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Indian Ocean Beaches


Palolem Beach, Goa
Goa on India's south west coast has been a favorite hippy and backpacker hangout since the 60's. Palolem Beach used to be a hidden heaven, and is now a major tour destination, but this crescent-shaped and palm-fringed bay is still very appealing with excellent value for all styles and budgets. Perfect for chilling out and soaking in its laid-back atmosphere. Best Oct-Mar, OK Apr & May. Wet & sticky from the monsoon and with rough seas from July to Sept.

Diani Beach, or Serena Beach
Both beaches are long and fringed with coconut trees. Water is clear and gentle. Resorts offer excellent value for money, especially for families. Excellent sea food. Night life is lively and late. Best Dec-Mar, OK July-Oct, in low season [long rains] Apr-June, beaches are often wet in the morning.

Banyan Tree, Cocoa Island, Nika, Soneva Fushi [islands] etc.
Most visitors come on packages, staying at one of the 90 otherwise uninhabited resort islands. Resorts are well set up with beautiful beaches and sea, great snorkeling and diving. No cultural experience at all, but luxury and pure escapism with no hassle. Ideal for couples and honeymooners. Nudity and topless are strictly forbidden. Best Nov-Apr, but it's also the busiest season. OK Oct & May. Rain starts late May.

Flic en Flac, Trou aux Biches and Paradis beaches
Perfect soft coral sands bordered by some wonderful low-rise, lowish-price hotels. The island is mostly ringed by reefs so waters are calm and protected for swimming and sailing. Best April, May, mid-September to mid-December, but OK year round, especially considering the off-season discounts. Jan-April is very hot and humid. Dec-March is the best time for diving, June-Aug is best for surfing [there is an occasional gap in the reefs].

Muscat beaches [ in the Arabian Sea, to be precise]
Oman has over 1,000 miles of coastline and very few tourists. Some beaches have great coral reefs, some have secluded bays or palm tree valleys with lots of solitude and unspoilt nature. Mughsail beach near Salalah is also excellent. Best Nov-Mar. OK Oct & Apr-May. June-July is unbearably hot & June-Sept is rainy season. Avoid Ramadan [Oct 15 - Nov 14 '04, Oct 5 - Nov 4 '05].. And by the way, there's suprisingly little exotic culture there, but there is an incredible 5* hotel if that's your thing - Al Bustan Palace hotel.

[Burma] Sandoway beach [Bay of Bengal]. A huge rock, covered with hanging plants and trees, lurks in the middle of the beach . The sand is powder white and the sea is so clear that you can see the coral from the shore. Best Nov-Feb. Cheap, cheap.

Anse Volbert, Praslin island
A sensational beach sporting the obligatory powder sand and gently shelving turquoise water, backed by granite outcrops and bird encrusted takamaka trees. Developement is limited to a handful of small hotels and family-run restaurants. Apart from watersports the island also has a World Heritage slice of evocative jungle, Vallée de Mai, not far from the beach and a good coast road for biking.More or less a year round destination. The ideal time to go depends on what you want to do:
Windsurfing and sailing are usually best in May and Oct.
Diving is best March-May, Sept-Nov.
Prices are highest and everything is busiest in Dec-Jan, July-August.
Short, not very disturbing rains Nov-Feb.

Ile Souris, east coast of Mahé island
Another great Seychelles beach of cool sand, warm water and hot rocks - pristine and unspoilt with very limited developement. Fine anytime but very best as above.

Anse Source d'Argent, La Digue island
La Digue is the third largest of the 115 Seychelles islands, but not developed yet . Soft white sand and warm water protected by a coral reef , though footwear is advisable due to hidden coral chunks. Fine anytime but very best as above.

Sri Lanka:
A low-key resort with a lovely curving beach and good local colour. The driest and best season is Dec-March on the west and south coasts. For scuba diving go to Hikkaduwa.

north & east coasts
Zanzibar, 50 miles off the mainland of Tanzania, is famous for unspoiled beaches [Breju Beach is the best known]and great snorkelling though sometimes the sand is somewhat spoiled by seaweed. Facilities are still relatively basic, but some exclusive resorts are available. Best Dec-Feb, June-Oct. For diving Aug-Dec.


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