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The most fabulous summer holidays for all ages
While holidays are memory-making at any time of year, there’s something extra special about the summer months. With this in mind, we’ve come up with some far-flung and original ideas that not only buck the trend but also promise epic adventure, imaginative itineraries, wonderful weather, and fun on tap for everyone - no matter their age.
Hit the beaches and coastal towns of New England
It may get all the love for its autumnal blaze of colour that sweeps across the landscape, but America’s northeast seaboard region of New England has all bases covered in summer, too. Not only can you expect long days, bright blue skies, and temperatures that hit 35°C, but a wealth of woods, lakes, mountains, rivers, biking and hiking trails, and stunning ocean-backed beaches make it one of the country’s most idyllic outdoor playgrounds. Designed to delight adventurous souls of all ages, the 13-day Self-Drive Inn-Side New England tour starts in Boston and continues to the coastal town of Maine, the New Hampshire Lakes region, the lush hills of Vermont, and Cape Cod - the peninsula that was the favoured stomping ground of the Kennedy’s in the 1960s. Itinerary highlights include hitting the trails around White Mountain National Forest, marvelling at the Newport Mansions of Rhode Island, riding the Cog Railway to the summit of Mount Washington, and stocking up on all things Americana in Woodstock. You can also hop aboard a whale-watching boat from Provincetown to check out Plymouth’s historic sites (Plymouth Rock, Plimouth Plantation, the Mayflower), take a two-mile nature walk through the Flume Gorge at Franconia Notch State Park, and make your way to Maine’s southern coast for a swathe of white-sand beaches such as York, Ogunquit, Kennebunkport, and Cape Elizabeth.
Summer essential: Given that nothing screams summer like ice cream, a tour of Vermont’s Ben & Jerry’s Factory is very much in order. You’ll get to spend 30 minutes learning about the company’s history, watching the production progress, and tasting new and classic flavours at the scoop shop. Tours run daily year-round and are available on a first-come-first-served basis.
More information and to book: Self-Drive Inn-Side New England
Hoof around in cowboy boots in America’s Old West
Good times are guaranteed in America’s Old West, especially during the summer months when temperatures hit between 29°C and 35°C during the day (they cool down by the evening). For a taste of adventure that nobody is likely to forget, the 12-day Self-Drive Wyoming's Wind River Country tour takes you around a wild frontier fuelled by soaring mountains, wildlife-rich national parks, and historic towns and cities where tales of gold-hunting prospectors, gun slinging outlaws, and roaming cowboys still loom large. Following a circular route, you’ll start and end in the city of Denver - the jumping-off point to the Rocky Mountains that’s equally famous for its gold-domed State Capitol building, Larimar Square, City Park, and Red Rocks Amphitheatre (bagging tickets to a Colorado Rockies baseball game at Coors Field will score you huge brownie points). Itinerary highlights include Yellowstone National Park for its hydrothermal wonders (hot springs, mud pots, geysers), dramatic canyons, and North America’s highest altitude lake, and Grand Teton National Park for its mountain meadows, low-lying plains, 70,000-feet-high peaks, and possible sightings of black and grizzly bears. There’s also well-planned stops in Jackson Hole, Casper, Laramie, Rawlins, Cheyenne, and Cody - the self-styled Rodeo Capital of the World named in honour of William Frederick Cody (known to locals as Buffalo Bill).
Summer essential: Wyoming's 2.2-million-acred Wind River Indian Reservation is home to the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes. During the summer, there’s powwows and outdoor exhibitions held in various locations as well as traditional dance performances that take place every Tuesday in the Wind River Hotel & Casino’s Experience Room.
More information and to book: Self-Drive Wyoming's Wind River Country
Experience wildlife and watersports in British Columbia
With daytime temperatures averaging 20°C on the coast and upwards of 30°C inland, summers in British Columbia are reliably dry, warm, and perfect for whale-watching. This is also the best time of year for getting stuck into outdoorsy pursuits; think ziplining, mountain biking, climbing, whitewater rafting, and stand-up paddleboarding. For active types, the 13-day Exhilarating BC - Wildlife & Watersports tour appeals with a customised fly-drive itinerary that starts and ends in Canada’s skyscraper-studded metropolis of Vancouver. Highlights include Victoria for its relaxing cruises or zodiac trips to spot humpback, grey and orca whales, sea lions, and bald eagles, and Parksville for its miles of wide sandy beaches and ever-popular Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park. Also standout is Tofino - the one-time fishing village and hippie enclave turned surfer’s playground located at the southern end of Clayoquot Sound. Here you’ll find a 22-mile rugged coastline, dramatic rolling waves and good-looking sandy hotspots such as Cox Bay, MacKenzie Beach, Chesterman Beach, and Long Beach. There’s even more fun in store around Comox and Courtenay, where you can rent kayaks, fish for salmon, visit local wineries, explore mysterious caves, see orcas in their natural habitat, and embrace the slow food movement in the farm-to-table restaurants that Canada’s westernmost province is so famous for.
