Sail Away To These Five Pristine Places

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pristine places Want to escape crowds of tourists and take the road less traveled? You’re not alone. Vacations to unspoiled destinations are increasingly popular. These locations are filled with gorgeous scenery, enticing beaches, tons of wildlife, and lots of opportunities for soft adventure.

Some of the world’s most beautiful places are best explored by boat or small cruise ship. These off-the-radar spots are havens for nature lovers, watersports enthusiasts, hikers, and those who want to relax and unwind. Here are five great destinations to discover on your next trip:

* Abaco Islands, Bahamas: The Abacos are one of the world’s best boating locations. These islands are filled with spectacular beaches, quaint historic towns, casual resorts, cool beach bars, and unique shops and artist colonies. The fishing is legendary, as is the snorkeling and diving. Spending time enjoying watersports are one of the most popular ways to spend time on an Abacos vacation. Those who explore these islands on land, however, will find great birdwatching and tantalizing blue holes just begging for a swim. While the Abacos are extremely popular with the yachting set, you don’t need to own your own boat to explore this lovely island chain. The Abaco Beach Resort at Boat Harbour offers a free boat special for guests who stay at the property for five nights or more. The package provides a free center console boat rental to cruise the Sea of Abaco, oceanfront accommodations, and children ages 12 and under stay free. For more information, visit

* Costa Rica & Panama: Costa Rica has long been known for its abundant wildlife and the splendor of its national parks. Although not as widely promoted, Panama is equally rich in flora and fauna. The country’s Pacific and Caribbean coasts are filled with breathtaking scenery and remote islands surrounded by vibrant coral reefs. On a Star Clippers tall ship cruise, guests have the opportunity to explore both of these destinations. These graceful sailing ships accommodate less than 200 passengers and allow adventurers to access ports that cannot be accessed by large cruise ships. On the Costa Rica/Panama itinerary, guests can snorkel and dive at Panama’s Isla Iguana nature reserve, relax on the beach at Panama’s uninhabited Isla Gamez, hike in the rainforest around Costa Rica’s Drake Bay, discover the marine life in Costa Rica’s Islas Tortugas National Reserve and Curu Wildlife Reserve, and more. For additional information, visit

* Galapagos Islands: Where can you snorkel with penguins, swim with sea lions, kayak with manta rays, lounge with lizards, and get up close to giant tortoises all in one vacation? Only in the Galapagos Islands, a remote and stunning chain of islands located six hundred miles off the coast of Ecuador. A small ship cruise through the Galapagos Islands is the ultimate eco-adventure. Each day spent here is a living lesson in nature and a chance to make memories that will last a lifetime. Ecoventura is a top ranked, award-winning company operating comfortable 83-foot motor yachts accommodating up to 20 people. Their naturalist guides are superb. Ecoventura offers several unique 7-night expedition itineraries exploring pristine islands throughout the Galapagos as well as land-based extensions in Ecuador and Peru. For more information, visit

* Mexico’s Sea of Cortés: Located south of California, Mexico’s Sea of Cortés is a spectacular destination for nature lovers. Jacques Cousteau explored the Sea of Cortés as part of his expeditions and called it the “Galapagos of North America” and “the world’s aquarium” due to the massive amount of wildlife found in this area. UNESCO also designated the Sea of Cortés and its 244 islands as a World Heritage and Biosphere Reserve. Un-Cruise Adventures takes its voyagers on 7-night un-cruise adventures through this stunning region. Guests have the opportunity to swim and snorkel with sea lions at Los Islotes, spend time hiking and beachcombing at Isla Espiritu Santo, go kayaking and paddleboarding in Bahia Agua Verde, look for whales and dolphins, and maybe even visit with friendly gray whales in Bahia Magdalena if the timing is right. To learn more about Un-Cruise Adventures and their enchanting voyages to Mexico’s Sea of Cortés as well as other unspoiled destinations, visit

* South Pacific: Paul Gauguin Cruises’ luxury cruise ship, the m/s Paul Gauguin, is an excellent way to explore the spectacular landscapes, culture, history, and natural wonders found in Tahiti, French Polynesia and the South Pacific. This ship was specifically designed for the shallower waters found in this region, so guests are able to visit smaller ports that aren’t available on larger ships. Although all of the line’s Tahiti & South Pacific itineraries are good choices for exploring this relatively untouched region, the best for voyaging to remote destinations are the 10-night Society Islands & Tuamotus sailings. Guests voyaging on this extensive itinerary visit lush Huahine, breathtaking Bora Bora, Rangiroa – home to tiny villages and black pearl farms, and Fakarava – designated by UNESCO as a nature reserve. For more information, visit

Nancy Schretter is Managing Editor of the Family Travel Network.

Photo Credit: Nancy Schretter

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