add to Your Bucket List
Does visiting somewhere exotic, breathtaking and unique sound like your kind of holiday? Do you like the idea of getting up close and personal with the natural world? If you answered yes, check out our top 23 destinations for a break away from civilization to tick off your bucket list.
Located in the Western Pacific Ocean, Palau is an archipelago recognized as one of the world’s foremost diving destinations, home to more than 500 species of coral and over 1,400 kinds of fish. Featured on the 10th season of “survivor”, Palau is a colorful underwater wonderland, and on land, visitors will be treated to unspoiled beaches and dense jungles for trekking.
With wide savannas teeming with lions, elephants, and giraffes, Kenya is a popular destination for those wanting to get close to fascinating animals in the wild. But what many travelers don’t realize is that Kenya is home to magnificent mountains, lakes, rainforests, deserts, and beaches as well.
The natural diversity of Kenya makes this one of the most unique places on earth, and all tourism in the region occurs under the watchful eye of EcoTourism Kenya, an organization working to protect the local environment through community outreach and education projects.
From the Amazon (the largest rainforest in the world) to Pantanal (the largest wetlands in the world), Brazil’s natural and marine landscapes feature a diverse range of ecosystems and rare ecotourism opportunities. The Amazon covers an area of 5 million square kilometers, however agricultural and timber industries are rapidly destroying the rainforest. To prevent this, the Amazon relies heavily on ecotourism.
The Pantanal is home to a wealth of exotic wildlife species and is also under threat by cattle ranching.
4. The Blue Mountains, Australia
Made a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2000, the Blue Mountains offers 550 square kilometers of valleys, swamps, rocky outcroppings, and narrow canyons. With hundreds of trails through breathtaking terrain and unique wildlife and flora, it’s a bushwalker or botanist’s paradise.
The Blue Mountains is also a great place for adventure, with rock climbers, canoeists, and horseriders flocking from Sydney, located just a 90-minute drive away.
5. Koh Kong, Cambodia
Cambodia is one of the most popular ecotourism destinations in Southeast Asia, with villages such as Koh Kong having very little contact with the outside world until recently.
Koh Kong is a sleepy riverside town that has become a hub for eco-tourism trips and jungle trekking and is a handy base for boat trips, waterfall, and beach excursions.
6. Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Ecotourism is a fairly new concept in Dubai, and with its rapid-scale development, it’s hard to imagine it as a region of natural beauty. But the Arabian Gulf actually offers a wide diversity of ecosystems and marine species, including sea turtles and the world’s second-largest population of dugongs.
Now wising up to ecotourism, the government is also working very hard to restore the fragile reefs damaged by construction, and desert safaris, dune skiing, and hiking tours are gaining popularity.
Featured on the first ever season of ‘Survivor’ season, Borneo has plenty on offer in terms of ecotourism. From the slopes of Mount Kinabalu and the dense forest trails of the Barrio Loop to the mangroves, wetlands, and orangutans, you could never get bored in Borneo.
For the ultimate eco-friendly getaway, combine your Borneo experience with a stay in the award-winning Sukau Rainforest Lodge, a completely self-sufficient hotel subsisting on rainwater and solar energy.
With vast expanses of unspoiled wilderness including the Boreal Forest, Canadian Shield, and the Rocky Mountains, Canada is a unique destination for a holiday. Be sure to take the camera, as some of the world’s most beautiful photographs have been taken in this majestic country.
9. Botswana, Africa
Botswana offers unrivaled natural beauty and rightly deserves its title as the ‘Jewel of Africa’. Enjoy a safari and explore deserts, forests, transient lakes, and salt pans, all the while spotting a spectacular range of wildlife from leopards and elephants to lions and zebras. Firmly established as an eco-friendly destination, Botswana is home to a large number of environmentally friendly resorts along the savannah.
10. Costa Rica
Costa Rica, leveraging an extraordinary natural and cultural wealth, has become synonymous with the concept of a tropical paradise. Home to four active (but not dangerous) volcanoes, an abundance of rainforest, over 750 miles of unspoiled beaches and indulgent thermal hot springs, there’s plenty of adventure to have in this rich, Central American territory.
11. The Alps, Switzerland
The Alps serve as Europe’s early warning system, the melting glaciers and changing animal life a clear indication of global warming. As a result, there is a strong focus to develop the Alps as a nature-orientated destination.
