Best “Unplugged” Vacations

Plan a “digital detox” at one of these 6 getaway spots.

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Smart phones, tablets and netbooks make it easier to stay connected while you’re on vacation -- but that same technology also makes it tougher to “get away from it all.”

Need help breaking your technology addiction? We’ve put together destination ideas that will allow you to get totally, 100% unplugged. From sailing along deserted Caribbean cays to tracking wildlife during an elephant safari, you’ll be so immersed in the travel moment that you may never want to pick up that “CrackBerry” again.

Wild Dunes Resort, Charleston, South Carolina

Wild Dunes Resort

Photo by: Peter Frank Edwards/Wild Dunes Resort

Peter Frank Edwards/Wild Dunes Resort

Disconnect and unplug from a stressful virtual-everything 2020 with the Digital Detox stay at Wild Dunes, which begins with you locking your cell phone in your room and continues with lots of choices for your preferred activities. Choose from kayaking, biking, tennis, golf and cultural excursions into Charleston. And on day 4 you get your phone back.

Savute Elephant Camp

Photo by: Orient-Express Hotels/Philip Schedler

Orient-Express Hotels/Philip Schedler

One of the coolest ways to distract yourself from the temptation to log on? Check into a hotel that puts you right in the path of the bull elephant — a beautiful, but imposing creature that makes your boss seem, well, kinda insignificant by comparison. At this Orient Express property, you’ll stay in one of 12 ultra-lux thatched huts set amid towering acacia trees in a rugged, semi-desert environment — which happens to be right next to a Savute elephant watering hole. And while the camp is surrounded by wildlife of all kinds hoping to grab a drink, you won’t find cell phone towers, outside lines or television. You won’t miss the set, though: The only show worth watching is the one right outside your door.

Red Mountain Resort

Practically by definition, spas are designed to help you relax and de-stress. For those who need a little extra push to go dark, Red Mountain Spa a resort located in the high-desert, red-rock bluffs near Zion National Park — features outdoor adventure packages tailored to your individual activity needs.

Jade Mountain Resort

Photo by: Jade Mountain

Jade Mountain

Long before eco-lodges were popular and going green became chic, architect Nick Troubetzkoy built the multi-tiered, open-air Jade Mountain Resort built right into a mountainside overlooking a volcanic sand beach — and the 2 stunning Pitons that St. Lucia is known for. To maintain the ultra-natural, Robinson Crusoe vibe, none of the rooms provide televisions, DVD players or other digital distractions. You probably won’t miss them, however, as you’re taking a dip in your stunning private infinity pool, scuba diving right offshore or eating a lunch custom prepared and served in-room by a private butler. And while you can reach him (or her) by a hotel-issued cell 24 hours a day — you won’t be able to receive other calls or dial out.

Oasis Surf Camp


Photo by: Anthony Ong

Anthony Ong

Santa Catalina, Panama's Oasis Surf Camp is considered to be one of Central America’s most radical surf hotspots. This secluded and minimally developed town has only one public pay phone and zero ATMs, credit card machines, cell phone shops or high-speed internet. Visitors to Oasis can walk right out onto the sand from their beach-side bungalows, grab a board and spend all day on the waves, either independently or with an instructor. The property also boasts a restaurant, sunset bar and countless beach chairs, and offers boat trips to nearby islands (including Isla Coiba, a scuba diver’s paradise).

The Sanctuary

The Thai island of Koh Phangan is most commonly known for its legendary full moon parties and wild raves on the beaches of Haad Rin. But journey just 15 minutes north by boat to Haad Tien Bay (or do a 90-minute hike through tropical rainforest like Amanda and I did!) and you’ll discover The Sanctuary, a hidden beach resort, spa and detox center. Nestled within a lush jungle on an isolated sliver of sand, this tranquil retreat specializes in fasting/detox programs, yoga holidays and custom relaxation packages (everything from meditation classes and spa treatments, to health and wellness workshops and spiritual rituals, such as devotional chanting by candlelight). And while the property is wired for TV and internet, you’ll nary find a yogi actually availing herself of it.

Amankora Resort

Amankora - Bumthang Courtyard Bonfire

The fact that Bhutan was under self-imposed isolation for much of the 20th century — combined with its uber-remote location between the Tibetan Plateau and India — makes the destination ideal for those seeking an escape from the digital world. Amankora is a luxury resort that allows you to get totally away from it all in total comfort. Rather than spending your vacation surfing the web, you can spend it trekking the surrounding Himalayan mountain peaks that rise more than 22,000 feet; meditating in a 7th-century Buddhist monastery; trying your hand at the national sport, archery; navigating deep river valleys lined with pine-blue forests while white-water rafting; or simply alleviating any back- and hand-aches, from too much typing, in the spa’s steam room.

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