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Blue Zones

by Janet O'Grady
Should your next trip be a Blue Zones Vacation?

Did you love the Netflix Blue Zone Series? Ready for a Blue Zones vacation? Retreats inspired by Blue Zones are emerging as one of the biggest travel trends of 2024, part of a larger trend embracing wellness tourism. According to the Global Wellness Institute, wellness tourism reached $651 billion in 2022 and is expected to hit $1.3 trillion by 2025.  

For centuries the quest to find the fountain of youth has eluded scientists and inspired travelers. A similar quest motivated Dan Buettner, an American National Geographic fellow, to travel the globe for two decades, collecting insights and wisdom from the world’s centenarians. 

Buettner identified five areas—geographically defined regions where it is claimed that people tend to live longer than average and have lower rates of chronic disease than elsewhere—and called them Blue Zones. In the US, the average life expectancy is 78 years. But in the Blue Zones of Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; Nicoya, Costa Rica; Icaria, Greece, and Loma Linda, California —living over 100 isn't so unusual.  Centenarians here are reported to thrive both physically and mentally.  Buetner’s research resulted in several books, the most recent – The Blue Zones Secrets for Living Longer – published in 2023, as well as the Netflix docuseries, Live to 100: Secrets of the Blue Zones.

Sure you can visit these five destinations, Blue Zones is also now partnering with several resorts to offer certified retreats using its longevity research, such as focusing meals around beans and meaningful social interactions. Immersive experiences guided by trained Blue Zones facilitators will teach habits to foster long-term health and happiness. Blue Zones says it selected these partners because of their connection to their destination, and their sustainability practices.

Pioneering  Kamalaya in Koh Samui, Thailand melds its detox, plant-based meals, and other holistic, preventive wellness expertise, with the benefits of Blue Zones principles. In a serene setting imbued with Thai culture, explore cooking, moving, transformative thinking, and decluttering every aspect of your life as you create space for joy.  Their Blue Zone retreat runs May 5-11, 2024.

Tucked between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, Andaz, Costa Rica Resort at Peninsula Papagayo is in one of the original Blue Zones. In a setting enhanced by Costa Rican culture, learn the secrets of local centenarians. Expect days filled with Pura Vida, jungle and ocean adventures, and Blue Zone tools to increase energy levels and overall well-being. Their program runs from June 24-302024.

The Modern Elder Academy (MEA), known as the “world’s first midlife wisdom retreat”, joins forces with Blue Zones to synthesize both organization’s ideas for longevity, well-being, and happiness. The first retreat —“Optimizing Your Longevity”—takes place at its original  Baja California Sur, Mexico property July 17-22, 2024. The second at its new Santa Fe, New Mexico site, October 28-Nov 2, 2024.

Hacienda AltaGracia, Auberge Resorts Collection offers its own new Blue Zone Immersion retreats in the heart of the biodiverse Costa Rican cloud forest. Its three-month series from May 9 - July 31, 2024 explores life-extending individual pillars of the Blue Zone philosophy through workshops, sessions with local experts, and immersive programs. Each month features a different theme – movement, community, and nutrition.

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