Exploring South Africa's beautiful Garden Route
27th May 2022
Whether it’s relaxing on the warm sand, hiking along wild cliff edges, or snorkelling amongst impressive marine wildlife, many people’s dream holiday includes a coastline. To save you time in picking which destinations to visit we’ve gathered together our top five coastal destinations for you to explore, including a range of different landscapes and activities.
Surrounded by approximately 5,000km of pristine coastline Madagascar is home to numerous paradise beaches including opulent resorts, remote inlets and picturesque shores. This African island is the perfect destination for those looking for a little bit of luxury with their beach holiday, with many eco-lodges and high-end hotels backing straight on to the soft, white sand of the country’s shoreline.
Spend your days relaxing atop a sun lounger reading a good book, or snoozing in the midday heat. Madagascar also offers a range of more adventurous activities, such as snorkelling or diving in Diego Suarez and even kite or windsurfing in Anakao, making it the perfect destination for those who want the best of a relaxing holiday with the option for a more adventurous schedule. If you’re a particular lover of wildlife then be sure to time your visit with the return of the country’s humpback whales from July to September. Best spotted on a boat trip off the coast of Île Sainte Marie these creatures return to the seas around the island to breed, and are known to perform magnificent acrobatic displays in the water as a means of courting.
Nestled amongst the narrow strip of Central American countries, Panama is a must-visit coastal destination for those interested in wildlife conservation. Head to the tropical shores of Isla Cañas, located off the country’s western coast, to observe the nesting of thousands of sea turtles who return every year and to learn about the admirable conservation efforts which go into ensuring the survival of these peaceful creatures. This spectacular display occurs between July and November, and in the later months of this period it is often possible to see the arrival of countless tiny turtles as they make the long pilgrimage towards the sea.
Made up of over 7,000 islands, the Philippines is the ultimate destination for hopping from one islet to another in search of the most perfect stretches of coastline. Start in El Nido Bay, consistently voted one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, and snorkel amongst the cerulean waters or kayak around the towering limestone outcrops which frame the beach.
Alternatively, explore the coves of Coron Island. What these pools lack in the form actual beaches to relax on they make up for in beauty, and there are numerous wooden jetties for you to leave your belongings on as you dive into the crystal clear waters of the lagoon.
If tropical, paradise beaches aren’t your cup of tea, then head to the wild coastline of South Africa - the ideal coastal holiday for those who prefer walking or wildlife spotting as opposed to sunbathing. Begin your trip in the convivial capital of Cape Town and head east from there along the striking Garden Route. Spanning over 200 kilometres, this region encompasses several national parks, safari opportunities and numerous sunny, coastal towns.
If hiking along rugged cliffs sounds like an ideal day to you then head for the St. Blaize trail, a 13km journey which runs parallel to the cliff edge from Punt to Mossel Bay. Listen to the sounds of the Indian Ocean crashing below you as you keep your eyes peeled for breaching whales or soaring buzzards overhead. Alternatively, if you’re on the lookout for land mammals then be sure to visit the Addo Elephant National Park, where it is possible to see elephants, rhinos, lions and leopards just a stone's throw from the South African coast.
Colonial forts, sun-baked beaches and epic surfing - Sri Lanka’s coastline is as varied as it is heavenly. No matter what you want from your coastal holiday this humbly-sized island can most likely provide it. If you’re a keen surfer then there are numerous spots around the nation’s periphery which cannot be missed, including the neighbouring Weligama and Mirissa beaches in the south and Arugam Bay in the east. Be aware that the surf seasons vary massively in Sri Lanka depending on which side of the island you’re on - the beaches in the west and the south of the island are best visited from October through to April, whereas the beaches in the east and the north are best visited from April through to October.
If surfing is a little too adventurous for your tastes, then make the most of the amazing snorkelling found throughout the country’s coastline. Trincomalee, in the nation’s northeast, is particularly special with the opportunity to swim with reef sharks as you explore the stunning coral in the surrounding sea.
Make it happen
If you’re yearning for a coastal getaway in any of the countries mentioned, then be sure to follow the links dotted throughout this article to be redirected to one of our many sample itineraries. They can provide you with a bit of inspiration before you contact one of our many local operators, who can plan you a bespoke coastal itinerary of a lifetime. If you would like to speak to someone in the TravelLocal office please call +44 (0)117 325 7898.