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THE VACATION REPORT PEACE AT THE BEACH

Unspoiled, remote and pristine: beach destinations that offer sun, sea and serenity.

Words by Shona Wallace.

ISLAS SECAS, PANAMA

A true castaway experience awaits at Islas Secas (islassecas.com), a luxe retreat on Panama’s Pacific coast. Spread across 14 private islands, the majority of which remains untouched, the remote archipelago resort welcomes only 18 guests at a time, ensuring the utmost privacy and tranquillity. This jungle hideaway is just an hour’s boat trip from the city of David yet feels a world away from civilisation. Comprising nine luxurious casitas, it is the perfect jumping-off point for those seeking an adventure-packed, yet still incredibly relaxing, getaway.

The beach-hopping opportunities here are endless, and the shores themselves are spotless. The hotel prides itself on sustainability – it is entirely powered by solar panels, all water used is captured and recycled, there are no single-use plastic bottles and all food scraps are composted for fertiliser. As a result, the surrounding waters are a safe haven for native marine life, including whale sharks, giant manta rays and bottlenose dolphins. Make the most of it with a day on your own private beach, for which the concierge will provide snorkel equipment, kayaks, sun loungers and a fresh picnic lunch, or take a boat to the nearby marine reserve Coiba National Park. Come evening, brush off sandy toes and head to the Terraza restaurant at the heart of the island for a taste of authentic Panamanian cuisine.

Islas Secas Island
Islas Secas Island, Casita Sombre
Islas Secas Island, Terezza, Casita Grand
Islas Secas Island

SAL SALIS NINGALOO REEF, AUSTRALIA

A UNESCO world heritage site, set 800 miles north of Perth, Ningaloo Reef is one of the largest in the world, teeming with rare sea turtles, over 500 species of tropical fish and over 300 coral species. Nestled alongside this picturesque coast is Sal Salis (salsalis.com.au), a remote tented lodge sitting on sandy dunes between the outback and marine paradise. So as not to disturb the surrounding ecosystem, the owners place a huge emphasis on sustainability – the lodge is exclusively solar-powered with organic bed linen, eco-friendly homemade toiletries and composting toilets. There is no Wi-Fi, limited signal and no television – in short, there are no distractions from the natural beauty of this outback-meets-beach setting.

The resident chef at Sal Salis prepares a daily changing menu of bush-sourced food and local fresh fish are served either at the main lodge or on the deck overlooking the ocean. All guests are invited to dine together, creating a convivial, friendly atmosphere that is ideally suited to families. After a day of swimming, snorkelling and exploring the plains, relax in your tent’s hammock beneath a thousand stars – the location is noted as one of the world’s best places to see the Milky Way – before falling asleep to the sound of waves lapping gently on the shore.

Sal Salis Campsite and Ningaloo Reef
Sal Salis Ningaloo Reef, Campsite Tents at Sunrise Bush

MELIAN BOUTIQUE HOTEL, GREECE

A Greek island may not be an obvious choice for a quiet beach break, but if you look beyond the more famous Cycladic hotspots, there are a few hidden gems awaiting discovery. This untouched nature is what makes Milos so charming. A tiny volcanic island 129 miles from Santorini, Milos boasts some of Greece’s most spectacular swimming spots, ranging from white sandy bays to isolated rocky coves. Among the most beautiful is the Sarakiniko beach, where the pale grey rock is curved into dramatic shapes, reminiscent of a moonscape.

Tucked away in the quiet fishing village of Pollonio is Melian Boutique Hotel (melian.gr), a beachside sanctuary with spectacular views of the dramatic shoreline. All whitewashed walls, clean lines and natural touches, the hotel’s interiors echo the serenity of its setting. It’s just a few steps from a couple of local beaches with the others all easily reachable by boat. Start your day with fresh fruit and coffee on the terrace, watching the sun glittering on the sea, then set off on a private boat excursion to discover the many secret shores.

Melian Boutique Hotel
Melian Boutique Hotel
Melian Boutique Hotel

AMANWELLA, SRI LANKA

The word Aman means peace in Sanskrit, a fitting name for a hotel group synonymous with pared-back luxury and tranquillity. One of its two idyllic properties in Sri Lanka, Amanwella (aman.com) is located on the sun-soaked south coast of the country, just outside the town of Tangalle. Surrounded by vibrant gardens and towering palm trees, this majestic beach retreat sits pride of place on a coastal hilltop, overlooking a hidden sandy bay with crystal-clear waters.

Inspired by Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa’s signature tropical minimalism, the design of the hotel channels barefoot luxury with clean lines, cool neutral tones and natural touches. There are just 27 suites dotted around the grounds, which heightens the overarching feeling of serenity. The suites are all equipped with expansive terraces and private plunge pools, meaning guests tend to spend a lot of time in their rooms. As a result, the shared spaces are pleasantly quiet, and the beach is as calm and unspoiled – as nature intended.

Amanwella
Amanwella
Amanwella, Lounge Bar
Amanwella

MANDA BAY, KENYA

There is more to Kenya than incredible safaris – the country also boasts some of Africa’s most attractive, often overlooked beaches. Located at the north-western tip of Manda Island in the Lamu archipelago, Manda Bay (mandabay.com) is a boutique lodge fringed by pristine white shores. In keeping with its surroundings, the hotel channels a laid-back, bohemian vibe with palm-thatched roofs, driftwood furnishings and relaxed open-air, ocean-view lounges.

As much of the surroundings are uninhabited, guests at Manda Bay have access to miles upon miles of tropical beaches, often completely deserted aside from the odd local fisherman. A feeling of privacy and seclusion runs throughout the island, which belies its relative proximity to the capital of Nairobi. Also worthy of note is the hotel’s commitment to social and ecological conservation – the owners work closely with the Northern Rangelands Trust to support nearby Kenyan communities in building a sustainable economy and peaceful environment.

Manda Bay
Manda Bay
Manda Bay
Manda Bay

HOSHINOYA TAKETOMI ISLAND, JAPAN

With its fine white sand, endless blue sky and turquoise waters, you could easily mistake the Japanese island of Taketomi for the Maldives. This unspoiled tropical paradise, however, is just three hours from Tokyo and home to some of the country’s finest beaches. It is also the site of the first Japanese beach outpost from hotel group Hoshinoya (hoshinoya.com), a name synonymous with refinement, understated luxury and impeccable attention to detail.

Designed to slot seamlessly into island life, Hoshinoya’s spacious villas are inspired by Taketomi’s ubiquitous white houses with red tile roofs. The interiors are modern and minimalist with a nod to Japanese tradition, and each private pavilion boasts a walled garden with tumbling bougainvillea and hibiscus flowers. The hotel’s grounds are abundant in lush greenery, including herbs and vegetables, which are used in the innovative Okinawa-French restaurant. Though the area is popular with day-trip tourists, guests at Hoshinoya have the great advantage of enjoying its pristine beaches from sunrise to sunset.

Hoshinoya Taketomi Island, Room
Hoshinoya Taketomi Island
Hoshinoya Taketomi Island, Gajoni
Hoshinoya Taketomi Island
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