31 must-try trends, destinations and experiences for your travel wish list

Uncover 31 travel trends embracing everything from astrotourism to coolcationing this ultimate travel wish list from V&T.

Heavenly Heritance Aarah Maldives

Impossibly blue waters framed by talcum-white sands, palm trees waving softly in the breeze. Even by Maldives’ standards, the Heritance Aarah is standout. Sitting in the Raa Atoll, 40 minutes by seaplane from the Maldivian capital of Malé, the journey here is mesmerising – the arrival is jaw-dropping. Stay in an overwater ocean suite with an infinity pool. Enjoy fine dining in your room with top-notch drops from a personal wine cellar. Then, spend the evening stargazing from your plunge pool before being rocked to sleep in your suite by the hypnotic sound of the waves. Sound like a honeymoon? It is, but children are welcome here too.

Read: All-inclusive Heritance Aarah Resort is the ultimate Maldives getaway

Be seduced by Socotra

If you haven’t heard of Socotra, you’re not alone. This remote, isolated isle in the northwest Indian Ocean near the Gulf of Aden is where cliffs cleave into lagoons, white sand beaches have gin-coloured water and endless rolling sand dunes. Whether it’s Socotra, or exploring the ancient architecture and remote cobbled villages where shepherds herd flocks in Uzbekistan in Central Asia, travelling to destinations few have heard of with Crooked Compass should be on your travel wish list. And with life-changing results.

Dragon Blood Trees on Socotra at sunset
The Dragon Blood Trees can only be found on Socotra © Andrew Svk Unsplash

Visit Switzerland’s adventure capital

On the banks of the Aare River between lakes Thun and Brienz in Switzerland, Interlaken deserves its reputation as Europe’s adventure capital. If you want to feel humbled by nature, linger at Jungfraujoch, 3,454 metres above sea level. Icy air sweeps over your face, snow crunches underfoot, and the panorama takes your breath away. On one side, the Swiss Mittelland. On the other, the Aletsch Glacier, lined with 4,000 peaks. You can visit the Sphinx Observation Deck at the summit via an ultrafast lift that climbs 108 metres in 25 seconds. Then, explore the Ice Palace and its treasures: ice sculptures of eagles, penguins and bears, among other glistening gems. This is a vista that you won’t forget in a hurry.

Read: Jungfrau: Switzerland’s secret alpine paradise

 Sphinx Observation Deck Switerland
Jungfraujoch – Top of Europe © Switzerland Tourism

Take the Shinkansen train to Shizuoka City

Within easy reach of Tokyo, Shizuoka prefecture unites some of Japan’s most legendary landscapes with culinary delights and culture. It’s a breeze to get to from Tokyo with a Shinkansen train connection to Shizuoka City and Atami at the top of the Izu Peninsula. Perhaps Japan’s most recognisable landmark, Mount Fuji, is a draw for traveller to Shizuoka. One of the best ways to experience the mountain is by climbing to its summit (even beginners can do it). The official climbing season typically runs from early July to early September.

Read: 10 unforgettable experiences in Shizuoka Prefecture

The Nihondaira Yume Terrace
The Nihondaira Yume Terrace offers 360-degree views of Mount Fuji, Shimizu Port, Suruga Bay and the Izu Peninsula © Tourism Shizuoka Japan

Eco-diving in Great Barrier Reef

Under the crystalline waters of our World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef lies a vibrant wonderland teeming with colour and life. Many eco-diving companies are leading the way in Queensland, including Tusa Reef Tours, an Advanced eco-certified business, that has proven its determination to have minimal impact on the precious reef and the colourful creatures who call it home. So pull on an oxygen mask and flippers and dive in! Other operators championing reef preservation include Passions of Paradise, Quicksilver Cruises, Ocean Freedom, and Dreamtime Dive & Snorkel.

