Blessed with superlative landscapes and idyllic beaches, Mauritius, Réunion and the Seychelles offer the best cure for winter blues. From Beach to Adventure Believe it or not, a day will come during your stay when you decide you've had enough with the beach lounging.
Dubai and Abu Dhabi are a stirring alchemy of profound traditions and ambitious futuristic vision. Why I Love Dubai By Andrea Schulte-Peevers, Writer Ever since first setting foot in this tiny powerhouse emirate back in 2007, Dubai has fascinated me with its energy, optimism and openness towards people from all over the world.
Epicenter of the arts. Dining and shopping capital. Trendsetter. New York City wears many crowns, and spreads an irresistible feast for all. Urban Wanderers With its compact size and streets packed with eye-candy of all sorts – architectural treasures, Old World cafés, atmospheric booksellers and curio shops – NYC is an urban wanderer’s delight.
What Tahiti lacks in wide white-sand beaches, it makes up for in waterfall-laden, shadowy mountains, unpretentiously beautiful black-sand beaches, sheltered blue lagoons and a distinctly Polynesian, modern buzz. This is the heart of the islands, where the cultures from all the archipelagos are mixed in the cacophonous, dusty, yet smiling and energetic capital of Pape'ete.
The world's largest hand-loomed carpet, the fastest roller coaster, the highest high tea, the tower with the greatest lean, the largest cluster of cultural buildings of the 21st century – UAE capital Abu Dhabi isn't afraid to challenge world records. Welcome to an exciting city where nothing stands still…except perhaps the herons in its mangroves.
Scattered like dabs of silver and green paint on an artist’s palette, the Bahamas are ready-made for exploration. Just ask Christopher Columbus – he bumped against these limestone landscapes in 1492 and changed the course of history. But the adventure didn’t end with the Niña, the Pinta and the Santa Maria.
Consistent 80°F (27°C) weather, ridiculously white sands and a rum-infused taste of West Indian culture – the US Virgin Islands (USVI) earn a gold star for 'tropical'. Americans don't even have to use a passport to join the fun, as these are US territories. Get ready for reggae rhythms, curried meats and mango-sweetened microbrews. It's still a world away, mon.
The island of Phuket has long been misunderstood. Firstly, the ‘h’ is silent. And secondly, Phuket doesn’t feel like an island at all. It’s so huge (49km long, the biggest in Thailand) that you rarely feel surrounded by water, which is probably why Ko (‘island’) was dropped from its name.
Step off the boat or plane onto the Zanzibar Archipelago, and you’ll be transported through the centuries – to ancient Persia and tales of Shirazi merchants that inspired Sinbad the Sailor, to the court of Swahili princes and Omani sultans, to India, with its heavily laden scents. For over 2000 years the monsoon winds have shaped the landscape and culture of these islands.
Noted for its oodles of small and luxurious resorts that drip color and flair, St Lucia is really two islands in one. Rodney Bay in the north offers modern comforts amid a beautiful bay. In the south, Soufrière is at the heart of a gorgeous region of old plantations, hidden beaches and the geologic wonder of the impossibly photogenic Pitons.
Talcum-powder beaches lapped by topaz waters, lush hills, a sublime laid-back tempo; these dreams of a tropical paradise become reality in the Seychelles. Splendid Beaches Mother Nature was very generous with these 115 islands scattered in the Indian Ocean, and has spoiled them rotten.
What’s so surprising about the three Cayman Islands (population 56,800) at first is how un-British they are for a British territory – Grand Cayman seems straight from the US, with ubiquitous SUVs jostling for space at upscale malls and US dollars changing hands as if they were the national currency. Think of it as a much more orderly version of South Florida.
Santorini may well have conquered a corner of your imagination before you’ve even set eyes on it. With multicoloured cliffs soaring over 300m from a sea-drowned caldera, it rests in the middle of the indigo Aegean, looking like a giant slab of layered cake. The island spoons the vast crater left by one of the biggest volcanic eruptions in history.
From towering redwood forests in foggy Northern California to perfectly sun-kissed surf beaches in Southern California, this Golden State alongside the Pacific is a prize. Natural Beauty Don’t be fooled by its perpetually fresh outlook and gung-ho attitude: California is older than it seems.
Montenegro, Crna Gora, Black Mountain: the very name conjures up images of romance and drama – and this fascinating land doesn't disappoint on either front. Where Land & Sea Embrace There's not a lot of it – barely 100km from tip to toe – but Montenegro's coast is quite extraordinary.