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Seminyak boasts some of the most glorious beaches in Bali. Be sure to catch the legendary sunsets and enjoy the tranquil beauty, and marvel at Balinese ceremonies on the beach, complete with gamelan players and offerings to the gods. Of course, don’t let the smooth sands and intricate cultural experiences distract you from spas and shopping! Sophisticated spas and high-end boutiques will entice you away from the waterfront—for a short time, anyway.
White-sand beaches set the scene for a romantic tete à tete in Jimbaran, a quaint fishing village in Bali, Indonesia. Luxury hotels mingle with simple seafood shacks on the waterfront. Feed your paramour succulent chunks of freshly-prepared fish, then amble along the beach under the Indonesian moonlight before retiring to your five-star accommodations for the night... and the next morning.
Nusa Dua is a hotbed of luxurious accommodations, golf resorts, fine dining and R&R. Surfing and diving are popular activities for more active visitors to this beach destination. Trek up the many steps to Mother Temple Besakih and combine sight-seeing with muscle toning. An array of spas, galleries and boutiques await those who prefer less exertion. Local Barong performances can be admired at Batubulan.
Bali is a living postcard, an Indonesian paradise that feels like a fantasy. Soak up the sun on a stretch of fine white sand, or commune with the tropical creatures as you dive along coral ridges or the colorful wreck of a WWII war ship. On shore, the lush jungle shelters stone temples and mischievous monkeys. The “artistic capital” of Ubud is the perfect place to see a cultural dance performance, take a batik or silver-smithing workshop, or invigorate your mind and body in a yoga class.
Premium scuba diving and snorkeling are the highlights of the gorgeous Havelock Island, the most popular of the Andaman Islands. Glass-bottomed boats provide a similar up-close marine life experience. Jungle treks and camping are popular landlubbing activities, though the more delicately dispositioned can choose to retire to one of several luxury resorts. Refuel with fresh coconut milk and succulent, just-caught seafood, which dominates every meal.
Sparsely-populated beaches that give way to an ocean brimming with interesting marine life and coral gardens are just one of the reasons to visit the beautiful Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Ghandi Park, Sippighat Farm and the century-old Cellular Jail (now a pilgrimage destination) provide glimpses into the past and present of these peaceful islands with a mysterious and multicultural past.
Coastal charm meets cultural heritage in the sacred city of Puri, where pilgrims flock annually to celebrate the Ratha Yatra. Besides world-famous temples, Puri boasts beaches and markets that buzz year-round, while the wetland landscape beyond the city retains its wild edge.
Blossoming bougainvilleas, crumbling cathedrals on leafy boulevards and 18th-century colonial buildings colour the former French colony of Pondy, which sits on the Bay of Bengal. But it's also unmistakably Indian, with colourful festivals throughout the year, several mosques and the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. Quiet beaches stretch north and south from town, good for swimming and sunrise strolls. Pondy is a popular weekend getaway destination from Chennai and is easy to navigate on foot or by bicycle.
Just 45 minutes out of the city, the East Coast Road first stops at the historic town of Mahabalipuram. The 7th century erstwhile port city is famous for its rock-cut shore temples. A lone lighthouse on a hill watches over a group of temples below. Mahabalipuram also has some great cafes that serve good sea food. A backpacker’s delight, one can find cheap accommodations and plenty of activities.
Let the beautiful coastal town of Varkala melt your worries and tensions away. Varkala’s peaceful seaside cliffs adjoin the Arabian Sea, setting the scene for several water spouts and wellness spas. The waters lapping at Papanasam beach are considered to have holy, sin-cleansing properties, and the nearby Ayurveda treatment centre will cleanse what the ocean missed.
Want to make your co-workers insanely jealous? Just casually drop "I’m holiday making in the Maldives this year" into conversation, preferably in the dead of winter. Or better yet, go there without mentioning it to anyone—then send them a "Wish you were here!" postcard.
East meets West in this sun-soaked state, where Indian culture intertwines with Portuguese influences left over from a 500-year occupation. The beaches have long served as a magnet for serene hedonists. To the north, the tourist-centric scene is prevalent, with an international flair that is now skewing more hip than hippie. Travel south for stretches of unspoiled sand and an escape from large resorts. Temples, mosques and wildlife sanctuaries provide diversions from the beach.
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