Read this and know that you are forearmed against not knowing where some of the best spots are to hit this summer. Most people are just now getting outside in t-shirts and shorts, the sandals are making their way onto feet, and people are beginning to dream of where they will go for their summer trip. Whether you choose your summer vacation to be an adventure, or a relaxation vacation, at least one of our ten suggestions will surely appeal to you!
Catalina Island is an awesome destination. Whether you are into snorkeling, swimming, hiking, biking or boating, this little island off the coast of California is 22 miles from the mainland. You can get there by ferry, or helicopter. You can stay in a hotel, or, if you are like us, a campground, where wild buffalo still roam. The hotels are in the city of Avalon, which is about as Mediterranean as you can get outside of, well, the Mediterranean.
If forests are more your thing, it would be difficult to pick a better place to go than Yellowstone National Park. Hiking trails galore, the Grand Prismatic Spring (rainbow pool pigmented by thermophilic bacteria in different bands—it’s awesome to see), Hayden Valley, which houses an incredible diversity of wildlife, and the most famous sight of all, Old Faithful. Seeing water shoot out of the ground may not sound like the most exciting thing in the world, unless you have seen it. It’s breathtaking and worth the trip just to see it. You can also camp in the park to save on hotel fees. Don’t forget Yellowstone Lake if you want to go boating. You can go horseback riding pretty much anywhere and fishing is popular as well. Mammoth Village is worth the trip, and you won’t want to miss the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.
Want to travel a bit further? Then Cusco is a great trip to take. Mellow temperatures to beat the summer heat (South America, winter when we have summer) and Machu Picchu make for a great getaway. You might need a light jacket and cap, but rainfall or snow won’t be a problem. Hiking the ruins of this lost city of the Incas is truly a once in a lifetime experience. Heading back to Cusco in the evenings allows you to enjoy a lively city and get a good feel for South American culture. The dollar and euro go a lot further there than they do back at home, so feel free to live like a king on the budget of a pauper.
Barcelona is the city that has it all. A very international city, with an amazing visual composition. The artist/architect Gaudi’s playground, the city is filled with highly visually interesting buildings, including an incredible church which will take your breath away. Many miles of beaches to relax on, nearby mountains to hike on, and a multitude of parks make the city a virtual paradise. Museums are everywhere, and there is something for everyone. Go early or late in the summer, and you can find waves to shred more than 3 days a week. Predictable swells and no tide to speak of, it’s awesome.
There is a reason that Maui is the cliché beach vacation. It’s because Maui is, without a doubt, awesome in pretty much every way. The beaches are as clean and beautiful as you can imagine, the waters clear and clean, and the island itself gorgeous in every direction you care to look. Airfare will be your highest cost, but deals can be found. Hiking, sunbathing, windsurfing, paddle boarding, and of course, killer surfing are all par for the course. Speaking of golf, there are 14 fantastic golf courses on the island, as well. Most of the hotels offer children’s activities, so if you want to have a great family vacation, Maui is a good choice.
Mackinac Island, Michigan
Nestled between the Upper and Lower Peninsulas of Michigan, Mackinac Island is pretty much a blast from the past combined with a relaxed present. One of the more unique features of the island is its ban on automobiles. Nothing with a combustion engine is found on the island, and it has been that way for over 100 years. If you don’t want to walk, though the island only covers four square miles, horse-drawn carriages are available. The island is mostly parkland, awesome for hiking and cycling. The inhabited parts of the island are mostly Victorian cottages dating back to the Civil War. There are a few beaches on the island too. Mackinac Island is truly an interesting getaway.
The Bulgarian seaside is very nice, with fantastic hotels, dozens of miles of great beaches, and dotted with small towns with bed and breakfast hotels. If you prefer a larger place to stay, 5-star hotels cover the land, at great prices as well. Fantastic old monasteries, natural wonders, such as the Stone Forest, just outside of Varna, and picturesque towns are sprinkled along the coast. Head north to the town of Kavarna, though, and you find a rockers paradise. Designated the rock capital of Eastern Europe, nearly every weekend of the summer there are rock festivals featuring international artists, and the atmosphere is electric. During the off days, head to the wild beaches nearby, or the thousands-of-years-old fortress ruins at the edge of town. Prices are rock bottom cheap, including the tickets.
Okay, so we have all heard of Bora Bora. But do you really know what it is? Remember seeing those pictures of the hotel bungalows on the water with white sandy beaches nearby and turquoise waters all around? Yeah, THAT place. Bora Bora is a volcanic atoll, which is surrounded by a circular coral reef. It’s hard to find a calmer yet more perfect place for snorkeling and scuba diving. This place is for the couples that want an awesome vacation. It’s 12 square miles and part of French Polynesia. Take the Jeep tour of the island, it’s totally worth the trip. It also takes you through the American WWII ruins, with gun emplacements and bunkers.
Head on down to Baja for a great summer destination that combines the surf life with a relaxed coastline just waiting to be sunbathed on. It boasts areas like Todos Santos, which has fantastic swells for big wave action, and Playa Los Cerritos, which caters to those surfers who like to go camping. Go further south to Ensenda, and hang out in the favorite vacation place of Jim Morrison. Laid back and unassuming, with cheap pool bars and great beer, Baja is a great and easy vacation spot.
San Blas, Nayarit, Mexico
The surfer’s paradise. Home to the longest wave in the world, San Blas used to be a fishing village which grew into a surfing village. Las Islitas, the beach, is as gorgeous as you can find. The Stoner’s Surf Camp is pretty much the surfer’s hangout. The food is good and cheap, and the parties legendary. A super chilled-out atmosphere and great waves make this place rise high up on our list!
There’s Not Only 10
Our list of 10 must-see destinations for the summer has a little something for everyone. It is, though, by no means exhaustive. Just because we have experienced all these places and want to share them with you, doesn’t mean we know it all! Let us know of a place you have been and why it should deserve a place on our list, or if you have been to one of these places, give us a shout and write about your experiences there. Happy vacationing!