2107 saw us visiting over 8 beach locations worldwide, a huge success in my eyes, as we visited many different beaches instead of the cold snowy holidays my husband used to prefer before we got older and wiser (and more arthritic). We have been spoilt for life with skiing in Canada, especially with last year’s white Christmas, so trekking for miles to make NZ snow trips didn’t appeal as much this year.
With our numerous beach holidays, each one held different significance for location or reason for visiting. Some were revisits to favourite places, others for special celebrations, others still because we got amazing deals for flights and or accommodation that we just couldn’t turn down… I have reported on many of them in my previous blog posts, so here I am going to try and rank them based on my experiences and what each of them offered us.
8 – Kaanapali (Maui, Hawaii) – we were promised that this beach was worth visiting, but after driving there in heavy traffic, struggling to find a car park somewhere even close to the sand, and lugging beach chairs and coolers along a steep and crowded beachfront to a spare spot in the sparse shade, we were underwhelmed. Beautiful sand, warm waters but very very crowded even on an off-peak weekday. The shoreline is full of mid-rise hotel complexes and it seems incredibly popular – but we found better beaches closer to our accommodation further south.
7 – Waikiki (Oahu, Hawaii) – a lovely stretch of wide sand but pretty crowded. We only ventured here after visiting the pool at our hotel and realising how small and packed it was and thought we’d chance it better at the beach. And it was better than the pool, but finding a spare patch of sand was fun. The water was warm, but it didn’t really have any wow to it all.
6 – Kamaole, Kihei (Maui, Hawaii) – hmm see the theme here? Sadly, as beautiful as it is, Hawaii was definitely not our favourite beach location. Maybe it was the way it seemed more like a city location rather than a beach location. However, Kamaole was walking distance from our condo, and had a good level beach, not too crowded, surf patrol and good snorkelling with turtles. We were amazed to see turtles most places we swam and snorkelled on Maui and this did add to our experience. The corals and other fish life were not so exciting, but we have been spoilt this year with some pretty amazing snorkelling, so what you see here may give you more of a buzz than it did us.
5 – Lalati Resort, Beqa Lagoon (Fiji) – having visited Fiji a number of times previously, and especially the Yasawa Islands to the north, this was a different experience for us. It was a windy and slightly cooler experience here in the south, and we missed the amazing golden white sandy beaches of Nanuya, but the water was warm and the snorkelling was good. We were here only due to a great all-inclusive offer for accommodation and meals, otherwise we wouldn’t have chosen to come to the south of Fiji. The resort was good, but I’d return to the Yasawas over here any day.
4 – Long Beach, Russell (NZ) – a favourite beach with memories from the 70’s and 90’s when we visited here separately as children ourselves, and then as a family when our children were young. A beautiful stretch of sand with calm lapping waters and lovely outlook on the beautiful Bay of Islands.
3 – Noosa, Queensland (Australia) – one of our “go-to” beaches in Australia, we love the vibe of Hastings street and have migrated closer to the beach each time we’ve stayed here. We love the weather, the sand, the water, the walks in the National Park, the food. It’s become an annual pilgrimage to come here and we are already looking forward to our next visit in February.
2 – Matai Bay, Northland (NZ) – we began our year with a promised return to the far north of New Zealand, to Matai Bay – we had been there once before about 24 years ago when our children were very, very young and we had great memories of this secluded piece of paradise. I still believe this is one of NZ’s best areas, especially if you go out of peak season to avoid the worst of the summer crowds. The location is remote, the weather tends to stay warmer here, the water was calm and sparkly and the beautiful horseshoe bay with plenty of golden sands was a lovely place to while away a couple of lazy days.
1 – Baros Island (Maldives) – wow! wow! wow! Can I say it again? This place blew my mind. The Maldives has always been a bucket list destination, and my wonderful husband surpassed himself when he brought me here to celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary. The water, the sand, the abundance of sea life, the weather – all exceeded my expectations. I’d go back in an instant. I’m aware that many other Maldives resorts may be amazing too, but this resort was simply stunning, small and private and easy access from the airport.
Despite these amazing places, I really can’t forget that I live almost beachside and we get stunning sunset views from our own deck. We may not have the white sands or tropical weather, but we are truly blessed to enjoy such a wonderful country here in New Zealand, and I will miss it when we are away next year. More adventures to follow, but always home to look forward to.