Best (Secluded) Beaches You Need To Visit This Holiday Season

Give a gift to yourself with a getaway from holiday stress.

The holiday season is always a mixed bag of emotions. You're excited to spend time with friends and family, everything you've ever wanted is on sale and begging to be bought, and for decorators 'tis the season to break out fresh-smelling boughs of pine and cinnamon-scented pine cones. However, after being thrust into a whirlwind of festive holiday shindigs and holiday music (how much Michael Bublé can one person reasonably stomach without going certifiably insane?) you may feel the need to get away from it all.

Happily, there are thousands of destinations worldwide with secluded, palm tree-studded beaches and clear blue waves where you can rest up and recharge. The tricky part is choosing which one to visit.

Eagle Bay Beach and Playa Juanillo, Dominican Republic

Colonial Tour and Travel

Punta Cana has already cemented its status as a tourist trap for vacationers looking for sunny beaches and golf resorts in a country where their dollars go further, but the Dominican Republic has many other delightful natural wonders for those looking for a little less expat action. Check out Bahia de las Aguilas (Eagle Bay Beach) for some breathtaking beauty in a secluded, virtually tourist-free location. Located on the southwestern coast in Pedernales inside Jaragua National Park, Eagle Bay is one of the most pristine beaches you'll find in the DR. Laze about on the white sand or go snorkeling, but remember to bring your own food and drinks—it is inside a national park, after all.

Playa Juanillo is a tranquil, boho beach in Cap Cana, just 15 minutes from the Punta Cana International Airport. While it's not as isolated as Eagle Bay Beach, it's still pretty dead during the week and only picks up on weekends (when most of the events are held). If you're feeling peckish, try the only (yes, only) restaurant on the beach, Jaunillo Beach Food and Drinks, or make sure to pack some snacks to enjoy while gazing at the crystal clear water.

Playa Delfines, Mexico

Tan bonito!

It may not have the silky, fine-grained sand of some of its northern cousins, but Playa Delfines (Dolphin Beach) does have exquisite views that won't be overrun by the tourists who flock to the more built-up beaches in Cancun. No hotels or restaurants border El Mirador (The Lookout), as the beach is known locally, yet it's still dotted with palapas (thatched roof hut umbrellas) and has well-maintained bathrooms. Watch the rolling surf gently lapping the shore or try your hand at hanging ten (or, you know, clutching the surfboard for dear life and using it as a boogie board to glide into the shore).

Playa Barrigona, Costa Rica

Ford Quarterman

Warning: getting to this beach is no easy feat, but the reward far outweighs the effort to journey there. While many Costa Rican beaches are jam-packed with tourists guzzling local beers and soaking up Costa Rica's intoxicating rays, Playa Barrigona remains unspoiled and sublime, thanks to its natural barriers to access. Verdant foliage ascends the towering cliffs that flank this idyllic natural wonder, and there's even a waterfall that descends onto the beach. Yes, that's right. As if it couldn't get any more perfect, there's a gushing waterfall that spills onto the beach's fine-grained shores. Mel Gibson attempted to buy the beach (celebrities, right?) but settled for building a ridiculous, 500-acre retreat in the mountains above it. Incidentally, this $30-million estate is now up for grabs.

Little Tybee Island, Georgia

Tucked away near the quaint coastal community of Tybee Beach is a nature preserve called Little Tybee Island. While it may not be 80 degrees in December like other tropical locales, it's still a beautiful place to get away from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. It's a tiny slice of heaven accessible only by boat or other aquatic vehicles like kayaks or jet-skies. This virgin preserve is home to multiple bird species that frequent its salt marshes, beaches, and dunes, and there are camping options available for those who enjoy falling asleep to the lulling sounds of peaceful waves. Just 18 miles from Savannah, Little Tybee Island is ideal for a solo picnic or even a social gathering for friends or relatives. Tybee Island Charters will cook up and serve a gourmet sunset picnic for six or more people on a private beach on the island. Dean Martin had it right when he crooned, "Nothing could be finer than to be in Carolina"—but exploring this unspoiled Georgian island certainly gives its southern neighbors a run for their money, even if you're not sporting a bikini.

