Hands Down, These Are the Best Netflix Travel Documentaries to Watch Right Now

Updated 08/22/17
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As summer draws to a close, it seems like everyone's trying to take one last vacation. While flight sales are a great way to plan a last-minute weekend away, now is the best time to shift your gaze beyond short escapes to plan your bucket-list vacation. If you only take one big trip in 2018, what's your dream destination?

Thankfully, you don't have to do much to kick-start the planning process. Beyond original TV shows, Netflix is also screening a ton of exceptional travel documentaries from the likes of David Attenborough and BBC, spotlighting destinations you might not have considered before. Spanning coral islets that should be seen now before they're lost from climate change to far-flung villages that are yet to be engulfed by globalization, they'll convince you to book your next trip stat.

Ready to spin the globe? These Netflix travel documentaries are guaranteed to help you land on your next vacation.

If You've Been Dreaming of a Safari …

The Show: David Attenborough's Africa reminds us yet again why he's the king of nature documentaries. In this six-part miniseries, Attenborough shines a light on the extraordinary wildlife and wild habitats throughout Africa, from the Congo and Cape to Savannah and Sahara.

The Ideal Traveler: The honeymooner. Safari is one of the top dream honeymoon destinations in the U.S. for good reason—it's the perfect blend of adventure and luxury. Be warned: Once you factor in lodging, park access, and tours, this can be a costly trip.

The Next Step: Add these dream safari lodgings to your list: Both Wolwedans and &Beyond offer jaw-dropping luxury suites.

If You're Searching for Adventure …

The Show: Frozen Planet is another award-winning BBC travel documentary that everyone should watch in their lifetime. Host Attenborough explores the cold, hostile polar regions in the seven-part series and uncovers the frigid beauty of a land covered in ice.

The Ideal Traveler: The adventurer. A polar voyage isn't for the faint-hearted. Even aboard a cruise ship, any traveler contemplating a trip to the north or south poles needs a sense of adventure.

The Next Step: Research flights to Argentina, the most popular departure point to visit Antarctica. 

If You Love the Sun and Sea …

The Show: You might recognize the voice of South Pacific's narrator—it's Benedict Cumberbatch. The British actor guides the six-part nature documentary, which traces the history and beauty of the South Pacific region's many islands.

The Ideal Traveler: The sunseeker. The South Pacific is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. This documentary provides a glimpse at the region and delves into the conservation challenges that threaten the fragile ecosystem.

The Next Step: Add Somoa's To Sua Ocean Trench to your itinerary. The natural 98-foot hole is truly breathtaking.

If You're an Eco-Conscious Traveler …

The Show: Chasing Coral interviews divers, scientists, and marine photographers around the world to "mount an epic underwater campaign" that documents the disappearing coral reefs around the world, Netflix outlines.

The Ideal Traveler: Conservationists or anyone concerned about global warming. This film will convince you that the best time to book a vacation is now.

The Next Step: Research the Great Barrier Reef. The largest reef in the world is experiencing rapid change, so it might be the best place to start your next beach vacation.

If You're a Foodie at Heart …

The Show: Okay, we'll admit it's not a nature documentary like the other films highlighted in this list, but Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown deserves a mention. The CNN original series chronicles the chef's adventures to unearth some of the best foodie hot spots in the world.

The Ideal Traveler: The fearless foodie. Bourdain's recommendations aren't for the timid, but he'll convince you to step outside your culinary comfort zone and try new cuisines.

The Next Step: Boudain explores a ton of bucket-list destinations, but one of our favorites has to be Myanmar, a country in Southeast Asia. Kick-start your travel planning by researching Bagan, a magical pagoda region.

If You've Been Everywhere …

The Show: Planet Earth II was the first natural history documentary to be filmed in high definition, which means that every moment is captured to perfection. Attenborough takes us to places we'd never know about otherwise, from the treetops of Costa Rica to the world's most extreme deserts.

The Ideal Traveler: The globe-trotter. If you're a regular traveler looking for a new pocket of the planet to explore, this is a great place to start.

The Next Step: Spin the globe and choose a little-known destination. Our favorites include Guizhou, China and Lofoten Islands, Norway.

What's your favorite Netflix travel documentary? Share your suggestions below.

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