Saturday 27 December 2014

10 best sunshine breaks

Nicola Brady

Published 28/07/2013 | 05:00

Thailand offers golden beaches and adventure
Cape Town is a city built to impress
For an exciting trip away hit the slot machines in Las Vegas
Try Gran Canaria for great value last-minute sun holidays
Turkey offers good value, seven nights start from €376 pp

There's still time for a last-minute summer getaway

THAILAND

Lanzarote is a safe bet for guaranteed sunshine

Trailfinders is offering a great discount at Le Meridien Khao Lak Beach & Spa Resort, a five-star property in Khao Lak, departing August 27. Book a 14-night stay and seven of those are free, saving €550 per person. Prices start at €1,279, including breakfast, transfers and flights from Dublin, Cork or Shannon.

Perched on a secluded stretch of golden sands, the resort boasts lush gardens, five swimming pools and six restaurants.

If you need more adventure, the town of Khao Lak is just 10 minutes away, and the hotel offers numerous excursions, from elephant treks in the rainforest to river canoeing. The Similan National Marine Park nearby offers some of the best diving in the world.

Details: Tel: 01-677 7888; trailfinders.ie.

PARIS

For the month of August, most Parisians stage a mass exodus to the coast. Fortunately, this means that tourists get the city more or less to themselves. A few shops and restaurants may be closed, but the major sites and museums are all open for business and the streets and roads are a lot quieter.

Ebookers has a three-night break for €252pp, at the three-star Citadines Place D'Italie, departing from Dublin on August 27. The studio apartments have fully equipped kitchens, but there are plenty of great restaurants to enjoy in the nearby Latin Quarter.

Details: Tel: 01-4311 311; ebookers.ie.

LANZAROTE

We may have been lucky with the Irish summer so far, but if you want some guaranteed sunshine then Lanzarote is a safe bet. With steady temperatures throughout the year, you can expect great weather in August and September.

Thomson has an all-inclusive week at the Riu Olivina Resort from €699pps, departing on August 29. There are four swimming pools, three of which are saltwater, and the beach is a short stroll away. For some variety in the evenings, you can head to the laid-back Playa de los Pocillos for a meal in one of the seafront restaurants.

If it's nightlife you're looking for, Puerto Del Carmen is only 2km away.

Details: Tel: 1850 453 545; thomson holidays.ie.

CRETE

Falcon Holidays has a week in Crete departing from Dublin on August 25. Seven nights in the Mika Apartments works out as €399pp, based on two people sharing a one-bedroom apartment. There's a mini-market on site, but the town of Piskopiano is only a short walk away, with a selection of bars, shops and restaurants.

The resort is on a hill above Hersonissos, where you'll find the beach and nightlife. It's billed as 'young and lively', so maybe not one for a peaceful retreat, but if you want to laze in the sun by day and live it up by night, you'll be hard pushed to find a better bargain.

Details: Tel: 1850 453 545; falconholidays.ie.

LAS VEGAS AND NEW YORK

If you want to get the most out of a transatlantic break, why not tick two cities off on one trip? American Holidays has a package that takes in the Big Apple as well as Sin City.

You'll start with three nights at Circus Circus in Las Vegas, where you can hit the slot machines and live a life of debauchery in the desert. Then it's onwards to New York, with three nights to soak up all the culture and energy the city has to offer.

The package starts at €1,159 based on two people sharing, with return flights from Dublin, a direct flight from Las Vegas to New York and six nights accommodation. Departure in August.

Details: Tel: 01-673 3840; american holidays.com.

MALDIVES

The Maldives may not spring immediately to mind for a break in August. But even though the risk of showers is higher between May and November, there is no bad time to visit this tropical paradise. And the low season makes for bigger savings.

Travelmood has nine nights at the four-star Meeru Island Resort on a full-board basis, from €1,879 per person, for travel in August.

The beaches are pristine on the beautiful island of Meerufenfushi, but the diving is even better, with local reefs home to manta rays and whale sharks. The resort runs free snorkelling excursions to a nearby coral reef for those who prefer to stay closer to the surface.

Details: Tel: 01-433 1040; travelmood.ie.

GRAN CANARIA

Click and Go has a variety of great value last-minute sun holidays, including destinations in the Algarve and Canary Islands.

Departing on August 27 and 29, they currently have a week at the Green Park resort in Gran Canaria from €399 per person. Flights are from Dublin with Aer Lingus, and prices include airport transfers, but not a checked bag.

The apartments are basic but have all the amenities you need, as does the resort itself. There's a pool, bar, restaurant and mini-market on site, and the centre of Playa del Ingles isn't far away, with a vibrant nightlife scene.

Details: Tel: 01-637 1699; clickandgo.com.

self-catering

If you're travelling with the family, self-catering is often the best option. You can be sure that everyone will approve of the menu, and shopping for provisions in the local markets is all part of the fun.

Thomas Cook has a variety of options for families in August, including a week for four in the Algarve for €1,448, or in Turkey for €1,028.

There's also a week at the family-friendly resort of Montana Club in Lanzarote for €1,068, departing Dublin on August 29. Apartments are air-conditioned, with equipped kitchens, and there are two pools, as well as a restaurant and snack bar.

Another bonus? There's a free babysitting service.

Details: Tel: 01-514 0328; thomascook.ie.

CAPE TOWN AND WINELANDS

With the stunning backdrop of the Twelve Apostles mountain range, beautiful beaches and unique wildlife, Cape Town is a city built to impress. You can spot whales in the sheltered bays around the coast, visit the penguins on Cape Point and take a cable car to the peak of Table Mountain for incredible views. And no trip to South Africa would be complete without a visit to some wineries.

Trailfinders has a great package that includes three nights at Camps Bay with four nights at the River Manor Boutique Hotel & Spa in Stellenbosch. With numerous vineyards nearby, this is an ideal base to take in the Cape Winelands.

From €1049pp, departing Dublin on August 26.

Details: Tel: 01-677 7888; trailfinders.ie.

TURKEY

WingsAbroad specialises in Turkish Holidays and has a number of breaks around the town of Kusadasi on the Aegean Coast. The Pine Club apartments are a little out of town, on a wooded hillside 12km away from Kusadasi. Long Beach is only 2km away, reportedly the best beach area in the region.

The local 'Dolmus' stops right outside the hotel, with regular services to both the town and the beach, as well as the nearby resorts of Davutlar and Guzelcamli. Of course, there's also a swimming pool on site, if you'd rather stay where you are and unwind in the sun.

Seven nights start from €376 per person based on two people sharing, departing from Dublin, Cork or Shannon on August 25.

Details: Tel: 01-871 9444; wingsabroad.ie.

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