Start planning your 2018 holiday—with some of the best places to visit all year round
2018 Summer Hotspots
1. A LITTLE FURTHER TO THE MALDIVES
It’s summer all year around in the Maldives. Hovering just above the Equator the temperature rarely falls below 25°C and there are 12 hours of glorious sunlight every day. Resorts on this chain of dreamy islands lying to the west of Sri Lanka, seem to barely float above the surface of the ridiculously clear Indian Ocean water. Travel in November, March or April and avoid the monsoons as well as summer prices, which peak in December, January and February. But if you are going specifically for diving, then choose December to March for excellent visibility and calm water.
WHERE TO STAY: Soneva Jani, Maldives
Inspired by a word that means ‘wisdom’ in Sanskrit, Soneva Jani encompasses a collection of Water Villas and Island Sanctuaries set within a lagoon of crystal clear waters.
2. A HOP SKIP AND A JUMP TO MAURITIUS
You are in for a hot and steamy tropical summer holiday in Mauritius if you go from December to March, when the sea and the air temperature are just a few degrees apart at around 27-31°C. Mauritius gives you absolutely everything you want in a beach holiday, where you don’t have to think for yourself because your resort does it all for you. Sure, you can jump on a scooter and explore the coastline, leap on a board and go kitesurfing, or pop along to Port Louis market, but if you want to do absolutely nothing, then Mauritius is the place to do it.
WHERE TO STAY: One&Only Le Saint Géran
Having recently undergone a total transformation, with beach-inspired interiors, state-of-the-art sports facilities and a rustic feet-in-sand dining…all for you to enjoy.
2018 Autumn Hotspot
3. MOROCCO: A GREAT VALUE FOR MONEY DESTINATION
The European school holidays finish in early September and that makes autumn in Morocco a great time to take advantage of one of the best-value destinations in the world today. You’ll have the best choice of accommodation in the fascinating old port of Essaouira on Morocco’s Atlantic coast and exotic Marrakesh. You’ll never be the same after experiencing the organised chaos of Marrakesh’s main square, Jemaael-Fna, which, come late afternoon/evening, grows a carnival atmosphere of storytellers, entertainers and food stalls. In autumn, you will miss the stifling summer heat and instead enjoy milder temperatures from 20-30°C and nights cool enough to sleep soundly.
WHERE TO STAY: Riad Yasmine Marrakech
Throughout your stay in the red city, the Riad Yasmine will be your safe haven of peace, a timeless nest preserved from the bustle of the medina.
2018 Winter Hotposts
4. A WINTER WONDERLAND IN FINLAND
There’s something especially magical about a glistening snow scene where pine branches are laden with white powder and intrepid travellers etch tracks across the landscape with skis and sleds. It’s a clear winter’s night and the Aurora Borealis is dancing blues and purples across the sky. If you can you see yourself in this picture, then Lapland’s Northern Lights should be your goal for 2018. It is home to Santa Claus, reindeers and kalsarikannit (the Finnish art of being cosy). Having made the effort to get here, get yourself booked into an ice hotel, try some ice fishing, and experience a spot of gentle self-flagellation to make your skin tingle in a wood-fired sauna.
WHERE TO STAY: Artic Tree House Hotel
Offering guests a brand new way to experience the Arctic Circle and the beauty of the Northern Lights in the nest like atmosphere of their thoughtfully designed suites.
5. GET READY FOR CUBA
Croatia and Portugal have been the ‘in’ places for South Africans to visit lately, but they can step aside in a huff and make way for Cuba to take the limelight. There’s a sense of urgency to see Cuba before it changes forever, making it our pick of 2018. Cuba is ‘authentic’ in ways that few places still are, but is Cuba ready for selfie-stick tourists and their expectations? It’s in a dignified but dilapidated time warp, riddled with genuine shabby chic and warm people, that should outweigh inconveniences such as broken lifts and terrible WiFi. Isolated in its sovereign patch of beautiful blue Caribbean, Cuba is best to visit during the Caribbean winter and spring, from December to May, when it’s sunny and dry with no hurricanes in sight.
WHERE TO STAY: Saratoga Hotel
Across from the grand National Capitol Building, this stately hotel with a vintage vibe is an 18-minute walk from the Malecón esplanade.
2018 Spring Hotspots
6. REUNION IS JUST AROUND THE CORNER
Reunion is a concentrated dose of ‘Frenchness’ in a tropical Indian Ocean island, just 220km west of Mauritius. It’s more French than its neighbour and remains to this day a regional outpost of rance. Genuine French cheeses such as Camembert and Roquefort have clocked up considerable air miles to get there but, Mon Dieu, they would eat nothing less. And as for the patisseries, offering croissants, macaroons, ooh la la your tastebuds will be burning with desire. There are beaches, coral reefs and surf, but go to Reunion for adventure amongst jagged volcanic peaks and dramatic scenery; hiking, climbing, mountain biking, canyoning and white water rafting. Go in spring before the summer rains make climbing and hiking hot, humid and slippery.
WHERE TO STAY: LUX* Saint Giles
The only five-star hotel on Reunion Island, located on the western coast of this lush volcanic island, the resort faces a shimmering expanse of aqua-blue waters.
7. TROPICS + CULTURE = THAILAND
At over 1600km north to south, Thailand, like South Africa, cannot be justly described in a few words. It lies pretty much equidistant between the Tropic of Cancer and the Equator and seasons therefore are determined more by rain than shine. We suggest a visit during the dry season between November and early April. You’ll be able to enjoy the cultural treks in the north and cooler nights in these highlands, but still find enough tropical heat to bask on southern sandy beaches and idyllic islands.
WHERE TO STAY: Four Seasons Koh Samui
Set on a tropical, palm-tree-covered cliff, with a private stretch of pristine, white sand, the Four Seasons Koh Samui seamlessly blends in with
8. DID SOMEONE SAY SEYCHELLES?
Who needs a bath when the water of the tropical Indian Ocean around the Seychelles in October and November is likely to be 29°C, with underwater visibility of 30m? Blessed with one of the world’s healthiest, malariafree climates and 115 mostly uninhabited islands, Seychelles is truly the coconut palm beach paradise you’ve been dreaming of. Only 16 islands offer accommodation and resorts, so get in the mood for a laid-back, island-hopping holiday fit for royalty (Prince William and Kate had their honeymoon on North Island).
WHERE TO STAY: Alphonse Island Bungalow
Escape for an action-packed holiday, romantic sojourn, or an idyllic beach break—your Alphonse Island experience can be as exhilarating or relaxing as you wish.
9. MAGICAL MOZAMBIQUE
Just up the road is one of Africa’s most beautiful unpolished gems—Mozambique. It’s unspoiled, undeveloped and fast becoming popular for international visitors too. If you enjoy miles of coastline with coral reefs to explore, this is the place for you. The reefs of the Bazaruto Archipelago alone are home to over 1200 species of marine life. And if you’re looking for a true wilderness experience, the Gorongosa National Park is wild and unspoilt, and needs to be added to your bucket list. Maputo offers an Art Deco-inspired feel and exclusive private islands are on offer for those who prefer their gems polished. If you’re after cooler temperatures, go May to November; December to April is the wet summer season.
WHY NOT TRY: Cruising to Mozambique with MSC’s New Pomene Cruise.
One of the most picturesque sites is the lagoon that protects this beautiful bay, set between the blue Indian Ocean and the waters where the mangroves grow – these extraordinary plants appear to float on the surface of the water, like a forest in a fairy tale.
Article written by CARRIE HAMPTON.