Even in a country where gorgeous beaches are two a penny, the Italians admit that those in Sardinia are particularly bellissima. The island regularly tops polls of the world’s best beaches, with spiagge ranging from the rugged, cliff-backed coves of the east to the dune-flanked strands of the west.
Sardinia’s snow-white beaches and bluer-than-blue seas are often likened to the Caribbean – but why, quite frankly, would you want to imagine yourself anywhere else?
Best for escapists: Is Aruttas
Spearing into the Golfo di Oristano, the beaches on the Sinis Peninsula rank among the island’s loveliest, though ideally you need your own car to reach them. Fairest of all is Is Aruttas, an arc frosted with white sand and tiny pebbles that make the water appear a startling shade of aquamarine. For years its quartz sand was carted off for aquariums and beaches on the Costa Smeralda, but no more.
Bored of flopping on the beach? The nearby holiday resort of Putzu Idu attracts surfers, windsurfers and kitesurfers. Or take a boat trip to bare, rocky Isola di Mal di Ventre (Stomach Ache Island), which owes its name to the sea-sickness that sailors often suffered whilst navigating its windy waters.
Best for families: Chia
What the resort of Chia lacks in the charm stakes, it makes up for with enticing surrounds. To see what all the fuss is about, head up to the Spanish watchtower and look down on its pretty pair of beaches – Spiaggia Sa Colonia to the west, horseshoe-shaped Spiaggia Su Portu to the east. Both have pale sands and shallow waters. Flamingos wade in the lagoon behind the beach.
Fancy a road trip? The panoramic SP71 road dips and rises for 25km along the Costa del Sud, one of southern Sardinia’s most beautiful coastal stretches.
Best for solitude: Spiaggia di Piscinas
It’s worth going the extra mile to the Costa Verde (Green Coast) for a glimpse of the Sardinian coast at its wildest. Hands down one of the loveliest beaches is Spiaggia di Piscinas, a ribbon of golden sand running between a windswept sea and a vast expanse of dunes flecked by hardy green macchia scrub. The towering dunes rise up to 60m. Find the beach down a 9km dirt track off the SS126 (Ingurtosu exit).
Want more? Slide over to neighbouring Spiaggia di Scivu. Backed by huge dunes, the 3km lick of fine sand is wonderfully secluded.
Best for swimming: Spiaggia Rena Bianca
Santa Teresa di Gallura’s main beach is a beauty, with a swathe of pale sand and some of the clearest, shallowest water on the island, making it a cracking choice for a proper swim – even for families with small children. From the beach you can gaze out across the Strait of Bonifacio’s spectrum of blues over to Corsica and up to the 16th-century Torre di Longonsardo.
From the beach’s eastern tip a trail threads along the coast, past granite boulders and rock formations that fire the imagination with their incredible shapes. More spectacular still is Capo Testa, 4km west of Santa Teresa, with its giant, wind-licked granite boulders and trails threading through the scrub to rocky coves and the cobalt Med.
Best for white sands: Spiaggia della Pelosa
A ravishing sweep of beach, 2.5km north of Stintino, Spiaggia della Pelosa elicits gasps of wonder with its fine floury sand and shallow sea that fades from aquamarine to topaz. It’s presided over by a Catalan-Aragonese watchtower across the water on the craggy Isola Piana. The beach is packed in July and August, so avoid these months for a more peaceful experience.
While you’re here, take the boat over to the Isola dell’Asinara, a national park named after its resident albino donkeys. The island is best explored on foot or by bike. Or join the windsurfers catching the breeze off Stintino.
Best celebrity hideaway: Spiaggia del Principe
Where to escape from the paparazzi lens on Sardinia’s Costa Smeralda is the million dollar question for the celebs who flock here on their mega-yachts. A number of beautiful coves necklace the fabulous swoop of coastline where Gallura’s wind-whipped granite mountains tumble down to fjordlike inlets in the emerald sea. One of the finest is the Spiaggia del Principe, a stunning crescent of pale sand snuggled among low cliffs named after Prince Karim Aga Khan, who has given it his seal of approval.
Bear in mind that the Costa Smeralda is saturated with Italian holidaymakers in July and August, so shun these months for cheaper room rates and quieter beaches.
Best for hikers and climbers: Cala Goloritzè
One of the loveliest bays you’re ever likely to clap eyes on, Cala Goloritzè nestles in the southern crook of the Golfo di Orosei. We can wax lyrical about how the sea shimmers like blue curaçao and bizarre limestone formations fling up from cliffs draped in macchia and holm oaks, but seeing really is believing. The Aguglia, a 148m high needle of rock that towers over the beach, is a magnet for climbers.
The beach is around an hour’s walk descending on the old mule trail from the Altopiano del Golgo, a strange, other-worldly plateau where goats, pigs and donkeys graze. A signposted road from Baunei climbs 2km of impossibly steep switchbacks to the plateau.
Best for boat touring: Golfo di Orosei
Where the Gennargentu mountains collide spectacularly with the sea, the huge sweeping crescent of the Golfo di Orosei is no one-hit-wonder when it comes to beaches. Base yourself, say, in Cala Gonone to strike out along the coast on foot or by boat.
If you do nothing else, cruise along the ‘Blue Crescent’, which is honeycombed with grottoes and hidden coves, where limestone cliffs sheer above crystal-clear sea. Rock climbers spider up the cliffs of wildly beautiful Cala Luna, backed by a ravine and pummelled by exquisite turquoise waters. Cala Sisine, Cala Biriola, Cala Mariolu – each cove here is more mind-blowingly beautiful than the next.
Best for exotic vibes: Cala Brandinchi
Undeniably the loveliest of San Teodoro’s beaches, Cala Brandinchi is often dubbed ‘Little Tahiti’ and it really does live up to the hype. The bay is a thin arc of soft sand lapped by crystalline turquoise waters and surrounded by pine woods. The hump of Isola Tavolara rises on the horizon.
Touring the coast reveals a scattering of other beach beauties, such as Spiaggia La Cinta, with sugar-fine sand and topaz sea. The beach attracts kitesurfers and birdwatchers who head to Stagno San Teodoro to spot pink flamingos, herons, little egrets and kingfishers.
Best for island-hoppers: La Maddalena
Part of a cluster of pink granite islands and islets forming the Parco Nazionale dell’Arcipelago di La Maddalena, La Maddalena dangles off the northeastern tip of Sardinia in the wind-buffed Strait of Bonifacio between Sardinia and Corsica. It’s a terrific base for boating around the island’s fabulous coves, jewel-coloured waters and granite licked into weird natural sculptures. Elena Tour is a good choice for boat tours.
