8 Beautiful Travel DestinationsExplore Some of the Most Amazing Places on Earth!
If you have yet to get the chance to read my About Me Page, I’ll give you a brief run down so you can feel comfortable knowing that I have indeed been to all 8 of these beautiful travel destinations! I began traveling in 2011 taking a three-week adventure to Europe with my daughter. That was it. I was hooked on travel and adventure! In 2012, I hiked 100 miles across Ireland, and in 2014, I hiked 100 miles across Scotland. In 2016, I spent 3 months exploring the USA and in 2018, I traveled all the way around the world. It took me about eight months and spanned 4 continents. It was 2020 and the pandemic which forced me to explore the United States once again. I spent almost two years out on the road in my van. And today I am back on the road exploring the vastness of the US and Canada.
8 Beautiful Travel Destinations That Anyone Can Visit
Included in this blog are 8 beautiful travel destinations which are some of my favorite places on Earth! And I just want to point out I am by no means rich. To accomplish my travel dreams it took sacrificing some day-to-day things. A good example: to save money to travel the world I lived out of the back of my pickup truck for almost two years while working a full-time job. Sometimes you have to give a little to get a little. No matter your budget if you put your mind to it, you can do anything you want! I encourage you to start saving, start planning, and then put your dreams into motion by setting your travel adventure sights on some of these awesome destinations! Let’s go explore! And hey, at any time you want you can go check out what other folks are saying by visiting TripAdvisor.com! It’s super easy to jump right to their site and then click out from their landing page to explore all the accommodations they have to offer! Once you look around and you close that tab you’ll be right back here with me!
Where the water, weather, and people are warm, and the drinks and vibe are chill! Fiji is one of those places where one goes to stick their toes in the sand, put a cold drink in their hand, and sit under the shade of a palm tree and just breathe deeply. I spent a week island hopping there in 2018. Originally, I was only going to go to the Main Island and then take a day trip out to a barrier island, but someone asked me, “Are you nuts? You are going to go all the way around the world and NOT go island hopping?” Well, that was enough to convince me I might never have that chance again. So, at the expense of cutting my trip around the world short by a week, I spent the extra cash and I booked a 6-day 5-night all-inclusive (not drinks) trip island hopping.
The journey took me into the middle of the Pacific Ocean on a giant catamaran which took us to three different islands over 6 days. It was incredible. The Fijians were the nicest, warmest, most welcoming folks I have ever met. My favorite part was when we would pull up to an Island all these little wooden boats would just appear out of nowhere and surround the catamaran as it pulled to a halt on the coastline of the Island. Then they would ease up to our boat and they would offload our bags and us and haul the entire lot to the shore where you would wade onto the beach and the Fijians would greet you with a lei, give you a cold beverage, and sing a welcome song to you.
The food was awesome, the beaches perfection, the weather was warm, and the relaxation you felt was always at maximum capacity. My favorite retreat was the Blue Lagoon. The Hostel was air-conditioned, they also had cabins right on the water and the ‘I’m on vacation’ atmosphere was incredible. If you are already in that part of the world, as I was when I flew from New Zealand to Australia, take the time, spend the extra money, and take an awesome adventure to Fiji! You’ll be nothing but glad that you did!
Like what you see? You can book straight from Viator.com
The Land Down Under is a vast yet diverse continent! It could take years to see it all and even then, you wouldn’t be able to. My plan to see all that Australia had to offer was complex and a major undertaking. I certainly had illusions of grandeur. I thought I could head out into the western part, out into the outback in a rented vehicle outfitted for camping and exploring. That turns out not to be a feasible idea, especially traveling solo. And with the price of petrol and the logistics involved, I eventually opted for the next best thing, the east coast. With a visit to the bustling, lively city of Sydney with its amazing parks, museums, and access to Bondi Beach the most famous beach in all of Australia, Sydney was the best of the best for getting a taste of life in an Australian city.
Next, I was off to cover part of the interior with a week of hiking and exploring the Blue Mountains. Unknown to most, this is where the largest most diverse eucalyptus forest exists on the planet. Then it was off for an amazing trip up to Cairns. And you can bet I booked my accommodations through my favorite travel website TripAdvisor.com too! You know I experienced the ultimate adventure of my time in Australia right there in Cairns! As with my time in Fiji, I decided to spare no expense and do the things I wouldn’t normally be able to afford to do on my meager budget. Again, deciding to clip my time abroad to experience things I might not be able to do ever again. Top of my list, if you could only go to one location in Australia, I would recommend Cairns. It’s got a great promenade and downtown.
