If you are a beach person looking for a different vacation in the sun or simply wish to enjoy some rest and relaxation after touring, try one of the following suggestions, which have been selected not only for their beach attractions, but also for alternative activities.
1. Corfu, Greece
A short flight from Athens will bring you to the lush green island of Corfu in the Ionian Sea. While travelling in Greece you could have a problem deciding on which beach to stay at, as there are 57 on the island, all varying from secluded to lively. There are a few key ones to consider. For an attractive resort with sandy beaches and a picturesque harbour, try Paleokastritsa Beach. From here, you can take boat trips to uninhabited beaches or spend time in the village, visit the local monastery, or dine at one of the many restaurants. For a livelier resort with a good nightlife, restaurants, and bars, Sidari Beach is the answer. It has three beach areas, one of which is called Canal d’Amour, which is very picturesque and one of the best beaches in Corfu. It is said that if you swim in the canal, you will find your soul mate. Agios Georgios Beach is a resort surrounded by lush landscapes with excellent sandy beaches and is ideal for families as well as for water sports enthusiasts (windsurfing and scuba diving especially). From all resorts on the island, you should spend time in historic Corfu Town with its Parisian-style arcades, Venetian alleyways, and attractive city mansions. The Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with a maze of winding streets. Another reason to visit Corfu is to see the villages scattered around the island, with old mansions, palaces, and monasteries showcasing the diverse occupations and cultures. Corfu has it all.
2. The Algarve, Portugal
Again, like Corfu, the Algarve has a selection of resorts to choose from. With a mild climate, the Algarve is an all-year-round destination. Located on the Mediterranean Sea, it is known for safe and attractive beaches. Interestingly, many of the resorts started out as fishing villages and again, depending on your style of vacation, vary from very lively to serene to quiet. You will find the coast to the west is wilder than the east end, hence, it is more dramatically scenic. The liveliest resort is Albufeira which divides into two main areas, Areias de Sao Joao with a large number of bars, restaurants, and open-air discos, and the Old Town situated on the seafront with a wide choice of restaurants and bars. Portimao is the second-most-populated city in the Algarve with a pleasant and attractive waterfront where you can enjoy outdoor cafes and fish restaurants. In the centre, there are pedestrian shopping streets, historic buildings, and a selection of cafes, bars, and restaurants. For quaintness, head to Lagos, which is surrounded by 16th-century walls inside which are cobblestone lanes and picturesque squares and churches. The town has everything from nightlife to beaches, which include the nearby Meia Praia Beach with a long sandy beach. Sagres is close to some of the Algarve’s most dramatic scenery and is a small, quiet village with a laid-back atmosphere and cliffs that drop down to the sea. It has beautiful beaches and a picturesque harbour. Vilamoura is one of the Algarve’s nicest resort towns with more than just beaches. A stylish and exclusive beach resort and golfing centre, it’s the place to go for cocktail bars and chic nightlife. The beaches are beautiful with soft golden sands. It’s clear that you’re not stuck for choice in the Algarve on a trip to Portugal.
Highlights of the Algarve
Discover the history and culture of the Algarve on this 4-day escape. Based in a first-class hotel, you’ll explore Lagos, Silves, and the Monchique in the Western Algarve and the relaxed environments of the Eastern Algarve, including Faro and the border region with Spain.More Details
3. Hammamet, Tunisia
Being located on the North African coast of the Mediterranean, Tunisia enjoys a similar climate to the southern parts of Spain and France. Hammamet is probably the best-known resort for a Tunisia vacation offering excellent swimming and water sports such as water skiing, windsurfing, and jet skiing. The name Hammamet appropriately means "Bathing Place." In this resort, there are numerous beaches from which to choose, many of which are private hotel beaches. But Hammamet offers a lot more than just the beach. The town’s medina—a walled city within the city with narrow streets and old houses—has a maze of narrow and winding lanes surrounded by an original 15th-century wall and contains some well-preserved traditional Tunisian architecture. There are many shops and small markets selling embroidery, ceramics, leather goods, carpets, and other merchandise. You might want to venture outside the resort to Pupput, a Roman archaeological site of aqueducts, cisterns, and baths, and Nabeul, a colourful town known for its Friday crafts market and ceramics. Another nearby place of interest is Kerkouane, which was settled by the Phoenicians in the 6th century BC, which makes a visit here like travelling back in time with its ancient buildings and streets.
