Suffering from the back to work blues? Then maybe it's time to start planning your next holiday – and a tropical destination can be the perfect solution, especially if you're looking to laze on a sandy white beach, soaking up the rays
While the whole world is your oyster, it can be somewhat overwhelming to choose where your next adventure will be – so we turned to holiday expert Neil Latham from luxury travel agents Destination2 to find out which are the must-visit destinations of 2017. Sharing everything from where to stay to when to go and what to do and eat, Neil shares his top three tropical paradises to visit this year…
KOH SAMUI, THAILAND
There are some outstanding islands in Thailand – if you want beautiful beaches, warm waters and wonderful hospitality, then you can go to any of them. However, there’s something about Koh Samui that’s very special. Amid the coconut plantations, friendly monkeys and meditation sanctuaries, Koh Samui has Chaweng which is the centre of the nightlife situated on the north west of the island. Street food hawkers and relaxing beach bars jostle amid taxis and lively pubs. However, if you want peace and quiet, get a ride either north or south along the coastline to check out its secluded coves and traditional Buddhist temples.
What to do: Koh Samui is small enough to circumnavigate by car or moped, and a ride around the island is well recommended. Visit the Big Buddha at Wat Phra Yai. Bophut, also known as the Fisherman’s Village, is a charming spot to wander around and grab a bite to eat. There are some heavenly "secret" beaches that are waiting to be discovered – head to Silavadee Beach and Coral Cove beach for a glimpse of paradise.
Where to stay: Koh Samui’s range of luxurious resorts is unparalleled, from the hotels like the Banyan Tree to incredible luxurious villas. However, to enjoy the authentic Thailand, we recommend sticking to the south of the island.
Where to eat: On a day-to-day basis, Koh Samui is bustling with street food vendors, offering anything from delicious pancakes to regional cuisine. For a more formal dining experience, places like Dining on the Rocks at Choeng Mon Beach and Zazen’s on Bophut Beach are highly recommended.
Mark Twain once said of this location, "You gather the idea that Mauritius was made first and then heaven was copied after Mauritius”. For us, Mauritius is the ultimate ‘switch-off’ holiday destination, taking relaxation to a new level with exceptional service, luxurious hotels and breathtaking scenery. Hotels that go one step beyond luxury surround snow-white beaches and volcanic backdrops.
Mauritius has a mixture of French, Chinese, Indian and Creole influences which inspire its cuisine, music and architecture. For such a beautiful island, it boasts some of the best value deals in the region.
What to do: There is plenty to do including horse riding, watersports, golf, spas, quad biking and astounding animal parks (check out Casela). However, a flop on the beach is what most people come for, so find a nice spot beneath a palm tree and let your mind, body and soul relax.
When to go: From May to September, the weather is warm and dry, but between October to April it is hot, humid and rainy.
Where to stay: The Grand Baie, north of the island, is the main tourist hub with a huge choice of hotels, entertainment and places to eat. The east coast boasts some high profile hotels and restaurants as well as some of the most beautiful coastlines on the island. For a family holiday, the west coast is preferred, and for a holiday to get away from it all, try the south coast, which is considered a bit wilder and more interesting.
Where to eat: Mauritius is known for its gourmet cuisine, so for a memorable dining experience, visitors are spoilt for choice. Eat under a Banyan Tree at La Chaumière Masala or enjoy a romantic night at Le Château de Bel Ombre.
It comes as no surprise that Prince Harry stopped off on this beautiful island during his royal tour of the Caribbean – named 'Helen of the West Indies' after Helen of Troy, St Lucia boasts lush rainforests and verdant valleys encircled by a white sandy coastline.
What to do: There are plenty of places in St Lucia to relax and enjoy the peace. However, for more adventurous spirits, try the world’s only drive-in volcano around the Soufrier area. Sulphur Springs is worth visiting by car, or enjoy a day in the upper canopy of the rainforests on the sky rides in Chassin. An aerial tram carries you through the inner forests of the island allowing you some spectacular views - and if you’re feeling really daring, you can zip line all the way through the trees.
When to go: Smack bang right in the middle of the Caribbean, St Lucia enjoys good weather all year long. Temperatures range from mid to high twenties. The best time of year to visit is between December and March. Between June and October, the weather is hotter and tropical storms are likely.
Where to stay: Most visitors to St Lucia find it difficult to choose whether to stay in the north or south of the island. The north is more populous and developed but has better beaches, while the south is more scenic and tranquil but the sand along the coastline is dark and volcanic. We would recommend splitting your visit in two to experience both sides!
Where to eat: For an unforgettable meal, book a table at The Cliff at Cap, where visitors sit on a cliff top location overlooking the ocean with the island of Martinique on the horizon. The Coal Pot across from the bay at Castries promises a menu of authentic French and Creole cooking and has been a St Lucian institution for fifty years.
For more information head to Destination2.co.uk