Planning a summer vacation can throw up a long list of places, keeping in mind the incredible diversity around the globe. As the mercury climbs this season, we help you add that zest to your summer holiday and drive away the heat with these top beach destinations.
Summer is that time of the year when almost everyone plans a trip. Characterised by sunshine, warm weather and blue skies, this season offers the perfect opportunity to embark on a family holiday, buddy trip or romantic getaway. And there is no better destination than the beach for this—imagine spending time on the shore, and soaking in the peaceful atmosphere and stunning views of the waves and the sunset.
Are you raring to feel the wind in your hair and the sand on your feet? Pack your bags and head to these picturesque beach destinations that stay refreshingly cool and are your best bet for summer holidays.
Caribbean Coast, Mexico
Mexico’s gorgeous beaches, sprawling resorts and a ton of natural attractions have plenty to offer during the warm weather months. Located just north of Mexico’s Caribbean coast, Cancún has modern amenities and infrastructure—including world-class resorts, golf courses, coral reefs for snorkelling and scuba-diving, and jungle tours. The most popular beach is Playa Tortugas, or Turtle Beach. Here, you can partake in volleyball games on the beautiful white sands, or bungee jump from the platform at the dock into the water below.
A good idea is also to visit the sleepy island of Isla Mujeres. Here, you can lie down and enjoy the sun and sand, or string a hammock between two palms and simply doze away. Don’t forget to plan a trip to the spectacular Garrafon Reef Park at the southern tip of Isla Mujeres. Snorkelling is the big draw here—slip on a life jacket and snorkel along the reef, delighting in the barracuda and tropical fish you see along the way.
One of the biggest draws on Mexico’s Caribbean coast, besides the sugary white sands, is the food. Kick back at the beach, order up some grilled seafood, delicious tacos or refreshing margaritas, and enjoy the incredible views over the sea.
Cape Town, South Africa
Cape Town has quite a few sandy shores for rest and relaxation. There is Clifton, divided by rocky outcrops into four immaculate, white-sand beaches, simply named First, Second, Third and Fourth. A Blue Flag status was awarded to the Fourth for its amenities, cleanliness and environmental standards; therefore, if you are vacationing with family, head to the Fourth for a more comfortable experience, continuing on in the presence of one of Cape Town’s legendary sunsets.
A laid-back beach that you can explore is Glen Beach, hidden away behind granite boulders and sand dunes. Surrounded by bungalows, the beach is located against the looming backdrop of the stately Twelve Apostles Mountains.
You can also embark on a trip to the summit of the city’s most defining characteristic—Table Mountain—via a swaying cable car or guided hikes offered by many companies. At 1,088 metres, Table Mountain looms—and is the ultimate viewpoint—over the city. For nature enthusiasts, the world-renowned Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden is the place to be. Set against the slopes of Table Mountain, Kirstenbosch features meticulously maintained gardens watered by the Liesbeek River, as well as natural forests that extend up the lower slopes.
When it comes to food, the blend of cultures and flavours in Cape Town has brought into existence a delicious cuisine comprising intriguing vegetarian dishes, barbecued meats and diverse seafood. Feast on some mushroom kebabs, farm-fresh raw veggies, home-cured sausages, denningvleis
(sweet-and-sour lamb stew), and crispy chicken wings, usually served with spicy chakalaka sauce.
Summer happens to be when the weather in Hawaii is at its best, and all the attractions and tours are open. Surfing, basking in the sun, scuba-diving, snorkelling and swimming in secluded coves and lagoons are some of the activities you can pursue at Oahu. The famous Waikiki beach with its stunning volcanic backdrop of Diamond Head crater, and the peaceful, quiet Kapiolani Park, are ideal for a picnic. Just west of Waikiki beach is the beautiful Ala Moana Beach Park. The beach itself is man-made; the waves are calm since the water is protected by a shallow outer coral reef. This makes the beach a good option to visit if you are a non-swimmer or an inexperienced swimmer.
Oahu has become a foodie destination that offers a mouth-watering variety of foods for everyone. For an authentic Hawaiian meal that will introduce you to the true tastes of the islands, try dishes like chicken long rice, squid luau curry and lomi lomi salmon salad. Other specialities include manapua (steamed or baked buns), a classic Asian noodle dish called saimin, and malasadas (deep-fried dough balls coated in sugar).
Canary Islands, Spain
The seven islands and six islets that make up the Canary Islands enjoy unchanging climate throughout the year, which means that you can visit any time. Fuerteventura has the best of the Canary beaches; the long, amber stretches remain untouched, with a ring of vibrant emerald water flowing over the shallow coastal shelf. You can ride a camel on the black sand in Lanzarote, an island covered in layer upon layer of smouldering lava that, in certain areas, continues to smoke. A relaxed lifestyle in its picturesque towns and villages, and fine, black sand beaches with crystal-clear waters, untouched scenery and imposing cliffs are what will probably lure you to La Palma, one of the smallest and prettiest of the Canary Islands. Though best known for their sunny beaches, the islands are also home to four of Spain’s 10 national parks where walkers and hikers can discover new vistas of nature.
The Canary Islands have several food specialities that no visitor should miss. Dishes include local cheeses, garbanzas (chickpea stew), carne fiesta (marinated fried pork) and papas arrugadas (Canarian boiled potatoes with a salty, wrinkly crust).
Koh Samui, Thailand
There are hundreds of dreamy tropical islands scattered along the extensive coastline of Thailand. Koh Samui is part of a chain of idyllic islands that offer a spectacular composition of divine beaches, turquoise water, lush jungles and colourful neighbourhoods. This veritable tropical paradise is also known as ‘Coconut Island’ courtesy the bountiful coconut groves strewn across its shores. The majority of the action takes place in Chaweng, which is known for its shallow blue waters, surprisingly unspoilt stretch of bleached sand fringed with coconut palms, and vibrant nightlife. Don’t forget to take advantage of the blissful surroundings here—water sports such as kayaking and surfing are all on offer.
For a quiet cultural experience, visit Wat Phra Yai (Big Buddha Temple) and Bo Phut’s Fisherman’s Village, which is located on the north coast. Exploring the crystal-clear waters and snorkelling around the nearby islands is also an adventure in itself. From Samui, embark on a day trip to Ang Thong Marine National Park and settle in for a grand adventure as you get maximum time to marvel at the untouched limestone cliffs and lagoons of its 42 islets. No visit to Koh Samui is complete without eating the delicious local food on offer. As you explore this stunning archiplego, savour classic dishes such as pha kung (spicy shrimp salad) and kai phat (stir-fried chicken).
So this summer, head outside and explore our recommended beach destinations—do not forget to take along a good sunscreen though!