Diver in the Great Barrier Reef
Dive the crystalline waters of the Great Barrier Reef © Adobe Stock

Explore Kakadu from the Kakadu Crocodile Hotel

With striking natural landscapes, rich Indigenous history, and a treasure trove of exciting attractions, a trip to Kakadu is an absolute must for your travel wish list. Experience the Indigenous-owned Mercure Kakadu Crocodile Hotel, an architectural tribute to the region’s renowned saltwater crocodile. Immerse yourself in Aboriginal culture, showcased through local art and artist workshops. In the Jabiru township of Kakadu National Park, the hotel is your gateway to the northern region’s attractions, including Bowali, Ubirr, Cahills Crossing, and Arnhem Land.

Read: The best things to do in Kakadu National Park

Diving into Maguk Falls in Kakadu
Diving into Maguk Falls in Kakadu © Kylie Hunter & Hayley Anderson | Tourism NT

All new Tokyo

The Japanese capital has its fair share of buzzy urban neighbourhoods with the latest the Azabudi Hills precinct in Tokyo‘s southwest. New openings here include Tokyo Node, a diverse space boasting restaurants, experimental art galleries and a rooftop garden fitted with an infinity pool. A highlight is dining at Florilege, which is set to debut a fresh plant-based menu. Art enthusiasts can anticipate the much-awaited rebirth of the teamLab Borderless Museum. The attraction now has 7,000 square metres to explore and is more eye-popping and awe-inspiring than ever.

teamLab, Bubble Universe Physical Light, Bubbles of Light, Wobbling Light, and Environmental Light - One Stroke © teamLab
teamLab Borderless Museum © teamLab

Heavenly Hakuba Valley

Careening down a snow-packed mountain is one of the most exhilarating experiences you can have and should be on everyone travel wish list. And Japan, with its great snow quality, incredible sights and luxury accommodations, is hard to look past. Home to 10 resorts boasting an abundance of powdery snowfall, the picturesque Hakuba Valley is the place to be. At the foot of the Northern Alps in the Nagano Prefecture (300 kilometres northwest of Tokyo), caters to all ages and ski levels. From gentle groomed slopes and to adrenaline-inducing black runs. Need to give your ski legs a rest? The Hakuba Mountain Harbor offers a haven for weary snow bunnies. Warm up with a steaming mug of coffee and pastry on the outdoor deck and soak up the awe-inspiring alpine views.

Read: Your guide to family skiing in Japan’s Hakuba Valley

Family sitting outside at the Hakuba Mountain Harbor cafe on a ski holiday in Japan
Take in the views from at the Hakuba Mountain Harbor cafe © Hiroya Nakata

Wild for Washington, DC

While Washington, DC has typically been embedded in politics, the US capital is shaking things up regarding dining, arts and attractions – and why it should be on your travel wish list. Washington, DC is compact and well-planned, with most of its major attractions within walking distance of each other. If you prefer to explore on two wheels, there are more than 160 kilometre of bike lanes and trails, not to mention the country’s largest bike-sharing system. And then there’s public transport: choose between the hop-on, hop-off Old Town Trolley or Big Bus, Metrorail, Metrobus and DC Circulator.

Read: The best things to do in Washington, DC

Couple enjoying cocktails on rooftop bar in Washington, DC
Vue Rooftop © washington.org

Set sail around Komodo National Park

The five-star AYANA Komodo Waecicu Beach resort on Flores Island, Indonesia, is about to welcome guests on cruises aboard its luxury yacht, the Ayana Lako Di’a. The two-day cruise will visit the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Komodo National Park – home of the Komodo dragons, the largest lizards on Earth. The AYANA Lako Di’a is a modern revival of the traditional phinisi wooden sailing ships that have been part of the seafaring cultures of South Sulawesi since the early 20th century. But you won’t have to give up on contemporary creature comforts aboard. It is one of the largest luxury vessels in Western Flores.

Read: First look at AYANA Komodo Waecicu Beach luxury yacht

AYANA Lako Dia Main Deck
Dine on the main deck of AYANA Lako Di’a © AYANA

Wild about Wakatobi Resort

Home to more than 18,000 islands, Indonesia offers some of the most dazzling water experiences on the planet. Wakatobi Resort is the ultimate base to dive in. Located on Indonesia’s island of Sulawesi, Wakatobi is remote – and that’s part of the allure. When you’re here, nature rules, from the jungles that envelop the resort to the immense marine life you’ll soon discover in the pristine lagoon. There’s no noise from traffic. No streetlights. No pollution. Bliss. Despite its isolation, Wakatobi is a breeze to reach – from Bali, a charter flight takes you to the resort’s private airstrip in less than three hours.

