City breaks are always fun and exciting; rushing from attraction to food, food to bar and back to another attraction, but they can also be exhausting. Sometimes all you need is to sit back and relax, away from all the hustle of modern-day life. If you are looking for your next trip vibe to be a little more ‘sipping my favourite cocktail on a quiet remote island’, then this is the piece for you.
We have put together our top spots to have a perfect beach holiday escape. Think white sand, blue seas, endless sunshine and the most excellent content for your Instagram to make all of us jealous. The only problem? Deciding which one to fly to first!
The San Blas Islands
The San Blas Islands are a collection of 365 islands off the coast of Panama and Colombia. The islands are small, quiet, and almost completely unspoilt. Most of the islands do not have a soul living on them; so, if you are looking to feel like you own your own island, this is the place to stop by.
They are notoriously tricky to access, your best bet is to organise travel through a hotel. Visitors can only take small bags as the planes, jeeps and boats do not have the capacity for heavy and bulky luggage.
Best of all, the Kuna people who govern their own islands refuse any hotels, chain restaurants or foreign owned property. Most people come for a little slice of paradise and stay for a couple of nights, but you can also take a day trip with some tour operators.
If you decide to stay on the island, its inhabitants provide full hospitality, feeding and housing tourists during their trip. Equally, you can pay to stay on a boat and hop between islands; either option leaves you sleeping under the stars for a truly magical experience.
Bathe in crystal clear waters and soak up the sun on fine white sand beaches, these islands are a picture perfect destination which few others can say they have experienced.
Koh Lanta, Thailand
Are you over the party scene days of Koh Pha-ngan and Krabi? Sick of the over-crowd beaches of Koh Tao and Phi Phi? Looking to make your first trip to Thailand a little bit different and escape a few of the crowds? Koh Lanta might just be the answer to some of your beach holiday wishes.
Far from being a ‘hidden paradise’ like many of the islands in San Blas or the Maldives, Koh Lanta is commonly referred to as one of the best islands in Thailand. It mixes the developed elements of other islands providing plenty of food and drink options, with the maintained beauty and wildlife which some of its sister islands have lost over years of tourism.
Its beaches are classically white and peaceful, lined with enough bars to tempt you for a cheeky lunchtime cocktail. If you want to really escape, there are two options. First, ditch the west coast and head into the jungle and explore the huge Mu Ko National Park, it is filled with waterfalls, wildlife and stunning views. Or if you want real adventure, take it one step further; Koh Lanta is actually made up of a few different smaller islands, arrange a boat trip over to another slice of paradise and experience an even quieter side of Thailand.
Looking for a romantic getaway? The Maldives has got you and your dreams of paradise covered. There are over 1000 islands which make up the Maldives, and something for everyone to do.
Sunbathe on the beautiful sand, take yourself diving through clear-blue waters, catch some waves in the surf, water ski or parasail – Whether you love to relax with a cocktail, or get up and fill your day with adventure and adrenaline it is the perfect destination for everyone.
Although traditionally seen as an expensive destination, in the last few years the country has opened up its tourism and it is increasingly becoming a great luxury option for those even on tighter budgets.
Far off the coast of Africa lie the 115 islands of the Seychelles. Covered in vast tropical vegetation, amazing biodiversity and a huge variety of marine life, you are guaranteed to witness life very far removed from home.
Many of the islands have protected areas of marine sanctuaries and UNESCO-listed nature reserves, making this perfect destination for those who love nature in its many weird and wonderful forms, i.e. the world’s largest seed called the Coco de Mer, can be found on the islands.
The Seychelles also have their fair share of picture-perfect sunbathing spots for those who prefer a more relaxing holiday on the uncrowded, unspoilt sandy beaches. But paradise comes at a price, make sure you save your pennies for this trip!
Gili Islands, Indonesia
There is no denying the fact that often when you think of Indonesia, it is very easy to let your mind drift to Bali. If you are looking for an idyllic beach holiday, Bali is certainly a destination up there and I would highly recommend a visit, but we often tend to forget about the beauty of the rest of Indonesia.
Take a short boat ride across to another island and the same beauty of Bali can be found, with half of the crowds and development making it a great place to find a slice of heaven away from the party scene of the mainland.
A fantastic option for an escape are the Gili Islands. Made up of three islands in-between Lombok and Bali, Gili Trawangan, Meno and Air are tiny islands which offer only bikes or horse and carriage as their modes of transportation.
They feature your classic white sand beaches, clear blue waters and each island offers something different. Stay on the larger Trawangan for more options to eat, drink and party, it has a vibrant nightlife and chilled cafe culture day vibe. Hop across to Gili Air for adventures underwater and trek off the beaten track by walk around the island, which can be done in less than two and a half hours.
If you are looking for a romantic scene, Gili Meno provides a small intimate paradise for couples and honeymooners alike. As the smallest island of the three, it is the least developed making its beaches and jungle the perfect escape.
Whichever you choose, you are sure to find somewhere to spend the day sunbathing, grab a nasi goring and a beer and watch the beautiful Indonesian sunset in peace and tranquility.
1000km from Equador lies the Galapagos Islands. If you are a lover of animals, marine life and nature this is the place you will want to be. Its geographical location means it has one of the richest marine ecosystems in the world, mixed in with active volcanic activity and extreme isolation – these islands are bursting with life like you have never seen before. Blessed with good weather all year round, there has never been a better time to visit and immerse yourself in the wonders that Charles Darwin had so many years before.
After a day exploring, snorkeling and kayaking, relax on the gorgeous white sand and have a dip in the crystal blue waters. This is what it is like to experience nature untouched and perfectly preserved, truely a once in a lifetime trip.
There is nothing quite like the feeling of the warm morning sun on your back, sand between your toes and the ocean waves crashing gently in front of you. Spend some time living like a movie star and find your own slice of paradise on one of these islands. Pictures to make us all jealous or it didn’t happen!