Lush terrain, tea plantations and golden beaches
TIME: 7-21 days
Sri Lanka, its name literally meaning “resplendent island” in Sanskrit, offers such a diverse holiday it’s hardly surprising that it’s become an established tourist destination, yet it still remains largely unspoiled. With two monsoon seasons, the best time to visit is from January to April, when the South and West coasts are at their most special. From the bustling markets of Colombo, to the relaxing and absorbing Tea Country, there is a lot to explore. The more adventurous can move on to climb Adam’s Peak. Standing 2,243m tall, reach the summit by sunrise to enjoy the unforgettable panoramic view. For those interested in wildlife, helicopter safaris are available over Yala National Park as well as boat excursions from Mirissa to catch glimpses of the blue whale. Meanwhile, the golden beaches of the South coast are unquestionably one of the main attractions to the island. Amanwella, a secluded luxury hotel, is located near Tangalle. Relax along their 800m private crescent beach, which sits amongst 37 acres of coconut groves. This is the place to get some well-deserved R&R.
TURKS + CAICOS ISLANDS
Spectacular diving, stunning beaches and laid-back residents
TIME: 7-10 days
World-class, the two greatest words when looking for a holiday destination. This archipelago with 41 islands of soft white sandy beaches surrounded by crystal clear turquoise waters is exactly that. Turks and Caicos islands’ beaches are ranked in the top 10 throughout the world, not to mention the 200-mile long pristine coral reef that surrounds them. Diving opportunities are vast here, with rich marine flora and fauna – the humpback whale makes regular appearances. Amanyara, offers the complete diving experience. For an even more remote experience, Parrot Cay by COMO is the destination. Set on a 1,000-acre private island and only accessible by boat (30 minutes from airport), this is the definition of luxury. There is little to do here by way of activities, but that is precisely the point. Grab a book, hit the award-winning spa, and unwind.
Rainforest hikes, first-rate surfing and rushing white-water rapids
TIME: 7-14 days
Over two-thirds of Costa Rica enjoys some form of environmental protection, and has since become a pioneer in nature- and eco-tourism. White-water rafting in the middle of a jungle, or hiking through rainforest to reach gushing waterfalls – exercise hasnever been so epic. For enthusiastic hikers, a must-see is the majestic Poás Volcano, which has the largest active crater in the world at nearly a mile across. Surfers of all levels can enjoy the epic waves and warm water from January to April on the Pacific coast. Head to Florbanca, a beautiful jungle retreat set along playa Santa Teresa. Modern villas or rustic surf-lodges, the ocean is on your doorstep for surfing, while other activities include yoga, horseback riding or just some well-deserved relaxing. If you can, try to catch a glimpse of the magnificent leatherbacks, the largest of the sea turtles, which hatch from September to March.
Captivating cities, exceptional street food and a breathtaking coastline
TIME: 7-21 days
Rich in culture and extraordinary landscapes, Vietnam boasts a never-ending coastline, with intriguing cities and fascinating food markets. Travel North in complete comfort to Victoria Sapa Resort & Spa, using their majestic overnight train; the Victoria Express. From the rapidly transforming Hanoi to the rural mountainous village of Sapa, experience this unique paddy-field patchwork landscape, with trekking available around the plateau and views of Fan Si Pan, Vietnam’s highest peak. While in the North, head to Ha Long Bay, a designated UNESCO World Heritage site with a spectacular scatter of limestone islands. Further down the coast, Hoi An has fast become a captivating city to spend a few days exploring the fascinating food markets. Unlike the larger cities, it has preserved an old town charm and traditional character. As for the South, the Can Dao islands are the ultimate off-grid destination. A short flight from the urban jungle of Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon), Six Senses Can Dao offers a charming experience, set amongst clear waters, golden beaches and lush mangrove forests.
Beautiful vineyards, great nightlife and stunning landscapes
TIME: 7-14 days
From December to March, the delightfully hot summer temperatures of the Western Cape in South Africa are hard to compete with. Fly straight in to Cape Town, and experience this vibrant coastal city. Steeped in history as well as natural wonders, hike up Table Mountain or catch a ferry to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was held in prison for 27 years. Back on the mainland, head to Boulder’s Beach to relax with African penguins or visit Muizenberg beach, with the big swell making it a popular place to surf in South Africa. Rent a car and drive out to the famous vineyards. Holden Manz Wine Estate is a luxury guesthouse on a vineyard that sits below the Franschoek mountain range. Spend a few days exploring and tasting your way around this stunning region.