For dreamy island hopping: Siargao, Philippines
Surfers first came to Siargao after hearing rumours of a perfect wave. In fact, the now-legendary Cloud 9 break was so perfect that many stayed and set up a few laid-back beach bars. The après-surf ante has been well and truly upped by the arrival of the Dedon Island Resort. Its overwater pavilions make great cocktail spots.
For snorkeling and sights: Key West, Florida
The southern-most island on Florida’s archipelago, Key West is a bijou beauty. The town itself is a melting pot of culture and history, but secluded beaches and snorkeling spots are only a short drive up the Keys’ iconic Overseas Highway. Known as one of the most liberal Floridian spots, Key West was famously home to Ernest Hemingway. Stay at Dolphin House, which is just 600 metres from his former residence. That should inspire some holiday reading.
For history buffs: Essaouira, Morocco
Essaouira means ‘the little rampart’, a nod to the fortress walls that date from the 1700s and still enclose part of the city. Beyond the wall, the city’s extra-wide beach is dotted with kite-surfing places, thanks to its prime position on the breezy Atlantic coast. The Villa Maroc is in the old town between beach and the city’s winding souks, a white-washed riad full of Moroccan flavour.
For castaways: Hanalei, Kauai
The Hawaiian island of Hanalei has been the backdrop to many a silver-screen production over the years. It’s easy to understand why when you see its golden crescent of beach, set against jungled mountains. The Wyndham Bali Hai is the last great hotel before the main road runs out – from here on it’s shady trails and hidden beaches.
For sand and city: Perth, Australia
With its art galleries, chic shopping streets and nearby vineyards, it’s easy to forget that Perth has world-class beaches, too. Order a sundowner in the Art Deco teahouse on Cottesloe beach – this is known as the friendliest stretch of sand in Western Australia. The Sage Hotel is convenient for everything and, with its striking black-and-white tower, easy to spot on the skyline.
For diving and lounging: Havelock Island, Andaman & Nicobar, India
There’s an exodus from the mangrove-fringed beaches of Havelock Island each morning. Divers set off for the underwater playgrounds of the Andaman Islands. They return with pictures of multicoloured coral gardens, shy hawksbill turtles and friendly manta rays. This means sun-worshippers have Ganganagar Beach – one of Asia’s best – to themselves. Make your base a thatched villa, nestled under palms, in the Sea Shell Havelock.
For wild times: Bazaruto Archipelago, Mozambique
At low tide, gleaming honey-coloured sandbars appear out of the turquoise Vilanculos waters. Enterprising travellers paddle out for picnics on these most private of beaches. Back on dry land you’re surrounded by a world of wildlife. Think elephants, cheetahs, rhinos and around 200 species of bird. And there’s no better view than from the Bahia Mar Boutique Hotel’s infinity pool.
For romantic escapes: Ko Lipe, Thailand
This is not the Thailand of banging Full Moon parties. The pace here is slower, made for peaceful moments of wonder at the jungle-clad hills. So if you just want to leave a trail of footprints in pristine white sand then you’ll love Ko Lipe. Explore uninhabited nearby islands, dive the crystal waters, or soak it all up from a shady hammock at Castaway Resort, an intimate retreat right on the beach.