Cairns is also a stellar jumping-off place to visit world UNESCO heritage sites like the Great barrier Reef and the Daintree, which is the oldest rain forest in the world. Yes, even older than the Amazon! Now I’m not one for doing touristy tour group stuff, but I did two out of Cairn and I had a blast. One took us on a waterfall and river tour where you could swim without the fear of being eaten by a crocodile. The other took us on a drive through the Daintree stopping at a beach where two UNESCO world heritage site meets the Daintree and the Great Barrier Reef. At that point, I decided to take a boat ride out to the Great Barrier Reef and go snorkeling! Man, what a blast. I highly recommend that you take advantage of all that Australia has to offer! Don’t miss out on the adventure you can have in the Land Down Under!
I’m just going to start off with one of my all-time favorite places to recommend if you like to hike, especially if you are into long-distance hiking. Not the kind where you walk from Mexico to Canada, but more along the lines of a 7-10 day thru-hike. Or, if some extraordinary day hiking is your thing NZ is top of the food chain. New Zealand has so much to offer it won’t be possible to cover it all in a top 8. But stay tuned as I’ll be doing a blog just about New Zealand.
So, let’s talk hiking. If you plan and book ahead (as doing any of the Nine Great Walks of New Zealand you’ll have to have a reservation), you can get out and really experience NZ for the extraordinary place that it is. I decide to pick The Able Tasman as my thru-hike. An easy tramp comparatively, which traverses part of the coast and weaves through the interior of the northeast corner of the South Island. One of the best times of my life. You can check out all the Nine Great Walks, pick your favorite, and get your adventure planning started. Now let’s talk about day hikes. My favorite was a hike to the top of Key Summit. You can grab a bus out from Te Anau, hike up and back and take the bus back to town. The views were jaw-dropping! I also highly recommend going out on a cruise on Milford Sound. And speaking of town my favorite town was Te Anu, not for the town itself but for all the things you could do from there, my second favorite was Nelson. Nelson is where I stayed to begin my 10-day tramp on the Able Tasman. It was my first experience in New Zealand and I really fell in love with its quiet streets and cool downtown. It is also a great jumping-off place for adventure! You can check all of this out by visiting Viator.com! It’s my go-to for research for sure!
Also don’t miss the chance to hike out to the Franz Josef Glacier. The river runs slate grey on the approach to the Glacier. I’d never seen anything like it! And finally, Queenstown. Man, what a place! It reminded me of being in Ireland! Pubs and music and awesome stuff to do! I was there on St. Patrick’s Day and boy was I hung over the next day! I’ll finish by saying I never did go to the North Island as three weeks was not nearly enough to cover just the South Island and as the South Island is the less traveled, I decided to stay and explore it as much as possible. However, you can bet on my return I’ll be exploring The North Island for sure. So, get to doin’ some research, get your adventure planning on track, and get started on that grand adventure you’ve been dreaming about!
Check out Viator.com to help book all your dream travel adventures!
Now, let’s move over to Europe!
I’ll be perfectly honest with you; Switzerland will have you walking around with your mouth hanging open like a country bumpkin. It is one of the most stunning places that I have ever had the pleasure to visit. The Swiss Alps are just so incredible. To gaze upon them is to see one of the most beautiful places on earth. I camped up on a hill overlooking the town of Grindelwald for three days. I wrote once that I never felt the need to move from that spot because watching the clouds race across the towering granite peaks of Jungfrau and Eiger was enough beauty to last me a lifetime. Although I did in fact move. I took a boat ride out across Lake Thun where the water was a color of green, which I had never seen before.
I also took the Jungfraubahn, one of the most famous and awe-inspiring train rides on Earth which hauled you up to the ice caves that are carved into the 12,000-foot alpine peaks. And of course, I sat on my camp stool, drank beer for hours on end, and watched the never-ending show that mother nature provided. I also rode the slowest express train in the world, The Glacier Express. This train ride traverses the Swiss Alps from Zermatt to Moritz. It crosses almost 300 bridges and goes through almost 100 tunnels on the 8-hour panoramic ride through the incredible alpine mountains. I was…enchanted. I spent almost all my time in Switzerland in Grindelwald and the neighboring town of Interlaken. Both towns offer a wonderful experience for anyone wanting to explore the surrounding area and enjoy the true beauty of the Swiss Alps.
