"The Amazing Race" host Phil Keoghan has been to more than 100 countries
His top 10 destinations include a Hawaiian island and a land-locked South Asian country
Phil Keoghan left his birthplace, New Zealand, at 3 and has been traveling the world ever since.
Keoghan’s parents – Dad was an agricultural scientist and Mom was a music teacher – instilled in him a wanderlust and appreciation for different cultures as his father’s career led the family to live internationally in places such as the Caribbean islands of Antigua and Barbuda.
“It gave me a curiosity in meeting people, interesting people, and that ultimately has determined how I’ve traveled, because what I’ve realized is, it doesn’t matter where you go in the world, it doesn’t matter where you are but who you’re there with,” Keoghan said.
To date, Keoghan has traveled to well over 100 countries, both to satisfy his own curiosity and as host of the long-running travel adventure game show “The Amazing Race” on CBS.
“The Amazing Race” has taken him across the globe, from Monaco to Macau, and keeps him on the road much of the year. His travel reached a peak 470,000 miles in 2004, and he averages a quarter-million miles annually.
Keoghan, 48, said he enjoys roughing it more than a pampered travel experience. “I love being in a place where you see life happening around you.
“My preference is much more of the rustic, off-the-beaten-path travel experience or activity for the teams, just because I love the ‘fish out of water’ aspect of ‘Amazing Race,’ ” he said.
Keoghan took time before embarking on yet another globetrot to share his 10 favorite destinations around the world with CNN. They’re spots he’s visited while hosting the show or simply for pleasure, places he’s lived and even one he’s never seen but dreams of visiting.
1. Stromboli, Aeolian Islands, Italy
Keoghan had an explosive dining experience on Stromboli, one of a chain of volcanic islands north of Sicily, Italy, when he was joined by a chef who cooked dinner using heat from an active volcano. Keoghan wore a dinner suit and toasted the chef as a crater blew up nearby.
2. Antigua and Barbuda
The TV host spent eight of his formative years on these Caribbean islands. “To grow up and watch your parents connect with poor farmers or my mother, who would offer music lessons to struggling reggae artists. She was able to teach them music, and they would come to our house. … So I learned about connecting with people from all walks of life.”
3. New Chums Beach, Coromandel, New Zealand
Visitors can a expect a tough hike along the coastline to reach the pristine New Chums Beach. Keoghan has worked alongside other conservation-minded New Zealanders to preserve the unspoiled area, where developers want to build housing. “It’s an idyllic location,” he said.
4. Pagosa Springs, Colorado
Keoghan came across Pagosa Springs, Colorado, a town known for its “healing waters” and natural hot springs, during a cross-country road trip to raise money for multiple sclerosis research and aid. “I realized just how generous Americans are in general, and it’s amazing how people who have very little are willing to reach into their pocket and share what they have.”
Keoghan has wanted to experience the remote South Asian country of Bhutan for years, but he’s yet to make his way there. Its rugged landscape and famous archery festival are the draw. He started a No Opportunity Wasted (NOW) list after a near-death experience at age 19 prompted him to focus on what is important in life. “The idea is that you never finish the list, and the list is pliable, and you are constantly adding and subtracting,” he said.
6. Niue Island, South Pacific
The island doesn’t boast lots of beaches (none to speak of) or tourist traps; what is does have is the perfect conditions for scuba diving, Keoghan has found. He even took his daughter diving in Niue, which has crystal blue water unlike anyplace else. “The visibility there seems to be infinite.”
7. Queenstown, New Zealand
A dream locale for outdoor enthusiasts, Queenstown offers endless opportunities for hiking, fishing and adventure sports. Keoghan helped set an unofficial bungee jumping record there, leaping off a bridge with eight other people. “There’s more adventure packed into that one town than any other place I know on Earth.”
8. Costa Rica
Keogan was taken with the natural beauty, wildlife and biodiversity of Costa Rica. He said travel is a great educator. “I think it teaches tolerance, acceptance. It gives you a greater appreciation of others, and part of that is respecting that you are a guest when visiting another country.”
9. Coober Pedy, Australia
The unique desert landscape lands this tiny opal-mining town on Keoghan’s list. Many residents live underground in spaces originally excavated for mining.
10. Kauai, Hawaii
It’s no surprise that a Hawaiian locale made Keoghan’s list of go-to spots. He sees Kauai as a great escape. “It’s close enough to mainland, but it’s a tropical paradise. Rugged and remote. I like that it hasn’t become overly commercialized.”