travel

Mauritius

Mention the word Mauritius and instantly you think of white sand and blue sea. Head to Belle Mare on the East coast of the island and that is exactly what you will find. A perfect place if you want some time to eat, drink and relax. 


  • Currency: Mauritian rupee
  • Local time: GMT +4
  • Language: English, French, Mauritian Creole

Resort: Belle Mare

Belle Mare beach is arguably one of the best on the island. Situated on the East Coast, there is a gentle breeze all year round meaning even on sweltering days it never feels too hot. There are several upmarket resorts to choose from, as well as several more catering to those on a slightly more restricted budget. What I loved about this area though was that walking along the beach, it never felt crowded or busy, or like too many hotels had been crammed in. It was always calm, always peaceful.

At around an hours drive from Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International airport, it is worth booking a transfer in advance so that you have someone to greet you in arrivals and whisk you away to your hotel.


Hotel: Emeraude Beach Attitude

We booked to stay at the Emeraude Beach Attitude hotel as part of a package with British Airways and could not fault the hotel. It is a small, adults only set up and the staff were friendly and attentive throughout our stay. The moment we arrived (after 16 hours of travelling door to door) we were warmly greeted and offered a cold drink and lunch before being checked in, which was hugely appreciated.

Rooms: The rooms were clean, comfortable and spacious, and mere steps from the swimming pool. With daily maid service and refreshing of towels, plus an inclusive mini-bar we were left wanting for nothing.

The air conditioning was also highly effective (and much needed in 36 degree heat)!

Food: All inclusive hotels can often be hit and miss with their food, but I can honestly say we never had a bad meal here. As the resort is small (just 61 rooms) the food is cooked in small batches and is constantly being cooked/topped up, meaning everything was super fresh and piping hot.

  • The breakfast options were plentiful and always in buffet style (with a chef station for excellent fresh omelettes).
  • Lunch could be had from either the buffet restaurant, which always had fresh salad plus several hot and cold options each day, varying from both Western and local cuisine. Taba-J, the Mauritian street food cart on site was an excellent choice for lunch also (or a mid-afternoon snack!), and if eating here, I particularly recommend the chicken roti!
  • Dinner comes with three options: A buffet meal with self service, à la carte with a set menu at the main restaurant (on rotation basis, roughly every other night) or a special meal at Kot Nou – the hotels signature restaurant. You can dine here with your feet in the sand and traditional food brought to you by smiling waiters.

Bar: The bar area is situated between the pool area and the main restaurant, and is open from 11am daily. Serving everything from cold soft drinks and iced coffees through to local wine & spirits and excellent cocktails, you’ll never go thirsty here! The all inclusive package really came into it’s own here as pretty much everything on the menu (bar imported spirits) was included!


Do: Boat trip, water sports, day trip to Port Louis

Although the main aim of most peoples trips to Mauritius is to relax, for those wanting to venture out of their hotel, there are lots of options for those who wish to be a little more energetic.

Our package with Emeraude Beach Attitude hotel included a glass bottom boat trip out to the coral reef, which was an excellent way of exploring the local marine life. There was also the chance to snorkel in the clear waters part way through the trip, and snorkels were provided.

Still on the water theme, there are many watersports options that can be booked on Belle Mare beach. From waterskiing to parasailing, paddleboarding to  kitesurfing, the prices were reasonable and the activities ran daily.

If you’re wanting to explore a different part of the island then consider a day trip to Port Louis, the capital of Mauritius. It is around an hour each way in the car, and taxis can be arranged by the hotel reception for those wishing to take the trip.

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Zante

Zante is well known for its stunning beaches and it’s turtles, and there are plenty of options to discover both on this island. With all but guaranteed sunshine and warm temperatures from May-September, plus loads of gorgeous beaches, this island is an ideal summer getaway.


  • Currency: Euro
  • Local time: GMT +2
  • Language: Greek

Resort: Alykes

Alykes is a lovely resort on the East coast of Zante with a long sandy beach and plenty of tavernas and bars to keep you occupied in the evenings. The sea isn’t tidal here, so stays at the same level on the beach all day. The water is totally clear and shallow a fair way out so it’s perfect for swimming.

There are plenty of beach bars and tavernas along the shore, offering drinks and ice cream in the day and relaxing evening meals at night. Buca Lounge Bar was a particular favourite – their ice cream selection was the best we found, and they had an extensive cocktail list.

There are plenty of options for trips from the town if you fancy a day out – We did a turtle cruise for €25 each, including a coach transfer to the South of the island and then three hours on a boat. Plenty of time for turtle spotting plus a couple of swim stops in crystal clear bays.


