7 Unique Travel Experiences To Add To Your Bucket List

The magical island retreat of Joali Being in the Maldives

With extraordinary experience-led trips a key travel trend in 2022, KATIE BERRINGTON rounds up seven destinations to put on your bucket list

Cascading waterfalls and early morning surfing are just a few of the adventures that await at Habitas Santa Teresa in Costa Rica

The jungle ideal: Costa Rica

For a voyage into a wilderness paradise, Costa Rica is a supreme setting thanks to its natural intersection of immaculate white-sand beaches, tumbling waterfalls and rustic jungle. Sitting on a dreamy spot that enjoys all three on the Nicoya Peninsula, Habitas Santa Teresa will be a tremendous, 35-room addition to the hotel scene when it opens later this year. Guests on the quest for something adrenaline-fueled will be thrilled by the impressive surfing prospects here, as well as once-in-a-lifetime experiences like snorkeling around the Mal Pais underwater volcano. Better still are the resort’s sustainability credentials, including being constructed from ethically sourced materials and designed to blend harmoniously with the superlative surroundings.

With its secluded private-pool villas and spectacular spa, Joali Being focuses on wellness that promises a “feeling of freedom, lightness and joy”

The wellness wonderland: Maldives

The Maldives might not be a surprise on a travel bucket list, but a new one-of-a-kind wellness destination offers an unparalleled transformative experience in a truly ethereal setting. Centered on the ethos of “weightlessness – a feeling of freedom, lightness and joy”, Joali Being is a magical spot on the secluded island of Bodufushi in Raa Atoll. Drawing on its remarkable surroundings, the biophilic design of the retreat provides the perfect locale to participate in a range of immersion programs, while the accommodation – 68 exquisite private-pool villas overlooking either the beach or the ocean – allows guests to bask in the height of rejuvenation.

The food heaven: Italy

When it comes to foodie retreats, there are few things quite as satisfying as foraging for local delicacies in a delectably verdant landscape, before sampling the delights with a sublime view. As regions famed for their culinary credentials, Tuscany and Umbria are high on the must-visit list for any food lover, thanks to their dreamy vineyards, olive groves and wild woods galore. On the hotel scene, Hotel Castello di Reschio is a majestic 10th-century castle, reimagined into a boutique property, set in the rolling Umbrian hills. From the oval-shaped, grove-lined swimming pool and alfresco hot tubs to the plant-filled Palm Court terrace, there is a heavy helping of relaxation here. The hotel’s Accademia di Cucina della Bottega, located next door to Ristorante Alle Scuderie, is an expert cookery school that takes guests on creative foraging walks through the grounds, before showing them how to transform the local produce into delicious Italian dishes.

Xigera Safari Lodge is set in the heart of a Unesco World Heritage Site in Botswana – where laid-back luxury meets wilderness for the ultimate safari experience

The safari supremo: Botswana

Safari is an all-time, bucket-list classic – and Botswana boasts some of the most incredible opportunities for wildlife encounters and an immersion in its astounding wilderness. A standout addition is Xigera Safari Lodge, situated on the Moremi Game Reserve, overlooking the Okavango Delta. The 12 suites have been immaculately designed with locally sourced, handcrafted art and inspired by the natural surroundings. Moreover, a commitment to sustainability, conservation and community is at the core of the Xigera ethos, with its setting in the heart of a Unesco World Heritage Site. Leopards and lions are locals to the lodge, while giraffes, elephants, wild dogs, buffalo and an array of rare birds are all residents of the region.

If it’s privacy in paradise you’re after, Thanda Island, off the east coast of Tanzania, proudly provides both – as well as its own protected marine reserve

The desert-island dream: Tanzania

For privacy beyond compare, Thanda Island is one of the world’s most exclusive island getaways. Found in the Indian Ocean, off the east coast of Tanzania, it holds a single villa and two traditional bandas (beach chalets), which guests can make their home for the duration of their stay in paradise. With its own protected marine reserve – Thanda Island is committed to practices that support local conservation and community – guests are able to swim in the turquoise depths with whale sharks and watch sea turtles nesting on the shore.

For Iceland’s gastronomical and astronimical delights, the Reykjavik Edition is the perfect place to stay if you want to experience the best of both worlds

The adventurer hotspot: Iceland

Space tourism might be a hot topic right now, but a much more down to earth – and still pretty wondrous – celestial experience is being able to admire the panorama of the northern lights. Start with a visit to the sleek new Reykjavik Edition – the lights are usually visible in the city during the winter solstice – before heading off into Iceland’s more remote locales and otherworldly landscapes. In the Fljót Valley of the Troll Peninsula, the converted sheep farm of Deplar Farm specializes in off-grid adventure, whether it’s adrenaline-driven (whale-watching, off-road fat biking, snow-shoeing, hiking, snowmobiling and cross-country skiing are just some of the activities on offer) or something more restorative. Unwind in the lodge’s geothermal-heated indoor/outdoor pool, i-sopod flotation tanks and outdoor Viking sauna – where you might be lucky enough to see the aurora polaris put on a show.

The sailing sanctuary: Indonesia

From the team behind Bali’s sustainably minded, family owned Nirjhara retreat, new private-charter and ultra-luxe traditional yacht Vela sets sail in 2022. The six-cabin boat will travel individually curated itineraries that take in remote corners of the Indonesian archipelago. This can include the famous Raja Ampat Islands and the World Heritage site of Komodo National Park, as well as exploring myriad lesser-known coves and secret beaches. While on board, there is an expansive lounge to admire the endless ocean vista, beautiful indoor and outdoor dining spots, a serene yoga deck, well-stocked bar and wine cellar, and a therapist on hand to offer beauty and wellbeing treatments.