What’s the Deal with Lanzarote?

With the likes of Tenerife and Gran Canaria being the most developed and touristic of the Canary Islands strongly backed by travel agents for years, Lanzarote used to get pushed to one side when it came to top holiday destinations – but all that is changing. Thanks to its picture-perfect golden beaches more beautiful than anything the other islands have to offer, unique natural attractions you won’t see anywhere else and unparalleled water sport opportunities, Lanzarote is slowly but surely rising up through the popularity ranks and becoming one of Europe’s biggest and best holiday hotspots.

Lanzarote is the northernmost and – along with Fuerteventura – the easternmost island of the Canaries. It has a largely contrasting landscape which covers everything from arid volcanic lunar landscapes dotted with small craters and soft, sandy beaches lapped by turquoise waters to cosmopolitan cities complete with huge shopping malls and white-washed fishing villages unchanged for decades.

Despite being the least mountainous of the Canary Islands, Lanzarote has a long history of eruptions which led to most of the island being covered with lava fields. These eruptions also resulted in several remarkable lava tubes hidden underground, some of which are open to the public. Because of the dry climate and the strong, eroding winds the island’s lava fields are devoid of almost all vegetation – with the exception of several vineyards where hardy grape vines are used to produce amazing sweet white wine.

Weather

Due to its close proximity to Africa (it’s the easternmost island of the Canaries) Lanzarote is generally drier and warmer than the rest of the Canary Islands. This makes it your best call if you want clear blue skies and sunshine guaranteed for your next break. In the summer – which spans a lengthy five months in Lanzarote, from May until September – the average temperature is a balmy 24°C, with temperatures often peeking into the early 30s during August and September. With temperatures this high, it’s very important that you regularly slap on the suntan lotion, especially when the sun shines for an average of ten hours a day during summer!

Even though Lanzarote enjoys a sub-tropical climate, it only gets a tiny percentage of the rain you usually associate with such climates. Summer is the driest season of the year, so dry in fact that between June and August, the island is subject to an average of 0mm of precipitation. That’s right – not a single drop of rain falls at this time of year! As well as being the driest season, summer is also the time of year when the sea is warmest. Between June and October, the average sea temperature is 21.5°C – the perfect temperature for taking a dip.

All this weather information is in regards to Lanzarote as a whole but, like most of the Canary Islands, Lanzarote can be divided into several smaller microclimates. As is usually the case in the Canaries, the northern half of the island is cloudier and windier than the south, with an increase in rainfall which results in a greener landscape with more plants, flowers and grass. Because of the windier conditions, the north – La Santa and Famara in particular – is perfect for wind-based water-sports, such as windsurfing and kitesurfing, as well as ordinary surfing.

Southern Lanzarote is generally drier and hotter than the north, with a more reliable and stable climate. This drier, hotter climate results in a more arid and barren landscape, with significantly less greenery. Playa Blanca is the southernmost resort on the island, which – at an average of 10.5 hours each day in summer, enjoys more sunshine than anywhere else on the island. Although the winds are at their strongest in the north of Lanzarote, the consistent trade winds across the whole island mean that you can also enjoy wind-based water-sports and surfing in the south and central parts of the island, such as in Costa Teguise and Tías.

What to Do

For Families

Lanzarote is the ideal holiday destination for families because there is so much to see and do for visitors of all ages! Rancho Texas in Puerto Del Carmen provides hours upon hours of fun, with countless animal enclosures home to all kinds of exotic creatures and amazing animal shows you won’t want to miss, plus a splash zone with a mini waterpark for the kids and swimming pool for cooling off if it gets too hot. But that’s not all – there’s also a huge section of the park dedicated to the Wild West, with lively cowboy shows, themed restaurants and even pony rides for the little ones.

A few hours at the beach is always a great way to spend the day as a family and with so many stunning beaches island-wide, you’ll be spoilt for choice in Lanzarote. Playa de Papagayo is widely believed to be the best and most beautiful beach on the island and we certainly aren’t going to argue! Located just outside Playa Blanca, this small beach is made up of a crescent-shaped cove of soft golden sand naturally protected by two large rocky cliffs which flank either side. It’s thanks to these cliffs that the sea is always really calm, so you can happily let the kids play and splash about in the sea, knowing they’re totally safe.

When it comes to a family-friendly excursion with a difference, it’s tough to beat Submarine Safaris. This excursion company organises underwater trips from the marina at Puerto Calero on a high-tech submarine, with one large viewing window for every two guests. Each trip takes around one hour, during which you’ll explore the underwater volcanic landscape of Lanzarote for the chance to spy sunken shipwrecks, watch string rays being handfed just outside the submarine and admire the tropical colourful fish which live amongst the unusual geological formations.

For Thrill Seekers

If you’re not visiting Lanzarote as a family and you’re looking for some action-packed thrills, you’ll be glad to know that this island is one of the best in the Canaries for adrenaline-pumping water-sports. El Quemao on the north western coast of the island across from La Santa offers incredible surfing opportunities, with perfect tube breaks and powerful waves on days with groundswell. At this surfing hotspot, there is a series of deep fast tubes, making it perfect for expert surfers up for a tough challenge. Here the vertical descent gives way to a deep take off and, even though the beach is best known for its left wave, El Quemao also breaks to the right, creating fast hollow waves, too.

Playa de Famara on the northern coast is the best place in Lanzarote for windsurfing – so much so that the Spanish national kitesurfing championships are held there every year! You’ll find several kitesurfing schools based in small huts at this blustery beach where you can sign up for lessons, regardless of whether you’re a total beginner or if you know your way around a board. The consistent windy conditions at this beach are very reliable, so no matter when you visit, you’re guaranteed to be able to ride the waves.

For Nature Lovers

Timanfaya National Park is the most popular attraction in Lanzarote – and for good reason, too! This UNESCO World Heritage Site covers the southwestern part of the island and is made up of huge volcanoes and expanses of lava fields which blanket the land. Free demonstrations are held throughout the day during which experienced locals show you just how hot the ground is by burying hay just a metre or so underground and waiting for it to catch fire. There are several vineyards located within the national park which offer tasting sessions for visitors or, for something a bit more hands on, you can climb on the back of a camel and explore the volcanic landscape in a more relaxed way.

If small spaces don’t bother you and you’re up for an adventure, check out Cueva de Los Verdes. Located within Haria, this natural attraction is one of the most extensive and interesting lava tunnels on the planet, formed by the Corona Volcano. The complete tunnel is more than 6km long and features over 16 openings with access to various caves, two of which house the most important art, culture and tourism centres on the island – Cueva de Los Verdes and Jameos de Agua. The 1km part of the tunnel open to visitors is a truly spectacular thing to see, with a kaleidoscopic colour range adorning the walls created by natural oxidisation reactions and light reflections.

