Best active beach breaks
1 — Surfing Papua, Indonesia
Tropic Surf runs no-expense-spared surfing trips around the globe but bills Papua, Indonesia’s easternmost province, as the sport’s last frontier, the favourite destination of the company’s director Ross Phillips and what it calls a “prized secret”. Guests tour the archipelago aboard The Silolona, a luxurious version of the region’s traditional wooden phinisi boats, with five double cabins. The islands are an exotic wonderland of aquamarine lagoons, karst rock formations, caves, white sands and thriving coral reefs, where it’s easy to find waves suitable for beginners and more challenging fast, short breaks. As well as surfing, guests can go scuba diving, kayaking or visit remote villages — or simply watch the sunset from the huge nets slung below the bowsprit.
A week costs from $150,000 for 10 people; tropicsurf.com
2 — Paddleboard Adventure, Vanuatu
A decade ago, there was no such thing as a paddleboarding adventure holiday. Now specialists are creating innovative itineraries that use stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) not just as a two-hour fitness activity but as the sole focus for a holiday, and as a method of travel that gives access to narrow lagoons, shallow coves and otherwise tricky-to-reach waterways.
Among the many far-flung trips offered by SUP Wilderness Adventures is a tour of Vanuatu in the South Pacific. The country’s 83 islands are fringed with both white sands and black volcanic beaches, and there are sunken forests, coral reefs and unusual features, such as the Matevulu Blue Hole, a freshwater pool of improbably bright-blue water reached by a 45-minute paddle up the Mateva river from the coast. Other paddles take in submerged second world war wrecks, the tiny islands of Turtle, Dolphin and Oyster off Santo’s east coast, and the palm-fringed, talcum-powder sands of Champagne Beach. Nights are spent in thatched bungalows on the beachfront and in some hotels. The trips are small group tours with a maximum of 10 people, starting from Luganville on Espiritu Santo.
Six nights from $1,250 per person; supwildernessadventures.com
3 — Coastal hiking, South Africa
A new guided walking trip from Black Tomato replicates the beachcombing hunter-gatherer lifestyle of the Strandloper people, who roamed South Africa’s coastline for millennia. Hiking along the Wild Coast trail, guests learn to forage oysters and mussels from the rocks and dive for lobsters and crayfish, but stay in a different luxurious beach camp or lodge each night. Starting in Mtentu, the route takes in the beaches, swamp forests and waterfalls of Mkambati Nature Reserve, covering around 13km a day.
A five-day tailor-made trip costs from £5,000pp, including guide, transfers and return flights from London to Durban; blacktomato.com
4 — Biking, The Algarve
The Algarve tourist board has launched a new website to promote cycling and walking, with routes, maps and tips for independent travellers. It’s also a shop window for local tour operators, such as Portugal Bike Tours, which offers a self-guided “Amazing Algarve Coast” itinerary from Sagres to Tavira, riding 43km per day via wild beaches and small fishing villages, with your luggage transferred to the next hotel each night.
From €1,350pp for seven days’ half-board at hotels, including bike hire and luggage transfer, or from €2,490pp for a guided trip; portugalbike.com. The tourist board’s site is at portuguesetrails.com/en
5 — Wildfitness, Menorca
Retreats with Wildfitness aim to tackle problems associated with poor posture, diet and a sedentary lifestyle, getting people to live and move more as their ancestors would have done in the wild. From April it has a new base at Binigaus Nou in Menorca, an 18th-century villa surrounded by forest, 15 minutes’ walk from white-sand beaches. Activities, all done outside, range from stretching and meditation to kayaking and stargazing.
A week costs from £1,232pp; wildfitness.com
6 — Hiking and swimming, Corsica
With peaks that rise to 2,706m and a glorious 1,000km coastline, Corsica is one of the few places where you can combine mountain hikes and seaside sunbathing on a single day. Getting there from the UK is easier this year too: starting in May, Air Corsica will fly from Stansted to Ajaccio, Bastia and Figari. Fly to Figari and stay in Thinking Traveller’s smart new villa Arbitru, close to unspoilt Cara Lunga beach and the Balistra Lagoon, a nature reserve with lovely walking.
7 — Swimming, Egypt
On a new SwimTrek holiday to Egypt, swimmers experience the Red Sea’s warm waters amid coral and abundant marine life, and stay on a 28m yacht, the M/Y Dreams. The group swims 4km per day, around shipwrecks and reefs, spotting manta rays, turtles and whale sharks, with stop-offs at deserted beaches.
A week costs £1,050pp, departing from Hurghada; swimtrek.com
8 — Kitesurfing, Mauritius
Known as “kite lagoon”, the turquoise lagoon at Le Morne in Mauritius has gentle waves, shallow water and strong winds to suit kitesurfing beginners, while experts can head further out for bigger waves. Lessons are included during a fitness retreat at the lavish Shanti Maurice resort, along with beach runs, yoga and tennis.
A week costs from £2,480pp half board, including flights from London; healthandfitnesstravel.com
9 — Fitness and yoga, Turkey
The Six Senses Kaplankaya opens near Bodrum in May, taking over a sea-view spa hotel formerly run by US brand Canyon Ranch. Exercise physiologists and instructors lead classes ranging from spinning and high-intensity work-outs to circuit training on the beach, outdoor pilates and yoga.
A week costs from £1,195pp including flights from London; thehealthyholidaycompany.co.uk
10 — Boot camp on the beach, France
Near St Tropez, surrounded by umbrella pines, La Reserve Ramatuelle has 14 villas with pools, butlers, a Michelin-starred restaurant and views of the Mediterranean. It also hosts bespoke boot camps: Nordic walks, personal training and yoga on the rooftop terrace are complemented by healthy meals and spa treatments.
Double rooms from about €1,050 per night, five-day bootcamp from €3,800 extra; lareserve-ramatuelle.com
Compiled by Joanne O’Connor, Gemma Bowes and Tom Robbins. Unless otherwise stated, prices are the cheapest available between May and the end of September 2018