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12 Truly Off the Beaten Path Travel Destinations Around the World


THE WORLD IS A HUGE PLACE WITH PLENTY OF DESTINATIONS TO DISCOVER. HERE ARE 12 THAT HAVE SOMEHOW BEEN ABLE TO STAY UNDER THE RADAR AND BE TOTALLY OFF THE BEATEN PATH.

 


With 7.8 billion people in this world, it can be hard to find quiet, untouched places. It seems with the advent of the internet, social media, and geotagging in particular, beautiful places that were once unknown are now fully on the tourist circuit. Luckily, there are still (somehow) places that have avoided the crowds, have kept their natural beauty, and are perfect for an off the beaten path adventure.


Here are 12 truly off the beaten path destinations that will give you all the amazing views, adventures, and excitement as other popular tourist places - just without the crowds.





 

LET'S GET OFF THE BEATEN PATH: 12 DESTINATIONS TO DO IT

 




1 | Madagascar


As the world’s second-largest island nation, Madagascar has a lot to offer travelers. In fact, Madagascar is a biodiversity hotspot - over 90% of its wildlife (including the popular and very cute lemur species) are found nowhere else on Earth. While it is not exceedingly difficult to reach, Madagascar rewards visitors with diverse landscapes, national parks, and beautiful beaches.




Tall baobab trees along dirt road in Madagascar.


BEST ADVENTURES


Head out on a dirt road and be prepared to be amazed at the giant trees that await you - you have found the Avenue of the Baobabs, a road framed by dozens of rare and ancient baobab trees, creating a setting so beautiful and unique that it may become the country’s first official natural monument. And then there is Isalo National Park, home to sandstone massifs that have been wildly eroded by wind and rain into bizarre ridges (known as “runiformes”). You can also find impressive gorges and canyons and tiny stalagmite pinnacles, as well as animals such as ring-tailed lemurs, brown lemurs, sifakas and 14 other nocturnal lemurs that hide along the stream beds.





2 | French Polynesia


Composed of 118 geographically dispersed islands and atolls, which together stretch over an expanse of 2,000+ kilometers, French Polynesia is actually separated into 5 different groups of islands - including the Society Islands archipelago, home to Tahiti, the most populous island of them all (69% of the total population resides there). With so many islands to explore (and amazing waterfalls to adventure to), you really can spend weeks there and not see it all.



BEST ADVENTURES


Explore the island of Moorea - the more rugged sister island to Tahiti (and home to an amazing rainforest for exploration). Other things you shouldn't miss is a guided walking tour of Tahiti’s Old Papeete, the capital of French Polynesia, and exploring the Lagoonarium on Bora Bora, where you can discover dozens of top-notch snorkeling spots.





3 | St. Maarten


Part of what is known as the Dutch Caribbean, St. Maarten is a small island nation: the country is only 34 square kilometers(!). This stunning tropical island was hit hard by Hurricane Irma, a Category 4 storm, in 2017 and has been rebuilding ever since. Though, surprisingly, the country has the 14th largest GDP per capita in the world (including territories) when measured by purchasing power parity - three times as high as its French counterpart (the island is half French and half Dutch).




Low flying plane over tropical beach.


BEST ADVENTURES


Mullet Pond, a section of Simpson Bay Lagoon, is home to 70% of Saint Maarten's mangrove population on the Dutch side of the island. Also don’t miss Mullet Beach, an awesome white sand beach nearby. Similarly, no trip to the island would be complete without stopping at Maho Beach - famous for its proximity to the airport and very low flying planes.





4 | Samoa


This small island nation is made up of two main islands: Savai'i and Upolu (home of the capital and 75% of the population). As well as two smaller inhabited islands, Manono and Apolima, and several smaller uninhabited islands. Samoa lies about halfway between Hawaii and New Zealand, in the Polynesian region of the Pacific Ocean. Like many islands in the area, it was created due to volcanic activity - though only Savai'i, the westernmost island in Samoa, remains volcanically active. That has led to iridescent seas, jade jungles, and crystal waterfalls - aka plenty of adventures to be had.



BEST ADVENTURES


You really can’t go wrong in Samoa in terms of adventure and exploration. But some of the best places to check out are Apia and Aleipata, especially if you are into snorkeling.





5 | Moldova


As a small, landlocked country in Eastern Europe - and surrounded by much bigger and more well-known countries like Ukraine and Romania - it is no surprise that many visitors don’t take a pit-stop in Moldova. But that is good for you - off-the-beaten-path traveler - as there is a lot to explore. Including, the Moldavian Plateau, which geologically originates from the Carpathian Mountains, the Dniester and Prut Rivers, and the capital of the country, Chișinău. But one of the best reasons to visit Moldova is for its wine. The country produced around 2 million hectoliters of wine in 2018, making it the 11th largest wine-producing country in Europe.




Green and gold fields in rural Moldova.



BEST ADVENTURES


Staying with the wine theme, the Moldovan wine collection, known as "Mileștii Mici", has almost 2 million bottles - making it the largest wine collection in the world. The cellar stretches for 250 kilometers, of which only 120 kilometers are currently in use. Similarly, the Cricova winery also has an extensive network of tunnels that stretch for 120 kilometers (there is even a 10k race through the cellars every year).





6 | Niger


Another landlocked country - this time in West Africa - is named after the Niger River. It is the largest country in Western Africa, with roughly 80% of its land lying in the Sahara Desert. The country consistently ranks near the bottom of the United Nations’ Human Development Index (it was ranked 189th out of 189 countries in the 2018 and 2019 reports). This can be attributed to the fact that the majority of the population lives in rural areas with little access to advanced education (among other issues). While the country is still very much developing, it is also home to some incredibly beautiful areas. Including, one of the largest reserves of the world, the Aïr and Ténéré National Nature Reserve, which was founded in the northern parts of Niger to protect rare species such as addax antelopes, scimitar-horned oryx, gazelles, and Barbary sheep.



BEST ADVENTURES


Besides checking out the Aïr and Ténéré National Nature Reserve, you should also head down south to the W National Park (which also lies partly in neighboring Burkina Faso and Benin). Here you can spot the rare West African lion and (hopefully) a Northwest African cheetah (this park houses one of the last population groups). Other common animals in the park are elephants, buffaloes, roan antelopes, kob antelopes, and warthogs.





7 | Palau


Located in the Western Pacific, this small island nation (in total, only 466 square kilometers) contains approximately 340 islands, the most populous being Koror. The islands have a tropical rainforest climate, with the average temperature hovering around 82 degrees (though the humidity is often at 82%). Interestingly, Palau has a history of strong environmental conservation. For example, the Ngerukewid islands are protected under the Ngerukewid Islands Wildlife Preserve, which was established all the way back in 1956. Also, somewhat random, but Saltwater crocodiles are also indigenous to the nation and occur in varying numbers throughout the various mangroves and in parts of the rock islands (the largest crocodile ever recorded measured was just over 14 feet(!).




Sunken plane in the ocean in Palau.