Read: This Indonesian resort is home to the World’s Best Shore Dive

Wakatobi villa with private beach
Wakatobi is remote – and that’s part of the allure © Wakatobi Resort

Crazy for Canggu Bali

Bali has its fair share of buzzy neighbourhoods. Arguably the most eye-catching (and fastest developing) of them all is Canggu. Base yourself here, and you have culture, beautiful nature, great surf, fantastic food, plenty of spa and massage options, shopping galore, fitness and yoga options, and not to mention epic beach clubs. Which are all on your doorstep when you check in to the Holiday Inn Resort Bali Canggu.

Holiday Inn Resort Bali Canggu is perched on a hilltop with 180-degree sweeping views of the Indian Ocean. Calming design flows throughout, from the pool bar to the infinity pool and 144 rooms. Choose from Standard Rooms, Suites and Kids’ Suites with fish-themed bunk beds. Spend your days walking to Batu Bolong Beach, relaxing on a sun lounger by the pool or eating local dishes at the resort’s Roomah Restaurant.

Bali sunset by pool with ocean views
The infinity pool at Holiday Inn Resort Bali Canggu

Enter the Grand Egyptian Museum

It’s been a long time coming, but the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) is set to open and why it should be on your travel wish list. Touted as the “new crown jewel of Egypt”, the GEM will also be one of the world’s largest, most modern museums. Located next door to the Pyramids just outside Cairo on the Giza Plateau, the museum will host 100,000 ancient artefacts – 4,549 from the tomb of the famous King Tutankhamun. A gigantic 83-tonne 3,200-year-old Ramses II statue, which had previously stood in the middle of a traffic circle in Ramses Square, now stands proudly at the GEM’s main entrance.

Grand Egyptian Museum houses 100,000 ancient artefacts
Grand Egyptian Museum will host 100,000 ancient artefacts © Adobe Stock

Northern Rivers Rail Trail

Being in nature makes you feel good and those visiting the Northern Rivers region of NSW are about to get a double dose of happy endorphins thanks to new trails for hikers and cyclists alike. The first phase of the Northern Rivers Rail Trail recently welcomed outdoor enthusiasts, running through the Tweed and connecting Murwillumbah to Crabbes Creek. When complete, it will span 132 kilometres through this fertile region. Meanwhile, the 39 kilometre Gidjuum Gulganyi Walk will open in mid-2024, passing through Australia’s World Heritage-listed Gondwana Rainforests.

‘Wild feasting’ in New Zealand

New Zealand’s Indigenous people, Māori, have been plucking plants from native forests for over a thousand years. At Treetops Lodge, a stone’s throw from the North Island city of Rotorua, you can now join the chef on its 1,000 hectares of private native forest to discover native plants like pikipiko fern, horopito and kawakawa. Learn not only how to cook them, but their medicinal purposes.

Treetops lodge waterfall in New Zealand
Wild feasting and waterfalls © Treetops Lodge

Serene Bali sanctuary for adults-only

The luxurious Kayon Valley Resort rises to the meaning of its name – ‘the secret that grows from Earth towards heaven’. The five-star resort in Ubud Bali fits the bill perfectly providing a serene jungle sanctuary for those looking for an adult-only travel wish list find. Verdant tropical gardens are dotted with 22 luxury pool villas blending seamlessly into the lush landscape. Splash about in your own private infinity pool or spa while soaking up the beauty of the Balinese hinterland. Then order tasty treats and cocktails to be delivered in a floating basket – there is no need to leave your watery oasis.

Private infinity pool in Ubud Bali
Splash about in your own private infinity pool © Kayon Valley Resort

Set sail in a superyacht

Private touring is officially in vogue. Sixty-one per cent of Americans are interested in travelling with just extended family or friends this year, according to a survey by Embark Beyond, and Australians are following suit. Explore Worldwide is answering the call. By gathering a bunch of your favourite people, you can now join a guide on an itinerary with the group made up solely of your inner circle. Take a private tour of India with three generations of your family, or charter a flight with an exclusive group to the Pyramids.

