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Photo: Mikey Detemple Photo: Mikey Detemple

Taylor Steele is an expert at going off the beaten path. "I love locations that make me feel like a child again, places that spark my curiosity because they're so intensely different than home. Places that buzz with insects, traffic and foreign music. Places with unfamiliar smells like smoke or tropical vegetation, anywhere the aura feels unique and I'm pushed out of my comfort zone."

Below are Taylor's best of the best: the farthest reaches of his travels. The towns, remote coastlines and islands that have inspired Taylor to keep traveling each and every year, and the places on this planet that mean the most to him. Take a minute, dive into Taylor's world and get some insight into why he holds each of these places in such high regard.

5. Cuba

It felt like I was transported to NY in the '50s, yet with its own beautiful way of living in the moment. Sounds of music from radios and live bands had people dancing on every block. The houses and cars are straight out of the set of an old movie. The way that people talk, hang out and interact feels as though it's from another time. People are present in Cuba like nowhere else in the world.

4. India

The colors and culture of India blew me away. It helped that I met a group in a surfing Ashram that showed us the real India in the north and south. From washing away sins in the Ganges to riding royal dressed elephants and surfing monsoon swells, I loved every minute of it.

3. Rwanda

Rwanda is a place that really rocked me. With its history of recent genocide, I was expecting a war-torn, sad country. Instead, it was happy, clean, optimistic and full of helpful people. I have never felt so safe and welcomed. Rwanda was the first place I've seen wild gorillas in the jungle. I was humbled by the size of those calm, gentle creatures.

2. Iceland

The landscapes feel like the moon. I've been to Iceland a few times now and there is no other place on earth with a similar landscape. Going there feels like visiting the birth of the world; vegetation so small that it barely clings to the lava rocks, steam billowing out of cracks in the black earth. Every different corner of Iceland's landscape feels like another planet.

1. Alaska

The highlight of my last trip to Alaska was flying a water plane to a lake surrounded by hundreds of Grizzly bears. Being close to those grand animals made me feel small. That, however, is a common feeling in America's northernmost state. The mountains are huge, the trees are huge, the animals are huge, and you feel tiny.