To me, Greece (or more specifically the Greek Isle) is the European version of Fiji. Although it does not have that tropical feel, it definitely takes first place for the ‘I’m on vacation’ vibe. Visiting Greece is not complete without sailing out to the Greek Isle. There is no way for me to choose a favorite between Mykonos or Santorini. They both were awesome, had incredible accommodations, amazing food, and the white buildings which stand stark against the green, blue sea were like something out of a magazine. On this leg of my journey around the world I met up with some friends who had way more money than me, so I was able to stay in accommodations that I normally would not have been able to afford. One of the rooms we stayed in even had a hot tub on the roof where we could look out over the Aegean Sea.
Sailing the Greek Isles was a definite highlight of my journey and if you can manage it on your budget go for it. My friends and I also spent some time in Athens. Now, I’m not into big cities but one must admit, the history of Athens is worth putting up with city life for a few days. It didn’t hurt that we stayed in a hotel where we could swim in the pool or hang out at the outdoor bar and drink as the Parthenon sat ever present looking down over us from its perch atop the Acropolis. Pretty cool! So, if you happen to find yourself in Greece soak up some history but don’t forget to get out there and enjoy the Greek Isles, you’ll be glad you did!
Let me just say if New Zealand and Switzerland had a baby (and that baby lived in the colder part of the world) it would be Norway. Known for its soaring cliffs along the banks of the most amazing Fjords in the world, Norway is a place that is…magical. From the bustling capital of Oslo to the tiny town of Flam, and all points in between, the country of Norway is second to none. Some friends I had met back in the states live in Oslo and suggested that I come to visit during Norway’s Independence Day celebration. The festive, traditional dress worn by the locals, the fact that I got to wave at the King and Queen of Norway during the parade, and the great pubs with cold beers created a phenomenal experience. Upon my arrival from Amsterdam, I headed out on the train to catch the Flambana Express.
Now, by this time I had seen a lot of the beauty of the world on this sojourn but, the sight I saw as the train came around the bend and I gazed upon the Flamsdalen Valley for the very first time, made my heart skip a beat. I camped for about three days there in that little valley. I took a ride out into the Fjords on the first ever all-electric cruise ship, I hiked up to waterfalls and out to old villages. The best thing I did there was to take the train back to the top of the valley, back to the main train station at Myrdal, where I rented a bike and rode back down along the River Flamselvi all the way to the Aurlandsfjorden, which is the part of the Fjord where the town of Flam sits.
I loved that little town so much that after I left to spend time in Oslo with my friends, I returned and spent three more nights camping there. The tourist part of town is basically just a giant parking lot which is great for using as an exploration starting point but, once you leave that area, you can go and explore the original town where the people who live in Flam still reside and have their small farms, churches, and schools. You can immerse in the surrounding countryside and soak up all the flavor this small town has to offer. Flam is as quaint a place as you’ll find in the world and I have plans to return again and again.
It is almost too difficult for me to answer why I fell in love with Ireland on my first journey there over ten years ago. Maybe it was because my daughter was on that very first adventure with me. The adventure that would change the trajectory of my life forever. Maybe it was because the people of Ireland are some of the warmest, most amazing people I have ever met, and maybe it was the beers in pubs, the raw traditional music that reverberated through my body in those pubs, and the friends I made in those early days of discovery, in the days of the infancy of my evolving love of travel and adventure.
Or, maybe, just maybe it was the way I felt as I traversed the lush green landscape that pealed in every direction as far as the eye could see on the hikes I took through the rugged hills and along the Irish Sea. I must ultimately assume it was the combination of all the above that caused me to fall in love with and then, for the subsequent years since my feet first touched the shores of Ireland, continue my deep-seated admiration for the Emerald Isle. Since that initial journey, I have returned to Ireland again and again over the years; staying weeks on end until the money runs out and I must return home; only to begin planning my return before my feet even hit the shores of the USA. And as such, let me share with you the places that have me returning to Ireland repeatedly so that you too can fall instantaneously in love with the country that has given me some of the best times and fondest memories of my life.
Dingle and the Dingle Peninsula
If you only have time to visit one place in all of Ireland, make it Dingle. It has everything anyone could ever ask for in one’s first experience in Ireland. Want to hike along the coast or up in the hills? Done. Want to experience some of the best beer, music, and pubs in ALL of Ireland? Done. Want to visit a town that has a quaint harbor, amazing food, and access to the famous Ring of Kerry (a driving excursion) and Kerry Way (which is a long-distance hike around the Dingle Peninsula)? Done.