Or hop across to its wild, serene sister, Isola Caprera, with pine trees cloaking granite cliffs and several tempting coves. Giuseppe Garibaldi, revolutionary and all-round Italian hero, loved Caprera and made it his home and refuge at the Compendio Garibaldino.
Your endless winter is here with snow adventures that take you to the best pow-pow our planet has to offer. Stay frosty. This article is adapted from Lonely Planet’s 1000 Ultimate Adventures.
Heli-skiing, Utah, USA
While Utah doesn’t get the prodigious dumps of the West Coast, the snow here is so light you’ll think you are floating on feathers. The resorts – top powder kegs include Snowbird, Alta and Powder Mountain – have tremendous powder skiing. But to sample untracked fluffy bliss, you’re best off taking to the air for a 20,000-vertical-foot day with a custom-crafted heli-skiing trip. It’ll take you to every type of terrain imaginable, from powder-packed glades to steeper bowls and chutes, and you’re basically ensured untracked powder all day. The snowpack in Utah is quite unstable, so you won’t always get the chance to head up in a helicopter. For more terrestrial adventures, putter out for a snowcat adventure from Powder Mountain.
Aspen Highlands, Colorado, USA
You can’t avoid it. Aspen has been America’s top ski destination – attracting the Hollywood glitterati and ski bums alike – for more than half a century. And while most come for the top-notch restaurants, outrageously opulent hotels and hob-knobbing opportunities, there’s skiing here too. Aspen Mountain, Snowmass and Buttermilk offer some fun runs, but the real snow riders all head to Aspen Highlands for the best hardcore terrain in the state on powder troughs like Highland Bowl, Olympic Bowl and Steeplechase. Make sure you leave enough in the tank for après-ski drinks at the Hotel Jerome or Little Nell.
There may be better resorts in the world – in fact, there may be plenty of them – but Niseko Ski Resort on Hokkaido has the second-highest average snowfalls of any resort in the world, averaging 595in of the white stuff every year, so it is worth the trip. The five ski areas of the Niseko megaresort – Annupuri, Higashiyama, Hirafu, Hanazono and Moiwa – all offer easy and efficient lift access with 27 chairs and three gondolas. The runs are pretty short, averaging 900m, but there’s a sweet hot spring nearby and the steepest run tips the scales at 37 degrees. Plus there’s night skiing.
Heli-skiing, Valdez, Alaska, USA
If heli-skiing is bad-ass, than Valdez must be super bad. This once-in-a-lifetime ski adventure takes you to what is perhaps the steepest, deepest, biggest and baddest ski terrain in the world. Over 1000 inches of snow falls on Alaska’s Chugach Mountains each year, and there are about 2 million acres of glaciated peaks to explore with your own private guide and helicopter. The operator will tailor a trip to your needs and wants – most deals run for five to seven days – and take you around 20,000 vertical feet over a week. You can go steep with 50-degree white-knuckle couloirs or work on your powder eights on 6000ft top-to-tail cruises. Needless to say, this is an adventure for expert skiers only.
Lech and Zürs get more snow than any European ski resort, making this a top Austrian pick. Most people start in the posh village of Lech (using it as a base to explore the Zürs and Arlberg ski areas). Lech is the only resort in Austria to offer heli-skiing, so you can almost guarantee fresh tracks. There are also plenty of short hikes to non-groomed off-piste areas that will sate your addiction to the white powdery stuff. The best way to explore Lech’s steeps is with a guide. The slopes are avalanche controlled, but not patrolled – watch for hidden obstacles.
Whitewater Ski Resort, Nelson, British Columbia, Canada
Whitewater may not be the biggest ski resort in Western Canada (that honour falls on Whistler Blackcomb) but it does get an amazing amount of the white stuff – more than 40ft a year. The resort only has three chairlifts and a tow bar, with a meagre 1184 acres of skiable areas. But good things do come in small packages, and Whitewater’s mixed terrain of open glades, chutes and bowls makes it easy to find freshies even a week after a storm. The resort’s inland location in the Selkirk Mountains makes for drier snow than the coastal BC offerings.
La Grave, France
France has plenty of great ski areas. The resort-minded head en masse to Chamonix and other Alps hotspots every winter (and sometimes in the summer), but for a big-mountain experience that’ll set your mind on fire, La Grave is your spot. You get here from a cozy 12th-century village, heading up at dawn with your guide (de rigueur) by a three-stage gondola. There are only a couple of official runs on the glaciated mountain and where you go is up to your abilities, your imagination and your guide, who will help you stay safe in this crevassed area.
Wolf Creek Ski Area, Colorado, USA
Colorado gets some of the lightest, driest snow in the world and nowhere is the champagne powder better than the small throwback ski area of Wolf Creek. The area opened way back in 1939 and still retains some of that old-time feel, plus its ideal location in the San Juan Mountains gives the resort an average of 465in of natural snow each year – the most of any Colorado resort. The resort has just five chairs, but from the top you can hike into the back country for steep glade and bowl skiing in places like the Bonanza Bowl, Exhibition Ridge and the Peak Chutes.
Kirkwood, California, USA
The rugged peaks of California’s Sierra Nevada Mountain Range offer some of the steepest ski terrain in the continental US. While there are plenty of resorts in the Lake Tahoe area, Kirkwood is a best bet for ultra-steep terrain and cool couloirs, plus a laid-back feel that other resorts in the area lack. After a day or two exploring Wagner Wheel and Sentinel Bowls plus an obligatory huck off the massive Wave cornice, head out with Expedition Kirkwood for a day of snowcat-skiing in the back country. They give you a guide, avalanche gear and take you to some of the gnarliest gnar-gnar Kirkwood has to offer.
Ski Portillo, Chile
It snows over 8m (27ft) a year at Chile’s star resort, known for its dry snow, sunny days, fun nightlife and stellar off-piste terrain. You can hire a guide or go it alone to ski the famous Primavera and Kilometro Lanzado runs on your never-ending winter adventure. While the resort offers 760m (2500ft) of vertical drops and spectacular Andean vistas, you may wish to take to the sky, the way the condors do, and hire a helicopter for a day. While a day of heli-skiing here will cost you a few pesos, it’s definitely one for the bucket list.
We all know that lodging can make a break or vacation, but staying somewhere unique – a tipi, say, or a giant bird’s nest, or even spending the night underwater – can turn a humdrum holiday into an unforgettable trip.
America’s entrepreneurial spirit knows no bounds, and that includes one-of-a-kind lodging you won’t find anywhere else. For those wishing to forgo hotel chains, consider taking a break at these places, which range from cozy, country bed and breakfasts to something more akin to an aquarium.
