Three paradise island retreats

Head to these paradise islands for a dose of winter sun. Chris Carter reports.

932_MW_P39_Travel_01

Bom Bom: you'll have the superb beach to yourself

But unlike the Seychelles, it is only just beginning to build its profile as a destination for travellers who are keen to combine hiking through rainforests and past fading colonial mansions with flopping on deserted beaches. The island of Prncipe, some 90 miles to the north of the larger So Tom, is perfect for the latter activity, especially on the Praia Banana. You may recognise it from rum maker Bacardi's 1990s advertisement. Not much has changed since as few tourists make it to Prncipe, preferring the more affordable So Tom. "It's worth the extra bucks, though."

Stay at the Roa Sundy, a stylishly renovated manor house hotel, with tiled floors and wooden ceilings. The manor "makes it easy to imagine what life must have been like for plantation bosses a century ago". It provides a free shuttle service to its partner resort, Bom Bom.Its private beaches on a small peninsula and eponymous islet are "among the best, and emptiest I've ever seen".

Roa Sundy from €175, HotelRocaSundy.com; Bom Bom from €280, BomBomPrincipe.com

Tobago Trinidad's chilled-out sibling

932_MW_P39_Travel_02

Castara Retreats: perfect for a day of "liming"

The Caribbean island of Tobago has more "ramshackle beauty, bewitching wildlife and smashing beaches" than you can shake a stick at, says Mike Atkins in The Times. It's got a big brother too the island of Trinidad. But if Trinidad is big and brash (think carnival), Tobago is very much the chilled out little sibling "happiest sitting back on the sand and letting life happen, maybe with a plate of curriedcrab and dumplings, maybe with acold beer".

Tourism on the island has developed more slowly than in other parts of the Caribbean, thanks to the island's oil and gas reserves. "Sure, if you look hard enough, you will find the odd luxurious all-inclusive resort, but Tobago is not really about roped-off beaches and shiny shopping malls." You are more likely to find yourself sharing the beach with locals than with "sunburnt Europeans suffering from buffet fatigue".

Castara Retreats is a gorgeous collection of wooden lodges scattered on a hillside overlooking a bay, where it's easy to fall into a blissful routine of "liming" (not doing anything, in the local vernacular). After a lunch of callaloo and fried fish at a local seaside caf, Atkins and his 11-year-old son "waddle onto the beach to let the afternoon drift into the evening [like] natural born limers".

From £95,CastaraRetreats.com

Moorea the other emerald isle

932_MW_P39_Travel_03

Hiking up through the tropical highlands of Moorea, in view of sister island Tahiti, requires as much use of your hands as it does of your feet, says Andrew Evans in National Geographic Traveller. It takes more than an hour to reach the knife's edge of Moorea's volcanic ridge, a steep, black basalt wall. But the climb is worth it for the views.

From the narrow lookout at Trois Cocotiers, you can see the whole of the heart-shaped island, including Opunohu Bay, "and the unbroken carpet of green that sweeps from the shoreline up to the cartoonish peak of Mount Rotui". Every island in each of the five island groups that make up French Polynesia is unique. Tahiti and the other Society Islands (including Moorea) are themost visited; the Marquesas, the most northerly; the Tuamotus, the flattest; while the more southern Austral and Gambier islands are almost unvisitedby tourists. "The biggest mistake a traveller can make is not to get past the romance of Tahiti or the honeymooner overwater bungalows of Bora Bora," says Evans or even, despite all its charms, "the emerald green Moorea".

See TahitiTourisme.comfor a list of guest houses throughout the islands

Recommended

The return of the Great British holiday
Travel and holidays

The return of the Great British holiday

Planning on holidaying at home? Just be aware that millions will have had the same idea, says Chris Carter
19 Feb 2021
Should you head abroad or stay in the UK for your summer holiday?
Travel and holidays

Should you head abroad or stay in the UK for your summer holiday?

If you go abroad there will be trouble, says Chris Carter. But you should be safer with a holiday nearer home.
12 Feb 2021
Five of the best “wellness” retreats
Travel and holidays

Five of the best “wellness” retreats

Go kayaking in Cornwall, run on the beach in Devon and practise yoga in Suffolk. Alice Feilden reports.
5 Feb 2021
Three walking routes in England for the aspiring pilgrim
Travel and holidays

Three walking routes in England for the aspiring pilgrim

From a walk through neolithic “horizon architecture” to a trek to the Isle of Avalon. Jasper Spires reports.
29 Jan 2021

Most Popular

The days when you could get 7% from your bank are long gone – so what do you do?
Bitcoin

The days when you could get 7% from your bank are long gone – so what do you do?

With interest rates at rock bottom for so long, we’ve been forced to move from saving to speculating to earn any sort of return. Dominic Frisby asks w…
24 Feb 2021
Why you should still put money into a cash Isa
Cash ISAs

Why you should still put money into a cash Isa

Interest rates may be lousy, but tax-free saving into a cash Isa is still a good idea.
23 Feb 2021
Are we heading for another bond market tantrum?
Government bonds

Are we heading for another bond market tantrum?

The last time the US central bank tried tightening the purse strings, the bond markets threw a tantrum. With yields now rising, could we be about to s…
25 Feb 2021