It’s hard to resist the siren song of coastal holidays. The salty sea air, the cool beachside towns, the serene sandy beaches complete with swaying palms and sun dappled surf. And with so many beachy breaks to choose from, it can be a task to knowing where to start. Do you eat and gossip your way down the cobble-stoned streets of Italy? Or snorkel through a coral maze in the crystal waters of Australia? We’ve picked out some of our favourite coastal holidays that will satisfy your sunny taste no matter the flavour of your craving.
Sorrento is a love affair that never dies. Waxy lemons seem to bleed out bottles of limoncello, and hang heavy on the trees above your head as you feast on local gnocchi alla Sorrentina in alfresco restaurants. A web of cobblestoned streets leads you to the heart of the city – Sorrento's Old Town, where there’s a buzz of activity coming from the many restaurants, cafés and boutiques. And beyond this, the town is flanked by several pebble, sand and stone beaches, including the beautiful Bay of Ieranto which is immortalised in Greek mythology as the place where Ulysses encounters the sirens. With buses operating between the neighbouring cities of Positano, Ravella and Amalfi, there’s no shortage of Italian beauty to soak up as you wander beneath the sun, making this one of our favourite coastal holidays.
Rio de Janeiro is a hive of colour and culture, a city whose pulse beats along to the rhythm of Brazil’s iconic samba and bossa nova. The commonly touted ‘city of contrast’ holds truth, with imposing mountains bordering the sprawl of urban life, melting into the world-famous Copacabana Beach. Stretching two-and-a-half miles, the white sands attract sun-kissed visitors and locals alike, offering more than just relaxation – events are hosted here throughout the year, ending with a colourful bang at the new year's fireworks. Pulling yourself away from the turquoise waters may be a task, but you’ll soon be rewarded with the likes of Feira Livre da Gloria Sunday morning market, Christ the Redeemer statue and artsy districts like Santa Teresa. What are you waiting for? Plunge into Rio de Janeiro’s vibrant world and see what the samba-fuelled hype is about for yourself.
Whether you’re looking for adventure, relaxation, or a perfect blend of both, Port Douglas is eager to please. It’s a tropical haven wedged between the Great Barrier Reef and Daintree Rainforest, radiating a soul of style and sophistication. Lazily work your way through the shops on Macrossan Street, or saunter down the length of Four Mile Beach with a cocktail in hand. You’ll have no trouble kicking back in the evenings, as Port Douglas is home to some of the most luxurious hotels in Queensland. Taking a 15-minute boat ride will bring you to the Great Barrier Reef, where a whole new world explodes beneath the waters – flashes of colourful coral and exotic fish come into focus as you dive or snorkel with an expert guide to show you what’s what. Venturing into the balmy climate of the Daintree Rainforest – at 135 million years old, it’s the oldest in the world – is another must-do, with river cruises and waterfalls to satisfy your adventurous side.
If you’re looking for the textbook definition of a coastal paradise, look no further than the quaint island of Zanzibar off the coast of East Africa. It's hard to conjure up a more delightful image than lying on the silky soft sands that melt into azure waters. The island is laced with a rich cultural history, and beaches such as Matemwe and Nungwi give glimpses into both traditional and contemporary life, with dhow builders crafting their traditional vessels against a candy floss sky. Stone Town draws you into the rhythm of the island, where the local men, women and children dance their way through daily life, feasting on sizzling skewers of grilled octopus and jumping from the seawall into the waters below. Indulge further by activating your senses on a spice tour, tasting and smelling Zanzibar’s irresistible cinnamon, lemongrass, nutmeg and vanilla. Zanzibar is a kaleidoscope of beauty not to be missed and a worthy addition to the list of our favourite coastal holidays.
Last up on our list of our favourite coastal holidays is Nice. This seaside city isn’t just ‘nice’ – it’s positively radiant. Perched delicately on the coastline, Nice is a glimmering gateway to the Côte d'Azur. While being a touch more laid back than the neighbouring ritzy cities of Cannes and Antibes, Nice by no means lacks in its own delectable delights. The Old Town offers mountains of the Franco-Italian inspired cuisine, that trades butter for olive oil and leans into baked peppers and courgettes that ooze colour and flavour. Winding streets in this district are free from cars and are instead teeming with historical buildings and ruins, catapulting you back in time to land feet first on the coastline, gawping up at Castle Hill. This historical triumph contains remains of a fortress, and the hike to the top rewards you with postcard perfect views the city. Colour, culture and culinary creativity all combine to produce a gem of a city that entices you with its views and keeps you with its charm.
Written by Evie Buller