HIDDEN GEMS: THE BEST OF ADVENTURE & ACTIVITIES TRAVEL
Do you have an urge for adventure and an aversity to tourist hotspots on your travels? For active travel inspiration look no further than this list of hidden gems, contributed by travel bloggers from across the UK, USA and Canada.
Vote for your favourite entry and you'll be in for the chance to win an Amazon voucher worth £100, courtesy of Teletext Holidays. But enough of the preamble… adventure awaits!
HIKING THE KUMANO KODO IN WAKAYAMA, JAPAN
I'm going to say this right away, the Kumano Kodo trek in Wakayama is one of the best I've ever done. Gorgeous rolling mountains, mist rising in the morning, tea houses along the route, traditional temples to visit – the Kumano Kodo trek has all of this and more. Also, where else can you walk in the footprints of Japanese emperors and samurai?
I'm always drawn to the mountains and there’s something so ethereally beautiful about hiking in this part of Japan. It gets to you, gets to your soul. After doing the Kumano Kodo myself, I can see why this is so high up on people's bucket list. I can’t recommend it enough!
ALPSTEIN MOUNTAINS WHISKY TREK, NEAR APPENZELL, SWITZERLAND
I first came across the whisky trek in an easyJet magazine and was immediately hooked by the image of the mountain inn that hugs the rock, with incredible alpine scenery all around. Fast forward two years, and I finally visited the area, and wow… the scenery is stunning and pictures really don’t do the area justice. Each mountain inn (there are 26 in the region) has its own version of Santis Malt whisky, and you can hike to each one, trying samples along the way. Our route culminated with a dip in the alpine lake, Seealpsee, where a local plays a mountain horn each morning.
THE BLUE LAGOON, CYPRUS
On a recent trip to Cyprus, I uncovered the beautiful crystal waters of the lagoon near the undiscovered Akamas Peninsula. We found this stunning location after a 30-minute boat ride from the town of Latchi, and set off early in the morning to catch the sunrise.
As we arrived at the lagoon I was in awe of its clear, turquoise waters and white sandy seabed. Due to its sheltered bay, the water tends to be warmer. It's a magical place to go snorkelling and you can find a variety of fish and aquatic life here. Discovering this lagoon was a real gem during our visit to Cyprus and I am so glad we decided to go off the beaten track to find this magical place.
SCUBA DIVING WITH NURSE SHARKS, THE CORN ISLANDS, NICARAGUA
The Corn Islands are Nicaragua’s best kept secret. We overheard locals talking about this paradise, and it wasn’t until we Googled it that we believed somewhere so untouched still existed in 2019! Think picture perfect white sand beaches, crystal clear water, coconut palms, and nobody else around.
If lazy beach days aren’t for you, take a pick from the many activities. Whether you snorkel or scuba-dive, take a dip in the Caribbean and come face to face with the local (harmless!) nurse-sharks. Hike up to the highest point of Big Corn for an incredible view – early in the morning before it gets too hot! If hiking isn’t for you, hire a bicycle and do a ‘beach-hopping’ day around the island. Or if you simply want to relax in your surroundings, from Little Corn take a sunset sailing cruise onboard a traditional Mesquito Sailing Boat, with local crew, complete with bubbles in hand!
BOAT TRIP TO THE BAY OF NEEDLES, ISLAND OF PRINCIPE, SAO TOME AND PRINCIPE, GULF OF GUINEA
Our boat sped through the turquoise sea towards towering stone columns that were piercing the swirling mists. We were staying at Sundy Praia on the remote tropical island of Príncipe, and the staff suggested a boat trip was a great way to explore. The landscape here is raw, untamed, and rather Jurassic. Indeed, we half expected a dinosaur to come trundling by. Waves washed against jet-black volcanic rocks whilst palm trees lined the deserted beaches where we stopped to snorkel. A lone fisherman stood on the rocks hoping to catch his lunch - maybe one of the flying fish we'd seen earlier - but otherwise we were the only people for miles. Paradise does exist.
ILE TINTAMARRE OFF THE COAST OF ST. MARTIN
Hiding in plain sight just off the northeast coast of St. Martin, we discovered the uninhabited yet indubitably captivating Île Tintamarre while cruising the Caribbean aboard the catamaran Dream Canouan. The island’s history could best be described as quirky: it features a self-appointed monarch who established his own currency, a secret Nazi submarine base from World War II, and the home of one of the Caribbean's first private airlines. This makes Tintamarre a nearly perfect day trip for rambling through ruins or just basking on the secluded beach. Oh, and we almost forgot: there are also forbidden mud baths for those adventurous enough to hike to them.