The eight best beach holidays
From beach resorts to wild shorelines, we do like to be beside the seaside
Yes, we love adventure holidays and city breaks, but when it comes to relaxation, beach holidays are the best holidays. The combination of water lapping your feet, sand beneath your toes and endless horizons in front of you induce bliss in epic quantities. Here are eight sandy wonders to get you started.
Con Dao, Vietnam
An archipelago off Vietnam’s southern coast, Con Dao is renowned for its stunning natural beauty, its diverse wildlife, its world-class resorts and its unusual history – the largest island, Con Son, was a penal colony from French colonial times through to the Vietnam War. Today these sleepy islands treat its few overseas tourists to some of Southeast Asia’s most stunning beaches, which they can often have all to themselves.
The Ionian islands, Greece
Forming a natural beauty parade off Greece's western coast, the Ionian islands run from Zakynthos in the south to Corfu in the north. Each of the seven islands can lay a plausible claim to hosting the best beach in the chain, but two standouts are Kefalonia’s Myrtos Beach – a crescent bay of white limestone pebbles – and Navagio, aka Shipwreck Bay, aka your new favourite place on Earth.
The Caribbean's lushest island, Saint Lucia’s dramatic peaks and dense rainforest are encircled by a string of perfect beaches. Mercifully spared the worst of 2017’s hurricane season, the island is back to its dazzling best. Stay at the spectacular Jade Mountain resort, where every room gives perfect views of the Caribbean Sea, and the sand is just a short stroll away.
Boasting the beauty of the Caribbean without the long haul and with delicious Italian cuisine to boot, Sardinia is one of Europe’s beach holiday gems. Sardinia’s 1,000 or so kilometres of coastline are studded with white, silver or golden sanded beaches. Best of the lot is the untamed Chia beach with its juniper tree-lined dunes and aquamarine waters.
Azure waters, sand dunes, palm trees and the occasional dolphin sighting – you’re in the Caribbean, right? Nope, you’re in England. OK, so the Scilly Isles, an archipelago off the Cornish coast with a subtropical climate, isn’t the dreary and grey England we know and love. Expect beautifully unspoilt beaches such as Porthcressa on St Mary’s, the largest island, or the deeply romantic Pentle Bay on Tresco.
Sri Lanka is undergoing a tourist boom, but few visitors venture far from the developed west coast. More fool them: head south and you’ll find sand and serenity on nearly empty beaches. Galle is a jewel of a port city in which to start your tour: after you’ve had your fill of its colonial delights, head east along the coastal road pulling in at whichever Indian Ocean-lined bay or beach captures your imagination.
The Whitsunday Islands, Australia
With 74 islands apparently involved in a game of beauty one-upmanship, the Whitsundays are a delightful swirl of baby blue waters and white silica sand. Part of the Great Barrier Reef, the Whitsundays are best explored by boat. Weigh anchor on secret beaches, glide over coral gardens and scuba as the mood takes you – you’ll never want to see the mainland again.
A clutch of beach-fringed islands lapped by turquoise waters and encircled with coral gardens, Zanzibar is a dreamlike retreat. Here you can swim, snorkel or just idle the days away. Nature lovers can head out to spot red colobus monkeys in the inland forest reserves or simply gaze out at the dolphins frolicking offshore.
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