Last of the summer sun
Believe it or not, October half term is around the corner *yikes!* Fancy escaping this rain for warmer climes? Fabulous local travel agent Sarah Watts suggests her favourite places for late summer sun
Already missing the summer hols and bored of work? Or perhaps you had a staycation this summer and have itchy feet to get away? We’ve picked the brains of Pewsey-based Sarah Watts, our fave personal travel consultant, for her favourite ideas for October half term. Any of these tickle your fancy?
Orlando is famous worldwide for the obvious – its huuuuuuuge theme parks. See Walt Disney World Resorts’ six (six!) parks, Universal Orlando Resort’s three offerings, SeaWorld®, Discovery Cove and loads more – there is no way that anyone can be bored on a holiday to Orlando, no matter what their interests or age. Orlando hotels range from deluxe to reasonably priced yet still charming (or villas with fly-drive) – so all budgets are catered for. Look for deals on park tickets before you go – stay at a Universal Orlando Resort and receive exclusive theme park benefits such as Early Park Admission, or buy Disney/Universal multi-passes and get free days included. Google is your friend when it comes to finding the short cuts and quick tips to pain-free queueing.
Heard of Gatorland? Nope, me neither, but it’s a thing! Alternatively, watch for whales and dolphins at Port Canaveral, or take out a real stock car at the Richard Petty Driving Experience. Love to shop? No matter where you are in Florida, you’re rarely more than five minutes from the nearest mall. Shop ’til you drop at Orlando Premium Outlets®, featuring 330 designer and brand name outlets, with savings of 25% to 65% daily. Probably best to buy that extra suitcase, too.
Any keen golfers out there? Tee off’ in Orlando with more than 170 golf courses, over 20 golf academies and some of the world’s most prestigious tournaments. Or just lie on the sand and watch the world go by…
Discover Mexico this October, with stunning locations suitable for couples, families, lone or group travellers. Take your pick from lively Cancun, chilled out Playa Mujeres, romantic Riviera Maya, or luxurious shopping destinations Playa Del Carmen and Playacar. Fancy lying on a white sand beach? Cancun and the surrounding areas offer some of the best beaches in the Caribbean, with miles and miles of white sand fringed by bright turquoise sea. If swimming with dolphins is old news, try swimming with whale sharks around the islands of Holbox and Contoy.
If adventure is your thing, try zip-lining, off-roading, or one of the many adventure parks in Mexico. Alternatively, experience Mayan culture at one of the many archaeological sites in the surrounding areas of Cancun.
The Canary Islands – Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote & Fuerteventura
Forming seven individual islands in the Atlantic Ocean (where the sun shines all year round), the Canaries have a perfect, temperate climate, with stunning beaches and imposing landscapes (and, OK, a bit of partying).
The island of a thousand experiences…Get lost in nature, relax on the beach, climb Mount Teide, go whale watching, walk the old town cobbles, have fun at Europe’s biggest waterpark, play golf …Basically it’s a fun fest here. Or escape the crowds and lounge on a terrace with sea views, eating local shrimp…
A fantastic family destination, with almost 60 kilometres of beaches and a Biosphere Reserve in the west. It’s a miniature continent here, where you can sail out to watch whales, walk in the Canary pine forests, visit the impressive sand dunes, visit museums, or just relax on the beach.
Lanzarote offers a unique landscape, with volcanic sands and a unique ecosystem that is recognised internationally. It’s an ideal environment to relax and lose yourself amongst the volcanoes, lava tubes and pristine beaches. Lanzarote’s long, sunny days mean that sports people from all over Europe come to the island for cycling, running, swimming and water sports.
Discover a pristine coastline with emerald green waters and over 150 km of white sand beaches. The coast and the spectacular volcanic landscapes are why the island is a Biosphere Reserve. Worth a snoop!
A city that must be seen to be believed, quite literally. Record-breaking architecture stands alongside traditional quarters, while man-made islands jut out of the coastline. From Burj Khalifa to Palm Jumeirah, explore Dubai’s must-see tourist attractions.
Standing 828m high, the Burj Khalifa is iconic Dubai at its best. The world’s tallest tower dominates the Dubai skyline, but the true majesty of the building is best appreciated up close or even better from within. On a clear day the view from the observation deck on level 124 is absolutely stunning, topped only by the view from the luxurious At The Top Sky Lounge on the 148th floor. And for those who would like to linger for a meal in the clouds At.mosphere on level 122 is the place to be.
The Dubai Mall
To call this sprawling development a shopping mall is doing it a disservice. With its 1,200-plus shops and 150 restaurants, the venue is also home to an indoor theme park, ice rink, huge indoor waterfall, a choreographed outdoor fountain and the giant Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo.
The Dubai Fountain
Located at the base of the Burj Khalifa, The Dubai Fountain features the world’s largest choreographed fountain with colourful dancing water jets that sway in time to music.
A man-made island in the shape of a palm tree, there’s a reason why locals say ‘only in Dubai.’ Palm Jumeirah is one of the largest artificial islands in the world and, some might say, a triumph of human ingenuity. Locals and tourists alike enjoy the Palm’s vast array of high-end hotels, including the Waldorf Astoria, Fairmont, One&Only, Jumeirah Zabeel Saray and, perhaps most notably, the iconic Atlantis, The Palm.
Dubai may be famous for the glitz and glamour of its sky-high towers, but the real heart of the city is, and always will be, the Creek. The saltwater estuary is the original site where the Bani Yas tribe settled, and its waters were vital for what used to be Dubai’s main forms of economy: pearl diving and fishing. Today, the area is awash with the history of the emirate, home to the Dubai Museum as well as the labyrinthine alleyways of the gold, spice and textile souks. While at the Creek, a ride across the water on a traditional abra is a must.
Not Just Travel – Sarah Watts, 7c High Street, Devizes SN9 5AF, Tel: 07824 884585, sarahwatts.notjusttravel.com