Are you looking for a vacation off the beaten path? Maybe you’ve seen all the hot spots, like Cabo and the Bahamas, and are ready for a fresh experience. Travel Noire has been capturing hidden gems all year long, and we’re excited to have you vote on some of your favorites for the 2023 Travel Noire Awards. We examined what new sites Travel Noire readers are exploring and which are worth your while. Here are the nominees for Favorite Hidden Gem Vacay.

Bazaruto Islands, Mozambique

Photo credit: Nisa and Ulli Maier Photography

This African hidden gem should be on your travel list. The Bazaruto Islands, also known as The Bazaruto Archipelago, is a collection of six islands off the southern coast of Mozambique. Paradise island is the most well known of them all. The islands offer unspoiled sandy beaches, sparkling turquoise waters and an array of marine life.

It is considered a diver’s paradise because of “the pristine coral reefs, home to more than 2000 fish species as well as whales and dolphins,” according to Mozambique Travel. More than divers and locals are discovering the beauty of the Bazaruto Islands. The eastern part of the island is mostly sand dunes making sand boarding a popular traverler’s pastime. Travel Noire editors love the untapped beauty of the island and noted it as a site worth visiting while in Africa. 

Bologna, Italy

Photo credit: Francesco Riccardo Iacomino

There’s a lot more to see in Italy than celebrity-packed places, like Capri and the Amalfi Coast. Italy has hidden gems, away from the big tourist crowds and connected to the locals. Bologna is located in the Emilia-Romagna region in North Italy. According to Tom Marchant, the founder of a luxury travel company called Black Tomato, “Bologna is very up-and-coming and poised to be the new hot Italian city to visit.”

Bologna topped our list of vacay spots for a number of reasons. One of the main reasons is it is a food lover’s paradise. Nicknamed “La Grassa” (The Fat), Bologna is the birthplace of Bolognese pasta, which people enjoy all across the world.

Travelers also can explore the open air food markets and traditional regional dishes around the city. The city is known for it’s Two Towers, Medieval architectural marvels located in the heart of the city, which tourists can climb for just a few Euros. The city is also highly walkable allowing travelers to see the stunning Renaissance architecture or explore quaint cafes and bars by affordable city bus.

Learn more about Black travelers’ interest in Italy, some calling it a Black Renaissance.

Wadi Rum, Jordan

Photo credit: Anton Petrus

Places, like Dubai and Morocco, have been popular among Black travelers in recent years. Now, there’s a new place buzzing: Wadi Rum, Jordan. Wadi Rum is a protected desert area in southern Jordan in the Middle East. Travel Noire readers showed high interest in Wadi Rum, reacting to photos of travelers dune bashing and sipping tea with locals on social media. Its visually striking landscape of clay-colored cliffs and miles upon miles of red sand make it a world site to see. The area is most commonly known for “Valley of the Moon,” a giant rock formation cut from sandstone and granite. Wadi Rum was named a UNESCO Heritage site in 2011.

Travelers can enjoy guided tours, ATV riding, hiking and luxury camping while visiting the heritage site. 

Read more about the Travel Noire Awards and vote for the finalists