Destinations Off The Beaten Path

Traveling off the beaten path is for those who want to go beyond the touristy areas. They want to have an authentic experience of the country or city while being surrounded by culture and locals that are unspoiled by tourism.  Here are a few of hidden gems you should check out.

Asilah, Morocco

Asilah is a small town on Morocco’s Atlantic coast, south of the city of Tangier. Its old town is enclosed by well-preserved 15th-century walls and gates, built by colonial Portuguese.   The medina is an art hub, known for its murals and Moussem Culturel International d’Asilah, an annual festival. Venues include the exhibition space Centre de Hassan II Rencontres Internationales and early-20th-century Palais Raissouni.

 The experience of Asilah is best described as ‘pure tranquility’. Away from the noise of Tangier but still only a few hours away on a train, Asilah is such a hidden gem on the coast of Morocco and a great place to visit. It’s a small town, with only a handful of restaurants and hotels, and the noise of the sea gently lapping against the walls of the surrounding buildings.

Apulia, Italy

The “heel of Italy’s boot,” Apulia is a charming region that can be visited all year round and is suspended among nature, history, tradition, tastes and spirituality.  Its known for its whitewashed hill towns, centuries-old farmland and hundreds of kilometers of Mediterranean coastline. 

 An enchanting region that spreads lengthwise along the sea – marvelous beaches that will delight every traveler, from the sandy Torre dell’Orso and Porto Cesario, to the rocky, boulder-encrusted Riviera of Otranto and Santa Maria di Leuca. 

Travel through history, Apulia offers a wide range of places that testify to the ancient origins of this land: from prehistory to Magna Graecia, from the Imperial Age to the Renaissance and the Baroque splendor of Lecce and of  Salento. The trulli (dry stone hut with a conical roof) for example those of Valle d’Itria, offer an evocative testimony to the rural past of the region. There are numerous castles dot the coasts of the southern coast, hinting at an era when both perils and commerce landed on these shores. Such a magical place to visit. Enjoy the simple life and gorgeous scenery.

Lake Kitch Iti Kipi, Michigan

Lake Kitch Iti Kipi, which means “big cold water” is a hidden gem in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Not only is the emerald water a beauty to behold, you can get across the lake via a raft pulled by a cord, and enjoy the stunning tree reflections from different perspectives, as well as the underwater world: fish, rocks, branches, and ancient tree trunks.

The magical water of Kitch Iti Kipi is any photographer’s dream. It’s best to visit Kitch-iti-kipi during a warmer time of the year. The season runs spring through autumn. Have a picnic by the lake or take a boat out enjoy the fresh air. Whatever you do you will enjoy your time at this beautiful lake.

Kelowna, Canada

Kelowna is a city in the south of Canada’s British Columbia province. It’s in the Okanagan Valley, on the eastern shore of Okanagan Lake, surrounded by provincial parks, pine forest, vineyards, orchards and mountains. 

While Kelowna is home to all four seasons, they all offer beautiful weather residents can’t complain about. The autumns are crisp and colorful, the winters are incredibly mild, and the spring and summer months are warm and welcoming. The warmer months is the time of the year when tourists love visiting the area to enjoy everything Okanagan Lake has to offer.

There are year-round activities for the whole family to enjoy. Sporting opportunities are countless, including skiing and snowboarding at the Big White Ski Resort, hiking and mountain biking at the Myra Canyon Trestles, or playing golf at one of the world-class championship courses such as Gallagher’s Canyon, The Kelowna Golf and Country Club or The Harvest Golf Club. An area rich in arts and culture, Kelowna is home to art galleries like the Hambleton Galleries and the Tutt Art Galleries. Also about 20 wine vineyards and plenty of great restaurants to check out.

Ulcinj, Montenegro

Ulcinj is a town on the southern coast of Montenegro. As one of the oldest settlements in the Adriatic coast, it was founded in 5th century BC. Ulcinj’s ramshackle Old Town looms above the heaving beach and is a fantastic spot for people-watching without being surrounded by people.

How do you take your beaches?  Rocky?  Sandy?  Nude?  Well, you’re in luck, because Ulcinj has them all.  Most beaches are accessible by foot.  The main beach in town, known as Little Beach typically where most of the action happens.  It’s also quite small, as the name suggests, so during the heat of the day. At the very end of Long Beach, if you’re REALLY REALLY ambitious, you’ll find the mixed nude beach on Bojana Island (Ada Bojana). You can find Valdanos Beach, a rather Greek looking rocky beach surrounded by 800-year-old olive trees.  The drive to get there is quite picturesque, but unlike the other beaches, activities are limited to swimming and drinking beer.

Ulcinj has a Stari Grad (old town) that may not be as well-preserved as others around the Balkans, but it leaves nothing to be desired in the way of incredible views. There are a handful of restaurants within the old city walls, and a meal or a glass of wine while looking down over Little Beach would be a lovely way to spend an evening.  

Plovdiv, Bulgaria

Plovdiv is overlooked, but a gem of a city in central Bulgaria. It’s one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in Europe, the rich history is evident everywhere you look.

There are many easy day trips from the city that take you to wineries, centuries old monasteries and fortifications carved into cliffs. Days in the city can be spent with epic 360 views from the Thracian ruins on Nebet Tepe overlooking the city, exploring the infinite cafes and local art shops packed into the crooked streets of The Trap. A must before you leave is to attend a show at the Ancient Theater, just as the residents of Plovdiv did 2,000 years ago.

Holbox Island, Mexico

Located to the north of Cancun, Mexico – Holbox Island is just 42 km long. Holbox is separated from the mainland coast of Mexico by a shallow turquoise lagoon which is home to thousands of flamingos, exotic birds and creatures. Pristine white sand beaches line the island that is completely unspoiled by mass tourism. Holbox is considered a virgin tourist destination.

It’s part of the Yum Balam Nature Reserve and separated from the mainland by the Yalahau Lagoon. The car-free island, between the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico, is rich in marine life such as sea turtles and whale sharks.  Affordable to travel there and still not ruined by the Cancun tourists.

Block Island, Rhode Island

If busy beach destinations aren’t your thing, consider Block Island, 19 kilometers off the coast of Rhode Island. The nature lover’s sanctuary is crisscrossed with hiking paths and circled by more than 27 kilometers of pristine, relaxing beaches. 

You’ll be instantly attracted to the beautiful, crisp waters lapping at the island’s shore. Explore one-of-a-kind shops, stop for a relaxing meal and book a room at one of the cozy inns at the Old Harbor area fronting the Atlantic Ocean. The island wasn’t officially settled until 1661, but Adrian Block, the island’s namesake, landed here in 1614.