Top 5 warm water hangouts for sun-worshippers
“I left my soul there, down by the sea, I lost control here, living free” – Morcheeba
The first time my husband and I dunked our newly born daughter’s feet into a sink of water for her first bath, her harrowing screams pierced our hearts and the quiet of the hospital ward as we tried desperately to disguise our inexperienced newbie parents-selves. Our error? Having erred on the side of caution, the water temperature was far too cool for our little’un who now kicks and squirms with delight like a veritable water babe very time we lower her into the depths of a piping warm tub.
My dreams of her one day battling scathing rain, as icy gusts whip her surfboard out of hand and propel her jerkily along the beach for a classic British surf have not been entirely dashed. Only a few years ago, I myself, would never have dreamed of doing such a thing either and indeed still question my actions when, clad entirely in neoprene – save for the eyeballs – I find myself venturing towards those chilly shores.
If, like me, you’re a cold blooded lizard-like human who endeavours to warm their cockles in the sunshine and warm waters of foreign lands, here’s my pick of best places for toasty aquatic antics…
1. Best for underwater fishytastic safaris
The thought of diving into the deep to discover dank and moulding shipwrecks off the English coast sounds thrilling…but the reality of slinking into freezing waters and peering through the murk to catch a glimpse of a decaying mast, does not. Much more gratifying to strip down to your itsy-bitsies and plunge into balmy, crystalline waters to spy on the underwater world and its shoals of multi-coloured fish darting hither and thither. A chilled sea turtle bobbing along the waves perhaps, the sunshine sparkling off the surface and casting kaleidoscopic diamonds across the ocean bed. Be you expert dive master or leisurely snorkeler, the type of H2O found in Thailand or The Maldives is some of the most magical on Earth.
2. Best for wetsuit-less waves
Reunion is an idyllic little volcanic island in the Indian Ocean, a twenty-minute plane ride from Mauritius that only the French really know about it. Beaches, lagoons and reef breaks mean there are world-class waves for the pros as well as a few easier spots for beginners. A department of France with a Creole heart, this island is a melting-pot of cultures so you can expect beach snacks of French gauffres smothered in hazelnut, a battered crab claw or ‘bouchons’ dipped in soy sauce. Watch out for sea urchins (step on one and the broken-off spikes are incredibly painful underfoot) and the odd shark…
3. Best for messing about on the river
The Dordogne in summertime is quite often achingly hot. The river is a welcome relief and there is plenty going on upon its silky surface to entertain the water-goer. Kayak as many miles as you fancy past chateaux and ancient picturesque towns that drip beautifully down the cliff faces. Too strenuous? Cruise the waterways on a traditional Gabarre instead or launch a rubber ring from the river banks and float lazily downstream to wherever your whim takes you.
4. Best for ridiculously blue waters
Looking back at photographs of holidays in these two places and comparing the colours of the sky and the ocean to the good ol’ British drizzle, it’s any wonder why we haven’t upped sticks and all emigrated to live amongst these dazzling shades of azure, cobalt and turquoise. I tell myself it’s because we wouldn’t appreciate it if we had it on our doorstep everyday. Hmmm…The ultimate tropical paradise.
5. Best for wakeboarding & posing on a boat
El Portet, spain
Okay, maybe an indulgent pic to show my pre-childbirth self in action…but also a gorgeous, if a little Brit-tastic spot in Spain for one to charge the wake. When the sun is shining and the sea is flat and glassy, hire a boat, strap some kind of water-skimming paraphernalia to your feet and get a-ridin’ to burn off that tapas.