A pristine bay in Costa Rica has been a secret favorite of backpackers and migrating whales. But it couldn't stay under that shroud of cloud forest forever. The opening of an eco-resort makes Bahia Ballena more inviting and accessible, and 2013 the right moment to visit.
The world is still vast, and even as you check iconic places off your bucket list, there's a craving to set sail for the new, the next, the undiscovered. To determine which destinations like Bahia Ballena are coming up on the radar, T+L asked safari experts and art dealers, cutting-edge chefs and even branding agencies where they're seeing a new neighborhood emerge or wineries getting more acclaim. What started with 40-odd places we distilled down to a baker's dozen: the hottest travel destinations of 2013.
So get out your map, block out some vacation time on your calendar, and make 2013 a year of travel discoveries. We promise at least a few of these places to go next will surprise you.
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See More of the Hottest Travel Destinations of 2013 Surrounded by mountains and jungle-fringed beaches on the Pacific, this pristine bay bordering a national marine park was long the secret of surfers and backpackers—and migrating whales. Now there’s Kura Design Villas ($$$$), an upscale eco-resort whose six minimalist villas are open to the tropical air. Photo courtesy of Kura Design Villas
See More of the Hottest Travel Destinations of 2013 His tenure at 1919 ($$$)—the new restaurant inside San Juan’s historic Condado Vanderbilt Hotel, whose rooms will reopen in mid-2013—has been brief. But native son Juan José Cuevas has already created something other Puerto Rican chefs only talk about: a menu dedicated almost entirely to island ingredients. Cuevas is one of the reasons food lovers are homing in on P.R. Another? Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve ($$$$$)—which opened last month 30 miles west of the capital—where culinary wizard José Andrés showcases his own versions of such classic dishes as lechón asado (roast suckling pig). Photo © Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve
See More of the Hottest Travel Destinations of 2013 Chefs in America’s most Scandinavian city have embraced the foraging-and-farming ethos of Copenhagen’s famed Noma. The pioneering Bachelor Farmer ($$$) has the city’s first-ever rooftop garden. In June, the American Swedish Institute opened Fika ($$), serving smörgås (open-faced sandwiches). The next place to watch: Union ($$$), run by Noma alum Jim Christiansen. Photo courtesy of Bachelor Farmer
See More of the Hottest Travel Destinations of 2013 This far-flung French département in the Indian Ocean has begun marketing to English speakers, even offering ESL lessons for tourism workers. U.S.- and U.K.-based operator Black Tomato is introducing multiple itineraries there this year. The appeal? Secluded beaches, volcanoes—and damn good croissants. Photo © Jon Arnold Images Ltd / Alamy
See More of the Hottest Travel Destinations of 2013 Boracay hogs the spotlight, but there are thousands of other islands to lure beach lovers. At Eskaya Beach Resort & Spa ($$$$), on Panglao, thatched-roof villas face the sea. Palawan, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, now has El Nido Resorts Pangulasian Island ($$$$). Groups can reserve Ariara ($$$), a 125-acre private isle. Photo courtesy of Small Luxury Hotels of the World
See More of the Hottest Travel Destinations of 2013 Its civil war in the past, this Himalayan state, with its elephants, one-horned rhinos, and incredible landscapes, is back in play. Yeti Mountain Home Lodges ($$), on the hike to Everest, and the eco-sensitive, newly renovated Tiger Tops Karnali Lodge ($$) are targeting sophisticated adventurers. Photo courtesy of Yeti Mountain Home Lodge
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