Go Here, Not There: Undiscovered Places To Visit Now

Go Here, Not There: Undiscovered Places to Visit Now

The world is full of exotic destinations; people are constantly visiting many of the same cities where crowds can seem endless. Luckily for the audacious traveler, Earth still has many lesser-known and underexplored towns, villages, mountains, and parks that offer some of nature's finest. What hidden gems lack in crowds and size they make up for with stunning architecture, rich history, bustling local culture, lively and adventure opportunities. Visit spots you don't hear much about because they are home to some postcard-perfect and well-preserved natural wonders.

Greek Islands: Corfu and Crete, NOT Mykonos and Santorini

Mykonos and Santorini are stunning islands but they also attract lots of crowds. Corfu's rich multi-cultural heritage, historic monuments, stunning natural landscape, and crystal clear seas, make it one of the most cosmopolitan Mediterranean destinations luring more and more visitors, according to Visit Greece. Crete, the largest island in Greece, has similar attributes. Locations that are worth your time are Chania for its imposing White Mountains, Rethymno for spectacular beaches and Heraklion for its extraordinary archaeological treasures.

Cambodia: Koh Rong, NOT Angkor Thom

Koh Rong is the second largest island in Cambodia. Explore the four small villages on this little slice of heaven and interesting bungalows for a unique beach experience. The Survivor season 31 and 32 of the American reality game was filmed in Koh Rong as also years ago the French "Survivor" television program Koh Lanta. Some are beginning to call it "the new Thailand."

Australia: Margaret River and Mooloolaba, NOT Torquay or Byron Bay

Mooloolaba is a resort town that is commonly visited by tourists. It is home to Mooloolaba Beach, a clean beach with pure white sand. Swimmers, surfers, jet skiers, body boarders, and snorkelers flock to this beach for its beautiful waters. You must check out Lake Cave and Mammoth Cave in Margaret River. Relax on Gnarabup Beach, go on a nature and wildlife tour, go on a day hike, go surfing and even try horseback riding on the beach. For the ultimate adventure, take a ship to the Barren Island Volcano, which is currently active.

Africa: Namibia and Mnemba Island, Tanzania, NOT South Africa or Seychelles

Namibia is "perhaps the most beautiful country on the African continent," Lee Abbamonte, the youngest American to visit every country, says. "The desert scenery is unmatched by anything I've seen." It's primitive and overshadowed by neighboring South Africa but a great still-hidden gem. Mnemba, just of the north east coast of Zanzibar, is a destination for barefoot luxury – you can snorkel straight off the beach and onto pristine reef.

Europe: Finland and Norway, NOT France and Italy

Finland is you destination for mind-blowing colors and the most breathtaking sights of the magnificent Norther Lights. The country also has many very cool cabins – as locals focus a lot on spending time outdoors – where you can stay and reconnect with nature. Norway has all of that as well, plus a local currency that has lost 27.8 percent of its value against the U.S. dollar, making it a cheap destination for Americans. Explore the fjords. The rugged scenery and massive inlets are magnificent.

Morocco: Essaouira and Erg Chebbi, NOT Marrakech and Casablanca

Most people are interested in Marrakech as a destination that won't break the bank. For a more relaxed pace of life, untouched by tourism sands, consider going to the charming coastal town of Essaouria, which is often recommended for surfing in Morocco. Erg Chebbi, another off the gri destination, is stunning, especially at sunrise and sunset. You can ride camels, drive around in a jeep, build your own camp for the night and visit the deserted places.

Caribbean Islands: Barbuda and Canouan, NOT Saint Marten and Antigua

Canouan Island is where you'll find some of the most gorgeous beaches in the Caribbean. All shores on this island located in the heart of The Grenadines absolutely stunning even though they don't get as much attention as those in Saint Marteen. You feel like you are in a private world surrounded by the superb sea of the southern Antilles. Escape the crowded Antigua and come to its 62-square miles sister, Barbuda. Honeymooners like it because it's very secluded. The 17-Mile Beach will take your breath away. Visit the Frigate Bird Sanctuary and the Darby Cave, an incredible sinkhole with ancient cave drawings.

California: Santa Barbara, NOT Santa Monica

The seaside city claims the perfect mixture of festive and laid-back settings, a weather that is always just right, and educational cultural establishments. Nights are filled with partying and relaxation. You will find the crowds you're looking – from wild and rowdy to the more calm and sophisticated. Go to The Neighborhood for a typical Santa Barbara bar experience; visit The Velvet Jones or The James Joyce for some of the best live music and cocktails; and explore wine country with various tours.

Oregon: Bend, NOT Portland

Bend is among the most incredible mountain towns for summer. Hiking, biking, fishing, rafting, rock climbing—you name it, you'll likely find it there. Head up into the Cascades for some incredible mountain biking (almost 300 miles of singletrack) or dip your paddle into the Deschutes River for a wild and refreshing ride. After your adventures, check out one of the many summer events, concerts or festivals or enjoy the thriving food and drink scene.

Jiuzhaigou Valley, China, NOT Hong Kong

Skip the busy and chaotic Hong Kong and go on an adventurous escape to Jiuzhaigou Valley. The nature reserve and national park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site comprising a series of diverse forest ecosystems. Its outstanding landscapes are predominantly fascinating because of their series of narrow conic karst land forms and mighty waterfalls. About 140 bird species live in the valley, as well as a number of endangered plant and animal species.

New Zealand: Wanaka and Napier, NOT Queenstown

The coastal city of Napier is becoming known for its Art Deco 1930's architecture and local wines. IN Wanaka, enjoy cross-country skiing, snowboarding, sledding, snowshoeing and dog sled tours. After you explore the mountain, head to the Mt Aspiring National Park for spectacular views of waterfalls, rainforests and valleys. Towering peaks dip into lush valleys as alpine lakes, rivers and glaciers dot the landscape, Wanaka is awesome in the summer, too. Take in the views by sky diving or paragliding.

