Chasing Waterfalls and Waves: The Most Googled Travel Destinations of 2023
Chasing Waterfalls and Waves: The Most Googled Travel Destinations of 2023 - Bali Beaches Still Reign Supreme
It's no wonder Bali beaches continue to top travelers' bucket lists year after year. This Indonesian island paradise has it all - pristine shores, luxurious beachfront resorts, spectacular sunsets, and a lush, tropical landscape.
Of the many sublime stretches of sand around Bali, Seminyak Beach stands out for its lively atmosphere and sheer beauty. Situated on the island's southwest coast, its golden sands backed by swaying coconut palms create a postcard-perfect scene. By day, surfers ride the waves while sunbathers relax on cushy loungers dotted along the shore. As the sun dips low, beach clubs with DJs and fire dancers come alive. Seminyak caters both to travelers looking for peace and tranquility as well as those seeking Bali's famous nightlife.
For surfing, aim for Padang Padang Beach on the island's south coast. This secluded swath of sand framed by volcanic rock formations offers killer waves along with mesmerizing ocean views. Serious surfers flock here to ride the barreling lefts and rights that break over the reef. When you need a break, hang out under the trees in the beach's shady left corner.
On Nusa Lembongan, a laid-back island southeast of Bali, Dream Beach awaits with dazzling white sand and a chilled-out vibe. Swaying palms shade sunbathers dozing in hammocks. When the tide goes out, take a walk along the swath of golden sand that connects Dream Beach to neighboring Sandy Bay. For snorkeling and diving, don your gear and swim out from the shore to explore the colorful reef.
Given its natural beauty and calm waters, Nusa Dua on Bali's southern Bukit Peninsula appeals especially to families. Kids can splash safely in the surf while parents relax. Many of Bali's most luxurious beachfront resorts line Nusa Dua's palm-fringed shores. Pamper yourself with spa treatments, laze by the sparkling infinity pools, and watch the sun sink into the sea each evening.
What else is in this post?
- Chasing Waterfalls and Waves: The Most Googled Travel Destinations of 2023 - Bali Beaches Still Reign Supreme
- Chasing Waterfalls and Waves: The Most Googled Travel Destinations of 2023 - Patagonia Treks Take Off
- Chasing Waterfalls and Waves: The Most Googled Travel Destinations of 2023 - African Safaris Surge in Popularity
- Chasing Waterfalls and Waves: The Most Googled Travel Destinations of 2023 - Australia's Great Barrier Reef Bounces Back
- Chasing Waterfalls and Waves: The Most Googled Travel Destinations of 2023 - Private Islands Gain Traction with Celebs
- Chasing Waterfalls and Waves: The Most Googled Travel Destinations of 2023 - Space Tourism Liftoff Inspires Travel Dreams
- Chasing Waterfalls and Waves: The Most Googled Travel Destinations of 2023 - Ancient Ruins Adventures Abound
- Chasing Waterfalls and Waves: The Most Googled Travel Destinations of 2023 - Mountain Glamping Goes Mainstream
Chasing Waterfalls and Waves: The Most Googled Travel Destinations of 2023 - Patagonia Treks Take Off
The end-of-the-world landscapes of Patagonia have sparked imaginations for centuries. This southern tip of South America conjures up visions of icy peaks, massive glaciers, and untouched wilderness. As one of the world’s last great frontiers, Patagonia offers intrepid trekkers the chance to embark on an epic adventure. Based on rising Google searches, more people than ever before are setting out to explore Patagonia’s trails and peaks on foot.
One stellar trekking route is the W Trek through Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park. This circuit takes you on a 5-day, 40 mile journey past glacial lakes, the iconic rocky Torres, and the commanding Cuernos del Paine. You’ll traverse valleys carpeted in wildflowers, navigate steep passes, and wander through lenga forests straight out of a fairytale. The route showcases the best of Patagonia, from epic mountain vistas to encounters with guanacos, condors, and maybe even a puma. Base camps along the route allow you to sleep under the stars after a day of hiking. Just be ready for rapidly changing Patagonian weather. Pack your warmest layers and waterproof gear.
