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Summer around the world |

Travel and Tourism

Summer around the world

RENDEZVOUs - Christine Dayrit - The Philippine Star

The summer season is like a precious gem — to find it, you need to look for it. And once found, you bask in the glory of the sun, sea, and sand.

I am a sun worshipper. Of all the seasons, I am happiest during summer. It means chasing the sun wherever it rises, wherever it sets. And the best sunrises and sunsets, I have found in the beach destinations where my wanderlust brings me.

For a change, I am writing about the seven summer destinations that have made me yearn for summer the whole year round. These are the places where I have spent my most memorable summers many times — in pursuit of sun, sea, sand. And sharks and volcanic eruptions, too.

1. El Nido, Palawan, Philippines

A recent trip to El Nido Resorts in Palawan proved to be an excursion back to the essentials. El Nido is a crown jewel of astonishing aquamarine and turquoise watery hues replete with shimmering white-sand beaches. Around it are crimson fronds of swaying palms against a dramatic backdrop of centuries-old limestone caves, where numerous varieties of flora and fauna endemically thrive. The underwater scene here is densely populated by diverse denizens; once you’re in the waters, the teeming marina of eclectic fish feed off your bare hands.

El Nido Resorts is composed of Lagen, Miniloc and Pangalusian within the El Nido Protected Area in northern Palawan. Its sister resort on Apulit Island in nearby Taytay, formerly Club Noah, also boasts a pristine location that showcases a wealth of wildlife and colorful tropical fishes and scenic landscapes.

2. Reunion Island  

On rare occasions, summer in Reunion Island gives way to a balmy breeze. The sun is up yet some nippy weather accompanies you at this French protectorate island in Western Africa that was once, according to both legend and history, the meeting point of pirates around the world.

As a volcanic region, a trip to witness the grandeur of Piton de la Fournaise, one of the world’s most active volcanoes, can be done while riding an ultra-light plane, a helicopter or an all-terrain vehicle. Other daredevils do parachute gliding for an aerial view of the island that houses the intriguingly beguiling Piton de la Fournaise. Even today, its eruptions have led to an increase in the surface area of the island. In 1986, the region of Saint-Philippe gained an additional 25 hectares with lava flowing into the watery caverns while at Bois Blanc, 10 hectares were recovered from the sea in January 2002.

When not on land or suspended in mid-air, other adventurous tourists discover the paradisiacal pull of the island in its waters. The vast Indian Ocean in Reunion Island has been declared by many divers as their point of rendezvous with the dazzling and diverse denizens of the deep. 

Even if one does not dive, the waters of Reunion Island still provide great excitement for those who want to experience humpback whale watching.

3. Mauritius  

Resembling a rich, green emerald swathed in the translucent turquoise silk of the southwest Indian Ocean, the allure of Mauritius captivates with its natural exotic beauty. Towering dramatic volcanic peaks, gently guarded by endless sugarcane plantations, swaying palms and shimmering beaches comprise its glorious landscapes. Abundant sunshine and short yet sharp rain showers amid the obsessive beat of the African-inspired sega music beguile like the fragrance of an everlasting summer. The island spent many millennia out of sight of man and evolved a unique and successful ecosystem incorporating some unusual creatures seen nowhere else on the planet. The extinction of many, including the legendary dodo bird, shames human history but today Mauritius is home to some of the earth’s most rare plant and animal life, and the marina waters offshore offer yet another realm for exploration.

4. The Maldives

The Maldives is known as one of the most exotic tourist destinations in the world. In a country spread over 90,000 on the Indian Ocean, it is uniquely blessed with dreamlike beauty.  It is a profound blessing to swim in the Indian Ocean while sipping pina coladas and scotch on the rocks in the middle of the ocean.

One of the premier addresses in the Maldives is W Resort.  At its cozy and chic SIP bar, the eclectic lights of blue, violet, fuchsia and the interplay of white and dark shadows under the star-strewn sky witnessed the glorious evening of revelry and camaraderie. The resort’s alfresco FISH restaurant serves the freshest catch of the sea. The marine delights are transformed into epicurean fusion where taste and presentation synthesize. Perfectly flamed caramel crème brulee, refreshing sorbets and divine chocolate cake provide that sweet ending.

If it’s powdery white sand — as in white sand — that you crave, you’ll find it in the Maldives. You walk along the glistening powdery sand, so immaculately white that it serves as a mirror when sunlight casts its glorious rays. The name W Maldives evokes pictures of an enchanting and uncontaminated island setting. Pristine beaches bordered by slender swaying palms mirror the cerulean sea. Engage in world-class diving, snorkeling safaris, dolphin and turtle watching trips, game fishing and sailing.

5. San Sebastian, Spain

A peninsula to the right, a cape to the left, two gulfs, an isthmus in the middle, a mountain in the sea and at the foot of the mountain, a city. Imagine all those and you get a picture of San Sebastian, the Spanish summer playground of many of Europe’s rich and famous.

I’ve seen San Sebastian in three seasons already but it is always during summer that the city is frenetic. The first impression is always fairylike, the second short of exciting, electrifying, inspiring.

An ancient lighthouse stands to the left of the promenade. La Concha Bay forms a stunning natural backdrop for the spectacular regattas, which always attract large crowds. A haven for the rich and famous, San Sebastian is definitely a summer spot to sizzle in. This city where the pintxos are said to originate is a picturesque slice of heaven.

6. Koh Samui, Thailand

Koh Samui (also spelled Ko Samui) is an island off the east coast of the Kra Isthmus, Thailand. Geographically in the Chumphon archipelago, it is part of Surat Thani Province, though, as of 2012, Ko Samui was granted municipality status and is now locally self-governing. Koh Samui is Thailand’s second largest island after Phuket, with an area of 228.7, a population of over 63,000 and a hotel occupancy rate of 73 percent as the number of visitors increases. Abundant tourist resources, sandy beaches, coral reefs, and coconut trees are present on the island.

Koh Samui is an island paradise and your experience starts the minute you get off the plane at the Koh Samui airport. You rub your eyes in disbelief — are you in an airport or already in a resort? Yes, the uniqueness of the town hits you the minute you experience resort feel at the airport. Then you discover Koh Samui’s white beaches, fiery yet sumptuous food, and spa treatments in every nook and cranny.

7. Hout Bay, Cape Town, South Africa

The daredevil needs to swim with the Great White Sharks — in a cage — at Hout Bay in Cape town, South Africa. Of course, the human being is the one in the cage that is made of solid steel. The sharks pirouette around the cage. It’s the experience of a lifetime.

Hout Bay is a sight to behold as it is one of the most famous places on the Cape Peninsula and a highlight of any visit to Cape Town. The well-paved road that runs from Camps Bay offers a beautiful drive all along the sea. The town lies picturesquely in a wind-protected bay, surrounded in the west by the Karbonkel Mountain, the famous Mount Sentinel as the outpost in the sea, and in the east, by the Constantia Mountains and Chapman’s Peak.


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