Great Oyster Bay, Tasmania
The east coast of Tasmania has been a well-kept Aussie secret for some time—and for good reason. Thanks to sheltering hills and warm offshore currents, it's the antipodean alternative to the Mediterranean, with one of the country's best year-round climates. The coast is grabbing attention at last, though, for the opening of a handful of stylish hotels, most notably the Avalon Coastal Retreat, which overlooks Great Oyster Bay, off the Tasman Highway. A onetime farmhouse, it has been transformed by local architect Craig Rosevear into a three-bedroom Modernist glass house with astonishing views across the Freycinet Peninsula and National Park. The B&B doesn't have a restaurant, but guests have access to a kitchen stocked with smoked eel and gamekeeper sausages from the Wursthaus Kitchen, Tassie's "it" purveyor.
THE FACTS Avalon Coastal Retreat 61-1/3003-61136; www.avaloncoastalretreat.com.au; from $375 a night; sleeps six.
Cabo San Lucas is favorite of L.A.'s party crowd. But beach lovers who want peace and quiet should head farther north on the Baja Peninsula's rugged Highway 19, where the only sound you'll hear is that of massive rollers pounding the deserted Pacific coastline. As the winter wind shifts the surf into high gear, California's top boarders begin their annual migration south to makeshift camps between Pescadero and Todos Santos. Sandy tracks in dry washes peeling off from the main road are often the only sign that the wave-riding tribe is in residence, so you'll need to navigate carefully between stands of prickly saguaro to find Los Cerritos (at kilometer marker 64) and San Pedrito beaches (at marker 56). At Playa Los Lobos, outside Todos Santos, you'll find miles of creamy sand interrupted only by battered driftwood. After a long day battling the waves, surfers head for the rooftop bar at Posada La Poza, a favored spot for potent sunset margaritas. If you're not the type to pitch a tent, this hacienda is the closest you'll come to sleeping beachside.
THE FACTS Posada La Poza 52-612/145-0400; www.lapoza.com; doubles from $165, including breakfast.
How do you know when a destination hasn't been trammeled by Americans?When it's a challenge to find locals who speak English. Such is the charm of the Dominican Republic, which has long been on the radar of A-listers (Oscar de la Renta, the Clintons); now, with low fares on JetBlue, it's even easier (and less expensive) to get to. The Sivory Punta Cana, a 55-suite property open since December and situated on a long expanse of untouched beach, offers visitors a low-key hideaway. In Playa Dorada, where the choppy surf and rugged landscape set a more adventurous tone, the 50-suite Casa Colonial reflects the area's European influence. On the horizon: Playa Grande, a 2,000-acre community of invitation-only residences (Moby and Alex von Furstenberg are early members), a recording studio, and several high-end hotels set to open in 2007.
THE FACTS Sivory Punta Cana 809/552-0500; www.sivorypuntacana.com; doubles from $517. Casa Colonial Beach Resort & Spa 809/320-3232; www.vhhr.com; doubles from $350. Playa Grande Resorts 809/582-0860; www.pgresorts.com.
For years, St. Lucia has been that charming out-of-the-way Caribbean island. It won't stay unspoiled for long: near-constant real estate development, the inauguration of daily nonstop flights (Delta from Atlanta, American from Miami), and Britain's World Travel Award for best honeymoon destination three years running have brought attention to the island, known for its rugged interior outlined by empty beaches. The rustic southern half of the island is full of fishing villages, waterfalls, and cottage-style plantation villas. There are more modern amenities available in the capital city of Castries (a one-hour drive north from the airport). The French Creoleinspired Coco Palm resort has Wi-Fi service, yoga cruises, and guides who'll take you through the 19,000-acre rain forest on the new zip line.
THE FACTS Coco Palm 758/456-2800; www.coco-resorts.com; doubles from $145.