It’s no secret I love traveling. Clambering over millennia-old ruins, discovering hidden alleyways, gawking at ancient mosques and cathedrals — that’s my idea of a good trip.
But I have to admit, every once in a while, rather than traveling, I just want a vacation — you know, the kind involving lots of lounging around, colorful sunset-hued drinks, a tropical melody wafting in the background interrupted only by the rhythmic lapping of waves on creamy golden sand.
While I think I’d go stir-crazy if every trip I took was like that, there is something to be said for relaxing by a seaside view. So now that we’re on the cusp of autumn and cozy sweaters and new boots, I want to extend my summer just a little bit longer with a look back at some of my favorite seaside destinations.
(After all, the upcoming holidays are a perfect time for a seaside escape, so start planning now!)
MEDITERRANEAN SEA, SOUTHERN TURKEY
Our most recent seaside trip was to southern Turkey, where we lived on a traditional 16-person wooden gület ship for a full seven days. That may not sound very long (after all, a week goes by in a blink of an eye in the hustle and bustle of everyday urban life), but when you are required to do nothing but lounge around, read (no wi-fi!), soak in the endless cerulean scenery, and eat, a week craaaaawls by.
It took some getting used to, admittedly. But by the third day, we had settled into our hedonistic, self-indulgent routine. We hit at least half of the seven deadly sins — gluttonously indulging in mouth-watering Turkish cuisine with the freshest fruits imaginable (how the ship’s cook prepares the amazing spread three times a day in that tiny galley is beyond me), sloth-like lounging around on wide cushions afterwards with little stimulation but the rustle of the wind on the sails and the gentle rocking of the ship, lusting over the scenery as we slowly passed the rocky Turkish coastline and drool-worthy bays, taking more prideful selfies than I’d dare IRL.
We traveled with SCIC (pronounced “chic”) Sailing, and we couldn’t have had a more relaxing, more memorable week. Yes, hopping from ancient ruin to ancient ruin and sailing the Mediterranean was simply amazing, but I think the best thing about the trip was befriending the local crew of our ship — our captain Oktay, Servet, Samet, and Mehmet. They gave us not only an eye-opening insight into Turkish food and culture (hello, raki!) but the generosity and openness of the Turkish people. Turkey is officially one of my favorite countries of all time, and this trip one of my top five of all time.
KOH LANTA, THAILAND
I’d been to Bangkok and Phuket, but never to Koh Lanta, which the mister discovered during research for our trip to Cambodia and Thailand a couple years ago. Koh Lanta is actually two main islands in the Andaman Sea — Koh Lanta Yai and Koh Lanta Noi — and considered one of the top 10 islands in Thailand by Condé Nast Traveller.
As is expected from any island in Thailand, frankly, white and golden sand, clear blue waters, and verdant karsts abound. But Koh Lanta is special because it’s lesser known than, say, Krabi or Koh Samui, but it still has decent traveler infrastructure so you’re not backpacking or scrambling through your Google Translate at every turn.
The highlight of our Koh Lanta trip was definitely heading over to the non-touristy, smaller Koh Lanta Noi. All it took was:
- A scooter to the local, quite rickety car ferry
- A ride across a small body of water on said local, rickety car ferry
- A scooter to the opposite end of Koh Lanta Noi
- At a small diner by a pier, tell the owner you want to hire a boat to Koh Talabeng for the day
- She’ll call the local “captain,” rousing him from his nap, and he’ll come by in about half an hour
- Negotiate a price with the captain
Before you know it, you’re off on his boat, exploring various beaches and once-pirate caves and uninhabited islets, places off the beaten track. You’re practically the only people in your little corner of the sea. In a word: Heaven.
For our honeymoon, the mister and I wanted to go somewhere not often visited by Americans and as far away as possible — to literally the other side of the world. And the Seychelles, off the coast of Tanzania on the Indian Ocean, seemed to fit the bill.
Indeed, after 24 hours of travel, we felt like we were on the moon (in that delirious, dizzy, half-drugged way, not light and floaty). But after a couple days, jetlag finally melted away, and we off marveling at beach after beach, each one more stunning and breathtaking than the last. From Anse Source d’Argent — one of the most photographed beaches in the world, with its granite boulders naturally sculpted like artwork, shallow, crystal-like waters — to the expansive Anse Lazio (where we learned how to scuba dive, side-by-side with plenty of shy reef sharks), the Seychelles was truly a once-in-a-lifetime, Eden-esque escape.
Thank goodness we don’t have to always journey for a full day to get to somewhere tranquil and dazzling. We were itching for a quick jaunt for a week after a dreary winter, and the Exumas, a chain of islands in the Bahamas, seemed like the perfect destination.
I wasn’t too impressed with probably the most visited island in the Bahamas, Grand Bahama, with its kitschy tourist vibe and all-in-one package deals. But Exuma is a whole other story. It requires a ride on a super noisy, bumpy little prop plane from Miami (we had to turn back the first time because Exuma’s runway requires a visual landing, and the day had gotten too overcast).
Once at Great Exuma, the largest of the Exumas, we found a sleepy little island with just enough to do to stave off monotony. We strolled the main street to the fish fry shacks (the electricity went out, so it was a pitch black walk), where we sipped gin and juice and ate amazing fried fish. We took a tour of the island, including to Pig Beach, where the resident swimming pigs came out to greet us on our boat. We rented a car and drove to the famed Santanna’s restaurant on the other side of the island. We ate the most delicious seafood while kids got excited about a giant shark seemingly resting in the shallow waters behind the hut. (We took a photo with Dee, the owner — she said we were the first Koreans she had ever met!)
But the highlight of the trip, by far, was exploring the surrounding bay in a rented motorboat at our leisure, stopping by every single sandbar that appeared at low tide (and even some uninhabited islands, which we quickly learned usually meant a swarm of mosquitoes and sandflies will be on hand to greet you, the rare human visitor). The water in the transparent bay was fairly shallow, so we had no problems anchoring 100 feet from a sandbar and just walking to it. While I lazed about, the mister explored the shallow waters, holding up giant starfish he’d find (they’re extremely hard and prickly). We felt like adventurers on an expedition — with none of the risk, of course.