With its pristine swathes of sand, colourful coral reefs and exotic flora and fauna, Mauritius feels like paradise found. Sri Lanka’s golden coastline, fringed by palm trees, is blissful after busy days spent visiting its inland cultural gems. Or, if you’re looking to indulge those desert island dreams, escape to the Maldives – a place like nowhere else on earth. From a luxury over-water villa you can step straight into a calm, clear lagoon. Or set sail on an ancient dhoni to spot turtles and manta rays below.
A treasure trove of ancient ruins and time-honoured temples, Sri Lanka boasts no less than eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites. You could climb the ancient Sigiriya Rock Fortress. Or delve into the 7th-century Golden Cave Temple of Dambulla. A trip here wouldn’t be complete without witnessing the iconic sight of Galle fishermen expertly balancing on stilts above the water. Or sipping freshly picked and brewed Ceylon tea. One of the best places to do so is Nuwara Eliya – a lush landscape peppered with colonial mansions.
Jungle-clad Sri Lanka has its very own brand of safari. Here you can take to the water on a river trek along the mangrove-lined Madhu Ganga. Or grab your binoculars and head to Uda Walawe, Wilpaththu or Minneriya National Parks for glimpses of water buffalo, elephants and monkeys. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a leopard. In the Maldives, leave dry land and escape underwater. The islands might be small, but they’re home to over 1000 types of colourful fish – not to mention a gentle giant, the elusive whale shark.