Developed by César Manrique – one of the most famous artists of Lanzarote – Jardín de Cactus is a wonderful place to enjoy a leisurely stroll. This huge cactus park covers 5,000m2 of land in Guatiza and is home to over 7,200 examples of more than 1,100 species of cactus collected from the Canary Islands, Morocco, Madagascar, Tanzania, Kenya, the US, Chile, Mexico and Peru. All the cacti are beautifully laid out, with stone paths winding throughout all the open-air exhibitions.

Where to Go

Arrecife

To see the more cosmopolitan side of Lanzarote, head for Arrecife – the island’s capital. Found in the central eastern part of the island, this city began life as a small fishing village in the 15th century, but today is has taken on a much more modern and vibrant atmosphere. Arrecife is by far the best place in Lanzarote for shopping, with the pedestrian street called Calle Léon y Castillo being full to the brim with high street stores. But that’s not all the capital has to offer. There’s also the Centro Insular de Cultura El Almacén – an art gallery, Playa del Reducto – a golden sandy beach and Castillo de San Gabriel – an ancient castle.

Puerto Del Carmen

Puerto Del Carmen, in the southern central part of Lanzarote, is the most popular holiday resort on the island, packed full of everything you could ever need for an amazing holiday. From fantastic hotels – the four-star Los Jameos Playa rates very highly on TripAdvisor – and an incredible nightlife scene – make sure you stop for cocktails at La Delicatezza Cocktail Bar – to golden sandy beaches offering all kinds of water sports and shopping centre selling it all, Puerto del Carmen is the place to go if you want to have everything within arm’s reach.

Charco Del Palo

You can take nude sunbathing to a whole new level by spending some time at Charco Del Palo, a naturist resort located in the north eastern side of the island. With the exception of inside restaurants, naturism is permitted throughout the whole of the resort, so it’s not uncommon to see naked visitors sunbathing, rambling or even shopping in the local supermarket! Although there is no sandy beach in this resort, the rocks around the coast provide the ideal conditions for tropical fish and other captivating marine life to thrive, making it a popular spot for snorkelling and scuba diving.

So what is the deal with Lanzarote? It’s one of the few holiday destinations that really does have it all! With warm and sunny spring-like weather all-year-round, an eclectic offering of attractions and activities to suit all ages, small local villages just begging to be explored and stylish resorts bursting with modern amenities – this island leaves no stone unturned and provides something for everyone, all year-round!

How about a golden Christmas?

If you’d rather swap the slim chance of a white Christmas for a more or less guaranteed golden one, then head to Tenerife. Kirsty Liddle packed her bags…

Just a short four hour flight from London the volcanic Spanish island of Tenerife is an excellent choice, be it with a group of friends, a romantic mini-break for two or a family vacation as it has something to suit everyone. The island is particularly known for its lovely sunny weather all year round, thanks to the subtropical climate and warm trade winds blowing in from the Sahara desert. It is a haven for sun worshippers looking to relax and enjoy the warm sand and calming blue sea whilst topping up their tan.

Tenerife is the largest and most populous of the seven landmasses including Lanzarote and Gran Canaria that collectively make up the Canary Islands. Tenerife itself has long enjoyed a rich history thanks in part to its geographical location being a prime stop on the trade route for sea traffic. However, this did make it a popular target for pirates looking to steal valuable gold. Today, the island is more known for playing host to millions of happy tourists rather than protecting its wealth from opportunistic rogues.

Typically the weather in Tenerife in December is lovely, with the average day time temperature for December being 16ºC, dropping only a couple of degrees at night to 16ºC and at this time of year there are normally five gorgeous sunshine filled hours per day.

There are many hotels and resorts dotted all over the island including Playa de Fanabe which is a real family favourite with plenty of shops, restaurants and boutiques on the main strip and, best of all, it is situated just 700 metres away from the beach. However, if your idea of a good time involves fun, frolics and partying till four a.m. head to Playa de las Americas as the nightlife here and at Los Christianos really is second to none. Of course, if you prefer more of a low key atmosphere there are also numerous personal villas and apartments to rent elsewhere, depending on your personal budget and taste.

Whether you are a beach babe, water-sports enthusiast or nature lover this is the place for you. Tenerife is jam-packed with exciting experiences and among the highlights is Loro Parque, situated in Puerto de la Cruz, the zoo with a difference! It is home to hundreds of exotic birds and set in beautiful grounds with plenty of places to eat, relax and enjoy the sunshine. Why not head to the capital Santa Cruz de Tenerife to pick up some souvenirs, enjoy the traditional cuisine and get chatting to the friendly locals? In 2012 The Guardian actually voted it to be one of five best places to live in the entire world so it can’t be too bad.

A visit is certainly not complete without seeing the lunar landscape of Volcan El Teide, part of the surreal Teide National Park, and the stunning views that it offers. You can either drive, climb it yourself or enjoy a leisurely journey to the summit by cable car. If you want something a little special why not try a romantic Teide By Night excursion? Ocean activities are also plentiful including boat tours and whale watching trips, diving, snorkelling and many more. Some activities get booked up fairly quickly so make a list of those that you simply must do well in advance.

There are also several Churches on the island worth visiting including the Church of the Immaculate Conception dedicated to the Virgin Mary. This is a building with huge historical significance as the foundation was built on the site of the first Chapel consecrated by the Conquistadors and where, in time, the capital would be built.

The Island also offers plenty of parks, gardens and hiking trails including the excellent Masca Walk within the Masca valley. The views here are absolutely superb, the route will take roughly 4 to 5 hours, but the trail eventually leads right down to the beach. If you attempt this do make sure that you have sensible walking boots, plenty of water and are reasonably fit! However, if you feel more at home relaxing on a beach with a book rather than energetically traversing a ravine then don’t worry. Just north of the village of San Andres, near Santa Cruz de Tenerife is the beautiful beach of Playa de las Teresitas, one of the most popular beaches in the entire Canary Islands, constructed of beautiful golden sand brought from the Sahara Desert in 1973.  Las Vistas, a popular beach at Los Christianos, is also an excellent option and is considered to be one of the best beaches on the southern tip of the Island.

Tenerife really is a sun-seekers paradise but there is also so much more just waiting to be discovered!

 

Walking in the Canaries

With average temperatures of 19C in April, springtime in the Canary Islands offers the perfect antidote to Britain’s grey skies. But there’s more to the islands than plentiful sunshine – if walking takes your fancy, paradise lies no further than here. Erica Bush puts a spring in her step and heads for the hills

Barranco de Fañabé & Roque del Conde © Michael Bolognesi

Since Columbus’ infamous stay in La Gomera before departing for the Americas in 1492, the Canaries have been a key trading point for the New World, bringing a wealth of fauna, riches and exotic influences that are still prevalent today. And with a plethora of spectacular scenery spanning all of the islands, including black-sand beaches, steep-sided valleys bursting with hardy Alpine vegetation, prehistoric volcanoes and sleepy traditional farming hamlets, it will be hard to find something that doesn’t catch your eye. Each island certainly has its own allure, but for hiking, there are two front-runners.

