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You'll Go Far

Eight once-in-a-lifetime trips, plus nearby alternatives for the vacation-day deprived.

Six Senses Hideaway Zighy Bay in Oman  

The Quiet Desert Retreat

Far and Away: Oman
Oman’s Musandam peninsula may be only two hours from Dubai, but it has little in common with its flashier neighbor. The northernmost province is a visual feast framed by the craggy Hajar Mountain range and the tranquil waters of the Arabian Sea. Swim, dive, and snorkel in the temperate waters; take a relaxing cruise around the gulf aboard a dhow, a traditional Arab sailboat; or simply decompress in the infinity pool at your villa at Six Senses Hideaway Zighy Bay (from $830; Paraglide off the top of Zighy Mountain and look for the elusive golden eagle on your way down. If you have time, head south to explore the capital, Muscat (don’t miss the Bait Al Zubair Museum), and Salalah, where frankincense is famously harvested from the trees in Wadi Dawkah park. 20 hours from NYC

Closer to Home: New Mexico
Sled down the pearly rolling hills of White Sands; explore the jaw-dropping natural wonders of the Kasha-Katuwe tent rocks and Carlsbad Caverns; and hike the Tsankawi trail in Bandelier National Monument. To relax, you can soak in therapeutic hot baths at spa Ten Thousand Waves. Book a room at El Paradero (from $95;, a tranquil spot on the edge of downtown Santa Fe. 6 hours from NYC

The Animal-Lovers’ Escape

Far and Away: Sri Lanka
Much of the civil unrest that long plagued Sri Lanka has settled down, so the exotic island off India’s southern coast is now far more inviting. Start your trip in the provincial capital of Kandy, where you will be surrounded by tea plantations, lavish temples (Temple of the Tooth is a must-see), and tropical forests filled with birds. Book the Black Rajah suite (it includes a secret garden with a hammock and a soaking tub) at Kandy House (rooms from $195;, a restored 206-year-old villa. Nearby is the Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage, where you can get close to the massive creatures. To dip your toes in the Indian Ocean, head south and stay at the newly redesigned Villa Bentota (from $200;, just a couple of hours from Uda Walawe National Park, where you can spot monkeys, leopards, fish owls, peacocks, and, yes, more elephants. 20 hours from NYC

Closer to Home: Belize
Surrounded by clear turquoise waters, Belize’s Ambergris Caye reef is home to dolphins, nurse sharks, and manatees. Cayo Espanto (from $1,095;, a boutique property on its own island, is the ultimate home base for underwater exploration. Once you’ve had your fill, book a cabana at the Cotton Tree Lodge (from $109; and go monkey spotting in the forest reserves nearby. 7 hours from NYC

The Sultry Tropical Island

Far and Away: Ratua
Among the isolated group of islands known as Vanuatu, off New Guinea, exists the 146-acre private isle of Ratua. Fly into Brisbane, then take another two-and-a-half-hour flight and a 30-minute boat ride to get there. The retreat is pure Blue Lagoon fantasy—you’ll find waterfalls, an active volcano, and untamed natural beauty. There are only fifteen villas (from $437; on the island, each with a private terrace and beach access. Snorkel the warm waters alongside sea tortoises, ride horseback, or canoe among the twisted lagoons. 24 hours from NYC

Closer to Home: Mustique
This Caribbean island has long been a hideaway for the rich, famous, and royal (Mick Jagger, David Bowie) and, unsurprisingly, it comes with a hefty price tag. After jetting to Barbados, you’ll take a charter plane (from $495) to Mustique’s only hotel, the seventeen-room Cotton House (from $700;; book one of the airy seafront suites for your own plunge pool and killer views of the ocean. 6 hours from NYC

New Zealand's Blanket Bay  

The Road-Trip Adventure

Far and Away: New Zealand
To experience the country’s famously spectacular scenery, head directly to South Island (the ferry takes three hours from Wellington). Expect serene lakes, a craggy coastline, rain forests, and towering mountain peaks. Stay among nature, literally, in one of the treehouse rooms at the Hapuku Lodge in Kaikoura (from $283;, where you will have the snow-capped peaks of the Seaward Kaikoura Range behind you and the rocky coast of the South Pacific at your door. From your private deck, look skyward for albatross and the endangered Hutton’s shearwater. Drive south through the verdant mountains—stop along the way at the Franz Josef glacier hot pools—and check in at Blanket Bay (from $691; beside the cobalt-hued Lake Wakatipu. Hike along the Milford Track, which meanders past the imposing Sutherland falls (one of the world’s highest) and ends at the popular fjord, Milford Sound. 24 hours from NYC

Closer to Home: Washington
Fly into Seattle, rent a car, and head northwest for a trip around the stunning Olympic Peninsula—3,600 square miles of lush rain forests, colossal mountains, and rugged coastline. Stay at the homey Lake Quinault Lodge in Olympic National Park (from $81; and seek out waterfalls in the park’s vast (1,441 square miles) wilderness. Hike the two-mile trail to the serene Shi Shi Beach, or relax in the hot springs at Sol Duc. Leave plenty of time to wander wide-eyed around the Hoh rain forest, where twisting hemlocks create a Tolkien-esque fantasy world. 6 hours from NYC


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