Belize:

belize-615

A perfect mix of well heeled travelers and backpackers, bordered by Guatemala and Mexico, Belize offers miles of coastline, incredibly clear, turquoise waters. That’s without mentioning the Mayan ruins, 200 islands to explore, plenty of outdoor activities and tempting local cuisine. For snorkeling and scuba enthusiasts, the Belize Barrier Reef, the country’s portion of the larger Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, is the second largest coral reef in the world. For those who like to keep their feet firmly on the ground, this country – a former epicenter of the Mayan world – is one of the best places to visit the crumbling remains of the ancient civilization. Whether it’s rafting down rivers or swimming with whale sharks, eating tamales or just soaking up the sun, it’s not hard to see why we’ve got a major crush on this country.

Sicily:

 

Monreale, Sicily. Cathedral (Duomo di Monreale) at sunset, Monreale, near Palermo, Sicily, Italy, by freelance travel destination and lifestyle photographer Matthew Williams-Ellis

Home of the Godfather, playground for affluent Europeans, land of the famous Mount Etna – this spectacular Italian island is a multi-faceted place. For the gastronome, the small, seaside towns that pepper Sicily’s shores offer the freshest of produce made from recipes passed down through generations of nonnas. With warm weather most of the year thanks to the island’s proximity to Northern Africa, make this your next European destination and explore Sicily’s stunning sights – and flavors.

San Diego:

8600645759_b097447c97

Southern California City, here a couple more to get those travel juices flowing. Head to the very cool, former industrial neighborhood of North Park and discover how the microbrew culture in San Diego has recently hit new heights. For those who would rather hit the water head to La Jolla Shores, a long stretch of sandy beach with friendly waves and a good selection of surf shops, that offer lessons and rentals. And finally, who can resist the San Diego Zoo, home to the pandas and one of the largest, most beautiful zoos in the world. More like a park pack a picnic lunch and spend the day getting to know new furry friends.

Costa Rica:

hanging-bridge-in-the-canopy-monteverde-costa-rica-photo-clifton-beard-2009

With its rich, volcanic land blanketed with the most delicious fruit and vegetables you’ve ever had, several different micro climates ranging from the Caribbean to the Pacific coast, and some of the loveliest locals around, this friendly Central American country truly a traveler’s paradise – and makes our list for the second year running. Topping a recent poll as the happiest country in the world, once you go Tico, there’s no turning back. With the country-wide greeting (and national tagline) pura vida (which means pure life), Costa Ricans want to share their incredible country with visitors and make nature and the environment a top priority not only preached, but also practiced. From eco tourism to national parks and pristine stretches of beach, from nine volcanoes, to covered rivers and hot springs, for a small country that can be driven from coast to coast in a day, there is no doubt it holds big place in our hearts.