Have you ever wanted the perfect, fun but healthy vacation? Looking for a getaway that matches up with your active lifestyle and doesn’t include a deep-fried-food festival? Do you need a break from the pressures of home, but want to relax in a place where you can find a healthy respite? Truth be told, we’ve been pining for those very same things. And it looks like we may have found some vacation spots that are offering a little bit of Heaven on Earth. Read on for a list of 6 of the world’s healthiest vacation spots.
#1 Calgary in Alberta Canada. When the travel writers at Lonely Planet named Canada the #1 country to visit in 2017, we weren’t surprised at all. It’s places like Calgary, a city in Alberta, Canada, that make the country so incredibly attractive to tourists.
First off, Calgary is clean. Forbes magazine recently conducted a white glove test across the globe and found that Calgary was the cleanest city in the world. Pretty impressive. It’s also a city with beautiful mild weather most of the year. In the summer, the temperature rarely soars higher than 80 degrees. Those summer days are full of sunshine too. Calgary gets around 2,400 hours of sunlight per year, making it Canada’s sunniest major city. Even during the coolest parts of the winter, Calgary benefits from the “Chinook winds.” The Chinook winds are warm, humid winds that come from the ocean and dramatically raise the inland temperatures. In Calgary, the Chinook winds can swoop in and change the climate from a wintry February day into 70-degree spring weather in minutes.
Golf is big in Calgary. Ski resorts, huge parks and lacrosse are also ways tourists can stay fit when they visit Calgary. And if tranquility is your jam, some say the Bow River in Calgary is the very best spot for trout fishing in the world. Calgary is also home to Heritage Park, which is Canada’s largest living historical village. Come ready for some laughs if you visit Calgary in the Spring when the city hosts one of the largest annual comic expos in North America. The Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo is a great event for individuals and families who want to enjoy celebrity guests, writers, toy vendors and all things comic and animation. And don’t miss the precious red pandas at the Calgary Zoo. The Calgary Zoo is a leading force in conservation and animal care in North America. Calgary is a city with a fit, fun and healthy vibe that all active travelers can enjoy.
#2 – Okinawa and the Southwest Islands of Japan. Often called, “the land of immortals,” Okinawa is a majestic destination where inhabitants enjoy a primarily vegetarian diet and a healthy, active lifestyle. The Okinawan island dwellers are called the Ryukyuan people. They’re one of the longest living people groups in the entire world. Centenarians (people who have reached or exceeded their 100th birthday) are more common in Okinawa and the southwest islands than in other parts of the world. In the United States, there are roughly 15 centenarians per 100,000 people. In Okinawa, there are more than 50 centenarians per 100,000 residents. Who knows, perhaps even visiting Okinawa can extend a person’s lifespan by a few years.
The climate of Okinawa and the southwest islands of Japan is humid and subtropical, with low winter temperatures of around 70 degrees and highs in the summer near 90.
One of the highlights of Okinawa and Japan’s southwest islands is the Keramas. The Keramas are a group of 22 small islands with only four of them inhabited. The Keramas are surrounded by diverse coral reefs. They’re also a home to families of humpback whales and sea turtles.
Yakushima is another breathtaking and beautiful place to explore in the southwest Japanese islands. During balmy days on the beach, you can look up to see the mountains in Yakushima covered in snow. The area is known for lush vegetation and vibrant flowers. It’s a paradise for nature enthusiasts and those who are seeking to enjoy an eyeful of some of the most glorious sights known to man.
Ferries are available for travel between Okinawa and the majestic southwest Japanese islands.
#3 – Stockholm, Sweden. Known by many to be the longest art gallery in the world, Stockholm is the capital of Sweden and full of architectural and natural beauty. The city is also known for fashion and design – both interior and structurally. Aside from the gorgeous sites in the city, Stockholm is in incredibly healthy place to visit.
Since Stockholm stretches across fourteen islands, one might think ferrying is the best mode of travel. However, it’s super easy to navigate and walking is definitely en vogue throughout the city. Others prefer biking. For those, there are plenty of bike rental hubs around. Residents and tourists alike can enjoy a variety of physical activities as they commute around town. Stockholm is loaded with museums – more than a hundred of them actually. So a day of museum-hopping and taking in art and culture can add up to a great deal of calories burned while you’re in vacation mode.
Stockholm is also a great city for foodies (healthy foodies, of course). The sea surrounding the city and the lush farmlands make for excellent culinary creations. The restaurants in Stockholm are legendary for inspiring food trends around the globe. Interested in a raw, vegan breakfast while you’re traveling? Stockholm is the perfect city. Looking for organic, gluten-free and high antioxidant fare? You’ll find it in Stockholm. No need to stray from your dietary ideals while you’re on vacation. And remember to pack your pedometer.