The Himalayas: Pangong Tso Lake, NOT Meru Peak

The lake is 83 miles long and extends from India to China. Pangong Tso is one of the largest brackish lakes in Asia, according to Ladakh Travel Guide. The azure blue waters and shaky lakeshore, surrounded by hills and snow peaks, are also known among locals as the Hollow Lake. There is a limited choice to stay around and near Pangong Tso. Nearby Lukung offers camping facilities in Eco huts. Basic accommodation is available in Spangmik, the only hotel offering luxury tents and rooms.

Rangiroa and Cook Islands, NOT Bora Bora

It looks like an infinite inlet. That's probably because it's the second largest in the world. Rangiroa is a string of coral encompassing a luminous turquoise and jade-green lagoon. It's also one of the world's best diving locations. You should go to Rangiroa if you are after great shark sightings. Cook Islands are often called the secret of the Pacific. Tourists go there for fresh pure air to wade into the cool, calm, blue lagoons, and to explore the untouched charm of the 15 stunning islands. Go on eco cycle tours or quad bike adventure tours, try mountain trekking, and party like a local on the Raro Pub Crawl Party Bus.

Peru: Rainbow Mountains and Colca Canyon, NOT Machu Picchu

Peru may be best known for the ruins of Machu Picchu but those seeking adventure should take a detour and head to Colca Canyon. The second deepest canyon in the world—almost twice as deep as the Grand Canyon—Colca boasts colorful views, a profound history and seemingly endless trails that allow you to take it all in. The Ausangate Mountain of the Peruvian Andes is one of the most superb geologic wonder in the world. Its colors range from turquoise to lavender to maroon and gold. It doesn't get as many visitors as it deserves because the hike there is very long and strenuous.

Washington: San Juan Islands, NOT Seattle

The archipelago is known for its rural Pacific Northwest landscapes and wildlife. The San Juan Islands are one of the world's best whale watching spots. The majestic killer whales live in there year round, which makes this the perfect vacation escape for both nature-lovers and adventure-seekers alike. The four main islands – San Juan Island, Orcas Island, Lopez Island and Shaw Island – are where you go in the state to feel a smooth islands vibe and to spend long hours of enjoying nature.

Norway: Svalbard, NOT Pulpit Rock

Svalbard is one of the most secluded adventure destinations in the world. The islands are called "the realm of the polar bear," according to Visit Norway. They are located in the Arctic Ocean, halfway between Norway and the North Pole. Adventurers will find unspoiled wilderness, unique wildlife, charming old mining towns, and thousands of polar bears. Just over 3,000 people live in Svalbard.

Turkey: Ölüdeniz, NOT Bodrum

The small resort village is by a lavish national park. The stunning beach destination is becoming known among international tourist so go soon before crowds becomes a problem and ruin its unspoiled charm. Paragliding is a very popular adventure there, so make sure you make time for it. Boat tours and day cruises around the village's bays and islands are also thrilling.

Comino, Malta, NOT Capri, Italy

This tiny and tranquil isle only has a handful of residents and is mostly visited by tourists going there on a day trip. Hiking across the island and camping under the stars are favorite more adventurous activities. Comino, which is just over 2 square miles big, is classified as a wildlife sanctuary, according to Malta Uncovered. It is like true heaven on Earth for snorkelers, divers, windsurfers and ramblers.

Palawan, NOT Palau

If you're looking for a mixture of adventure and tranquility you have found your destination. Palawan is full of amazing landscapes, gorgeous beaches, and a vast marine life. If you travel to the Philippines, you must go on a 5-day expedition to fully explore the amazing island, especially if you are with your significant other. Palawan is one of the last unsettled places in the South Pacific, which makes it all the more exotic.

Laguna Colorado, Bolivia, NOT Lake Titicaca

Laguna Colorada is often referred to as the Red Lagoon of Bolivia. The lake is a shallow salt lake at an altitude of 14,000 feet within Eduardo Avaroa Andean Fauna National Reserve. Dotted with white islands of massive borax deposits, the nearly 15,000-acre salt lake is less than 3 feet deep. The pink-reddish color is due to a variety of algae. Most of the surrounding landscape is desert rocks and salt deposits. The iconic salt flats of Salar De Uyuni are not far.

Mongolia, NOT Thailand

"A place still in its infancy with tourism but mature in scenery and natural beauty," Abbamonte says. "It's only a matter of time before the world catches on and they start building luxury resorts in the Gobi Desert!" How many people have you heard saying they want to live a Nomadic life in rural Mongolia for a week? You can also go on a cycling tour around the county that includes nine nights of wild camping. Bike across wide, open steppe, into expansive mountain scenery and through larch and pine forests.

Faroe Islands, NOT Iceland

The Faroe Islands are one of the coolest off the beaten path places you can visit. The charming village of Gasadalur Village is so remote that it is in danger of depopulation. A tunnel was built in 2004 through the mountains to connect it to the main road network. Until then the only two ways to get there were hiking over the mountain terrain that rises over 2,000 feet or climbing up the cliff face from a ship. Gasadalur is surrounded by lavish mountains. The nearby waterfall is the most photographed attraction.

Cuba: Baracoa, NOT Havana

Baracoa was Cuba's first settlement and capital. It is fairly undiscovered because of it remote location on the northeastern corner of the island. Avid travelers will appreciate the unspoiled colonial charm of the village, which is surrounded by secluded beaches and a rainforest. You'll see from there a famous local landmark – the table-topped hill called El Yunque.