There’s nothing that beats sipping a cocktail as you sit on a golden beach and look out at a dazzlingly blue ocean, particularly as the winter sets in at home. Jet off with us and find out what some of our favourite sun-drenched islands, from the Caribbean to the Canaries, have to offer.
Tenerife, The Canary Islands
You might think you already know Tenerife: it’s the buzzing island that draws party goers a-plenty, pulls the perfect pint and cooks a mean fry-up the next morning. Put aside your preconceptions, though, as it’s also home to the majestic Mount Teide, ancient colonial towns like La Orotava and the mysterious pyramids at Güímar.
The island really does have something for everyone. Walk along the coast and take in its lunar landscape of massive cacti, volcanic craters and agave trees. Bask in the sun with the lizards or go for a refreshing dip on the beach at Los Cristianos. Stroll along the chic San Miguel Marina and toast a glorious sunset with a locally brewed Dorada beer at the cool lighthouse bar.
Tahiti, French Polynesia
‘Tahiti’. Who knew that one word could transport you instantly to a paradise of gently lapping aquamarine waters, brightly blossoming tiare flowers and softly swaying traditional grass skirts? Just add scenes of towering waterfalls, crystal brooks and bottomless valleys glittering in green-tinged light and you’re there.
If your daydreaming becomes reality, head to Le Marché in Papeete: the colourful market stalls offer you everything traditionally Tahitian from monoi oil to vanilla beans. Treat yourself at the nearby Robert Wan Pearl Museum and admire the world’s most lovely cultured gems. Dip into Mara’a Grotto if you’re on the west coast where the caverns are dramatic, the water’s enticing and the ferns are abundant.
Santo Antão, Cape Verde
Set sail for the gorgeous Cape Verde islands. You’ll think the archipelago was named ironically as your ferry nears striking Santo Antão: surely there’s nothing verde (green) about this inhospitable terrain? Navigate to the north east, though, and you’ll find lushly flourishing exotic flora in the valleys and pine forests on the hilltops.
See the countryside for yourself on a great hiking trip from Porto Novo to Ribeira Grande where you’ll stroll from the harbour through eucalyptus groves to the luxuriant crater of Covo do Paul. Don’t look down as you descend – the tight bends drop 600m on either your side so you’ll soon be clinging to them as tightly as the little farms, villages and terraces.
Grenada, The Caribbean
Spice up your travels with a trip to the sizzling Spice Isle. You can literally smell the nutmeg in the air here – and if variety’s the spice of your life, then you should know that abundant cinnamon, cloves and ginger all grow locally too. Unsurprisingly, local dishes like the famous pepper pot are as zingy as the calypso tunes that season the island.
Follow the scent to Gouyave and tour the Nutmeg Processing Co-operative to get a sense of the island’s heritage. Any volunteers to taste the delicious chocolate at the Belmont Estate’s working plantation? You can also jump into the Underwater Sculpture Park’s collection – it features 65 modern statues fastened to a sea-floor gallery.