4. Zanzibar, Tanzania
If you have just finished a wildlife safari in Tanzania and would like to unwind but perhaps also experience something not found anywhere else in the country, you should head to Zanzibar, an island off the coast of Tanzania and a wonderful destination not only for a beach vacation but also the place to soak up some local culture; it’s a great combination. Zanzibar is made up of two islands, Pemba and Unguja. You can enjoy white sand beaches with waving palm trees along with the turquoise Indian Ocean. The intermittent coral reefs here are perfect for snorkellers and scuba divers who will see an abundance of tropical fish and turtles. That other aspect, the culture, has been influenced by traders and raiders from other parts of Africa as well as Asia and Europe. This is very apparent on a visit to Stone Town, which is the old part of Zanzibar and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This was the centre of the spice trade in the 19th century, hence the name given to Zanzibar: “Spice Island”. Simply wander around the alleys with their bazaars, shops, mosques, and churches and you will find another world. Several of the houses here, with their verandahs and decorated wooden doors with ornate carvings, date back to the 19th century.
Zanzibar is rich in history. It is the fabled Spice Island and one time centre for the slave trade. Home to Stone Town, a World Heritage site, it is also an excellent beach destination.More Details
The South Pacific
5. The Whitsundays, Australia
It is a fact that Australia is a diverse and large continent. So where do you head to for a beach vacation? Try the Whitsunday Islands, which are situated between the northeast coast of Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef. They are made up of 74 islands of which only eight offer accommodation. You can enjoy everything here on an Australian vacation, from swimming, diving, sailing, glass-bottom boat viewing to whale and dolphin watching. We have several suggestions of where to “drop anchor.” If you’re staying on Hamilton Island, the most important island of which 70 percent is a national park, you can enjoy natural beauty and scenic walks. There is also a golf course. While here, you should take the 30-minute boat ride to Whitehaven Beach, with its white sand stretching for 9km/6mi next to crystal-clear waters and lush tropical rainforests. Hayman Island is a fairly mountainous island, but with some beautiful landscapes. Lizard Island is a protected national park with just the one exclusive hotel only accessible by plane from Cairns. Fitzroy Island is one of the most unspoilt of the islands with mountainous rainforest and coral reefs. Heron Island is named after the herons who inhabit the island and is a nature lover’s paradise and also excellent for diving and snorkelling. Daydream Island is a place to view stingrays, sharks, and tropical fish; it’s not unusual to see dolphins and turtles as well. Long Island has two properties to choose from. It is mostly national park and has about around 17km/10mi of walking trails to explore the native flora and fauna amid outstanding natural landscapes. If you are a cruise enthusiast, you can choose from a variety of cruises, which visit a number of these islands.
6. Tetiaroa, The Islands of Tahiti
Names of well-known destinations in the Islands of Tahiti are Moorea and Bora Bora, both absolutely stunning and great choices for a beach vacation. However, if you are looking for a similar vacation island but perhaps smaller and quieter, you might want to consider Tetiaroa, a 20-minute flight from Papeete. It is known as the private island of Marlon Brando, who decided to buy the island in 1967 where he lived for several years. However, it is also known for its special place in Polynesian history and culture as it was the exclusive retreat of Tahitian royalty for centuries. There is only one hotel here, which has 35 rooms all with private pools and beach. Apart from total relaxation, you can indulge in activities such as birdwatching with a naturalist, snorkelling, diving, and sailing on an outrigger canoe through a lagoon.
Tetiaroa: The Brando
The Brando is a new eco-luxury resort dedicated to realising visitors’ South Pacific dreams with surroundings and facilities fit for a Hollywood royalty. As the name suggests, Tetiaroa was once privately owned by Marlon Brando.More Details
7. Punta del Este, Uruguay
Punta del Este is an upscale and glamorous resort located in the south of the country and is arguably the number one choice on the whole continent and, certainly, South America’s most glamorous beach spot. It has been referred to as “The Monte Carlo of the South” and “The St. Tropez of South America.” It combines excellent beaches and an attractive city centre with colonial architecture. Picture a resort built on a peninsula with beach areas on both sides. One side is where the sea is calm and suitable for swimming and families. The most popular beach is Playa Mansa where you can swim, windsurf, sail, and enjoy many of the excellent restaurants and cafes. On the other side, the beaches experience more turbulent waves that are suitable for surfing. Playa Brava is the most popular beach here. Punta del Este has a vibrant nightlife with a large selection of lively bars, nightclubs, and a casino. The main avenue here has art galleries, restaurants, cinemas, and a good selection of stores where you can purchase souvenirs and other goods. For other ways to pass time, you can visit the Ralli Museum with its collection of modern and contemporary Latin American art and the outdoor sculpture park at the Atchugarry Foundation with works by local and international artists. The artisanal market in the centre is perfect for souvenir-hunting such as carvings, paintings, jewellery, and leather goods. Punta Ballena is a viewpoint with an all-round panoramic view of the Atlantic Ocean. The nearby Isla Gorriti is a 20-minute ferry ride away with good beaches as well as wildlife; it’s a good place to spot sea lions and whales. One of the highlights of a Uruguay vacation in Punta del Este is the beautiful sunset. This resort is easily reached from Montevideo as well as by ferry from Buenos Aires.