Playa Porto Mari, Curaçao

If your only knowledge of Curaçao is of that funky blue liquor that gives tropical drinks their azure hue, you're missing out on a hidden gem. Located at the bottom of the Caribbean—practically within spitting distance of Venezuela—this former Dutch colony combines charming European architecture with stunning aquamarine water and ivory-colored sand. While the government maintains that there are 38 official beaches in Curaçao, there are many more intimate pockets of shoreline dotted along the eastern and northern coasts. Playa Porto Mari is one of the quieter beaches, though it's rare to find a "party beach" on this diverse island. You can snorkel, dive, or simply relax with your favorite book or magazine. With everything you need at arm's length (food, a bar, toilets, and showers) you may be tempted to spend your entire vacation here.

Playita El Faro, Isla Iguana, Panama

Named for its chief residents, black iguanas, Isla Iguana is a beach-lover's (and crowd-hater's) paradise. Mangrove trees fringe the beaches of this lush island, providing an exquisite backdrop to the shockingly white sand and aquamarine water. If you're the type who burns easily or who enjoys the comfort of a cushy beach chair, just make sure you come prepared with provisions, an umbrella, and your own seating—because all you'll find on this secluded shore is what Mother Nature created thousands of years ago.

Next time you find yourself one holiday song away from breathing into a paper bag, take a minute to pause and seriously consider planning a vacation to one of these serene beach getaways—because taking care of yourself is the greatest gift you could ever receive.

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Distillery tours went on hiatus in 2020, but there are high hopes for 2021. While bourbon leaps immediately to mind when thoughts turn to distillery tours, interest in other spirits and how they're made is increasing. Here are a few of the best tours to thrill tequila lovers.

Tequila Herradura

Ride in style on the Herradura Express, a distillery sponsored train ride that runs from Guadalajara to the town of Amatitán for a distillery tour and tastings, followed by lunch featuring live entertainment. The train then takes visitors back to Guadalajara by evening. Herradura is housed in the last tequila-producing Hacienda in the world, Hacienda San Jose del Refugio. Casa Herradura will be closed for visits and tours until Mexican health officials declare the coronavirus emergency over.

La Rojeña

Producer of Jose Cuervo, La Rojeña has a train of its own called the Jose Cuervo Express (currently on hiatus due to COVID-19) to bring visitors to the oldest distillery in the town of Tequila. Jose Cuervo offers distillery tours, tastings, and tours of the agave fields. Mundo Cuervo (Cuervo world) also has its own hotel, Solar de las Animas. Check for COVID-19 hours and restrictions before booking.

Casa Sauza

Founded in 1873, Casa Sauza offers four levels of tours including a visit to the La Perseverancia distillery, a visit to the Quinta Sauza estate, and for those willing to spend more, barrel tastings and a barbeque or a three-course meal. Casa Sauza is on hiatus until COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, but should go on the distillery tour bucket list.

La Cofradia

The only tequila distillery with a hotel inside, La Cofradia offers many experiences in addition to distillery tours. Choose a hike through natural trails, biking, or horseback riding through the agave fields. Rooms made of giant tequila barrels sit among the agave plants for a unique stay. Visiting La Cofradia is sure to be a tour that thrills tequila lovers. Contact the hotel directly for information about lockdown closures.

A distillery tour offers education about tequila's history and manufacture. Bone up on your tequila terms and tips for choosing quality tequila before you go, so you'll understand what you're tasting.

We don't know how to feel about winter this year. Sure, nobody likes the cold and dreary months, but there's something special about the Holiday season that just seems to be missing. Maybe the thought of staying inside and cozying up to a nice book isn't very enticing given the last few months. The joyful winter wonderland that we usually associate with winter seems to be missing.