Group on boat with champagne © Shutterstock
Private touring is officially in vogue © Shutterstock

Cool travels to the Nordics

Soaring temperatures have seen flop-and-drop holidays on the way out – and ‘coolcationing’ on the way in. Those who used to spend days laying on a white sand beach in searing heat are now looking to nature, and the cooler, the better – literally with Abercrombie & Kent. Think riding a snowmobile through the Arctic wilderness under the glow of the Northern Lights, cruising Antarctica on a luxurious ship while watching hundreds of king penguins waddling among the icy landscape, and being dwarfed by towering fjords with plunging waterfalls while you stroll quaint villages in Norway.

Girl in misty mountain © AdobeStock_448492550
‘Coolcationing’ is the new travel trend © Adobe Stock

Around the World Luxury Train Voyage

There’s no doubt about it – a return to the romance of train travel has come back in a big way, and we’re on board with Railbookers. Not only is it an environmentally friendly way to travel – it’s glorious! So we say ‘go big or go home’ with the extravagant 80-day ‘Around the World Luxury Train Voyage’. Departing in Vancouver, guests will journey on seven of the world’s most opulent train trips. This epic rail bonanza will take in 13 countries on four continents before stopping in Singapore. Included are high-end accommodations in dozens of locales and 24 nights in luxe private cabins on the rails.

Railbrookers Venice Simplon Orient Express Bar Car
Venice Simplon Orient Express Bar Car © Railbrookers

Surfing in Tahiti

Barracking for a sports team is a national pastime, but it’s not enough to watch your favourite game from the comfort of your couch. We want to feel the energy, join the roar of the crowd and get our hearts racing. And there are few ways to do it better (while keeping other family members happy) than the 2024 Olympic surfing events in Tahiti (27 July – 5 August). Watch the world’s best carve up the waves at Teahupo’o, then head back to your bungalow at Vanira Lodge on the lush mountainside and sip cocktails to lagoon views.

Catch the world’s best surfers in Tahiti © Jeremy Bishop Unsplash

Sleep in the Wild

Jamala Wildlife Lodge offers five-star accommodation yet it is also home to a magnificent menagerie of majestic and exotic residents. Walk around with handlers to visit lions, tigers and bears? Absolutely. Witness a giraffe from your room’s balcony? Go for it. Located at the edge of Lake Burley Griffin within Canberra’s National Zoo & Aquarium, the Lodge gives you the opportunity to get up close and personal with the world’s most unique and endangered animals – safely and ethically. With 18 Africanlodge-inspired rooms spread across three zones you are treated to an all-inclusive adventure with access to behind-the-scenes tours and encounters with some of the National Zoo & Aquarium’s most treasured residents.

Read: Sleep with the wild at Jamala Wildlife Lodge

Jamala Wildlife Lodge
Witness a giraffe from your room’s balcony © Jamala Wildlife Lodge

Get arty in Bendigo

Become an art aficionado and enjoy lively debate by joining the Talking Pictures series in Bendigo at its popular art gallery. Each program, led by a gallery guide and held on the fourth Friday of every month, focuses on an artwork to instigate discussion among the group. It’s an opportunity to connect with fellow art lovers and gain insights into artworks from the gallery’s permanent collection. More good news? It is free.

Read: Experience Bendigo with these exciting events

Retreat into silent travel

With our increasingly hectic and tech-fuelled lives, it’s no wonder that silent travel is becoming the next big thing. From meditation and sleep retreats to quiet hotels, soundless walking tours and silent discos. Partake in a silent tea ceremony in Boulder, US, soak up the sounds of the sea and bushland at a ‘forest therapy’ experience at Montemarcello Regional Park in Italy. Or combine silence and nature at a quiet retreat in Peneda-Gerês National Park, Portugal, through Quiet Parks International.

Girl doing yoga on a deck in the jungle
Silent travel is the next big thing © Shutterstock

Sensational Central America

In one for the cruise fanatics travel wish list, South and Central America are set to welcome a host of new experiences. These include a fresh National Geographic and Lindblad Expeditions cruise between Belize and Tikal, the launch of AmaMagdalena on itineraries around Colombia, a Viking cruise through Patagonia from Santiago to Ushuaia, and Swan Hellenic‘s new ship SH Diana exploring northern Peru.

