Andalusia, Kalahari, Sicily: Sometimes, just hearing a name can inspire us to explore. Indeed, destinations like these loom so large in the canon of travel that their very mention stirs wanderlust in even the most experienced traveler.
It doesn’t have to be a destination, of course. "Private island" or "hidden beach" can bring about the same reaction. So can an activity like "African safari," or "desert hiking." But what all these things have in common is their ability to inspire and to motivate. They help us remember what the thrill of travel is all about—and that no matter how many globetrotting dreams we have already fulfilled, there will always be more.
Still, it’s one thing to throw out a name. It’s quite another to research the best ways to experience these dreamy locations. Not to worry—we did the work for you.
See our slideshow of 10 amazing dream trips.
So what’s your dream?Lounging on a hidden beach in Thailand?Yes, they do still exist, no matter how many movies Hollywood might make about this country’s fabled sands. Ditch crowded Phuket and head to a gorgeous, quiet stretch known as Rai Lay, which you can get to by boat from Krabi. Make the dream luxurious by staying in one of the two-level bungalows at Rayavadee, a resort surrounded by sand. Or, because this location is just as dreamy no matter where you stay, put up in one of the airy bungalows of the affordable Sand Sea Resort.
Is experiencing Italian cuisine more your dream?Then take yourself to Sicily, where you can steal away to the olive grove-filled farm of Mandranova. Stay in one of the 11 rooms here and dine with owners Silvia and Guiseppe di Vincenzo, or make your way to the charming nearby port town of Licata for a meal of pine-smoked cod.
And you don’t have to head overseas to make a dream come true. Head to one of our favorite private islands off the coast of Maine, Spectacle Island, close to Bar Harbor. Here you’ll find that traditional New England hasn’t disappeared: stay in a cottage with a wraparound porch and fireplace, dine on meals of fresh-caught lobster, and experience all the activity you can handle in Acadia National Park.
So close your eyes. Are you conjuring up beaches?Mountains?Forest?Does your dream play out in slow-motion?Fast-forward?Is it filled with Indian temples?White clapboard homes?Or maybe you’re searching for your next dream. Whatever the case, we have you covered. Come explore.
See our slideshow of 10 amazing dream trips.
Privacy is assured at these off-the-grid hotels.
Serra Cafema Camp Eight deluxe canvas-and-thatch chalets on the banks of the remote Kunene River. Doubles from $1,800, all-inclusive.
Hotel de Charme Les Airelles A hidden winter chalet with cavernous rooms, plus ski runs practically at your doorstep. Doubles from $1,380.
Spa Village Resort Tembok, Bali On a stretch of black-sand beach, Tembok has 31 rooms designed by spa expert Sylvia Sepielli. Doubles from $400, all-inclusive.
Boulders Inn Twenty rooms and suites overlooking Lake Waramaug in New Preston. Doubles from $350. —Bree Sposato
Have the place all to yourself at these one-room, totally private retreats. Be sure to book well in advance.
Hotel Everland This 355-square-foot cube is a temporary art installation by day and a one-room hotel after 6 p.m. Through November, the pint-size property sits atop Paris's Palais de Tokyo contemporary art center. Doubles from $492.
One Hotel Angkor Situated on a side street in Siem Reap, the bi-level suite has a 320-square-foot bedroom outfitted with a custom-designed teak bed. The rooftop terrace includes a private outdoor shower. Doubles from $250.—Suzanne Mozes
Consider these small ships to escape the crowds.
Music lovers can hop on the Corinthian II and sail from Athens to Venice with live performances by classical stars—soprano Martina Arroyo and violinist Timothy Fain. Backdrops for intimate concerts include the Dhrogarati Cave on Cephalonia. 800/257-5767; traveldynamicsinternational.com; 12-day itineraries from $8,995 per person.
Far above the Arctic Circle, catch the northern lights on a Hurtigruten cruise, which has departures throughout the winter, when aurora viewing is at its best. 866/257-6071; hurtigruten.us; seven-day itineraries from $1,599 per person, double.
In the 19th century, many explorers believed that the tropically lush Vallée de Mai, on the island of Praslin, was the original Garden of Eden. Silversea's Silver Cloud stops at Praslin, as well as at five other islands that belong to the Indian Ocean nation. 800/722-9955; silversea.com; seven-day itineraries from $4,100 per person.
Regent Seven Seas' Paul Gauguin stops at Tahiti, Bora-Bora, Moorea, and Raiatea—longtime favorites with romantics looking to live out Blue Lagoon fantasies. 877/505-5370; rssc.com; seven-day itineraries from $2,496. —John Newton