That's why our editors decided to take it upon themselves and spread some delight with seasonal meals, courtesy of HelloFresh. For those who don't know what HelloFresh is, it's a meal-kit delivery service with dozens of easy-to-prepare recipes to choose from. Simply select which meals you want as well as how many servings and a neatly organized cardboard box will arrive at your doorstep within the week. Nobody wants to go out in the Winter anyway, and with HelloFresh, you don't have to!

To celebrate the arrival of the coldest season, we decided to highlight some of our favorite (and heartiest) recipes from HelloFresh that are perfect for the Holiday season. Here are five wholesome and balanced meals that will warm you up in no time.

Veggie Loaded Kale & Risoni Soup

A hearty and warm soup is a Winter staple and this veggie loaded kale and risoni soup from HelloFresh absolutely hits it out of the park. All anybody wants during the colder months is to feel cozy and nurtured--just like the flavorful bowl of nutrients. Warm and creamy risoni compliments the seasonal veggies perfectly and the side of garlic bread is a sure-fire cure for any winter blues. With 22 meals to pick from each week, this one is sure to be a household favorite.

Cheesy Red Pesto Chicken Melts

Everyone is familiar with classic green pesto, but have you ever tried red pesto? Red pesto offers way more complexity and oomph than its green counterpart. It is incredibly bright with rich notes of umami, roasted red peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, and fresh basil and garlic. This rendition also features hits of chargrilled capsicum for a little extra zest. You get the exact amount of each ingredient and seasoning, as well as super detailed recipe cards, that make meal prep a breeze. Spread it over a glistening chicken bread and sprinkle with cheese for delectable chicken melts.

Winter Risotto

Risotto is a great winter warmer. It's packed full of veggies so your body will light up like fire, but it's also silky, sumptuous and a real crowd pleaser. HelloFresh's Winter Risotto features a heart helping of kale that pairs perfectly with nutty Parmesan and crunchy walnuts for a robust taste. Did we mention that it also comes with fennel seeds sprinkled throughout? This unique seasoning adds a distinctive, yet delicious flavor to this classic winter staple. We know these meals are pretty hardy, which is why we love having the option to pause our subscription or cancel a week when need be.

Cheat's Italian Pork & Veggie Bolognese

A bolognese that only takes 30 minutes to make? Sign us up! This one is chock full of all the rich flavors of a classic Italian sauce. In fact, we're getting some serious Italian grandmother vibes with this recipe. Silky baby Spanish and grated carrots melt into a hearty meat sauce, offering a mouth-watering meal for anyone looking for a little zest. It's delivery quality, but much more affordable, plus you get to cook it yourself!

Smokey Mild Chorizo & Bean Chilli

Yet another clever twist on a weekday favorite! The paprika and garlic flavored cured sausage is a staple in our chopping baskets since it goes well with practically anything. Not only is Chorizo loved for its taste, but also for its ability to infuse sauces with its tantalizing flavor. This time around, HelloFresh has decided to spice up a classic bowl of bean chili with Spanish styling of a smokey mild chorizo. The end result? A mix of chorizo, red kidney beans, corn and avocado, and an irresistible flavor that everyone will love. This is just one of dozens of unique HelloFresh recipes you won't find anywhere else!

Gone are the days of trekking through the frigid cold just for a few groceries. Sign-up for HelloFresh today and get your ingredients delivered right to your doorstep. Time to start cozying up the right way, with a delicious meal and a nice cup of hot cocoa.

Update: Our friends at HelloFresh are extending a special Black Friday offer to our readers. Follow this link to get $90 off across 4 boxes including free shipping!

Travel Tips

8 of the Best Donut Spots In the United States

Celebrate National Donut Day with our favorite treats across the country.

November 5th marks one of 2020's two National Donut Days.

