Living in Asia, we’re lucky to have some of the world’s best beaches right on our doorstep – but how about when you fancy spreading your wings just that little bit further? If you’re in the mood for a long-haul adventure, here are five of our favourite, slightly more far-flung destinations for some seriously stunning sun, sea and sand… all done in supreme style, of course!
Known as the “Spice Island”, this exquisite archipelago on Africa’s east coast delivers the perfect kind of beach break – idyllic white-sand shores and crystal-clear azure waves, with a side serving of rich history and cultural delights too. Nungwi is probably the island’s most famous beach – and for good reason, as its swaying palm trees and powdery white sands are pure postcard-perfect stuff – but Kendwa and Kiwengwa are every bit as breathtakingly beautiful.
Dust the sand from your soles for a spice tour around some of the Zanzibar’s working plantations – you’ll never see cloves, vanilla and cinnamon in the same light again! It’s all too easy to lose an entire day to UNESCO World Heritage Site, Stone Town; with its uniquely mesmerising mix of African, Arabic, Indian and European influences, new wonders lie in every alleyway. Another must-visit is The Rock restaurant; perched on a stone seemingly dropped into the middle of the Indian Ocean, incredible views and delicious seafood get an extra sprinkling of Zanzibar magic here.
This Mayan city might well be Instagram’s favourite beach destination du jour – but once you clap eyes on its pristine sweeping sands and sparkling turquoise seas, you’ll soon understand why. Factor in balmy breezes and a gloriously laid-back vibe and you’ve got the perfect location to soak up the rays with a trashy novel, perfect your downward dog with a spot of beachside yoga or simply stuff your face with fresh fish tacos as the sun goes down.
No trip to Tulum would be complete without a visit to its famous ruins; perched on the edge of dramatic limestone cliffs with the Caribbean Sea’s crashing waves below, these awe-inspiring pyramids and temples could have come straight out of Indiana Jones. Be sure to cool off at a cenote – Gran Cenotes and Cenotes Dos Ojos are our top picks; these spectacular sinkholes provide unforgettable scuba diving (and selfie!) opportunities. If that isn’t enough to satisfy your water baby urges, take the two-hour drive to MUSA near Cancun; this underwater art museum features over 500 life-sized sculptures created to promote coral conservation, making for a truly once-in-a-lifetime diving experience.
Whilst everyone else suns themselves in Santorini and Mykonos, those in-the-know head to Zakynthos for blissed-out beach days galore. Known as the “Flower of the East” thanks to the 7,000 species of flora that grow there, this gorgeous Greek island has more beaches than even the most dedicated sunbather could dream of. The most iconic is Navagio, with its white sands, turquoise waves and surrounding limestone cliffs – make sure to check it out from above as well to get the ultimatZakynthosos snapshot. Accessible only by sea, this secluded cove is home to a real-life rusting shipwreck, making it a real one-of-a-kind find.
For those wanting some sandy serenity, Gerakas is a good bet, whilst the likes of St. Nicholas and Alykes boast adrenaline-pumping water sports. A Blue Caves tour – so-called because of the incredible, shimmering colour of the seas there – is another essential, with some great diving opportunities to be had. Don’t forget a stroll around Solomos Square, where the Museum of Post-Byzantine Art and Agios Dionysios Church make for some equally impressive explorations on dry land.
Soak up the spirit of aloha in Hawaii, where beach life is the only life worth living! This Pacific Ocean archipelago might technically be part of the United States, but has a distinctive vibe all of its own – lush, laidback and simply rather lovely. Oahu is one of Hawaii’s most popular islands, with beaches so beautiful they have to be seen to be believed; Waikiki is the most famous but sun-drenched shores, blindingly blue waters and out-of-this-world sunsets await at Lanikai and Kailua too. Surfers should head to the Banzai Pipeline in the North Shore, where surfing flick Blue Crush was filmed… and if there’s anywhere to hang ten with the best of them, it has to be Hawaii!
Kaui, Hawaii’s oldest island, has plenty of treasures to explore too. Hike the Napali Coast to take in its famous coastline, with emerald-green cliffs, cascading waterfalls and awe-inspiring Pacific Ocean panoramas all part of the deal; take a helicopter tour to really bask in the beauty of the place. If you’re up for an adventure, head to the Big Island and check out Hawaii’s steamier side and watch the landscape shift before your eyes at the Volcanoes National Park – getting up close with the craters is more scenic than you’d think!
Fiji’s official website claims that this series of 33 tropical islands is “the home of happiness” – and on seeing its gorgeous unspoilt beaches, picture-perfect palm trees and dazzling crystal-clear oceans, who are we to argue? The likes of Castaway Island, Monuriki and Turtle Island are breathtakingly beautiful, with pristine powdery sands, startlingly stunning lagoons and candy-coloured coral gardens that have acted as the backdrop for many a Hollywood movie.
If you fancy a change of scenery, hit the hiking trails in Taveuni, where the majestic Tavoro Waterfalls lie in wait. Elsewhere, you can immerse yourself in the Fijian way of life – quite literally – at the Sabeto Mud Baths, stop and smell the orchids in the ever-blossoming Garden of the Sleeping Giant, or marvel at the natural wonders of Sigatoka Sand Dunes National Park. It would be rude to leave Fiji without trying the islands’ national drink, kava – seek out a traditional kava ceremony to experience a true taste of this total paradise on earth.