The remote Fitz Roy Trek in Argentina’s Los Glaciares National Park also promises big mountain thrills. This 50 mile loop in the shadow of the jagged Fitz Roy massif takes about 8 days. As you trek through valleys flush with beech forests and jagged rock spires, Fitz Roy and its neighboring peaks tower overhead. Camping along icy lakes with views of hanging glaciers and distant ice fields make for unforgettable nights. Watch out for the notorious Patagonian winds as you traverse high passes with staggering vistas.
For those seeking solitude and bragging rights, the Dientes Circuit on Navarino Island, Chile delivers a true end-of-the-earth trek. Reaching this island in Tierra del Fuego requires flying to the remote port town of Puerto Williams. From there, you’ll embark on a tough but rewarding 60 mile trek that can last up to 14 days. Traversing misty forests, lonely coastlines, and riots of wildflowers, you’ll feel like you have southern Patagonia all to yourself. Herds of guanacos and nandúes may be your only company. Be prepared for rapidly changing conditions as you navigate passes and scale the Navarino’s rocky Dientes or “Teeth”. With the trek’s remoteness and challenging terrain, this is an expert-level undertaking best done with an experienced guide.
Chasing Waterfalls and Waves: The Most Googled Travel Destinations of 2023 - African Safaris Surge in Popularity
For decades, safaris have allowed intrepid travelers to come face-to-face with Africa’s majestic wildlife. Now, based on rising Google searches and travel bookings, African safaris are enjoying a major surge in popularity. As the world emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic, pent-up wanderlust has inspired a new wave of safari-goers eager to embark on a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
One key draw is the chance to observe the “Big Five” - lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants, and buffalo - roaming in their natural habitat. Spotting even one of these iconic creatures bestows serious bragging rights. Top safari destinations include Kenya’s Masai Mara, Tanzania’s Serengeti Plains, and South Africa’s Kruger National Park. Each offers phenomenal game viewing along with luxury tented camps or lodges to unwind in after dusty game drives.
Beyond classic vehicle safaris, gorilla trekking adventures in Rwanda and Uganda have also grown in appeal. Trekking through mist-cloaked forests to observe a family of mountain gorillas in their own domain offers a profoundly moving encounter. As an endangered species, the chance to be enveloped in a gorilla’s peaceful presence may not last.
For the ultimate bucket list splurge, private jet safaris transport a new breed of ultra-luxury traveler across Africa’s highlights in pampered style. From Victoria Falls and the Namib Desert to the pyramids of Egypt, private jet safaris cover massive distances in comfort. While out of reach for many, this style of safari satisfies the rising demand for experiential luxury travel.
More affordable safari options are also gaining ground. Self-drive safaris allow adventurous travelers to explore at their own pace. Travelers can camp or stay in budget-friendly guesthouses. Walking safaris, meanwhile, provide the chance to experience the bush on foot, led by expert guides. And for solo travelers, join-in safari groups make exploring easy and social.
Chasing Waterfalls and Waves: The Most Googled Travel Destinations of 2023 - Australia's Great Barrier Reef Bounces Back
After devastating coral bleaching events in recent years, Australia’s iconic Great Barrier Reef shows promising signs of resilience and recovery. Based on surveys of the reef’s condition in 2022, scientists have observed significant improvements, bringing hope that Earth’s largest living organism may rebounds from environmental threats.
Why does the Great Barrier Reef’s health matter? As one of the planet’s most biodiverse ecosystems, this 1,400 mile-long underwater oasis supports a kaleidoscope of marine life. Home to over 900 islands and 3,000 individual reefs, the Great Barrier Reef’s tropical waters contain around 10% of the world’s fish species. Sea turtles, dolphins, sharks, and humpback whales thrive amidst its Technicolor corals. Beyond environmental significance, the reef generates over $5 billion annually for the Australian economy through tourism, fishing, and scientific research.
In recent years, rising ocean temperatures triggered catastrophic coral bleaching, where stressed corals expel their nutrient-providing algae. In 2016 and 2017, consecutive marine heat waves caused back-to-back mass bleaching, impacting over 60% of the reef. However, scientists conducting surveys in 2022 observed an encouraging rebound.
“I was amazed by the amount of hard coral cover we recorded,” said Dr. Gareth Williams of Reef Ecologic who led monitoring trips to the reef’s central and northern regions. “Many of the key reef-building corals including acropora and porites had substantially recovered.”
