Chasing Waterfalls and Waves: The Top Googled Travel Destinations You Need to Visit in 2023
Chasing Waterfalls and Waves: The Top Googled Travel Destinations You Need to Visit in 2023 - Island Life Calls in Hawaii
With its stunning beaches, luxurious resorts, and laidback island vibe, it’s no wonder Hawaii remains one of the most Googled destinations year after year. Though getting to America’s farthest flung state requires an ocean crossing, I’m here to tell you—it’s more than worth it.
On my first trip to Hawaii, I spent a blissful week soaking up the sun and surf on Oahu. After a red eye flight and groggy airport transfer, stepping into my oceanfront suite instantly washed away all traces of travel fatigue. I’ll never forget cracking open that glass door and feeling the warm breeze kiss my skin. It was pure magic.
By day, I split my time between snorkeling in Hanauma Bay, hiking to secret waterfalls with locals, and learning to surf. The friendly instructors at Hans Hedemann Surf School in Waikiki had me up and riding waves in no time. By night, I explored Waikiki’s famous beaches, farmers markets, and restaurants, fueled by plate lunch, poke bowls, and mai tais.
Though tempted to spend all my time in Honolulu, I’m glad I rented a car and devoted a couple days to exploring Oahu’s North Shore. Watching daredevil surfers tackle the Banzai Pipeline was a highlight. The laidback surf towns of Haleiwa and Sunset Beach captured my heart too. I still dream of the grilled shrimp trucks, shave ice stands, and epic sunsets I found there.
While Oahu makes an amazing introduction to Hawaii, I’m already plotting my return to experience more of the islands. Maui, with its famous Road to Hana and stunning Haleakala volcano, tops my list. Kauai’s Napali Coast also dazzles, while the Big Island tempts with its active lava flows and stargazing potential. Lanai and Molokai promise peaceful escapes from the crowds too.
The diversity across Hawaii amazes me. Each island has its own unique adventures, landscapes, and culture waiting to be discovered. Though the convenience of Waikiki was hard to beat, I know getting out and exploring more secluded beaches and local communities will bring even deeper connections and understanding on my next trip.
What else is in this post?
- Chasing Waterfalls and Waves: The Top Googled Travel Destinations You Need to Visit in 2023 - Island Life Calls in Hawaii
- Chasing Waterfalls and Waves: The Top Googled Travel Destinations You Need to Visit in 2023 - European Charms Beckon in Greece
- Chasing Waterfalls and Waves: The Top Googled Travel Destinations You Need to Visit in 2023 - Safari Dreams Come True in South Africa
- Chasing Waterfalls and Waves: The Top Googled Travel Destinations You Need to Visit in 2023 - Ancient Ruins Await in Machu Picchu, Peru
- Chasing Waterfalls and Waves: The Top Googled Travel Destinations You Need to Visit in 2023 - Lush Rainforests in Costa Rica
- Chasing Waterfalls and Waves: The Top Googled Travel Destinations You Need to Visit in 2023 - Down Under Appeals of Australia
- Chasing Waterfalls and Waves: The Top Googled Travel Destinations You Need to Visit in 2023 - Mountain Majesty in Patagonia, Chile
- Chasing Waterfalls and Waves: The Top Googled Travel Destinations You Need to Visit in 2023 - Urban Allure in Tokyo, Japan
Chasing Waterfalls and Waves: The Top Googled Travel Destinations You Need to Visit in 2023 - European Charms Beckon in Greece
With its whitewashed villages, ancient ruins, and sun-soaked islands, it’s easy to see why Greece has captivated travelers for millennia. Though economic struggles dimmed Greece's star in recent decades, this cradle of Western civilization is back in business and beckoning visitors to its shores once more.
Steeped in mythology, history, and staggering natural beauty, Greece offers endless options to craft your own unforgettable odyssey. Must-see Athens thrills with its Acropolis perched over the city and first-rate museums exploring ancient Greek art and culture. Nearby Delphi stuns with its clifftop Temple of Apollo and the awe-inspiring ruins of Olympia transport you back to the ancient Olympic Games.
Island hopping by ferry unveils Greece’s gorgeous beaches, villages, and local culture. Mykonos enchants with its whitewashed Cycladic architecture and electric nightlife while Santorini lures with its volcanic caldera views. Less-visited gems like Naxos, Paros, and Crete promise charming small towns and laid-back vibes off the main tourist track. With over 6000 islands to explore, you could spend a lifetime sailing Greece and still not see it all.
