Why go: For a great city-beach break, Cape Town has a balmy Mediterranean climate, with temperatures at their warmest from December to March. Dramatic beaches, mountains and vineyards form a show-stopping backdrop, permeated , by seafront restaurants, thumping nightlife and cheap shopping -the perfect antidote to a British winter. And no jet lag.
Get me there: Elegant Resorts (01244 897517, www.elegant resorts.co.uk) has seven nights’ B&B at The Bay, near the Twelve Apostles, from.£1,320pp, including flights from Heathrow.
Or try: Sydney, if you can handle the jet lag. Like Cape Town, it has gorgeous beaches moments from town, and a buzzy urban appeal (see our guide on page 54 for more Sydney tips). Read the rest of this entry »

Why go: Don’t let the fleshpots of Cancun put you off: a few ; kilometres along the Yucatan coast from Mexico’s big, brash party capital, you’ll find quiet, icing-sugar sands backed by hip beach hotels. Nip across to the island of Cozumel for sensational snorkelling and diving. Indiana Jones types will find Mayan ruins  ‘ aplenty to explore, from Chichen Itza’s pyramids to the rambling beachside remains at Tulum.
Get me there: Abercrombie & Kent (0845 618 2200, www. abercrombiekent.co.uk) has seven nights’ B&B at the elegant Esencia, from £2,075pp, including flights from Heathrow.
Or try: Belize, especially if you like diving. It has some of the world’s finest coral reefs and dramatic blue holes, as well as lots of beautiful beaches and Mayan ruins. Read the rest of this entry »


Why go: Grizzled hippies might claim that it’s spoilt, but look beyond the busy package resorts and you’ll find idyllic beaches where you can eat grilled kingfish as dolphins play offshore. And it’s not all sun -and sand: there are wildlife sanctuaries, and Portuguese-influenced towns such as Panaji with its whitewashed churches and old colonial mansions.
Get me there: First Choice (0871 200 7799, www.firstchoice. co.uk) flies to Goa from £480 return. For a chic retreat, try the 17th-century mansion Siolim House (00 91 832 227 2138, www.siolimhouse.com; doubles from £90 per night, B&B). Read the rest of this entry »

Why go: Despite what you might think, Florida’s not ail theme parks. In fact, it’s easy to avoid Mickey altogether; whether you’re driving open-top along the Keys or parading among the body-beautifuls on Miami’s South Beach. One of the state’s loveliest hideaways is Sanibel Island, connected to the Gulf Coast by a five-kilometre causeway. As well as cycling, kayaking and shell-collecting, you can spot dolphins and alligators. Read the rest of this entry »

Why go: St Lucia is the prettiest and friendliest of the big Caribbean islands. Jungle-cloaked and mountainous, it has miles of silky beaches. But should you tire of lounging, it presents plenty of outdoor activities: rainforest walks, mountain-biking, and zip-wiring through lush forest canopy. You can even hire a local guide and climb one of the two Pitons: volcanic peaks soaring 771m into the sky.
Get me there: Caribtours (020 7751 0660, www.caribtours. co.uk) has seven nights, room only, at Ti Kaye Village Resort, from £1,077pp, including flights from Gatwick and transfers.
Or try: Dominica, another lush Caribbean speck with a similarly outdoorsy appeal: waterfalls, volcanoes and crowd-free coves. Read the rest of this entry »