JANUARY – ST. LUCIA, CARIBBEAN
The breathtaking Pitons cast their shadow over dense tropical forests, quality beaches, and colorful villages. The Creole “welcome” and the sounds of Caribbean jazz (see Omar Sosa) caress the ears. In Santa Lucia, they speak English, but cook French, like at the Coal Pot (superb seafood). The hammocks of the Ti Kay Village (tikay.com) would be the only reason to stay away from the sea at this time of year.
FEBRUARY – CANARY ISLANDS, SPAIN
Santa Cruz boasts a unique oceanic delicacy, and during February, its epic Carnival makes it a destination of choice – especially if combined with a stay at the distinctive Hotel San Roque (hotelsanroque.com). In the north, authentic vistas alternate as if on a slide show. Next stop is the wild island of Lanzarote, with its surfing mentality and vast natural park.
MARCH – ΤΑSΜΑΝΙΑ, AUSTRALIA
It was March; I was looking for the notorious Devil and feeling like Jane Goodall. I finally caught sight of him at Mount Field National Park alongside flamboyant parrots and penguins, as the island faces south to the Antarctic. Tasmania is predominantly green. Exploring the Great Oyster Bay by means of a one day cruise is spectacular.
APRIL – FIJI
Down to earth prices, calm waters, serenity. Fiji’s gems unravel their atolls and lagoons and evoke a Captain Cook aura that entices you to marine explorations, above and below water. Head first to the Somosomo corals and then straight to the Turtle (turtlefiji.com), a private island where the Blue Lagoon was filmed. It’s time for your private epic.
MAY – ST. BARTS, CARIBBEAN
Some may call it a cliché and noisy destination, however, in May, tranquillity reigns in its startlingly colored corners. The relatively pricey island offers exhilarating waters, better service, and affordable prices. Even the Guanahani Hotel (leguanahani.com), with its atmospheric Butler Suites, is a bargain during this period at
JUNE- BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS, CARIBBEAN
It’s better to explore the 50+ beaches by sea. In June, the crowds are absent and the joy of privacy present. Corals spread across the dazzling sea bottom, which is ideal for diving. Friendly islanders disclose the hidden secrets of their land.
JULY – GALAPAGOS, ECUADOR
It’s where Darwin spotted the majestic annual procession of giant tortoises descending from the highlands of Santa Cruz to lay their eggs. In June, nature blooms, whales frolic in the ocean and migratory birds chipper away on the rocks. It is at this time when the biologist, Austin Lehman (www. austinlehman.com) organizes enthralling snorkeling expeditions alongside sea lions.
AUGUST – ILE SAINTE MARIE (NOSY BORAHA), MADAGASCAR
This little, buckle shaped island used to be a pirate’s den. Today, its waters are patrolled by whales, traveling with their young in August; while on its beaches, palm trees stoop to kiss the sand. The Robinson style setting continues at the Lilliputian inland with its one village, the Ambodifotatra, or at the refined Princess Bora Lodge.
SEPTEMBER – LOS ROQUES, VENEZUELA
Italian surfer, Cesare Cantagalli had described it as a revelation. Indeed, when I visited, I saw the light. Got dazzled by the sparkling waters (the only ones I could compare to Greece), the jubilant crowds and the possibility of having an island all to myself for a few days without sandals. Alternatively, there are posadas like the Μediterraneo or the Movida, which are cheap and sufficiently tropical.
OCTOBER – SEYCHELLES
Exoticism mixed with Creole heritage leads to the Kreol Festival in October which features wonderful music. This all happens in the capital, Mahé. However, your trip has to be followed by something more private – something with a natural quirk, like the Lemuria Resort (www. lemuriaresort.com) on Praslin Island, home of the world’s
NOVEMBER – ANDAMAN AND NICOBAR ISLANDS, INDIA
I remember the moving documentary about elephants swimming from islet to islet to find their mates. It was filmed on the untouched Andaman Islands. Indeed, travel to Nicobar is allowed only to Indian naturalists. A magical sea bottom, swarming with tropical fish and shipwrecks, lays hidden in Havelock Island (that features the permanent electricity supply!). The best expeditions are organized by the Silver Sand Resort.
DECEMBER – BAY ISLANDS, NEW ZEALAND
The land for enjoying adventures! The homeland of bungee jumping reveals its best in the uninhabited Bay Islands on North Island. Kiwis arrange festivals and everything is laid back on the organized kayak tours along the coast. They are operated by companies like the Sea Kayak Adventures.