Get cozy in the Great Outdoors
Take “nesting” to new heights in Big Sur, California. Image courtesy of Treesbones Resort.
America’s only “Human Nest” for rent is at Treebones Resort (treebonesresort.com), a glamping hot spot in Big Sur, California. Built for two by eco-artist Jason Flynn, the Nest overlooks the Pacific and gets booked up several months in advance. Call the design “twigecture”, and if you don’t mind sacrificing some privacy, the nest offers a one-of-a-kind view as you sleep in a tree under the stars (it doesn’t rain much in Big Sur). “Although the nest is completely open to the elements, with no amenities besides an outdoor mattress, and a spectacular ocean view, it is our most popular accommodation,” says manager Megan Handy, the daughter of owners John and Corinne Handy. “It is a very unique experience. We have ‘nesters’ who come back year after year.”
Treebones also provides swish yurts, but if you prefer a more rustic experience, visit Falls Brook Yurts (fallsbrookyurts.com) in Minerva, New York, hidden in the heart of the Adirondack Mountains, which are part of the Appalachian Trail stretching all the way to Georgia. Yurting is great for lovers of the outdoors on a budget who don’t want to invest in or haul all that camping gear. Inside the fully furnished yurt you’ll find a working kitchenette, tables, chairs, a sofa and bunk beds for six. The outhouse latrine is just 15 steps from the front door. There’s no running water at the yurt; you can either carry bottled water on the 20-minute hike from the road where you parked, or use the buckets provided at the yurt to bring water up from the nearby brook, though be sure to boil the water first before bathing or drinking it. (I showered outside in full view – there’s no one for miles around – by dousing myself in liters of Poland Spring.)
Have your pizza delivered underwater
Watch the fish watch you at one of the world’s few operating underwater hotels in Key Largo, Florida. Image courtesy of Jules Undersea Lodge.
What started out as an underwater research station eventually inspired Jules Undersea Lodge (jul.com) in Key Largo, Florida, one of the world’s few operating underwater hotels. Dive down 21 feet below the surface and stay in one of three 20-foot underwater chambers where you can sleep, eat, and watch whatever swims by your window. Diving experience is a plus, although beginners can take a brief introductory course provided by the lodge before enjoying their accommodations. Forget bellhops! Your luggage is brought to you in a watertight container. If you’re feeling peckish in your capsule, order a pizza – also protected by a container from meeting a watery end. Founder and owner Ian Koblick, who is president of the Marine Resources Development Foundation, says the neighbours are often as curious about the guests as the other way around. “What can the fish see, that’s what I say?” Koblick jokes. “There are manatees in the lagoon, and fish coming and going. It’s a unique experience and the closest you’ll ever come to living in another world other than going into outer space.”
Step back in time
Route 66 stretches over more than 2,400 miles of scenic highway between Chicago and Los Angeles, and one of the quirkiest stops en route has to be a place where you can sleep in a Native American-inspired tipi. Wigwam Village Motel (galerie-kokopelli.com/wigwam) in Holbrook, Arizona, is a time capsule. Home to 15 one- and two-bedroom wigwams or tipis, the motel is on the USA National Registrar of Historic Places. Opened in the 1950s, it has a mid-century appeal with vintage cars parked on the property, including an old Studebaker that once belonged to the owner. Each wigwam is 21 feet wide at the base, 28 feet high, and contains handmade hickory furniture, beds, a sink, a toilet, and a shower. There is also a small collection of Native American artefacts and Route 66 memorabilia.
Enjoy a vegan breakfast and 23 acres of farmland where rescued farm animals rule the roost. Image courtesy of Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary.
About 115 miles north of the Big Apple is the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary (woodstocksanctuary.org) near legendary Woodstock, where the hippie movement came of age in 1969. Opened in 2012, the sanctuary’s new guesthouse, a renovated 19th-century farmhouse, has four bedrooms, a common kitchen and living area, and 23 acres of rescued goats, chickens, cows, pigs, turkeys, sheep and a donkey named Diane. Volunteer on the farm by shovelling poop or cleaning coops and receive a discount on your stay (we are repeat visitors and volunteers!). Says co-founder and director Jenny Brown: “People love being able to see all the activity at the sanctuary from the windows and front porch. It truly creates a feeling of tranquility to be able to watch the rescued animals and at the same time enjoy a healthy, vegan, organic breakfast.” Revenue from the guesthouse goes directly to care for over 300 animals.
Dog Bark Park Inn (dogbarkparkinn.com) on Highway 95 in Cottonwood, Idaho, is the creation of chainsaw artist Dennis Sullivan and his wife Frances Conklin. Together, they built America’s biggest beagle, known fondly as “Sweet Willy”, a two-bedroom bed and breakfast open between April and October. Sleeping in the dog house is a great way to unplug: Sweet Willy has no phone or television. But you get to enjoy a tasty breakfast that includes eggs, bagels, pastries, yogurt, cheese, and the family’s secret granola recipe. For souvenirs, check out the gift shop where you can buy portable versions of Sweet Willy and friends.
Taos, New Mexico – known for its Native American culture, skiing, and thriving arts scene – is where Richard Spera decided to build his hen house. Years later, his cluster of casitas known as Casa Gallina (casagallina.net) offers visitors to the American Southwest a fantastic view of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the personal comforts of home and a true artisan experience. The casitas – decorated by local artists – have kitchens, living and dining areas. Behind the casitas are Spera’s “girls,” a couple dozen hens who appreciate any restaurant scraps you want to throw their way. As a bonus, Spera, a former restaurant manager from New York City, likes to treat his guests to tapas, cookies, and tortes.
The sun: such a wondrous, life-giving, and – let’s not forget – dangerous entity. Its power demands respect, particularly after you’ve been burned to a crisp from water reflection alone while thinking you were safely hidden in the shade during an all-day boat tour in New Zealand. Trust me, you only need to experience sizzling hot, blistering armpits once to develop a healthy respect for the sun.
Whether you get burned despite your best efforts, or because you were asking for it, the question of what to do for the remainder of your beach vacation suddenly becomes all-consuming. Because I know this singular scenario all too well, I have compiled the following suggestions.
No duh, right? But there’s reading and then there’s single-celled, vacation reading. Take care to choose the latter. Acceptable subjects include: humor; adventure; teenage wizards; travel memoirs written by self-deprecating klutzes so that you feel better about your doofus self; sci-fi lite; and libido-driven vampires. Politics, history (particularly concerning tragic events) or anything that causes more then one synapse to fire at a time is forbidden.
Bar = good.
Open, covered bar = better.
Open, covered, swim-up bar = nirvana!
Just be sure to stay hydrated. Few things fill up the Misery Bingo Card faster than a sunburn-punctuated hangover.
