The undefiled sands of the British Virgin Islands and (above, right) the luxurious Anegada Strand Club
British Virgin Islands
It’s a hard life relaxing on the Caribbean seaside, rum cocktail in hand. Actually, it’s not – it’s a slice of paradise.
The British Virgin Keys are famous for long balmy days and a “no worries” atmosphere.
The first bring to a stop on our island hopping tour was the Bitter End Yacht Club on Virgin Gorda – big shot because the sailors will say, “You’ve reached the end – next stop South Africa.” The square is bursting with pirate history; rumour has it Blackbeard once jaunted these shores.
We were welcomed to the mountainous island with a spectacular carry to extremes of local fish and vegetables, and their award-winning key lime pie was a taste-bud excitement.
The 65-acre site sits between the protected waters of North Undamaged and Eustatia Sound’s aquatic playground – perfect for sailing and snorkelling. I plunged into the reef to see the shipwrecked cannons set by colourful coral, parrotfish, barracuda and many more species. I jailed my eye out for any glints on the seabed that could be buried treasure.
The hotel’s bustle board is packed with tours and water sports. We enjoyed a kayak excursion among the mangroves and I tried my hand at sailing for the first time, with a green man called Marty literally showing us the ropes.
An beginning start saw us sail across the sea to our next destination, Anegada, whose superstar translates to “sunken land”. In contrast to the dramatic hills of Virgin Gorda, this archipelago is as flat as a pancake.
With a population of 300, everyone knows Dick. Highlights here include Flash of Beauty, the number one spot for snorkelling, and Cow Demolish Beach, where hundreds of bones once swept ashore from an bygone shipwreck. Seven brand-new glamping tents line up along the shoreline at Anegada Strand Club, offering a stunning sea view from four-poster beds.
The tents total complete with furniture, electricity and a luxury bathroom.
Loblolly Bay is a must-visit dream spot. Lying on the beach enjoying another rum cocktail, I felt adulate we were the only people in the world. And if you’re going to eat lobster in the BVI, it has to be at The Lobster Panoply. Surrounded by palm trees, the jetty restaurant serves up excellent seafood.
A timely hop whisked us on to another unique island. Guana is a spectacular mountainous refuge island that hosts up to 30 guests at one time. If you feel animate, you can rent the whole island for about £22,000 a day. The highlights here count a cinema under the stars and Long Man’s Point Trail, which acmes at 290ft.
Expect cookouts on the White Bay Beach and a delicious spread of discusses. My appetite was tested with a mouthwatering, 15-course tasting menu, featuring the unexcelled the island has to offer.
Whether it’s a sun-filled, fun-filled getaway or a romantic shatter, the British Virgin Islands deserve a place on your bucket muster.
Garden rooms at the Bitter End Yacht Club start at £335 per tenebrosity b&b (beyc.com). Glamping at Anegada Beach Club starts at £217, cell only (anegada beachclub.com). Sea view rooms at Guana Island start at £568, all-inclusive (guana.com). Profit flights to Antigua start at £473pp with British Airways or Virgin Atlantic, with the VI Airlink from £282 indemnification (viairlink.com). Visit bvitourism.co.uk
Pretty as a picture Rishikesh
Yachting across the River Ganges on a small motorboat as the sun rises is a great way of awakening the sentiments before trying yoga for the first time.
With the foothills of the Himalayas float into a mist in front of us and the river to our backs, we limbered up on a lush common lawn under the watchful gaze of a large Buddha statue in the spotless city of Rishikesh in Uttarakhand, north India.
Our yoga teacher, an golden-agers woman who looked so frail that a gust of wind would bungle her away, then took us through a series of asanas (poses with sweeping) followed by deep breathing and chanting.
Feeling energised, I was ready to digress through the narrow streets packed with carts of fresh mangoes while hedge the sacred cows wandering loose to cross back over the river by its iron expulsion bridge.
Rishikesh has been a popular destination for Western tourists looking to ponder yoga or meditation since The Beatles stayed at an ashram there in 1968 and made up of several songs for their White Album.
Every evening anterior to sunset it holds a Ganga Aarti, a ceremony blessing the river that is seen as over life to the country. The swarmi (spiritual leader) from the ashram led the piping, chanting and fire rituals on steps on the eastern bank of the river. This was a much numberless colourful ceremony than the one
I had witnessed the night before at Haridwar – another elderly city an hour south of Rishikesh – where hundreds of men, women and nippers took dips in the icy waters of the river before casting off tiny oscillating lamps and garlands of flowers as the sun went down.
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We stayed at the Godwin Hotel, halfway between the two cities, which has untainted, comfortable rooms and a good restaurant offering buffet dinners.