New initiatives are underway, with the White Pods being a great example. The 15 dome tents are perched on wooden platforms and can only be accessed by foot or ski. Oozing luxury tent living, the White ponds give visitors another reason to visit the Alps outside of winter.
12. Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
The Galapagos Islands for an ecotourism lover is the equivalent of a Muslim’s Mecca. Home to some of the world’s most magnificent creatures, it was declared the first ever Natural World Heritage Site. Each of the 13 major islands offers amazing ecosystems, and though you can’t use flash photography to capture the wildlife on film, you can swim with green sea turtles, sea lions, and penguins.
13. Kerala, India
Often referred to as “God’s Own Country”, the southwestern coastal state of Kerala is full of clean sandy beaches and lush virgin rainforests. Completely unspoiled, Kerala is home to more than 10,000 plant species, the nilgiri tahr (an endangered mountain goat), white elephants, bison, and wild boar. Tourist officials strongly advise environmentally responsible travel to the region.
Referred to as “The Great Land”, Alaska is home to stunning snowcapped mountains, sprawling tundra, humpback whales, brown bears, lynx sea lions, and bald eagles. If you’re really lucky, you may even catch a look at the magnificent blue whale, the largest animal ever known to have existed.
Alaska has over 100 state parks to explore, and its pristine wilderness beckons naturalists from all over the world. Additionally, it’s the best place to view the aurora borealis, aka the “northern lights.”
15. Belize, North America
36% of Belize’s land mass enjoys protected status, along with 13% of its waters. Belize’s livelihood relies heavily on nature, as tourism is the country’s top source of revenue.
The residents of Belize have a vested interest in protecting their own communities and the environment. They are the natural leaders of the ecotourism charge and are a great inspiration for other regions looking to turn ecotourism into a leading source of revenue.
Things to see in Belize include the Great Blue Hole, measuring 1000 feet across and 412 feet deep. Other highlights include the Actun Tunichil Muknal Cave, and you can also swim with whale sharks from March through to June.
16. Norwegian Fjords, Norway
The remote location and strict environmental regulations have helped preserve the pristine beauty of Norway’s famous fjords. Snowcapped mountains, tumbling waterfalls, and crystal clear waters make for some of the most spectacular scenery in the world. No matter whether you’re hiking, biking or taking a scenic boat ride, the fjords are packed full of adventure.
Officially known as the Commonwealth of Dominica, the island nation is the easy pick for a Caribbean ecotourism destination. Often visited by 40-ton whales that love to play, socialize and mate just offshore, visitors to the island are promised a 90 percent chance of spotting one up close. Combine this with incredible dive sites, superb hiking trails, and gorgeous waterfalls and it’s easy to see why it’s a favorite among ecotourism fans.
18. The Himalayas, Nepal
The spectacular Himalayas comprise of the highest mountains on earth, with the most famous being Mt Everest. Join any popular camping trek to truly experience the mountainous region, available from a number of ecotourism operators.
For the ultimate white adventure, head south to Antarctica in the summer months when this icy continent becomes accessible to the rest of the world. View monumental glaciers and icebergs, comical penguins and majestic whales, and marvel at a true winter’s paradise. You can even take a dip in a hot spring on Deception Island.
20. Ladakh, India
Located in Northern India, Ladakh is a high-altitude desert land between the western Himalayas, Tibet, and the Hemis National Park. A mecca for trekkers and home to diverse fauna and flora, Ladakh is a great place for an eco-adventure, offering white water rafting and fun camel rides.
21. Luang Namtha, Laos
Every day, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Laos) and international stakeholders work towards the vision that Laos will become the leading example of sustainable tourism. Home to the richest, most extensive ecosystems on the Indochina Peninsula, Laos is home to more than 800 species of birds and over 100 large mammals, including tigers, clouded leopards, gibbons, and hornbills.
22. Taman Negara National Park, Malaysia
One of the world’s oldest tropical rainforests, and home to the Malayan tiger and the Sumatran rhinoceros, Taman Negara National Park is a must-see destination for those seeking adventure. Enjoy the longest canopy walk in the world, hovering 45 meters above ground, and read comprehensive information on the birds and wildlife you can expect to see from the treetops.
23. Savai'i, Samoa
Rich in local culture and sparsely inhabited, the relatively large island of Savai’i has remained relatively untouched. Explore caves, waterfalls, lava fields and canopies in the rainforest preserves, enjoy colorful coral and hundreds of fish at one of the many dive sites, or take a ride on the waves of the spectacular coastline.