By Rob Gower of Dragonfly Traveller

Whether you’re after encounters with ancient cultures or luscious landscapes bursting with natural beauty, there’s no rules when it comes to the perfect exotic holiday.

We are lucky enough to live on a beautiful planet with stunning landscapes, amazing wildlife, tropical rainforests, rugged mountains and volcanoes, and unbelievable beaches. 

Sometimes, when we know we want to go somewhere a bit different or exotic, it can be a bit of a job to know where to start looking.

Bali

With its spectacular rainforests, dreamy beaches and crystal-clear waters, Bali is a favourite with backpackers and luxury holidaymakers alike. There is plenty to do, from doing nothing on a beach all day to hiking up Mount Batur to see the sun rise or visiting macaque monkeys in Ubud Monkey Forest. The island is also famous for its temples which come to life with daily flower offerings, ornate decorations and seasonal festivities. They present an amazing spiritual experience no visitor ever forgets.

Cuba

Cuba oozes vibrancy and flair and walking through the streets of Havana is a little like walking through a museum. Cuba has somewhat of a natural charm about it with its classic 1950s cars and distinctive smell of tobacco in the air. It also boasts stunning coastlines and exotic wildlife. Cuba really comes alive at night with music filling the air as locals take to the streets and play instruments and bars and restaurants fill up. If you are looking for a real cultural experience or simply want to relax on the powder-white beaches, Cuba has it all.

The Azores

The Azores are perfect for an exotic, paradise-like holiday.  Hidden away in the Atlantic Ocean, this family of nine volcanic islands are 900 miles off the coast of Portugal and a haven of lush green pastures, emerald lakes and blossoming blue hydrangeas. These islands are relatively unknown when it comes to tourists, which means the landscape is largely unspoiled. In terms of activities, there’s whale-watching, swimming with dolphins, and diving with manta rays to be had. You can also walk inside volcanoes, hike Mount Pico and drive along empty roads fringed with millions of beautiful azaleas and hydrangeas.

Barbados

Barbados offers everything from pure white sandy beaches and turquoise seas to dramatic cliffs, rolling hills and caves. There is also a bustling night-life and lots of wildlife including green monkeys, sea turtles, whistling frogs and hummingbirds. Dining out in Barbados can be a smart or barefoot affair depending on where you go and you can dine under torch light to the sounds of the sea lapping on the beach. 

St Lucia

Known as the Caribbean’s most romantic island, St. Lucia combines luxury with outstanding beauty, making it the perfect destination to escape with your loved one. Accommodation ranges from rustic rainforest retreats and boutique beach hotels, to some of the most luxurious resorts in the Caribbean. Culturally, St Lucia is a combination of English, French and African influences, with French creole spoken by the locals. So, chill out and take in some of the most amazing sights the Caribbean has to offer including Sugar Beach, Pigeon Island, Mamiku Gardens and Diamond Falls Botanical Gardens and Mineral Baths.

Africa

There’s nothing more exhilarating than going into the wild to search for some of the world’s most amazing animals. The reserves of Masai Mara, Amboseli, and Samburu are excellent Kenyan safari destinations. Whilst ‘The Big Five’, lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants and buffalo get all the glory, you can also get spend the day looking out for giraffes, baboons, hyenas, jackals, colourful parrots, crocodiles, cheetahs and ostriches. The vast Kruger area in South Africa is the perfect spot to head to for a big five safari, and there are great options on offer in Madikwe too. Safari lovers can also spot lions, giraffes and elephants at Namibia’s flagship park, Etosha National Park. Equally inspiring are the cheetah and leopard safaris held at the 55,000-acre Okonjima Game Reserve, home of the AfriCat foundation, and the big game and water-loving species that are found in the protected areas within the Caprivi Strip.

Rob Gower of Dragonfly Traveller works as a travel PA, building bespoke holidays. Call 01604 661100 or visit www.dragonflytraveller.co.uk to find out more.