Just 40 miles east of Bali, laidback Lombok offers a vastly different experience than its touristy big brother. Its highest mountain, Rinjani, is cloaked in thick forest, and is sacred to many islanders’ animist faith. An ascent is best made with a private guide who can pop a magnum of Louis Roederer to celebrate your arrival. At lower altitudes, bask in bath-like seas, have a gourmet beach picnic and set out on Jet Ski safaris in near deserted bays. Not to be missed are the dive sites around the tiny offshore isles of Gili Trewangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air. Here, vast shoals of fish gather in shallow water. The coral is more colourful than the local spice market. y.co
2. WESTERN ISLANDS OF THAILAND
Phuket lives up to its reputation as the Pearl of the Andaman Sea. Its pleasures range from a scuba safari, to 18 holes on a tropical golf course, and a traditional Thai massage. But it’s at sea that the Andaman Islands offer some of Asia’s most unforgettable experiences. Northwest of Phuket lie the island chains of the Similan and Surin National Parks. Far beyond the reach of shore-based day trips, these tiny archipelagos are inhabited only by a scattered sea gypsy community. Dive the warm waters in search of whale sharks, manta rays and giant pelagics on Richelieu Reef, first discovered by the godfather of scuba Jacques Cousteau.
Malaysia’s Langkawi archipelago tempts sailors from across Asia not just for its array of quayside bars and boutiques, but also the cable car ride up to the Skybridge viewing platform. There, the panorama sweeps over a rainforest and Unesco Geopark, right across to the superyacht moored in the bay below. Overindulged in satay and seafood? Work it off along the Tour de Langkawi cycle race route. y.co
4. SUMBA AND RINCA, INDONESIA
The isolated Indonesia island of Sumba is superyacht-only territory. Its strange megaliths, depicting battles between spear-wielding horsemen, remain the preserve of a select few. Underwater, giant pelagics like wahoo and trevally mix with a myriad of exotic reef denizens on superb dive sites, including the aptly named “Magic Mountain”. With luck, sperm whales or even magnificent blue whales may pass within sight of one’s yacht. On neighbouring Rinca, yacht voyagers can find the awesome Komodo dragon. A guide can lead a private wildlife safari ashore.
Sail into Istanbul and be greeted by 1,001 domes and minarets. In the foreground, marinas flank luxurious waterfront Ottoman palaces which stand beside trendy outdoor restaurants. During the summer months, Istanbul’s nightlife virtually explodes along the Bosphorus waterfront especially in mega-club Reina. For a less heart-thumping experience, sail around the nine Princes Islands in the Marmara Sea. Once the traditional summer retreat for Istanbul’s high society and Ottoman royalty, today they provide a bucolic environment with forest walks, waterside seafood restaurants and charming cafés. (For more information, click here.)
Portuguese adventurers anchored off India’s Arabian Sea coast in the 15th century. Their colourful enclave retains a distinctive Mediterranean flavour that permeates its lifestyle. Since its heyday as a hippy hotspot in the 1960s, Goa has offered a portfolio of Indian delights, from temples to tropical beaches. The mouths of countless rivers flow into the sea along this stretch of India’s coast. Each one creates a natural harbour to lower anchor and allow an RIB to ease inland through a maze of palm-lined waterways, where white herons stalk through the shallows.
7. WESTERN VISAYAS, THE PHILIPPINES
The grandeur of the Philippines lies among its 7,000 islands. Over 6,000 of them are accessible only with a private boat. For desert island luxury, stream to the Western Visayas. The resort city of Cebu offers VIP gaming rooms that rival Las Vegas, while its tiny neighbour Boracay is a splendid place to recline. Anchor here and you are an RIB ride away from the finest beaches in Southeast Asia.
8. SALALAH, OMAN
Trade links, ocean currents and a bountiful cuisine mean that Oman owes more to India than Arabia. Its coastline really is Asia’s final frontier. For some 1,000km, countless waves of sand tumble into the Indian Ocean. The coastal trail begins in Salalah. Monsoon rains from India lick this coastline each summer, so while Asia swelters in July and August, the city reclines under the cool of a coconut grove. New flights from Qatar Airlines from May 2013 will transform it into a far more accessible destination.
9). MONTE CARLO
Can you already see the sun-drenched pleasure dome where la crème de la crème of European high society sail fabulous yachts, poodles sport diamond-encrusted collars and everyone seems to know everyone? Hotel du Paris is the perfect base for entertainment and dining, what with its three-Michelin-starred restaurant Louis XV by Alain Ducasse. At night, dozens of ritzy dance bars, such as Le Karément, are packed with night revellers. Le Opéra du Monte Carlo stages world-class ballet, classical concerts and, of course, opera in the Belle Époque Salle Garnier.
10. SAN FRANCISCO
San Francisco is the place to be this September 7 to 24 when the America’s Cup will be battled out in the waters surrounding the west coast city. Competition aside, it has no shortage of style and glamour. Epicureans must not miss dining at famed chef and culinary mastermind Laurent Manrique’s restaurant Aqua, garlanded with numerous food awards and two Michelin stars.
Apart from the show-stoppers that are the Opera House and Harbour Bridge, there are dozens of enticing small coves and bays within the larger Sydney Harbour to discover. A great place to start is Watsons Bay where The Tea Garden restaurant does a sumptuous Sunday brunch. Follow on with a postprandial walk up to The South Head, past the memorial anchor, to the 1857 wreck of the Dunbar, the Macquarie lighthouse — to witness spectacular views of the Pacific — and across to North Head and Manly Beach.
As one of Italy’s most beautiful coastal spots, A-listers favour Portofino for its picture-perfect town dominated by colourful buildings and backed by mountains. Pull up dockside, head straight for the main street Via Roma to restock on designer fashion and dazzling jewellery, then retire to Hotel Splendido perched high on a forested hill. At sea, cruise the rugged coast, work on a tan or take a day-trip to Santa Margherita and Camogli — two of the most beautiful towns along the famed Cinque Terre coast.
13. SAINT TROPEZ
The medieval buildings on the waterfront of this French Riviera town are painted in hues of dusky pink to bright orange, giving the impression of viewing a glorious sunset no matter what time of the day it comes into view. Get your feet onto dry land and Saint Tropez doesn’t disappoint either. For boating enthusiasts, the Citadelle Navel Museum situated inside three medieval towers houses excellent displays of model ships and historical navigational instruments. For art lovers, beautiful Impressionist paintings of seascapes fill the Musée de l’Annonciade set inside a restored 16th-century chapel. Put up at the famed Byblos Hotel, a revered rendezvous where high-flyers regularly land in helicopters for private parties that last till sunrise and are likely to make headlines for days after.
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