The Best Fitness Vacations to Take in 2018
Best wellness trips 2018
If it suddenly seems like all of your coworkers are using their vacation days to go on yoga retreats or sign up for destination races, you’re not mistaken. So-called "fitcations" have become a major travel trend: according to the Global Wellness Institute, there was a 14% increase in global wellness tourism from 2013 to 2015, and Pinterest reports that searches for “fitness travel” jumped an astounding 618% between 2016 and 2017. In other words, more and more people are using their PTO to master Downward Dog or check "Run a half-marathon" off their bucket list rather than sip piña coladas and avoid the hotel gym.
Here, a month-by-month guide to the best wellness trips to take in 2018, from Sedona to Seattle to an island in the Gulf of Thailand.
January: The Sea of Cortez, Mexico
Reset your New Year’s health and fitness goals with an experience that is equal parts physically challenging and seriously relaxing. Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic and exhale are teaming up for a new wellness voyage along the Sea of Cortez islands Espiritu Santo and Isla Partida, a region in the Mexican state of Baja California Sur known for its beautiful beaches and abundant wildlife.
The Base Camp Baja expeditions depart from the Baja California Sur city La Paz on January 1, 4, 7, and 10 for three- or four-night voyages aboard the 30-cabin National Geographic Sea Bird, which will serve as a "floating base camp" to explore the pristine Sea of Cortez coastline. In addition to a long list of outdoor activities (think hiking among pink volcanic ash and snorkeling with sea lions), travelers will have access to exhale’s popular Core Fusion Barre Bootcamp, HIIT, and Power Yoga classes, plus SUP (stand up paddleboard) yoga and assisted stretching.
End the day with a Chill Yoga class, or indulge in relaxing neck and shoulder massages before cocktail hour (a free bar tab is included in the rates below).
Book now: Reservations can be made at expeditions.com. Rates start at $1,990 per person based on double occupancy in a category one cabin for a three-night voyage, or $2,650 for a four-night voyage.
The Antelope Canyon 50-mile, 55K, and half-marathon race in Page, Arizona boasts views that are nothing short of spectacular. Although only the 50-miler passes through the much-photographed Upper Antelope Canyon, half-marathon runners will catch glimpses of gorgeous Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell.
After the race, recoup in Sedona, a three-hour drive from Page. Spring and fall are the most popular times of year to visit, but the city has four mild seasons, and February sees lower hotel rates and fewer visitors. If your legs are too sore for a hike to the iconic Red Rock Crossing, book an appointment at one of the town’s many spas.
Book now: A few miles from central Sedona, Mii amo resort (doubles from $2,450 for a 3-night all-inclusive package) is surrounded by a stunning red rock canyon and offers a slew of wellness-focused activities, including yoga, organic gardening, juicing demonstrations, and fitness classes.
March: Koh Samui Island, Thailand
Although you can certainly go with other people, Kamalaya Koh Samui is a solo traveler’s paradise. The luxury health resort on Koh Samui (a Gulf of Thailand island) encircles a cave once used by Buddhist monks for meditation. The resort offers a variety of curated wellness programs, including some specifically focused on yoga, emotional balance, and stress. If you prefer, you can also create your own "a la carte" experience by scheduling individual sessions that interest you.
Between wellness activities, soak up some culture at the onsite art gallery, go for a dip in one of the resort’s two swimming pools, or visit the Monk’s Cave for quiet reflection.
Book now: Doubles start at $180 for a hillside room at kamalaya.com.
A scenic race immediately followed by brunch? Sign us up. Seattle Magazine’s popular Brunch Run will be held on April 7 in 2018. The 5K through Magnuson Park and Lake Washington ends with unlimited brunch fare from local restaurants at the finish line. Even better? The post-run "Boozy Brunch Garden" with Bloody Marys and mimosas.
Book now: The Edgewater Hotel (doubles from $250; expedia.com) recently announced a new collaboration with Seattle-based Brooks Running Company. Guests of the hotel, which is located right on the water in downtown Seattle, will receive complimentary running shoe rentals (one less thing to pack!) and urban running and hiking trail maps to help them explore the city by foot.
With its mild temperatures and relatively low number of tourists before the summer onslaught, May is ideal for visiting New York City. Another draw: the Airbnb Brooklyn Half—the largest half-marathon in the country—is held at the end of the month. Registration for the race, which begins in Prospect Park and concludes in Coney Island, typically opens in late January. But you’ll have to act fast: the New York Road Runners–hosted half-marathon sold out in a mere 26 minutes in 2017.
