As the world reopens and travel restrictions ease, 2023 presents the perfect opportunity to explore some of the most exotic destinations on the planet. From tropical paradises to unique cultural landscapes, this year offers a plethora of options for the adventurous traveler. Whether you’re seeking relaxation on pristine beaches or an immersive experience in a far-off land, our list of the top 10 exotic travel destinations will inspire your next getaway.

Key Takeaways

  • Discover the serene beaches and lush landscapes of Maui, Hawaii, a perfect blend of adventure and relaxation.
  • Explore the vibrant culture and stunning natural beauty of French Polynesia, a top choice for a tropical escape.
  • Experience the unique charm and diverse attractions of Puerto Rico, from its historic sites to its beautiful beaches.

Maui, Hawaii

Maui, often referred to as “the Valley Isle,” is a Hawaiian paradise that offers a plethora of activities for every type of traveler. From snorkeling and surfing to hiking through lush rainforests, Maui is the ultimate destination for outdoor enthusiasts.

  • Explore the misty mountains and bamboo forests.
  • Relax on the unique red sands of Kaihalulu Beach.
  • Enjoy the scenic drives and breathtaking sunsets.

Snorkeling, volcano sunrises, and scenic drives await you on the Valley Isle! Plan your trip with the ultimate Maui travel guide!

French Polynesia

Emerald lagoons glisten in French Polynesia, making it one of the most exotic places to travel. Vanilla, coconut, and Tiare Tahiti flower aromas fill the air. The rumors are true; it is as stunning as everyone says and one of the best tropical vacation spots.

  • Tourist Attractions: Bora Bora beach, Matira Point, Tūpai
  • Things To Do: Relax at Maupiti Island, snorkel at ‘Ōpūnohu Bay
  • Nearest Places To Visit: Faaa, Punaauia
  • Places To Stay: Punatea Village, Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort & Spa
  • Places To Eat: Tahiti La Plage, Snack Mahana, L’O A La Bouche

The village of Teahupo’o, on the southwestern coast of Tahiti, will take center stage during the 2024 Paris Olympics, despite being 9,800 miles from the French capital. But unless you’re planning to compete, the year ahead is the ideal time for a closer look at this part of French Polynesia, before the world’s attention turns to the South Pacific.

How To Reach: The best way to reach French Polynesia is through flights. The capital Papeete has an international airport and regular flights ply although it’s not such a busy airport.

Language: French

Currency: CFP Franc

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is one of the most exotic destinations in the Caribbean, known for its tropical warmth and palm-fringed beaches. Just a couple of hours from the East Coast, it offers classic Caribbean charm with a big perk for Americans: no passport required.

  • Explore the El Yunque rainforest in search of tree frogs.
  • Swim in the bioluminescent Mosquito Bay at night.
  • Marvel at the stunning golden beaches.

Pro tip: Get out of town. Many travelers make San Juan their home base, but there are surf towns, museums, and natural wonders just a day trip away.

Don’t leave without sampling the island’s most iconic dish—tender but crispy-skinned lechón. Here are the best spots to find it across Puerto Rico.

Azores, Portugal

The Azores, a stunning archipelago about 900 miles off the coast of Lisbon, is a hidden gem that has recently gained popularity. This cluster of nine volcanic islands offers breathtaking landscapes, from verdant valleys and steep oceanside cliffs to a scattering of mesmerizing waterfalls.

  • Endemic Blue Hydrangeas: Visit São Miguel Island from July to August to witness these beautiful flowers in full bloom.
  • Ecotourism Hotspot: The Azores are renowned for their commitment to preserving their unique ecological environment.
  • Outdoor Activities: Enjoy bird watching, hiking, whale watching, surfing, and scuba diving.

The Azores have been dubbed the “Garden of Eden” for their picturesque vistas of volcanic craters, lush vegetation, and blooming flowers.

Getting there is easy with direct flights from mainland Portugal to João Paulo II Airport (PDL) on São Miguel Island. Don’t miss out on exploring this European paradise!

Cappadocia, Turkey

Cappadocia, in Turkey, is a breathtaking area where volcanic explosions eons ago shaped the landscape, resulting in otherworldly rock formations and tunnels. This geographical anomaly should be on your list of must-see, far-flung exotic places to travel. When you go to Turkey, you’ll be able to see these phenomena firsthand.

Famous for its hot air balloon strewn skies that dominate the landscapes of Cappadocia, Turkey is a treasure trove of rich Arabian experiences. From freshly brewed Turkish coffee, sweet and savory Turkish delight, Hammam baths, spice and gold souks, to charming attractions with brilliant architecture, there is a lot that Turkey offers to its travelers during this time in addition to

Istanbul and Bodrum are both rightly popular, but U.S. travelers will find much to love in other pockets of this diverse country — including this inland part of southwestern Anatolia, which travel advisor Engin Kadaster predicts “will be very popular in the years to come.” Kadaster has been including the Lakes Region on more and more itineraries for her clients, and helped coordinate a

Find the best deals for exotic vacations in Cappadocia, Turkey

  1. FUERTEVENTURA, CANARY ISLANDS: TOP EXOTIC PLACES TO TRAVEL

If you’re looking for exotic vacation spots without leaving the country, this is the one for you. Fuerteventura, with its empty beaches, beautiful ocean, and hippie atmosphere, is a strong contender for the title of the most intriguing island in the Canaries.

Colombia

Colombia is a treasure trove of exotic travel experiences. From the bustling streets of Bogotá to the serene beaches of San Andrés and Providencia, this country offers a diverse range of attractions. Explore the historic neighborhood of La Candelaria in Bogotá, or take a trip to the UNESCO heritage city of Cartagena.

