As summer approaches it’s time to start planning your tropical trips for 2018 if you haven’t already. You can’t beat a beach vacation, days spent lazing on white sand beaches and evenings watching the sunset with your favourite cocktail in hand! In this article we have rounded up our top 10 tropical destinations to visit in 2018.
1) THE EXUMAS, BAHAMAS
The Exumas in the Bahamas have long been on my bucket list – and with good reason! White sand beaches, crystal clear waters, the famous pig beach and of course swimming with black tip sharks makes it one of the top tropical destinations in the world. The best time of year to visit the Exumas is between October and May – which means it’s the perfect getaway during the winter months for a group of friends or you family to rent a villa. Exuma villas are often a better option than hotels for a group getaway because you will be located right on the water, have the privacy of your own swimming pool and staff to tend to your every need!
2) THE GILI ISLANDS, INDONESIA
The Gili Islands consists of three small islands just off the coast of Lombok in Indonesia. Their popularity has continued to increase due in part to the hundreds of images on social media of overwater swings at sunset. But there is more to explore in the Gili Islands, both on land and in the ocean. The Gilis are made up of three islands, Gili Trawangan – known as the party island, Gili Air the slightly more laid back island with what I think are the best beaches, and Gili Meno, the most laid back of the three. What they all have in common are the beautiful beaches, incredible sunsets, access to some stunning dive and snorkelling spots and no cars – so you can spend your days exploring by bicycle.
3) THE PERHENTIAN ISLANDS, MALAYSIA
One of my favourite places on earth are the Perhentian Islands, off the east coast of Malaysia. I first visited in 2007 and back then very few people were visiting these islands. Most of its visitors were backpackers heading to Perhentian Kecil or dive enthusiasts going to Perhentian Besar. The Perhentians have still not really hit the travel map meaning that you would be able to enjoy the abundance of sea life, tropical rainforest and white sand beaches with few other people. I recommend a trip to Perhentian Besar where a few small luxury bungalows have appeared over the last few years.
4) BORA BORA, FRENCH POLYNESIA
Bora Bora is a small island in the South Pacific, northwest of Tahiti in French Polynesia. Bora Bora is best known for its gorgeous turquoise waters, sand fringed islets and overwater bungalows, but even more for its spectacular diving. On a dive in Bora Bora you can expect to see plenty of fish, hard and soft corals together with sharks and manta rays. There is a joke that the number of sharks in French Polynesia outnumber the people, with 16 different species seen here you are almost guaranteed to see one. Humpback whales are sometimes seen during their migration primarily from August to October. Bora Bora definitely suits the luxury vacationer so start saving for this one!
5) ARUBA, DUTCH CARIBBEAN
Aruba, the island of iguana and flamingos! This tiny Dutch Caribbean island off the coast of Venezuela is one of the world’s number 1 tropical destinations. The European influence is evident in the architecture all over the island that features Dutch gables painted in tropical pastel colours. There is so much to do in Aruba, from sunset sailing, to ATV tours, wreck dives and even carnival, and I am so excited that I will be visiting Aruba soon!
6) BALI, INDONESIA
Named the No.1 destination by Trip Advisor in 2017, Bali has seen its tourism grow substantially in the last few years. With this influx of tourists the number of luxury and boutique resorts has continued to expand so there is something to suit every taste! My favourite parts of the island for white sand beaches and clear blue waters is Uluwatu in the south. Down here there are plenty of beaches to choose from, and if you ask around you might get told by a local or an expat where a secret beach is…
7) EL NIDO, THE PHILIPPINES
The Philippines is made up of over 5,000 islands so it can be pretty hard to decide which ones to visit. The most popular destinations are Boracay, El Nido and Coron, which are some of the most beautiful islands. I recently visited the Philippines and was impressed with their efforts to protect their islands, as they make attempts to encourage recycling and have separate bins for different waste products. But what was even more impressive was that the government recently shut down all of Boracay to tourists for six months to allow the island to rehabilitate and recover from the impact of tourism. Other Asian countries could learn a lot from the Philippines. These islands are truly beautiful and with Boracay closed I recommend a trip to El Nido or Coron to discover secret beaches and some of the best snorkelling that I have ever seen!
8) ZANZIBAR, INDIAN OCEAN
The Zanzibar Archipelago is located in the Indian Ocean just 15 miles off the coast of Tanzania, and is a breathtaking spot to escape. It is also the perfect add-on to a safari trip in Africa or even a place to rest after a hike up Kilimanjaro. Zanzibar offers its visitors stunning turquoise-blue water, shallow sandbars perfect for wading and many small deserted islands that are virtually un-visited by tourists. If you like to mix your beach time with some history you can also take a day to explore the World Heritage Site of Stone Town, Zanzibar City’s old quarter.
9) SRI LANKA
It feels like Sri Lanka is the Bali of 2018 with everyone wanting to visit the country. I spent a few weeks in Sri Lanka at the beginning of the year and completely fell in love. The country has it all, incredible (and empty) beaches, historic world heritage towns, national parks filled with elephants and leopards and one of the most beautiful train rides in the world. There are several coastal areas to visit if lying by the beach is your idea of the perfect vacation, including Galle, Tangalle, and Bentota, and I summarised my five favourite beach towns in Sri Lanka here.
10) DEAD SEA, ISRAEL
The Dead Sea Israel does not spring to mind as a tropical vacation, but I wanted to include it here as a I recently discovered the beauty of the desert and the Dead Sea in Israel. Whilst driving out to the desert we stopped at the popular Kalia Beach, but as we went further we discovered an even better and some would say tropical spot in the middle of the Dead Sea! This island is a natural salt formation created far out into the sea. A long swim will get you to this beautiful oasis – just make sure to bring your camera and some water! You can discover the location of the dead tree in the Dead Sea here.
We hope that this article has inspired your travels for the 2018. If you have any questions about the destination, please leave these in the comments below.
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