The 12 Best Tropical Destinations for Solo Travelers

Angkor Wat, Cambodia
Photo: Theerawat Payakyut/Getty Images

For solo travel, I tend to gravitate toward structured trips, like exploring a few cities in Scandinavia, road tripping through Northern California, or seeing the Taj Mahal. It might be my Type A tendencies, but my solo travel usually includes a packed itinerary with goals like fitting in bucket list attractions or making it to a new continent. What I don't associate with solo travel is a tropical vacation. Palm-lined beach towns and scuba dive lessons aren't necessarily top of mind for the traveler going it alone. Driving the coast of Maui, sailing in French Polynesia, or bronzing on the Riviera Maya are activities usually tailored to couples and families.

After talking to 12 solo travelers who specifically sought out tropical destinations, one thing is apparent to me: The island life is definitely not reserved for bachelorette parties, couples, college groups, and families anymore. Tropical destinations offer perfect itineraries (and prices) for when you need to escape from the hustle of real life—you just have to know where to go. And choosing a tropical destination doesn't mean you won't find must-see landmarks; get you a destination that can do both.

As with all solo travel, you might need to give yourself a push to actually make your trip happen. Whether you're going through a big life change and need time to process, you're traveling for work and looking to extend your trip, or you're just in desperate need of a change of pace, sometimes lounging on a beach by yourself is exactly what the doctor ordered. Here are 12 of the best tropical destinations to explore on your own:

01 of 12


Great Barrier Reef, Australia
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"Australia, specifically the Great Barrier Reef, was a bucket list destination for me. I spent a week exploring the reef and it was mind boggling. You could definitely see the damage the reef has suffered, but the wildlife was indescribably beautiful. I also spent time in Cairns, an area that's perfect for a solo traveler. You have easy access to the Great Barrier Reef, Daintree Rainforest, and the Tablelands. I felt safe throughout my travels in Australia. The people were simply amazing—I even lost my cell phone in a cab and was able to get it back, thanks to the cabbie. I would recommend Australia for any traveler, but especially solos." Charmayne Evans

02 of 12


Ocean View, Bermuda
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"I went to Bermuda last September for my first solo vacay. I really enjoyed it because it's super close to the east coast, they speak English and take American currency, and the island is so small, it's super easy to navigate on your own via motorbike or public transit. I mostly took the bus everywhere. I ended up Airbnb-ing it and rented a room in a woman's home. The island is totally manageable on your own. I found all the locals to be super helpful with directions and recommendations. I also loved Bermuda because if you wanted, you could do all the action packed stuff (swim with dolphins, etc.) or just sit on the beach all day, which was more my speed. Also, if you're willing to venture around the island a bit, and you take the time to learn from the locals, there's a ton of more secluded and quiet beaches that are not mobbed with tourists." Colleen Hughes

03 of 12

The Galapagos, Ecuador

Sea Lions, The Galapagos, Ecuador
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"The Galapagos are ideal for solo travelers, whether you crave isolation or company. A cruise is the best way to see the islands, and smaller ships, like Haugan Cruises, have communal dining so you'll always have someone to chat with at dinner. With a land-based stay on Isabela or Santa Cruz, you can book a day cruise or walk to see flamingos, giant tortoises, and sea lions. If you want a swimming partner, sea lions and penguins are happy to oblige." Johanna Reed

04 of 12


Ko Samui, Thailand
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"In February I went to the southern islands of Ko Tao, Ko Phangan, and Ko Samui before starting a new job. The weather was absolutely perfect, and if you're looking to learn to scuba, this is the place to do it. As a solo traveler, it's so easy to meet people on snorkeling day trips or while island hopping or hiking the waterfalls. Nightlife on the Thai islands is also easy to find and a good place to meet people. If you're in the area for a half moon or full moon party in Ko Phangan, definitely check it out!"Maxine Renn

05 of 12


Night Market in Luang Prang, Laos
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"Living in Asia provides me with some great solo-travel destinations—one of my favorites being Laos. The backpacker culture makes it easy to keep to your own itinerary and still meet others to visit attractions or split a tuk-tuk with. Laos had everything you could want from a visit to SE Asia: jungle treks, swimming in blue lagoons, and endless natural beauty. It doesn't have the same manufactured tourism feel as some other countries nearby, but still offers structure and support, which can be nice when you are going it on your own. The best part is the street food—don't miss the markets and fresh sausage in Luang Prabang." Rita Callahan