I highly recommend a hike up to the Esk Towers as those are the best views in Dingle. Be sure to take a walk along the harbor out to the Dingle Lighthouse and beyond as the walk is right along the cliffs and will take you past Hussey’s Folly, past the lighthouse, and down to a beach where you can take a swim if you want to brave the cold water. You can then head up out of the beach area to the cliffs far and away from town which has one of the least visited cliffs in the area.
Now the pubs in Dingle are some of the best in all of Ireland. My favorite is O’Sullivan’s or known by pretty much everyone as The Courthouse. Even me at 5-foot nothing must duck to get into the place. Once there you will find the place warm and cozy and filled with traditional music and the best Guinness pour in town, much disputed by other pubs of course. I highly recommend a drive around Slea Head, visiting the Beehives, and driving up the Conners Pass the highest pass in all of Ireland. You can take the bus out and enjoy Inch Beach or take a boat out to the Blask Islands. And that is just to name a few of the things you can see and do from Dingle.
If you are looking for accommodations my top must stay at is The Hide Out Hostel. Don’t let the term hostile make you shy away. I have stayed here on all my visits save the first one. This place is like a second home to me. The staff is amazing, you can get a private room if you so choose, it is smack dab in town and a short walk from everything. Dingle is a special, bordering on magical, place. Be sure to put it on your itinerary along with the following towns.
Galway. Take everything I just said and replace KNP with the Cliffs of Moher, a boat to the Aran Isles, a walk out on the Burren, or a day trip out to Connemara to hike up Diamond Hill, and you have another Irish town that will give you all you could ask for.
Now, having said that I prefer the smaller town of Doolin to use as my jumping-off place for all the above adventures. It was one of the first towns I ever visited long ago and it has a special place in my heart alongside Dingle. Again, lots of pubs, music, and accommodations. I’ve stayed at the Doolin Hostel however my favorite place to stay is the Aille River Hostel. This place is a real gem made of roughhewn stone it sits ever so quaintly along the Allie River which drifts lazily by the hostel’s front door. Inside it is cozy with a fireplace and a chill relaxed vibe. It doesn’t hurt that just up the hill a short walk is Fitz’s Pub a local favorite that boasts as fine a Guinness pour as you’ll find anywhere in Ireland and of course some great music as well.
For city life obviously, go to Dublin or to get far and away feel head northwest all the way to County Donegal. It’s a ride but so worth it as there are way fewer tourists and just as good a pubs, hikes, and hostels as any in Ireland.
This is just the short version of my opinions and advice about Ireland keep you eyes out for my full in-depth blog that will really dig deep about all things Ireland.
The Pacific Northwest and The Olympic National Park
In all of the United States and of all its diverse terrain, from the East Coast and my home state of Florida to the Pacific Ocean, the Olympic National Park is my all-time favorite National Park. And, although I’ve only been there once, I am currently planning my return this summer, this time with my daughter in tow. So here are my take and top places to see on your amazing adventure in the park.
Quinault Rain Forest
I started in the south part of the park and drove clockwise in my van Taj and headed straight to Quinault Rain Forest. Yes! There is a rainforest in the USA! More than one! Quinault was probably my favorite place in Olympic. There is a hike there that starts down at Quinault Lake and takes you through a variety of habitats that include a river, some waterfalls, a bog, and of course along the lake itself. Terrific! Don’t miss this area just because you may be stopping at the more popular Hoh Rain Forest. It is worth the visit.
The Hoh Rainforest
Next stop, well, the aforementioned Hoh. The camping is right along the river and the hiking is really good here. On one particular day, I spent my time just sitting along the banks of the river and enjoyed people watching. Next up is Kalaloch Beaches. There are four to see and they are literally named Beach 1, Beach 2, Beach 3, and Beach 4. All are beautiful in their own right. The camping at Kalaloch Campground is spectacular as well. Be sure to book 6 months in advance if you are camping in the high season as this campground is full all of the time.
Hiking Hurricane ridge was simply awesome. Some of the best views in the park are found from your perch atop Hurricane Ridge! And you can see Canada from there as well. This area boasts some of the best hiking in the park as well so again the hiking is second to none. I prefer not to speak of places I have not been but, I can say that the Sol Duc Valley is very popular and boast waterfalls and hot springs and might be worth a peek. I also plan on biking the Olympic Discovery Trail which is for non-motorized vehicles so biking and hiking are the names of the game. It is 135 miles long, so I’ll be choosing a section that meets my needs and hitting the trail. And I suggest if that is your thing you do the same. Be sure to put this amazing place on your travel and adventure list!
Be sure to go check out my other travel blogs too!