Take an Astro Tour to Ayres Rock

‘Astrotravel’ is a taking off! One of the best places in the world to stargaze is in Australia’s spiritual heartland, Uluru. Due to low light pollution, you can marvel at a vast gem-studded outback sky with the awe-inspiring red rock as your backdrop. Explore the expansive southern night landscape through telescopes on ‘The Astro Tour’ by Voyages at Ayres Rock Resort as expert guides educate and inspire by explaining the universe’s evolution.

Stargaze in Australia’s spiritual heartland © Tourism NT | Luke Tscharke

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Cycle the Shimanami Kaido route in Japan

Environmentally friendly cycling tours are on the up! Island hop on a 70 kilometre cycling track on the Shimanami Kaido route in Japan’s picture-perfect region of Setouchi. The storied route, which can be reached by a one-hour ferry ride from Osaka, connects six main islands via bridges for uninterrupted biking joy.

Two bicycles against a Shimanami sign in Japan
Cycle the Shimanami Kaido route © Adobe Stock

Red Sea Resort

Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea coast stretches for more than 2,000km. Much of that is undeveloped, with all turquoise water, offshore islands, pristine beaches, and coral reefs. The Saudi government is pumping billions into two new eco-tourism projects: The Red Sea Project and AMAALA. Across the pair, there will be more than 50 new hotels, and everything will be powered with 100 per cent renewable energy. The St Regis Red Sea Resort is now open on Ummahat Island. With Nujuma, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve to welcome guests from May.

Diver in the Red Sea
Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea © Neom NumwI Unsplash

River cruising in Europe

Riviera Travel River Cruises prides itself on epic itineraries at more affordable prices. Soak up the lush landscapes along the romantic Rhine. Marvel at the cultural wonders of the history-rich Danube. Take in breathtaking scenery while meandering along the tranquil Douro. Or be awed by the breathtaking Provençal countryside while on the Rhône. With more than 20 itineraries, there’s something for everyone.

Indigenous-led Eco-Tours

Quebec is the largest of Canada’s 10 provinces, offering a vast stage for wide-ranging Indigenous-led experiences. Nunavik, Quebec’s northernmost region and homeland of the Inuit, has long been off most travellers’ radars. Inuit-owned Ungava Polar Eco-Tours offers five-day adventures to the uninhabited Gyrfalcon Islands in Ungava Bay. Here visitors are able to spot wildlife from polar bears to musk ox and caribou and experience some of the highest tidal elevations in the world.

 Polar bears in the wild in Canada
Spot wildlife like polar bears © Dustin Bowdige Unsplash

Paragliding in Saint Moritz

There’s only one thing better than paragliding over the Swiss Alps, and that is doing it at night. Swooping and soaring high above by moonlight is a travel dream on many people’s bucket lists. The Kulm Hotel in Saint Moritz is taking guests to new heights with its ‘Moonlight Paragliding’ experience. Here, you’ll fly high into an inky alpine sky by the evening light of the Engadin before enjoying a night of stargazing once you land.

Airborne to Antarctica

Antarctica is now a little easier to experience thanks to a series of seasonal flights from Australia to the icy continent – in a day. This part of the world is extremely fragile, so you won’t touch down. Instead, you’ll jump aboard a Qantas Dreamliner (no passport required) with Antarctica Flights and spend 12 hours jetting over icebergs, glaciers, the Antarctic desert and jagged mountain ranges. Experts from the Antarctic Science Foundation will impress you with facts like volcanic Mount Erebus has been erupting in Antarctica for 1.3 million years (you fly over it) or that Cape Adare has the largest colony of Adélie penguins in Antarctica, numbering 250,000+ breeding pairs; apparently, some icebergs can be 50km long. Your plane flies at 18,000 feet for most of the journey – instead of 38,000 – so you can capture the glistening spectacle below you in all its glory.

Antarctica Flights wing over snowy mountains
Australia to Antarctica – in a day © Antarctica Flights

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