The Cliffs of Moher—(From Doolin), Ireland
Approach the Cliffs of Moher from the trailhead in Doolin. You must do this. Ireland itself is home to some of the most spectacular vistas I have ever seen, but this particular journey surpassed the rest. I arrived to Doolin via ferry from the Aran Islands one sunny afternoon in late May. After vacillating between a pint at the pub and a trail run to see these oft-mentioned cliffs, I chose the latter. To the East, castle ruins, grazing sheep and stone walls as far as the eye can see. To the West, the Atlantic, with glimpses of the extremely tranquil and beautiful Aran Islands. Ocean waves crash below. A puffin pauses in the tall grass. I ran and marveled. And then I found this magical spot. There was a place just for me. The overwhelming beauty filled my heart until my eyes leaked. I sat there for minutes or hours. Try it. You’ll be happy you did.
Laguna de Apoyo, Nicaragua
These waters have healing powers. Really! It’s a magical place. La Laguna de Apoyo, 48 square kilometers, is a thermally-vented volcanic lagoon 45 minutes from Managua. To arrive, you will descend down a steep road, feeling as though you’re traveling beneath the earth to a place unlike any other. The San Simian Hotel is a bit off the backpacker-trodden path and is a welcome retreat laden with hammocks and monkeys swinging in the trees. (During a morning yoga session by the shore I looked up and monkeys were doing their own yoga moves above me!) The food is spectacular and Daniel will be sure to tell you stories of how it all came to be. Go for a moonlight swim or a morning dip. You will feel at peace no matter what you do.
Backwater Tour—Kochi, India
From Kochi, reserve an all day backwater tour. I’m the type who likes to wander, explore, see what’s around each and every corner and this relaxing meander through the backwaters of India, let me slow down a bit. I did something else rather uncanny as I soaked in the views and the cool breeze: I napped and read on the boat! Some were inclined to chat, but the mood was calm, relaxing and most certainly peaceful.
While other tourists on the bus South from Fethiye will decide to get off at Olundeniz, you, my friend, will choose to go a bit further. To a beach that will remind you of “The Beach”. The last stop on the bus line, Kabak Beach is worth the extra distance. You may choose to take the steep trail about 30 minutes down to the relatively secluded beach you can see from above, or ride along the bumpy, dusty road in a local jeep for hire. Whatever you decide, you will be thrilled to be on Kabak Beach. There’s a “hippy vibe” and a certain camaraderie between you and others who have discovered this gem. Stay at Sea Valley Bungalows, small wooden cabins that are a great deal for the location (and the Turkish breakfast is divine). Hike 90 minutes to Paradise Beach on a trail that parallels the Mediterranean Sea. Or sit and eat. And drink. And soak in your great fortune.
Loukas Taverna—Samos Island, Greece
It may seem strange to put a restaurant on this list, but in this place, atop a mountain accessed by a winding road through a white village, I couldn’t take the smile off my face. The view was stunning. The staff welcomed us as family. The food, delicious. Order the grape leaves. And the french fries. Stay awhile. Be Greek.
My parent’s house—Vermont
I’d love to tell you more, but this one will have to remain my private gem. There are some spots we have to keep to ourselves.