While some arrive seeking Greece’s classical past, others come for endless sunny days, welcoming locals, and that famous Mediterranean diet. A highlight was taking a cooking class in Chania to master moussaka and learn why fresh Greek olive oil outshines the rest. The top-notch wines and ouzo aren’t bad either! Greece’s natural beauty astounds as well – from its iconic whitewashed architecture to breathtaking sunsets over the Aegean Sea.
Through its roller coaster ride over the years, Greece has lost none of its wonder nor the charm that’s launched a thousand ships. Visiting today offers the perfect blend of legacies ancient and modern. As the birthplace of democracy and Western thought, Greece constantly reminds you of mankind’s impressive achievements while also providing perspective that even superpowers eventually decline. Time in Greece teaches deeper lessons about not taking things for granted, living simpler, and appreciating life’s fleeting gifts more fully.
While economic hardship dented Greece’s tourism industry for a time, I'm happy to report this magical country is back on top and eager to welcome world travelers once more. New boutique hotels like the Celestia Grand on Mykonos and a reinvigorated restaurant scene exemplify Greece’s resurgence and renewed confidence.
Chasing Waterfalls and Waves: The Top Googled Travel Destinations You Need to Visit in 2023 - Safari Dreams Come True in South Africa
For many travelers, going on safari in South Africa represents the trip of a lifetime. Getting to observe incredible wildlife up-close in their natural habitat has a way of bringing childlike wonder bubbling back to the surface, no matter your age. Of course, realizing those safari dreams requires proper planning and choosing the right safari operator. With so many options, things can get overwhelming fast. That’s why I want to share my own South African safari experience to help you start planning an epic adventure of your own.
I’m not going to lie – I had sky high expectations heading into my first safari experience. I mean, I’d been dreaming about it since childhood zoo visits and nature documentaries. I longed to ditch the screens and see everything for myself. Though nothing could diminish my excitement, part of me worried reality might not match the epic safari of my imagination. I needn’t have worried at all.
Booking with a reputable small group tour operator, we landed in Cape Town and spent a night before heading inland. From there, we explored South Africa’s eastern reaches, spending a few nights each at a mix of luxurious private game reserves and national parks. The diversity kept things interesting, while our knowledgeable guides educated us on the local wildlife, conservation efforts, and optimal game viewing strategies along the way.
Witnessing my first lion sighting remains etched in memory forever. Approaching a pride of lazing lions, our guide killed the engine so we could sit silently observing them. Their rippling muscles and watchful gazes spoke volumes about their power and status as kings of the jungle. Yet seeing them nuzzle their cubs also showed their tender side. Everywhere we went, the animals and their behaviors exceeded my wildest expectations.
Chasing Waterfalls and Waves: The Top Googled Travel Destinations You Need to Visit in 2023 - Ancient Ruins Await in Machu Picchu, Peru
Nestled high in the Andes Mountains, the ancient Incan citadel of Machu Picchu continues to capture the imaginations and hearts of travelers from across the globe. This awe-inspiring UNESCO World Heritage Site sits 7,970 feet above sea level, hidden in the clouds between Cusco and the Sacred Valley. While its origins and purpose remain shrouded in mystery, one thing's for certain—visiting Machu Picchu is an epic, bucket list adventure.
Trekking deep into the Peruvian wilderness heightens the reward of finally glimpsing Machu Picchu's emerald green terraces and ancient stone walls. While some intrepid souls hike the challenging 4-day Inca Trail, the train from Cusco offers a more relaxed route to the citadel's base. With permits in hand, transport up the switchbacks by bus is both scenic and efficient.
Entering the sprawling ruins for the first time feels like stepping into another world. Llamas—the animal emblematic of the ancient Incas—graze peacefully amid scattered temples. Structures like the Torreón Astronomical Observatory and Temple of the Sun give clues into the scientific achievements of this lost civilization. Yet with no written records left behind, much of Machu Picchu's purpose and construction remains an intriguing mystery centuries later. Did it serve as a palace and Incan retreat? A sacred pilgrimage site? Regional hub connecting the empire? Though the Spanish conquistadors never discovered Machu Picchu, the jungle still reclaimed most of the site until it was rediscovered in 1911 by scholar Hiram Bingham.
Beyond the ruins, the wildlife and landscapes surrounding Machu Picchu prove just as spectacular. Observation decks perched on rocky cliffs reveal scenic vistas over the entire complex and Urubamba River snaking below. Over 400 species of tropical birds flit through the lush cloud forest. Exotic orchids and rare spectacled bears call the protected park home as well. Hiking a portion of the Inca Trail, soaking in the thermal pools at Aguas Calientes village, and side-tripping to lesser-visited Incan sites all enhance Machu Picchu immersion.