The largest (at 1275 square miles) and by far most popular island is Tenerife with a million and a half tourists flocking there each year. But if you move away from the plastic souvenir shops and giant mass-market resorts of the South Coast, you will find walking in Tenerife hugely varied and immensely rewarding. The constant presence of Mount Teide in the centre of the island is Spain’s highest mountain and the third tallest volcano in the world. Often regarded as the ‘Island of Eternal Spring’ due to its temperate climes, the old-style quaint villages and dramatic coastline, coupled with plunging valleys and green-pine forests, supply a fascinating contrast of landscapes to explore.

Some of the best walking trails can be found at the UNESCO World heritage site and one of the ‘12 Treasures of Spain’, Teide National Park. Here, you will find an extensive network of guided trail tours and non-guided routes ranging from 30 minutes to five hours. However, these are not for the faint hearted and only the most experienced of walkers stray from the marked routes.

The sub-tropical ‘laurisilva’ forest of the Anaga Rural Park also offers stunning, more remote, hiking trails that lend to the ‘real Tenerife’, with high vantage points offering amazing views of lush forestry, rugged ravines and old-world villages. The circular route between Cruz del Carmen to Chinamada is one of the best, encompassing almost 12kms (around 4 hours) in total.

If it’s a coastal walk you’re after, the Rambla del Castro route offers one of the most exciting trails – it’s unique and exotic, yet still surprisingly untouched by tourists. With banana trees that stretch as far as the eye can see, colonial haciendas with bright orange tiles, and the endless view of clear blue waters, this trail is one you cannot miss. And all the while, the only people you might bump into are banana plantation workers who will smile kindly and say hello. While a little steep in places, most could manage this walk and be able to enjoy the wonderful views. Paths start from just outside Puerta de la Cruz.

For a much easier hike, take the Buenavista del Norte, which is located in the western corner of the island. Considerably easier than trails found at Teide or the Anaga mountains, this coastal route promises views of the glittering ocean with a breathtaking mountain backdrop. This marked trail is dotted with rock pools and local men catching fish that even the kids would enjoy, provided you bring a picnic!

If you are looking for somewhere to stay, the 4 star Hotel San Roque located in the heart of Garachico, an unspoiled traditional town with pebbled streets, a vibrant fishing port and grand houses, is one of Tenerife’s gems. Although quite unassuming from the outside, inside lie plush bedrooms, two central courtyards, an outdoor heated pool and a sauna.

A smaller, less popular but equally as enthralling hiking destination in the Canaries is La Gomera, a 45-minute ferry ride west of Tenerife. Arguably the prettiest of the smaller islands but only 15 miles in diameter, La Gomera offers varied and dramatic scenery including sheer valleys, sleepy villages and the luxuriant forest of Garajonay National Park. La Gomera is a plant and bird lover’s paradise due to its temperate climes, offering a wide variety of plants and flowers both widespread and rare, as well as 200 species of birds. It has been said that you can walk for two weeks on this island and never retrace your steps, so it is no wonder that the island possesses a strong feeling of undiscovered beauty. With several hundred kilometres of marked Caminos and old donkey paths, La Gomera is well and truly a walkers paradise.

The misty evergreen forest that is the Garajonay National Park lies in the centre of the island surrounding the Garajonay Mountain (1487m) and is an absolutely fascinating hiking area. Almost constantly shrouded in mist and fog, the mysterious and enchanting forest will supply you with endless trails, taking you deep into thick laurel vegetation of a type that is now rare in North American and Southern Europe. The Park also has 2000 species of plants, the vast majority of which are endemic to La Gomera, making for extremely interesting walking. One trail you can’t miss is the route of Contadedro-Caserio, which includes the unique Forest of El Cedro and its stream – the main ravine that is always running with water in the Park.

If you’re up for a lengthier, more hardcore hike, take the trail to the summit of Mount Garajonay to enjoy spectacular views of four other Canary Islands: El Hierro, La Palma, Tenerife and Gran Canaria. Also be sure to check out Los Roques, the three most impressive volcanic rock towers on the island. Standing very close to Garajonay, they stand out above the main road, which connects the East of La Gomera to the West, the Carretera del Centro. Due to the beautiful backdrop of Tenerife’s Teide, this landmark is the most photographed on La Gomera, so do not miss out on this scenic viewpoint. Unfortunately, since becoming natural monuments, climbing on the three rocks is strictly prohibited.

Another trail that promises incredible panoramic views and picnic spots is the circular roundtrip through the valley of Vallehermoso, in the north of the island. The trail starts and ends in the sun-blushed centre of the town and takes you up 540 meters in height in just one hour and 15 minutes to high mountain ridges where Tenerife (including Mount Teide), La Palma and Lanzarote are all visible. In total the walk will take you around 5 hours but, although slightly steeper in places, is fairly easy for most.

One of the best hotels on the island is the gorgeous 4-star Paradores in the charming capital of San Sebastián. Perched on a high cliff known as the Lomo de la Horca (Gallows Ridge) above the port of San Sebastián, the hotel and grounds are surrounded by exotic gardens planted with hibiscus, bougainvillea and palms looking out over the cobalt-blue ocean and lively harbour below.

For a range of guided and self-guided package hiking holidays in the Canaries, visit www.headwater.com/list/by-country/spain/walking.htm

And for more information on the Canaries, visit www.turismodecanarias.com/canary-islands-spain/index.html

After all, the world’s more beautiful on foot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Time for a January detox?

No doubt the answer to that question is a resounding yes. Indeed, once you’ve swallowed your last roast potato, forced down your final spoonful of Christmas pudding and knocked back the dregs of your mulled wine, you may start to feel a little uncomfortable about how much you’ve indulged. Don’t worry though – for every problem has a solution and our top five spas – all shrewdly placed in warm and desirable locations – hand-picked by Jack Pitts will quickly wipe away your guilt and have you back to your usual bubbly self

Woman doing yoga © Jean Henrique Wichinoski

Amansala – Riviera Maya

On the east coast of MexicoAmansala provides expert relaxation amid turquoise waters and mock Mayan architecture. Easily accessed by a two-hour drive from Cancun, the centre offers Yoga retreats – fitness tune-ups and much acclaimed six-day detox camps.  If you feel compelled to drag yourself away from the massage table, then Mayan ruins litter the surrounding landscapes and guides can easily be arranged, or, if you’re really serious about detoxing, you can rent a bike and ride between them.

With potential highs of 27C during the day, Riviera Maya is one of your best bets for a winter tan – indeed, make the most of the resort’s 7 hours of daily sunshine in January.

