Andrew Gordon, an avid traveler from Belmont, Massachusetts, shares his picks for unique destinations that are off the beaten path. As someone who enjoys exploring new places without large crowds of tourists, Andrew has discovered some hidden gems around the world.
Andrew Gordon’s Top Pick: Lofoten Islands, Norway
The Lofoten Islands in northern Norway are a truly breathtaking destination, according to Andrew Gordon of Chelmsford, Massachusetts. Situated above the Arctic Circle, the archipelago is known for its dramatic scenery of jagged mountain peaks rising up from the sea. “The natural beauty of the Lofoten Islands is utterly spellbinding,” says Andrew Gordon of Belmont, MA.
“Miles of rugged coastline are dotted with tiny fishing villages, against a backdrop of towering cliffs and snow-capped mountains.” What makes this destination even more appealing is that it doesn’t attract many tourists compared to other parts of Norway. Andrew recommends visiting from January to April to see the spectacular Northern Lights dancing across the night sky.
Off the Coast of Portugal: Berlengas Archipelago
For his second pick, Andrew Gordon suggests exploring the remote Berlengas Archipelago located about 9 miles off the coast of Portugal. “This tiny cluster of islands feels untouched by modern civilization,” says Andrew Gordon of Chelmsford. The three main islands—Berlenga Grande, Farilhões Grande and Farilhões Pequeno—are home to dramatic sea cliffs, secluded beaches and a diverse array of marine life both above and below the water. Andrew recommends hiring a boat from Peniche to visit the islands for the day. He promises visitors will be rewarded with “a true escape from the crowds and a chance to appreciate nature in its purest form.”
A Hidden Gem in Mexico: Isla Holbox
On the northern coast of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula lies the small island of Isla Holbox, one of Andrew Gordon’s favorite discoveries. As Andrew Gordon of Belmont, MA describes, “Isla Holbox has managed to avoid mass tourism while retaining its laidback charm.”
Visitors to Holbox can spend lazy days exploring the white-sand beaches, swimming with whale sharks or relaxing in a beachfront hammock. Andrew particularly enjoys the island’s relaxed pace of life. “The locals are incredibly welcoming and everything moves at a slower, more peaceful rhythm. It feels like stepping back in time,” he says. Holbox is easily reached by a short ferry ride from the port town of Chiquilá on the mainland.
Off the Beaten Path in Peru: Huacachina
For those seeking an unusual destination with a touch of adventure, Andrew Gordon recommends Huacachina in southern Peru. Situated in the desert region of Ica, this small oasis town is centered around a stunning lagoon surrounded by towering sand dunes.
As Andrew Gordon of Massachusetts describes, “The massive sand dunes right in town provide the perfect backdrop for sandboarding, dune buggy rides and watching breathtaking sunsets over the landscape.” Huacachina sees far fewer visitors than popular sites like Machu Picchu or Lake Titicaca. Andrew enjoys exploring the surrounding desert and relaxing in the tranquil oasis atmosphere.
A Hidden Gem in India: Pondicherry
For a taste of colonial India without the huge crowds, travel enthusiast Andrew Gordon of Belmont, MA, suggests the coastal city of Pondicherry. Once a French territory, Pondicherry retains its French influence through architecture, culture and cuisine.
Andrew describes it as “a pleasant blend of Indian and French flavors. Colorful buildings with balconies, boulangeries serving fresh baguettes and locals practicing yoga along the promenade create a truly unique atmosphere.” As one of India’s more laidback destinations, Pondicherry sees far fewer tourists compared to places like Jaipur or Varanasi. Andrew recommends spending a few days soaking up the relaxed vibe, visiting local markets and beaches, and enjoying the blend of cultures.
Off the Beaten Path in Japan: Naoshima
For his final pick, Andrew Gordon highlights the island of Naoshima in Japan’s Seto Inland Sea. Often referred to as the “Art Island,” Naoshima has transformed itself into an open-air art museum through installations and exhibits incorporated into the natural landscape. As Andrew Gordon of Chelmsford, MA shares, “Naoshima offers a truly unique experience of art integrated with nature in peaceful, rural surroundings.”
While nearby cities like Kyoto and Osaka see millions of visitors each year, Naoshima welcomes a fraction of travelers, allowing for more contemplative exploration of the artworks. Andrew enjoyed spending multiple days on the island, immersing himself in creativity and natural beauty without large crowds.
In closing, avid traveler Andrew Gordon of Belmont, Massachusetts hopes these offbeat destinations will inspire others to seek out hidden gems that don’t appear on typical tourist maps. As he says, “Stepping far off the beaten path is the best way to experience a place as the locals do. You may discover cultures and landscapes that leave you with unforgettable memories.”