When choosing the ideal destination for a gorgeous getaway, many travelers find themselves with a difficult dilemma: a pristine sandy beach or a breathtaking mountain vista?
For those who find the prospects of sunning on the shore as appealing as hiking the slopes, you’re not alone. In fact, 60% of global travelers want to take a beach vacation in 2019, while 55% say that the presence of mountainous areas is an important factor in picking a destination.
With that in mind, Booking.com has delved into its more than 28 million listings across more than 152,000 destinations to identify some of the most spectacular spots where beach and mountains meet. With lush tropical rainforests, epic peaks, crystal clear water and miles of sand all available within close proximity, you really can enjoy the best of both worlds when planning your next vacation.
Soufrière, St Lucia, Lesser Antilles
For an idyllic destination that combines impossibly Instagrammable beaches with hiking routes through lush tropical forests, look no further than the Caribbean paradise of St. Lucia. After a dip in those enticing blue waters, adventure lovers can opt for an invigorating hike across Gros Piton, a UNESCO World Heritage listed site and one of two volcanic peaks on the island. Starting from the village of Fond Gens Libre, it takes about two hours (one-way) to reach the summit at nearly half a mile above sea level (2,619 feet or 798 meters). The one-of-a-kind panoramic views from the top are definitely well worth the effort!
The small, unspoiled Greek island of Ithaca is renowned from Homer’s Odyssey as the mythological homeland of the story’s hero, Odyssesus. Free from the crowds that descend on some of Greece’s more popular vacation destinations, the quiet island is dotted with pretty pebbly beaches buffeted by turquoise waters and charming historic villages that stand sentinel across the more mountainous interior. Getting around Ithaca is best done by car, as the island is relatively small and easy enough to navigate. There are a number of scenic routes to explore, including from Vathy to Stavros, with recommended pit stops at Anogi and Exogi for an authentic taste of rustic village life. Let your curiosity be your guide, as no matter where you choose to explore, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views.
Located along the Dalmatian coast between Split and Dubrovnik, the picturesque port town of Makarska entices with fragrant pine forests, rugged cliffs and the iridescent blue-green waters of the Adriatic. While the town itself is small enough to explore by foot or by bike, if you’re feeling adventurous and want to explore a bit off the beaten track, having a car will allow you to venture into the nearby Biokovo Mountains, the second-highest range in Croatia. As a reward for your efforts, you’ll be treated with expansive views of the dense forest cascading down to the crystalline waters of the sea.
Where to stay: Mere minutes from St. Peter Lighthouse, in the center of Makarska, Apartments Beso offers sweeping views of the port. Just imagine tucking into a home-cooked meal on the balcony, as you gaze out at the myriad of boats sailing in and out against the shimmering blue waters of the harbor.
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