Lanzarote Retreats – Lanzarote

For a quick fix of vitamin D make the short trip to Lanzarote Retreats. Choose from an eco-friendly selection of self-catering yurts in various locations around the site, or upgrade to one of the white washed apartments for real luxury. This place is all about peace and quiet, unspoilt beaches and tranquil nights by the sea, but for those who like to get out and about it’s easy to visit the rest of the island from the retreat. Lanzarote is far enough south that its weather stays pretty good all year round, so expect highs of 20C and 8 hours of sunshine this month.

Bloom Retreats – Majorca

For holistic relaxation that torpedoes the heart of your stress, visit Bloom Retreats in DeiaMajorca. These women-only camps, run by the legendary PR guru and woman’s rights activist Lynne Franks, take place twice a month and focus on learning new things, usually from experts in a particular field. The Spring Detox session from February 15 – 19 will be run by Ursula Peer, a renowned nutritionist. Book early as places in this Mediterranean paradise fill up quickly. Expect 7 hours a day of winter sunshine with temperatures that can rise to 15C at this time of year.

In:spa retreats: Marrakesh

In:spa retreats in Marrakesh have been welcoming the over-indulged and over-wrought for a decade now. They have such faith in their programme that they boast: “After just seven days, we promise you will return home refreshed, energised, and looking and feeling amazing.” Supervised nutrition, an optional timetable of fitness and yoga and regular trips into the dewy, fresh air of the Atlas Mountains leave guests feeling refreshed and content. Best of all, you can enjoy up to 11 hours of sunshine each day and peak temperatures of 18C in January.

Freely Given Retreats – Devon

Inspired by the Buddhists of South East AsiaFreely Given Retreats in Devon aims to open up wellbeing retreats to all by not setting a price and asking people to pay what they can. The suggested donation is around £150 but is not compulsory. The retreats teach “insight meditation”, a type of mindfulness in three locations in and around Dartmoor National Park.

October half term holidays

Make the most of the half term break this month and sneak in a bit of sunshine before things really take a turn for the worse weather-wise in the UK, and we’re unceremoniously hauled into the season of woolly socks and winter coats. There’s some fantastic holiday destinations in Europe and further afield, read on for our top picks…

In the Med…

Portugal’s Algarve is still lovely and warm in late October – great for all you beach bums and golf lovers. Albufeira is the most popular destination for holidaymakers in the Algarve, and it’s not had to see why. Lagos is famous for its award winning beaches, especially Meia Praia, which stretches for 4km and is ideal for avid sunbathers and watersports lovers alike. Take your pick from some of the many stunning golf courses that line the coast – Pine Cliffs Golf Course is built in a pine forest and affords wonderful views of the Algarve’s golden beaches. Kids are catered for too, with some brilliant waterparks and zoos ensuring there’s plenty of fun for all the family. For up-to-date weather forecasts in Algarve click here.

Crete, one of Greece’s southernmost – and largest – islands, is also a safe bet at this time of year for reliably pleasant temperatures and sunshine. Explore the island’s spectacular 1,000 kilometre-long coastline dotted with exquisite coves, bays and peninsulas, many of which offer numerous sandy beaches to while away a sunny day. There’s also a myriad of pretty fishing villages such as the picturesque Paxos, ancient treasures and a variety of delicious Cretan culinary delights to enjoy. For up-to-date weather forecasts in Crete click here.

The Canary Islands are always going to get a well-deserved mention when listing top family holiday destinations that won’t break the bank and will deliver on great year-round weather, places to stay, activities and much more. With average daily temperatures sitting comfortably around the mid-20s well into late October, the popular resorts Los Cristianos, Playa de las Americas and Costa Adeje in Tenerife – with their multitude of long, sandy beaches and inviting waters – are bound to help beat the onset of the winter blues and turn back the clock, albeit temporarily, to the heady days of summer. Lanzarote, also in the Canary Islands, certainly doesn’t let the side down in the temperature and sunshine stakes, offers a unique, striking landscape, with the western side of the island typically being hotter and drier than the eastern side. October is one of the best months for big game fishing, which is a popular pastime on the island, plus make the most of the warm sea temperatures and get into the big blue; take your pick from scuba diving, snorkelling, or by simply enjoying a daily dip. Click here for an up-to-date weather forecasts in Tenerife and Lanzarote.

Majorca in Spain enjoys a Mediterranean climate all-year round and daily temperatures average around 25°C to 21°C throughout the month, with things cooling down towards the end of October. This pleasant weather allows for enjoying the island’s many beautiful walking and cycling trails – the island boasts wonderful wildlife and a dazzling variety of flora. Nature lovers should definitely not miss a visit to the S’Albufera Wetlands. The Coves de Campanet in Alcudia are another must-see – these amazing caves are famous for the fossilised remains, as well as numerous pathways, chambers and pools. For up-to-date weather forecasts in Majorca click here.

Elsewhere in Europe…

Perhaps you and your family want to squeeze in a bit of action before the season of slumping on the sofa having stuffed yourself silly kicks in? If so, why not consider a cycling holiday – popular destinations include Ghent, Belgium, the Loire Valley in France and the Catalan coast of Spain (including a few nights in Barcelona perhaps). Other enjoyable and scenic routes include east to west across the Algarve, Portugal and the lakes of Bavaria, Germany.

For a truly memorable and unique holiday experience, there’s nowhere quite like Iceland, plus it’s only a short flight away. Soak up the breath-taking scenery by exploring the island’s stunning natural parks, the South coast, Golden Circle and the Blue Lagoon. You could even take in this beautiful country on horseback. Then, soothe your sore bones in Iceland’s famous geothermal pools before sampling traditional tasty fare such as “harðfiskur”, a type of dried fish. Best of all, in late October you have a good chance of seeing the Northern Lights. The temperatures may not rival that of the Med but you’ll still enjoy plenty of sunshine at this time of year.

Venturing further afield…

There’s a lot to be said for sun and sand, but if you’re after fascinating history and culture too, then Morocco has both by the bucket load. With a daily temperature lingering around 21 in Marrakesh, the weather is perfect for exploring this beautiful part of the world, furthermore, you’ll feel as if you’ve travelled across the globe but in reality you can fly to Morocco in just three hours. October is a great time to go, as you’ll catch the festival Eid al-Fitr, which signals the end of Ramadan. Expect feasting, music, dancing and general merriment – and don’t forget to haggle in the magical souks and chill out in a hammam. For thrills and spills, head to Oasiria Water Park – great for the kids – and for adventure-seekers, why not incorporate a trekking trip into the Atlas Mountains for a truly special experience. Click here for up-to-date weather forecasts in Marrakesh and the Atlas Mountains.

October is an ideal month to go to Sharm el Sheikh on Egypt’s Red Sea coast, with wonderful weather minus the oppressively hot temperatures. Rain is rare and the sea is still lovely and warm, so now is a perfect time to learn to dive. If your children are aged 10 years or more, they can learn to dive and achieve a PADI qualification – surely a fantastic skill for them to capitalise on in their later years. Don’t miss Ras um Sid, a stunning beach resort with a large diving and snorkelling site brimming with colourful coral and marine life. Check travel advice for Sharm el Sheikh from the Foreign Office before booking your holiday. For up-to-date weather forecasts in Sharm el Sheikh click here.

