Located just off Brazil's southern coast, this is Santa Catarina island's liveliest city. Floripa (as it's called by the locals) is a favorite of European jet-setters, South American party animals, and anyone looking for a guaranteed good time. In the summer (our winter), dance your way through the oceanfront clubs; come winter, head inside to the wine bars. When you've had your fill, leave town to visit tiny Southern fishing villages and sprawl out on pristine beaches. (On that note, pack your teeniest bikini -- this is Brazil!)
The Steal: Quinta das Videiras (rates from $200, quintadasvideiras.com.br). The 11-room hotel in Lagoa da Conceicao is modeled after a 19th-century Portuguese home (think stained glass, wrought-iron balconies, and trellises with grapevines). Its helpful owners are eager to arrange tours, dispense tips, and even play chauffeur in a pinch. That said, it's walking distance from the best nightclubs.
The Splurge: Il Campanario Resort (rates from $260, ilcampanarioflorianopolis.com). An all-suite newcomer right on Jurere Beach, this is where the tall, tan, young, and lovely come to frolic. The bright and sunny accommodations include kitchens (ideal for storing late-night snacks) and hydro-massage showers (large enough for two), and most have ocean views.
Join the Party: Mix with the crowd at Pacha Floripa, sister to Pacha, the legendary superclub in Ibiza (and one of the reasons international scenesters liken Floripa to that over-the-top Spanish isle). At this massive Jurere Beach disco, music lovers will not be disappointed. Day and night, international beats spun by celebrity deejays pump palpable electricity into the sea of partiers (pachafloripa.com.br). Sample cachaca, the sugar-cane-derived liquor that's the key ingredient in a lime-filled caipirinha, at Armazem Vieira. Distillery by day, bar at night, it can become good-naturedly rowdy on evenings with live bands (armazemvieira.com.br). Dance to up-tempo forro (Brazil's version of country music) at La Pedrera bar in Lagoa da Conceicao'. On Fridays, the popular spot is filled with trendy 20-somethings getting down to the reggae-forro band Guaypeka (lapedrerafloripa.com.br).
Venture Out: Try your hand at sandboarding on the dunes near Joaquina Beach. Experienced locals and vacationing snowboarders take to the biggest hills (about 65 feet high), while beginners on rented boards head for the bunny slopes. Afterward, stop off at one of the sandy huts that line the beach for ice-cold Brahma beer, a Brazilian staple. Go with Brazil Trails to Costa da Lagoa village (an hour from the city), where the men fish and their wives prepare the day's catch at tiny seaside restaurants. You'll lunch on sequencia de camarao, or shrimp tapas, before heading back by boat (braziltrails.com). Scale a wooden catwalk on Santinho Beach to view 5,000-year-old geometric rupestrian art. It's carved into the rock at the foot of the Morro das Aranhas hill. And bring your surfboard along -- the waves here are almost too good to be true.
For Beaches and Sightseeing
This tiny state on the Arabian sea was colonized by Portugal in the 1500s and became an enclave for hippies in the 1960s. Today, it's nirvana for travelers seeking India with a twist. Head to the sea to swim and sun, or make those hippies proud and meditate on the beach. In the cities lining the coast, tour sacred Hindu temples, fading mansions, and grand cathedrals. For an exhilarating experience, rely on a rickshaw to transport you.
The Steal: Elsewhere (weekly rates from $407, aseascape.com). Seclusion is everything at this hotel in northern Goa; its exact location is kept under wraps until you've made a reservation. (Want a hint? To get there, you'll need to cross a saltwater creek by footbridge.) The accommodations are equally eccentric: There are three luxury creek-side tents and four earthy houses on the beach.
The Splurge: Park Hyatt Goa (rates from $330 a day, goa.park.hyatt.com). The centrally located hotel was laid out to resemble a sprawling Indian village: Luxurious rooms and suites are clustered in small buildings amid ponds and gardens. Rent the hotel's open-air beach cabana for a day and be the envy of all other guests.
Hit the Sand: Laze the day away at quasi-secret Butterfly Beach. There are three ways to get there from Palolem Beach in south Goa: take a two-hour hike, rent a kayak and paddle your way over, or enlist the services of a fisherman and his boat for about $15 an hour. It's no easy task, but once you've arrived you'll never want to go back. Pay homage to the god Shiva (or at least a child-size rock carving of his face) at Little Vagator Beach, also known as Ozran or Little Israel. A traveler chiseled out the mini landmark at the water's edge in the early 1990s. Center your mind -- and your chakra -- during an hour of meditation on Arossim Beach at the Park Hyatt Goa. Held at sunrise or just before sunset, the private session relies on the rhythmic crash of the ocean's waves to help you fully unwind.
See the Sights: Soak up some history by wandering through the cathedrals and convents in Old Goa, the former colonial capital that lies southeast of present-day capital Panaji. One gilded standout you won't want to miss: The World Heritage Site-recognized Baroque Basilica of Bom Jesus (bomjesus.in). Tour the Sahakari Spice Farm to learn about the cardamom, ginger, and cinnamon that infuse the local dishes. You'll be welcomed with a smudge of red kumkum to the forehead, a garland, and lemongrass tea before setting off through the 130 acres with a guide (sahakarifarms.com). Admire the rainbow of saris at Mapusa's Friday market (the place for people-watching), where vendors peddle fruit, veggies, jewelry, and home goods like earthenware pottery.
