We asked 10 people who explore for a living to reveal the places they've recently "discovered"--in other words, the best places you've never heard of (and, frankly, neither had we). Go now, before the rest of the world catches up.
Henry Madden traveled around the world for six years as an investment banker--but that all changed in March 2003, as soon as he and his high school friend Paul Irvine arrived in Brazil for vacation. Within eight months, the two had quit their jobs, moved to Brazil permanently, and embarked on a yearlong road trip through the country.
As the co-owners of two Rio de Janeiro-based companies, Dehouche and Anteater Travel, Madden and Irvine scout around South America nearly every week for their businesses. "We pop over to Patagonia or Paraguay for a week to check something out," explains Madden.
Madden can't say enough good things about Caraíva, a rustic beach town at the southern tip of the state of Bahia. It's a laid-back vacation spot for Brazilians from Rio and São Paulo who are willing to make the 44-mile trek from the nearest airport in Porto Seguro down a partially unpaved road. "It's a little too far for some, but that's a good thing," says Madden. There are no cars in Caraíva--visitors leave theirs by the river and ferry across to the town. What Caraíva does have is a wide gold-sand beach and a calm river where visitors can float away the afternoon adrift on inner tubes. "It's so lovely, it's almost surreal," says Madden. The town also borders tribal land where there's a village at which visitors can buy local handicrafts. In the evening, everyone convenes at the few restaurants. "My favorite has seating beneath a large tree," says Madden. "I particularly love the fish stew."
Rooms at Pousada da Barra are basic but appealing--though there's no air-conditioning, all eight rooms have ceiling fans and balconies that take advantage of cross breezes between the river and the ocean. "There's a rhythm to the place," says Madden. "It means that everybody is at the beach at the same time. You can stay a week and know everyone in town."
How to get there: Round-trip TAM Linhas Aéreas and GOL Transportes Aéreos flights from Rio, from $206; taxi to Caraíva from Porto Seguro, $103; Pousada da Barra, caraiva.com, from $78.