Hidden Travel Gems

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Sunset from Horseshoe Bay, Magnetic Island, Australia (Wikipedia)

Veteran Globetrotters Reveal Favorite Travel “Discoveries”

Everyone likes to come upon a “find,” a wonderful, unexpected discovery. It may be an old roll-top writing desk you’ve always coveted staring back at you at a neighbor’s garage sale or a seafood dish so good that your mouth still waters at the mere memory of consuming it. For many seasoned travelers, of course, the great finds are amazing, soul-stirring places that even they didn’t know about until fairly recently, places that they consider the true hidden gems of travel.

Fortunately, some travel writers are happy to share their discoveries with the rest of us. And here are picks from three of them.

1. Magnetic Island, Queensland, Australia

One great find for Katie Sorene, who often writes for Tripbaseblog, is Magnetic Island about five miles off the coast of Queensland, Australia. Only about 20 square miles in size, about half of the land has been set aside as Magnetic Island National Park. “Why wasn’t the place swamped with tourists?” Katie asked when she was there. She found the beaches stunning, loved the experience of riding around the island in a golf buggy, and couldn’t get over the absence of crowds. “All very mysterious,” she noted, “but what a find!”

Other hidden gems Katie recommends are Koufonisia, a little-known Greek island, and London’s Little Bay Restaurant. For more, visit Katie’s Tripbase blog.

2. Stranja National Park, Bulgaria

One hidden gem for Cherrye Moore, who writes for the travel guide, BootsnAll, is Stranja National Park in southeast Bulgaria, where rare plants and beautiful forests give visitors a rare glimpse into pre-ice age Europe. Stranja, Cherrye reports, is also known in Bulgaria for its fire dancers who dance in their bare feet on fiery flames and, as she notes, “give new meaning to the expression ‘burning up the dance floor.’” In addition, visitors can occupy their time riding camels in the village of Sinemorets, cruise the Veleka River, or lounge on some lovely Black Sea beaches.

Some of Cherrye’s other recommendations include: Yogyakarta, Indonesia; Bimini Islands, Bahamas; and Catanzaro, Italy. To learn more about them, check out her blog.

3. Le Pain Quotidien

A writer whose online handle is simply Isabelle and who pens Isabelle’s Travel Guide has also shared some of her most cherished travel secrets. One of them is Le Pain Quotidien (French for “Daily Bread). Yes, this isn’t an exotic city or lush, under-appreciated tropical isle. Instead, it’s a chain of Belgian bakeries and restaurants that serve, as Isabelle notes, “simple elegant food: soup, salads, breakfast, homemade pastries, and handmade organic bread.” One feature of every Le Pain Quotidien that especially impresses Isabelle is a communal table, where both friends and strangers can come together, have their meal or snack, and perhaps share some great stories or other interesting conversation. “Isn’t that what we want as travelers!” Isabelle adds.

Other favorite hidden gems Isabelle lists are Isla Soana, Dominican Republic, and Mason Don Carnol, a restaurant in Madrid. To learn more about these destinations, visit Isabelle’s Travel Guide

In your travels, what is your favorite hidden gem? Is it a city, an island, a museum, a sightseeing tour, a restaurant, or maybe even a hiking trail? Whatever the case, let us know. We’d love to hear what you have to say.