Chasing Waterfalls and Waves: The Top Googled Travel Destinations You Need to Visit in 2023 - Lush Rainforests in Costa Rica
While many dream of lounging on tropical beaches, don't miss the chance to also immerse yourself in Costa Rica's verdant rainforests. Brimming with exotic wildlife and diverse ecosystems, exploring these lush jungles offers an unforgettable adventure.
Venturing into the rich biodiversity of a Costa Rican rainforest instantly transports you into the beating heart of nature. Countless species of vividly colored birds flit overhead while curious monkeys peer down from the dense canopy. Winding jungle trails unveil scenic waterfalls and iconic Blue Morpho butterflies with wingspans near 8 inches wide. The diversity astounds, with Costa Rica's 12 distinct life zones nurturing over 500,000 unique species.
One highlight is exploring diverse national parks protecting these delicate ecosystems. Corcovado National Park shelters tapirs, anteaters, and even endangered jaguars roaming wild. Outdoor enthusiasts rave about Arenal Volcano National Park's mix of bubbling hot springs, jungle treks, and lava fields. And Manuel Antonio National Park thrills with its idyllic beaches bordering lush rainforest teeming with wildlife. No matter your destination, a knowledgable local guide illuminates the ecology and helps spot Costa Rica's shy jungle inhabitants.
While some enjoy leisurely hikes through preserved rainforests, others prefer an added adrenaline rush. Canopy zip-line tours send you soaring monkey-style through the treetops for a vertiginous rainforest experience. White water rafting Class III-IV rapids also proves heart-pumping. Or test your mettle rappelling down jungle waterfalls if you dare!
Visiting indigenous communities enhances your rainforest experience too. The Talamanca region shelters Cabécar, Bribri and other tribes maintaining traditional lifestyles. Local guides provide cultural insight while visiting villages, farms and sacred sites. Learning ancient customs and forest wisdom from these communities provides cherished lifelong memories.
Eco-lodges harmoniously embedded within the rainforests also enable deeper immersion in these natural paradises. Rather than harming the environment, eco-lodges aim to preserve and highlight their spectacular surroundings. Finca Rosa Blanca Coffee Plantation and Resort wows with its green architecture and on-site sustainability efforts. Lapa Rios Ecolodge pioneered luxury eco-tourism in Costa Rica through its 1,000 acre private rainforest reserve brimming with wildlife. Even more rustic options like the research station at La Selva Biological Station provide front row seats to the wonders of the rainforest.
The ultimate treat? Reward your inner explorer by booking a guided night hike through the jungle. The rainforest transforms after dark, with flowering plants perfuming the air and colorful frogs croaking to life. Encountering owls, chattering bats, enormous moths, walking sticks and the occasional snake plunges you into a world few experience. Your expert guide illuminates the way with flashlights and ample knowledge of the rainforest's nocturnal rhythms.
Chasing Waterfalls and Waves: The Top Googled Travel Destinations You Need to Visit in 2023 - Down Under Appeals of Australia
Sure, cuddling koalas at wildlife parks and gazing upon Uluru’s prehistoric monolith at sunset remain bucket list essentials for a reason. But limiting your Aussie adventure to the tried and true means missing out on the diversity that makes Australia so special.
With climates ranging from tropical to temperate, landscapes that stretch from red deserts to cool mountain peaks, and hook-shaped coastlines for endless aquatic adventures, Oz dazzles with its sheer contrasts. Then factor in the hip, vibrant cities, a thriving food and wine scene, Aboriginal culture, and friendly locals - it quickly becomes apparent why Australia seduces so many travelers.
Rather than rushing to see it all in one trip, I recommend picking 1-2 regions to focus on more deeply. For example, sunny Queensland excels for active ocean pursuits amid gorgeous beaches. Snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef and sailing the Whitsunday Islands feel like paradise. For wine and food lovers, South Australia delights with acclaimed Barossa Valley reds and fresh seafood from Adelaide's bustling Central Market. And the Northern Territory’s Top End provides the Outback immersion many Aussie dreams are made of.
While cities like Melbourne and Sydney often steal the glory, rural Australia rewards those veering off the beaten path too. Using vacation days to pop over from the U.S. West Coast, I relished my first glimpse of the Continent's laidback charms via the South Coast. Here, outdoor adventurers flock to hike the Bibbulmun Track passing tall timbers, sleepy hamlets, and pristine beaches between Perth and Albany. The Margaret River region kept my palate happy as well with farm-to-table fare, craft breweries and serious coffee - yes, Australia even out-brews Seattle! Though tourists remained sparse, I delighted in the warm hospitality at every turn.