Occurring in both June and November, National Donut Day allows fans of those delectable yeasty treats to embrace their sweet tooth. But like any niche food group, people often take their donuts very, very seriously, and there are countless places to get your fix.

Below, we've rounded up some of the best donut spots across the country. From coast to coast, these bakeries are sure to impress even the pickiest donut-heads.

Mr. T.'s Delicate Donut Shop – Modesto, CA

Mr. T.'s Delicate Donut Shop

If you ever find yourself in the San Francisco Bay Area, it's worth taking a short trek out east towards Modesto for some of California's best donuts. Mr. T.'s Delicate Donut Shop has remained family owned since its opening over 30 years ago, providing both tried-and-true classic donuts as well as experimental flavors and holiday specials. Even their 24-hour service doesn't diminish the line that trails out the door most mornings.

Dough — New York, NY

Dough \u2014 New York, NY

Donuts might not be the first circular, doughy treat you think of when it comes to New York City. If you've had your fair share of bagels, the Big Apple also boasts some spectacular donuts at Dough, a go-to spot for both tourists and locals alike. Here, you'll find a host of Latin American-inspired flavors that are hard to come by anywhere else; their Dulce de Leche flavor is a customer favorite, while the tangy Hibiscus donut is just as good for Instagramming as it is for eating.

Blackbird Doughnuts — Boston, MA

Blackbird Doughnuts \u2014 Boston, MA

Boston's Blackbird Doughnuts is a no-frills donut spot specializing in both brioche "raised" donuts and old-fashioned cake donuts. With a small menu of year-round donuts and a rotating cast of seasonal flavors, Blackbird keeps it simple and classic. Why mess around?

Peter Pan Donut & Pastry Shop — Brooklyn, NY

Peter Pan Donut & Pastry Shop \u2014 Brooklyn, NY

For over 60 years, Peter Pan Donut & Pastry Shop has been calling the quaint Brooklyn neighborhood of Greenpoint home. Since then, the bakery has remained a popular spot for both regulars and new visitors passing through the area. Here, you won't find uber-trendy decor or gimmicky recipes, just damn good donuts that prove the power of long-standing local businesses.

Pip’s Original — Portland, OR

Pip\u2019s Original \u2014 Portland, OR

In both their mobile catering van and brick-and-mortar locations, Pip's Original is a staple for small, sweet treats in Portland. They're known for their tiny donuts that come in inventive seasonal flavors like marionberry-lavender and mango ghost pepper. But even if you opt for one of the more traditional flavors, Pip's Original proves good things can come in small packages.

Round Rock Donuts — Round Rock, TX

Round Rock Donuts \u2014 Round Rock, TX

Founded in 1926, Round Rock Donuts—located just north of Austin—are impossible to miss. These donuts' distinct yellow-orange color, caused by fresh eggs in the original recipe, make them stand out among the crowd. While this classic outpost can easily churn out hundreds of dozens of donuts a day, they also offer Texas-Sized Donuts, which are just as ginormous as you'd imagine. Round Rock Donuts are not only delicious and easily recognizable, but they're a slice of Lone Star history.

The Holy Donut — Portland, ME

The Holy Donut \u2014 Portland, ME

In Maine's Portland, you might not find tiny donuts or a decked-out catering van, but you will find a slightly healthier alternative. The Holy Donut was founded on the premise of creating tasty donuts that used all-natural ingredients to make a treat you could feel good about eating. The secret ingredient is fresh, mashed Maine potatoes, which make these donuts delectably moist without sacrificing flavor.

Donut Friend — Los Angeles, CA

Donut Friend \u2014 Los Angeles, CA

As expected of a city so focused on entertainment, Los Angeles' Donut Friend puts an edgy spin on their inventive donut flavors. Their year-round menu features donut flavors with names like Green Teagan and Sara, Fudgegazi, and Bacon-182 that are sure to delight the rock music nerds. For everyone else, the delicious donuts speak for themselves.