There are trips we strongly recommend you take and then there are those that we basically demand. Trust us, as travel experts, we know the getaways that should make your bucket list. Here are eight trips you HAVE to take before you die -- and we even ordered them chronologically with the adventure you should embark on first in the number one spot. Because, not like you can't go surfing at 95, but it's probably better (and more enjoyable) if you just relax on the sand at that point.
1. Surf-Centric Vacation in Hawaii
In recent years, Costa Rica has successfully pitted itself against Hawaii as a destination with an awesome surf culture -- but we're still handing the victory to Hawaii. After all, we've got to have some America pride! And with eight main islands, it's bound to have a great spot for you to surf, whether you're a beginner looking for baby waves or you seek some gnarly barrels.
Our Hotel Pick: Kalani Hawaii, Oahu
The 10-room Kalani Hawaii Private Lodging is a hostel with a bed-and-breakfast vibe, thanks to owners Maria and Bernie, the latter of whom is a former Triple Crown of Surfing contest director. The grounds are small but pretty and the beaches of North Shore, known for excellent surfing, are just across the street.
2. Diving Adventure at the Bioluminescent Bay in Puerto Rico
Just a short drive from Puerto Rico's Old San Juan, this famed "Bio Bay" puts on nature's most magnificent light show: At night, when the bay is inky black beneath the light of the moon, microscopic plankton glow turquoise. While swimming and kayaking through the neon waters is certainly cool, we'd argue that scuba-diving may be the most awe-inspiring way to experience it. However, diving at night is a totally different ballgame than when the sun's out, so if you've never done it before, perhaps try a day dive first.
Our Hotel Pick: Hotel El Convento, Old San Juan
There is nothing quite like the European-style El Convento in the medieval city of Old San Juan. It was a convent for 252 years, and today it's the neighborhood's principal upscale hotel, offering 58 elegant rooms and suites filled with Spanish antique treasures and modern amenities.
3. African Safari in Botswana
Northern Botswana's diverse and exotic wildlife has made it a tourist destination for the affluent and adventurous, and it embodies the fantasy of Africa: a land with open savannas, sandy deserts, and shimmering orange sunsets, where elephants, lions, leopards hippos, buffalo, hyenas, zebra, cheetahs, crocodiles, and giraffes are still wild.
Our Hotel Pick: andBeyond Nxabega Okavango Tented Camp
This luxurious safari lodge in Botswana delivers everything you'd expect from the excellent &Beyond chain: amazing tents with plush beds, phenomenal service, tasty food, and safari excursions with first-rate guides.
4. Camping Excursion in Yosemite National Park
Perhaps the best-known national park in the U.S., Yosemite National Park is not only an attraction unto itself, but it is also home to numerous natural wonders -- that are attractions themselves as well. Picturesque granite cliffs and mountains (Half Dome and El Capitan being two of the most popular), winding streams, beautiful waterfalls, and Giant Sequoias create a gorgeous backdrop to a rugged camping experience.
Our Hotel Pick: Wawona Hotel
Yosemite's Wawona Hotel is not only one of the oldest mountain resorts in California, but is also a National Historic Landmark. Located between the Mariposa Groves and tourist hot spot Yosemite Valley, the hotel occupies its own patch of secluded property of streams and forest.
5. Romantic Getaway to Paris
Paris is the "city of light," the art and fashion capital of the world -- and undoubtedly the most romantic city in the world. As France's capital, Paris boasts a plethora of museums, monuments, and astounding examples of architecture, ranging from the iconic Eiffel Tower, built in 1889, to the Gothic-style Notre Dame Cathedral, dating back to the Middle Ages. Romance-focused visitors often stroll along the Seine to take in the many sites, or walk down the Champs-Elysee, lined by high-end shops and crowned by the Arc de Triomphe.
Our Hotel Pick: La Maison Favart
This upscale boutique hotel is one of the best choices in Paris, and offers surprisingly competitive rates for the level of luxury. It is named for the founder of the Opera Comique across the street, and the decor blends influences of the 18th-century theater with modern trends. Several metro lines are nearby, and popular sights such as the Louvre are within walking distance.
6. Cultural Escape to Venice
With a total of 51, Italy has more UNESCO World Heritage Sites than any other country in the world -- and Venice is home to many of them. In fact, "Venice and its lagoon" as a whole make the list. Visitors come for Venice's rich history, fabulous museums (such as the Peggy Guggenheim), and delicious food. And it wouldn't be a trip without a gondola ride or a stroll around one of the city's ancient squares.
Our Hotel Pick: Luna Hotel Baglioni
The Luna Hotel Baglioni is a luxury chain hotel with 104 rooms located less than a two-minute walk from the shops, restaurants, and architecture of Saint Mark’s Square. Canova, an award-winning restaurant serving Italian and international cuisine, is on-site along with a café and full bar. Prices are a lower at the Bauer Hotel, but it’s farther from Saint Mark’s and less luxurious.
7. Foodie Adventure in New Orleans
NOLA has been known for its delectable grub for years, but in the past decade or so it has found a spot on the country's fine-dining scene as well. Whether you want a classic shrimp po' boy, a creole stew with a gourmet twist, or a beignet heavily dusted in powdered sugar, you'll be able to find it in this fantastic foodie city.
Our Hotel Pick: The Roosevelt New Orleans
With a grand lobby, classic rooms, a rooftop pool, a historic restaurant, and wonderful service, The Roosevelt attracts a varied crowd of celebrities, well-heeled couples, and business travelers. The upscale spa, the large fitness center, and the hotel’s central location are all great features, but guests should note that there are fees for Wi-Fi and for valet parking.
8. Beach Retreat in the Maldives
Made up of 26 atolls scattered in the Indian Ocean, the Maldives is a beach destination that's totally set apart from other tropical getaways like the Caribbean and Mexico -- making it a great way to treat yourself after making your way around the globe on your various adventures. These remote, tranquil islands are known for their over-the-water huts and terrific snorkeling and diving locales. But if you're feeling lively and looking to revisit your initial trip, surfing has recently become popular here as well.
Our Hotel Pick: Olhuveli Beach & Spa Resort
With plenty of on-site activities, beautiful beaches, and above-average food, Olhuveli Beach & Spa Resort is a solid value for the Maldives and is surrounded by white-sand beaches and a shallow turquoise lagoon. Some sections of beach are more breathtaking than others, but guests should have no trouble claiming a picture-perfect spot. Cushioned loungers and palapa umbrellas are up for grabs, and a beach bar is available for drinks on the southern end of the island. The resort's 164 rooms range from basic beachside units to upscale water villas, and connecting rooms are available for families. Those interested in flying in a seaplane should also consider Kuredu Island Resort, which has even more amenities and free in-room Wi-Fi.
Dig this story?? Then you'll LOVE these: