The world is awesome. And every new place I visit brings more joy. But so far, and in some categories, some places are just better than others. From around the world, here are a few of my favourite things:
In This Travel Article You Will Discover:
- My Favourite Beaches
- My Favourite City
- My Favourite Food
- My Favourite Outdoor Adventure Destination
- And Tons More!
I was torn by two emotions while making this list. First, I experienced a flood of wonderful memories from trips gone by. But I also felt a tinge of guilt, like a parent admitting he has a favourite kid.
Yes, Hawaii’s beaches are wonderful — but that doesn’t mean I don’t also love Indonesia’s! My dearest London, perhaps I don’t know you well enough to declare you a favourite? I guess there’s no room for second place — such is the case of Mexico, which was just barely edged out in several categories. But without further delay, and with apologies to the losers, here are is a selection of my favourite destinations.
My Favourite Food: Italy
You simply haven’t experienced Italian food unless you’ve had it on home turf. For starters, they keep the best olive oil to themselves — the stuff North Americans get tastes like melted margarine compared to true Italian EVOO. Culture, history, beaches? Sure, but the food alone is reason to go. (And the wine.)
My Favourite Snorkelling: Belize
There are some close runners-up in this category — Mexico, Thailand, Hawaii and especially Aruba — but Belize’s leviathan, 900-km-long Meso-American Reef trumps all. The staggering amount of fish life and coral species — many of which exist nowhere else in the world — along with crowd-free waters off remote, sandy cayes makes Belize a diver’s dreamland.
My Favourite Surf Spot: Bali
The waves of Kuta Beach are perfect for beginner-through-intermediate surfers. Consistent and high enough to challenge — but smooth enough to easily reward. Rentals are cheap and plentiful, as are lessons. And buck-a-beer Bintangs are easy to find afterwards. Some people have a hate-on for Kuta, due to its tourist development, but for the sometimes-surfer: if you want to catch a wave there are few better places to do it. And if you’re a better surfer than I, offshore breaks abound all over the island.
My Favourite Beaches: Hawaii
I once spoke with the PR manager at Sheraton Kona who told me that these Islands call to Old Hawaiians, summoning them to come home. It stuck with me, as both my wife and I have always felt an inexplicable sense of home whenever we visit. We love it there, and one day hope to live there. But, spiritual connection aside, beaches like Hamoa (Maui) and Hapuna (Big Island) are the best I’ve seen.
My Favourite Locals: Colombia
“No habla Espanol?” The woman beside me at the coffee counter asked, laughing. “How are you here?” She then explained the situation to the barista, who proceeded to gently reach over the counter and pluck a 5,000-peso bill (garbled in a mix of twenties and tens) from my hand and replace it with both my latte and exact change. That was one of three times that day in Medellin where I nearly overpaid only to have the customer service agent correct me with a smile. (I suck at math.) Earlier that week, on the country’s Pacific Coast, a young man from Medellin randomly bought us granola bars and dried fruit — just because. I wouldn’t get that treatment in my home city.
My Favourite Architecture & Landmarks: India
Two words: Taj Mahal. But even if it weren’t for the world’s most beautiful building, India would still win. From the Qutub Minar and Jama Masjid of Delhi, to Agra’s Baby Taj and Old Fort (and Taj Mahal), to the landmarks of Jaipur’s Pink City as well as the Amber Fort on its outskirts, to the Catholic Cathedrals of Old Goa, or the European-influenced charm of South Mumbai, India is a stunner. In Jaipur, the Albert Hall Museum was more fascinating from the outside than from within. That’s architecture!
My Favourite City: New York (Manhattan)
Manhattan blew my mind. The pulsing lifeforce. The staggering size. The towering skyscrapers. There is an energy that emanates from the sidewalk up. One week in NYC and I understood the famous phrase, “If I can make it there, I can make it anywhere.” It is the Capital of the World.
My Favourite Party Scene: Thailand
I was probably five years too old to really partake in Thailand’s famous party scene, but that didn’t stop my buddy and I from staying up until 8:00 a.m. on the streets of Bangkok, getting day-glow painted at a Full Moon Party in Koh Phangan or trying to dance like Usher at the Treehouse Bar in Koh Chang. Ironically, now at a more sedate 35 years old, Thailand’s win in this category is probably what will keep me from ever going back.
My Favourite Outdoor Adventure Destination: Yukon
It takes a foreigner’s perspective, at times, to appreciate what we have in our own backyard. Condor Airlines flies direct from Frankfurt, Germany to Whitehorse, Yukon, due to the overwhelming desire adventurous Germans have to explore our mighty mountains, vast lakes, incomparable wildlife and boundless wilderness. Most Canadians don’t even bother to make the trip north of 60. The truth is, you haven’t seen wilderness until you’ve seen Canada’s north. You probably think you have. But you haven’t. I’ll leave it at that.
My Favourite “Beach Bum” Scene: Goa
You can have your choice of what being a Beach Bum means to you in Goa, India. Wild trance parties? Swaying hammocks and silence? A gentle mix? Sure, pick your region — central, north or south. For us, it’s palm trees, empty beaches, bamboo huts and a pace dictated by sunrise, sunset and the ebb and flow of the tides. That, and a feeling of being a million miles away. That’s why Morjim Beach, in North Goa, wins this category handily.
My Favourite Fishing Destination: Haida Gwaii, British Columbia
The Haida First Nation calls them The Islands at the Boundary of the World. One trip and you’ll see why — also dubbed The Galapagos of the North, Canada’s Haida Gwaii typifies Izaak Walton’s old adage, “Tis not all of fishing to fish.” Sure, you can ply for tyee-class chinook salmon and barn-door halibut, but you’ll do so alongside huffing humpbacks (a commonplace sighting), powerful orcas, aggressive one-tonne sea-lions, countless seabirds and an ecosystem so rich with life the verve is palpable. It’s like a lost world, just two hours by plane from Vancouver.