Summer essential: Don’t miss the chance to visit the Skookumchuck Rapids (affectionately known as Skook) where the tide changes twice daily and the flow of saltwater switches, reversing the direction and power of these turbulent waters. The difference in water levels between one side of the rapids and the other sometimes exceeds nine-feet in height.
More information and to book: Exhilarating BC - Wildlife & Watersports
Get up-close with Peru’s awe-inspiring Incan treasures
Peru is home to some of the planet’s most fabled landscapes, rainforests, ecosystems, and historic cities - and the best time to enjoy them is during the dry season (between May and October). The 10-day Inca Encounter is an escorted tour that kicks off in the capital of Lima, one of Latin America’s largest and buzziest cities cherished for its interesting historic centre, cool bars and clubs, and flourishing dining scene. For most, however, the obvious draw is spending four days in Machu Picchu - the remote UNESCO-protected Incan citadel located high in the forest-clad Andes mountains at an altitude of 7,972-feet above sea level (altitude sickness kicks in at 8,000-feet). There’s several ways of exploring this iconic 550-year-old archaeological site, but the most popular are hiking the Classic Inca Trail or taking the train through the Urubamba Valley to Aguas Calientes, Machu Picchu’s gateway town. Either way, you’re guaranteed to see the Temple of the Sun, Guardhouse, Inti Punku, the Intiuhatana stone, and The Royal Tomb as well as clear blue skies, swirling clouds, and jaw-droppingly beautiful Andean summits. Further itinerary highlights include boat rides, guided hikes to learn about the local flora and fauna, and exciting night walks in the Amazon Jungle.You’ll also venture into the Sacred Valley, an area of fertile farming land and mountain peaks that was known as Wilcamayo to the Incas.
Summer essential: Nicknamed the ‘belly button of the world’, cosmopolitan Cusco is the gateway to Machu Picchu and a visit-worthy destination in its own right. Be sure to hit the narrow cobbled streets and picturesque plazas for chocolate shops, trendy cafés, cookery classes, hipster neighbourhoods, and heaps of well-preserved Incan and Spanish colonial architecture.
More information and to book: Inca Encounter
Mix safari thrills in Tanzania with beach bliss in Zanzibar
Given that Tanzania’s dry season lasts from June to October, summer is when you’re least likely to find rain and most likely to enjoy sunshine (bear in mind that June and July are the perfect months to see the wildebeest migration when up to two million animals are on the move). To make the most of this majestic East Africa region, the 10-day Luxury Northern Tanzania Highlights & Zanzibar holiday starts with soul-stirring safari delights in Northern Tanzania - a bucket-list aspiration for many. Highlights include enjoying game drives through vast national parks, marvelling at graceful flamingos at Lake Manyara, and possibly spotting the Big Five in the Serengeti or at the UNESCO-protected Ngorongoro’s Crater. The remainder of your holiday will be spent blissing out in Zanzibar - the castaway-fantasy paradise off the coast of Tanzania that was described by 19th-century Scottish explorer David Livingstone as 'the most beautiful place on Earth'. Staying at The Residence, you’ll have access to a wealth of amenities (sumptuous villas, infinity pool, state-of-the-art spa, two restaurants, free bikes, private butlers) as well as the chance to laze on a mile-long beach and swim in glittering Indian Ocean waters. Alternatively, tour the island’s famous spice plantations, keep your eyes peeled for red colobus monkeys at Jozani Forest Reserve, and spend time in the UNESCO-protected island capital of Stone Town.
