January is a time for fresh starts, but often the chaos of the holiday season gets in the way. Escape the seasonal madness and take some time out to go somewhere off-the-grid, whether it’s the verdant Costa Rican rainforest or barren beauty of Iceland. These are our pick of the most beautiful and remote places to spend New Year.
Take some time at the start of 2018 to take a trip to Hawaii, a destination that offers both adventurous volcano scaling and relaxing on sun-kissed beaches in equal measure. The Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is home to the world’s largest volcano and there you can roam endless stretches of black-sand beach. The islands of Kona and Maui are a magical place to snorkel alongside colourful marine life like manta rays and sea turtles, or simply relax on the beach accompanied by the sound of the waves. For the truly virtuous, rise early and journey to the summit of Maui’s highest peak, Haleakala, where you can meditate on the year ahead as you take in the sunrise view.
Visit it on: Hawaiian Explorer Moderate
Start the New Year on a green foot and embark on an eco-adventure through Costa Rica. Visit the Monteverde cloud forest, where you can ascend the treetops for an unforgettable bird’s-eye view of its 26,000 acres of lush tropical foliage from a vertigo–inducing chain of suspension bridges. There’s plenty of opportunities to unwind on an eco-friendly organic farm, where you can also get stuck into adventurous early-morning rafting trips. Entire hikes are dedicated to spotting exotic birds, and howler monkeys and crocodiles make appearances on journeys along tree-lined canals. Celebrate the New Year with relaxing in a thermal pool looking up at the majesty of the colossal Arenal Volcano.
Visit it on: Costa Rica Eco Adventure End Liberia
Banish the January blues with a visit to Iceland’s intensely beautiful landscapes. Iceland is replete with natural splendours: explosive hot springs at Geysir, extraordinary fault line cracks at Thingvellier National Park, and of course, the mystical Northern Lights. The breath-taking scenery of Iceland’s stunning south coast is perfect for contemplating the past year, with the ice-capped volcano Eyjafjallajökull overlooking the spectacular waterfalls Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss being a particular highlight. The world-famous Blue Lagoon is an ideal spot for a memorable New Year’s dip.
Visit it on: Northern Lights of Iceland Including the Blue Lagoon
New Zealand’s Bay of Islands is the perfect place to recharge after a busy year. Encompassing over 140 islands with talcumpowder-white beaches, the bay is home to whales and bottlenose dolphins, which you can observe as you glide gently across the crystal waters and squeeze through Paihia’s super-narrow ‘Hole in the Rock’. Unmissable is the incredible Waitomo Grotto, a subterranean cavern with limestone stalactites dazzlingly lit up by thousands of tiny glow worms. In Rotorua, it’s all about making the most of mornings, so you can tick that box off on your January resolutions list. Early morning sun is the best light to enjoy the impressive geothermic landscapes of geysers and mud pools, as well as the stunning fauna and flora in Rainbow Springs Nature Park.
Visit it on: Bays of Islands and Rotorua Unearthed New Zealand
If you’re after some serenity in 2018, then take note from the Buddhist nuns who live in Mandalay’s hillside sanctuary of golden pagodas and discover the spiritual reverence of Myanmar. In the rural countryside, fields of soy and sesame are dotted between villages surrounded by swaying palm trees. Traverse Myanmar’s many rivers and tranquil lakes to see teak houses on tall stilts through thick tropical mangroves. Not to be missed is Hsinbyme Paya, an exquisite pagoda of seven terraces which first appears as if made of white sugar cubes. In Mingun, you can quite literally ring in the New Year with the world’s largest bronze bell weighing a mighty 87 tonnes.
Visit it on: Spiritual Burma