Countries with a Coastline
21st December 2018
On the coast
We’ve got sun, sea and sand in buckets and spades, but there are countless ways to enjoy the coast with a difference. Steady your balance on a surfboard in Sri Lanka, hike coastal cliffs in South Africa or take a dip to see marine life in Madagascar.
After more than a beach break? Our local partners have created coastal holiday trip ideas to help you on your way.
From white sand beaches to crooked coastlines, our blogs offer inspiration for the world's best coastal breaks.
If you're looking for something to get you in the mood before you set off on your travels to Greece, we've gathered a list of our favourite books to inspire you.
'The Odyssey' by Homer
A story of such great importance to literature also manages to conjure up a real flavour of the nation and its wealth of mythical creatures and gods.
'Captain Corelli’s Mandolin' by Louis de Bernières
Wartime in Kefalonia brings a whole host of complications to the daily lives of the brilliantly drawn characters, and before long the weaving together of romance, horror and beauty will draw you in to their world.
'Zorba the Greek' by Nikos Kazantzakis
A spirited tale of a man who grabs life with both hands and wrings every last drop of joy and doom and lust from it, in contrast to the narrator who is far more reticent. An absorbing portrait of the Crete of the 1950s.
'My Family and Other Animals' by Gerald Durrell
A light-hearted, humerous book told from the perspective of the author as a young boy, who's family leave rainy England for the Greek island of Corfu where he develops a love for the local wildlife as much as the people and the landscape. It has been recently adapted for television if you wish to indulge in some easy watching!
There are many wonderful experiences to be had on this magical island. For further inspiration take a look at the trip ideas put together by our trusted local experts, but in the meantime here are our top three things to do in Madagascar.
Commune with the Baobab trees
One of the most awesome natural wonders of the island is its avenue of ancient Baobab trees, not far from coastal Morondava. A collection of trees over 100 feet tall and up to 1,000 years old reach skyward in splendid isolation. Like a relic from a past world inhabited by giants, these impressive specimens are known as the Roots of the Sky and are best viewed at sundown or sunrise.
Play amongst the waves
Madagascar’s Indian Ocean coastline is abundant in pristine beaches, azure waters and swaying palms. The waters are home to a myriad of fish and underwater life, so snorkelling or diving is a must. Just off the east coast the magical Ile Saint Marie offers glorious beaches and sheltered waters. Between June and September humpback whales are frequently spotted, take a whale-watching trip and get up close.
Meet the Malagasy
Madagascar has been populated by waves of new arrivals over the centuries, some from East Africa, but many hailing from Indonesia and other parts of South East Asia. This has resulted in a unique melting pot of cultures with 18 distinct tribal groups. A great way to visit some of the more isolated settlements is on a journey along the Canal des Pangalanes. Take to the waters in a pirogue (motorised canoe), observing wildlife and stopping at tribal villages along the way.
While there are many well-known things to do in the Philippines, what about the lesser-known highlights? Our local experts have shared some of their top tips for where to go and what to do if you fancy a bit of an alternative island adventure.
Get a taste for the Chocolate Hills
The deliciously named Chocolate Hills are a curious phenomenon in Carmen, in the Bohol region. Verdant and grassy in the wet season they turn rich shades of brown in drier climes, thus their moreish moniker. A remarkable example of conical karst topography, the region is listed as one of the Philippines’ three National Geographical Monuments and has been nominated for UNESCO status. There are upwards of 1,260 hills (though agreed total numbers vary), with established rice fields, caves and springs to be found in between their conical peaks.
Look up Sagada’s macabre hanging coffins
Undertake an unusual cemetery tour in Sagada. Though predominantly a Roman Catholic nation today, many tribes used to populate what is now the Philippines. One of them, the Igorot tribe, had a peculiar but practical custom. In efforts to bring their dead closer to their ancestral spirits – while keeping the bodies safe from wild dogs and head-hunters – their coffins were suspended on mountain sides. View this vertical vestige of a lost custom and explore the caves nearby.
Discover the adrenaline-fuelled Philippines
Though tropical beaches and idyllic retreats abound in the Philippines, the country’s adventure menu is equally appetising. The impressive Paoay and La Paz sand dunes in Ilocos Norte can be experienced by 4X4 or all-terrain vehicle (ATV), with epic views over the undulating sand ridges back-dropped by the South China Sea. The dunes’ imposing slopes also attract extreme sports aficionados, with sand boarding and sand tobogganing a hit with happy hedonism-seekers.
There are many wonderful experiences to be had in this fascinating nation. For further inspiration take a look at the trip ideas put together by our trusted local experts, but in the meantime here are our top things to do in Mexico.
Get to know Oaxaca
Oaxaca is worth a visit for its colonial splendour alone, and wandering among the historic and charming lanes of the old town is a delight. But there is much more to this beguiling city than its looks - the artistic heritage is strong and there are plenty of galleries showcasing accomplished works both contemporary and retrospective. This is one of Mexico's primary market towns, and browsing the crafts and produce on display is a popular pastime for visitors, along with excursions to the remains of the Zapotec city of Monte Alban, a beautifully sited archaeological treasure trove hanging above the valley.
Explore the mysteries of Chichén Itzá
Mayan architecture reached its zenith at the incredible site of Chichén Itzá on the Yucatan peninsula. Once an important centre for trade complete with imposing monumental sites of worship, this is an atmospheric place where you can step back in time and learn about the lives of the Mayan people who lived here all those centuries ago. The central part of the city spreads across a large area, but the dominant buildings are the Temple of Kukulkan, named after the plumed serpent God, the Temple of the Warriors, the Tomb of Chacmool, the Caracol, the Ball Courts and the Wall of Skulls.
Discover Mexico City
Start your tour at the Zocalo, otherwise known as the Plaza de la Constitución, where the history of Mexico is eloquently represented by the layered structures around the city square. The square itself occupies the location where originally the Aztec city of Tenochtitlan stood, and the ruined Aztec Templo Major is testament to the city's pre - Hispanic incarnation. Also worth a visit are the Metropolitan Cathedral and the National Palace, the latter home to many of Diego Rivera's finest works. The historic colonial quarter, the fantastic Museum of Archeology and the Frida Kahlo museum are other highlights.
Have a taste of Mexico
From the 'intangible cultural heritage' that UNESCO has awarded the food culture of Oaxaca to the inimitable taco stalls and mezcal bars found nationwide, Mexican food is distinctive, delicious and devilishly addictive. The fresh and vibrant flavours vary from region to region, so you'll never run out of new dishes to try. Puebla is the unofficial foodie capital of Mexico, and should feature alongside Mexico City and Oaxaca on any gastronomic tour. Learn the secrets of carnes asadas, tamales, fried grasshoppers… and so much more.
"It was everything we wanted, and more!"
Carol (USA) in Panama
"We had a fantastic time visiting five different islands in this beautiful country"
Stephanie (UK) in Philippines
"Friendly people, great food and stunning scenery"
Sue (UK) in Sri Lanka