Latest deals from MSC Cruises

It may seem a long way off, especially after the stonking weather we’ve just enjoyed across most of the UK this weekend, but it pays to think ahead and what better way to do that than to pencil in more guaranteed sunshine in the diary. Step forward some of the latest great deals from MSC Cruises…

Beat the January blues and head to the western Mediterranean for 7 nights of sunshine aboard MSC Splendida. Explore Genoa, Italy; Civitavecchia, Italy; Palermo, Italy; La Goulette, Tunisia; Barcelona, Spain and Marseille, France, paying a Bella price for a Fantastica Experience (i.e. priority dining, free room service and breakfast in cabin). Prices are from only £499 per person including return flights from London, based on a January 4, 2015 departure.

Wing your way to the Canaries this November with an amazing deal on board MSC Armonia. Book between 16 and 26 May 2014 to take advantage of prices from only £649 per person including return flights and not only will you receive a free upgrade from an inside to an outside cabin, but also a free drinks package. Explore Morocco and the Canary Islands when you visit Santa de Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands; Las Palmas, Canary Islands; Casablanca, Morocco; Agadir, Morocco; Lanzarote, Canary Islands. Based on April 4, 2015 departure.

Ocean Voyage: Make sure you have your sea legs to escape it all on this 17-night cruise from Southampton to Buenos Aires on board MSC Magnifica, departing 11 November, 2014. From just £35 per person per night (including a return flight from Buenos Aires to London) you can visit Lisbon, Portugal; Santa Cruz, Tenerife; Recife, Brazil; Salvador, Brazil and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil before arriving into Buenos Aires on November 28.

And remember, with all MSC Cruises, kids under the age of 18 sail free.

For more information see www.msccruises.co.uk or call 0844 561 1955.

© MCS Cruises

Top tips for family fun in the sun

With the weather in the UK hotting up nicely and the summer holiday just around the corner, families across the nation are getting ready for their annual trip abroad. With this in mind, Thomas Cook has put together its top tips to help take the stress out of a family holiday, showing how a little insider knowledge and a few wise decisions can help you and your loved ones make the most out of your precious time together.

Tip 1: Book with a reputable holiday company

In light of the findings of a recent report conducted on behalf of ABTA, which found that British travellers lost £7million through booking with bogus holiday companies in 2013, travelling with a reputable tour operator is more important than ever to safeguard your hard-earned holiday spend. A recent YouGov poll for ABTA revealed that one in ten consumers (9%) do nothing to research their travel company, such as checking if it is a member of a trade association like ABTA (which has a code of conduct in place to protect consumers), asking friends and family for recommendations, or running a web search. So, make sure you book with an ABTA/ATOL protected name you can trust like Thomas Cook to ensure you receive what you’ve paid for – high service levels, fair terms of trading and accurate information, as well as that all-important value for money.

Tip 2: Choose the right holiday for you and your family

While keeping the kids happy is the key to a successful holiday, don’t forget you’re on holiday too – it pays to do some research to make sure you choose the right holiday for your family. To save you time, Thomas Cook has done the hard work for you – its family holidays are easily categorised for your convenience, reflecting the varied needs of modern families.

  • Families with toddlers will know how challenging it can be to keep them entertained, and so that’s why our Thomas Cook FamilyWORLD properties feature Toddler Time (operating May, June, September and October 2014) – a free, fun-filled activity programme of interactive music, dancing and story time sessions for toddlers up to 3 years old.
  • If you have tech-lovers in your family, you’ll know how they can struggle to imagine life without the internet – 54% of us consider broadband as ‘vital’ or ‘important’ for our next holiday according to the latest research conducted on behalf of Thomas Cook. Our SunConnect resorts have been developed to appeal to families who like to stay connected and offer some great digital features including the ConnectBar, where you can relax with a drink while you recharge your digital devices, and ConnectFun, with activities for all ages, such as geocaching GPS treasure hunts.
  • If you’re after an exceptionally good value holiday, our range of Airtours smartline hotels with their eye-catching, colourful interior design and smartline ice cream trolley serving fresh fruit and ice cream on a daily basis, have been developed with the budget-savvy holidaymaker in mind.
  • If you are looking for a great place for your family to let off steam, you’ll want to pick somewhere with plenty of fun activities to keep them occupied. Thomas Cook and Airtours Aquamania hotels make an ideal choice as they all include unlimited access to onsite waterparks or free entrance to some of the biggest and best waterparks in Europe.

Tip 3: Pack for perfection

  • When you’re packing for little ones as well as yourself, it’s a good idea to check whether the airline you are travelling with offers any additional luggage allowance – Thomas Cook Airlines provides an extra 10kg luggage allowance for infants travelling with you on your lap.
  • If you’re holidaying with kids, it’s best to pack as lightly as possible so you’re not laden down with suitcases and prams. The majority of resorts have good local supermarkets, so consider saving space by buying baby essentials such as nappies and baby food when you arrive at your holiday destination.
  • Don’t forget to pack a high factor ‘broad-spectrum’ sunscreen with a four or five-star rating to make sure you and yours stay safe in the sun.
  • A holiday isn’t complete without a good book and Thomas Cook has launched a brand new ‘Holiday Book Selector’ app in collaboration with NOOK®, to help you pick your ideal summer read to complement the destination you’re travelling to. The ‘Holiday Book Selector’ is accessible via http://www.thomascook.com/blog/holiday-book-selector/

Tip 4: At the airport & in the air

  • Families holidaying on a budget might want to consider travelling from a selection of regional airports, or look into night flights as they can be cheaper than travelling at peak times.
  • Midweek flights don’t tend to be as busy as those at the weekend, so if you choose a weekday departure, you might find there’s more space on the plane and in the airport, making for a more relaxing journey.
  • To help children feel like the flight will be an adventure, consider letting them take their own small case onto the plane as hand luggage. Not only does this make them feel grown-up, it also frees up some room in your own hand baggage that would otherwise be taken up with toys.
  • If you’re travelling on a long flight, consider wrapping up a few books and small toys before you leave and keeping them with you in your hand baggage – rewarding children for good behaviour with a present will help to keep them entertained.