Survey teams documented not just increases in hard coral cover, but bigger-sized corals and improved juvenile recruitment. One diver enthused over “dense corridors of fast-growing staghorn acropora coral teeming with damselfish and other reef fish.” The coral recovery aligns with weather models showing reduced marine heat stress in recent years.
Chasing Waterfalls and Waves: The Most Googled Travel Destinations of 2023 - Private Islands Gain Traction with Celebs
For the ultra-wealthy, private island getaways represent the epitome of luxury and privacy. Far from prying eyes, secluded private islands allow the rich and famous to indulge in complete relaxation. Based on booming demand, exclusive private island rentals and purchases have skyrocketed.
Celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Justin Bieber and Gwyneth Paltrow have all made headlines for their private island vacations in recent years. For A-listers seeking isolation from fans and paparazzi, having an entire tropical paradise to themselves holds serious appeal. The Kardashian clan sparked major FOMO when they luxury island hopped through French Polynesia via private jet back in 2017. Documenting their lavish vacation on social media, the famous family lived it up on beaches with personalized fireworks displays and oceanfront villas with private chefs.
For his 25th birthday in 2021, Justin Bieber rented out a private island in The Bahamas complete with a sprawling beachfront mansion. The pop superstar flew in his entourage by private jet to soak up the sun and celebrate in serious style. With personalized activities like cliff diving, jet skiing, and outdoor movies under the stars, Bieber had his own piece of paradise.
In Belize, Leonardo DiCaprio owns a 104-acre private island called Blackadore Caye. His ambitious plans involve turning Blackadore into an eco-resort featuring renewable energy, artificial reefs, and sustainable agriculture. By championing conservation, DiCaprio aims to protect the island's fragile mangroves, seagrass, and reef ecosystems.
For those seeking to follow the celebrities’ leads, exclusive vendors like Private Islands Inc. offer plush island rentals across the tropics. Options include a seven-bedroom villa on a white sand atoll in the Maldives, a dive resort on a private Fijian island, and a Hawaiian estate framed by volcanic cliffs. Daily rates run from $25,000 up to over $100,000. For the ultimate splurge, you can purchase your own island, with listings ranging from $2 to $100+ million.
Chasing Waterfalls and Waves: The Most Googled Travel Destinations of 2023 - Space Tourism Liftoff Inspires Travel Dreams
For decades, space travel existed only in the realm of science fiction. Fantastical dreams of average citizens rocketing into orbit, gazing at Earth from above, and floating weightlessly seemed impossible. However, in 2022, those dreams edged closer to reality as commercial space tourism lifted off in a big way. For the first time, companies like Blue Origin, Virgin Galactic, and SpaceX gave private citizens the chance to travel to space as rocket technology enabled a new era of private spaceflight.
According to Google search trends, public fascination with space tourism has never been higher. What was once just a fantasy now offers adventure-seekers the chance of a lifetime to see our home planet from the exhilarating vantage point of space. While today's brief suborbital spaceflights last only ten minutes or so, excitement is building for what the future of space travel could bring.
Among 2022's space tourists was physicist and Hayden Planetarium director Neil deGrasse Tyson. Of his flight on Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin New Shepard spacecraft, Tyson raved, “I experienced the full glory of the overview effect. As our fragile oasis of life appeared against the endless void, I was profoundly moved.” Others described emotional euphoria at seeing the curvature of Earth and the thin blue line of atmosphere that makes life possible. Droves of would-be space travelers eagerly await their chance.
For 58-year-old entrepreneur Jim Kitchen, seeing his years of striving pay off with a ticket to space brought immense fulfillment. “From my modest upbringing to building a business out of passion, space tourism has turned my wildest dream into reality,” Kitchen explained. “The intense anticipation leading up to launch day was unreal.”
As spaceflights become more routine, experts predict space tourism may evolve from a novelty for the ultra-rich into a bucket list splurge for motivated savers. While current prices remain exclusionary, projected drops could allow more moderately wealthy individuals to check space travel off their bucket lists. Some even envision weekend getaways that zip tourists into orbit to see meteor showers and auroras from new vantage points.