Hotel: Potamitis Studios

We booked the Potamitis Studios through TUI and had an excellent stay. The family run apartments are spotlessly clean, have a lovely pool area with plenty of loungers and there is a weekly Greek night that is not to be missed! They are in a great location, just a 10 minute stroll from the beach and all of the bars/tavernas in Alykes town.

The food at Potamitis is great, and if you choose to you have the option of breakfast, lunch and dinner here. Plus, the pool bar stays open late so you can have a drink after dinner with some of the new friends you’ve made (and trust us, you will – it’s super friendly here!).

Note that air conditioning is an extra €50 when you check in, but that’s quite common with Greece, and it was very much needed in the 34 degree heat!


Restaurants: Fidelio, Fishalida, Anatolikos, Koukounari

There is an impressive selection of tavernas in Alykes, and we were really spoilt for choice on where to eat.

For restaurants right on the beach, head to either Fishalida (excellent fresh fish, although lots of options if you’re not a fish fan too) or Anatolikos. The latter was described to us as ‘like something straight out of Shirley Valentine’ and that was so accurate! Cute chequered table cloths on tables right by the beach. Both have perfect settings for a meal as the sun goes down.

We ate at Koukounaria one evening which had a lovely outdoor terrace and an extensive list of home cooked traditional Greek dishes. Particularly recommend the beef stifado here. It was also recommended to book here as it gets very busy around 8pm.

Fidelio was another favourite, serving lots of Greek dishes with particularly good side salads with most dishes. The local wine here was also very good, and crazily cheap at €7 a litre!

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Rhodes

The island of Rhodes is the largest of the Greek Dodecanese islands, and has something to offer everyone. Whether it’s a quiet beach town you’re looking for, or a resort full of bars and clubs, Rhodes is the place to go for a Greek summer holiday that will keep everyone happy.


  • Currency: Euro
  • Local time: GMT +2
  • Language: Greek

Resort: Pefkos

If you’re after a sleepy Greek resort with plenty of tavernas and bars but the distinct lack of a club 18-30 feel, then Pefkos is for you. It’s quite a drive from the airport (about an hour and a half) but is totally worth the journey – Once you arrive, you’ll realise you’ve stumbled upon a gem. The stretch of sand is soft and clean, and the sea is a vibrant blue. Trips into Lindos can be taken by boat from the beach, and there are plenty of waterspouts on offer too.

In the evenings, things tend to revolve around the Main Street, where restaurants serve up traditional Greek dishes and cocktail bars tempt you in with sunset views and extensive drinks lists.


Hotel: Pefki Island Resort

Hotels in Pefkos are plentiful, and it was difficult deciding between them. We chose Pefki Island Resort, which is made up of studios and apartments housed in low level buildings scattered around the water. It sits on a shared site with two other hotels; Island Blue and Lindia Thalassa, and their facilities are also available to Pefki Island guests, which means in total the resort boasts 5 swimming pools!

Steps at the edge of the hotel will take you straight onto the narrow sandy beach, complete with loungers and parasols for those who like to relax by the sea. A walk along this sand will take you past some lovely beach side bars, perfect for an afternoon drink or to visit in time for sunset.

A fun, friendly hotel with great swimming pools and private access to the beach – What more could you want for a week in the sun?!


Restaurants: Philosophia Beach Restaurant, Spitaki Taverna

The choice of restaurants for dinner in Pefkos is excellent, especially considering the small size of the resort. There is one main road that contains majority of the dining options, however, there are a few situated a little further out, but that are definitely worth the walk! One of these is Philosophia Beach Restaurant, a few minutes walk from the main road and as the name suggest, overlooking the beach! (It’s also located very close to Pefki Island Resort). The welcome is warm, the views are amazing and the food is exceptional quality. This is not one to be missed!

A personal favourite on the main road of restaurants is Spitaki Taverna. Set in beautiful gardens with authentic Greek charm, the menu features all of the traditional Greek dishes you would expect, with emphasis on grilled meat. If you’re lucky, you’ll even get a visit from a local cat or two while you wait for your food!

Other restaurants of note are: Ella, Enigma, Coralli and Taverna Nikolas.

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Crete

The largest of the Greek islands, Crete has many areas popular with holidaymakers, offering everything from sleepy mountain villages to coastal resorts with fine sand beaches. The best bit? Endless blue skies and temperatures that sit around 30 degrees all summer! 


  • Currency: Euro
  • Local time: GMT +2
  • Language: Greek

Resort: Agios Nikolaos

Agios Nikolaos is one of the most popular resorts in Crete, and with good reason. The focus of this picturesque town is undoubtably the lake, which is lined with tavernas and bars with people spilling out onto the pavements, happily soaking up the afternoon sun.


