Hidden Beaches experiences with a difference
Our Hidden Beaches collection is an ideal way of combining beach relaxation with a little exploration. We asked our Hidden Beaches specialists to pick out the most memorable or unusual experiences from their recent travels.
From quad biking over sand dunes in Oman to dining in a tree house in the Maldives, they’ve plenty of new personal discoveries to recommend.
Dine in a tree house in the Maldives
Experienced by Joe
Nest Restaurant, Niyama, Maldives
Staying at the Niyama in the Maldives recently, I ate at the hotel’s newest dining experience. The Nest is set within a tangled forest of banyan trees, and you reach its open-air dining pods, 6 m (20 ft) high in the canopy, via a labyrinth of wooden walkways.
You have the choice of sitting at a secluded table nestled in the foliage or trying the larger teppanyaki pod, which serves elaborate dishes of sashimi and coral lobster. I finished my meal with a cup of rich Black Ivory, the world’s most expensive coffee.
If you’re uncomfortable with heights, you can opt for one of the tables on the forest floor.
Joe’s expert tip:
I’d also recommend booking a table at Subsix, Niyama’s underwater restaurant with floor-to-ceiling glass windows looking out onto the coral.
Sri Lanka is a short flight from the Maldives. It’s home to tea plantations, a startling array of temples and flourishing national parks.
Swim with stingrays in French Polynesia
Experienced by Selina
Stingrays, French Polynesia
Set on a secluded islet, the Bora Bora Pearl Beach Resort is surrounded by iridescent waters that stretch across to the island of Bora Bora and its focal point, Mount Otemanu.
The hotel is set in a lagoon ringed by a coral reef, and I took a boat out onto it with a guide. We were soon surrounded by a fever (as they’re collectively known) of stingrays, who are curious creatures. Slipping into the water, which was quite shallow, I waded alongside the rays as they glided gracefully through the water. If you’re lucky, you’ll also be able to see them feeding on the coral below.
Selina’s expert tip:
Ask for the boat to take you out into deeper water, where you can swim with black tipped reef sharks. These gentle sharks are unusually timid but they came up close to investigate me after I'd spent a little time in the water with them.
Island hop to the lush island of Moorea, which offers a range of outdoor activities. Walking trails weave through the blanket of unspoiled jungle covering the Opunohu Valley in the heart of the island.
Quad bike over the dunes of Wahiba Sands in Oman
Experienced by Matt
Matt quad biking, Wahiba Sands, Oman
For me, spending a few nights staying in a desert camp in the Wahiba Sands proved a memorable introduction to Oman, before relaxing on the beach. I found that the best way to appreciate the towering sand dunes is by quad bike.
Setting off with my guide, the camp quickly vanished into the distance, leaving us in an uninterrupted vista of golden dunes. Once I’d honed my driving skills we tackled some of the steeper slopes. Flying up over the dunes was an exhilarating way to explore.
Matt’s expert tip:
For a more traditional experience, ride a camel up the dunes. If you arrange your trip for late afternoon, you can watch the sun set over the desert.
Shangri-La Barr al Jissah is a lavish resort on Oman’s golden sand coast, and the perfect place to unwind after experiencing the Wahiba Sands. From the beach, take a day trip to Oman’s capital Muscat - an exotic array of Arabian architecture, lively souqs and atmospheric mosques.
Sail a dragon boat through the Gili Islands in Indonesia
Experienced by Sarah
Dragon boat, Gili Islands, Indonesia
I’ve always been fascinated by dragon boats - narrow vessels made from glossy teak wood that are integral to Indonesian culture. Setting sail from the white-sand beaches of my hotel, Tugu Lombok, in just 20 minutes my boat was moored among the Gili Islands.
This trio of islands is surrounded by vibrant coral, lying just off shore. From your boat, you can dip straight into the shallow waters to snorkel amid the array of marine life. I hadn’t been in the water long before I was investigated by an inquisitive hawksbill turtle.
Sarah’s expert tip:
I’d suggest stepping ashore to enjoy the relaxed atmosphere on the islands and eat at one of the beachside restaurants, which fry freshly caught fish alongside noodles and spiced seafood curries.
A convenient flight away, Singapore offers a dazzling mix of contemporary skyscrapers, colonial mansions and street-food delicacies.
Dive a shipwreck in Saint Lucia
Experienced by Laura
Shipwreck diving, Saint Lucia
Saint Lucia boasts no end of dive sites, but, for me, diving to explore a shipwreck was particularly special. Lying in the bay directly in front of my hotel, the Ti Kaye Resort, the 165-foot freighter Les Leen ‘M’ was sunk by Saint Lucia’s Department of Fisheries to create an artificial reef. It’s now covered in hard and soft corals, sponges and hydroids.
The wreck provides an ideal habitat for many juvenile fish, and the occasional turtle and barracuda, and it’s one of my top dive sites. As the ship is structurally safe, I swam right through to the old engine room and galley.
Laura’s expert tip:
Even if you’re not a diver, it’s still possible to snorkel over the top of the site and make out the ship’s wheelhouse and main deck below.
Island hop to another Caribbean island. Grenada’s North coast is blissfully undeveloped with quaint fishing villages and silver-white sandy beaches.
Learn Thai Kick-boxing in Thailand
Experienced by Francesca
Ocean Panorama Pool Villa, Six Senses Yao Noi, Koh Yao
Thai Kick-boxing, known as Muay Thai, is a dynamic combat sport practised across Thailand. I took the opportunity to try it when I stayed at the Six Senses Yao Noi on the quiet island of Koh Yao. Whether you’re a complete beginner, or a martial art aficionado, the lessons are aimed to increase agility, speed, endurance and strength.
I was welcomed into a traditional open-air boxing rink overlooking the ocean. Full equipment is provided, including your gloves, helmet and shin guards. I took a sunrise lesson, being patiently shown a selection of basic moves, and found it an invigorating way to start my day.
Francesca’s expert tip:
The Six Senses Yao Noi also offers sailing lessons, suitable for anyone from complete beginners. Lessons take place in Phang Nga Bay, backed by a skyline with limestone cliffs.
I’d invest a little time in Bangkok before heading to the coast. A city best explored on foot, you’ll find local temples, bustling markets and food stalls round every corner.
Zip-lining through the forest canopy in the Seychelles
Experienced by Kate
Kate zip-lining through the forest canopy, Seychelles
The Constance Ephelia hotel lies within a forest of lush vegetation, dotted with rocky outcrops and sheer granite cliffs. On my latest stay there, I tried the hotel’s most exhilarating experience - a series of eight zip lines that traverse the tree canopy.
The trees were almost close enough to touch as I zipped along 'tunnels' created through the foliage. The steel cables run across deep ravines, stopping at the occasional hill for you to take photographs and contemplate your surroundings.
Kate’s expert tip:
For more adventure, try scaling the 18 m (59 ft) high natural granite rock face that has been fixed with handholds and full safety equipment.
Break up your international flights with a few nights in Dubai. Taste a cocktail in a decadent sky bar or wander the maze of spice and gold souks.