1. St. John, US Virgin Islands
Run by the Danish for years, the US purchased the Virgin Islands back in 1917, and ever since they’ve remained pretty under-the-radar for how gorgeous they are. St. John, however, is perhaps the best one to visit—there’s not a single traffic light on the island, not to mention its secluded beaches, trails, fantastic dining, and plenty of beachfront properties available for lodging.
2. Saba, Netherlands Antilles
Saba is still relatively unknown, but increasingly popular, given its small size, low population, hotel options, varied terrain, and beautiful views. It’s very mountainous and looks like the island in Lost, offering plenty of great hikes; not to mention scuba diving and snorkeling.
3. Gustavia, St. Barts
Currently an overseas possession of France, Saint Barthélemy is the only Caribbean island that was ever controlled by Sweden for a significant amount of time. As a result, it offers not only the stunning natural splendor of the Caribbean, but with touches of colonial Swedish architecture and modern French influence. There days, it’s best known not just for its beauty, but its parties as well; celebrities frequent the island (especially because it is only accessible by small plane or ferry).
4. Big Sur, California
Big Sur is a loosely defined and sparsely populated region in the Central Coast of California, containing some of the most wonderful views in the entire state. Cone Peak is the highest coastal peak in the contiguous United States, permitting you to see the majority of the central coast—it’s located only three miles from the beach, and goes up almost a mile. Not only that, but the Los Padres National Forest is right off the coast as well.
5. Cape Coast, Ghana
Although the city Cape Coast has some awesome attractions (like the Cape Coast Castle) on its own, the literal coast is one of the most beautiful in Africa—particularly at the Green Turtle Lodge, which is a few hours outside of the city. The environment is relatively untouched, lodging is cheap, and you’ll try the best of all the local cuisine daily. Not bad.
6. Havasu Falls, Arizona
Off the famous Route 66 lies “Indian 18,” a 65-mile-long, completely undeveloped road that leads to Hualapai Hilltop in the Grand Canyon. Once there, it’s another ten miles hiking to reach the astounding Havasupai Village and Havasu Falls—the latter which possesses water so vibrantly turquoise that it seems unbelievable.
7. Binn, Switzerland
Located high up in a valley in the Swiss Alps, Binn is pretty difficult to access (train, and then a bus)—but well worth the travel. Binn is comprised of a tiny village, rolling green hills, and intimidating mountains. It’s known as a dream not just for hikers and adventurers, but photographers, anyone who enjoys an awesome bed and breakfast, and of course, skiers in the winter.
The Maldives are one of the craziest geographical formations in the world. Not only is it the lowest country (average ground level is less than five feet, and the highest point is less than eight), but it consists of 26 chains of islands, totaling 1192. Many of them are surrounded by water shallow enough that you can walk or swim to them, and the views are—obviously—accordingly stunning. However, due to rising water levels, it’s important to get out there and experience the Maldives as soon as possible.
9. Florida’s Forgotten Coast
Much like Big Sur, the Forgotten Coast is a relatively undeveloped portion of the Florida coastline, which offers some extensive access to wildlife, amazing rock formations, and quiet lodging. Unsurprisingly, this is why the stretch of land from Mexico Beach to Carrabelle, Florida was named thus—while North Florida was being developed, it was simply (and thankfully) forgotten.
10. Galapagos Islands
The Galapagos are certainly one of the most “must-see” places on the planet. Although you can’t easily stay there (no hotels or resorts, as 97.5% of the islands’ land mass is a nature reserve), the diversity of wildlife you can encounter in even a single day is mind-blowing. (Think about it. Darwin based The Origin of Species off the freaking place.)