For Thrill-Seeking and Rejuvenation
The best way to describe this island? Pretty close to paradise. Misty mountains and volcanoes rise up from the sea, whales breach offshore, and that easygoing Hawaiian vibe is present in its ramshackle surf towns and cowboy-run ranches. There's so much to do here: Get your adrenaline flowing with a scenic hike or bike ride, find some waves, or kick back on a colored-sand beach and then wander past farms and gardens.
The Steal: Haiku Plantation Inn (rates from $99, haikuleana.net). Off the twisting Hana Highway -- the island's most scenic stretch of road -- this secret spot extends a bit of real Maui to guests. Amenities include Hawaiian lomilomi massage and surf lessons given by a friend of the owners named -- what else? -- Tide.
The Splurge: The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua (rates from $299, ritzcarlton.com). This hotel houses a branch of Jean-Michel Cousteau's Ambassadors of the Environment program. Translation: You can partake in offbeat activities like underwater photography and outrigger-canoe rides. Or see if your new husband will succumb to some spa time. Treatments at the resort's new 17,500-square-foot space incorporate traditional healing therapies.
Feel a Rush: Set your alarm early to watch the sun come up from Haleakala's 10,023-foot summit. Afterward, cruise down a portion of the volcano by bike with Haleakala Bike Co. (bikemaui.com). Ride a horse (accompanied by a Hawaiian cowboy) through pastures and eucalyptus forests on the Piiholo Ranch, an 800-acre cattle farm 2,000 feet above the Pacific (piiholo.com). Sign up for a kiteboarding lesson (a combination of windsurfing and wakeboarding) at Kite Beach on the north shore. Try the Kiteboarding School of Maui: While the instructors and the surf can accommodate experienced wave-riders, first-timers are welcome, too (ksmaui.com).
Just Relax: Stroll through the Alii Kula Lavender Farm, breathing in the scent of more than 55,000 plants. Before you leave, stop by the boutique for some Organic Lavender Massage Lotion to tote home (aliikulalavender.com). Spend a day on the rust-colored Oneuli Beach (the actual shade of the sand is up for debate -- is it black or is it red?) in the south-shore town of Makena. Honu, or green sea turtles, paddle around in the surf, so be sure to bring your snorkel gear. Take the Pacific Whale Foundation's Stargazing Cruise on a catamaran during whale season (December through April). Entertainment is included: Soulful humpback whale songs are piped up from the depths by hydrophones (pacificwhale.org).
For Culture Shock and Pampering
There's more to this Eastern playground than bright lights and a big city. Yes, the neon Ginza district is Japan's answer to New York's Times Square, but there's much more to see. Experience the place by ducking into no-name bars and catching a sumo match. Or, make like a local and turn your attention inward (as if you needed an excuse to get a massage!) by soaking in hot springs or relaxing in your neighborhood bathhouse.
The Steal: Ginza Yoshimizu (rates from $231, yoshimizu.com). In true Japanese custom, room size here is measured by the number of tatami mats covering the ground. Beds are futons rolled out on the floor, and communal stone tubs service those rooms with no bath. Spend the cash you save at this hotel at Cartier, Chanel, and Bulgari, just a block away.
The Splurge: The Peninsula, Tokyo (rates from $645, peninsula.com). A sleek 24-story tower next to the Imperial Palace, this high-rise has spacious rooms (the smallest are 544 square feet) decked out with Skype-equipped phones, electronic curtains, and even nail-polish dryers. Twenty-four-hour concierges grant your every wish; they'll sign you up for sushi-making or flower-arranging at your request.
Immerse Yourself: Visit the Ryogoku area, home to everything sumo -- the stadium, museum, and wrestlers themselves, who live and train in sumo-beya (stables) -- and down huge bowls of protein-heavy stew in chanko-nabe restaurants. Watch the iconic tuna auction at the Tsukiji Market, where a single fish can fetch upward of $100,000. Only 140 people are allowed inside each day, so reservations are first-come, first-served. A 5 a.m. start time provides you with the perfect opportunity to grab a traditional sushi breakfast at the market's own Daiwa Sushi (tsukiji-market.or.jp). Get a backstage pass to the city with one of Bespoke Tokyo's insiders-for-hire. Depending on the night, you might wind up in a hidden lounge in Naka-Meguro, a neighborhood of artists and vintage-clad urbanites, or inside the world's smallest S&M bar, where willing patrons are (lightly) whipped for fun (bespoketokyo.jp).
Get Spoiled: Take a one-hour bullet-train ride from Tokyo to the coastal town of Atami. Once there, check into Atami Fufu for the day. Steep in a private alfresco hot-spring bath, then sit down to a multi-course meal. The luxury hotel is styled like a traditional ryokan inn, with clean lines of wood and stone and shoji paper screens (atamifufu.jp). Treat yourself to a ritualistic tea ceremony at Happo-en Garden's tatami-mat-floored teahouse. Then amble around the garden past stone lanterns and the central pond (happo-en.com). Book a treatment at the Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Chinzan-so. For a truly hedonistic experience (at $676 per person), try the three-hour signature "Fire and Water" package. Based on Buddhist rituals, it includes a sage-and-cypress cleansing, pressure-point massage, body wrap, and sake bath (fourseasons.com/tokyo).