Tip 5: Once you’re there

  • Encourage your kids to keep a travel journal to look back on when they’re older, suggest they write about new experiences and draw pictures of what they see and the new foods they try. If you’re looking for new experiences, Thomas Cook has a great range of excursions from island tours and submarine safaris to trips to local markets and aqua parks, providing plenty of opportunities to take photos and videos.
  • Don’t forget, to help keep kids amused, many of our hotels and resorts, including our Airtours Sunstar and Thomas Cook FamilyWORLD properties, feature a great range of family entertainment.
  • It’s important to make sure children eat well on holiday, otherwise they have a tendency to overload on ice-cream and sugary treats. Well balanced, fresh cuisine is the trademark of our SENTIDO Hotels & Resorts. In addition to the varied buffet selection, SENTIDO guests can order food at the live cooking stations and watch the chef prepare their dinner. There are also themed buffets and dedicated buffets for children, vegetarians and guests with special dietary requirements, as well as a range of snacks and delicious fresh fruit available.
  • Consider booking your children in for swimming classes while on holiday. They’re a great way of gaining water confidence and learning essential water safety skills. New for Summer 2014, in partnership with the Amateur Swimming Association (ASA), Thomas Cook is offering parents of non-swimmers the ideal opportunity for their kids to learn to swim – on holiday in the sun. An adapted version of the ASA’s Learn to Swim Framework will feature in swim academies at six Thomas Cook FamilyWORLD and Airtours Sunstar resorts, throughout July and August 2014.
  • Water-based activities such as swimming and snorkelling can increase UV exposure, so make sure your family covers up with UV wetsuits.
  • It’s easy to forget about yourself on holiday and focus on making sure the kids have a great time, so ensure you factor in some me-time too. Many of our hotels have Kids’ Clubs, hosted by our own UK qualified and DBS-checked team. This offers parents the chance to spend some quality time together as a couple, enjoy one of the many adult-focused activities including spa treatments – or simply soak up a few rays on a sunbed by the pool.

Thomas Cook’s dedicated family offering…

Aquamania

Available with Thomas Cook and Airtours, Aquamania hotels have an amazing range of rip-roaring slides, plummeting chutes and twisting flumes. Most hotels have their very own on-site aqua park and they all include unlimited access to onsite waterparks or free entrance to some of the biggest and best waterparks in Europe throughout your stay.

Airtours Aquamania – 7 nights in Tunisia from £1,059 for a family of 3 
Staying at the 3-star Sahara Beach in Skanes, Tunisia on an all-inclusive basis, London Gatwick – 4th October 2014. To book click here or call 0844 412 5970 or visit the nearest Thomas Cook or Co-operative Travel.

Kids’ Clubs

Available with Thomas Cook and Airtours at 52 hotels and with a different themed programme each day, our fully qualified, energetic kids’ club team and sports coaches have a full agenda of age-appropriate sports, games and crafts for children aged 3 to 11, designed to suit three different age groups.

Airtours Kids’ Clubs – 7 nights in Crete from £1,285 for a family of 3
Staying at the 4-star The Village Resort & Waterpark in Hersonissos, Greece on an all-inclusive basis, London Gatwick – 10th June 2014. To book click here or call 0844 412 5970 or visit the nearest Thomas Cook or Co-operative Travel.

Thomas Cook FamilyWORLD

Thomas Cook FamilyWORLD hotels are exclusive to Thomas Cook customers in the UK, hosted by our own dedicated and qualified team. They offer all the facilities you’d expect from a great family resort: family-size rooms, children’s pool, play area and menus as well as our multi-activity Kids’ Club for ages 3-11 years.

Thomas Cook FamilyWORLD – 7 nights in Gran Canaria from £1,019 for a family of three. For more info, click here.

SunConnect

Our SunConnect Resorts are embracing the future, with a combination of fantastic digital and traditional features. This means that besides family-friendly rooms, spacious pool areas and good value all-inclusive packages, SunConnect Resorts offer free wireless internet within the hotel as well as new features that make your holiday even more relaxing and uncomplicated such as the ConnectBar, where you can relax with a drink whilst you recharge your digital devices, and ConnectFun, with activities for all ages, such as geocaching GPS treasure hunts.

Thomas Cook SunConnect – 7 nights in Mallorca from £1,565 for a family of three. Staying at the 4-star SunConnect Rosa Del Mar in Palma Nova on a half-board basis, Manchester – 16th June 2014

Smartline

smartline hotels are a great value option for families, couples and single travellers. The eye-catching, colourful interior design is fresh and inviting and each hotel typically has a bar, buffet restaurant and swimming pool. Ice cream and fresh fruit are served daily from the smartline ice cream trolley and free Wi-Fi is available in the lobby.

Airtours smartline – 7 nights in Djerba from £959 for a family of three.
Staying at the 3-star smartline Miramar Petit Palais in Djerba on an all-inclusive basis, London Gatwick – 20th June 2014.

SENTIDO Family Hotels

A range of 4 star hotels designed with children from 3 to 16 in mind, with dedicated programmes for parents and children in a child-friendly environment.
Airtours Sunstar Resorts – 7 nights in Lanzarote from £1,305 for a family of 3
Staying at the 4-star Sentido Mamlouk Palace Resort in Hurghada on an all-inclusive basis, London Gatwick – 3rd June 2014.

Airtours Sunstar Resorts

With sports, entertainment and a wide variety of activities on hand. Airtours Sunstar Resorts are individually chosen to bring you great facilities, excellent accommodation and a fantastic atmosphere in one complete package.
Airtours Sunstar Resorts – 7 nights in Lanzarote from £1,305 for a family of 3
Staying at the 3-star THB Tropical Island in Playa Blanca on an all-inclusive basis, London Gatwick – 12th June 2014.

* Correct at time of issue and subject to change, inclusive of flights, transfers and accommodation as specified. Other optional extras such as in-flight meals, Choose Your Seat and 5kg additional luggage allowance may be applicable at the time of booking. 

© Thomas Cook

 

Festive fun in the sun

Fancy ditching a chilly Crimbo for some festive fun in the sun? Check out these five fantastic holiday destinations and make this Christmas one to remember…

Cape Verde
If you want total relaxation this Christmas then head to Cape Verde. These beautiful islands are only around four hours flight from the UK but you will feel like you have landed in the Caribbean thanks to the stunning white, soft sandy beaches and glorious sunshine. It is no surprise that Cape Verde is fast becoming the place to be if you want winter sunshine, peace and tranquillity. Fancy spending your Christmas Day sipping cocktails on the beach and taking a dip in warm turquoise waters? Click here to check the weather forecast, then get booking those flights!

Costa del Sol, Spain
Christmas time is a great time of the year to visit the Costa del Sol. You may not be able to sprawl out on your sun lounger all day as you would in the summer but there are plenty of other activities to keep you busy in the wintertime. Hiking in the Mijas Mountains is spectacular on a crisp winter’s day or hit the golf course while they are a little quieter. Christmas celebrations in Spain are pretty spectacular with lots of festivals and partying. Take a trip to Malaga and look at the city illuminated with hundreds of Christmas lights. You should also stay around for New Year and ‘Kings Day’ on the 6th January when the Spanish traditionally exchange gifts. For a weather update in Costa del Sol, click here.

