Vacation used to be thought of as a time to indulge—think never-ending piña coladas and laying vertically on a lounge chair for 99 percent of the trip. But in 2018, prepare to spend your precious PTO days in a more active, adventurous way. Expect curated excursions with wholesome food, physical activity, and mindfulness being top priority (not to mention stunning surroundings and plenty of time to unplug).
So where *exactly* will experience seekers be collecting Instagram-worthy photos and stamps in their passports next year? Naturally, not all destinations are created equal. But luckily, plenty of places stack up.
Here, 7 spots where getaways are guaranteed to have you living your best—and most wellness-packed—life.
St. George, Utah
It’s likely you’ve never heard of this city in southwest Utah (nestled near the Arizona border), but you should. It’s actually a spectacularly beautiful, up-and-coming, health-and-wellness hub. Snow Canyon State Park nearby has dunes and red sandstone cliffs to explore, and a day trip to Zion National Park (pictured above) can provide even more epic vistas and adventure. Plus, right in town there are cactus gardens to wander, mountain bikes to ride, and canyons and coves to hike on foot. The recent opening of Amira Resort, a wellness retreat with both traditional spa treatments, as well as shamanic-inspired therapies, yoga, meditation, guided hiking, and life coaching, is now bringing even more attention to this special place. Red Mountain Resort also offers comprehensive wellness experiences comprising healthy meals, lectures, paddle board yoga, hiker’s massages, and more.
Already the site of wellness retreats (and we predict even more in the future as people discover this idyllic Eden), Tofino is known as the “end of the road” for its place on the edge of Vancouver Island. A surf paradise with plenty of remote beaches, it’s also home to stunning mountains to climb, geothermal pools and lakes (like the stunning Moraine Lake seen here) in which to soak, waterfalls to seek out, and best of all, spotty cell reception so you have no choice but to disconnect. The delicious-and-healthy fare offered in this tiny town is oftentimes curated by young, innovative chefs who forage for the best, freshest ingredients for their dishes. (And definitely don’t miss a meal at acclaimed hyperlocal Wolf in the Fog.) Of course, there’s yoga as well, a spa using local nutrient-rich seaweed in exhaustively relaxing treatments, and more than enough opportunities to be mindful.
You don’t have to take our word for it that the small island of Ikaria, in the Aegean Sea, is one of the healthiest places on the planet. It’s a fact. It’s one of five Blue Zone regions where people historically live the longest, healthiest lives (like Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula). Life on Ikaria is slow, which is part of the appeal. There are more than 150 varieties of antioxidant-rich wild greens growing on the island, and you can eat them in fresh, vibrant Greek salads daily. Tea made from wild local herbs that reportedly lower blood pressure and decrease risk of dementia and heart disease is another addiction on the island, and the mountain landscape provides countless opportunities to burn those glutes. There are also rivers, lakes, forests, and waterfalls within the 99 square miles for hiking, climbing, and surfing. If you’re lucky, you may experience a village feast known as panygiria, at which locals sing, dance, and eat all night in gratitude to the saints.
Cape Town, South Africa
Only Cape Town can challenge Los Angeles or New York City when it comes to yoga studios per capita, and it definitely wins out on epic mountaintop vistas. The notoriously healthful, outdoors-living citizens of South Africa’s southernmost city are always up for a sweaty flow, or an equally drenching hike up Table Mountain or Lion’s Head by sunset. Beyond that, it’s easy to find superfood pancakes and vegan burgers on charcoal buns. Organic markets, naturopaths, energy healers, over-the-top spas, and stand-up paddle board-yoga classes are standard fare. Need more convincing? Remember the US dollar goes far—very far.
Byron Bay, Australia
Hippie vibes and crystals are just a few hallmarks of this charming town on the northern end of New South Wales, Australia, where everything and everyone—from the wide, empty beaches to the locals—is gorgeous. There’s surfing and yoga, of course, but also a slew of health-minded and plant-based eateries (check out Folk Byron Bay and Harvest Cafe) serving more than the ubiquitous Aussie staple of avocado toast. Crystal Castle and Shambhala Gardens, with its labyrinth and Buddha walk, is a magical journey to take, as is a dip in the healing, softening, merlot-colored tea tree lake just south of town. You’ll suffer no shortage of transformative spa experiences, thanks to a handful of top-notch favorites (Comma, Sulis, and Osprey to just name a few). Even the constant stream of live music thanks to buskers and established venues seems to add to the Zen vibes here.
The birthplace of surfing in America—this 21-mile-long stretch of coastline north of Los Angeles—is also an attractive proposition when it comes to getting away to take some quality “me” time. The dreamy new boutique Surfrider Hotel Malibu (just across the street from one of the most iconic surf breaks), with its custom-shaped boards and rooftop serving all organic, sustainable fare, is an ideal place to base yourself. Plus, its in-touch owners might just share insider deets on locals-only waterfall hikes.) If surfing’s not your thing, grab a stand-up paddle board and meditate in offshore as dolphins and maybe even humpback whales play nearby. Fitness studios, spas, and ultra-healthy bone broth and smoothie shops also abound in this beach mecca that’s coming into its own.
Todos Santos, Mexico
You don’t have to look hard to find yoga and wellness retreats—often with surfing thrown in for good measure—in the vicinity of this town, designated as a “pueblo magico,” or magic town for its natural beauty, cultural riches, and historical relevance. On the Pacific side of the Baja peninsula, in the foothills of mountains, there are many ways to be out in nature, as well as benefit from its bounty—in the form of nourishing comida (food) that is oftentimes grown or caught right there. Not only are there indigenous healers, naturopaths, and nutritionists seemingly always around, but yoga and meditation classes, plus, intuitive spa therapists ready to work magic on your body and soul. Rancho Pescadero, a favorite resort, is even stepping up its game with expanded wellness and spa facilities in 2018.