If summer’s here, can a beach holiday be far behind? Travelocity India, a subsidiary of one of the world’s largest travel companies, lists the best beach destinations exclusively for Lounge:
1. Antigua: A beach a day
With its 365 unique beaches, you could spend a whole year here. Dickenson Bay, in the north-west corner of the island, and Half Moon Bay, along the eastern coast, are the best for sailing, snorkelling, scuba-diving or just plain lounging.
Water paradise: A lagoon in the Yasawa group of islands in Fiji.
Travelocity tip: The Sailing Week, one of the world’s top five regattas, was thrown off course in April by the ash cloud. Check www.sailingweek.com for details.
2. Palawan: The not-so-lonely island
The limestone landscape of the Palawan archipelago, Philippines, is dotted with tropical rainforests, underground rivers, rocky coves and sandy beaches. Honda Bay, Cannon Island, Bat Island, Starfish Island offer snorkelling, scuba-diving and wildlife walks.
Travelocity tip: Dive in the Tubbataha Reef, a protected marine sanctuary.
3. Havelock Island: Hobnobbing with dolphins
Fifty-five km from Port Blair, Havelock is a serene, sandy stretch surrounded by clear water, coral reefs, dolphins, turtles and colourful fish. Rated the best Asian beach by Time in 2004, Radhanagar is a perfect image of white sands and blue seas with a green background of deep forests.
Travelocity tip: Villages here go by numbers. The jetty is at village No. 1; village No. 7 offers a great swimming hole.
4. Phuket: A paradoxical holiday
The island offers the best of both worlds. Patong calls to the party animals with restaurants, chic lounge bars and discotheques. To the north lie the near-deserted beaches.
Travelocity tip: Many Thai people in Phuket speak some English, but a few Thai words will maximize the fun.
5. Palolem: Paradise is here
You stay in the beach shacks, wake up to the sounds of the gulls and sleep to the roar of the waves. The time in-between is best spent dolphin-spotting, swimming, kayaking or eating some of the best seafood in Goa.
Travelocity tip: Temporary coco huts line the beach from October-end to May.
6. Fiji: A beach nation
Most of the islands in Fiji are surrounded by coral reefs, perfect for snorkelling and deep-sea diving. Each island is more beautiful than the other.
Travelocity tip: Choose Castaway Island for swimming, Malolo Island for the best beach bars, Turtle Island for private beach picnics and Honeymoon beach for some us-time.
7. Varkala: Sounds of harmony
Sunsets are special at Varkala, 42km from Thiruvananthapuram. An exotic mix of different cultures, spiritualism and religious elements, Varkala has its grandeur enhanced by the 800-year-old Janardhana temple.
Travelocity tip: The changing tides completely submerge Papanasam Beach during the monsoon, while the Black Beach is accessible. This trend reverses after the rains.
8. Kapalua: Heaven on earth
Known for its tranquil surf, Kapalua, Maui, has white sand, crystal-blue waters and a gentle breeze. The surrounding coral reefs make it ideal for snorkelling and body surfing.
Travelocity tip: The beach is only minutes from the historic whaling port of Lahaina. In winter, a spot of whale-spotting is de rigueur.
9. Mykonos: One big beach party
The most beautiful beach in Greece, it’s renowned for its lively bars, young crowd and dazzling parties. This flat beach is ideal for water sports, but the best games are played at Cavo Paradiso, a lavish club.
Travelocity tip: Do a day-trip to Delos, an island close to Mykonos, the mythical birthplace of Apollo and Artemis.
10. Mauritius: An experience to believe
While the north and west coasts please with beautiful beaches, the southern coast is surrounded by cliffs. White sands, blue lagoons, rugged cliffs, exotic birds, resplendent sunsets and almost year-round sunny weather make this the perfect getaway.
Travelocity tip: Head into the interiors for the islands’ natural and architectural treasures.