6 Beach Escapes For A Stress-Free Holiday
Need to get away from the 9-to-5 day to a sun-drenched location where everything is taken care of for you? Does this question even need an answer? Of course you do! We've picked our favourite beachy locations known for sun, sand and surf as well as cultural experiences, sightseeing and delicious cuisines and all in idyllic tropical locations. Create your own idyllic getaway with these beach escapes.
With stunning beaches, a verdant and varied landscape, mouth-watering fare and rich culture, Indonesia's island jewel is a one-size-fits-all kind of holiday. You'll be spoiled for choice no matter what your style of travel. Kuta delivers plenty of fun in the sun along with a horde of accommodation options and lively entertainment scene. For those who prefer the tranquil rewards of a secluded villa complete with private plunge pool, Bali's got that covered too.
When it comes to things to do, you can do it all or nothing at all. Aquatic fun comes in the form of waterslides, whitewater adrenaline or a day bed by the water's edge, while on dry land you can get in touch with your spiritual side with a temple visit or show off your culinary prowess in a cooking class.
Eat & drink
Street food in Bali is common and often includes the popular satay meal of 'sate lilit' – a grilled dish of minced seafood served on a lemongrass stick. Unlike the rest of the predominantly Muslim nation of Indonesia, Bali is a great place to eat pork dishes such as 'babi guling' – a ceremonial dish of roast suckling pig served with rice.
Enticing conversion rates make shopping a popular pastime for visitors to Bali. From inexpensive trinkets at Kuta Art Market to high-end clothes and jewellery in Seminyak, Bali offers a great range of shopping options.
Bali like a local
Mount Agung may be the highest mountain on the island, but Mount Batur is the summit to scale for spectacular sunrise views.
Fiji ticks all the boxes of a tropical island paradise: squeaky white sand, mesmerising aquamarine water, smiling locals and swaying coconut palms. The dreamy archipelago and its sweep of coral reefs and 300 islands is what brochures and postcards are made of. Only about one third of the isles are inhabited, conjuring visions of a pure unexplored haven.
Viti Levu is the largest and most developed island, home to the capital Suva and international transit point Nadi, and many beachfront Fiji resorts. Find your perfect holiday bliss in one of Fiji's most impressive hideaways. Keep up the serenity within the resort grounds, floating from day bed to day spa, or soak up a legendary Fijian sunset on an afternoon boat cruise. If your leisure style is a bit more active, try your hand at diving, kayaking or zip-lining.
Eat & drink
A delicious example of Fijian cuisine is 'kokoda', a raw fish salad made with coconut cream. If you try the ubiquitous local drink kava, you won't forget it in a hurry. The root drink makes your lips and tongue tingle and head feel especially light!
While you might not end up with many tangible goods, you can buy a little leisure in a massage hut, day spa or Fiji's famous mud baths with a treatment or two. A Fiji shopping list might also include South Sea pearls and local handmade trinkets from the Nadi and Suva craft markets.
Fiji like a local
When you explore this part of the South Pacific, you'll get an introduction to 'Fiji time'. It's the same as 'island time' – things happen, when they happen. There is no need to rush when you're surrounded by beautiful scenery.
Da Nang/Hoi An
Culturally diverse and naturally exquisite, overtly friendly and historically rich, Vietnam has it all – and then some! Bordered by China, Laos and Cambodia, this ancient country boasts beautiful scenery and some of Southeast Asia's most welcoming hospitality. From the heart and soul of Hoi An to the revamped, modernist feel of Da Nang (or Danang), this endearing country is a veritable playground.
Follow the cultural trail through the northern reaches and see where it takes you – an imperial ancient city or an offshore utopia. Beach-goers may want to focus their sights on Hoi An and Da Nang, where an eclectic blend of captivating culture, exciting foodie scenes and stretches of inviting golden sands ensure more than enough to pique your interest. Or venture an hour outside the towns for cycling and boating.
Eat & drink
Though not famous for being a drinking destination, Hoi An more than makes up for it by being an irresistibly tasty eating destination, especially around Bach Dang Street. A particular local favourite is banh bao dumplings, though steaming bowls of pho or crusty banh mi will always be within arm's reach in both destinations.
While you're in Hoi An, order a bespoke suit or dress for a personalised souvenir from your trip. In Da Nang, head straight to Non Nuoc village for handcrafted stone gifts for the folks back home.
Hoi An & Da Nang like a local
Sampling local Vietnamese cuisine is reason enough to visit Hoi An. For some sun, the southern beaches of Da Nang are the most popular, with Bac My An Beach and Pham van Dong Beach being the most frequented.
