‘The talcum-powder beaches of Cocoa Island in the Maldives are a favourite. It’s an atoll only 50 paces wide with thatched villas on walkways over water the colour of angel’s eyes. Baby sharks and rainbow-coloured fish with names like oriental sweetlips scull around under your balcony.’
Michael Buerk, journalist and newsreader
Best for reluctant beach-goers.
Get there British Airways flies to Malé from London Gatwick. BA offers seven nights at the five-star Cocoa Island hotel, from £2,299 per person including flights, seaplane transfers and B&B. Visit ba.com/maldives or call +44 (0)844 483 0758.
‘A beautiful fine white-sand beach surrounds the entire island, which you can walk around in just over an hour. The horizon stretches forever and most of the villas are set back discreetly in the forest so it feels distinctly deserted. And the crystal-clear waters of the shallow lagoon are divine.’
Kate Gay, head of consumer PR, British Airways
Best for honeymooners and snorkellers.
Get there BA flies to Malé from London Gatwick.
BA offers seven nights at the five-star Soneva Fushi by Six Senses from £1,795 per person including return flights, seaplane transfers and accommodation. Visit ba.com/maldives or call +44 (0)844 493 0758.
The Sandbank at Soneva Fushi
‘Seclusion and privacy on a tiny spit of pure white sand off the shore of Soneva Fushi must be one of the world’s most dreamy beach experiences. Reached by boat from Kunfunadhoo Island on Baa Atoll, it’s surrounded by its own natural aquarium. Swim with multicoloured parrot fish, manta rays and turtles.’
Ann Sadler, travel PR
Best for Robinson Crusoes who don’t wish to dispense with comfort.
Get there BA flies to Malé from London Gatwick.
Le Prince Maurice
‘My favourite beach surrounds the lagoon at Hotel Le Prince Maurice. It’s perfect – small, sparsely populated, quiet and lapped by crystal water. Tropical fish dart round your ankles as you paddle.’
Tim Lott writer and author
Best for honeymooners and lazy writers.
Get there BA flies to Mauritius from London Heathrow. BA offers seven nights at the five-star One&Only Le Saint Géran from £1,729 per person including flights and B&B. Visit ba.com/mauritius or call +44 (0)844 493 0758.
‘Grand Baie is absolutely stunning. It’s incredibly relaxed and the people are wonderful. The beach itself is white sand and looks out over an emerald ocean stretching as far as the eye can see. It was an old fishing town and there are still some fishermen working from the beach. Paradise.’
Gordon Ramsay, chef
Best for those who like their fish fresh.
Get there BA flies to Mauritius from London Heathrow. BA offers seven nights at the four-star 20 Degrees Sud, Mauritius, from £1,039 per person (including return flights and half-board). Visit ba.com/mauritius or call +44 (0)844 493 0758.
Railay Beach West, Krabi Province
‘Railay Beach is only accessible by boat, due to the impenetrable limestone cliffs that divide it from the nearby bay of Ao Nang, making it the perfect hideaway. Crystal-clear waters, fine white sand and a scattering of laid-back beach bars oozing chilled tunes mean Railay is the ultimate in beach cool.’
Dan Hipgrave, travel writer and musician
Best for those willing to go with the flow.
Get there BA flies to Bangkok from London Heathrow.
Jimbaran Bay, Bali
‘I’ve never experienced a sunset quite like the nightly spectacle from this half-moon of golden sand beside Jimbaran fishing village. It would inspire the romantic in us all.’
Paul White, chief executive, Orient Express
Best for romantics.
Get there BA flies to Hong Kong from London Heathrow and from Hong Kong to Denpasar as a codeshare with Cathay Pacific.
Big Wave Bay, Sai Kung, Hong Kong
‘Long white-sand beaches surrounded by hills and headlands, Dai Long Wan beach is truly one of the most majestic and tranquil stretches of coastlines.’
Peter Borer, The Peninsula Hotels
Best for hikers and yacht lovers.
Get there BA flies to Hong Kong from Heathrow.
Kovalam Beach, Kerala
‘Situated on South India’s Malabar coast, this delightful palm-fringed beach is used as much by the local fishermen as it is by tourists. The place to stay? The Surya Samudra hotel.’
Jonny Bealby, Wild Frontiers adventure travel
Best for total relaxation and Ayurvedic pampering.
Get there BA flies to Bangalore from Heathrow.
Chowpatty Beach, Mumbai
‘One of my favourite places in India is Chowpatty Beach in the heart of Mumbai, where you can eat ice cream and puris, get a massage or hear your fortune. In the evenings, just hang out and watch the buzz – you wouldn’t want to go in the water, but you wouldn’t want to do that during the day either.’
Martin Dunford, co-founder and author, Rough Guides
Best for night owls.
Get there BA flies to Mumbai from London Heathrow.