Agadir, Morocco
If you really want to shake up your normal Christmas experience then the stunning destination Agadir in Morocco could just be what you are looking for. As Christmas isn’t a festive season that is celebrated in Agadir you can avoid all the usual hype and cheesy Christmas songs on repeat on the radio. Here, you are free to sit back and enjoy the sandy beach and sparkling Atlantic Ocean. If you are looking for a break from the beach then the shops, cafes and restaurants at Agadir Marina will make any Christmas shopping spree a pleasure. For a truly memorable experience go on a camel trek into the Sahara Desert – you won’t forget those humps in a while…To top it all off, the weather in Agadir around Christmas is fabulous, check it out!

Playa Blanca, Lanzarote
Craving some sunshine on Christmas Day this year but can’t face a long haul flight? Then head to the Canary Islands for some guaranteed sun with temperatures sitting in the mid 20s. Playa Blanca on the beautiful island of Lanzarote offers everything you need for a perfect Christmas getaway. The three main beaches Playa Flamingo, Blanca and Dorada are sandy and family friendly whilst the abundant bars and restaurants along the promenade are the ideal place to wine and dine. Need to do a spot of Christmas shopping? The Limones shopping centre is ideal. Private villas in Playa Blanca are plentiful so you can still enjoy your favourite Christmas traditions in the comfort of a home but with a private pool and stonking weather thrown in too, what’s not to love?

Orlando, Florida
Celebrating Christmas in OrlandoFlorida would equate as a very special festive time for most people – young and old. Add a trip to the magical Disney World from the 8 November to the 20 December and you can expect to see the ultimate in holiday parades, spectacular fireworks and live entertainment from 7pm until midnight. Kids can meet their favourite characters and enjoy the spellbinding atmosphere; indeed, this time of year is truly enchanting and arguably showcases Disney World at its very best.

Florida, otherwise known as the ‘Sunshine State’, offers great weather throughout the year and during the Christmas holidays this is no exception. You can expect 7 hours of sunshine with temperatures reaching between 10°C to 22°C in December. So planning a pleasant trip out to the beach is a very real possibility with the Gulf Coast 90 minutes drive west from central Florida. If you don’t fancy cooking on Christmas Day you can be assured a great slap up festive feast if you head out, as portions are plentiful and suitably Christmassy. However, be sure to ring in advance and check with your chosen restaurant, as some require a reservation.

For further information please visit www.panoramicvillas.com

 

Fancy spending Christmas under the sun?

If you want to spend Christmas a little differently this year then take a look at these five incredible beach destinations – you won’t be disappointed!

Playa Blanca Beach, Lanzarote

Where
Playa Blanca Beach can be found in the south of the island, in Playa Blanca and is just a short drive from Lanzarote’s main airport.

Dine & wine

The promenade, on the edge of the beach, is full of great places where you can grab a quick bite to eat or a drink in the evening. If you’re a real foodie who loves friendly service then a meal at traditional Greek restaurant Sebastyn’s is a must. Alternatively, if thick cuts of meat are your thing then you’d be a fool to miss a trip to El Argentino’s Steak House.

Why so special?
This beach is the perfect place to relax as well as a great place to have fun with family and friends. The sea is calm and therefore perfect for swimming in and the beach itself couldn’t be any better situated as it’s so close to everything you could need, including souvenir shops, bars and restaurants and the main shopping centre of Limones. If keeping fit is your thing then you’re not limited to a run on the beach here as there’s a free exercise area between the popular areas of Playa Blanca and Playa Dorada.

The beach is positioned exceptionally close to the tourist information office where you can find out everything you need to know about Playa Blanca and the surrounding area. If you want a real treat then make sure you head a little further down the promenade where you’ll be able to take a look at the yachts at the Marina Rubimar and mosey around the designer shops and luxury boutiques.

Go if…
You like a variety of culinary delights then Playa Blanca beach is the perfect holiday destination. If you want to move away from the action packed Playa Blanca for a day of utter relaxation then that’s not a problem either as the calm, sheltered beaches of Playa Flamingo and Playa Dorada are extremely close by.

Avoid if…
You’re a water sport fanatic because the beaches are sheltered and therefore the waters too calm for any real fun, so if this is what you’re looking for then a beach further along the coast will be better suited to your needs.

Kuta Beach, Bali, Indonesia 

Where
Kuta beach is a mere 15 minute drive from Bali’s main airport – Ngurah Rai (Aka Denpasar) International Airport – and is situated on the west side of the island. If you want to make your drive to the beach a little more fun then it’s really easy to hire a moped or, alternatively, you could jump into the nearest taxi and you’ll be there in no time.

Dine & wine
In Bali the choice of food is endless so there’s something to please every palate. Don’t be afraid to try food from beach vendors because it really is exquisite but if you want to broaden your horizons a little further then head of the beach and enter the maze of back streets in search of something particularly wonderful. If you like to try new cuisines then as nasi goreng – Indonesia’s national dish; babi guling – roast suckling pig and pecel Iele, which is fried catfish, should all be tried. If you’re not overly adventurous when it comes to trying new dishes then there’s always Bali’s Hard Rock Café, which overlooks Kuta beach, where you can get your hands on some more familiar food.

Why so special?
The site of Kuta beach was once nothing more than a humble, quiet fishing village that has been transformed over the years into the most popular beach in Bali. This beach really is perfect for everyone; if you’re the type who enjoys sun bathing with activities going on around you, then you’ll have no problem finding the perfect spot. If you’re into water sports on the other hand then the water is perfect for surfing people of all skill levels and you can even have lessons from one of the many instructors, for a very reasonable price.

Safety is taken extremely seriously on Kuta beach so life guards are on constant patrol and flags are often used to clearly identify areas that are suitable for swimming.

In Bali, religion is taken really seriously and everyone gets involved so you’re likely to see a variety of lively Hindu celebrations and festivals taking place on the beach while you’re there.

Make sure you spend at least one evening down on the beach waiting for the sun to set as you’ll be treated to a sight that many people could only dream of – one of the greatest skylines in the world.

Go if…
You like fun and chaos to be part of your everyday life and you’re always on the lookout for your next adventure. There’s so much to do and so many people to meet from all walks of life, you’ll never get bored and you’ll get to hear some fascinating stories while you’re there.

Avoid if…
You’re looking for a quiet spot to spend some time alone and indulge in a good book.

Bondi Beach, Sydney, Australia

Where
Bondi is arguably the most famous beach in the world and is situated in the Sydney suburb of Bondi. Public transport in this area of Sydney is second to none so you can always get the bus or a train down to Bondi junction. Once you’ve reached this point you have a small walk through the lively town before you’ll be faced with the magnificent horseshoe that is Bondi Beach – the beach really is huge (about 1km) so there’s not a chance of you missing it.

