Remember when vacations consisted of stuffing yourself silly with all-you-can eat buffets and sipping sugary umbrella drinks while parked poolside and when the most exercise you got was signaling your cabana boy for another round? Fortunately, couch-potato vacations are quickly becoming an outdated concept, and people are realizing their health goals need not take a back seat while traveling.
Activity-based trips are an awesome way to experience the world and stay on track with your goals. There are literally thousands of options to choose from based on your desired destination, amenities, activities, purpose and budget. Here are some of our top travel picks, chosen for their ability to put you in better touch with your mind, body and soul while also staying fit and healthy.
Blue World Voyages Cruise
When you think of a cruise, likely you picture overdone buffets laden with troughs of bacon, tacky ports of call and Hawaiian floral print as far as the eye can see. Well, get ready to rethink this impression because Blue World Voyages is redefining what it means to cruise. Blue World is the first cruise line that is 100 percent dedicated to an active, healthy clientele, and everything it does, from excursions to dining, caters to this demographic.
Blue World boasts an entire deck reserved for fitness, including a functional training center, yoga and Spinning studios, batting cages, and golf and soccer simulators so you can get your fit on any time of day. Once you’ve trained yourself silly, visit the spa deck and enjoy a luxury treatment or take a snooze alfresco in one of its Bali beds. Come mealtime, enjoy clean, wholesome food that is healthy, fresh and locally sourced whenever possible.
Enjoy exciting on-land activities such as cycling, hiking, running and golf and water sports such as snorkeling, kayaking and kitesurfing. The laid-back traveler can enjoy more mindful activities such as yoga and meditation.
- Each cruise features a once-in-a-lifetime “signature” event exclusive to your vacation that you’re guaranteed to remember forever. (These are a surprise, so don’t ask!)
- Blue World is a smaller, more intimate vessel and can take you to places other ships can’t — pristine reefs, hidden waterfalls and small, unspoiled venues. The ship also has more spacious cabins with large bathrooms and walk-in closets — no sardine-like quarters here!
- The ship is eco-friendly and operates on the principles of sustainable tourism: All waste is recycled or disposed of properly, the food is sustainable and organic whenever possible, and it uses environmentally friendly cleaning products.
Nevis, West Indies
fourseasons.com/nevis • goldenrocknevis.com
The tiny island of Nevis — most recently known as the birthplace of Alexander Hamilton — is a tranquil paradise free of traffic lights and fast-food chains. It is perfect for active travelers and offers everything from hiking, cycling and snorkeling to horseback riding, kayaking and scuba diving.
Events All Year
Swimmers should visit in March for the Nevis to St. Kitts Cross Channel 2.5-mile swim, runners should book a vacay in September to attend the Marathon and Running Festival, and chilly triathletes should travel south in November for the Nevis Triathlon on Oualie Beach.
- The Golden Rock Inn sits on 100 acres by the Nevis Peak volcano. Swim laps in the freshwater pool, wander the gardens or hike the volcano.
- The Four Seasons Nevis offers an 18-hole golf course, yoga and Pilates classes, and a volcanic-stone, hot-water pool. It’s also family-friendly with baby-sitting services and plenty of kids/teens activities.
- Take in the nature of the tropics with a stroll around the Botanical Gardens. Hungry? Visit the onsite Oasis in the Gardens restaurant for an authentic Thai lunch and a refreshing Purple Rain mocktail.
- Immerse yourself in the therapeutic benefits of Nevis’ volcanic hot springs at Bath Village.
ONE HAPPY — AND HEALTHY — ISLAND
aruba.com • manchebo.com • hiltonaruba.com
Award-winning beaches? Check. Year-round 82-degree weather? Check. More sunny days than any other Caribbean island? Check. Simply put: Aruba is an active gal’s dream come true.
June is wellness month in Aruba, and the entire island celebrates a holistic approach to vacationing. Select hotels offer special packages tailored to wellness-related activities such as fitness classes, yoga sessions, cooking demonstrations and all sorts of water sports.
- The Manchebo Beach Resort & Spa offers weeklong yoga retreats and daily yoga and Pilates classes, which are conducted beachside in two open-air shalas.
- The Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort & Casino allows guests to choose their own wellness path and offers an array of activities, including kickboxing, water sports, tennis, tai chi and meditation.
- There are plenty of direct flights to Aruba from major cities across the U.S., making it one of the most accessible islands in the Caribbean.
- Hotels participating in the One Happy Family package offer free accommodations and free breakfast for kids 12 and younger. Kids also can register for a VIK (Very Important Kid) passport, and by answering quizzes and puzzles, they will be entered to win a week’s vacation for four — including airfare!
Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort and Spa
If sand and sea are not your jam, then this Scottsdale, Arizona, resort could be for you. Located on 53 private acres, the Sanctuary Camelback caters to everyone — from lovers to extreme athletes to golfers to spa-goers. Escape your daily to-do list while enjoying yoga, Pilates, private hiking and biking tours, tennis, personal training, nutrition consulting, healthy meals and spa treatments.