Koh Samui is sleek and sophisticated yet steeped in rich cultural heritage, creating an engaging island escape that will satiate any appetite for holiday fun. Fronting the white sand beaches of this popular Thailand getaway are amazing accommodation options that range from budget-friendly hotels to glamorous 5-star resorts and spas that offer the ultimate in beachfront pampering. No matter where you stay in Koh Samui, a shaded lounge at the water's edge is never far away.
Koh Samui's top attractions are generally on or near the water. Its two main beaches are Chaweng and Lamai, although quieter options can be found if you venture a few minutes further. If you can peel yourself away from the spectacular beaches, hidden temples pepper the streets, while Angthong Marine National Park is perfect for diving, snorkelling and spying the underwater world.
Eat & drink
The local cuisine has roots in Malay, Indonesian and Indian food, with a healthy dose of spice. If you'd like to try Koh Samui restaurants a few notches above the rest, your palate may appreciate the fare at some of the top resort eateries. But cheap really can be cheerful too. A trip to the beach village of Bophut is well worth it for the fabulous dining options found there.
While shopping may not be the top attraction in Koh Samui, there is still plenty of opportunity to pick up local souvenirs. Chaweng has a selection of shops offering up budget-friendly trinkets.
Koh Samui like a local
Samui locals love the seafood feast available at beachfront restaurant, Krua Chao Baan. It's south of Lamai and about one kilometre before you reach Hua Thanon fishing village.
A destination of many choices, Phuket will charm every type of traveller. Phuket is best known for its sun-drenched beaches and dizzying array of nightlife, but there's much more to discover than just palm-lined Patong. Enjoy sandy beaches or dance the night away. Find your Zen and recharge the batteries. Or try a bit of everything as you explore this island escape from top to bottom.
It doesn't matter if you're a nature lover or a culture cat, Phuket provides a sweep of attractions. Hit your stride in buzzing Patong where clubs and cocktails entertain into the wee hours, while the likes of Wat Chalong temple offer more cultural pursuits. Phang Nga Bay impresses with natural rock formations and Phi Phi Island dazzles with its lush forests. From temples and Muay Thai to raucous cabaret shows and laidback luxury, it's hard not to fall in love with everything this absorbing destination has to offer.
Eat & drink
For those that love to eat, a stroll along the street will reward with a satisfying selection of Thai delicacies at food stalls. Those with a craving for western food will find the greatest range in Patong. For those that love to do, Thai cooking classes are a perfect chance to jump in and test your skills.
Phuket shopping entails a mix of popular markets and established shopping centres. Find a unique souvenir at one of the weekend market stalls, or exercise the plastic at the many designer labels and department stores at Junceylon Shopping Mall.
Phuket like a local
Getting around Phuket can be an adventure in itself. If you settle on a taxi, make sure you ask the driver to turn the meter on rather than agreeing on a set price before the journey. The former is often much cheaper.
Mauritius is every romantic island holiday cliché wrapped in one very attractive nutshell. Powdery alabaster sand, lavish bungalows, vivid teal water and a verdant wilderness is never a bad thing. This exotic island in the midst of the Indian Ocean fuses African, French, Asian and British influences and counts some of the world's most luxurious accommodation among its main attractions. It certainly won't take long to understand why Mauritius is the very definition of heaven on Earth.
Mauritius is entrenched in a rich, vibrant history and there is plenty to do beyond the 'daily grind' of poolside relaxation, candy-coloured cocktails and heavenly spa treatments. Enjoy a quad bike safari in Casela Nature and Leisure Park and Yemen Nature Reserve to see zebras, ostriches and African antelopes. If you're an adventure lover, you'll also enjoy the zip-line circuit and swimming in the canyon.
Eat & drink
Whether you prefer street-side snacks, restaurants favoured by locals or fine dining tasting menus, your taste buds will be tantalised with spicy Mauritian flavours. Local cuisine is a dizzying blend of Creole influences, with cinnamon, vanilla and coconut the basis of many meals and refreshments.
Mauritius is a shopping mecca complete with local markets, bazaars and shopping malls. From handmade souvenirs to brand names, shoppers will rejoice in the retail spoils of this relaxed island You'll also find quality tailors all over the island.
Mauritius like a local
Tours add another dimension to your holiday. One moment you could find yourself walking with lions, marvelling at the historic relics on a heritage tour or gliding through the water on a blue safari.
This post originally appeared on Flight Centre AU.
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