Forget well-meaning resolutions, it's time to write your ultimate bucket list of sensational destinations to explore! Our Travel Expert Rose Jacobs shares her top 10.
Dream big. Dream far. Dream exotic and dream outside the box! Check out our list of the world's best bucket list destinations for the year ahead...why wait more than a year to see them all?!
1. BAHIA COAST, BRAZIL
It’s believed by many that Brazil is the sexiest place on earth. Well, The Bahia Coast in the northeast of this lush country is known as the sexiest place in Brazil. So, that says a lot. Here you can find the best beaches, pousadas, beach houses, bars, palm trees, sea-life and miniature bikinis your imagination can conjure! It’s the place without tacky tourist traps and bustling crowds. It’s barefoot luxury all the way.
STAY: Uxua Casa Hotel in Bahia’s town of Trancoso. It was designed by the creative director of Diesel. No further explanation required.
2. TURKS AND CAICOS ISLANDS, CARIBBEAN
You’ve seen the photos of aqua waters, white sandy beaches… well, this is the postcard destination. The Turks and Caicos Islands, neighbours to The Bahamas in the Caribbean, actually does boast the best beach in the world. But it’s also un-spoilt, unlike the majority of the world’s other white sand beaches and coral reefs. Here, you are almost guaranteed exclusive enjoyment of the vast array of tropical delights. Find yourself a rustic old white timber boat, with a fabulous big white sail, a bottle of something cold and cast off to catch yourself some lunch – the national export, lobster.
STAY: The Amanyara Resort.
3. PANAMA CITY, PANAMA
If the location of this country isn’t gobsmacking enough – being the southernmost country of Central America, Panama connects North and South America, borders Costa Rica, Colombia, The Caribbean and The South Pacific. This is the recipe for a Spanish history, exotic birds and tropical plants and animals found nowhere else on earth. It is mountainous, with impenetrable jungles, it is exploding with life, colour, a fascinating past and what is destined to be a truly exciting future. Get on board!
STAY: The American Trade Hotel. A luxury, boutique hotel, boasting a perfect mélange between the old and the new Panama.
4. BODRUM, TURKEY
This destination is not so much about Bodrum as it is about the port at Bodrum, where you will board your restored timber Turkish motor yacht, called a Gulet, and set sail down the rugged Turkish coastline. Book yourself a skipper, a chef and a drinks-server (this is a bucket list after all!). Pull in to the ports at night for spectacular Turkish meals in tiny seaside restaurants, or stay aboard your private vessel and toast amongst friends under the Anatolian stars.
STAY: Peter Sommer (The best Gulet Cruise Company in Turkey).
5. MARRAKECH, MOROCCO
Forget everything you ever thought to be true of Marrakech. Now, replace it with visions of opulent design, manicured lawns, deluxe spas, world-class shopping, laneways that are a feast for the eyes, and cuisine that is both groundbreaking and mouth-watering. You don’t have to love to shop (although if you did, you’d check out Kulchi for Moroccan rugs, Florence Teillet for textiles, Fenyadi for ceramics and Moustapha Blaoui for all interiors!). You just have to love attention to detail.
STAY: Richard Branson’s sister Vanessa has created The Hotel El-Fenn. It’s extraordinary.
6. PUGLIA, ITALY
If you have an appreciation for the ocean and caves, then you must get to Puglia in your lifetime. Preferably while you’re still young enough to descend the cliffs into the many grottos and spend days floating through the azure waters staring up at the ornate rock formations. The hilltop town is tiny and prides itself on the quaint attention to detail, the fresh produce, craftsmanship of the locals, the olive groves and the long sandy beaches. Puglia’s region of Calabria in fact, is irresistible all round. So hire a bicycle and take your time discovering it all!
STAY: Nearby Villa Taranto. Sweeping views. World-class swimming pool amid scented olive groves. But to be honest, forget where you’re staying… make sure you dine at Grotto Palazzese. Yes, it’s a restaurant inside a grotto.
7. MYKONOS, GREEK ISLANDS
There are many things The Greeks do brilliantly: food, smashing plates, dancing with enthusiasm and islands. The island of Mykonos is one of their best. It sizzles with fashionistas and cruise ship-goers which is all good and well, but it also boasts some of the most exclusive hotels in the world, many of which are as far away from the maddening crowds as you want to be. Skinny dipping around the Greek Islands is certainly one bucket list your friends would be in awe of!
STAY: Hotel San Giorgio. This is the place where I want to be buried.
8. JUKKASJARVI, SWEDEN
Imagine staring up into the night’s sky and viewing the natural fireworks of The Northern Lights – a heavenly light show of glittering stars reflected off the white snow at your feet. Jukkasjarvi is a tiny town above The Arctic Circle in Sweden and is the place to experience the glow of the Aurora Oval. And there’s one hotel in the world that has embraced the ice and the snow around it to make this journey an unforgettable experience. Sleep on reindeer skins, laid upon perfectly carved slabs of ice, in a wintry experience of luxury found nowhere else on earth.
STAY: The Ice Hotel, Sweden. Say no more.
9. SRI LANKA
Forbes has just voted Sri Lanka among the top ten coolest destinations of 2015. Here’s why… the diversity. As incredible as Sri Lanka is, it is still largely overlooked… and the prices reflect that. World class spa hotels are on offer at a fraction of the cost. Leopards, elephants, sloth bears and exotic birdlife inhabit this surprisingly diverse island… that also happens to boast exquisite beaches and lush forests with plunging waterfalls and verdant mountains.
STAY: Heritance Kandalama Hotel. It’s a unique hotel experience that aims to sit within the lush landscape, with an infinity pool gazing directly at the Sigiriya rock fortress, the eighth wonder of the world.
10. KAMPALA, RWANDA
If this truly is a bucket list, then it’s only right that we finish with the most meaningful destination of them all; one that gives something back to our souls, rather than takes away… a place that humbles us and leaves us feeling grateful for our earth and all of her inhabitants, especially our animals. So, to stare a silverback gorilla in the eyes, in the heart of the misty, volcanic Rwandan jungle is our ultimate bucket list experience. The price is worth it, to know that these magnificent beasts are being respected and protected… finally.
STAY: Volcanoes Safaris. The only tour company that has built their own exclusive eco-lodges near three of Africa’s best Gorilla parks and prides itself on fighting for the sustainability of these intelligent and awe-inspiring creatures.