As an alternative to bumping around in a dusty van pointing at distant dik-dik, Pinewood Village is a very very quiet, friendly hotel at Galu Beach, down a bumpy road south of the much busier Diani Resorts.
One of the main attractions (apart from the lack of forced activities, relaxation and friendliness of the atmosphere) is the stretch of beach stretching away from the hotel, pure white and, apparently unusual for the area, somewhere you won't get harassed by beach boys - who'll simply introduce themselves on the first day, point out where their shop is and ask you how long you're staying.
Found it through Trip Advisor where it was highly recommended for a very quiet, peaceful break.
A truly unspoilt island in the Lamu archipelago. Relax on the white beaches, doze in a hammock or drink sundowners in the bar before a dinner of rock oysters and lobster. If that sounds too supine, you can take a walking safari over the sand dunes.
About an hour south of Mombasa is Diani beach, with the usual white sand, clear water and palm trees.
Forty Thieves bar/restaurant is a popular haunt that opens right on to the beach and at night is an amazing place to sit and watch the ocean.
Food is good, particularly the crab. There is music later in the evenings and a pool table but there are quiet corners and comfy sofas to sit back on and enjoy where you are. Locals and tourists alike go there which tells you something.
Sad to hear from one reader that Lamu is 'a tip'. It was a long time ago, but I spent ten weeks there (out of five months in Africa) in the winter of '88-'89 and it was incredible.
I rented a house called Daramani in the old town - located down a maze of alleys, with an incredible carved wooden door and steps up to a roof terrace with views of the town and the ocean. One of those places that you wouldn't know was there.
Daily walks to the beach at Shela and the terrace of the Peponi hotel were wonderful, evenings spent at Petley's bar in town, or one of the many restaurants. You got there by bus on a dirt road from Malindi - I hear they have paved it since - followed by a dhow trip across the channel, although there were very expensive flights to a nearby island which only weekend visitors really used. Getting there, which took most of a day from Mombasa, was half the fun.
I also spent an evening at another rented house called Dareni, which was one of the most beautiful places I saw there. Definitely check to see if either of these places are still available for rent - it's worth it if you are staying a while. However, if the town has become an eyesore that is very sad indeed.
Livingston is a little town, a little like Jamaica. A very peaceful place, there is a big inter-cultural mix, you find the Garifunas, Quetchi, Ladinos and Coolis.
The people are very friendly and the place is relaxing. The nights are warm and there are partys on every street, in the day you can visit the most beautiful river in Central America "Rio Dulce" you can't miss the tour with Exotic Travel Agency who I travelled with and recomend to everyone.
Jungle beach is a little cluster of bamboo and palm leaf huts on the South China sea run by a flamboyant Amercian whose laissez faire attitude pervades the whole ‘resort’ - if you can call it that.
The huts are very basic - thin foam mattresses on bamboo platforms with mossie net - no windows so the breeze off the sea provides air con. An hour’s trip from Nha Trang, it’s the perfect pitstop if you’re travelling the length of the country and a great place to relax and recharge between cities.
There’s nothing to do except swing in hammocks, go for walks along the beach (swimming is quite dangerous due to strong currents) visit a local waterfall - and eat.
Fantastic home-cooked meals are served around a communal table and at night there’s a lot of swapping of travellers' tales and drinking of beer. During our stay there was a real mix from posh teenage backpackers to an ageing biker. I thought a day or two would be enough but we ended up staying four and didn’t want to leave. It’s amazing how good doing nothing feels.
You need to book the accommodation in advance - so that they can arrange a pick up from Nha Trang airport (getting there independently would be tricky).
A stunning little island about 80km north of Nha Trang, Whale Island has only one small resort with superb food, very good diving (by VN standards) and gorgeous bungalows. It's not cheap, but it's utterly beautiful and very relaxing.
A Canadian/Vietnamese couple runs this small, relaxed guesthouse with hammocks and 3km of its own beach. The £10 daily fee includes basic accommodation and three amazing meals per day served on a large communal table.
Relax, trek in a jungle, or hike over the boulders to a lovely natural swimming pool under a water fall. The place is sociable and especially popular with backpackers.
60km north of Nha Trang. Get off at the DocLet bus stop and ask waiting motorbike drivers to drop you to Jungle Beach. You can also arrange a van pickup with Canadian owner Sylvio. Email for booking and arrangements: firstname.lastname@example.org
A much-appreciated break from the busy streets of Hanoi, the Temple of Literature, Vietnam's first university, is one of the best examples of traditional architecture left in Vietnam.
Founded in 1070 and dedicated to Confucius, the temple is a great place to while away a couple of hours strolling through beautiful courtyards and grand halls.
Who knows, you might catch a traditional music recital and get inexplicably involved in a silly hat wearing photo opportunity as I was.
Pho Quoc Tu Giam, about 2km west of Hoan Kiem Lake.
Escape the heat of the city. Head for the brutalist, concrete building on the beach at San Sebastian in Barceloneta beneath the Montjuic cable car tower.
It contains two glorious, pristine, elevated outdoor pools with amazing views down the beach all the way to Forum. Take one of the loungers and watch the locals frolic. Retreat to Barrio Gothica at night for more fun.
It's actually harder than it would seem to get a Turkish shave in Istanbul. We asked a waiter who recommended us via letter to his mate who runs a very busy hair salon, under the Galata Bridge.
There is a central internal corridor under the bridge, which all of the outward facing restaurants and bars have entrances on to, on the Eminonou side. It's bright green and the staff all wear green and has no other signage. It's extremely cheap too and you get a great pampering shave for about £1!
Galata Bridge, Eminonu side,
If you get tired of Peru's never-ending old ruins and the coldness of the Andes, and dream of a nice beach, Máncora is the place to go.
Situated near the border of Ecuador at the northern corner of the country, this small beach resort is ideal for budget travelers. Big luxury hotels and restaurants haven't yet arrived here.
Instead, you will find nice, friendly small hotels, bars, many seafood restaurants, a vegetarian restaurant, and half a dozen souvenier shops.
This, Peru's best beach resort, is popular with surfers. You can hire a surf or body board, enjoy jumping in the waves of the Pacific Ocean, or just enjoy the sun on the beach. The busiest surfing months are November and February. Outside these months the place can be tranquil and room rates negotiable.
There are daily night buses from Lima to Máncora.
The Bay is a very chilled spot, maybe one of the best places in NZ to get on a boat and go out into the ocean. Great fishing, a great outdoors life, beautiful sunsets and sunrises, what more could you want?
A ravine garden that snakes down to the coast and a private beach - rated as one of the top gardens in the world. Unique layout and spectacular plants.
Trebah Garden - mawnan smith, nr falmouth (short drive or bus ride), cornwall.
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