There are still several options for enjoying a day in the water after you’ve burned yourself like a cheap meatloaf. The no-brainer option is a covered swimming pool at a hotel, but some destinations have alternatives like spas, water parks, and even cool water tubs. (It should go without saying, but DO NOT get into a hot tub while sunburned!) Then there are the natural protected options, like swimming in the caves and cenotes of Mexico. Lastly, one can always (gingerly) wriggle into a full-body wetsuit and snorkel/scuba the day away.
Seaside destinations often have aquariums within striking distance. The quality of these attractions vary wildly – those featuring the more lovable, intelligent members of the aquatic mammal community can be downright depressing – but a well-executed aquarium is a beautiful thing, with the added advantage of getting an eyeful of the local marine life.
Ah! Sweet, air-conditioned, windowless museums. Not an ultraviolet ray in sight. This, of course, is the exact opposite of your carefully laid sand and ocean breeze-scented vacation goals, but a retreat of this nature while your skin is still hot enough to heat water for tea is a nice, temporary reprieve.
Unless you’ve booked yourself into a fortified resort compound miles from anything interesting, chances are there’s some manner of eating adventure to indulge in nearby. Buy the biggest, floppiest sunhat you can find for protection and investigate the market, food district, main pedestrian street (or, more likely, the streets parallel to the main pedestrian street) for local delicacies and weirdness.
OK, in a beach environment this has the potential to get creepy in a hurry (don’t be creepy, brah!), but a beach with a mix of international visitors can be quite the cultural spectacle. If you have a sunburn co-sufferer, ‘Name That Nationality’ is a reliably amusing people-watching pastime that can be played from a safe distance, ideally from the stools of a well-stocked cocktail bar.
Physical games are mostly out. ‘Sunburn Twister’ rapidly loses its initial appeal and don’t even think about volleyball. Equally, card games can lead to being involuntarily exposed to the sun while chasing windblown cards down the beach after every gentle breeze. However, a genial game of chess will pass the time nicely. After a few drinks, you may want to switch to checkers. Once you’re good and buzzed, few games are more hilarious, and brief, than Jenga.
You’re almost definitely not alone in your sunburn suffering. There’s a certain comfort in sharing your pain with others, so get all the sunburned victims from the hotel/hostel together and organize tournaments like the ‘Shade Olympics’ or the ‘Thirsty Games’. Alternatively, embrace that wretched sunburn and light up your Instagram and Facebook feeds with creative, staged, sunburn-themed photos – eg, toasting bread on your stomach or giving other people sunburn with the heat of your sunburn.
Personally research sunburn remedies
For you productive/proactive types, rather than sitting idly and suffering, you may want to consider your setback as a challenge and concoct sunburn remedies, either by combining known treatments for faster recovery or breaking new ground. What happens when you bathe in a mixture of water, olive oil and mango yogurt? Only one way to find out! At the very least, you’ll have additional goofball material for your social media feeds.
From secluded coves and turquoise-trimmed bays to windswept, black-sand coastlines carved from volcanic rock – there’s just something about beaches that gets our travel senses tingling.
Let’s face it: the beach that will blow your mind next is more than likely the next one you can get to, regardless of where it is – but if you don’t have a seaside jaunt planned, this selection from 50 Beaches to Blow your Mind will soon have you reaching for your sunhat and shades.
Navagio Beach – Zakynthos, Greece
Completely. It’s 87 kinds of beautiful coming at you all at once. Secluded, protected by vertical cliffs that tower above, sparkling azure as imagined by Greek gods, pure, perfect sand and, just to give it an extra bit of character, like a beauty spot on a face, a shipwreck!
I just want to go there now. Can I please go there now?
Easy as can be – as long as you’re in Zakynthos. If you are, there are a number of towns, Porto Vromi for example, from where you can take a boat to paradise. It is as you see it – there are no amenities – so you’ll need to bring with you all the supplies you need for the time you’re on the sand/in the water/exploring the shipwreck.
How did that wreck get…wrecked?
It was a smuggler’s ship caught doing its dirty work in 1982. During bad weather a while after the seizure, the boat was washed up on the shore where it was left to rust.
It just looks so amazing!
To get a view of the beach from on high, visit the village of Anafonitria. There’s a platform at a monastery there and the sight of the bay below you will make you wish you were there. And then, of course, you can be!
Bowling Ball Beach – Mendocino, California, USA
This striking (thank you, thank you very much) beach is part of the Schooner Gulch State Beach reserve. It’s one for the beachcombers, photographers and geologists, no question. The spherical rocks (specifically, ‘concretions’ – packed sandstone eroded into the balls you see) almost look like a strange family from a Disney film, rolling in to greet you.
These are some freaky boulders.
Rock hopping is a lot of fun (take care, they can be slippery), but go at low tide to get the full experience. Find a little rock pool and explore a microcosm of sea life. You’ll probably be alone, as this is not a high traffic beach: the whales passing by offshore will be all yours to enjoy.
What’s the water like?
Feel like a little surfing? You can do that here. Windsurfing too. The swimming is good and there are hiking opportunities as well. You want a perfect day for the family? Well then, just pack a picnic and your swimming costumes, explore the balls, collect some salty souvenirs from the caves and crags, and take a dip.
Tallow Beach – Byron Bay, Australia
Can these places please be a little closer together?!
With almost 36,000km of coastline, you’re going to have to travel to get to some of Australia’s most spectacular beaches. Byron Bay on New South Wales’ northern coast is worth the trip though.
What’s so special about it?
Apart from the fact that the beaches are beautiful, the vibe is laid waaaaay back (this place has a strong hippy history) and food and drink is close at hand – particularly at Tallow, which is in the heart of the town.
I am well up for laid-back.
Don’t let the world pass you by, though. How many town beaches give you whale watching alongside the usual suspects of surfing, swimming and sunning? It’s also a good fishing beach, so bring your tackle.
Dude, chill out a little.
Ah…ok. Well, you’ve found a little enlightenment then. It’s not surprising. So just relax on the beach till evening comes and the lighthouse sends out its beams to keep you enthralled. Then mosey into town when a snack seems the right idea. You’ll be very happy here.
Copacabana – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
A name I know.
It may not be the most beautiful beach in the world but it is certainly one of the most famous.
Top 5 maybe.
That’s what happens when a hit song features your name.
That song wasn’t about the beach.
People only hear the chorus. And it was conceived in Rio, so, you know, close enough. Anyway, the beach…
Yes, let’s talk about the beach…
This 4km stretch of action-packed beachy goodness has become party central in Rio. One and a half million people watched the Rolling Stones perform here!
What else is in store?