Hotel: Wyndham Grand Crete Mirabello Bay

The Wyndham Grand Crete Mirabello Bay is a 5* hotel offering one of the best All Inclusive deals in the area.

The food here was excellent, and well above usual standards of an all inclusive. I stayed for a week and never ate the same meal twice! Breakfast is served buffet style, and can get quite busy, but it’s so lovely to be able to take your food out onto the terrace and eat overlooking the sea. Lunch options are plentiful, ranging from snacks at the poolside bar, a daily buffet in the main restaurant or an a la carte menu at Elia restaurant (I particularly recommend the salads here!). Dinner is again offered buffet style, but each guest also gets a visit to each of the a la carte restaurants on site (one Greek, one Italian) during their stay.

As expected of an all inclusive, drinks are available pretty much any time, and the cocktail list here is extensive. There is a lovely rooftop bar offering gorgeous views of the bay and I highly recommend leaving some time before dinner to stop by here and watch the sun go down with a glass of wine. As for after dinner, head down to the beach, where the bar stays open late and often offers evening entertainment too.


Restaurants: Patriko

Even if you’re staying at an all inclusive, sometimes you want to venture out of resort and try the local restaurants. There are plenty of restaurants to choose from in Agios Nikolaos, most situated by the water, although there are also several within easy walking distance of Mirabello Beach.

Located a pleasant 15 minute stroll from Mirabello Beach is Patriko, and I cannot recommend the food here highly enough. We went for a mixed souvlaki skewer, which was served with pitta break, tzatsiki and fries, and the quality and taste was exceptional.

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Majorca

Majorca enjoys a Mediterranean climate, meaning whichever month you visit, it will never be cold! The warmest months to visit are May-September, when the days are long and you’re all but guaranteed sunshine.


  • Currency: Euro
  • Local time: GMT +1
  • Language: Spanish

Resort: Port de Pollença

Situated in the Northern part of the island, Port de Pollença is on the coast with a long sandy beach. It’s a lively resort, with plenty of sunbeds on the beach and extensive watersports options. There are also plenty of bars, restaurants and clubs to keep you entertained in the evening, and all are within walking distance of the beach, so you won’t have far to travel!

Pollença Old Town is situated a few miles inland, and is a great area to visit in the evenings for small trattorias dotted along cobbled streets. With a more relaxed vibe to Port de Pollença, come here for a candlelit dinner or a chilled glass of white wine in a quaint square.


Stay: Villa Can Serra

We booked a 4 bedroom villa with a private pool – Villa Can Serra – through airbnb, and it was excellent. The pool was large and clean, and the villa had a rooftop ‘chill out’ area above the pool house which was lovely for evening drinks.

Located just a short drive from both the beach and Pollença Old Town, it was a great location as we could get taxis into town easily for a night out if we wished. There was also a large supermarket a short drive away and the villa had all the utensils needed for a self catering trip, including a BBQ outdoors.


Do: Mountain trip, Sóller, Fornalutx

One of the best ways to see the island is to hire a car. Jump in and drive up into the mountains for breathtaking views into the valleys below. There are plenty of view points to stop at along the many mountain paths, so don’t forget to take your camera!

If you’re driving from Pollença like we were, head through the mountains to Fornalutx, a quaint village set in the mountains and high above the town of Sóller. A picturesque and charming village that offers a look into everyday life for locals who live on the island. Stop and have a wander around the small streets and soak up the atmosphere, before driving down into the Sóller valley. Here, you’ll find a marina lined with plenty of bars and restaurants to stop off at for lunch, and a lovely beach. There are also trams that run through the town and are a great chance to take in the views from a different perspective.

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Zanzibar

Whether you’re transferring after an action packed safari or heading straight to the island for some serious down time, Zanzibar is an excellent destination when your number one aim is to relax on soft white sand with the crystal clear Indian Ocean lapping at your feet. 


  • Currency: Tanzanian Shilling
  • Local time: GMT +3
  • Language: Swahili, Arabic, English

Resort: Bwejuu

Bwejuu Beach has been voted in the top 30 beaches in the world, and is located on the South East coast of the island. This part of Zanzibar is one of the most unspoilt, offering pristine white sand and stunning azure waters, with many untouched coral reefs that can be ventured out to. The transfer time from the airport is around an hour, and I recommend pre-booking a private, air-conditioned car, as arriving at this airport can be fairly overwhelming in terms of the amount of people outside arrivals; many of whom are waiting to offer you a ‘taxi’.