Chasing Waterfalls and Waves: The Top Googled Travel Destinations You Need to Visit in 2023 - Mountain Majesty in Patagonia, Chile
Boasting some of the most pristine landscapes on the planet, Patagonia casts an undeniable spell over adventure seekers who make the trek to the southernmost reaches of Chile. While the region’s staggering natural beauty defies easy description, witnesses often describe an alluring mix of ruggedness and solitude, frontier spirit and resilience in the face of extreme conditions. Harsh winds sculpted jagged peaks, epic glaciers spill down from vast ice fields, and icy waters crashing along 5,000 miles of windswept coast. Exploring Chile’s slice of Patagonia is not for the faint of heart, but hardy travelers who endure the journey find ample reward.
Traversing the epic Carretera Austral highway linking remote fishing villages and hiking trails proves a Patagonia road trip highlight. Vast aquamarine glaciers like the Pio XI and San Rafael await at road’s end, while scenic overlooks like the “balcony of Patagonia” reveal awe-inspiring vistas of Lago General Carrera stretching below. Pushing further south, Parque Nacional Laguna San Rafael’s icebergs and endangered huemul deer fascinate. Small ship cruises through the maze of islands and fjords surrounding Laguna San Rafael offer whale watching and sea lion encounters as well. On land, Patagonia’s wild spirit beckons backpackers to multi-day treks on the iconic W and O circuits in Torres del Paine National Park, whose jagged Cuernos del Paine peaks jut skyward in dramatic fashion.
Less traveled gems also abound for independent travelers yearning to venture off the beaten path in Chilean Patagonia. Swapping crowds for solitude, the little known Queulat National Park presents roaring waterfalls slicing through temperate rainforests. Or head to Pumalín Park’s windswept coast and volcanic landscapes punctuated by alerce trees over 3,000 years old. Hiking through valdivian temperate rainforests draped in hanging lichens that drizzle water offers rare tranquility. Secluded Patagonian ranches (estancias) also immerse guests in traditional gaucho culture. Saddling up for multi-day horse drives across open pampas, sharing homemade meals and wine with proud locals, and soaking tired muscles in outdoor hot tubs beneath the Milky Way provide memories that will linger long after the saddle sores fade.
Chasing Waterfalls and Waves: The Top Googled Travel Destinations You Need to Visit in 2023 - Urban Allure in Tokyo, Japan
Tokyo dazzles visitors with its sheer size and energy, proving Japan’s capital remains in a league of its own. As the world’s largest metropolis, Greater Tokyo boasts over 37 million residents - more than the entire population of Canada. Yet what wows most is not the overwhelming scale, but the city’s ability to constantly reinvent itself while remaining quintessentially Japanese. Cutting edge technology intermingles seamlessly with revered traditions. Historic sites brush shoulders with flamboyant youth fashion trends. In hyper-efficient Tokyo, the future arrives first while the past still pulses strong.
Wandering the chaotic maze of streets and neon pulsing through districts like Shibuya plunges you straight into the urban action. Don’t miss crossing the iconic Shibuya Scramble intersection, rumored to be the world’s busiest with up to 3,000 people crossing with each light change. High-tech toilets, robot restaurants and art museums also showcase Japan’s embrace of all things modern.
Yet just below the surface burbles history and tradition. Sensō-ji Temple in Asakusa provides refuge, the peaceful gardens and teahouses of Hamarikyu Gardens instill calm, and sumo wrestling hearkens back to ancient competitions of strength. Beyond the deep roots, exploring Tokyo’s diverse neighborhoods unveils the city’s distinct local flavor. Hipsters adore the tiny bars and live music venues of Shimokitazawa. Anime fans nerd out in Akihabara, while foodies salivate over sushi temples in Ginza.
With so much to experience, many visitors opt to spend several days exploring Tokyo as part of a broader Japan itinerary. But veteran travelers urge dedicating at least a full week to truly soak up all that Tokyo has to offer. Much gets missed zipping between the highlights, while digging deeper rewards.
For first-time visitors wary of information overload, tours help orient you to the city’s sprawl and train system. Amir, who spent a week in Tokyo, recommends Tales of Tokyo’s small group tours for understanding cultural context. “Having a local guide us through vibrant districts like Asakusa, then explain Shintoism and Buddhism while touring Meiji Shrine gave deeper meaning to the sights,” he explains.
Other travelers stress slowing down by spending more time in one or two neighborhoods rather than racing all over town. Mark carved out five days to relax in Shinjuku. “I started each morning with a stroll through Shinjuku Gyoen’s peaceful gardens to escape the city buzz. Then exploring nearby Korean and Greek neighborhoods along with Robot Restaurant by night kept things lively without constant train hopping.”