Beach in reach, Malaysia
We've scoured coasts, combed beaches and searched the shore in our hunt for the coolest seaside stays, where the hotels are never far from the water’s edge. Clifftop castles, beachy B&Bs and island idylls – you'll find them all here, alongside sandy resorts and Caribbean retreats. You just have to decide whether your idea of beach-bum heaven is skimming stones in Brighton, surfing in Santa Monica or scuba diving in the Seychelles…
Underwater explorers will love Gayana Eco Resort's coral-dotted, marine-reserve dive centre (the treks into the Borneo jungle won't disappoint, either). Bali's Alila Manggis is splashing distance from seven of the globe's best dive sites and is edged by sublime snorkeling waters. Sumba, an hour's flight from Bali, is a hush-hush travellers' secret, and at Nihiwatu you'll sample the island's best: incredible ocean views, breeze-cooled outdoor living and world-class surf breaks in reach. A speedboat ride from Amanzoe, a marble-hewn hilltop haven in southern Greece, is the island of Dokos, whose diver-drawing coast lays claim to the world's oldest known shipwreck.
Just-remote-enough Japamala Resort on tiny Tioman Island is the ultimate back-to-nature escape. Joined by a series of canopy-skimming walkways, the hotel's luxury treehouses and cliff-clinging chalets are secluded and serene, promising rainforest-ringed privacy and vertiginous vistas of the South China Sea.
This rustic retreat offers the opportunity to stay in genuine Malaysian stilted wooden houses, most more than a century old, on a former coconut plantation. Surrounded by manicured greenery and centred on one of Langkawi’s most celebrated restaurants, Bon Ton Restaurant & Resort is an essential stop-off for the savvy traveller.