The beach zones off into interest areas: west of Copacabana Palace is the LGBT area, known as the Stock Market – look for the rainbow flag. Footballers hold court near Rua Santa Clara while next to Forte de Copacabana is the unofficial posto de pescadores (fishermen’s post).
It sounds busy!
Copacabana is a beach with a city of millions just a few metres away. And it won’t let you forget that for a minute.
Treen Cliff near Porthcurno © Guy Edwardes / Getty Images
Porthcurno – Cornwall, UK
This looks like quite the suntrap.
Indeed. Seeing a gorgeous little bay like Porthcurno makes you think that the Brits may just be keeping schtum to the rest of the world to get their stunning beaches all to themselves.
This beach looks like it could be in the Riviera or off the Croatian coast.
Doesn’t it just? Instead, it’s a little cove just 4km from Land’s End, the most westerly point of the English mainland.
So can I assume it’s a hidden gem?
Not exactly. While the world goes about thinking all British beaches are windswept and rugged, the people of Cornwall and surrounds are happily sunning themselves in their slice of coastal paradise. The beach is popular with families: kids love to play in the freshwater stream that runs down into the surf.
That’s a pretty impressive rock formation around the cove.
The 65-tonne rock you can see balancing on the Treen Castle cliffs is known as Logan’s Rock. It used to sway back and forth in fierce winds but after it was pushed into the sea by some unruly soldiers in 1824 it was raised back to its resting place and secured to prevent it from being dislodged.
Traveling for business isn’t always easy. Sleeping on planes, packing constantly for trips and staying glued to your mobile device can derail your routine and make you grumpy.
Keeping a positive attitude is the first step to a stress-free travel experience. And acknowledge helpful staff. Travelers have a better chance at getting upgrades, itinerary changes and extraordinary service when they ask politely and maintain happy demeanors.
“When there are problems with the flight, most people start out annoyed or even hostile. If I tell the agents what a great job they’re doing and how I admire their patience, they’ll often go to extraordinary lengths for me,” says motivational speaker Barry Maher. “I once had a gate agent spend 45 minutes to get me rebooked on another airline. Then she called the gate, grabbed one of my carry-ons and ran with me to security. When I got to the gate, the agent bumped me into first class.”
Kindness isn’t the only way to minimize inconveniences and maximize your productivity while traveling. Here are a few practical ways to make traveling for business easier:
– Limit Luggage to a Carry-on
Travel is stressful when you’re worried about lost luggage or being late to a meeting, says Barbara DesChamps, author of It’s In The Bag: The Complete Guide to Lightweight Travel. Bring only a carry-on, check in for your flight online and go straight to security at the airport. If you don’t check baggage, you won’t have to wait for it when you land.
– Use Technology to Plan Ahead
Check out Seatguru.com to view your airplane’s seating plan in advance, including information about limited recline or legroom seats and in-seat power ports. Find out where galleys, lavatories and exit rows are, and request a seat change that makes working or relaxing easier.
Instead of calling around to restaurants at your destination, make reservations at OpenTable.com, of which 20,000 restaurants worldwide are members.
Bring a GPS with pre-loaded maps of your destination to make driving your rental car in a new place easier, says Maria K. Todd, CEO of Mercury Healthcare.
– Join a Rewards Program and Stick With It
If staff notices you frequently patronize their airline, rental-car company or hotel, they are more likely to help you, says Maria Perez, marketing manager of airfare search engine Fly.com.
Members of rewards and loyalty programs often receive early boarding on flights, priority hotel room, first-class upgrades and “all-around better treatment,” Perez says.
Some rental-car companies deliver rental cars to rewards program members personally, while less frequent customers must shuttle to the company’s facility to retrieve their rental,
– Dress Well
People get much better service when they dress well and appear wealthier, says DesChamps. Wearing an outfit that doubles as presentation attire while traveling is also wise in case your baggage is lost or you are late, says Melissa C. Gillespie, partner at Innova Communications. That way, you’re not stuck in jeans for a big meeting.
– Keep a Bag Packed
Save time packing by keeping a carry-on suitcase packed with the minimal amount of clothing, shoes and accessories you need, including 3-ounce toiletries in a Ziploc bag. Trade bulky laptops for thinner laptops and tablets such as a MacBook Air or an iPad. Replace hardcovers with eBooks. If you must bring a coat or bulky shoes, wear them on the plane to avoid taking up space in your luggage.
– Keep Customer-Service Numbers Stored in Your Phone
Keeping customer-service numbers handy offers quicker access to the right people if a flight is cancelled or you need to change a hotel or car reservation, rather than waiting in line once you’re there.
Not all travellers rejoice at the spring thaw. For skiers and snowboarders, springtime heralds long months deprived of mountaintop thrills, scowling at the sun while cherished skiing gear gathers dust.
But why be a slave to the seasons? From Scandinavia to New South Wales, here are our dream destinations to pursue an eternal winter.
January: Salt Lake City, USA
Skiers and boarders discuss Utah’s voluminous powder snow in rapt whispers. State license plates have bragged about ‘the greatest snow on Earth’ since 1985. The hype is well-founded: few North American winter sports hubs enjoy as much snowfall – around 550 inches per season – as the four main resorts clustered around Salt Lake City. Dry and cold weather gives the snow a buoyant quality, ideal for off-piste antics (and a very soft landing). Skiers will revel in the breathtaking views around Alta, while the top pick for snowboarders is vast Snowbird. Meanwhile, wide-open Solitude has a web of challenging black (advanced) runs.
February: Hokkaido, Japan
In Hokkaido, cathedrals of ice and snowy beasts aren’t hallucinations induced by too much sake. Each February, sub-zero sculptures are unveiled at Sapporo Snow Festival. On the mountains, nature crafts its own surreal display: juhyo (snow monsters), formed when trees are blasted with snow and ice, are at their most impressive in February. Ski past battalions of juhyo at crowd-pleasing resort Sapporo Kokusai (sapporo-kokusai.jp), one hour’s drive west of Sapporo city, or thunder across legendary backcountry (if you’re a pro). Still yearning to face-plant in fluffy snow? Continue southwest to powder capital, Niseko.
March: Whistler, Canada
While dreaded spring melt creeps into resorts across Europe and North America, skiers in British Columbia continue merrily on the mountains. Eight-thousand-acre Whistler-Blackcomb (whistlerblackcomb.com) groans under 12m of snowfall each year, so it’s still at its prime in March. More than 200 well-preened pistes wend across the two mountains, with a mile of skiable vertical that dwarfs other North American resorts. To leave fresh tracks in pristine backcountry snow, grab some avalanche gear and a local guide to explore the lonely snowfields of Garibaldi Provincial Park.
