USA TODAY: 10Best: Raul De Molina’s top spots in Latin America

Feb 6, 2015

10Best: Raul De Molina’s top spots in Latin America

By Larry Bleiberg

American travelers need not look east or west for adventure. Those that head south will find a world of diversion, says Raul De Molina, host of the top-rated Univision network entertainment news show, El Gordo y La Flaca. “Latin America has beautiful places just around the corner,” the Emmy Award-winner says. “You go from a glacier to the beautiful blue waters of the Caribbean to colonial cities to museums.” He shares some favorite destinations with Larry Bleiberg for USA TODAY.

Cartagena, Colombia

While the colonial city was considered dangerous in the past, it’s now one of the safest and most scenic places in Latin America, De Molina says. He recommends spending time in the historic core. “It’s one of the most beautiful cities in the world. It’s a living city. Almost anyone in Colombia who has money has purchased a home there.” For change of pace, head to the nearby Baru Islands. “It’s a Caribbean experience.”

Torres del Paine, Chile

Chile’s Patagonia national park offers extraordinary opportunities, from whitewater rafting to horseback riding to a traditional asado, a South American barbecue. “This is a place to go and disconnect from everyone in the world,” De Molina says. But he loved staying at Explora Patagonia, a luxurious eco-lodge with spa services, organized outings and gourmet food and wine.

Mexico City

This Mexican metropolis can easily rival big cities like New York and London for its tourist offerings. “You have so many things to do: theater, museums, restaurants, nightlife,” De Molina says. He particularly loves the dining. “There are more restaurants than anywhere else in Latin America.” 800-446-3942;

Buenos Aires

If you stick to certain areas, Argentina’s capital indeed seems like Europe. “The Recoleta neighborhood feels no different from Madrid or Paris or Rome,” De Molina says. But he suggests branching out too, visiting famed steak restaurants like Cabana Las Lilas, and taking in a soccer game. “Go with a local to see the Boca, which is the most colorful team in Argentina.”

Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

De Molina was astonished by the pristine nature and wildlife on these islands, which helped shape Darwin’s thinking about evolution. “It’s one of the few places in the world that has been untouched. There is extreme quiet like no other place,” he says. “I was alone on the beach with my wife and 40 sea lions.”

Rio de Janeiro

De Molina spent 43 days in this captivating city during the World Cup, and got to know it as well as his hometown of Miami. “It’s one of the most beautiful places in the world. I can only compare it to Cape Town, South Africa.” While most visitors focus on Copacabana, he suggests branching out to other beaches and surrounding areas. “And the restaurant scene is one of the finest in the world.”

Perito Moreno, Argentina

This Patagonian national park and its signature glacier shows the remarkable diversity of Latin America. “People go to see a glacier in Alaska and in Iceland, but one of the biggest ones in the world is in Argentina,” De Molina says. He has fond memories of a tour with his family that led into ice tunnels, and culminated with a shot of whiskey – served with a chunk of glacial ice.

Casa de Campo, Dominican Republic

A former sugar mill on the island’s southeast coast is now home to one of the Caribbean’s most luxurious resorts, with a stunning golf course and mansions and villas right out of Beverly Hills. De Molina, who has covered celebrity news for decades, is impressed by the luminaries who own homes here, including Vin Diesel, Shakira, Marc Anthony, Sammy Sosa and billionaire Gustavo

Machu Picchu, Peru

This Inca ruin deserves its place on any bucket list, De Molina says. He suggests spending the night at a hotel near the archaeological site instead of returning to Cusco at the end of the day. “You’re up in the clouds near the ancient city. When everyone else leaves, then you have Machu Picchu to yourself.”

Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands

De Molina got to know this island paradise when he worked as a paparazzo, shooting pictures of celebrities around the Caribbean. His favorite spot was the island of Virgin Gorda, where he stayed when Princess Diana visited nearby Necker Island, the private retreat owned by Richard Branson. “It’s very quiet. I went there so many times and then I went back on vacation.” He recommends swimming at The Baths National Park. “It’s the most beautiful place in the Caribbean.”



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