Summer’s finally upon us - hooray! For some, that might mean letting loose and partying hard; for others, you might be in desperate need of some overall stress management. And that’s where these worldwide wellness wonders come in:
- River Ganges, India
As the birthplace of both yoga and Ayurveda (the idea that wellbeing is derived from the interconnectedness of mind, body and spirit), India has trailed the way for holistic health for thousands of years. It is no surprise, therefore, that droves of tourists flock in their thousands to be imbued with a dose of spirituality.
The River Ganges in Varanasi is probably the most renowned spot in the world for natural healing. Spiritual baths are taken here each morning by the religious, while many even come to scatter their loved ones’ ashes, believing that the river will transport the souls of the deceased to heaven.
2. Blue Lagoon, Iceland
Iceland comfortably sits among the healthiest countries in the world due, in part, to its abundance of mineral-rich, geothermal pools that are said to have significant positive impacts on both physical and mental health.
Set within a dramatic volcanic landscape, this natural healing center is a must.
3. Camino de Santiago, Europe
This Catholic pilgrimage, culminating in the Spanish city of Santiago de Compostela, is where Saint James is said to be buried and is embarked on by hundreds of thousands of people around the world each year looking for a heady mix of natural healing, physical achievement and spiritual enrichment.
While routes are available around Europe, the most popular is the Camino Frances, which starts in France and takes pilgrims along 500 miles of small towns and large cities, such as Leon. Book this between April and June or September and October.
4. Sugar Beach, St. Lucia
In terms of all-round holistic care for both body and mind, St. Lucia offers it all. Just whiling away the days on a sandy white beach or exploring the cocoa plantations is enough to help you truly hit the reset button, but this island gem takes it one step further with the Rainforest Spa at Sugar Beach.
Seven treehouse treatment rooms floating in the air at different heights - each with a different signature massage treatment - await.
5. Naku Experience, Ecuadorian Amazon
If the idea of becoming totally immersed in the jungle with the indigenous people native to the Amazon rainforest along the border of Ecuador and Peru - of which sadly, there are not many left - appeals, then this one is for you.
The Sápara people will teach you all about their culture and way of life, and you’ll be expected to totally switch off from your material expectations - no phones, no WiFi, no hot water and very basic meals! You’ll wake each day in an open-air cabin and experience mindfulness practices such as ceremonial cleansing with the ash of medicinal plants, spiritual dream exploration, dancing, hiking, canoeing, swimming in the river and fasting.
6. Medicinal Trail, Belize
From the kitchen gardens at hotels to yoga classes on beaches and in jungles, natural healing can be found all over Belize. But to really step things up a notch, you’ll want to embark on the Medicinal trail and cave tour, where you’ll gain a deeper understanding of the different plants and what they are used for holistic medicine.
7. Table Mountain, South Africa
This epic flat-topped mountain that stands more than 3,500 feet above the city is one of the country’s most iconic sites. Just reaching the top and soaking up the postcard views will humble you, but thanks to its large quantity of quartzitic sandstone (considered a natural healing stone), it’s also a huge draw for visitors specifically looking for a dose of spirituality.
8. Dead Sea, Israel and Jordan
Visitors are drawn to the Middle East for many reasons, but one standout feature is definitely the naturally healing Dead Sea. Float in the lowest body of water on the surface of the earth before heading to any one of the countless resorts along the banks offering a wide range of holistic treatments that use the black mineral mud. It is truly a must-do experience that you’ll savor time and time again.
9. Bali, Indonesia
The wellness destination of all wellness destinations, Bali welcomes visitors from all over the world to gain a slice of its spiritual prowess and holistic approaches. From group yoga to stunning temples; tranquil beaches to healing shamans, it doesn’t get any better than Bali - especially if you time your trip to coincide with The Balinese Day of Silence, which happens every spring and is an enthralling cultural experience.
10. Pamukkale Hot Springs, Turkey
It might be enough to just gaze at the chalky-white water of these otherworldly, UNESCO World Heritage hot pools - if they didn’t also possess health benefits such as providing asthma and arthritis relief, reducing blood pressure and giving a much-needed energy boost!
11. Uluru/ Ayers Rock, Australia
This sacred place, protected by Australia’s indigenous Anangu people, attracts over 250,000 visitors each year.
While you are no longer allowed to climb the 1142-foot-tall rock so as to protect the stone and respect its ancestral owners, many believe you can benefit from its natural healing powers just by standing near it.
With a hearty emphasis on green tea (said to make you live up to 100!), meditation and regular baths, is it any wonder that Japan is up there with the wellness greats?
Of course, we’re not just talking regular water baths, either (boring!). No, in Japan, you can bathe in a forest (known as Shinrin-Yoku) in which you switch off from all electrical distractions and be at one with nature or in volcanic sand, which is said to improve blood circulation, joint pain and muscular aches.
The country is also full of outdoor geysers and waterfalls, inviting you to soak in the natural minerals.
14. United States
And finally, if you’re looking a little closer to home, choose from one of the following two options:
Sonoma County, California. AKA Wine Country, you can choose from over 40 vineyard-inspired spas and wellness centers. Like, does it get any better than a healing vinotherapy bath where you can soak in Pinot or Chardonnay? We think not.
Vapour Cave at Yampah Spa, Colorado. The restorative hot springs at Glenwood Springs have attracted travelers for thousands of years, and the vapour caves at the Yampah Spa use its minerals in a range of soothing treatments.
Don’t mind us - we’ll just be working our way through this list over the next year - and beyond!
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