Photo: skeeze

Going on a cruise is a culture in itself. Some cruisers make it their goal to experience every ship and port out there. Cruising provides a diverse itinerary and smaller coastal towns offer local culture and charm but without the crowds. Here’s a list of ports and nearby destinations that are worth visiting before they become too popular.

Editor’s note: These spots are all taken directly from travelstoke®, a new app from Matador that connects you with fellow travelers and locals, and helps you build trip itineraries with spots that integrate seamlessly into Google Maps and Uber. Download the app to add any of the spots below directly to your future trips.

1. Saint John’s, Newfoundland, Canada

The oldest city in North America, St. John’s is the kind of place where you can stand on Signal Hill watching icebergs drift past The Narrows. Houses of every color line almost every street, centuries-old buildings of brick sit on the waterfront, and the funky urban exterior of The Rooms Art Gallery & Museum dominates the skyline. Just like the province it belongs to, St. John’s is where old world meets new in a wonderful clash.

Cape Spear

Only about a 20-minute drive from the city is Cape Spear, North America’s most easterly point (excluding Greenland).

 Cape SpearSt. John’s, CanadaThis is the eastern most point of North America. The #lighthouse was built in 1836 and is the oldest surviving in Newfoundland. The cape was also used as a defence battery during WWII and you can view the old bunkers. #history #historic

2. Haines, Alaska

Haines is arguably the adventure capital of Alaska. It is in the northern part of the Alaska Panhandle, near Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve. The fishing town has mountain energy and vibrancy and is one of the best places in the world for heli-skiing.

 Southeast Alaska Backcountry AdventuresHaines, United StatesBest Heli Skiing in SE Alaska!

3. Kuşadasi, Turkey

Kuşadasi is a popular destination and, as the coastal gateway to Ephesus, Turkey’s busiest cruise port. That said, is it a jumping-off point for visiting the classical ruins at nearby Ephesus, an ancient city with remains that reflect centuries of history, from classical Greece to the Roman Empire.

Acarlar Köyü

 EphesusAcarlar Köyü, TurkeyWent to Turkey this October and I couldn’t believe my eyes! This is a photo of the Grand Theater at Ephesus and during the whole tour, I was imagining what it would’ve been like living back then. I mean, this theater is pretty awesome!

4. Santos Tomas de Castilla, Guatemala

Also known as Matías de Gálvez, Santos Tomas de Castilla is a port in Izabal Department, Guatemala. Escape the busy port and take a short bus ride to the UNESCO World Heritage Site the Mayan ruins of Quiriguá.

Alta Verapaz

 Monumento Natural Semuc ChampeyAlta Verapaz, GuatemalaThe definition of a hidden gem: Semuc Champey pools in #Guatemala. 🏅

Santa Cruz on Lake Atitlan

 Santa Cruz la Laguna, Lake AtitlanGuatemala, GuatemalaThe village of Santa Cruz on Lake Atitlan is one of the most naturally serene and enchanting places I’ve been to. You need to catch a “lancha”, or local boat, to get to most of the villages on the lake. There are lots of little paths to explore and get lost on. #lagoatitlán #serenity

5. Kralendijk, Bonaire

Kralendijk is the chief town of Bonaire in the Netherlands Antilles. The island is known for its beaches, golfing, snorkeling, skin diving, and pink flamingos.

 Old Slave HutsKralendijk, Bonaire, Saint Eustatius and SabaI did a little circuit around the island and made a stop here. The buildings look colorful and cheery until you remember they housed slaves. They were built in the 1850s to house men who worked in the salt ponds nearby.

 Treasure By The Sea BonaireKralendijk, Bonaire, Saint Eustatius and SabaBeautiful walk along the water every night! #kaiventures

 Bachelor’s BeachKralendijk, Bonaire, Saint Eustatius and SabaBest beach in Bonaire. More people under the water than above! #kaiventures

6. Kotor, Montenegro

Montenegro has the beauty of Croatia, minus the crowds. The waters are cleaner, the beaches less crowded, and it is significantly cheaper. Kotor is a fortified medieval town on the Adriatic Coast, Sveti Stefan, a small islet surrounded by crystalline waters, as well as some of the villages in the south near Ulcinj.

 Kampana TowerKotor, Montenegro#hiking

 Entrance of Old Town KotorKotor, MontenegroThis is the city center of Kotor. Far less crowded than Dubrovnik but this could change fast. Get lost in its narrow cobblestone streets! #free #history #balkans #montenegro

 Kotor FortressOpština Kotor, MontenegroKotor’s perfectly preserved medieval Old Town is situated at the base of a breathtaking trek along historic brick walls. 1000+ steps will switchback past churches, jaw dropping mountain peaks, and panoramic vistas of the dazzling bay below until you reach St. John’s Fortress. The higher you climb, the better the view. Start your hike early to beat the summer heat and the crowds.
Let your curiosity lead you, and perhaps you too will find the local farmer selling fresh cheese and pomegranate juice behind the fortress walls.
#kotor #montenegro #castles #oldtown #medieval #europe #balkans #churches #hiking #history

7. Progreso, Mexico

Progreso is a port city in the Mexican state of Yucatán, located on the Gulf of Mexico, is a 30-minute drive from the state capital Mérida. Generally, Progreso has a very relaxed beach-town vibe. It has the longest pier (6.5km) in Mexico. It’s a super place to be based if you want to explore Yucatán.

Santa Clara

 La LagunitaSanta Clara, MexicoSanta Clara is a tiny beach town, mostly used as a vacation spot for folks from the nearby pueblo of Dzidzantun. Other than during vacations, the beach is abandoned by everything except the boats of the past. The place is excellent for photography & strolling along the raw beach in search for big conch shells. #photography #beach #yucatan

Mérida

 EL CARDENAL CANTINAMérida, Mexico#cantina #cheap-eats #botanas #bar #beer #cerveza #music

Chuburná

 Chuburna PuertoChuburná, Mexico#playa #beachtown #beach #travelphotography #Yucatan

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