In January it’s almost impossible to escape the New Year’s resolution craze. The chance at a fresh start has a way of inspiring us to reach higher, healthier ground. If the amount of diet and weight loss ads at this time of year are any indication, resolving to “eat better” and “lose weight” (or variations thereof) always get the most list love, along with other modifications like “try something new” and “travel to…”
From one resolution enthusiast to another: beyond the day-to-day changes, why not bundle all the chart-toppers into one trip and return home nourished, toned, and well-traveled (without eating kale for every meal and embarking on all-day hikes). With selections scattered on domestic soil and all over the globe, here are my top picks for wellness-themed wanderlust in 2014.
Simply observing San Diego’s eat-sleep-beach lifestyle has a way of making you want to fuel up on greens, grab a cruiser bike, peddle to Pacific Beach, and catch a wave (or stroll in the sand). It’s no wonder 50-year-olds look 35 on California’s south coast.
Viewfinder Tip: Turn any trip into a wellness-themed retreat with daily exercise, mindfulness, healthy food choices, and a digital detox. Case in point: I just came home from Las Vegas healthier than I arrived.
Whistler’s known around the world as one of North America’s top-rated ski and snowboard stops. When the snow subsides, trails of hiking and biking paths abound, plus farm-to-table fare, and a cool collection of spas like Scandinave Spa, a purifying retreat channeling the Nordic bathing tradition (heat, cool, relax, repeat). Bonus: there’s a code of silence for complete zen.
While South Beach is steeped in travel tastemaker traditions, there’s an emerging energy devoted to daily detoxification visible in Miami’s impressive bike paths and DecoBike share, pop-up yoga, and juice bars. Bonus, the calm canals around the Intracoastal Waterway are perfect for building core strength and balance while cruising on a stand-up paddleboard.
Hiking atop Koloiki Ridge in Hawaii on the island of Lanai
Every time I visit Hawaii I come home rejuvenated. Sure, the technicolor sunsets help, but it’s mostly the natural assets – the surf, the sand, the land – that beg to be explored. To balance my beach-capades, I incorporate hiking, running, swimming, or padding into each day, because after all, in the Hawaiian Islands, nurturing your health doesn’t feel like a chore.
There are as many health havens in Australia as there are Whole Foods in America – a lot! – and my top pick for the land Down Under is the Great Barrier Reef. Talk about adventure, natural beauty, and exercise in one breath. Experience the reef first-hand on an overnight or multi-day snorkel trip sailing through the Whitsunday Islands, or right off the beach from islands like Heron or Wilson.
An essential and detoxifying part of Finnish culture is centered around the sauna, a key room in almost every home and hotel. Tradition goes: you heat up and sweat-it-out for approximately 30 minutes and take periodic cool-down plunges in nearby lakes or pools. This heat-and-cool combo soothes muscles, relieves stress, and flushes toxins. Start your sauna-cation on Sauna Island, aka Saunasaari, a quiet retreat 15 minutes from Helsinki by boat. Open Spring to Fall.
Located at the base of the Caribbean in an Island trio known as the ABCs (Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao), Bonaire is a sporty escape frequented by diving and kite-surfing enthusiasts. While there, make your way to Lac Bay (my favorite place on earth), where you can windsurf or swim in waist-deep, hot tub-temperature water for a mile in each direction.
Many reach Machu Picchu’s famed 500-year-old ruins via train and bus. Instead of watching the journey from a window, rev your heartbeat on a trek along ancient Inca paths through jungles, up mountains, and over the Urubamba River to reach the mountaintop masterpiece perched near 8,000 feet above sea level.
Just three hours outside of Bangkok, Cha Am Beach’s mild waves and lengthy shore woo visitors into wellness. Stay on shore’s edge at Hotel de la Paix, which includes daily yoga overlooking the beach in your room rate (as well as breakfast and WiFi). So taken by the far-reaching sandbar, each afternoon I was compelled to go for a barefoot jog just before sundown. Yoga and a sunset jog in one day; namaste.
Morocco has a swell surfing industry thanks to a few early adopters and the steady flow of waves rushing its western Atlantic shore. Some caravan along the shore in search of the best breaks; others plant themselves at surf hotels like Calipau Sahaha in Dakhla on the edge of the Western Sahara and spend the mornings surfing and the afternoons taking in the mystique of the sand-covered surroundings.
What trips would you recommend for health and rejuvenation?