If you’ve just returned from holiday, you’ll be itching to get your next one planned and booked so you have something to look forward to, to keep the January post-festive season blues at bay.
The Indian Ocean, especially Mauritius and Zanzibar, will remain popular among South Africans seeking budget breaks, says Sue Garrett, Flight Centre Travel Group South Africa Product and Marketing GM. “South Africans tend to look for destinations that offer value for money and that do not pose a threat to safety so Mauritius, Thailand and Zanzibar will be firm favourites for these reasons.”
Combine the beautiful beaches with a bit of adventure and culture and you have all the makings of an unforgettable holiday, and one that’s kind on the pocket too.
If the Indian Ocean is where it’s at for you this 2018, here are our top picks to put on your tropical holiday wish-list:
Set your watch to the pole pole rhythm of Zanzibar, located just off the Tanzania mainland. This Indian Ocean archipelago comprises two islands, with Unguja being the largest and most populated of the islands. With a dizzying array of resorts dotting the circumference of the island, there’s a wide range of accommodation options for different budgets and requirements. Our budget pick for 2018 is Uroa Bay Beach Resort on the east coast, with direct access to the beach. When in Zanzibar: Visit the Emerson on Hurumzi rooftop teahouse for a cuppa enjoyed against the backdrop of the labyrinthine streets of Stone Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Self-catering is always a good option for South Africans and you can holiday on your terms in a studio apartment located on the north-west coast of Mauritius. Enjoy a braai next to your own private pool surrounded by the exotic palms of Trou-aux-Biches or venture to the interior of the island to see the Seven Coloured Earths of Chamarel and Botanical Gardens of Pamplemousse. When in Mauritius: Discover the exquisite natural beauty of Ile Aux Cerfs, relaxing on a catamaran cruise or snorkeling up a storm in its crystal-clear waters.
Combine the vibrant Kuta nightlife with tranquil beach days in Bali. You may never want to leave the confines of this tropical beach paradise, but if you can drag yourself away from its shimmering azure waters, you’ll be rewarded with a range of other experiences, including the Kuta Theatre and Waterbom Bali. When in Bali: Consider an off-road quad bike adventure or combine your quad bike expedition with some canyon tubing to get your adrenalin pumping.
Don’t overlook Durban this year. Great for a weekend break on a budget, this city proves that you don't need a full week to enjoy a much-needed holiday. What’s more, you won’t need to bundle up your brood for a long-haul trek. Within a few hours you’ll be dipping your toes in the warm Indian Ocean, devouring a bunny chow or sauntering down the Golden Mile with the beautiful people. When in Durban: It goes without saying that you should visit uShaka Marine World with its various marine life encounters and water rides.
Set sail on a local cruise off the coast of KwaZulu Natal and Mozambique. Your three-night adventure on the high seas is the perfect budget break with all your meals, accommodation, on-board entertainment and transport covered in one fell swoop. Plus, you’ll only have to unpack once on this beautiful new addition to the MSC fleet, which offers live shows, no fewer than nine bars or lounges and three restaurants. There’s even a spot to indulge in fresh sushi! When on-board: There’s plenty to do on the high seas on board the MSC Musica. Dance the night away in the Crystal Lounge, watch a show at the stunning La Scala Theatre or relax under the tropical sunshine at the outdoor pool.
You can take life as fast or slow as you wish on the Thailand island paradise of Phuket. For travellers who want to be in the thick of things, make sure you’re staying in Patong near Bangla road. And if you want to chill, the beaches of Karon and Kata provide a tranquil tropical backdrop for a memorable beach holiday break. But there’s more to Phuket than the beach as you’ll encounter. Visit Phuket FantaSea, a cultural theme park only open at night, or soar through the jungle treetops on the Flying Hanuman zip-line. When in Phuket: Go kayaking amidst the towering karsts that rise up imposingly from the sea. It’s an incredibly soulful experience and definitely not to be missed.