Endless spectacular silky sand beaches on coral atolls with equally spectacular resorts and astronomical prices.
Most visitors come on packages to the Maldives, staying at one of the 90 otherwise uninhabited resort islands. Resorts are well set up with beautiful beaches and clear azure seas, great for snorkeling and diving. There are no cultural experience at all, just luxury and escapism with no hassle. These islands are excellent for affluent families, couples, honeymooners and divers, but nudity and topless sunbathing are strictly forbidden.
Best December-April, the busiest, priciest season. OK October, November and May when the weather is a bit wobbly but prices are much lower. June and July are the wettest months.
Trou aux Biches,Flic en Flac, Paradis beaches. Perfect soft coral sands bordered by some wonderful low-rise, lowish-price hotels. The island is mostly ringed by reefs so waters are calm and protected for swimming and sailing.
Best April and May, mid-September to mid-December. OK year round, especially considering the off-season discounts. Jan-April is very hot and humid. Dec-March is the best time for diving; June-Aug is best for surfing (there is an occasional gap in the reefs! )
Ngapali Beach. A huge rock, covered with hanging plants and trees, lurks in the middle of this gorgeous 3km stretch of beach and its well-established resort. The sand is powder white and the sea is so clear that you can see the coral from the shore. Ngapali is located in the Bay of Bengal in Rakhine state, a half an hour flight from Yangon (aka Rangoon) and offers simple, comfortable accommodation with relatively few visitors.
For an even less frequented strand go to Chaung Tha or the nearby and newish resort of Ngwe Saung, both about 42 km west of Pathein, which is five hours drive from Yangon.
Best November-February. Cheap, cheap.
Muscat beaches(actually in the Arabian Sea, but near enough. . )
Oman has over 1, 000 miles of coastline and very few tourists. Some beaches have great coral reefs, some have secluded bays or palm tree valleys with lots of solitude and unspoilt nature. Mughsail beach near Salalah is also excellent.
There’s suprisingly little seriously exotic culture in Oman, but there is an incredible 5* hotel if that’s your thing, the Al Bustan Palace hotel. Best November-March. OK Oct & Apr-May. June-July is unbearably hot & June-Sept is rainy season.
Avoid Ramadan (Muslim fasting month, dates depend on full moon so may differ by one day depending on location. Ramadan in 2014 will start on 28th/29th June and will continue for 30 days until Sunday, the 27th/28th July. In 2015 Ramadan will start on the 18th/19th June and will continue for 30 days until the 17th/18th of July).
Anse Lazio, Praslin island
Anse Source d’Argent, La Digue island
Ile Souris (Mouse Island), east coast of Mahé island.
Generally the Seychelles is more or less a year round destination but perhaps the best months are around April or October, though it’s humid then.
November to March is the rainy season but rains are short, the seas are calm and it’s hot and humid, so these months are OK too.
Worst months are July-September due to the south-east Trade Winds bringing less clear, rough seas and beach debris, but it’s sunny, dry and pleasantly cool.
Windsurfing and sailing are usually best May-September, while diving is best October-April.
With beaches on two oceans, the Atlantic and Indian, South Africa has plenty of varied sands on offer. Close to Capetown at Camp’s Bay is tempting but the Atlantic seas are chilly year-round whereas round the corner is the Indian Ocean where Durban’s beaches are warm and action-packed, Umhalanga beach is huge and quiet while distant Nature’s Valley is really au naturel and all the lovelier for it. The best season is summer months of November to February.
Unawatuna resort area.
A low-key resort, located on the southern coast of Sri Lanka with a lovely curving beach and good local colour. For scuba diving or surfing go to Hikkaduwa, known for its coral gardens, another popular beach resort on the southwestern coast a few hours form Colombo. Both resorts are great destination for backpackers and budget travellers.
The driest and best season is Dec-March on the west and south coasts.
Pangani. Northern Tanzania has 200 miles of coast untouched by tourism, from Ushongo Bay to the old world heritage town of Bagamoyo, and is an excellent destination for beach holidays combined with wildlife safaris.
Peaceful Pangani village in particular, located 45 km south of Tanga, has unspoilt beaches with a handful of basic accommodation. Many beach addicts now prefer tranquil Pangani to more developed Zanzibar; it offers fantastic snorkelling and diving, too.
The best season is June-October which is the coolest, driest time, but it’s OK for much of the year. The worst months are April and May due to the long rains. For diving go August-December.
Bwejuu Beach, Jambiani Beach and Nungwi Beach, on the east coast.
Zanzibar, 50 miles off the mainland of Tanzania, is famous for underused beaches though they are becoming more commercial and the sand can be spoiled by flotsam and jetsam. Facilities are still relatively basic but some exclusive resorts are around.
If you’re looking for really people-few beaches try Tanzania’s Pangani (above); for diving and snorkelling go to tiny Mnemba Island just offshore from Matemwe Beach on Unguja’s northeast coast.
The best season is June-October, see Pangani above.