06 of 12

Turks and Caicos

Turks and Caicos, Waterfront
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"It was my first international solo trip ever, and it was amazing. I was going through a breakup and wanted to get my confidence back. I had never traveled internationally by myself before and thought if I could travel in a different country by myself, then I can do anything by myself. I put a lot of research into safe destinations before settling on Turks. I wanted a relaxed location where English was spoken. I was already nervous and thought that if I didn't have to worry about communication, it would ease my nerves a bit. I liked that the island was small enough to bike from my hotel on the water to the small town nearby, and everyone was so kind. The best part was getting to just do what I wanted, when I wanted, and not have to worry about anyone else's opinion. It was definitely a good spot for a solo traveler—especially a female solo traveler. I felt safe the whole time, even when I was biking around exploring the town. I'm kind of spoiled, because now I'd rather travel by myself than with other people." Tracy Huynh

07 of 12

Sri Lanka

Surfing in Sri Lanka
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"I spent this April in a small surf town on the west coast of Sri Lanka. It was an unplugged vacation—I didn't even bring my laptop. My goal was to surf twice a day, everyday. With safe (and cheap) transportation options like the train or a taxi, Sri Lanka is well-suited for one. I'd recommend booking a private room in a hostel or a surf camp package, so you can meet other vacationers. There are tons of backpackers making their way around the island, so it's easy to link up with other people. Sri Lanka attracts health-minded tourists, and there are tons of outdoor activities available everywhere. During the busy season, most hostels will have a yogi-in-residence leading classes. I'd recommend taking a break from the Lanka beach life and checking out the tea plantations around Ella. The mountainous train ride offers the views you've probably seen on your Instagram feed. As a solo female traveler, safety is always a concern, but the ease of getting around the island coupled with the hospitality of locals made me feel secure." Alexandra Talty

08 of 12


Miami, Florida
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"I actually was invited to dog-sit for my aunt, so that was the catalyst for this trip—hello not paying for accommodations! It was my first solo trip, and I was in Miami long enough to get to know the area, as well as embrace the independence and solitude of traveling solo. Miami is a fantastic locale for solo travel: the people I met were all super welcoming, the food is phenomenal, and you have the options to explore the city, do outdoorsy activities, or live that beach bum life." —Natalie Large

09 of 12


Bali, Indonesia
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"After I turned 25, I decided to take a break from the nine-to-five and adventure throughout Europe and Asia. Every country I've visited so far has been amazing, but Indonesia definitely owns the top spot on my favorites list. While the country's natural beauty is out of this world, the people are what made my experience there as a solo traveler so amazing. My favorite memory has to be losing my iPhone on the top of a volcano in East Java and having the phone back in my hands a few months later after a local found it and wanted to return it to its rightful owner. Even more than Bali, I'd recommend Lombok, which is the island right next to Bali." —Arren Quezada

10 of 12

Costa Rica

Zip Line in the Rainforest, Costa Rica
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"I can't think of a better place to travel solo than Costa Rica. From the gorgeous coast line, to the rich rainforest, to the majestic cloud forest, there is so much to see, do, and explore. Costa Ricans are famous for their laid back pura vida (pure life) attitude, and their spirit is as relaxed and welcoming as you could imagine." Kayla McCormack

11 of 12


Yacht, Crete, Greece
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"I had a fantastic time in Crete and can't recommend it enough! Filled with small mountain towns and gorgeous beaches on every side, there was so much to explore. The island was beautiful, the food delicious and uniquely Greek, and the people were so friendly. Everyone I met spoke an impressive amount of English. I felt incredibly safe the entire time I was there, even when walking around the old quarter of Chania — the city I stayed in — at 1 o'clock in the morning." Hillary Handy

12 of 12


Angkor Wat, Cambodia
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"I was working with an NGO in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, for the summer and went for a five-day vacation to Siem Reap to see the temples of Angkor Wat. It was definitely a more adventurous place to go alone, especially as a young woman, but it was actually pretty easy because Siem Reap accommodates so many tourists. My hotel, which was so cheap, had a tuk tuk driver pick me up when my bus got in. They were tremendously helpful and available, and arranged for my tuk tuk drivers to and from the temples — even when I went at sunrise — and from the kayaking trip I went on. The combination of having very knowledgeable guides and drivers, plus the ability to wander the temples and town by myself and still feel comfortable was the best part. It was equally independent and supportive." —Eleanor Brakewood

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