Dine & wine
In Bondi there are loads of great places to eat and drink so there’s always somewhere to refuel after an action packed day at the beach. Campbell Parade lines the edge of the beach and is packed full of great places to eat – a lot of them even allow you to take your own drinks, which makes dining out with the whole family a lot more affordable. If you’re a meat lover then you’ll fit in well in the land where BBQs reign supreme. Roscoe Street is the home of the must-try Hurricane’s Grill where you can tuck into their meaty Christmas menu – which includes a full rack of juicy ribs – for around $65 AUS per head. The Bondi Social is a particular favourite for tourists and locals; they serve excellent food, including a particularly tasty breakfast, and they have happy hours every day so it’s a great place to frequent after a tiring day at the beach.

Why so special?
Bondi Beach really is beautiful and has all the facilities you could possibly need, including indoor showers, changing rooms and lockers – these can all be found inside the Pavilion, which is just opposite the centre of the beach. Safety is taken exceptionally seriously at Bondi and there are always lifeguards on duty who will continue to warn you of any dangers to look out for that day. Bondi Beach is a surfing hotspot – for the experienced and beginners – so if you fancy trying it out then this is definitely the place to do it, you can even enquire about lessons back at the Pavilion. The fact that Bondi is great for surfers means choppy waters, which sometimes means it’s not great for swimmers. If the warnings suggest that the water could be particularly dangerous that day or you don’t feel confident tackling the choppy sea then head to Icebergs Club – which is situated at the beginning of the coastal walk. Here you’ll be able to enjoy watching the waves crashing onto Bondi Beach beneath you while you swim in much calmer waters – (a 50m Olympic swimming pool) – for as little as $5.50.

Go if…You want to have fun with your family this Christmas – or any time of the year for that matter – at one of the most famous and most beautiful beaches in the world. Bondi Beach also has an amazing atmosphere because everyone – locals and tourists – is exceptionally friendly.

Avoid if… You’re not a great swimmer as the current at Bondi can be particularly strong. Kids should definitely avoid the water – unless they’re having a surfing lesson with a trained instructor – because even paddling can get interesting in these waters.

Cottesloe Beach, Perth in Western Australia

Where
Cottesloe beach can be found on Marine Parade where there’s always plenty of space to park. The beach is just 15 minutes outside Perth, Australia and can be driven to along the coast road – head north from Fremantle.

Dine & wine
Marine Parade runs parallel with the ocean and alongside the edge of Cottesloe beach and it is the perfect place to find food and drink to suit all taste buds and budgets. If you’re looking for a high end meal then be sure to check out the Restaurant Indiana, or if you’re just looking to have some fun and enjoy the atmosphere then the Ocean Beach Hotel shouldn’t be missed. The Ocean Beach Hotel is always packed with a healthy mixture of tourists and locals, there is a large beer garden so you can make the most of the weather and drink as much as you like by taking regular trips to one of their three bars. If you want to enjoy some great food while you’re there then be sure to check it out on a Sunday when everyone lets loose and enjoys a great BBQ for a really reasonable price.

Why so special?
If you’re a lover of great water sports then this is the place to be – particularly for kayakers and kite surfers. There’s no chance of feeling overcrowded on Cottesloe beach because it really is huge and if you’re not a fan of the sand but don’t want to miss out on a good day at the beach then there are also raised, lawn terraces which means you can enjoy the best of both worlds. Just for the novelty value make sure you don’t miss a trip to the drive through alcohol cash and carry.

Go if…
You want to make the most of the weather on a clean, safe beach while eating some amazing food in great company.

Avoid if…
You don’t want to let your hair down and have fun.

Chaweng Beach, Koh Samui, Thailand

Where
On the east coast of Thailand’s island of Koh Samui lies Chaweng beach which is a huge 6km long. Flights regularly leave the UK for this part of the world – flying via Bangkok – so you shouldn’t have any issues getting there.

Dine & wine
In Chaweng there’s no shortage of places to eat or drink with over 100 bars and restaurants serving all kinds of cuisine – including everything from traditional Thai to the classic American cheeseburger. A lot of people are afraid to try food that’s being sold on the street but it’s absolutely delicious and something you must try. The food and drinks on offer are generally pretty affordable and in order to create a sociable atmosphere a loft of the bars on the sea front put out tables and cushions so that you can enjoy a few drinks under the moonlight on the beach – watch out though because this creates a great nightlife so you’re likely to find yourself still sipping cocktails on the beach at dawn!

Why so special?
Everything is always going on at Chaweng beach and you can buy everything you need from the beach vendors. There are loads of water sports to try and there are plenty of massage parlours where you can relax with a traditional Thai massage.

Go if…
You like to party and meet like-minded people. Chaweng beach is descended upon by tourists and back-packers, between the ages of 18 and 35, who are looking for a good time on one of the liveliest beaches in Thailand.

Avoid if…
If you don’t like to party and you’re looking to relax on your holiday, read a book and not be disturbed.

For further information please visit www.panoramicvillas.com the UK’S number one holiday rental business.

 

 

 

October half-term: go all-inclusive

The October half term break is the perfect time to slip away for a bit of sunshine before the Christmas festivities and cold winter weather settles in full steam ahead across the UK.

Fancy packing up the kids and swapping Blighty’s cold and predicatably drizzly, grey weather for warm temperatures and plenty of sunshine? Of course you do. The Canary Islands, Turkey, Florida, and Majorca are top holiday destinations at this time of year with fantastic weather to enjoy and there’s some great deals to be had. To make things nice and easy for you, we’ve rounded up some of the best all-inclusive holidays currently on offer courtesy of Monarch…

Go all-inclusive – it makes sense!

With all-inclusive holidays you can be certain that you’ll be able to relax, with just about everything covered in the price of your holiday. So, not only can you expect a well earned rest but so can your wallet! All-inclusive holidays are great for families, with plenty of entertainment to keep kids occupied day and night and help to cuts out all those additional costs once you’ve paid for the holiday.  So whether you want to try watersports in Gran Canaria, relax in a Turkish bath in Turkey, a luxury holiday in the Maldives or relax by the pool in Greece, you can rest assured we’ve got it covered with these cheap holidays.


Turkey holidays

Turkey offers visitors a variety of holiday experiences with its beautiful history and stunning coastline.  The main regions are Antalya, Bodrum and Dalaman, which all offer charming resorts with stunning beaches and sparkling seas. Go to: Turkey holiday offers.

Majorca holidays

With over 30 resorts to choose from, and whether it is lively or peaceful there’s little wonder Majorca’s one of Europe’s most popular holiday destinations. Perfect for an all inclusive family beach holiday. Go to: Majorca holiday offers.

Tenerife holidays

Guaranteed sunshine and warm climate makes Tenerife an exciting holiday destination. The most popular of the Canary Island’s it has buzzing resorts, non-stop entertainment and delightful, vast beaches. Go to: Tenerife holiday offers.

Lanzarote holidays

Located amid a volcanic landscape of lava-baked hills, fiery craters and desert terrain, Lanzarote boasts beautiful and relaxing white sandy beaches, coupled with a promise of adventure in the spectacular Green Caves and the Timanfaya National Park.
Go to: Lanzarote holiday offers.

Happy holidays!

© Monarch

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