With that annoying brown seaweed – called sargassum – causing havoc in the Caribbean, vacationers are eyeing resorts in other parts of the world. Here are five beaches that may suit – combining sunshine, discovery and a change of scenery.
Thailand: Variety of colours and flavours
More Canadians than ever are choosing to spend the winter in Thailand, one of Southeast Asia’s most attractive travel destinations. It’s amazing how quickly jet lag disappears the minute your beach towel hits the sand at Phuket or Ko Samui. Both these world-renowned islands are located in southern Thailand – Phuket in the Andaman Sea and Ko Samui in the Gulf of Thailand.
Between relaxing swims, you’ll appreciate the splendid hotel amenities and services as well as the radiant smiles of Thai people, not to mention the music, dancing and tasty dishes. Thanks to Thailand’s reasonable cost of living, you can easily afford island-hopping tours, exquisite handicrafts, or even a flight to Bangkok to explore its magnificent temples and palaces.
Mexico: Sun, charm and salsa
Nestled along the west coast and offering a fabulous view of the Pacific, Puerto Vallarta and Ixtapa are top destinations for Canadian snowbirds. One compelling reason is that they boast an exceptionally steady climate in winter. You’ll find plenty of rental accommodations as well as quality hotels and golf courses.
In Puerto Vallarta, take time to explore the historic charm of the city center as well as the numerous street kiosks and restaurants lining its seaside boardwalk. This is where you can indulge in Mexican specialties, all served up with a happy salsa flair.
Egypt: Scuba-diving in the land of Pharaoh
How about a little ancient history and culture to spice up your vacation? You’ll find just that when you head for the Red Sea. This legend rich desert country boasts impressive seaside resorts like those at Hurghada and Sharm El Sheikh. In Hurghada, for example, you can luxuriate in all-inclusive hotels, turquoise waters and beaches stretching as far as the eye can see. Aboard a glass-bottomed boat, view the renowned Red Sea coral reefs – the ultimate dream of any scuba enthusiast!
Onshore, explore the amazing architecture of the El Mina Mosque located in the heart of Hurghada. While there, visit the Hurghada Museum of Antiquities or meander through the lively souk, where you can practice haggling for spices, sweets and textiles. There are excursions to see the Temple of Karnak (believed to be the spot where creation began), the Tombs of the Valley of the Kings and, of course, the majestic Pyramids.
Bali: Mystic and magical
Since the 2010 release of the Eat, Pray, Love movie, Bali has never ceased enticing tourists. The flight there requires several layovers, but once there, you’ll find yourself engulfed in a haven of peace and tranquility. The Balinese are devoutly spiritual and inherently kind, qualities that show through the warm-hearted welcome and calming atmosphere awaiting you at resorts like Nusa Dua and Seminyak.
These two spots also stand out for their flavourful cuisine and entertainment featuring Balinese dances and traditional gamelan music. In addition to pristine beaches, the island boasts a wealth of treasures worth a detour. Among many such examples are the Uluwatu Temple, perched atop vertiginous cliffs and the picturesque, terraced rice fields around Ubud, recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Hawaii: Beaches and landscapes galore
Aloha! Who hasn’t daydreamed about Hawaii’s enchanting islands, smack in the middle of the Pacific? It’s certainly not next door, but you’ll be spoiled with a wide range of accommodations (including apartments), services and an American-style comfort level. And yet they’re all in perfect harmony with local culture and landscapes, each more astonishing than the other.
Waikiki is calmer with rolling breakers, whereas Sunset – about an hour and a half’s drive further north – is known for big-wave surfing during the winter months. In fact, why not explore two or three islands? Besides Oahu (where you’ll find Pearl Harbor), you may feel like exploring the stark, volcanic-sculpted landscapes and black-sand beaches of Maui. And then there’s Kauai, dubbed the “Garden Isle” as a tribute to its lushly verdant landscapes. The archipelago is a little like paradise, but that’s something you’ll have to find out for yourself.