April: Obertauern, Austria
Think quaint chalets and pillowy snow are for wimps? Winter travellers who crave wild, windswept terrain should head to Obertauern (obertauern.com), 90km south of Salzburg. From its dizziest heights, around 2350m, you can survey the towering Austrian Alps as you zoom across 100km of pistes – just bring a balaclava to fend off the biting winds. Obertauern was one of the filming locations for Help!, should that inspire you to belt out Beatles tunes from the bubble lift.
May: Riksgränsen, Sweden
Hiding 200km above the Arctic Circle is Sweden’s northernmost ski resort, Riksgränsen. The ski area’s vertical drop, at under 400 metres, doesn’t compete with other European resorts. But expansive off-piste trails, winding among cloudlike snow drifts and frost-rimmed forests, more than compensate. Mix it up by snowshoe trekking around Lake Vassijaure or commanding a fleet of sled dogs, and watch professional shredders in Scandinavia’s Big Mountain Championships (bigmountain.se). At the end of May, when the sun barely touches the horizon, you’ll need steely willpower to hang up your skis and sleep.
June: Cardrona, New Zealand
While Europeans and North Americans mournfully shelve their gear, New Zealanders are busy waxing their skis. Cardrona, whose winter season kicks off in mid-June, is nestled prettily in the Southern Alps. Half of its 345-hectare pisted area suits novice and intermediate levels, while seasoned snowheads can somersault around the Southern Hemisphere’s biggest half-pipe and park facilities. Just 20km south, Cardrona Distillery is the perfect place to stock up on après-ski fuel.
July: Las Leñas, Argentina
Luxury is best served with a sprinkling of powder snow. Premium ski resort Las Leñas gleams out from the Argentinian stretch of the mighty Andes mountain range. Its slopes climb from 2200m to a vertiginous 3400m, so start slowly to avoid altitude sickness – there’s no more enjoyable way to adjust than in a lavish spa hotel (Hotel Virgo, virgohotel.com.ar, is the fanciest). Best of all, you’re in Mendoza wine country, where aprѐs-ski involves swishing an inky Malbec around your glass while eyeing a steak menu.
August: Perisher Valley, Australia
Dispel images of foaming surf and fan-shaped opera houses. New South Wales is home to a small but hardy community of skiers, who make an annual pilgrimage to Perisher, the southern hemisphere’s biggest ski resort. A valley carved among Australia’s Snowy Mountains, Perisher’s altitude (and more than 200 snowmaking machines) ensure it’s blanketed in the white stuff each August. Snowboard or ski across its 1200 hectares, or clamp on some snowshoes to roam the scenic Rock Creek track.
September: Corralco, Chile
Compared to busier ski hubs towards Santiago, this friendly resort on the southern slopes of 2865m-high Lonquimay is blissfully low-key. After the stormy first half of the ski season, August and September in Corralco have bluer skies and fewer crowds. Its 1800 hectares of snow-lashed terrain are superb for newbie or intermediate skiers and boarders. Only 10km southwest of the resort, the natural hot springs in Malalcahuello beckon to sore limbs.
October: Whakapapa, New Zealand
Fancy snowboarding on an active volcano? Of course you do. Splayed across the northwestern slopes of Mt Ruapehu, Whakapapa is superb for groups of mixed ability. There’s a huge area dedicated to learners called Happy Valley, as well as 24 steep ‘Black Magic’ runs for advanced boarders, skiing pros, or show-offs with robust travel insurance. It forms New Zealand’s biggest ski area together with sister resort Turoa, which boasts the country’s loftiest chair lift, the Highnoon Express – don’t look down.
November: Ruka, Finland
Southern hemisphere resorts shutter their chalets, northern ones wait anxiously for snowfall – November is the cruellest month for skiers. Luckily far northern Ruka, a frosty fell in eastern Finland, has 200 days of snow per year, plus snowmaking machines to keep the hills downy and white. Most thrilling are Ruka’s 500km of cross-country skiing and snowmobile trails, threading among forests and frozen lakes. During night skiing sessions every Friday, you might even see the pistes glow green under the Northern Lights
If you can’t bear to leave your four-legged family members at home, bring them along for a pet-friendly vacation. Here are our top tips for traveling with pets.
Fly the Pet-Friendly Skies
Flying with your pet is actually a lot easier than it sounds as most airlines are quite animal-friendly. However, each airline has its own set of regulations’ find out about these before you book a flight to ensure you’ll be in compliance with all regulations.
Most airlines extend 2 options to furry friends–carry-on or checked. You may already have a favorite pet carrier, but check with the airline to be sure it meets specific regulations. Guidelines for pet carriers vary depending on how your cat or dog will be flying. Small pets may come aboard as carry-on luggage in a hard or soft carrier and must be stored under the seat for the duration of the flight. Larger pets that will be checked to travel in cargo must fly in a non-collapsible carrier with an ample supply of water. In most cases, the weight of the animal and the carrier must not exceed 100 pounds.
Hit the Road
If you’re looking to travel by train or bus, you’re probably out of luck. Most national carriers do not permit animals, other than service pets, on board. That limits you to your car if you’re hoping to hit the open road. Car travel is more convenient because you can set your own schedule and have your furry friend nearby for the duration of the trip. There are some safety tips to consider.
Don’t let your dog or cat ride in your lap in the front seat. Let them find a comfortable and safe spot in a back seat or keep your pet in a carrier to prevent them from roaming around the car and distracting you while driving.
Talk to your vet before you embark on your trip to determine the best way to handle your dog or cat’s anxiety on the road. If your pet gets anxious in the car, your vet may recommend sedatives to ease their nerves and reduce car sickness. Pets can get sick on the road just like human passengers, but negotiating the barf bag is a bit trickier.
Plan for plenty of pit stops along the way for fresh air and bathroom breaks. When it’s time for you to hit the rest stop, leave the window open a crack for ventilation and avoid leaving your pet in the car unattended for an extended amount of time. Extreme weather can be dangerous for animals.
Home Away From Home
As more travelers set off on adventures with their pets, the hotel industry has responded with many pet-friendly options. High-end hotel chains, including the Four Seasons and Ritz Carlton, boutique hotels, like those in the Kimpton Group, and budget hotels, including Red Roof Inn and LaQuinta, all have pet-friendly properties. Check with individual hotels or on websites that consolidate information on pet-friendly lodging, like petswelcome.com. Check with the hotel about pet policies before checking in, and be prepared to pay an additional fee to bed down with your pet at night.
Whether you’re renting a beach house or a mountainside ski chalet, don’t assume Fluffy is welcome without checking first. Some rentals have strict policies on pets, but many welcome animals for a fee. Websites like pettravel.com and HomeAway provide listings for animal-friendly rentals around the world.