  • Bogotá: A high-altitude city rich in culture and cuisine. Don’t miss the street art tours and the incredible local gastronomy.
  • San Andrés & Providencia: Located 500 miles northwest of the mainland, these islands offer unspoiled beaches and fresh seafood.
  • Cartagena: A UNESCO heritage city known for its stunning architecture and vibrant history.

Colombia, once off the tourist radar, is now a must-visit destination with its turquoise waters, swinging hammocks, and undiscovered beaches. Make sure to add it to your 2023 travel list!

Fiji

Fiji is a tropical paradise perfect for couples and adventure seekers alike. With its brilliant blue waters, expansive coral reefs, and hundreds of peaceful islands, it’s a dream destination for 2023. The country reopened post-Covid at the end of 2021, so visitor numbers have yet to fully rebound, making now an ideal time to explore this South Pacific gem.

  • Best time to visit: May through September, after cyclone season.
  • Getting there: Fly into Nadi International Airport on the main island of Viti Levu.
  • Budget tips: Skip the $1000-a-night resorts for dorm rooms, hostels, or all-inclusive guesthouses that go for $25 a night.
  • Must-see sites: Taveuni waterfalls, Nadi open-air souvenir market.

Plan your visit to Fiji: find out where to go and what to do in Fiji with rough guides. Check itineraries, activities, places to stay and more!

To immerse yourself in local culture, participate in a kava welcoming ceremony or enjoy a lovo, a meal cooked by hot coals in an underground pit covered with banana leaves. Direct flights from Los Angeles and San Francisco make it relatively easy to get to the islands. As the Fijians say, bula!

Forest of Knives, Madagascar

Discover the breathtaking beauty of the Forest of Knives, also known as Tsingy. These unique limestone formations have been sculpted by tropical rainstorm erosion over 200 million years. The name Tsingy translates to “the location where one cannot walk,” highlighting the steep, vertical cliffs that dominate the landscape.

  • Explore the magical landforms that predate humanity’s arrival on Earth.
  • Witness a thriving ecosystem that supports a variety of endemic plant and animal species.
  • Visit Masoala National Park, home to species you won’t find anywhere else.

A journey to the Forest of Knives is like stepping into another world, where nature’s artistry is on full display.

Trans-Bhutan Trail, Bhutan

man and woman walking on brown dirt road during daytime

Trans-Bhutan Trail is a must-see for hikers, bikers, and other outdoorsy types. This ancient pilgrimage route, stretching 250 miles, connects 400 historic sites, including museums, fortresses, and temples. The trail offers stunning natural scenery and seemingly endless views.

  • Reopened after 60 years
  • Connects 400 historic sites
  • No longer requires a guide 24/7
  • Increased tourism tax to fund social and cultural programs

Bhutan, the impossibly scenic country between India and China, reopened to tourists after 30 months. The Trans-Bhutan Trail hike is a unique way to explore this Himalayan kingdom.

Japan

Japan is a land where ancient traditions meet modern innovation. From the bustling streets of Tokyo to the serene temples of Kyoto, Japan offers a unique blend of experiences. Whether you’re exploring the neon-lit districts or the tranquil countryside, there’s something for everyone.

  • Tokyo: Dive into the vibrant city life with its skyscrapers, shopping districts, and world-class cuisine.
  • Kyoto: Step back in time with historic temples, traditional tea houses, and beautiful gardens.
  • Osaka: Known for its modern architecture, nightlife, and delicious street food.
  • Ishigaki: A lesser-known gem with stunning beaches and crystal-clear waters.
  • Miyako: Another hidden paradise, perfect for snorkeling and diving.

Discover the rich history and culture of Japan in 2023. From famed cities like Tokyo and Osaka to lesser-known gems like Ishigaki and Miyako, Japan is a destination that promises unforgettable memories.

Conclusion

In 2024, the world is brimming with exotic travel destinations that cater to every kind of traveler. Whether you’re seeking the serene beaches of French Polynesia, the vibrant culture of Colombia, or the unique landscapes of the Azores, there’s an adventure waiting for you. These top 10 destinations offer a perfect blend of natural beauty, cultural richness, and unforgettable experiences. So pack your bags, set your itinerary, and get ready to explore the wonders of our diverse planet. Your next exotic getaway is just around the corner, promising memories that will last a lifetime.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the best times to visit these exotic destinations?

The best times to visit these exotic destinations vary. Maui, Hawaii is ideal from April to November. French Polynesia is best between May and October. Puerto Rico is great year-round but avoid hurricane season from June to November. The Azores, Portugal is best from May to September. Cappadocia, Turkey is ideal in the spring and fall. Colombia is best from December to March. Fiji is perfect year-round but avoid the cyclone season from November to April. The Forest of Knives in Madagascar is best from May to October. The Trans-Bhutan Trail in Bhutan is ideal in spring and fall. Japan is great year-round but especially in spring for cherry blossoms and autumn for fall foliage.

Do I need a visa to visit these destinations?

Visa requirements vary by destination and your country of origin. For example, US citizens do not need a visa for short stays in Japan, Puerto Rico, and French Polynesia. However, a visa is required for Bhutan, Turkey, and Madagascar. It is always best to check the specific entry requirements for each destination before planning your trip.

What are some must-do activities in these exotic destinations?

In Maui, Hawaii, don’t miss the Road to Hana and snorkeling in Molokini Crater. In French Polynesia, explore Bora Bora’s coral reefs. In Puerto Rico, visit El Yunque National Forest. In the Azores, Portugal, whale watching is a must. In Cappadocia, Turkey, take a hot air balloon ride. In Colombia, explore the Coffee Triangle. In Fiji, dive in the Great Astrolabe Reef. In Madagascar, hike in the Forest of Knives. On the Trans-Bhutan Trail, enjoy trekking and cultural tours. In Japan, experience a traditional tea ceremony and visit historic temples.

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