9 Best Gap Year Destinations For Beach Lovers
When it comes to choosing a travel destination, we are mostly caught between mountains & beaches! While some people love the serenity of the hill towns and can spend hours gazing at the snow clad peaks, others are drawn towards the golden beaches and turquoise waters! For those belonging to the second category, the smell of the shores, the sandy & salty winds, the shades, hat and sunscreen lotions, mugs full of chilled beer and delicious seafood seems to be the end of the world!
If you are among those beach lovers looking for a gap year destination abroad, then here's a list of 9 best destinations for you to choose from. Pick the one that you've always dreamt of visiting and start planning - it's never too late to visit a beach!
There's no point in guessing that Thailand is the best gap year destination for all those who dream of living a beach life! While 'The Land of Smiles' has a lot of other fascinating things including the bustling city vibes of Bangkok, the funky tuk-tuk rides, the delicious food at the floating markets, the warmth of the people and the tranquility of the elephant villages in Chiang Mai - nothing can beat the beauty of the Thai beaches!
There would hardly be any beach lover who hasn't added Thailand to the travel checklist. While you can, of course, spend your days at the popular beaches of Phuket, Koh Phi Phi, Krabi and Koh Samui, I would suggest you to hit the remote islands and not-so-popular beaches! Maybe you can spend a week at Koh Tao, adapting the scuba diving skills or go for surfing lessons, or maybe Koh Yao Noi, where you can just chill and learn to cook some Thai dishes from a local. And for sure, don't miss out the extravagant Full Moon Party at Koh Phangan, which would just add some sparkles to your entire gap year journey in Thailand.
2. Sri Lanka
If you don't wanna join the crowd heading towards Thailand, and feel like exploring the beaches that are lesser known yet gorgeous, then probably you should consider visiting Sri Lanka during your gap year. A tiny tear-drop-like island on the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka has some seriously beautiful golden shores on offer for you! Whether it's the Hikkaduwa Beach that has undergone a complete makeover since the 2004 Tsunami had affected it, or Negombo Beach where you can enjoy scenic boat rides with spectacular views, leisurely strolls along the shore, and even a glimpse of a local fisherman or two - Sri Lankan beaches can never bore you! Life in this little island is so vibrant, that you'll always be on your toes to explore more.
Spend a couple of days at Mirissa Beach, one of the best places in the world for spotting blue and sperm whales, who migrate around Sri Lanka's southern coast. In case you are in a mood for volunteering, you can also join the Turtle Conservation Project at the gorgeous coastal town of Kosgoda, around 96 km from the capital city of Colombo. Know more about the Buddhist culture, binge on local delicacies, visit the National Parks and UNESCO Heritage Sites of Sri Lanka during your gap year adventure.
In the last few years, more and more gap year travelers are choosing to explore Indonesia that has the potential to turn your idyllic paradise beach dream into a reality! The world's largest island country comprising of more than 13,000 islands, Indonesia is nothing short of a paradise for beach lovers. If you are seeking an offbeat retreat and looking for a destination where you can enjoy the warm sand between your toes, get tanned under the sun and the sound of waves crashing on the shore - then probably you should plan to visit Bali, Java, Sumatra, and Kuta. You might even go for a yoga course or attend meditation sessions, sip a mug of chilled beer and binge on lip-smacking plates of seafood prepared in the local style!
Plan to set out for a backpacking trip across Bali during your gap year and explore the beaches of Ubud, Kubutambahan, Gili Trawangan and more on a shoestring budget. You can choose to go for cruising, learn surfing or scuba diving, volunteer as a teacher in an underprivileged school, or be a part of the Marine Conservation Program in Bali to make a difference to the environment.
An African seaside sensation, Mozambique might not seem to be a regular choice for the gap year travelers, but trust me when I say this - you won't regret spending your gap year in this beautiful country which has immense cultural diversity, a soothing tropical climate, breathtaking coastline with swaying palm trees and endless opportunities for adventure seekers. You can choose to head head towards Ponta Mamoli, which is one of the country’s best-kept secrets and where you’ll have miles of untouched sandy shores practically all to yourself.
In case you wish to explore the underwater world, you can choose to spend your time in Tofo, one of the most popular beaches in the country, and be a part of the Marine Research Project. Learn scuba diving and get an Open Water Diving Certificate, contribute towards the well being of life underwater and learn the tips and tricks of conservation during your gap year in Mozambique.