Finally, prepare for medical emergencies before you encounter any. Before you leave for your trip, research emergency vet clinics at your destination in case you require an unexpected trip to the animal doctor.
Almost every frequent flyer has been stuck at an airport due to weather, mechanical issues or other delays. Sometimes “stuck” can mean overnight. How you react to that disruption says a lot about your ability to handle the unexpected. Anger does little good; getting creative can soothe the soul and maybe even lead to a pleasant experience. There’s no need to play Angry Birds for 4 hours. Here are a few tips to make your layover downtime more productive.
Get a 1-Day Airline Pass
Even if you’re not a member of an airline’s airport club, many offer 1-day memberships. American Airlines, for example, charges $50 for a 1-day pass, and up to 3 children under the age of 18 are permitted to join an adult at no extra charge. You’ll pay for drinks, but snacks and Wi-Fi are on the house. Rules vary among airlines. Delta, for example, allows no guests on its $50, 1-day pass, but the booze is complimentary. An airport lounge is usually a comfortable and relatively quiet place to spread out and accomplish some work.
Head to the Chapel
If you crave a quiet space but don’t want to spring for an airport club membership, find the airport’s chapel and settle in with work materials or a book. But make sure to check your airline’s departure board from time to time. Just because a gate agent says your flight is delayed for 3 hours doesn’t mean it won’t leave sooner if, say, the weather clears or a mechanical problem is solved quickly.
Find Friends on Google Latitude
Find your friends and have a party, or at least lunch. Several location apps allow you to use your smartphone to track the whereabouts of friends. If you have Google’s Latitude app on your phone, for example, you can check to see if anyone you know (who is also on Latitude) is stuck in the airport, too. Nearly 2 million people pass through Atlanta’s airport a year, for example — surely you know one of them.
Discover Things to Do Near the Airport
At any airport, if your layover is long enough for you to leave the airport, ask a local what’s within an easy cab ride that’s worth visiting. The tour desk at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport, for example, can arrange a quick tour of the city that’s only 6 miles from the airport.
Stuck in Abu Dhabi? The Al Ghazal Golf Club is adjacent to the airport, and passengers are welcome in its English-style clubhouse. And if you’ve never played on a sand golf course, it makes for great dinner conversation later when you describe such hazards as burrows dug by desert lizards. Golf clubs are available for rental.
If you find yourself stranded at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport, hop the sleek light-rail train for the 6-minute ride to the Mall of America, and get a little holiday shopping done between rides on the indoor roller coaster.
Check Out Airport Museums and Art Displays
You already know you can shop ’til you drop in major airports around the world, but you can often engage in more mind-improving activities as well. San Francisco’s airport has well-curated, rotating displays of art, metalwork and even vintage airplanes scattered throughout various terminals. In SFO’s International Terminal, you’ll find the fascinating Louis A. Turpen Aviation Museum. Check out the 1920s Ford Tri-Motor passenger seat (that looks like your grandparents’ wicker chair), a mint-condition Pan Am tea set and the various styles of flight attendant uniforms through the years.
At Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport, just steps away from a casino is a mini-art museum, a branch of Amsterdam’s renowned Rijksmuseum. Want to know what the airport you’re stuck in has on offer? Just check the airport’s website.
Don’t Do Something Stupid
Wait, I’m not really advocating this, but if you type in any search engine “stupid things to do at an airport,” you’ll be surprised by the number of postings by folks who clearly have too much time on their hands. These days, it’s not advisable to do anything stupid at an airport. Playing the slot machines at the Vegas or Amsterdam airports is smarter than doing something that will draw the attention of airport security personnel.
But you can certainly get a cardio work out doing some serious walking in large airports without ever leaving an airport’s secure area. Many airports have mini-spas that offer massages and other treatments. And if you’re a Type A traveler who complains you have no time to think uninterrupted or to read a book or magazine from cover to cover, a layover is just what the psychologist ordered.
Wherever you’re heading, if you’re traveling during the holiday season, you need to realize that everyone else in the world is, too. But don’t let invasive security scanners, terrible drivers and long lines at airports get you down. We’re giving you tips to survive the holiday travel season without a Frosty the Snowman-size meltdown.
Do your research.
Plan alternative trips if traffic makes your way home too overwhelming. Is there a scenic drive that might be longer but have less traffic? Break up a long drive by finding a few places to stop that will get the kids more excited than a truck rest stop. When flying, make sure you check the airline’s restrictions ahead of time on carry-on luggage and fees for checked bags.
Stock up on the latest travel apps before you leave home. Flight Status gives you real-time updates on delays, baggage numbers and more, and GateGuru gives you approximate times you’ll spend in security. Heading out on the road? Find the cheapest gas and cleanest bathrooms on the road with GasBuddy and SitOrSquat.
Pack snacks and drinks, so you and your family will be fueled up for a road trip. If you’re flying, definitely get some grub before you board the plane.
Avoid checking bags altogether if you can. You won’t have to wait for your luggage on the conveyor belt, and you won’t have to worry about your mom’s Christmas present getting lost in Logan Airport. If you do check luggage, make sure you have all your medications and important documents and a change of clothes in your carry-on in case your luggage gets lost. Here’s a family packing list for more tips.
Short of doing yoga in the airport, the best way to mentally escape your stressful surroundings is to turn the volume down. And the easiest way to do that is with earplugs. Crying baby next seat over on the plane? Earplugs. Sister’s music in the car driving you mad? Earplugs. And if you really want to check out for a bit? Bring an eye mask (as long as you aren’t driving).
Don’t get hangry.
When your tummy growls, your mind can’t think straight, and you could unknowingly get in the wrong line, take the wrong turn, or worse, upset an innocent flight attendant. Pack snacks and drinks, so you and your family will be fueled up for a road trip. If you’re flying, definitely get some grub before you board the plane (check our GateGuru’s Best Airport Restaurants), so you won’t have to rely on airline food if you’re sitting on the tarmac for hours.
Ship gifts or give gift cards.
TSA suggests to ship wrapped gifts or wait until you reach your destination to wrap them, as they might have to unwrap a present to inspect it. Ship gifts ahead of time or bring the gift that can’t go wrong: gift cards to their favorite store or an Amazon card.
Travel on off-peak days.
The Wednesday before Thanksgiving is the biggest travel day of the year and can also cause you the biggest meltdown of the year. A better option is to leave early on Thanksgiving Day and avoid the record traffic the night before. Same goes with flying: if you fly on the actual holiday itself you’ll be avoiding the long lines and hoards of travelers.