#4 – Icaria, Greece. A small, mountainous island surrounded by the Aegean Sea may be the most beautiful and peaceful place on earth. Icaria, Greece is categorized as a blue zone. A blue zone is a geographical area where people live the longest. (Okinawa, mentioned above, is also a blue zone). It’s easy to see why this picturesque island is home to more people over 90 years old than any other place on Earth. The people of Icaria live in villages up in the mountains. When they leave their homes for any reason, they have to hike out. That daily exercise, and their general healthy lifestyle, is likely the reason the Icarian residents enjoy very low rates of heart disease and almost no instances of dementia.
One of the most invigorating and healthy ways to enjoy a visit to Icaria, Greece is to do what the locals do and hike. Throughout the island there are numerous hiking trails that are connected in a way that one can reach any part of the island on foot. Hiking through Icaria is a great way to experience multiple island ecosystems from forests to mountain peaks to the serene and heavenly beaches.
While you visit Icaria in the summer, you won’t want to miss the many feasts organized by villages throughout the island. The feasts are alive with music and the traditional island circle dance called the Ikariotiko. (It’s pretty easy to learn). And most of the feasts will feature a sampling of the strong red wine produced locally.
On the southeast and northeast coasts of the Icarian island are perhaps the most priceless attractions of all. Icaria is blessed with geothermal springs, also known as hot springs. These warm waters have been shown to provide healing for ailments such as rheumatism, sciatica, neuralgia, gout, arthritis and disorders of the endocrine system. As you can imagine, the hot springs are also incredibly relaxing.
#5 – Mackinac Island, Michigan, United States. Most people in the United States don’t instantly think of Michigan when they consider a blissful, healthy getaway. That’s exactly why Mackinac Island remains one of the best kept secrets in the travel world – the hidden jewel of the Great Lakes. Mackinac Island is a place to visit during the summer months. Year round, the island is home to around 500 residents. But in the summer, the hotels, restaurants and retail establishments open up to serve the 15,000 tourists that visit each day.
What makes Mackinac Island such a healthy destination? For starters, there’s no cars on the island. With the exception of emergency and service vehicles, cars have been prohibited since the late 1800’s. People on Mackinac Island get around by foot, horse-drawn carriage or bicycle. Though the island is small (just under 4 square miles in total area), it boasts more than 70 miles of trails to conquer. Visitors can also enjoy lush and beautiful golf courses, kayaking, fishing and parasailing. As far as food goes, nearly all of the restaurants have delicious options for those eating a plant based diet. And the water views from the breakfast table are magnificent.
#6 – Reykjavik, Iceland. If you’d like to visit one of the safest, cleanest, greenest cities in the world, look no further than Reykjavik, Iceland. Its located on the southwestern shore of Iceland. Though it’s not the warmest place on the globe, Reykjavik has a strong outdoor culture. That’s likely because of the natural, geothermal heat that’s abundant in the region. Volcanic activity actually heats the ground and water in the city.
Nautholsvik is a geothermal beach in Reykjavik with golden colored sand on the shore. The beach is popular even in the winter months, thanks to the always warm water. Tourists enjoy the natural “hot-tubs” even after the temperatures drop below freezing. Another popular nearby attraction is The Family Park and Zoo. The Zoo is made up of mostly Icelandic animals like seal, cattle, foxes, sheep and horses. The Family Park and Zoo also offers rides and play areas for families.
The natural views of Reykjavik are sublime, but the city has some manmade beauty as well. In many parts of town, there are beautiful row houses with brightly colored roofs. The reflection of the colorful homes on the water is just gorgeous. Reykjavik is a restful and lovely place for a healthy and joyful vacation.
So if you’re in the market for world travel and you’d like to avoid the all-you-can-eat cruise ship, consider booking a blissful vacation to one of these six healthy hot spots. You’ll come back refreshed, rejuvenated and not ten pounds heavier. Enjoy your trip!
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Lonely Planet – Okinawa & the Southwest Islands – https://www.lonelyplanet.com/japan/okinawa-and-the-southwest-islands
Okinawa Centenarian Study – http://www.okicent.org/cent.html
Lonely Planet – Stockholm is Harbourside Elegance – https://www.lonelyplanet.com/sweden/stockholm
Discover Ikaria – Top 5 Things to do in Ikaria – http://www.discoverikaria.com/single-post/2016/07/19/Top-5-things-to-do-Ikaria
Nevada Public Radio – The Island Where People Live Longer – http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=103744881
Visit Ikaria – Hot Springs – https://www.visitikaria.gr/en/ikaria/hot-springs#.WdcNVBNSyRs