El Nido, Philippines
The Philippines, on our hot list for 2016, is in fact a nation of 7,107 islands. That means lots of beaches, literally thousands, in all their variety, from black sand to pink, from palms to the green pastureland that tops the towering cliffs at Racuh a Payaman, known as “Marlboro country,” on Batan Island.
Island-hop and explore the possibilities. The best way to get around is by a high-speed ferry or traditional outrigger boats called bancas. If you just can’t get enough of the silky waters, stay at one of the El Nido resorts that offers traditional Filipino cottages on stilts over the water.
The beaches provide the usual array of water activities: kayaking, snorkeling, and diving amid exotic coral and fish species. To view more than 1,300 species on land, head to the Mount Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary, a UNESCO World Heritage site. And there are even fans of the Philippines food scene: The cuisine is a zesty mix of Spanish and Chinese spiced with Malay and Indian influences.
—By Kathleen Beckett