Soft powdered sand, lush palm trees, and oceans as warm as bath water are the idea of most people’s vacation skies. While the most important beach destinations in the world are arguably great places to unwind and calm your mind and body, there is often so much more than you first see …
Whether you want a balance between excitement and relaxation or just want to take advantage of your travels, why not differentiate your next getaway to the beach? One of our favorite ways to do this is to go to a coastal idyll that offers amazing cultural experiences beyond the sand.
From tranquil Thai coves near stunning outdoor adventure centers to the African coasts within driving distance of wonderful wildlife parks, there are so many exceptional options. Here are some of the most popular cultural destinations from our travel experts to inspire you.
Railay Beach, Thailand
Railay Beach, perfect for pictures, is one of the most famous beaches in Thailand, and for good reason. Spread along the coast of Krabi, its lush jungle, spectacular limestone cliffs and the serene waters of the Andaman Sea make it the perfect place for R&R.
In addition to providing you with a beautiful base to get away from the beach, Railay Beach and the surrounding area are flooded with fantastic cultural activities and exciting excursion options. Why not enjoy a Thai massage or savor authentic Thai cuisine with a delicious cooking race?
Railay Beach is also ideal for thrill seekers, thanks to a wide range of adventure activities. Go sea kayaking directly to the coast or head inland for whitewater or quad biking. Krabi also has many other beautiful beaches where you can sunbathe, including Phra Nang Beach, which is a magnet for swimmers and rock climbers.
For a beach holiday in Thailand full of culture, split your time between the coast and one of Thailand’s top nature reserves with a stay in Elephant Hills. The luxury tent campsite is located in the heart of Khao Sok National Park and offers spectacular jungle rides and canoe safaris to see elephants and other magnificent creatures in their natural habitats.
Hoi An, Vietnam
Vietnam is another Southeast Asian country that is no stranger to beautiful coastlines. Hoi An is practically one of the most important beach destinations in the country for those who want a bit of culture and is also ideal for families, because one of the best times to go there is during the summer school holidays.
The historic port city is located on the central coast of Vietnam and is full of elegant Japanese teahouses, French colonial-era mansions and traditional Vietnamese tube houses. It is also happily traffic free and has a beautiful old town center crossed by canals.
In addition to numerous attractions and a sandy beach full of luxury resorts, Hoi An is the ideal starting point for trips to the Cham Islands. The idyllic archipelago is just 30 minutes by speedboat and has a number of wonderful white sand beaches where you can swim and sunbathe.
The Cham Islands have their own fascinating cultural sites. Take some memorable holidays in traditional fishing villages that appear trapped in time or visit the serene Ong Temple where the villagers worship the remains of a whale buried for a long time. Adventure lovers will love snorkeling on the reef of Xep Beach, while kitchen lovers can enjoy sumptuous regional seafood dishes at rustic, family-run restaurants.
While many venture into Chile to tour its vibrant cities or immerse themselves in the extraordinary landscapes of Patagonia National Park, we know that the country is also blessed with some fantastic beaches.
Valparaíso, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, is located on the Pacific coast of Chile and is even nicknamed the “Jewel of the Pacific” for its impressive architecture, its treasure of cultural sites and its impressive location in the top of a hill. The city is also within walking distance of Vina del Mar, the most glamorous beach resort in Chile and an ideal place to relax.
Divide your cultural getaway to the beach between the intriguing museums and colorful streets of Valparaíso and the elegant beach clubs and golden sands of Vina del Mar. The latter also houses delicious gastronomic cuisine, world-class art galleries and extensive shopping malls.
Alternatively, another beach destination for culture in Chile is Pucon. Located in the lake district of Chile and in the shade of a snowy volcano, it is an important adventure sports center. When not walking, rafting or horseback riding in the hills, you can relax on the beaches of the black sand volcano of beautiful Lake Villarrica.
It’s no secret that Hawaii has some of the most beautiful beaches on the planet. Still, it is far from lacking in cultural activities for those who prefer to stay out of the sun.
Despite being part of the United States of America, Hawaii has a very different South Pacific culture, which is very much alive on all the beautiful islands in the region. Enjoy encounters with locals in charming coastal towns or find out more about Hawaii’s past at the capital’s museums, Honolulu. There are also many opportunities for nature adventures. Conquer a volcano on Oahu, swim with green turtles from a black sand beach on Big Island or dive into the green rainforest of Kauai.
Those who want to sample local cuisine as part of their cultural trip around Hawaii will find a real melting pot of flavors. Choose American, European and Japanese influences while indulging in treats like shaved ice and pickle. Our travel coordinators can easily help you plan a trip that incorporates Hawaii’s best beach destinations and memorable cultural experiences.
Most associate Kenya with epic safari trips and the incredible Great Migration. While it is home to some of the most amazing wildlife parks on Earth, it also has a beautiful section of coastline.
After spending a week or so experiencing Kenya’s nature reserves and getting to know the fascinating Masai in places like Laikipia, consider getting to Mombasa Beach. The second largest city in the country is not only full of beautiful heritage sites that paint a vivid picture of its past, but also form a lot of white sand beaches.
Enjoy a bit of history at places of interest such as Fort Jesus before choosing several stretches of sand. Nyali Beach is a perfect strip of white sand for the postcard, backed by coconut trees and high-end resorts. Other sublime options are Mombasa Beach and Jomo Kenyatta Public Beach, both bordering Mombasa Marine Park, which is an oasis for swimming, snorkeling and water sports.
Talk to our experts about how to create a trip to these beach destinations that is culturally immersive and completely tailored to your needs.
Isn’t it time for some R&R?