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Top 10 Beaches to Make Your Winter Escape

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Top 10 Beaches to Make Your Winter Escape

story by: Jo Wedlock

Now that the weather is starting to cool down and the long tropical nights of summer are drawing to a close, it’s time to start planning your summer escape!  As kiwis, we love to travel for a warm sunny, beach holiday and we all love to have something to look forward to as the days get longer, the frost starts to approach overnight and we have to start breaking out the winter duvet!

House of Travel has hundreds of travel specialists who between them have travelled all over the globe and amassed knowledge of all the sunniest, brightest and best places to spend your holiday time.  Beaches are no exception and while we are blessed here in New Zealand to have easy access to many amazing beaches, nothing says holiday quite as well as the perfect overseas beach.

Here is a list of our top 10 beaches around the globe, in no particular order.  Clearly this is just our opinion and there are endless stunning options that could also be on the list!  Don’t just take our word for it – visit on your next holiday or tell us which are your favourite beaches and we’ll add them to the pile!

The Seychelles are an amazing group of 115 islands scattered in the Indian Ocean with a remarkable consistency of exquisite ribbons of white sand lapped by topaz coloured water and hardly a person to be seen.  Here, finding the best beach is as easy as throwing a stone.  The main islands of Praslin, La Digue or Mahe (the mountain region making up the national park) are an amazing setting and surrounded by the types of beaches that decorate the front of tourist brochures.    Popular with honeymooners there are several luxurious hotels to choose from no matter where you stay, and the diving, jungle walks or simply lying on one of those dreamy beaches is a must.

The Maldives are another collection of islands popular for the deep blue seas, turquoise reefs, white sandy beaches and of course the ever present swaying palm treas.  The country promotes itself as the perfect place to sit on a beach and watch a sunset with a cocktail in hand which sounds like the ideal holiday!  The snorkelling is world leading with thousands of fish in the coral just off the shore.  The Maldives are made up of 200 islands but only 105 of those are ‘resort’ islands with the main capital island being called Male’.  The main revenue to the islands come from tourism and fishing and the working day is all over by 3pm – making this the ideal beach destination to sit back, relax and soak up the rays!

Bora Bora, Tahiti
The Tahiti islands, and in particular the island of Bora Bora, are often on the bucket list to visit for most New Zealanders.  We’ve spent many a year on the receiving end of tourism campaigns and airline promotions watching those gorgeous images of Tahitian women dancing on the white sands, but always thought it a bit ‘hard’ or a bit too costly to get to.  These days, Tahiti is a wonderful closer-to-home option for a high end beach holiday.  Every Island in Tahiti has a lot to cover (diving in Rangiroa or hiking in Moorea) but the beaches in Bora Bora are legendary.  With those overwater bungalows and snorkelling in the lagoons second to none, it’s really Polynesian culture combined with tropical paradise at its best.

Lanikai Beach, Hawai’i
Lanikai Beach is found in Lanikai, which is on the coast of O’ahu in Hawai’i (O’ahu is the main island that houses Waikiki and Honolulu).  Consistently voted one of the best beaches in the world by everywhere from USA Today, Trip Advisor and National Geographic, it is a small half mile beach adjacent to a residential area and accessible only through public beach access paths.  There is no public parking and no facilities, which keeps it quiet and unassuming.  It can get busy with tourists and locals on weekends so head down on a weekday and try to time your visit to the full moon as it’s a stunning place to observe the moonrise over the Mokuluas!

Fraser Island, Australia
No list of best beaches is complete without including somewhere in Queensland Australia.  Fraser Island is about 200km north of Brisbane and it is huge!  120km long, it is considered to be the largest sand island in the world!  The island itself has rainforests, eucalyptus and sand dunes – not to mention those stunning white sands and turquoise water beaches.  Fraser Island is exceptionally beautiful and not only is it surrounded by ocean, but it has over 100 freshwater lakes – mixed from clear blue to dark brown and all in between. 

Lopes Mendes Beach, IIha Grande, Brazil
Ilha Grande literally means big island and is home to Lopes Mendes Beach: 3km of some of the whitest, finest sand in the world leading you down to the calm crystal blue ocean.  There are no buildings to break up the landscape and the shore is dotted with palms and almond trees (there are street vendors here selling drinks, snacks and other necessities).  Getting to this amazing beach is a bit of a journey as it’s a three hour bus ride from Rio to Angra dos Reis before taking the ferry to Ilha Grande, then a second boat trip to to Abraão, the island's only town followed by a water taxi boat to Manges beach then walk 40 minutes over the hill, down through the forest.  Phew!  Sounds like a journey and it certainly is one – but if you are not afraid of putting in a little effort, you will be well and truly rewarded with one of the top beaches in the entire world at your feet.

Akumal Beach – Mexico
Akumal is located 60 miles south of Cancun’s International Airport in the heart of the Riviera Maya in Mexico and is truly Gorgeous.  Clean snowy sands bounded by turquoise water are picture postcard perfect.  Unlike some beaches, here you will have all the shade you need with plentiful palm trees with hammocks giving you a break from the sun.  It’s a great beach for kids also, as the reef protects the beach from the surf and at its deepest it’s around 14 feet.  With good snorkelling and a proliferation of sea turtles and rays, it’s ideal for both beach lounging and for those wanting a little more adventure! It’s not all sandy beaches however as also at the north end of the bay there are reefs to snorkel with all kinds of fish and corals to experience.

The Baths – Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands
The British Virgin Islands are located in the Caribbean to the east of Puerto Rico.  Combined with the Spanish Virgin Islands and the US Virgin Islands they make up the Archipelago and all have stunning beaches!  The Baths are located just to the south of the main town ‘Spanish Town’ at the tip of the island between Spring and Devils Bay’s.  The area surrounding the beach shows the volcanic background, which has left boulders littering the sand that can reach up to 40 feet in size!  Needless to say the swimming and snorkelling are the main attractions and this is truly one of the best beaches to get back to basics and enjoy the down time.

Seven Mile Beach – Georgetown, Grand Cayman
The Cayman Islands are a British territory located in the West of the Caribbean Sea.  Made up of three islands – Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, they sit south of Cuba and Northwest of Jamaica and can be accessed from any of those locations.

Located in Grand Cayman, Seven Mile Beach is a stretch of coral coloured sandy beach on the western shores.  Ironically, it is only 5 miles long and is one of the most popular stretches of real estate in the island.  There are some amazing hotels and luxury resorts on this beach so you can stay right on the doorstep and enjoy not only the coral sands and crystal clear waters but also the restaurants and beach bars that make this region popular.

Martha’s Vineyard
Martha’s Vineyard is an island just south of Cape Cod in Massachusetts, New England, USA.  Often referred to as simply ‘The Vineyard’ the island is around 260km and is not connected to the mainland by a bridge or tunnel so can only be accessed by ferry or small plane.

New England has long been a preferred retreat for the rich, famous and powerful in the US and it’s not hard to see why.  The peace and privacy, pretty little towns, white sandy beaches and atmosphere of elite yet rural is an intoxicating cocktail.  Martha’s Vineyard has a rich history, stunning architecture and the beaches you will have seen in many a movie – lots of local eateries and a great place to escape and have a beach holiday of a different style.

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