8. Vina del Mar, Chile
If you have been enjoying the usual highlights of Chile and want a relaxing break, your best bet is the resort of Vina del Mar on the Pacific Coast situated just north of Valparaiso. It is Chile’s number one vacation resort and known for its palm tree-lined boulevards, stately homes, and beautiful parks. Its nickname is “Garden City.” The main beach area is called Playa de Renaca and is at the northern end of Vina del Mar with excellent sandy beaches and is known for its restaurants. While in this resort, you can visit the National Botanical Garden with its more than 3,000 plants, the Parque Quinta Vergara, which once belonged to one of the city’s most famous families, a Venetian-style palace, the Cerro Castillo neighbourhood with its restored mansions and a small castle, and the summer palace of the president of Chile. One trip worth taking is to the wine region where you can visit wineries and indulge in wine tasting. Another is to the nearby historic port of Valparaiso with its unique colourful houses.
Santiago: Vina del Mar, Valparaiso and Matetic Winery Full Day Tour
Explore highlights outside of Santiago on this full-day tour. Heading west of Santiago, you’ll visit the port city of Valparaiso, stroll through the Garden City of Vina del Mar to see its collection of casinos, restaurants, and beaches, and tour the Matetic Winery, one of Chile’s most respected wineries.More Details
9. Krabi, Thailand
Everyone has probably heard of Phuket and Koh Samui, attractive but large and somewhat commercial resorts in Thailand. Not too far from Phuket is the resort of Krabi, which is much smaller and quieter. It has stunning scenery with miles of white sand beach and turquoise waters and has been described as a tropical paradise. The best-known and most developed beach is Ao Nang Beach, which is not crowded and has a peaceful atmosphere. There you’ll enjoy views of majestic-looking limestone cliffs that rise sheer out of the clear sea waters. In the evening, you can enjoy magnificent sunsets. If you’re looking for total relaxation on a Thailand tour, head to Railay Beach with its limestone cliffs and secluded location. It offers four outstanding white-sand beaches, caves, and a lagoon hidden inside the cliffs. After the beach, you can enjoy other activities in Krabi with visits to hot springs, a cave temple, and the Thung Teao Forest Natural Park.
10. Langkawi, Malaysia
Perhaps you didn’t think of Malaysia as a beach destination. However, Langkawi is the perfect beach getaway on a Malaysia vacation. It is actually a stunningly beautiful archipelago of 99 islands surrounded by a turquoise sea of which only four islands are inhabited. The interior is very scenic with a mixture of rice paddies and jungle-clad hills. The main island is recognized not only for its beaches, but also for having excellent snorkelling and scuba diving facilities. Pantai Cenang is the most popular beach with a mixture of cafes and restaurants along its picturesque beach and the nightlife here is the liveliest in Langkawi. Another resort is Tanjung Rhu with one of Langkawi’s best coastlines with its crystal-clear water. It is relatively quiet with a background of dense jungle. Langkawi is home to some extraordinary wildlife including 200 bird species and a variety of monkeys. The local wildlife park contains over 150 different species of animals and birds from all over the world. For an excursion option, take the Langkawi Cable Car, which passes through dense rainforest via a waterfall to reach the top of a mountain where you will have wonderful panoramic views of the natural beauty of Langkawi.
City & Beach Malaysia: Kuala Lumpur to Langkawi
Experience Malaysia’s vibrant city and beach culture on this journey through the country. Begin in the capital, Kuala Lumpur, where you’ll gaze upon the Petronas Twin Towers and experience its world-famous food and shopping scene, before heading to Langkawi Island to relax in a beach resort set alongside the jungle.More Details