Have you ever noticed how photos and advertisements for famous tourist destinations always have one glaring omission? Yes, the sparkling pools are pictured, the scenic mountain tops, and the sandy beaches, but what you never see until you get there are the crowds of people blocking your views and taking up space in the sand and water?
If you think the only way to avoid the droves of people is to rent your own private island or travel in the off-season, think again. Here are seven destinations that are as amazing or better than popular locales minus the masses.
Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Old Faithful tends to draw the biggest crowds, but Yellowstone has another, less frequented gem — the Grand Prismatic Spring. This 160 degree Fahrenheit natural spring is only fit for bacteria (no need to wear a bathing suit), and the bacteria along with a combination of photosynthesis and refracted light gives the spring its gorgeous rainbow of colors.
If you’re dodging tourists while in Ireland, skip Stonehenge and checkout the even more historic site, Newgrange — an ancient passage tomb. Newgrange gets the most attention during the winter solstice when the sun’s rays align perfectly to illuminate the tomb’s chamber. But even then, only 200 people are allowed to visit and attendees are chosen by lottery.
The Caribbean is a haven for tourists, but some islands, like Anguilla, get much less attention and are ideal for those who can do without the hype. Anguilla has the powdery beaches and turquoise waters that are found throughout the Caribbean, but is much more low-key than St. Barths. Thanks to a number of gourmet French chefs, the island also has some of the best dining in the region.
Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania
If you want to skip the more commercial reserves while in Africa and see animals in their natural habitat, visit the Ngorongoro Crater. This depression houses an assortment of animals, including rhinos, lions, leopards, elephants, and buffalo, and if you’re there in December or June, you can witness the massive, one million animal migration.
The Colosseum, Italy
Obviously, the Colosseum is a major tourist attraction, but what you may not know is you can now explore beneath the ancient amphitheater by taking advantage of the special tours that take small groups to see where the gladiators and animals were kept and where bodies were removed.
Oak Creek Canyon, Sedona, Arizona
Oak Creek Canyon is sometimes called the smaller cousin of the Grand Canyon. This means you can enjoy all the hiking, fishing, rock hounding, and photo ops found in the Grand Canyon/Flagstaff area, but feel more one with nature instead of with tourists.
Far less commercial than Hawaii or even Fiji are the Cook Islands located in the heart of Polynesia in the Pacific. They have some of the most secluded beaches you can find and the remoteness allows you to experience the real culture of the people instead of the clichéd version promoted at more touristy islands.
Do you have any secret, uncrowded vacation spots you’re willing to divulge? If so, share below.