Far from being the beginning of the end, bucket lists can be a wonderful way to focus the mind and help us live life to the full. We asked our team of experts for their best all-time beach experiences to inspire you to look beyond the daily grind and book something amazing this year. Which will make it onto your bucket list?
Watch baby turtles hatch
Few sights are more memorable than huge turtles lumbering up the sand to lay their eggs or tiny hatchlings waddling their way towards the sea. While global numbers may be dwindling, Turtle Beach House’s sandy shores remain a popular nesting site, particularly around a full moon. Right on your doorstep, the Kosgoda Sea Turtle Project offers excellent advice on how to experience this magical moment without disturbing their conservation efforts.
You don’t have to be a qualified diver to have an incredible aquatic adventure. The islands of Indonesia’s vast Riau archipelago are ringed in shallow reefs teeming with tropical fish. Thanks to its powder-white beaches and clear waters Nikoi Island has quickly become one of our favourite snorkelling spots. With marine surprises lurking behind every brain coral, you could easily find yourself swimming next to a sea turtle or spotting an unusual species of puffer fish. Just be sure to book well in advance.
Let’s face it, Thailand’s magical islands have been on everyone’s bucket list ever since The Beach came out. But given the overwhelming choice, how do you find yourself some footprint-free sand away from all the flash resorts and nightlife? Look no further than Koh Yao Noi, a tiny island set in the heart of the picturesque Phang Nga Bay. Koyao Island Resort is the perfect hideaway for those looking to explore the bay’s beaches by day and unwind by night. Feeling extra romantic? We recommend taking a longtail boat to the island of Koh Nok for a star-canopied meal on the shore.
The Sardine Run
While this experience is more Blue Planet than beach, it wouldn’t be much of a bucket list without including one of the world’s most spectacular marine events. Every year millions of sardines gather on an epic migration along South Africa’s east coast, drawing the attention of a host of predators in an underwater Armageddon. From bottlenose dolphins to hammerhead sharks, you will be in awe of the abundance of marine life, chowing down on an all-you-can-eat buffet. If you’re keen to catch a glimpse of this natural phenomenon, plan a stay at our Wild Coast hideaway, Days at Sea, between June and July.
Dine on a deserted island
It’s a common misconception that you have to fly half way around the world to find an island all to yourself. Not so. Portugal’s Ria Formosa National Park in the Algarve has some seriously swoon-worthy islands and Vila Monte Farm House offers an exceptional experience that won’t break the bank: private beach picnics. Perfect for soaking up the sun with your partner while feasting on some delicious treats, it’s the ultimate romantic day out.
There is a real romance about horseback riding on the beach. The invigorating feeling of whipping up the sand as you canter along the coastline, breathing in the salty air…who wouldn’t fantasise about that? Make that dream a reality at Farm 215, a chic eco retreat situated in unspoiled fynbos heathland 200km from Cape Town. Horse riding departs from nearby Stanford, with trails following the sandy beach along the Walker Bay Nature Reserve.
The ‘once in a lifetime’ experience
Sparkling white sands, crystal-clear turquoise lagoons and complete seclusion – the natural beauty of the Maldives has made it the ultimate tropical beach getaway. Perched on stilts around an idyllic atoll surrounded by colourful coral gardens, COMO Cocoa Island is a have-it-all resort that could easily be heaven on earth. Cast off your shoes and your worries, as you won’t need either to enjoy endless scuba diving, sun-baking and spa pampering. But be warned: once you have experienced the otherworldly luxury of the Maldives, no other beach break will compare.