Prolong the summer indefinitely by choosing your tropical beach among coconut palms, blue waters and white sands. Here are the postcard-perfect landscapes and land paradises to retreat to in order to escape from stress, snow or simply to appreciate their unspoilt beauty.
Dream islands in Brazil: Fernando de Noronha
This sparsely populated archipelago off the north-east coast of Brazil is a popular destination for scuba diving enthusiasts with dolphins, shipwrecks and psychedelic corals. These tropical islands are home to the largest colony of water birds in the Western Atlantic, which will leave birdwatchers speechless.
You won’t find much infrastructure here; these tropical beaches have hardly changed in the last 500 years. The Portuguese ruins scattered here and there are the only vestiges of a distant past.
The tropical sea of Atiu, Cook Islands
Atiu boasts all the typical prerogatives of a tropical island: deserted beaches, cobalt blue waters and whiter-than-white sands. But here you will also find a group of limestone caves hidden in a dense jungle on the ring of fossilised, raised corals that surrounds the island. Some of the caves were burial sites, so there are human bones, but don’t worry: Atiu’s fierce and warlike past is long gone. Today, this island, with its rich variety of flora and fauna, is an ecotourism destination.
Exotic islands and where to find them: Rangiroa, French Polynesia
Rangiroa (the largest atoll of the Tuamotu) is as remote and relaxing an island as one could imagine. Many come here to scuba dive, but what’s wrong with spending your days lounging on the beach sipping cocktails? You will feel as if you are in infinity – after all, ‘Rangiroa’ means ‘wide sky’.
If possible, visit the island during the Moorea Tere Fa’ati festival, with its programme of music, dancing and the sweet sounds of the ukulele.
The Kuna Yala Archipelago, Panama
Start a search engine, type ‘tropical paradise’ and a picture of the Kuna Yala archipelago will most likely appear. These small islands (also known as San Blas Islands) are part of a semi-autonomous territory of the Kuna people that boasts palm trees, beautiful beaches, thatched huts and timeless charm. Large tourist infrastructures have failed to set foot on these lands protected by the Kuna people and laws that protect the environment. So you will find neither hideous hotels spoiling the view nor hordes of tourists spoiling the atmosphere, but only uninhabited islands to explore.
Discover Cape Tribulation, Australia
A World Heritage Site, this region of Queensland, known for its biodiversity, is worth a visit for several reasons: stunning beaches, ancient rainforest, areal reefs, abundant wildlife, rocky outcrops, mangrove swamps and a backdrop of rugged mountains. And then the Great Barrier Reef, a 40-minute boat ride away. Undoubtedly a unique spot.
Indonesia’s most beautiful tropical islands: the Gili
This group of three islands, north-west of Lombok, has all the ingredients for a perfect holiday: coral reefs, extraordinary beaches, and blue waters ideal for fishing and snorkelling. According to legend, a magic ring surrounding the islands prevents people from leaving. Try it to believe it. You may be able to overcome the magic power of the ring, but it will be hard to resist the tuna steaks, local beer and total lack of any kind of motor vehicle.
Hop in a canoe and reach Gili Air (the closest to the mainland) from the village of Perinenang; rent a bike to explore these islands.
Explore Lalomanu in Samoa
The South Pacific is the realm of sea, sand and sun. Samoa, with Lalomanu beach on the island of Upolu, is undoubtedly the perfect site for swimming and snorkelling. From the beach, you can admire the uninhabited island of Namua.
For a truly authentic tropical experience, stay overnight in one of the beach huts (fale). A paradisiacal reality designed for exhausted Westerners? Perhaps, but the locals would have something to say about that. Lalomanu is what it is and there are no words to describe its sunsets, they simply have to be seen.
Wonders of Colombia, San Andrés and Providencia
If your deepest passion is tropical Caribbean paradises, then you must set a course for this little-known Eden, with the baggage of a stormy past dominated by the British, Jamaicans and pirates.
There is a Rastafarian atmosphere in these parts and we imagine there is no need to explain to you what we are talking about. On the other hand, we will tell you that the splendid carousel of beaches, bays and caves coexists with indigenous architecture, reggae music, rivers of rum and cocktails creating a sensual atmosphere.
A visit to the perfect little island of Johnny Cay is a must; boats leave from the pier near the Decameron Aquarium.
There is no doubt about it: in Tulum, on the Yucatán peninsula in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, there is one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Seven kilometres of fine sand, perfect green and turquoise waters and the famous, spartan cabañas. Not enough for you? Damn, some people are just hard to please! Then you should know that the magnificent coastline of Tulum is home to an extraordinary jewel: the ruins of a 6th century fortified Mayan city (tulum means ‘walls’ in Mayan). There is probably no beach in the world with such a majestic setting. Rent a cheap cabaña on the beach; to reach the ruins head south along the beach.
This archipelago of 10 volcanic islands off the coast of Senegal is a strange blend of West African rhythms and Portuguese colonialism. Unfortunately, today Cape Verde is succumbing to tourism. Undoubtedly this archipelago, with its unspoilt coastline and deserted beaches, has considerable potential, but one should not forget that it is home to a fragile ecosystem where many unique endemic animal species live.