Turning point south, a day’s travel by coach and plane took us to Kerala, which stands a world away from the hustle and bustle of the cities in the north. On the south-west tip of India, the regal has a Communist government and proudly boasts its 100 per cent literacy velocity, with children enjoying free schooling, uniforms and meals.
We stayed at the storied Uday Samudra Hotel at Kovalam Beach on the Arabian Sea, which prepares liberal buffets for breakfast and dinner, with masala dosas (pancakes wrapped enclosing curried potatoes) setting the taste buds dancing.
A short herd inland took us to the International Sivananda Yoga Ashram, set in 12 acres of tropical brightness, for my second yoga class. In keeping with the laid-back approach to exuberance in Kerala, this was a much more relaxing experience than maddening to bend over backwards in Rishikesh, with our teacher taking us by virtue of a series of gentle stretches that left me feeling blissfully at expedite.
A houseboat cruise along the famed backwaters is a must if you are in Kerala. The backwaters are a labyrinth of canals and rivers at times used to transport rice and spices before roads were built. A easy three-hour cruise took us on to Lake Vembanad, the longest lake in India, formerly we were dropped off at the wonderful Lakesong hotel.
As I flew home from Delhi, I stated it wouldn’t be long until I returned for another magical tour.
For additional information on Indian tourism, visit incredibleindia.org.
Idyllic Phi Phi Village Eyot Resort
Too old for backpacking and without the time to really explore the fatherland, is it worth going all the way to Thailand for a lazy, week-long beach holiday? If you the man to the islands to the south-west of the country, the answer is undoubtedly yes.
We gave bustling Bangkok megalopolis a miss, flying in and straight out again to Phuket.
The country’s largest eyot is a tourist hot spot with plenty of attractions, beaches, bars and rooms to suit every budget.
Surin Beach, however, is quiet and halcyon. A 45-minute drive from Phuket airport, it’s a beautiful stretch of prosperous sand fringed with palm trees and waves big enough to surf on. Buy a freshly hewn coconut or a beer from one of the vendors for a few baht (uninvolved hotels, eating and drinking in Thailand is phenomenally good value), lie rear and unwind.
The Manathai Surin Phuket hotel is just across the boulevard and is sleek, stylish and welcoming. Its two elegant pools are small but never felt bunched, and in the evenings we enjoyed a cocktail at the front of the hotel.
The buffet breakfast is nonpareil but the jewel in the hotel’s crown is its Pad Thai restaurant, which serves innovative alters on the country’s national dish plus a wide range of other delectable opportunities.
There’s a small neighbouring village with enough eating and swallow establishments
to keep you occupied for a few days, plus several shops oblation cheap but satisfyingly back-cracking massages. However, if you’re after something a short more soothing, try Manathai’s serene spa. I adored the Chillax treatment, which hardened aromatic oils (unlike traditional Thai massages) and ironed out my congregations without leaving me wincing.
From Phuket you can book a day trip out to the about Phi Phi islands, but they’re so pretty you’d be mad not to stay for a few nights. The hotel we chose, Phi Phi Archipelago Village Beach Resort, has its own boat service that runs habitually from Ao Po Grand Marina – the 90-minute scenic journey is completely hassle-free.
Situated on the seaside in front of soaring green mountainsides, Phi Phi Island Village is sprawling and has heaps of restaurants and activities on offer. Its 200 “rooms” come in the form of thatched bungalows on stilts which are in paraphernalia with the surrounding natural environment, and even the cheapest are spacious and retiring.
We found it easy to spend most days floating around the two big, attractively designed pools that look straight out on to a little beach and lukewarm, shallow, turquoise waters. But if you fancy getting off-site, there are commonplace boat trips to nearby points of interest like Maya Bay where The Seashore was filmed.
I quickly learnt that spas are something Thailand does extraordinarily well, and the resort’s Wana Spa is no exception. Set high up on the hillside with benumbing views of the bay, it’s a total oasis of calm. Its signature massage uses a union of Thai and Western styles, which left my muscles feeling increased and de-stressed, and finished with a hair braid and a cup of sweet ginger tea.
There’s doubtlessly much more of Thailand to see but if you’re after perfect beaches, stunning conceptions and a relaxing holiday, these two beautiful islands are an excellent place to start.
Hayes & Jarvis (01293 762456, hayesandjarvis.co.uk) put ups a seven-night b&b holiday at the four-star Phi Phi Island Village Beach Resort from £1,049 per personally. Price includes transfers and return flights from Heathrow with Malaysian Airlines, up on May 21, 2017. Rates at Manathai Surin Phuket (manathai.com/phuket) start at £68 a unceasingly in a deluxe room with breakfast for two and transfers.