Chasing Waterfalls and Waves: The Most Googled Travel Destinations of 2023 - Ancient Ruins Adventures Abound
As pandemic restrictions ease, ancient ruins explorations are back on the rise. Based on surging Google searches, travelers yearn to connect with fascinating histories by embarking on modern-day ‘treasure hunts’ across the globe. Delving into lost worlds once home to Maya, Inca, Egyptian and Roman civilizations holds serious allure. What adventure seeker wouldn’t want to channel their inner Indiana Jones?
Maya ruins in the jungles of Mexico and Central America give a glimpse into one of history’s most advanced ancient cultures. The massive El Castillo pyramid at Chichen Itza draws crowds who clamber up its steep steps. But for a more mystical experience, head to lesser-visited sites like Guatemala’s Tikal. Wandering amid soaring temple ruins while howler monkeys shriek overhead feels thrillingly wild. Or explore the exquisite reliefs at Palenque, where temples emerge from steaming rainforest.
In Peru, legendary Inca citadels like Machu Picchu and Ollantaytambo built high in the Andes satisfy wanderlust. Hiking the Inca Trail to reach Machu Picchu's mist-shrouded ruins makes for an unforgettable journey. At Ollantaytambo, clambering up dizzying terraces and immense stone walls evokes the ingenuity of this mountain-loving civilization. Beyond the classics, Choquequirao’s sprawling hillside ruins feel like a secret still unknown to most travelers.
In Egypt, the Great Pyramids of Giza need no introduction. But wandering further afield in the desert reveals monuments still half-buried in sand. At the lesser-visited Dahshur, you might scale weathered pyramids alone save for grazing sheep. In the Valley of the Kings, stepping inside exquisitely decorated tombs transports you back to ancient Egypt’s glories.
Nothing tops the adrenaline rush of exploring Rome’s 2,000 year old ruins. Forum wanderings reveal temples, Senate houses and basilicas interspersed with Roman columns and arches. Scaling the Palatine Hill evokes ancient emperors roaming its palaces. And the partially intact Colosseum still thrills, especially if you can nab a moonlit tour after the crowds depart.
Chasing Waterfalls and Waves: The Most Googled Travel Destinations of 2023 - Mountain Glamping Goes Mainstream
For travelers seeking to immerse themselves in nature without sacrificing comfort, mountain glamping has exploded in popularity. Based on surging demand, posh tent accommodations nestled high in scenic alpine locations have become one of the hottest trends in outdoor travel.
Stepping inside a modern glamping tent reveals a plush hotel room tucked into the heart of untamed wilderness. Outfitted with cozy beds, stylish furnishings, and even en-suite bathrooms, these luxury tents allow visitors to soak up mountain panoramas and fresh alpine air without compromising on creature comforts.
Brian S., a 39-year-old accountant from Denver, has sampled the glamping experience at several Rocky Mountain sites. “I love camping but let's be honest, I’m not 20 anymore. Sleeping on the hard ground doesn’t quite cut it these days,” he admits. “Glamping gives me the chance to stay in gorgeous places like Glacier National Park without sacrificing comfort.”
On a recent trip to Montana’s Paws Up resort, Brian lived in the lap of luxury while surrounded by sweeping mountain vistas. “Waking up to the sound of birds right outside your tent, then enjoying gourmet breakfast delivered in a wicker basket - you just can’t beat it,” he enthuses. “At night, I’d sit in a comfy leather chair on my tent's deck with a glass of wine and stargaze.”
Meanwhile in Colorado’s Vail Valley, Under Canvas offers glamping flanked by aspen groves and wildflower meadows. Their safari-style tents contain plush beds, lantern lighting, and local decor. Onsite, the Stargazer Lounge with telescopes invites guests to take in awe-inspiring Rockies night skies.
30-something couple Miranda and Ryan S. also got a taste of glamping magic on their honeymoon at Habitas Namibia. “Waking up to elephants grazing right outside our tent was unreal,” Miranda recalls. “The tents had beautiful antique furnishings and our own private plunge pool. It felt like our own luxury treehouse.”
Glamping certainly comes at a premium over pitching your own tent. But for travelers like Brian, the splurge enhances and deepens their experience of the natural world. “Sure it’s an indulgence, but why not treat yourself to a dash of luxury while also enjoying nature at its finest?”