Book now: Stay at the newly opened 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge (doubles from $432; hotels.com), which boasts unparalleled views of lower Manhattan and perks like complimentary yoga, nature walks for kids, and an impressive fitness center. Its location at the base of the Brooklyn Bridge in Brooklyn Bridge Park, an 85-acre green space on the East River, means easy access to running and biking trails, sports fields, and picnic-ready lawns.
June: St. Lucia
For a getaway that will refresh both mind and body, you can’t do much better than BodyHoliday, an adult-only spa and resort on the Northwest tip of this Caribbean island paradise. The resort’s Wellness Centre boasts a huge selection of treatments ranging from facials to body scrubs to aromatherapy to ayurvedic massage, plus activities like yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi, and water sports. Select 50-minute daily treatments are included in rates, as is access to a personal trainer.
When you’re not being pampered or working up a sweat, attend one of the guided morning walks, explore the nearby tropical gardens and Cariblue beach, or lounge by the 50-foot infinity pool.
Book now: Rates start at $550 per person, thebodyholiday.com.
July: Huntington Beach, California
Often ranked as one of the best surf towns in the U.S., this SoCal beach has no shortage of surfing schools. Two for new surfers to consider: Learn 2 Rip, popular for its affordable rates, and HB Surf School, which offers 90-minute lessons to adults every Saturday (both schools provide complimentary boards and wetsuits).
Book now: The Kimpton Shorebreak (doubles from $175; booking.com) has partnerships with both HB Yoga Collective and Equinox to offer fitness classes like yoga and meditation to hotel guests. Prefer to exercise on your own? The recently renovated, 1,600-square-foot gym is anything but basic, thanks to a 40-foot-wide outdoor bouldering wall. The hotel also offers free surfboard rentals and onsite "surf ambassadors" who advise guests on weather conditions and the best times to catch waves. After a surf session, quench your thirst with fresh-squeezed juices from the hotel’s restaurant, Pacific Hideaway.
You’re forgiven for not associating Miami with wellness, but 1 Hotel South Beach might just change your mind. With an impressive fitness center (including ropes, obstacles, and dedicated trainers), an onsite SoulCycle studio, and complimentary yoga, Pilates, and meditation classes, there are plenty of ways for guests to keep active. It’s easy to stick to your diet here, too. The hotel’s restaurant, Plnthouse, dishes out vegan and vegetarian fare from James Beard Award-nominated chef Matthew Kenney.
Book now: Doubles from $270; expedia.com.
You won’t regret timing a visit to Vancouver with the Lululemon–hosted SeaWheeze Half Marathon, which will be held on September 22. Although the race through Stanley Park is the main attraction, SeaWheeze is really a weekend-long event. Enjoy a variety of free fitness classes the day before the race, and recuperate at the Sunset Festival the following day for live music, complimentary yoga, and delicious food from local vendors.
Book now: A short walk from Coal Harbor, the Rosewood Hotel Georgia (doubles from $490; booking.com), has one of the best spas in town. Take your pick of rejuvenating treatments, including oxygen infusion facials, aromatherapy, and massages. Also good: a full fitness center and indoor saltwater lap pool.
October: St. George, Utah
The Red Mountain Resort in St. George, Utah is a short two-hour drive from Las Vegas, but might as well be in a different world. Booking a stay at the luxe oasis will give you access to amenities like massages, nutrition seminars, black lava gardens, personal training sessions, and a to-die-for spa. But the resort truly specializes in wellness packages, offering up themed retreats focused on topics such as weight loss and emotional fitness. In your free time, explore the Instagram-worthy red and white Navajo sandstone vistas just outside the front door.
Book now: Doubles from $220; booking.com
November: Ibiza, Spain
Although not quite beach weather, November in the Balearic island of Ibiza is typically mild, with temperatures in the 50s and 60s. Yoga retreats at Cas Gasi, an idyllic resort in the Ibiza countryside, include two yoga sessions per day, one massage per day, and fresh vegetarian fare prepared by the in-house chef. The "bespoke program" option is perfect for guests wishing to personalize their stay even further; build your own experience with yoga classes, personal training sessions, a curated meal plan, and access to an onsite nutritionist.
Book now: Doubles from $510; expedia.com.
December: Big Island, Hawaii
When you’re not practicing Sun Salutations at the Kalani (below), explore the 40-mile Old Mamaloa Highway to Waipo Valley Overlook trail by bike. The incredible views of the Mauna Kea volcano will make the steep climb in the beginning of the ride well worth it.
Book now: Voted one of the best coastal yoga retreats by Coastal Living, the Kalani (doubles from $200; kalani.com) offers an assortment of themed yoga retreats (check the schedule for updates on those available in December), plus weekly yoga classes. Other onsite amenities include a massage studio, 25-meter swimming pool, and a variety of bodywork services, such as healing dance and aromatherapy.