Triathletes will love spending three days training with high-level experts in the beautiful Sonoran Desert. Work directly with swim instructor and Olympic gold-medalist Misty Hyman, take a guided bike ride the next day, then wrap things up with a run with a fitness instructor.
Mindfulness Meditation Retreat
Offered twice a year, this four-day retreat allows guests of all levels and abilities to immerse themselves in meditation and mindfulness practices led by world-renowned instructor Sarah McLean. In addition, you’ll be pampered with nourishing massage and body treatments, yoga and organic meals.
- Don’t miss Elements restaurant where you can enjoy meals prepared by Food Network star chef Beau MacMillan.
- The sparkling infinity-edge pool (complete with cabanas) is the perfect place to relax after a game of Zennis — a hybrid of yoga and tennis — and enjoy a Bento box lunch.
If you’re looking for a destination with healing energy vortices, exquisite scenery and a hippie vibe, then Sedona is calling your name. This laid-back town is nestled within a geologic wonderland of stunning red-rock formations and is a hub of art, nature, culture and spirituality.
Hiking and Biking
Devil’s Bridge trail offers some of the most awe-inspiring views, as well as a natural sandstone arch, which you can actually walk across for some incredible selfies. For a faster-paced excursion, take a private mountain bike tour through the incredible landscape.
- Mii Amo at the Enchantment Resort offers a full range of luxury treatments, Native American–inspired therapies, aura readings and past-life regression sessions.
- At the Gateway Cottage Wellness Center, you’ll find reiki, shamanic sound healing, intuitive readings, LED light therapy and soul retrieval treatments.
- The ChocolaTree Organic Oasis serves organic, gluten-free, seasonal ayurvedic and live foods, and its master chocolatiers offer an enormous selection of handmade, raw chocolates made from fair-trade ingredients.
- Gain a fresh perspective with a 15-minute helicopter ride from Guidance Air, where you’ll soar past towering red-rock spires and landmarks such as Cathedral Rock and Snoopy Rock.
LASTING WEIGHT LOSS
Hilton Head Health (H3) Resort, South Carolina
Visit this resort and you’ll come home with more than a souvenir — you’ll have a comprehensive game plan for a healthier life. Since 1976, H3 has helped thousands of guests lose weight with custom fitness plans, nutritional workshops and gourmet cuisine. Come for as few as three days or as many as 21 plus, depending on your goals.
- H3 provides bicycles and shuttles to the beach for early-morning and afternoon walks as well as beach yoga classes.
- The heated pool offers fitness classes for all levels, including hydro circuits, deep-water conditioning and aqua Tabata training.
- At the 2 Chefs … 2 Stations cooking demonstration, you’ll watch a pair of pros open a box of common ingredients and learn how to create unique and healthy dishes.
- True restaurant offers multiethnic, locally sourced cuisine that tastes amazing and that can be prepared to suit any individual’s dietary needs.
- Your H3 wellness coach continues to guide and support you even after your visit with weekly phone calls, a monthly panel discussion and a private Facebook community.
- Check the H3 schedule of specialty programs and attend retreats that cater to a specific demographic or goal, such as emotional eating, golf and yoga, or reinventing your life after divorce.
The Chopra Center, Omni La Costa Resort and Spa, Carlsbad, California
Like they say, where the mind goes the body follows, and if your mental health is on track, so will your physical health improve. And what better way to experience mental rejuvenation than to attend a retreat given by the guru himself, Dr. Deepak Chopra. The Chopra Center offers a host of events with an integrative approach to total well-being through self-awareness and the practice of yoga, meditation and ayurveda.
The Weekend Within
This three-day program introduces guests of all levels to primordial sound meditation. Center educators, special guests and Chopra himself walk you through various sessions, where you can explore your dosha (your mind/body type), participate in yoga, attend lectures and, of course, meditate.
The Chopra Center Spa offers a host of ayurvedic treatments, such as a srota clearing treatment, sound therapy, breast massage and shirodhara — a treatment in which a soothing stream of warm oil is poured over the forehead and onto the sixth chakra, your intuitive energetic center.
- Need a physical break from your mental training? Check out the Omni Resort’s fitness classes, tennis lessons and championship golf courses. There’s also a kid’s club to keep the little ones busy.
- The Chopra Center serves healthy and balanced meals that meet ayurvedic guidelines, meaning they are vegetarian, include all six tastes (sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent and astringent), and include plenty of ancient grains and legumes.
Skyterra Wellness, North Carolina
Set aside life’s obligations and invest in the powerful gift of self-care at this intimate, all-inclusive retreat. Located on 300 acres of private wooded property, Skyterra has a team of caring experts who will help you break old cycles and jump-start healthy habits.
Choose your own wellness activities each day such as fitness classes,
yoga, meditation, stress management, cooking and outdoor recreation.
Satisfy your inner explorer by taking a waterfall hike, going stand-up paddleboarding or kayaking, or taking a fitness class in the screened-in “treehouse.”
- The resort maxes out at about 20 guests, so every visitor receives plenty of personal attention.
- Skyterra offers a stress-free transition back to reality by giving you educational materials, recipes, guided meditation and a fitness app to help you continue the healthy practices you learned in your daily life.