Hidden Gems


Grace Cronkright at Waimanalo Bay on the island of O’ahu, HI. Photo credit by: Wesley Cronkright

Grace Cronkright

 Eiffel Tower? Check! Empire State Building? Check! Waikiki Beach? Check! 

   Vacations can be some of the most exciting, and also the most exhausting moments. As much as travelers love to go to an exotic getaway to rest and have a week with no homework and phone calls, the rush to go here, there and everywhere, is bound to creep up. The go,go,go. Take a pic, show it off, cross it off your bucket list. But what if while on route to a tourist destination a wrong turn was made, and you stumbled upon a hidden gem. 


      Through my experience of traveling some of the best moments I have had on the trips were accidents. The spontaneous. The unexpected. The adventure. This is true for many WO travelers, too.  “I went to Engelberg, Switzerland which is more known to people in Europe, but not really a place people vacation to but it was a small village that had the most beautiful mountains and lakes I have ever seen,” Jr. Noah Carithers said. Sometimes the “under the radar” spots are even more memorable than the tourist traps. When I lived in Hawai’i, my grandparents would often visit. We all know how grandparent visits can go, one minute we may be on route, the next we may be in the middle of nowhere. That was the case that happened one summer. My family and I had island hopped to the Big Island. We stayed near Volcano National Park. One day on our way to the park, my grandpa took a wrong turn and we ended up near a cave that was lit by crystals. Still to this day, that was one of my favorite memories with my

Cronkright’s rental in Hawai’i. Photo credit by: Grace Cronkright

grandparents, and what is even better is that it wasn’t even planned. There was not that pressure that I had to make sure everything was just right, to match the picture in my head, it was simply just taking in everything around me; that was the best part.  


       Populated vacation destinations can be amazing, but can also come with a big price. Some of the best places aren’t very populated and come with no price at all. Jobo’s Beach in Puerto Rico; the scenery is indescribable. The locals have a unique culture and outlook on life. It’s also a surfing beach, so it’s fun to

Kamryn Dumas and friends exploring in Puerto Rico. Photo Credit: Kamryn Dumas

watch the locals surf,” Sr. Kamryn Dumas said. Beaches are a common hotspot to find beauty in the simple things. “There was a small beach extremely hidden in Empire, Michigan, like 30 minutes from Traverse City. You had to hike a couple miles to get to it but once you did it was so gorgeous. There are dunes surrounding the area, as the beach stretches on for miles. There were two other families there when we went, they even collected Petoskey stones with us. The water was so clear, it was so refreshing,” Jr. Victoria DeLeon said. 


Petoskey MI. Photo by: Victoria DeLeon
Petoskey, MI beach. Photo by: Victoria DeLeon

     Another new element to the travelers in most recent years are vacation rentals. Companies like Airbnb and Vrbo are becoming a more popular choice when traveling as opposed to hotels. Hotels tend to be located in very densely populated places and urban areas. Vacation rentals can be located anywhere and everywhere, this offers more opportunity of exploration in more remote or lesser known places. DeLeon reflects back on her vacation this past summer to Traverse City. “What made this vacation special was the time spent with my family, we had saved our money and rented a beautiful Airbnb that ensured comfort and enough space for us”.  Airbnb provides more affordable prices, located in a wide array of areas that allows for new exploration to be discovered. 


           As fun as the scheduling of the Seven Wonders can be;  the exhilaration when finding a remote beach, taking a wrong turn and ending up as a beautiful lookout point, or discovering  a new “hole in the wall” restaurant can be equally as exciting and memorable. Ultimately it’s not the money, the luxuries, and the souvenirs that last. Sure, they’re cool for a little while. However,  it’s the memories cherished with people that last the most.