Hotel: Breezes Beach Club

I stayed at Breezes Beach Club & Spa for 5 nights, and wow do I wish it could have been longer! Time seemed to stand still here – my only concerns were which cocktail to choose from the menu and whether to sunbathe by the swimming pool or take a stroll along the gorgeous beach.

The food options on site were brilliant – think themed nights and a la carte meals – and I highly recommend that when booking you choose the Full Board option, as it works out most economical come check out.

With four dining locations, three bars and a chai tea room serving afternoon tea daily, plus shops, a scuba diving centre and a Frangipani spa, this hotel has everything you need for a relaxing break without ever having to leave resort!


Do: Stone Town

I highly recommend visiting Stone Town, the capital of Zanzibar while you’re on the island. Whether you choose to stay a night or two before transferring to your chosen beach resort (Stone Town is on the coast, but the luxury resorts are on the other side of the island and the beaches are cleaner and more relaxing there too) or take a day trip from your hotel, you don’t want to miss out on Stone Town.

With its winding streets and alleyways, I almost guarantee that you will get lost at some point in Stone Town, but the locals were very friendly and more than happy to point you in the right direction. A helpful tip I found was to be guided back to the waterfront, as finding our hotel (we stayed at Zanzibar Palace for one night and I highly recommend it!) was very easy from this point.

If you have time, book onto a walking tour of Stone Town, as nobody can show you the city better than a local guide! We got to look around the former slave market, which was a fascinating looking into the darker history of the city, as well as visiting Darajani Market, which I warn you now, is not for those with a delicate stomach or sense of smell. With lots of raw meat and fish, it’s an attack on the senses, but a really interesting look at the daily life of residents of the city.

Make sure you set aside some time to visit Memories gift store to get those all important souvenirs and gifts to take home. We found that once we got to our beach resort, the opportunity to buy gifts was next to zero, so we were very glad we’d picked up what we wanted in Memories.

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Bali

With gorgeous beaches, famous rice paddies and a uniquely spiritual culture, this Indonesian island offers a diverse trip that will guarantee you leave feeling you’ve had a true taste of paradise.


  • Currency: Indonesian rupiah
  • Local time: GMT +8
  • Language: Indonesian

Seminyak:

I started my trip in Seminyak; a coastal resort near the infamous Kuta. Much more laid back and glamorous than its neighbour, the beaches here were golden and the water lovely and warm.

Alila is a luxury boutique hotel brand, and the properties they own in Bali are guaranteed to make your trip one to remember. The first hotel on my trip was Alila Seminyak; an unapologetically luxury resort with three infinity pools, a beach front location, an amazing on site spa and a traditional temple in the grounds to top it all off. The restaurant is also incredible. I highly recommend ensuring your stay here includes a Sunday, as their Sunday Graze brunch sessions (12-4pm every Sunday) are out of this world. Think all-you-can-eat pastries, main courses and desserts with the option of adding free-flowing drinks to the package too!


Ubud:

Moving away from the beach, I headed to Ubud and checked into Alila Ubud, a secluded hilltop retreat boasting undoubtably the best infinity pool I have ever seen. Located 15 minutes from the centre of Ubud, this is the perfect base for exploring all that the town has to offer, whilst maintaining the tranquil feel of a relaxing break.

The hotel offers a number of activities, including an excellent cookery class. We were taken early morning to the market in Ubud to select our fresh local ingredients, then made our way back to the resort where we learnt to make a number of local dishes with an experienced chef. A lovely afternoon activity!

Another highlight of this hotel is the resident monkey tribe. They will greet you outside your door each morning, scamper around the pool while you’re sunbathing, and most certainly make an appearance each afternoon when the daily afternoon tea is served!

Ubud itself is worth taking a couple of days to explore. With hidden markets and cute garden bars, its a lovely place to stroll around and soak up the culture and atmosphere. There are also lots of local temples that can be visited during your time here, and the hotel are able to organise a private tour should you wish.


Tabanan:

The last stop for me in Bali was at Villa Soori, and let me tell you, I thought I had experienced luxury at the last two places. This place is next level luxury. With private one bedroom villas, each complete with their own swimming pool, a personal butler and 24hr room service, there is no need to lift a finger here.

The dining areas here are all about alfresco dining, and most tables offer view of the ocean. Offering varied menus, you’re guaranteed to find a dish you love, and the heavy emphasis on Indonesian cuisine at Cotta restaurant will allow you to sample local dishes with a Balinese focus.

The beaches here are volcanic sand, giving a unique black colouring to them. Walking along in the early mornings looking for shells washed up was great fun, and they showed up clearly, shining in the sunlight on the dark sand below them.