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There’s more to beaches than just lying on them

Discover where to swim, sail and cycle along the coast

Sand, sea and sun loungers – for some, the perfect trio. But, while relaxing on the beach is undoubtedly blissful, there’s a whole world of awe-inspiring coastlines just waiting to be explored in different ways. Kayaking and catching fish in Corfu. Sailing to Mexico‘s hidden beaches. Bathing in Ischia‘s volcanically heated water or biking down the boardwalk in Miami. Here are some ideas if you want to get you away from the beach holiday norm – while staying in the finest boutique hotels.

Discover Mexico’s buried treasure

The ‘getting there is half the fun’ expression certainly applies to the Hidden Beach of Mexico. This mysterious volcanic creation is on one of the completely uninhabited Marieta Islands. You can only visit it by boat – roughly an hour away from Puerto Vallarta, or 15 minutes from the resort area of Punta Mita. As you sail through a long tunnel, look up at the sky above through a huge grass-fringed hole. You’re now gazing up at the land with the sea and sandy beach below – completely invisible from the outside.

Cenote Dos Ojos

Another one-of-a-kind geological gem, is the Cenote Dos Ojos – Spanish for ‘two eyes’. Set between Playa del Carmen and Tulum, it’s one of the largest cave networks on the planet. A 400-metre-long underwater passageway connects the two cenotes. So bring your snorkelling or scuba diving gear and you can drift away in the piercingly bright turquoise water reflected off the stalagmites above.

Where to stay: Relax in the lush, botanic gardens of Casa Velas Boutique Hotel. Or be near the magical Mayan cenote in the sophisticated luxury of Blue Diamond Riviera Maya

Casa Velas

Go on a Greek odyssey in Corfu

You can’t beat Corfu for the best variety of different watersports – from water skiing and windsurfing to stand up paddle-boarding or simply sitting in a sleek power boat. Whatever your level of experience and expertise, the calm, crystalline waters of the Ionian Sea along the quieter south eastern side provide the ideal conditions.

But Corfu is also renowned for its sea caves. Nausicaa in the Palaiokastritsa area is one of the most famous. It’s named after the Phoenician king’s daughter who, according to local legend, rescued the naked, shipwrecked Odysseus inside this cave 3,000 years ago.

Paleokastritsa

Getting to the sea caves, tucked away bays and little islets is often only possible in crafts such as a sea kayak. These glide so smoothly through the water, it’s almost impossible to capsize, even when things get a bit choppy. Kayak’s also usually have dry compartments for storing food and water – handy for picnic pitstops.

Where to stay: Relax in the cool, restful atmosphere of MarBella Nido Suite Hotel & Villas in Corfiot, modern style.

Marbella Nido Suite

Bike down the Miami Beach boardwalk

Why stroll along the sand when you can peddle? And where better to watch the world whizz by than cycling along Miami‘s famous four-mile long beach boardwalk. Starting at Indian Beach Park at 48th Street it stretches down to 23rd Street where it becomes a paved surface that runs through the Ocean Drive Promenade.

Lummus Park

Head down the wide eastern sidewalk to Lummus Park – a picture-perfect mix of green lawns, shady seagrape trees and palms. Rollerbladers and runners will soon join you – rows of pastel coloured hotels completing the scene in what is now the Art Deco district. The southern end of the Boardwalk is where South Pointe Park looks out onto Biscayne Bay. Keep your camera ready for stunning sunset views and the huge cruise ships drifting by from the Port of Miami. In between, the cafés and boutiques along Collins Avenue provide plenty of refreshment and retail opportunities in the Central Miami Beach section.

Where to stay: Live the high life in Art Deco, luxury loft-style at The Celino. Or have a sun lounger reserved for you in The Plymouth South Beach hotel.

The Celino South Beach

Get hot and bubbly in Ischia

Capri’s beautiful, rugged sister, Ischia, has more seaside surprises up its sleeve beyond its beaches and crystal clear Mediterranean Sea. Volcanic water features in the many of the thermal spas and luxury hotel swimming pools dotted around the island. But you can also find this phenomenon occurring naturally near the shore.

Sorgeto

One of the most famous beaches to enjoy nature’s Jacuzzi, is in Sorgeto. It’s slightly off the beaten track and still as popular as it was in Roman times. Wading into rock pools that suddenly change from cool to hot water bubbling up from the sand below is a curious, deeply relaxing sensation. You can also buy pots of therapeutic, mineral-rich mud from nearby stalls to slather on head-to-toe, before easing yourself into the water.

Where to stay: Take in the views of the celebrated Neapolitan coast and indulge in therapies using water from Ischia’s hot springs in San Montano Resort & Spa.

San Montano Resort & Spa