If the phrase “dream holiday” immediately makes you picture white sands, shimmering seas, palm trees and cocktails, you’re not alone. Do a quick image search for that phrase and you’ll see hundreds of photos along a similar theme. So, with that in mind, where’s the best place for your beachside dream?
Well, there’s a good reason why Thailand was the setting for the book and film ‘The Beach’. Step out onto powder-white sand and swim in a sea that doesn’t need an Instagram filter to enhance its colour. Khao Lak is a particularly good choice – its beaches face towards the west, so your perfect image comes complete with stunning sunsets every night.
If you’re tempted by the crystal blue waters of the Caribbean, you can’t go wrong with Aruba or St Lucia. Both regularly appear on lists of the world’s best beaches, and it’s easy to see why. Check out Eagle Beach and Palm Beach in Aruba, for the absolute classic Caribbean beach experience. Or head to Rodney Bay in St Lucia and combine your sunbathing with a spot of retail therapy – the island’s best shopping centres are here.
Not a beach lover? How about some sightseeing in the world’s oldest, flashiest, or most interesting places?
Think ancient, think Greece. Rhodes is home to one of the best-preserved Medieval towns in Europe, so it’s got plenty for history buffs. Don’t miss the Palace of the Grand Master, from the 14th century. Visit the archaeological museum when you want to get out of the midday sun and see some treasures. And stroll around the harbour to see where one of the original seven wonders of the world used to stand.
In Sicily, the ancient Greek relics are very well preserved – some are actually in better condition than the ruins in Greece itself. Taormina is one of the best places to check them out – the amphitheatre in particular is not to be missed, with panoramic views across the sea and Mount Etna.
If your idea of sightseeing is something a little more modern, take yourself to the city that never sleeps. You won’t go short of something to see or do in New York – from the hectic pace of Times Square to the greenery of Central Park. Spot the buildings from your favourite films, take the ferry to Liberty Island, or simply find an interesting neighbourhood and explore. If you love art, don’t miss seeing some of the world’s most famous paintings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Perhaps getting active is your idea of a dream holiday. In that case, you might be interested in our roundup of the best holidays for adrenaline junkies. But, if you want something in between sedate sunbathing and heart-pounding action, you’re in luck.
Learn to surf in Gran Canaria – its array of beaches and excellent reef breaks make it a great place for beginners. Seasoned surfers get loads of action catching the waves here, too. In fact, the Canary Islands in general are a popular destination if you want to grab your board. Fuerteventura has been described as a ‘mecca for surfers’ and Lanzarote’s powerful waves are worth a look – October to March is the time to go for the best swells.
Swap the sea for the trees and you could find yourself swinging through the jungle like Tarzan, a monkey, or one of those flying squirrels that always goes further than you expect. Costa Rica offers so many action-packed trips and excursions you won’t know where to start – skywalks, zip-lining, white water rafting, canyon adventures… You get the idea.
Talking of Costa Rica, it’s becoming more and more popular as an eco-friendly destination, where you can enjoy the spectacular scenery and hope to spot a sloth or two. Don’t forget about the 500,000 other species to look out for, though. For a nature-lover, it truly is paradise.
If you want to see elephants, however, you’ll need to head to Sri Lanka instead. Udawalawe National Park and Minneriya National Park both offer the chance to get close to these big, friendly giants. A 4x4 trek to the watering hole in Minneriya feels like a proper adventure. Elephant sanctuaries in Thailand are another option, where you can even get a chance to feed and bathe the magnificent creatures.
Of course, nature isn’t just about exotic animals. To see some of the most unbelievable natural wonders of the world, head to Iceland. It’s one of the best places to try and spot the Northern Lights, for a start. But there’s more to Iceland than the mysterious lights in the sky. You can take a dip in the enormous geothermal Blue Lagoon, watch geysers explosively assert themselves at Geysir, and spot wild Icelandic horses frolicking in the valleys.
If your idea of a dream holiday is all-out luxury and pampering, then choosing the right hotel is key. It’s not just beautifully shaped pools and proximity to the beach you need to think about – it’s those extra touches that really make you feel like a celebrity.
At the TUI SENSATORI Resort Azul Mexico, for example, booking a premium suite gets you concierge service and access to a private beach area. Even better, you get to use the exclusive fifth pool, where pool butlers will be on hand to look after you. Bliss. The mojito bar has 18 options to try out and the cocktail and shisha lounge is adults-only, so you can indulge in peace.
If you’re looking for something a little closer to home, TUI SENSATORI Resort Tenerife’s high-end luxury is just a short flight away. Balinese day beds circle the adults-only pool, in-water sunbeds let you keep cool while you work on your tan, and Red Level rooms come complete with butler service and lavish toiletries. Of course, a pampering holiday wouldn’t be complete without a spa treatment or two – the diamond dust massage is definitely one to experience.
Located right by the beach and backed by lush hills and mountains, Riu Palace Costa Rica is a stylish addition to the RIU portfolio delivers big-resort facilities with a boutique touch.
Bohemia Suites & Spa is only five-minutes to the beach, and the swanky feel doesn’t stop at all the fancy tech, with gold-topped pillars and a canopied pool bar.
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