If you thought that Tanzania is all about wildlife safaris and wildebeest migration - then you are totally wrong, my friend! Tanzania actually is one of the most popular beach destinations in the world, with the pristine beaches of Zanzibar falling under the country's jurisdictions. With world-class diving facilities, chance to spot colorful birds, savor the delicious cuisine and a couple of marine national parks - the Tanzanian coastline along the Indian Ocean would definitely add some salty breeze to your gap year plans in East Africa.
And for those who want to experience the best of both worlds (wildlife & beaches, I mean) - which place on Earth can be better than Tanzania? Be a part of Go Discover Abroad's amazing Serengeti Safari & Zanzibar Adventure Tour and make some wonderful memories, while traveling with like-minded travelers from all across the world.
6. South Africa
The 'Rainbow Nation' of Africa has some amazing beaches including the Hobie Beach, Plettenberg Bay, Buffels Bay, South Beach of Durban, Boulders Beach in Cape Town and many more! Well, the list of amazing beaches in this country can go on and on, and probably you might just fall short of time explore the coastlines that border this stunning country on the West and South. And to add to your knowledge, most of the South African beaches have been awarded the Blue Flag status, meaning they adhere to international safety, cleanliness, and environmental standards.
Visit the Muizenberg Beach in Cape Town to click those postcard-perfect photographs of the colorful beach huts. The warm water of this beach makes it a favorite spot for surfing and swimming. Stop by the Lappiesbaai Beach in case you are driving down the Garden Route, and witness the gorgeous sunset views. And you'll get to spot thousands of penguins if you visit the Boulders Beach! Well, to say the least, South Africa can be the apt gap year destination for beach lovers!
Are you planning for a gap year retreat in Europe but not sure where exactly to go? In case you are a beach lover bitten by the wanderlust bug, you can choose to head towards Spain - a country that's surrounded by the Balearic Sea, the Bay of Biscay and the Alboran Sea. Spain boasts miles of stunning coastlines, as well as a few Spanish-governed islands. No matter whether you are looking for secluded beaches, luxurious getaways or the bustling crowded beaches - you'll find everything in Spain!
While there are the world-famous beach destinations of Ibiza & Costa Brava, you can rather choose to spend more time at the less crowded places for a deeper cultural experience and do something that would make your gap year more meaningful. You can join a Spanish Language Learning Course or attend cookery classes to learn how to cook delicious Paella, explore the famous monuments and museums apart from chilling and getting tanned at the beaches!
One of the most popular gap year destinations, Australia has always topped the chart when it comes to adventure trips and beachside experiences! From volunteering opportunities to amazing road trips, surfing lessons and conservation activities, teaching programs or just enjoying a leisurely time - Australia can accommodate all that you're probably looking for! Don't miss out exploring the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast near Brisbane - the vibrancy of these places will surely touch your soul. Head towards the Great Barrier Reef, dive deep to get closer to the marine life, and witness the magnificent colors of the coral reefs.
In case you have a time crunch and wish to explore the beach beaches of the East Coast - you can join the exciting road trip from Sydney To Cairns with GDA and explore all the best beaches, including the quaint beach town of Yamba, the surfer town of Byron Bay, and more. Your gap year in Australia will probably turn out to be one of the best chapters of your life - and you’ll surely plan to return back to this island country sometime in future, for more adventures!
9. Costa Rica
Can't decide whether to explore the Pacific Coast or the Caribbean Coast? How about both?! Well, that's the advantage of spending your gap year in Costa Rica - you'll get to experience the best of both! And of course, you'll have to option to set sail and explore the Galapagos as well! What more can one ask for? Spend a couple of days at Manuel Antonio Beach, if you wish to explore the beaches and the rainforests teemed with wildlife. Among the other popular beaches of the country are Flamingo Beach in the Guanacaste Region, Nacascolo Beach in the Papagayo Peninsula Region, Nosara Beach & Ostional Beach in Nicoya Peninsula etc.
You can volunteer for the Turtle Conservation Project in Costa Rica, and make a difference to the lives of the endangered Olive Ridley Turtles. This will not only make you a more responsible traveler, but it'll also help you in your career ahead by boosting your CV. Enjoy the 'Pura Vida' (the essence of 'Pure Life') while living in Costa Rica and make the most of your gap year.
If your favorite beach destination is not on the list, then drop a comment below and I would love to know more about it. And in case you have any doubts regarding how to plan your gap year, you can drop a mail at [email protected] and our Program Advisors will get back to you, ASAP!