Flight statistics show that planes traveling earlier in the day have a better on-time performance. Best time to hit the road? When every one else is asleep — early morning or late at night
Travel early or late in the day.
Flight statistics show that planes traveling earlier in the day have a better on-time performance. And if your flight is cancelled, you will have the option of taking a flight later in the day. Also, there will be fewer lines at security. Best time to hit the road? When every one else is asleep — early morning or late at night. You can always take a nap when you arrive at your destination or on the ride there (if you aren’t the driver, of course).
Plan for the unexpected.
Have only a half hour before connecting to another flight? Traveling to Rochester, NY, during snow season? Think ahead and plan accordingly. Leave extra time before flights to deal with security, extra time between connections and, for road trips, pack tire chains for snowy conditions, flashlights, and of course, a few band-aids never hurt either.
The overly friendly person next to you on the plane, the cancelled flights, the luggage that fell off in the middle of the highway? All of it will make for great stories over dinner when you finally make it to your destination. After all, holiday travel stress is just as much of a tradition as pumpkin pie and regifting.
At these wellness retreats, the staff will kick your butt – and then spoil you silly.
Pure Kauai, Hawaii, USA
Use the island’s stunning nature as a gym – surf lessons, kayak excursions, rainforest hikes and beach runs – at Pure Kauai bespoke fitness vacations. Guests are set up in private cottages or villas, then catered to by personal trainers, health-minded private chefs, personal assistants and wellness practitioners from massage therapists to intuitive healers and astrologists. Although vacations can be as active or as mellow as guests wish, the sports instructors and personal trainers are prepared to kick it into high gear. Quite a few celebs have stayed with Pure Kauai to get in shape for a role.
The ranch at Live Oak, Malibu, California, USA
Don’t call it a spa – it’s a week of tough love. Nothing is optional: not the pre-dawn wake-up calls for morning yoga, not the 16km to 21km hikes every day, not the four hours of fitness classes, and not the super-strict diet (no meat, wheat, sugar, dairy, caffeine, alcohol or processed foods). Participants, no more than 16 at a time, may suffer migraines or vomit on the trail and still the instructors push them to keep going. The results: nearly everyone loses noticeable weight and feels better leaving than they did when they arrived – partly from the detox diet and partly from having survived.
The Island Experience, Ilha Grande, Brazil
There’s more to this island than hammocks and caipirinhas: it’s also home to a seven-day program designed to detox and de-stress through rainforest hiking, kayaking, yoga and meditation, and a vegetarian diet. In a casual atmosphere, up to 12 guests get personal attention and gentle encouragement, rather than drill-sergeant discipline. The founders created the island experience after a seven-day hike around Ilha Grande that left them wanting to share the experience with others: not just physical challenges but also learning to face one’s limits, beat challenges, manage fears and open up to other cultures.
The Ashram, Mallorca, Spain
The seasonal program is the same as at the original ashram in California, where celebrities have long flocked to lose weight and clear their heads. It’s rigorous, to be sure: 5.30am wake-up calls for yoga; four to six hours of hiking, sometimes with nearly 1000m of elevation gain; afternoon kayaking, strength training, TRX or Pilates; more yoga; minimal, vegetarian meals; and utterly exhausted sleep. With up to 14 guests, everyone gets pushed – hard. You’ll stay in a restored 17th-century olive farm surrounded by orchards and terraces with stunning views, where the guest rooms have beamed ceilings, local art and private bathrooms.
Escape to Shape, International
The premier ‘travelling fitness spa’ combines luxury, culture and fitness in glamorous locations around the world. Each program is tailored to make the most of its location, with a focus on history, culture, people, cuisine and natural wonders – and butt-kicking. While destinations have ranged from Cape Town (where the program included African dance) to Sicily (where guests climbed Mt Etna), the setup is consistent: each day includes a total body workout that might involve yoga, Pilates, circuit training, hiking, kayaking or biking; healthy meals that reflect the region; and a bit of downtime to explore and enjoy the surroundings.
Cal-a-Vie, Vista, California, USA
Don’t let the la-di-da name and French Provençal decor fool you: the seasoned trainers here seriously kick butt. The morning mountain hike can turn into a mountain run. Guests are allowed to do as much or as little as they want, and there are a lot of beginner-friendly options among the 125 classes, but there’s also CrossFit and an amped-up TRX class. The gym is as state-of-the-art as it gets and the high staff-to-guest ratio (21 trainers for up to 32 guests) ensure that anyone who asks to be challenged will be. It’s not unheard of to have one student and two instructors.
Bikini bootcamp, Tulum, Mexico
Founded about a decade ago, this was one of the first adventure-fitness-and-yoga programs around. The boot camps combine cool shabby-chic settings (originally the Amansala eco-resort in this yoga mecca on the Mayan Riviera and now also on Ibiza) with activities and vacation fun. Most of the fitness classes, from power walks to cardio workouts to yoga classes, take place right on the sand and they’re complemented with salsa or belly-dancing classes. Guests range from fitness newbies to hardcore gym rats and the program is tailored accordingly.
Chiva-Som, Hua Hin, Thailand
The name means ‘Haven of Life’, but for guests who sign on for this destination spa’s fitness retreats, life is anything but restful. There are classes nearly 12 hours a day, from Muay Thai boxing to Ashtanga yoga to a cardio session called Mountain Trek, plus private fitness assessments and an array of personal training sessions, both indoors and out. A team of highly trained international specialists oversee the fitness and the Eastern and Western wellness services (reflexology, Thai massage, deep-tissue bodywork) that soothe sore muscles after classes are done. The healthy Thai food is delicious.
La Réserve Ramatuelle, France
Just a few miles from Saint-Tropez, this resort is primarily a place for summer relaxation. But it offers a surprisingly rigorous boot camp fitness retreat, centered on the very civilised European sport of Nordic walking (with poles, which makes it a lot harder). Each guest (no more than eight) starts with a medical assessment before embarking on a program of daily 15km to 20km treks through the mountains and along the coast, tailored to guests’ fitness levels. This being France, a balanced Mediterranean diet and slimming treatments like balneotherapy (bathing in mineral-rich waters) speed up the results.
The Bodyholiday, St Lucia
It may take willpower to make this a boot camp, as the ‘holiday’ part of the name is taken seriously and there are all the temptations of an all-inclusive Caribbean resort. But for guests with enough drive, there are lots of offerings that would challenge the founders – one of them a former ultra-marathoner. A day may include a 7am beach boot camp class, a four-mile run, morning aerobics, afternoon windsurfing and evening Ashtanga yoga. It all gets kicked up a notch during the WellFit retreats in March and November, when ex-Olympians and pro athletes lead the training.