Summer essential: Although the Great Wildebeest Migration is a year-round phenomenon with each month offering a unique experience, the summer months are perfect for watching this mass wildlife movement. It’s impossible to be precise on timings, but the herds have usually reached the western Serengeti by June and are ready to head off to the Masai Mara by July.
More information and to book: Luxury Northern Tanzania Highlights & Zanzibar
Let the lure of the wild take hold at Kenya’s conservancy areas
For a lion’s share of game viewing and incredible wildlife spectacles, Kenya’s dry season is from late June to October. And if you’re happy to swap the Masai Mara for the lesser-known but equally spellbinding Laikipia, the private conservancies are a rather attractive choice for spending time outdoors, soaking up the sun, and coming face to face with animals you’ve only seen in storybooks or on TV documentaries. Those who want luxury under canvas will adore Sweetwaters Tented Camp for its African-inspired tents with en suite bathrooms, gourmet restaurant with outstanding cuisine, swimming pool, day and night game drives, guided bush walks, and spot-on location overlooking a private waterhole in the Ol Pejeta Conservancy - home to the world’s last northern white rhinos. For those who’d rather glam up their safari jaunt with an upscale hotel stay, Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club seals the deal with 100 acres of landscaped gardens, a nine-hole golf course that sits in two different hemispheres, an outdoor pool, and an on-site animal orphanage. There’s also 120 guest rooms with marble bathrooms, a signature restaurant for Kenyan-inspired and international dishes, a cosy lounge for end-of-day cocktails, and heaps of activities such as horseriding, nature walks, fishing, and game viewing on bikes. Ol Pejeta Conservancy can be reached in just under an hour by car.
Summer essential: Every bit as magical as the Masai Mara but far less touristy, Laikipia is one of Kenya’s biggest stretches of wilderness and its most progressive safari regions. Wildlife sightings come fast and furious; expect to see black rhinos in the bush, packs of wild dogs roaming the plains, and majestic herds of beisa oryx, Grevy's zebra, and elephants.
Enjoy a safari jaunt and an ultra-luxe seaside escape in Sri Lanka
The months of June, July and August see the rain ease off in Sri Lanka - especially on the north and east coasts where temperatures hit the mid-30’s and days are bright and sunny. While there’s a whopping amount to see and do in this ravishing Indian Ocean nation, the natural wonders take centre stage on the 10-day Yala National Park & Sri Lanka Beach Multi Centre holiday. You’ll spend the first two nights staying on an all-inclusive basis at Leopard Safari Camp, an ideal base for exploring Yala - the country’s most famous national park that covers an area of 1268 square kilometres. Highlights include exciting day and evening game drives (sightings of leopards, elephants, monkeys, crocodiles, and buffaloes are almost guaranteed), dining under the stars, wildlife walks, and the option of bird watching. The rest of your holiday will be spent at The Fortress Resort & Spa - a five-star hotel on Sri Lanka’s south coast, just 20 minutes from Galle. Complete with a design style that draws inspiration from the city’s 16th-century fortress, you can look forward to 53 guest rooms with comfortable beds, open-plan bathrooms, and all mod cons. Further facilities include an inner courtyard with yoga pavilion, spa with steam room, sauna and treatment rooms, 24-hour gym, and outdoor pool lined with sunloungers. A glass-walled wine cellar and a relaxed lounge for tea-influenced cocktails top things off nicely.
Summer essential: Most famous for its UNESCO-protected 16th-century fort, the charming city of Galle delights with whitewashed Dutch colonial buildings, chic boutiques, and plenty of places to stop for a cup of Ceylon tea. To spark interest to your Instagram feed, visit the beautiful white Galle Lighthouse that was originally built in 1848 (the current structure dates back to 1939).
More information and to book: Yala National Park & Sri Lanka Beach Multi Centre
Relax on Thailand’s islands of Koh Samui and Koh Phangan
Thailand’s rainy season is from July to October, but this doesn’t mean months of downpours (the afternoon or evening rain offers welcome relief from the summer sizzle). Most sun-seekers make a beeline for the Gulf of Thailand; not least because this is home to the best of the country’s islands and beaches. One of the big-ticket places to stay in Koh Samui is Six Senses Samui - a five-star stunner set on a promontory above the brilliant white sands of Choeng Mon Beach. In addition to an outstanding Zen-like spa, a palm-fringed infinity pool, and top-notch wining and dining options, there’s free fitness classes (yoga, pilates, tai chi), an outdoor cinema, organic gardens where you can collect your own eggs for breakfast, and a collection of stylish villas (many with private pools). Alternatively, book a stay at Santhiya Koh Phangan Resort & Spa - a five-star tropical oasis on the west coast of Koh Phangan. Facilities include 59 private pool villas and 40 guest rooms, two restaurants serving Thai and international cuisine, two outdoor pools, a hillside spa for indulgent pampering, children’s activities (batik painting, paper folding, cookery classes), and a ravishing private beach. Please note that flights and taxes, transfers, and breakfast are included for both hotels. Off-site excursions and island sightseeing tours can be arranged direct with the concierge team at each property.
Summer essential: Away from the dazzling sands, Koh Samui offers plenty to see and do. Visit the Hin Ta and Hin Yai rocks at the southern end of Lamai Beach, take a trip to Angthong Marine Park, and head to Lat Ko Viewpoint for panoramic island views. Don’t miss the famous 12-metre-high Big Buddha at Wat Phra Yai, the temple connected to the main island by a causeway.
Get up-close with wildlife in Borneo’s jungle and wilderness
For sunny days with bright blues skies and minimal rainfall, July and August are the ideal months to visit Borneo - one of the planet’s greatest islands for spotting animals in the wild (this is home to half of the world’s known species, including 222 mammals, 420 birds, 100 amphibians, and 394 fish). Offering endless opportunities to get accustomed to the sights and sounds of the jungle, the 10-day Classic Borneo tour includes visiting the UNESCO-protected Kinabalu National Park, trekking through misty rainforests, and taking multiple Kinabatangan River cruises for sightings of crocodiles, macaques, wild orangutan, bizarre-looking proboscis monkeys, and elephants. Further thrills include the Sepilok Orang-Utan Rehabilitation Centre and the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre in Sabah, the modern metropolis of Kota Kinabalu, and a tea plantation where you’ll tour a factory and sample all sorts of wonderful brews. After an action-filled six days of exploring, you’ll then transfer to the postcard-perfect Manukan Island - the second largest island in Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park, located off Sabah’s northwest coast. Here you can spend a couple of days relaxing and recharging on the beautiful beaches and snorkelling in tropical waters teeming with exotic marine life and coral reefs. Chalet, hotel and cottage accommodation, international flights, and daily breakfasts are included.
Summer essential: Founded in 1964 to rehabilitate orphan orangutans, the famous Sabah’s Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre is home to approximately 60 to 80 of these auburn-haired apes. During your visit, you’ll get to watch the orangutans swing in through the trees when it’s feeding time (their jungle breakfast includes bananas and bamboo shoots).
More information and to book: Classic Borneo
Cruise the sparkling Pacific waters to learn about Fiji’s history
While temperatures stay constant year-round, July to September sees Fiji is at its sunny best - ideal for enjoying the white-sand beaches, volcanic landscape, soft coral diving reefs, and diverse marine life. And given that so many activities here involve the sea, it’s no wonder that the 10-day Fijian Four Cultures Discovery Cruise is a deal breaker - especially for those keen to learn about the archipelago’s history and heritage. Sailing on the intimate MV Reef Endeavour, you’ll get an insight into four distinctly different cultures: the Ellice Islanders (Polynesian), Banabas (Micronesian), Indian and Fijian (Melanesian). Itinerary highlights include shopping at Labasa’s buzzy markets, snorkelling in the Great Sea Reef, spending time on Vanua Levu, and visiting a manta ray natural hatchery. If you haven’t got kids in tow, it’s worth extending your stay at Tokoriki Island Resort - a romantic and refined boutique hideaway in the Mamanuca Islands. Catering just for adults, you can look forward to award-winning accommodation in freestanding bungalows or large villas, a divine spa with couples’ treatments, and a restaurant with a wealth of menus (the teppanyaki chef’s table for theatrical show cooking is a real highlight). And then, of course, there’s palm-lined sands backed by the sparkling blue waters of the Pacific Ocean.
Summer essential: Fiji’s Garden of the Sleeping Giant is home to a vast collection of magnificent Asian orchids and Cattleya hybrids. Head here to stroll along the canopy-covered boardwalk, relax on landscaped lawns, and skip across calm lily ponds complete with trickling fountains and croaking frogs before reaching the heart of a dense rainforest.